juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

AT THE CLEARING

 

AT THE CLEARING                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

            In the process of packing to move I discovered a folder containing about twenty short pieces I wrote several years ago for a creative writing class I took at the U. of Chicago.  Among them was a description of The Clearing, an adult retreat center for those who want to spend some time working in a creative area be it writing, woodworking or spinning yarn.  Driving home from a week I spent there, I had written something about that idyllic place and there it was, in the forgotten folder. See my post, “A Memorable Time.”  Here it is.  I wish you such an experience.

AT THE CLEARING

It was a week of t-shirt days and sweat suit nights

Watching the Artist scarlet the maples.

It was logs and stone and pine needles and glistening red berries;

Morning sunshine filtered through pine trees

And white birch trees that marched forth

From a black forest ‘neath the moon’s spotlight.

 

The bay, a smooth blanket of sapphire,

A lone sailboat drifted by.

Rolling green hills, blackberry bushes,

White clouds webbing the sky;

Bright new condos along the shore

Like sea gulls facing the wind;

Weathered log cabins hiding deep in the woods.

 

Red barns, blue silos, white lighthouses,

purple asters, pink mums, goldenrod,

Hummingbirds and screeching crows;

A rocky cliff, a sawdust path, a white-tailed doe.

 

A time to share the joy of a woodcarver

Caressing his first sandpiper into being;

To hear a poet bring her soul to light.

A time for such stillness only birds bickered in the trees

And the sea lapped gently at the shore.

It was new faces, new voices and oatmeal with raisins;

A small room and thick wooly blankets and loons on the water.

 

It was mood-setting Chopin on the way,

And Charlie Parker on the way home,

And me in the middle

Stretching, sinking, swallowing.

It was all of that and more.

Don’t ask me what I did there.

I was.

 

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

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HAIKUS

HAIKUS

            I recently asked my 14 year old grandson if he knew what a Haiku was.  He smiled and said:

          Haikus are easy

Sometime they don’t make sense.

Hippotomus.

           The Japanese are masters at this form of verse. Perhaps its structure appeals to their high regard for simplicity. I’m not a student of Haikus and know nothing about its origin or development but one day, disgusted with a novel I was working on, I decided to try to write one.  My first effort failed – so did the second.  It’s no easy trick to have an idea and express it in something like eight to twelve words, maintaining the required 5-7-5 syllabification.  It was such fun that I kept going until I finally had a few that, even if they won’t win any prizes, at least conform to the required structure. It’s especially challenging to write one where the last line is unexpected – rather like the punch line of a joke or hippotomus.

Chocolate chip pie

Whipped cream tempts and teases

Here is your fork eat.

 

Silver and candles

The table entices me

Dine converse relax.

 

The search for knowledge

Confusing, terrifying

A snake in the grass.

 

His voice a whisper

His gentle hands waterfalls

He smells of roses.

 

I open a book

Words of wisdom tumble out

Manna for my brain.

 

The world clothed in white

I hide from snow and cold wind

Hibernation mine.

 

Words whisper and flow

Arms tenderly enfold me

Treasures remembered.

 

I splash in the waves

Surf caresses and tickles

Fish, water lilies.

 

Lights flicker inside

Darkness tiptoes through windows

Peace serenity.

 

A road by a stream

Cool water ripples on rocks

Ducks, turtles and swans

 

A garden I seek

Smelling of lilacs in bloom

Buds on rose bushes

 

Challenge: write a Haiku.

Julie Rose

Editit601@gmail.com

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WOMAN OF VALOR

 

WOMAN OF VALOR

One of the rituals of the Jewish Sabbath dinner meal is the recitation by a husband to his wife of Woman of Valor (Eshat Chayil), a 22 verse poem that concludes the Book of Proverbs, wherein such a woman is described as energetic, righteous and capable. It begins, “A woman of valor who can find. Her worth is far above rubies.”  When I hear it I want to respond by saying, “Stop right there.  I can find plenty of women of valor.” To mention only a few, there was:  

Brave Rachel who stole her father’s idols and never begrudged her sister – winner of the wedding wars. Sneaky Rebecca who ensured first born privileges be given to the second: an act that saved the Jewish people. Courageous Miriam, though still a child, saved one who led his people forth from slavery. Deborah, the judge, sent forth words of wisdom from under a palm tree and bravely entered a war of freedom. Esther – a woman of faith, devotion and courage, kept her identity a secret, defied the rules, appeared before her king to beg for the lives of her people – and won.

Emma Lazarus welcomed the oppressed to a land of freedom, argued for a Jewish homeland long before Herzl called it Zionism. Golda, rose through the ranks to become Premier of Israel, secretly crept across borders to make peace with an enemy

Anne Frank, a young girl never to become a woman, courageously exposed the evils of Nazism: one voice who spoke for six million, embodied the triumph of the human spirit in a dehumanizing system. Henrietta Szold – Founder of Hadassah, leader of Youth Aliyah, rehabilitated thousands of children, established a nursing school, opened health care clinics throughout Israel.

Jewish women of valor can be found in medicine, literature, music, science, education and athletics, politics and the entertainment world: women who fight for right, loudly espouse equality and expose the evils that befall humanity. They score their triumphs alone, unaided they venture forth, no crutches or jumper cables for them

Many others of note swept aside, buried in time. What would the world be like absent the paths they walked? Others will come who measure up to these women of guts and glory and talent. Let us remember and continue to tread the roads they traveled for all mankind

See also Two Toasts To the Sabbath

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

 

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GRATEFUL

GRATEFUL

My thoughts began to drift as I was driving home today and a question popped up. Aside from some family members, to whom, and for what, am I grateful?  Only a few came to mind and I started to feel – I don’t know- cheated, I guess. I trembled to think that at my age there should have been far more   Nonetheless, I’m grateful to these few.

I am grateful for having had the experience of interacting with two learned professors. One had the patience to plough through all of Shakespeare’s sonnets with me and introduced me to Plato, Socrates and a chunk of ancient Greek history. The second, a professor of linguistics as well as an artist, daily provides my brain with the manna it craves and challenges me.

I’m grateful for one friend who, in ten words, once said something to me that resulted in sending my children to an excellent Jewish Day School from which they graduated as knowledgeable, committed Jews.

I’m grateful to Helene Hanff, author of 84 Charing Cross Road, who not only amused me but introduced me to Quiller whose lectures on the Art of Reading and The Art of Writing taught me much.

I’m grateful for people like Mother Teresa who remind me how good man can be and for those like Elie Wiesel who don’t let me forget how evil man can be.

I’m grateful for having had a seventh grade English teacher who provided me with a thorough grounding in the art of writing and instilled in me a love of   books, as well as a teacher who gave me an appreciation for the beauty of the Hebrew language.

I’m grateful to two people who consistently tolerate me at the Bridge table and continually teach me more about the game.

I’m grateful to one man who taught me how to laugh again, gave me a love of gardening, and opened my eyes to the extraordinary ability of very young children to learn.

I’m grateful for having grown up at a time when Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole and ‘Ole Blue Eyes filled my head with lyrics I’ll never forget.

And I’m grateful to all libraries which give me access to the world’s knowledge: books to entertain, teach, challenge me.

This seems a paltry list. Certainly I could mention Martin Luther King and others who stood for equality and human rights; Jonas Salk and his ilk who gave us solutions to medical problems; those who invented a myriad of things that enhance our lives, but I am not here speaking of humanity at large – only of those who  touched me personally.

For whom, for what, are you grateful?

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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ONE QUESTION

ONE QUESTION

Strange thoughts sometimes occur to me. They  pop up out of nowhere. There’s no connection between the thought and anything else I might be doing or thinking about. It happened again yesterday.  I asked myself, “If ignorance is bliss why aren’t there more happy people?”

That, of course, presumes there are an awful lot of people who aren’t very bright: some of them   running around without leashes.  Well – aren’t there? Before we work on artificial intelligence, maybe we ought to work on doing something about natural stupidity. Instead of  testing for drugs, why don’t we test for ignorance and love of power? Viagra and multi-vitamins enhance the lives of some people but where is the scientist who can develop “smart” pills?

Imagine politics with its dumbbell element removed. There is nothing so easy to enslave as ignorance.   It is the enemy of civilization, the foe of enlightenment. “Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.”  (Frank Dane) Is that why we have irresponsible leaders who make promises and don’t deliver? Do you  think the fools out number the smarties?

Some folks believe there are things man was not meant to know. I disagree.  He may not understand them but he still wants to know.  Witness the curious child who asks ‘why’ at every opportunity. That child may not understand the principle of natural selection but he still wants to know why  the spider spins  a web. We are bombarded with information, deluged by a media circus, and it’s difficult to know what to let seep in and what to toss in the trash. The dumbest people anywhere, at any time, are those who think they know it all.  They far outnumber the brainiees.

All of which raises this question.  Can we become smarter than we are or are we doomed;  locked into whatever the gene pool dictates?  The best advice I’ve ever read is summarized in one sentence. “The best way to become smarter than you are is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.” (George Steinbenner, owner of the New York Yankees) How do you do that? Even if you  try you will undoubtedly encounter a few who are not aces in the deck of cards called life. Steinbrenner’s comment reminds me of a Yiddish proverb. ‘A table is not blessed if it has not fed a scholar.”

Maybe we could do it if we stopped treating infants and toddlers as though they were pets and instead recognized and nurtured their extraordinary ability to learn. If we did that,  there might well be far fewer idiots and fools among us. That, however, is a subject for another post – maybe more than one.

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Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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HEROES

 HEROES

 

As a young girl I saw others bow down to Elvis; applaud the Lone Ranger, pretend to be Superman and idolize Julie Andrews.  As they grew older,  the Lone Ranger lost to Paul Newman and Hepburn replaced Andrews.  I worshipped Esther Williams whose grace in the water I tried to emulate. June Allyson took second place: I thought I looked like her.  Never would I have bowed down to Elvis.

 

Maturity changes things. We leave behind the heroes of our youth and admire others who have touched us in some way or who have made a significant impact on the world. We learn of others who excel at something close to our hearts.  I discovered Hypatia, curator of the Library at Alexandria, teacher of Plato, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer: a woman who exemplifies women’s rights and equality.  I admire women who have succeeded in the political arena and women who write with velvet pens. But above all, there are three who are my heroes.

 

HEROES

 

My heroes are my three children.

They exemplify the best of humanity,

The best of parents,

Devoted to family and friends,

Committed to the welfare of others.

 

Six open hands;

Three mouths that speak kindness and consideration;

Six legs walking in paths of righteousness;

Three voices praising the world’s beauty.

Role models all.

 

They wear smiles on their faces,

Are unselfish and generous,

Know how to listen,

Slow to condemn,

Averse to anger and vanity,

Disdainful of sloth.

Tolerant of the views of others.

 

Fighters – they never say “I quit.”

Builders – encouraging the best in everyone.

Humanitarians – giving to those in need.

Students – ready to open their minds;

Teachers – sharing their goodness and knowledge.

Parents – raising responsible, angelic children.

 

They win gold stars

And blue ribbons

From Mom.

 

Who are your heroes? Post a comment.

Julie Rose

julierose60@gmail.com

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THEM AND US

THEM AND US

When I first began this blog I promised there would be no discussion of politics.  Aside from voting I have no interest in politics. This is as close as I’ll come to that subject.

It never ceases to amaze me how much different various cultures are. I once visited the Asian Museum in Golden Gate Park and left with the distinct impression that the Japanese were a peaceful people and the Chinese were militaristic. (Don’t ask me how that squares with the existence of Kamikaze pilots.) It’s unfair to draw such a conclusion but that is the impression the exhibits create.

I’m not a student of the culture of any country but I’m a bit envious of some which prioritize ideas and philosophies far different from those of the citizens of this country.  I continually ask myself why we have not incorporated some of those ideas into our lifestyle.

A partial answer might be that, compared to cultures with centuries of traditions, Americans are infants on the cultural stage. From the start our philosophy has been one that says “Work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and hurry up and do it now.”  Of course there’s more: there’s respect for freedom, a willingness to help the downtrodden.  But there isn’t much in the way of being spiritually conscious. By spiritually I do not mean religiously. I mean an awareness of, and appreciation for, those things that nourish the soul: love, beauty, friendship.

Look at the ancient Greek respect for beauty; the Indians respect for nature; the tranquility prized in Japan; the French high regard for food and the way in which it is eaten – all unmatched in America.  The manner in which food is presented in a Thai restaurant reflects a consciousness of beauty not seen in most American restaurants.  A Japanese garden is tranquil; conducive to relaxation and, introspection.  How many places do you know of that invite you to sit, absorb the beauty of nature and think?

When my children were growing up I wanted to regularly take them to the opera, a symphony, a ballet, but the cost of four tickets was prohibitive.  Not so in some European countries where the arts are subsidized and tickets are close to gratis.America is far wealthier than some of those countries so if they can do that, why can’t we?

If I compare the architecture of a Buddhist temple with a cathedral in New York, or Chicago or San Francisco it seems to me the Buddhist temple says “Come in. Seek greater peace and tranquility.” The cathedral says, “Look at how grand and magnificent I am.”

We sit down to dinner, often made from frozen foods or carry-out, gobble it up in  ten minutes and rush off to a Little League game or plop in front of the TV for hours of mind-numbing ‘entertainment.’  An Italian family sits down to a dinner of five, home-made, courses and spends two or more hours enjoying their meal and the interaction between family members.

When the Japanese Shoguns were overthrownJapansent delegates throughout the world to study the educational, economic, welfare, health care and political systems of other countries.  Its goals were to emulate the best of the lot. They were smart enough to be willing to learn from others. Has the U .S. ever done anything comparable? Isn’t it possible the health care system of Sweden or Poland or any other country is better than ours?  Could it be that if we emulated the educational system of Russia or China our kids might not score lower academically than the kids in half a dozen other civilized countries?

Israel, like America, is a nation of immigrants. Most of those immigrants are taught Hebrew and become independent and self-supporting within six months or less.  We, on the other hand, find ourselves facing numerous problems occasioned by those who do not speak and read English.  Why? Israel’s methodology isn’t a state secret: it’s not written in code.

This you may not believe. There are some remote South Pacific islands where it is common practice to hire an older woman to introduce a young man to sex.  WHAT?  That’s right. Betcha ten bucks those boys become lovers par excellence.  That is not something to easily dismiss. Is there something to be learned from that practice?

I really don’t care who our next President will be but I’d be grateful if he or she was someone who did not wear blinders: someone who recognized we could learn from others and did something about it.

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Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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FRIENDSHIP

FRIENDSHIP.

I know someone who says he’s never had any close female friends.  That, I think,   is generational  phenomena.  For men in their 60s or 70s women were (and for some still are) primarily sex objects.  They would not have gathered together with  a few women to socialize. They’d have been more likely to whisk one of those women away and try to lure her into their beds.  I don’t think the same attitude exists today.

I envy my children in this regard. While I am a wallflower and have few friends they have many and gender is of no consequence. Does a friend have to be someone who lives nearby with whom you meet regularly? Does he have to be someone who shares  your views? I now correspond with three people I consider friends. Are they friends despite many miles between us?

One is a retired professor, also an artist, who is steeped in ancient Roman and Greek history.  He is manna for my brain.  Every letter includes sentences that read:  See here and here.  So I click here and here and I learn from him.

            The second is a retired newspaper feature writer who writes poetry and short stories.    We have clicked on many levels and if he lived next door he’d probably be in my house – my bed – frequently.  We continually laugh and tease each other.  He’s like a bolt of lightening on a dreary day.  I recently told him a story out of my past which he referred to as a ‘slice of life.’  We share and are interested in each other’s slices of life. He brightens my day.

The third is one whose sometimes divergent thoughts and ideas are triggers.  He opens the door to introspection and reflection.  He gives credence to my words.  He’s the guy with whom I’d choose to sit by an open fire, sipping a glass of wine and talking to deep into the night.  He is the one with whom I dig and probe into a variety of thoughtful gardens.

There are hundreds of definitions of what friendship is. This one appeals to me more than most.

When you are sad – I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

When  you smile – I will know you are thinking of something I would probably want to share.

When  you are worried – I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

When you fall – I will laugh at your clumsy ass, but I’ll help you up.

This is my oath –  I pledge it to the end because you are my friend.

 

Challenge.  Write a paragraph or two about a friend and what he means to you.

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Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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ONENESS

ONENESS

Why did I spend some 40 years rising early each Saturday morning to attend Sabbath services? Why are some Catholics committed to participating in a daily mass? Why do devout Muslims make a hajj?  And why do some people fail to participate in such activities?  I don’t go to praise the Creator. I don’t go to beg forgiveness for my sins.  I don’t go to plead for something.  I go to give my children roots. I go to revel in a spirit of community – of oneness with others.

ONENESS

It isn’t the oneness of Hashem * I treasure.

It’s the oneness of we.

You say there can be no oneness of we.

Yes there can.

 

When I see hundreds, nay thousands, of Jews

Marching on behalf ofIsrael, civil rights,

Blacks, the downtrodden,

I am at one with them:

They are as one with all.

 

It matters not whether I enter

A shul, a yeshiva, a synagogue,

Or a congregation by any other name.

Inside the doors oneness is felt,

Seeps through my pores.

 

I have failed to learn the lyrics to Hatikvah

Yet when hearing it sung in a crowd

I tremble with pride.

I stumble when reading Hebrew;

Warmth flows when I hear it.

 

It pervades my soul.

It is my road to the Baal Shem Tov;**

Josephus, Hillel and Maimonides;

A streetleading to Wiesel and Ozick and Bernstein.

My path up a rocky hill toMasada;

My sword during a crusade;

My portal to Treblinka;

A pass to fly with the IDF;

An invitation to dig in the Sinai;

 

And an admission ticket to a Passover Seder,

Any place, any time.

 

* Hashem – one of many Hebrew words for God. Others are Adonai, Jehovah, Shekhinah, Elohim.

**  Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, literally master of the good name, 18th century founder of the Chassidic movement.

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Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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THREE FAMILY FAVORITES

THREE FAMILY FAVORITES

Back to the kitchen.  My brain demands a rest from subjects more serious than chicken soup. You might think chicken soup is a pretty serious matter and I ‘d have to agree but it’s not quite the same as discussing Plato or our rotten educational system.

Every family has favorite foods, whether Grandma’s corned beef and cabbage or whipped spaghetti squash.  Some jump for joy over a meat loaf; some applaud fried chicken; others would rather have Pad Thai.  Likewise, some dishes are frowned upon. One kid is allergic to chocolate (poor thing), another won’t look at a green vegetable, a third complains if something is spicy. Preparing food that pleases a variety of tastes is a trick only the most determined cook can master.   Here are three that scored in my family.

GORGONZOLA PASTA

Even kids who live on macaroni and cheese (cheddar) gobble this up.

  1. Melt 2 T butter and stir in 8 oz. gorgonzola cheese until melted.
  2.  Whisk in ½ C whipping cream, 1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 2 T vermouth.
  3.  Add 1 t fresh sage, salt and pepper and whisk until sauce boils and thickens.
  4.   Toss with 1 lb. cooked pasta.

CARROT RING (This is a side dish. Can be served  with anything but particularly good with chicken.)  

  1. Mix ¾ C shortening and ½  C  brown sugar.
  2. Add 1 egg and 1 T  water.  Beat well.
  3. Add 1 1/4 C flour, 1 t. baking powder, ½ t. cinnamon. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add 2 C finely grated carrots.
  5. Using a well greased mold with a hole, bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Can also be made in the form of cupcakes. Bake about 20 minutes.

SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN MEATBALLS (ABOUT 12 SERVINGS)

      A great appetizer or serve over rice or noodles.

  1. Combine 1 1/2 lb. ground chicken, 2 eggs, salt, pepper, 2 t. garlic powder and about ½ C of bread crumbs or enough to make the mixture hold together.
  2. Shape into about 24 meatballs and drop into the following simmering sauce: cook about ½ hour. 

SAUCE

6 T olive oil                                    2 chopped onions

2 chopped green peppers               2-3 chopped carrots

4 C chicken broth                           2 small cans tomato sauce

½ C brown sugar                            ¼ C white vinegar

2 small cans crushed pineapple with juice    ½ C catsup

Saute the vegetables in the olive oil. Then add the rest of the ingredients and  simmer about 10 minutes.

Share a favorite.

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

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