The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.



I love to explore in general – byways, off-beat shops, antique malls – but I most enjoy exploring someone’s home. I’ve learned a sharp eye can tell me a great deal about someone; particularly someone I don’t know well. What’s on his refrigerator gives me a clue as to what he deems important. His bookshelves tell me whether he’s into history, philosophy, religion or fiction – and what kind.


Take a tour with me. The kitchen will tell us if he lives on TV dinners or cooks.  The pantry will tell us if he prefers chocolate to oatmeal. Is his spice rack adequate for Paella? Does he use paper or linen napkins? Are there flowers on the table? Is the sink clean or does it contain yesterday’s dirty dishes?


Enter the bedroom. Check the night stand next to his bed. Will we find a book or two, a flashlight, paper and pen or is it devoid of anything that might keep him awake? Open a few of his dresser drawers. Look here. A U of Iowa sweatshirt and a tee-shirt with an airplane on it. Does he fly? How well organized is his closet? Is he content with 3 suits or does he have 20? This sports jacket dates from the 16th century? Is he cheap or simply nostalgic.


Is the living room warm and inviting?  Are there comfy chairs, bright colored pillows, footstools? What magazines are on the coffee table?  Biblical Archaeology Review, National Geographic or People and Reader’s Digest? Are there drapes drawn or open to light? Oh my, look at that aquarium!

          There’s more. Are there plants scattered throughout the house; vines trailing around windows? He surely loves gardens. Does a cat come snaking around your feet; a puppy gleefully greet you? He hates cages he does. Is his garage a hodgepodge of unusable stuff, a shelter for nothing but cars and bikes, or a well-ordered workshop; everything labeled and shelved?

Here’s a bit more about this:



Open the door, I’m coming in.

Step aside while I glance at your books.

Do you prefer mystery or romance?

Sci-Fi, history or bios?


First, the kitchen.

Are there herbs on the windowsill?

Does the pantry house chocolate or oatmeal?

Do you have spices for Zim Zim Chicken

Or nothing but salt and pepper?

Looks like you prefer wine to orange juice.


What’s this on the refrigerator door?

Three appointments with your dentist?

Are you having your teeth pulled?

Going to a symphony concert, huh?

Will you use this  pass to the Botanic Gardens;

Accept this invitation to a dinner party?

And who are these three adorable children?


Move – I’m into the bedroom.

Will I find candles, down pillows, incense;

Cologne or sleeping pills on the dresser?

One book, none, or many on your nightstand?

Do your drawers hold pajamas

Or do you sleep nude?

Is your closet well organized?

Three pair of shoes or thirty?

Gucci or WalMart?


What will I see on your desk?

Files alphabetized, pens red and yellow?

Unpaid bills, letters unanswered?

The beginning of a short story, a poem,

Your autobiography?


Down to the basement.

I’ll discover you’re a pack-rat or not.

Are your nails stored in little glass jars?

Will I find a pool table, skis,

A pin-ball machine?

A bike, weights, an exercise mat?

You’re an exercise freak or you’re not


I’m stepping outside.

Is there a single chair on your patio

Or a table for eight?

Hanging vines or no flora at all?

Is there a bird feeder in the yard?

Look at that – a tomato garden!


I’ve learned a bit about you

I want to know more.

Turn down the lights,

Light a fire. close the door,

Hold my hand, talk to me.

And may I please have one of those tomatoes?

I admit to being a snoop. If it wasn’t illegal I’d probably open his mail.

What’s on your refrigerator or do you neatly file such things so visitors are unable to pick up a single clue about you?

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Julie Rose


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In my blog, ‘Writing Is . . .’ I quoted Emile Zola:  “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you, I am here to live out loud.”  I received some interesting responses to that piece but the best of the lot came from my sister who said, “Don’t let your life be a whisper.”  What an intriguing thought!

Is there any difference between living out loud and not letting your life be a whisper?  I think so.  To me, living out loud has a flamboyant tone to it. It suggests flashing lights, popping balloons, driving 120 m.p.h. It calls to my mind a very large bright, multi-colored painting of nothing but geometric shapes. There’s also something egotistical about it.  It screams, “Listen to me,” “Applaud me.”

That is far different from not whispering. One who doesn’t whisper is self-assured but not egotistical. He is one who lives his life in such a way that he positively influences others and cares not whether he receives a pat on the back.  He takes advantage of every opportunity to enjoy his life. Cloudy days don’t bother him.. He walks with back straight and head high and doesn’t tiptoe, either around people or issues.  He knows who he is, likes who he is, and enjoys coloring outside the lines.

The guy whose modus operandi is to live out loud does not care about writing backwards, losing weight or reading bedtime stories to a child. His only concern is to splash more paint on his picture, dance until three in the morning, ride a roller coaster.

Those two guys are not good friends.

Do you live out loud or do you whisper?

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Julie Rose


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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


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We learn to speak when very young: rattle off mama and bye-bye with no trouble at all; mispronounce spaghetti until we’re five and continue to increase our vocabulary. What to do with all those words? It’s not a problem for those who have diarrhea of the mouth: the folks you ignore – turn deaf ears to. Others hope you’ll listen to what they say. You will if it relates to the issue at hand: you won’t if it’s about tulips and you were talking about dogs.  Some do converse about the issue at hand – endlessly. You grow weary and quickly tune out.

I like to think of a conversation as a sonata, a symphony. Each instrument must play its parts:  none can be a tuba and overpower the rest. Real conversation is circular, not angular. It’s listening not just waiting to speak; a dialogue, not a monologue. A chat is an exercise of the tongue

An old adage says “choose your words carefully. The rabbis cautioned “let your words be few,” similar to “the less said the better.” Yet another is “a closed mouth catches no flies” How to subscribe to that advice without being terse thereby ending a conversation before it’s begun. How do we use words in ways than appeal to the listener; use them so they don’t fall on deaf ears; use them to encourage the exchange of ideas; sometimes to bring forth a laugh: to converse – not just chat.

In an attempt to meet people who had something to say worth listening to I once sampled a few chat rooms.  What I found was conversation about the weather and inane comments flowing back and forth like misplaced tennis balls.  I concluded those rooms are the last refuge of the unimaginative and the lonely. Somewhere off in cyberspace there must be conversation rooms as opposed to chat rooms but I’ve yet to find one.


I’m lost in a desert of words.

Insipid words, lame words,

Meaningless words, colorless words;

Words that taste like  dishwater soup,

Three-day old Wonder Bread.


Aloha calls for a wave of the hand,

A wiggle of the hip.

Bon jour – a good day to you

‘Have a good day’ lacks the same zip.


Julie Andrews calls out to me with  auf wiedersehen;

Her seven little charges with adieu.

The Italians greet me with ciao,

Bid me farewell with arrivederci;

Words that put me in Tuscany,

A heap of pasta on my plate.

What does “so long” mean?


Shalom and salaam wish me peace.

I’m transported to a wall or a mosque,

I can sing to the melody of Adios,

Hop  on a horse and toss a lasso.

Hello and goodbye take me nowhere.


I want to live in a wavy sea, not a swamp.

Where words are more than warm breath

That escapes from mouths,

Disappears as the fog lifts

And carry no meaning.


May you have no frost on your cabbage.

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,

And may the most you wish for be the least you get.

Have a  soft day.



I give up:

Throw up my hands, stamp my feet.

People around me either say nothing,

Dwell on the weather, or curse the maid.

I’m lost in a sea of meaningless words.

Where are those who understand

A monologue is not a dialogue,

Hearing is not listening?


I’ll write letters instead,                                                                                                     

Address those willing to share the stage;

Those who delight me challenge me;

Teach me, add spice to my day.


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Julie Rose


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Those who are a part of our lives touch us.  In one way or another they affect who we are or what we think or how we behave. If I am a sandy shoreline and you are a wave, when you come crashing onto my territory you affect my grains of sand. I may offer you a bowl of beef stew and if you tell me it’s too salty, I’ll change the recipe the next time I make it. We are all like rocks dropped into a pool of water creating ripples. Sometimes those ripples are calm and peaceful and sometimes they become turbulent eddies.


They fought, they yelled,

They betrayed each other.

No poster parents were they.

But they gave me roots, wings.


A quiet man was he,

His voice he never raised.

He taught me the value of silence,

The joy of catching a fish.


His wife, equally quiet,

Her hands never rested.

From her I learned how to 

Offer and receive love freely.


She was old – she looked like a witch.

She cracked a whip and rapped knuckles.

But she instilled in me a love of books,

Respect for words everlasting.


A man I know, incurably ill,

Bled my bank account, disliked my kids,

Taught me to laugh again.

Turned me into a gardener.

Another, far brainier than I,

Introduced me to Shakespeare,

Fed my brain the manna it craved.

A toast to them all.


My mother threw me in the lake when I was two.

A swimmer, sailor resulted.

My children got the same treatment;

Water babies all.


An English teacher’s love of words

Has never left this writer-reader.

How many others have her ripples touched?

The early learning seminars conducted by a friend

Influenced scores of parents who may pass on his lessons

To their children and their children to their children.


Even toddlers send forth ripples.

You’ve only to march to their drums of excitement,

Walk with them through wonderland.

They’ll broaden your face with a smile

You pass along to the next person you see.


We know where our blue eyes come from.

Who are those who give us a love of music, respect for diversity,

Open our eyes to the wonders of nature,

Encourage our imaginations.


The waves caused by ripples can be stormy and gray.

The man who uses his fists may breed bullies.

Those who turn up their noses at Blacks

Send an intolerance message to others:

A message that builds walls of hate.


I’d like to think the ripples cast upon my shores

Are like sand dollars.

I pick then up, keep those I like,

Toss the rest back into the sea

And the ripples continue to flow.


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Julie Rose


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          A MAN I KNOW


          We need not dwell on the fact that people – from the standpoint of personality – are different. There are those who are gregarious and those who believe three is a crowd. Some chatter incessantly and some are so taciturn you begin to think there’s something mentally wrong with them. Some have many friends and some have only a few – or none.   There is nothing wrong with cherishing one’s privacy but how is it possible for another to come to know you if guard that privacy as though it is the key to a gold mine?


It is often a challenge for one who is open and friendly to come to know one who is not so inclined. I’m not the gregarious sort and I don’t often reach out to others but there was once a man in my life whom I wanted to know.  When it became clear he was never going to answer my questions and was reluctant to share his thoughts and feelings, I gave up and, disillusioned, wrote the following.




Off he goes – into the yonder;

Into a world –  where others flounder.

Down he dives – into books asunder

The sun arises –  coffee afore Zeno.

No time for lunch – Euripides calls.

Can’t be bothered – to lift the phone,

Would rather by far –  to be left alone.


Writes  books – published to plaudits,

Articles cogent – subject to audits.

Digs into –  the myth of the Sirens.

Forfeits lunch –  in favor of  Shakespeare.

Argues with Plato – in search of the truth.

Easily recites – the poetry of Pindar,

Applauds Josephus – and Sappho as well,

Friends all – he needs no others,

Happily drinks – a toast to them all.


Twilight falls – he sits on his porch,

Sips his wine  – and soon it’s time

To order a book – write a letter or two.

Night falls – a walk with his dog

He creeps into bed –  opens a book,

Plutarch speaks –  Virgil cries out.

Scribbles some notes – turns off the light, .


Listens not – to others who tell him

Forget the books – the lilacs bloom,

And into your life – make some room.

Time for Bach – the magic of laughter.

Space for friends – searching to find

The who, the why, and the what of you.


Pity, isn’t it, that we rarely discover the who, the why and the what  of another?


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Julie Rose



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