Friday, 13 March 2015

Matzo Ball Soup

By Trudi Kappel

When my mother’s health was failing, she moved to a retirement facility close to my home. The move gave us more time together and made it easier for me to help her. We both knew she was running out of days.

Whenever she expressed a desire for something, I did my best to get it for her. Often I was successful; sometimes not. The “farmer cheese” she remembered from her childhood in New York City, was not to be found in North Carolina. Trust me!

One day she asked for matzo ball soup. Uh oh! This dish of tender matzo balls floating in chicken soup has been the litmus test of cooking skill for Jewish brides for generations.

The matzo balls must be light and fluffy and thoroughly cooked. When not done skillfully, the soup tastes greasy from too much chicken fat and the matzo balls have the taste and consistency of lead.

Mom was a master of the art. I had never tried this challenge and was not about to.

I telephoned the only Jewish-style deli in the area to inquire if matzo ball soup was on their menu. Hallelujah it was! I bundled Mom into the car and we set off. My fingers were crossed - would this commercial soup be up to her standard?

It was delicious! The fragrant golden soup with the feather light matzo balls was as wonderful as Mom’s own.

She called the waitress to our table. “Please convey my appreciation to your cook,” she said. “I have made matzo ball soup many times and this is excellent!”

The waitress smiled. “I will do that. He will be pleased to hear the compliment.” Then she added, “You know, he’s from Nigeria!”


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Thursday, 12 March 2015

What am I, a Duck?

By Clifford Rothband

I am not a poet, and I know it. I try to rhyme, Not worth a dime.
I try to be creative, I'm not that innovative,
I thought of a harmony, and brought out a homonym;
I tried to address the situation, I didn't know the address.
I tried to take command, I didn't know the command;
I refuse to take on any more refuse;
Nor could I produce any produce.

There is no time like the present, although it may be time to present the present.
I could not desert, before dessert, even in a desert.
I couldn't object the object either.
I was so close, so why close.
I had to subject to the subject.
Am I an invalid, or is it invalid.

I tried to take the lead, I was full of lead.
Maybe I'll duck down and pick up some duck down.
I could go on forever, if I was ever so clever.
So just give me a bill,
What am I, a duck?


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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Want Appa Duce!

By Vicki E. Jones

It was late January 1980, and our daughter Amity was about 14 months old. She was a very active toddler who had been climbing everything from the age of 10 months on and she was all over the old farm house we were staying in for the summer, which was my in-laws’ former home. They had a new home nearby that had recently been completed.

Both my children were breast-fed and I was a member of La Leche League, an organization for nursing mothers. Amity’s older brother Joshua had nursed until he was 14 months old though the last few months of those 14 months it had been for just a few minutes about once a day.

At 14 months, he apparently decided it was great fun to bite me as hard as he could while nursing, giggling and laughing. Ouch! I weaned him the first time it happened.

Now Amity was 14 months. Her only interest in nursing was for one or two minutes once a day and I wondered when she would lose interest and decide it was time to wean herself.

At least she hadn’t been biting. She had been eating solids and drinking juice from the age of six months. It was just a matter of time.

I stood at the kitchen sink wondering why Amity had not shown an interest in nursing that day. Busy girl that she was, she had better things to do. Her brother, a pre-schooler about three-and-a-half years old, was busy outside walking around the farm with his father.

Amity was playing with her toys when she stopped playing and toddled up to me.

“Want milk?” I said, pointing to my chest.

Amity looked thoughtful and serious and said nothing for about a minute. Then she stared at my fully-clothed chest with a disgusted look on her face, looked up at my face and said, “Want Appa Duce!”

I started to laugh and I couldn’t stop! Finally I got a grip on myself and looked at her and said, “Okay, Amity, I’ll get you some apple juice! You just weaned yourself!”

And she never wanted to nurse again.


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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Old Age: The Last Stage

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

As I was being wheeled into the operating theatre to be prepped and anaesthetized for major surgery, one of the two surgeons spoke to me briefly and remarked that I appeared to be “very stoic” about the whole situation.

I thought about his comment later. On one hand, I took it for a compliment; recognition that I was facing a difficult, life-threatening situation with fortitude and without fuss.

But on the other hand, how silly to preen over the remark; what choice did I have? I needed the operation; what good would whining do and why should his recognition that I wasn’t creating a lot of noise be seen as a virtue?

Old age is a lot like surgery: something to be gotten through; it beats the alternative.

I believe in one universal constant: change and in the world of creatures great and small, change is another word for life. We are born, we live and we die. That experience is shared by all and while it may be emotionally cathartic to “Cry out against the dying of the light,” all the sound and fury we can produce will do nothing to forestall the inevitable.

And I believe in making the best of every situation including the last quarter of life. Whatever the particulars of each individual’s situation, while life endures some details of our experience will prove to be of interest, a reason to get out of bed every morning, even in the face of pain and loss.

The social construct we have created and maintained in the West is a by-product of the Enlightenment paralleled by the Industrial Revolution. In a world where Man writ large has his hands on the levers of progress, nothing seems impossible.

We split the atom and created the Internet; surely, we can stay young and vital to the very end, if not finally find the secret to eternal life?

Carpe diem – seize the day – and enjoy it to the full.


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Monday, 09 March 2015

Winter Woes

By Henry Lowenstern

You can avoid the winter woes,
by keeping your body on its toes,
and dissipate your gloom
in our Fitness Room,
where it never rains nor snows.


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Friday, 06 March 2015

When The Price of Beauty is Too Steep to Pay

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

Now I don't normally shop on the home shopping networks but last week I was channel surfing and something caught my eye.

This woman of a more mature age was holding this pink egg shaped device to her face and as she moved it upward, so went her sagging skin. She was only performing this voodoo on one side of her face so the transformation was quite amazing. One eyebrow magically lifted to a high arch until she had a little Cruella De Ville look going on.

image

Then, as her sagging jowls began to rise, I knew I had to have this wonderful machine. Sooooo I placed my first HSN order.

Well, I decided to keep my impulse purchase a secret until I was transformed so when the package arrived I hid it in the bedroom and waited for a little alone time to begin my journey back to the future.

On Saturday afternoon, I sat in front of my mirror and read the instructions carefully while Bella, our dog, sat at my feet and looked at me with her head cocked to one side.

I inserted the nine volt battery in the machine as required. I cleaned my face and applied the conductive gel to the area I wanted to lift to the heavens. I chose to work on the lines that as I have aged make me resemble a marionette. You know, the ones that go down each side of the mouth like Howdy Doody.

image

So, after putting on the gel and cranking up the machine (I had a choice of three settings and figured that if the lowest setting worked then why not go for the highest which in my world would only help me achieve my goal faster).

I placed the cute little pink paddles on my face making sure the four metal prongs were strategically located just above my marionette lines on either side of my upper lip. Then I turned it on.

All I can say is OMG, what in the Sam Hell? My eyes started watering profusely and my upper lip turned inside out. The dog was barking like I had never heard her before and she was scratching at the bedroom door in an effort to escape.

Thank God the machine had a default setting that shut it off after 90 seconds because in my state of delirium I couldn't pull my hands away from my face.

By the time it was over, my lips felt like they had been shot up with Novacain. My upper lip weighed 88 pounds. I had no control over the drooling and my sense of smell was gone.

I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head of which I can only assume came from the burnt hair on my upper lip. And to my dismay, I still looked like a marionette only now I had four prong marks emphasizing the lines like exclamation marks.

So, I'm packing up my purchase and preparing to send it back. I had to finally tell my husband Ron what I had done since he wouldn't stop asking me why my lip was twitching.

He was laughing like a hyena until I told him to stop. I said, "If they had advertised it as a male "enhancer," every man in the country would have prong marks on their @#$%."


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Thursday, 05 March 2015

Ready or Not

By Sulima Malzin

“I am not ready to die
But I am learning to trust death
As I have trusted life.
I am moving
Toward a new freedom.”
      - May Sarton
      Gestalt at Sixty

"If I ever die, I'd like it to be
in the evening. That way, I'll have
all the dark to go with me, and no one
will see how I begin to hobble along."
      - William Stafford
      Things I Learned Last Week

"Since I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just
Ourselves
And Immortality."
      - Emily Dickinson
      Because I Could Not Stop for Death

I am not ready to die either, but I have learned to trust the process of continuation, to love the changing seasons and to accept that there is one for every thing. So I suppose that evening would be a good time for death to come for me, ideally at sunset, after a day rich with beauty and conversation, human touch and good food.

That way, I wouldn't feel cheated, especially if I were to look up and see the carriage from which it beckoned careening without notice around the corner.

I don't think about death very much – that is, I don't focus or perseverate or even give it the time of day with any regularity. The idea of death in the abstract can be intriguing, even seductive. The idea of dying, however, is a challenge.

Dying is the messy part – the painful, uncertain, confusing part – the part that can stumble and drag on beyond all expectation with no regard for those who will be left. I myself don't mind uncertainty. I can think of worse things.

In my imagination, given some notice, I’d like to be one of those who, when asked about my appearance of failing health, might say cheerfully, "I’m living with terminal illness.” But who's to say how it will be?

The only certainty is death itself; how the dying will occur and over what length of time, remains to be seen.

Tomorrow, perhaps, after my doctor’s visit, I will consider whether thinking about it will make me more ready or not. In this moment, a small brown wren is pecking her way across my window ledge and for now I will give her my full attention.


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Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Just Call Me Old

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

These days, guess what? I’ve gotten old.
I’m not a kid; on that I’m sold.
When asked, old’s how I self-define;
Euphemisms are out of line.

I’m not a “senior citizen”;
I’m “old”, and won’t be young again.
That stupid slogan, “golden age?”
It’s bull, and puts me in a rage.

Do you indulgently accept
Condescension from the inept?
Don’t you feel a little leery,
When addressed as, “hon,” or “dearie?”

I’m old today, and I have played
A lot of roles in this charade.
The young should dump their angst and strife,
And deal with age, it’s part of life.


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Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Praying for Patience

By Fritzy Dean

As I idly leafed through a magazine, an article describing Type A personality caught my eye. These poor folks are said to be at increased risk for lots of awfulness - high blood pressure, stroke and cardiac problems - TWICE as likely to die from a heart attack as their less driven neighbors.

Aww, that's too bad, I thought. Then I began to scan the characteristics of these folks. Umm, impatient, hate waiting in line, impatient, highly conscientious, impatient, have a hard time getting to sleep, impatient, nervous habits such as nail biting or teeth grinding, workaholic and impatient. I suddenly felt spied on - and scared.

I certainly recognized a number of my own personality traits in this list. And as I studied the list, it seemed to be that impatience was at the root of most, if not all, of them.

Knowing that patience is a virtue and might protect me from an untimely death, I started praying for God to make me patient. It was sincere and earnest prayer, without ceasing, just like I learned in Sunday school.

Guess what happened? I could hardly believe it! It didn't matter if I was in line at the post office or the bank or the drive through restaurant, EVERY line I was in moved like stone cold molasses.

If I were on the freeway, there would be gridlock. If I placed a phone call, I would be on hold forever. If I stepped on an elevator, it stopped at every floor especially if it was a 27-story building, and especially if I needed a restroom.

It was uncanny, I was praying for patience and it felt like God was laughing at me!

One night just before closing time at my little local market, I ran in to get milk. All I wanted was a quart of milk so naturally, I got in the express line. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a little old lady push her overflowing cart right up to the cashier.

She beat me by seconds but I was certain she would be told to move to another checkout line. But, NO, the cashier started scanning her items. I was close enough to notice she was buying cat food, cans and tins of cat food. Cat food in bags, also. Cat food in more varied forms than I knew ever existed.

When the girl told her the total (which I couldn't help noticing was over $100.00), she ever s-o slowly dug into her purse and handed over a pile, a big pile of coupons.

Oh, no, I do not believe this. Then to make a bad situation truly rotten, the cashier informed her that the coupons had expired and were invalid. This crazy cat lady was not having it. She first cajoled, then harangued and then demanded that her coupons be subtracted from the total.

During this drama that was unfolding slowly, so slowly in front of me, I was having a heart to heart talk with God.“Listen here, God, you know waiting in line makes me die a little bit inside. Why are you doing this? God, why?”

At some point, the manager of the store appeared, having noticed the line at this checkout was really really backing up. He told the checker to go ahead and honor the coupons. Which meant every dang one of them had to be scanned.

Dear reader, I grew old and grey in that line. I used to be cute and brunette before that encounter with Crazy Cat Lady. The manager went down the line handing out vouchers for free milk and bread. So I left with my milk and a huge insight.

So huge it transformed me in an essential way. Let me share it with you.

If you pray for patience, God will not bestow it on you. You will have to earn it and learn it, bit by tiny bit. I can, however promise you this: God WILL give you many opportunities to practice. Many.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 02 March 2015

Have You Ever Fainted? All About Mine

By Chuck Nyren

That's a lie. I don't remember anything about it. I fainted. Before and after the faint, I remember.

Before: 4:30AM. I awaken, I shamble, I pee, I flush, I shamble.

After: I'm face up on the floor. My guess is that I don't look very good. That's because my more-than-significant-than-I-am other looks down at me with a panic-stricken expression on her face.

"Stay there," she says.

I generally don't listen to her when she's dispensing advice but this time I do on the off-chance that she might know something I don't. Like, why I'm lying on the floor.

She comes back with the blood pressure taker. I hold up my arm.

I think back on what I don't remember. I know I didn't trip. So that leaves fainting. "I fainted," I say.

"Do you hurt?"

"Not really."

"You will. There's blood and your eye is really cut. That was a loud thud."

The cuff deflates. She looks at the reading. "You're blood pressure is very low."

"Yeah, I fainted."

"Don't get up yet."

I don't. "I really banged my head. I can tell. That's what you heard."

After a minute, I crawl sideways, grab onto the bed, get to my feet. I'm in semi-shock but feel relatively okay. "I still don't hurt that much, but that head bang - maybe we should go to the emergency room."

"We're going to the emergency room. Just don't fall down again until we get there, okay?"

In the car, all sorts of pains are popping up and throbbing on my lip, cheek, forehead, knee, arm, shoulder. "I really fell. Now everything is starting to hurt."

"You're a mess," she says. "Your head hit the bed board, then you fell on your knee, then kept falling till you hit the ground."

”How do you know this? Are you Sherlock Jr.?"

"That's what I'm guessing. If your head hadn't broken the fall, you'd be in worse shape."

A comforting thought. I'm hoping I won't end up like all those ex-football players where you shoot yourself in the chest so they can study your brain.

We're waiting for the doctor. I take out my phone and snap a selfie. My face and head are in ruins. Swollen, inflamed, red, yellow, black. Bloody slices every which way. Huge lip. One eye is pure pulp, the other partial pulp.

Actually, I kind of like it. I show her the pic and say I look like Rocky. She says I look like Uncle Fester.

Journalistic restraint prohibits me from publishing a complete headshot. Here's an eyebrow:

image

The doctor is a jolly sort, beaming and grinning. He orders the standard blood tests and a complete body CAT scan.

I'm wheeled off. I'm wheeled back.

"We have to do something about that eye," he says. "I think it needs two stitches."

Finally, some real pain - injecting a local anesthetic in my eyelid. He fumbles around with a needle and thread, looping and twirling and jabbing.

She leans in to watch. "Wow! You'd make a really great fly-fisherman!"

He's laughing. "Ha ha ha! My father-in-law would love that! He's always asking me to go with him. Ha ha ha!"

This fellow is poking a needle in my eye and the love of my life has made him laugh uproariously. Sometimes I don't think things are funny.

I'm stitched. "So why did I faint?" I say.

The doctor shrugs. "Let's wait for the tests."

He disappears.

He reappears.

"Nothing really wrong in the CT scan or blood tests, you're fine."

Good. I won't end up like any ex-football players or Mohammad Ali.

"A few little abnormalities," he says, pacing. "Potassium is down a bit. But what probably caused your fainting is what we call orthostatic hypotension. It's when you're lying down or sitting and you get up too fast. Blood rushes down your legs and your blood pressure drops and you get dizzy. But every so often people faint."

Oh, good. Not serious.

"But we'd like to move you upstairs to the hospital so we can monitor you for twenty-four hours."

Oh, good. Serious.

"Do I have to?" I say.

There is ominous rustling in the chair on the other side of the bed.

"No, you don't have to," the doctor says, shrugging again.

I look over at the rustling. There's no way the rustler is going to let me walk out of here.

"Okay!" I say. "Roll me right up to that hospital!"

And all I really wanted to do was go home and later go to the grocery store and strut around - and everybody would get out of my way, thinking I was a tough guy, a prizefighter, an escaped convict -

Or a goofy-looking idiot from The Addams Family.

Next Time: My hospital stay, just like an episode of House MD, with epiphanies and Differentials bouncing off walls.


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