Category Archives: Learning

There’s a Place For Us

My Dear Friends ~

We are in a desperate search for stories about positive human connections. Here is my nomination for one the best stories…

I just viewed a PBS documentary film:

Harbor From the Holocaust

Upwards of 20 thousand Jews that were saved from Hitlers holocaust by their ability to get a visa to Shanghai. 

All others countries had closed their doors to Jews. A quirk of timing allowed a Chinese diplomat in Vienna to issue thousands of Jews visas to Shanghai just before the Japanese invaded China. 

The story is beyond moving and oh, so relevant today considering our own  difficulties with immigration and assimilation.

Please don’t miss this documentary. We all need the hope and the caring and love of one another.

I promise it’ll make you feel good.

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S. My friends, here is further reading on the history of the Jewish diaspora to Shanghai – GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN JEWISH REFUGEES IN SHANGHAI from the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

We the People… (Except Black People…)

My Dear Friends and Family,

A friend recently sent me a link to this article by George Conway in the Washington Post. To say I had a strong reaction is an understatement! I couldn’t understand how reading a list of his bona fides insanity and ridiculousness could possibly be worth my time. Between the pandemic news of the day and the election news of the day, we are taking a battering.

After my reply to her that there was no payoff for me in reading it, I picked up and started reading Isabel’s Wilkerson’s latest book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

(You may recall my rave review of her book,The Warmth of  Other Suns in a previous blog.)

Well, my friends I had to interrupt my reading at Chapter 2 to write to you…

WE ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! It reveals the truth of how the monster made it this far and what we all did or didn’t do to contribute to our current painful reality. It is from this painful acknowledgement that the solution can be found.

And if I didn’t believe there was a solution to the absurd and terrifying situation we are in, then I’d go out without a mask, touch my face, never wash my hands, go to school in Georgia and buy a Harley so I can join the South Dakota Bike Rally. 

So while I finish this book, I hope you’ll start it. Then, let’s tawk! 

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S.

P.P.S. And finally, amidst all this confusion someone speaks how we can understand and come together…

M&M’s: Pandemic Essentials

Dear Friends and Family, 

I really don’t get the hullabaloo concerning masks.  If I understood that if I didn’t wear a mask I would be affecting and infecting not only myself but friends, relatives and neighbors and I couldn’t go shopping or walking about, why would I even give it a second thought?  I would say to myself  right out, “Put the mask on, jerkball!!”

Of course, if I didn’t believe that people had been and were continuing to be deathly ill and dying and dead from Covid 19 and that it was nothing but a  political manipulation by “The Enemy”, (and will someone please tell me what the enemy looks like so I can be prepared?), I might think differently.  But please tell me, what human in the universe has not heard of or know someone who has contracted the virus.  If you are someone who is that someone (talk about isolation!) please tell me where is your desert island and aren’t you just a little bit lonely?

Below is a very simple demonstration of why the mask is essential to your and everyone else’s health.

If anyone is still skeptical after that video, which is as apolitical as it gets,  then all I want to say to you is, “Don’t be a jerkball.  I don’t care who you vote for but I do care that you LIVE.  Got it!  Get it!  Good!”

And now let me give you a slice of hope and happiness as an antidote  to those the little germs from the previous video. I think it is interesting how  even in social distancing (and such distances in this video… around the world and back), these wonderful people obviously use their creative juices to give themselves and others joy and beauty. 

I firmly believe, as others tear at the fabric of civility in whatever is left of this civilization, this is the kind of enterprise that is destined to keep us together.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. And whatever you think or do or say, never lose your sense of humor. Survival isn’t possible without one. Thus spake the Oracle (and my cousin Bernie).

There are all kinds of masks…

And there is all kinds of music…

A Stew Full of Thoughts

My Dear Friends,

THOUGHT 1: Yet another fallout of the Pandemic…

Every time I think I have a handle on how to handle the world I and fellow beings presently inhabit, I lose the handle.  Why can’t I keep a steady hand on the wheel of my life?  I know the rules of safety.  I try my best to follow them… Social distancing, masking, hand washing, sanitizing, travel limits.

I am kidding you and myself because, of course I know why I can’t keep it steady.  I am not in control.

I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I know the feeling well because I have been there many times before.

I think I am being vigilant. But then, I watch others out of my control, threaten themselves and others with their choices.  It then becomes my responsibility to set limits and put out the no vacancy sign.  It is so alien to the nature of this here beast. 

My door has always been open.  In the world today that is not an option. I can make some adjustments. And for this I am so very grateful that I am able to set up for a meal in the garden or the porch with safe spacing, masks and whatever else is necessary for the safety of all. 

THOUGHT 2A review of The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

I did not know the depth and the extent of the migration of Black Americans from the South to the North and to the West from 1915 – 1970.   For me, Ms. Wilkerson’s narrative is the foretelling of the ongoing struggle for Black equality we are experiencing at this time. She has chosen three protagonists from three different locations in three different decades of the migration.   Their detailed journey from the white racism of the South that followed them to the white racism of the North and West is shocking and a necessary and important tool in understanding how racism, subtle and not so subtle works. 

At the end of the book Ms. Wilkerson writes some notes about her methodology in putting this brilliant study together. She quotes from a 672 page report by a white-led Commission on the Chicago Riots of 1919 wherein the commission admonishes all.

THIS MUST CHANGE!

It is important for our white citizens always to remember that the Negroes alone of all our immigrants came to America against their will by the special compelling invitation of the whites; that the institution of slavery wast introduced, expanded and maintained by the United States by the white people and for their own benefit; and they likewise created the conditions that followed emancipation.

Our Negro problem, therefore, is not of the Negro’s making. No group in our population is less responsible for its existence. But every group is responsible for its continuance… Both races need to understand that their rights and duties are mutual and equal and their interests in the common good are identical… There is no help or healing in appraising past responsibilities or in present apportioning of praise or blame. The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; an understanding of the facts of the problem — a magnanimous understanding by both races — is the first step toward a solution.

Excerpt, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, page 543

The report came out in 1922. Last time I checked my calendar it was 2020.

THOUGHT 3:   IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST

There is no way that I am going to leave you without a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart.  Even though my go-to cheerleader, Carl Reiner, left for quieter climes. 

I am sure Carl and Snoopy were in complete agreement.

Here is a documentary he narrated when he was only 94:

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Happy July 4th. It’s way past time to put our money (and our votes) where our mouths are…

Video

Music, A Book & Thou

My Dear Friends,

This won’t take long. In this blog I share two videos. One is a professional production. The other is what happens during pandemisolockatine.

First is a song, Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma. Here is the introduction from Yo-Yo Ma’s Facebook Page:

There are so many stories made invisible: too-often-violent histories hidden beneath the surfaces of our cities, our institutions, our music. It’s our job to keep looking, to make them visible, to take action. Today is always a good day to learn. I’m honored to mark this 155th Juneteenth with a new song by the incomparable Rhiannon Giddens.  #blacklivesmatter #juneteenth #songsofchange

Lyrics to “Build a House” – Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma

You brought me here to build your house, build your house, build your house
You brought me here to build your house and grow your garden fine

I laid the brick and built your house, built your house, built your house
I laid the brick and built your house, raised the plants so high

And when you had the house and land, the house and land, the house and land
And when you had the house and land, then you told me “go.”

I found a place to build my house, build my house, build my house
I found a place to build my house since I couldn’t go back home

You said I couldn’t build a house, build a house, build a house
You said I couldn’t build a house, so you burned it down

So then I traveled far and wide, far and wide, far and wide
And then I traveled far and wide until I found a home

I learned your words and wrote a song, wrote a song, wrote a song
I learned your words and wrote a song to put my story down

But then you came and took my song, took my song, took my song
But then you came and took my song, playing it for your own

I took my bucket, lowered it down, lowered it down, lowered it down
I took my bucket, lowered it down, the well will never run dry.

You brought me here to build a house, build a house, build a house
You brought me here to build a house. I will not be moved.

No, I will not be moved. No, I will not be, I will not be, I will not be moved.


I am also reading a book that I think is important and that you might want to check out. It is titled, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. And don’t forget…

History Doesn’t Repeat Itself…

My Dear Friends,

In a recent coffee klatsch with my new very best friend, Voltaire, he reminded me, “Sally-Jane…

In light of this very wise and prescient statement, I am all too aware of how little we know of American History.  Of course, it didn’t help that history books until a recent time had a very one-sided version of what happened before, during and after the founding of these United States of America.

I am old enough to remember that my history books taught that many American Indian tribes were our enemies, but not how the enmity originated.

I don’t remember reading about President Andrew Jackson forcing them off their ancestral lands in the East onto the infamous march West… The Trail of Tears.

I don’t remember reading about President Andrew Johnson shredding Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation promises, aided and abetted by Confederate officers and soldiers into proclaiming Jim Crow as the law of the South and founding the KKK.

I could go on but I think I would rather present you with a cornucopia of gifted artists and writers who will, through document and performance, enlighten your way .

It has been spoken.  It has been written.  You cannot grow… You cannot know…

Where do I come from…?

How did I get here…?

Read on MacEveryone….  

Don’t ask me why I chose this book, She Would Be King: A Novel by Wayétu Moore. I knew nothing about it.  Maybe because I was celebrating my bookstore having finally  come out of its pandemic hibernation.  And the title was definitely quirky.  I chose a winner.  The author is black and beautiful and she writes like a dream.  In fact dreams have a lot to do with this magically and very realistic story.  I never understood what it meant to read a book of magic realism.  I’m not sure I do now but I am beginning to understand this category mixes the reality of the founding of Liberia in the 19th Century and the fantastical but oh, so real journey of the three main characters towards their destiny.  Their imprint is indelible in my psyche, my soul, but most of all, my spirit. 


In the PBS program, Twilight: Los Angeles, award-winning director Marc Levin weaves, Anna Deavere Smith’s powerful one-woman theater piece of the same name with news footage and interviews to create a portrait of rage, sorrow, loss, and battered hope surrounding the 1991 Rodney King beating, the violent aftermath of the 1992 verdict, and the lasting impact of the L.A. riots on America’s conscience.


I have a confession to make. I am usually not a podcast listener.  But I have an investigative reporter feeding me with brilliant podcasts.  She also happens to be my daughter.  

Here is what Dianne wrote to me about Jonathan Capehart’s podcast with Carol Anderson about her book White Rage:  The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide.

“Mom, Bottom line is all these policies that have kept black people down have kept all of us down in many ways.”

From the mouths of babes… she was one once… I have the pictures.

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. The best way to combat all racial inequalities is to use your voting power!!

P.P.S. Keep your sense of humor and your distance…

A Young Artist In and Of and By and For the Modern World

My Dear Friends,

When was it???   

Historically, logically even, enlightenment followed the Dark Ages.  First the Dark Ages after which follows the Age of Enlightenment… dark and then light… get it?!

I’m not talking about those kind of ages… eras… I am talking chronological ages.  Like I’m 86. Really????  Reallly!!!! That kind of age. 

I am at the age/stage when occasionally I actually peek out of my navel long enough to think – as the song of the same name goes, what’s going to happen,  AFTER I’M GONE.  Listen my  friends, since 2016,  I don’t hold too much hope for the last and coming years.

How many times have we heard these phrases?

The children are the hope of the future.

We will create a better world for our children.

 The  Children shall lead us out of the dark into the light.

How is that possible?

Leading the future towards a better world is out of the question. The children sit, walk, ride, bounce with their faces glued to their electronic instruments.

I think we would  call that the blind leading the blind. So am I just another olden person intolerant of the youngen person.

My granddaughter Ellie Maza is 18 and a budding artist. She is bothered by the direction the world seems to be taking her and her “bother” takes the form of collages, photographs, recycled furniture and clothing depicting a world gone mad in its excesses.

I shall stop here and simply exhibit her photographs for your perusal.



I am inspired by her depiction of the world going mad. She is young. She is witness to the excess. She notes it to help others to see it. If enough people see it, might it curb our appetites and slow the disintegration.

What do you think????

Love, Sally-Jane

A Movie You Must See and a Question You Can’t Ask

My dear friends,

Pedro Almodovar has a new movie:  Pain and Glory.

DO NOT MISS IT.  I repeat. DO NOT MISS IT.

If you find yourself whirling in the what feels like an endless cycle of your existentialness (don’t look it up it’s my word).

If your aging process is moving too fast, giving you physical grief so much so that you have lost count on the doctor visits. 

If your HIGH ANXIETY  wakes you in the middle of the night so your only recourse is to pop a pill or call a friend that you haven’t called before to senior-sit with you as you try to calm down.

And if you avoid any questions about what you are working on or if you baldly lie about your latest project, you need this movie.

My whole olden being is engaged in finding that which will engage my creative juices.  You know what I mean… something that will make use of my still active and engaged mental equipment however saddled with a more rapidly aging body.

Of late, I have been exposed to what I would call coincidental “bashert” (the wonderful Yiddish word for destiny).  The most recent examples being Almodovar’s new movie, wherein a famous director of past great movies is hobbled by aging health issues and loss of his muse.  Welcome to The Club!

Another is an article in The New Yorker by John McPhee, Tabula Rusa in which he is writing what I call “mini memories”, one of which includes a story about a luncheon with Thornton Wilder. 

At this luncheon, a very brash and slightly callow youth of a writer (McPhee) dares to ask Wilder who is 66 at the time (an age that McPhee thought geriatric) what he is presently working on. Politely, Wilder tells him he is cataloguing the plays of Lope de Vega.  McPhee thought and then asked Wilder, “Why would anyone want to do that?” The silence at the table was deafening. In fury, Wilder exclaimed. “Young man, do not ever question the purpose of scholarship.”  My translation:  Do not ever ask an artist what he is working on .

McPhee who is 88 now knows that those plays were serving to extend Thornton Wilder’s life.  It was a project meant not to end.

I was led to that article and to the Almodovar movie because it is exactly what I needed to read and see.

I need my own Lope de Vega and my own muse restored. I think I’ll stop with the excuses and all the other blocks I put in my path towards my next creative move. The major hurdle I face is finding like minded younger and older artists who know what I am talking about and finding a way to support each other in our quests. I think when you are younger by the nature of your youthful strength you go it alone. I believe the artists journey is singular and lonely.

Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self

 I do not think my discovering that older artists and their quest for relevancy (because really isn’t that what it’s all about…I’M STILL HERE!) is accidental.

Like I said before, I am experiencing coincidental beshart (love that word)…

If any of this makes any sense to you, I’d love to hear from you… if not, have another cup of tea and a fabulous day.

And don’t forget to see Pain and Glory….

Right?  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ♥️

P.S.

Recently, I received a book from Amazon that I did not order: The Flight From Truth by Jean-Francois Revel

No note as to who it was from… I love surprises… but I want to thank whoever did the deed.

And that is not possible… curiosity killed the cat… If it is one of youse who did it… take pity and tell me.

Puleeeze… ❤️

“I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew…”

Is what I said to my friend when I arrived back in the United States after 3 weeks of European travel.

The trip begins…

His response:  That’s it!  That’s the t-shirt!

My response to his response:  What are you talking about?

You say the same thing every time you return from a big trip.  Maybe if you wear a t-shirt with those words on it, just maybe, you will plan your trip differently.

But my friends, will I?

Last year from France to London to Ireland, I was able to do my version of travel hop from country to county.  The fatigue didn’t hit until after I arrived back in the States. To be expected, right?  Hopping can take a lot out of you.

This year, I added Barcelona to the mix. This year I hit both France and London during their heat wave. This year I am a year older.

I really do not want to admit that last sentence has any bearing on my life. A song immediately comes to mind, WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I?

After hitting my mid-80’s, everything has a bearing on my life. I wrote about it before.  I preached to friends and relatives.  I anointed myself the High Priestess of Accepting Limitations. I announced I wasn’t able to dance the night away, or do my one woman shows as I used to.  Oh, I was the paragon of accepting ones limitations. Really??? Who was I kidding?

When I look in the mirror, I still see me as I was 20 years ago.  I do not recognize the face staring back at me.

No, my eyes are not failing me.  This is how powerful my need is for me to slow the clock; to not acknowledge the ongoing diminution of my energies.  Also, I would be less than honest with myself if I didn’t share with you my Angel of Death obsession.And this is where I give you a little peek into Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s Two Thousand Year Old Man creation.  Carl Reiner is interviewing Mel Brooks who is the Two Thousand Year Old Man.

Carl:  “So tell us what is your secret.  How did you live for two thousand years?”

Two Thousand Year Old Man:  “Vell, I’ll tell you.  Every night I go to sleep I wear a lot of garlic.”

Carl:  “Garlic?”

Two Thousand Year Old Man:  “For sure a lot of garlic.  So when the Angel from Death flies into my room he flies over my bed, smells the garlic…”phew, it stinks”,  and he flies right out of the window.  That’s my secret.  Never go to sleep without a lot of garlic.  Woiks every time.”

Well, my friends, that’s my secret… a lot of garlic.  Just kidding! 

However, I now recognize that my travel arrangements this year were planned in one of my favorite states, the state of DENIAL.

What was I thinking?  I’ll tell you what.  I thought I had enough days in each country to recover my energy.  I forgot about packing and unpacking and all the travel in between from one place to another; by air, train, car.  Each place, going through security and every country in the world, except maybe deep in the desert or the jungle or maybe an ice floe in the Arctic, is difficult.  I thank goodness for the wheelchair except when they forget you.  By the time I arrived at my last stop, London, I was done, fried, finito!  Not to forget that London was in the middle of its own heat wave.  And make no mistake, one’s age is very telling in the heat. 

I gave up the Underground (their subway) years ago…too many stairs.  Taxiing was my choice. However, London has the same traffic problem that all major cities have, and the heavy toll that cars have to pay to come into the city makes no difference.  They pay the toll.  I sat in enough taxis that didn’t move before I was forced to walk.

I had to limit my excursions to places I could walk to and also to walking with people who didn’t mind walking slowly.  And I mean slowly.  I discovered if I started out the day before I had to be somewhere, I could walk to my destinations of the theatre, the restaurants, the galleries.

And that is when I had my epiphany.  STOP COMPLAINING!  Getting older is definitely better than the alternative (ask the Two Thousand Year Old Man… I love garlic) 

If I could I would get down on my knees in gratitude that I was able to see my family (in Barcelona), my family in Ireland, and my friends in France and London.  As in the song of the same name, I’M STILL HERE! 

Adapt!  Isn’t that what the species is supposed to do.

I remember looking at the Tar Pits in Los Angeles and thinking, oh, those poor dinosaurs.  If only they could have adapted to the changes that were happening around them, we wouldn’t need a Jurassic Park movie.  We would have our very own zoo of prehistorics.

I do feel like the neanderthal of my clan, but that is all right. I may be shrinking, but I am adapting as I go. 

Right?  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

On the Waterloo Bridge crossing the Thames

 

Learning How To Kiss the Blarney Stone

Once upon a time 5,000 years ago in a spot called New Grange in Ireland about 2 hours north of Dublin a bunch of cavemen and women met atop this very hill.  They joined hands and other parts and decided to develop a place where they could hold events. They don’t know for sure but mainly it was for various rites and rituals.  You know a wedding one day, next day a funeral .  A Celtic rental hall.

There were caves with drawings on the stone walls. Very primitive but very beautiful. We went there today. Kind of like Ireland’s Stonehenge.

As I squeezed myself into this narrow low ceilinged cave and the guide turned the lights off to show the path of sunlight… where and how the sun of the various solstices shone. A baby held by one of the tourists erupted into hysterical 😭 crying. Inwardly, I joined her and wondered why someone wasn’t holding me and assuring me that I would make it out of this cave alive.

I did make it out, by the way and I am sooo glad I went. Let’s put it this way…

It gave me no ease to hear I was under 5 tons of dirt and rock and nothing had ever moved…. YET!!!!  

Where’s the local Pub when you need one? Can you tell I’ve been touched with a bit of the blarney?  It’s catching and it’s wonderful.

Love ❤️ Sally-Jane