Category Archives: Motherhood

A BOX OF MEMORIES ARRIVES…

What occurred that precipitated the arrival?

I am so glad you asked.

The weekend before, the family celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter.

Please, do not panic. I am not Abraham’s wife, Sarah from the Bible.  

I am the 87 year old mother of a 57 year old daughter who made a decision to join her husband and three children in her quest for her official place in the Jewish Community.  She has studied and worked for the last two years towards this ceremony and the family gathered. The first post-pandemic gathering at an outdoor Synagogue service with Zoom accessibility for friends and family across the time zones of the world.  

It was a heart and soul event that was an antidote of good will, good cheer, intellectual and spiritual edification, and a beautiful outpouring of love, displacing, at least for a moment, the Covid/Pandemic scenario. Proving that with vaccinations and careful preparations life as some of us have known it continues.

The weekend brought my family together. My immediate family consists of 3 daughters, Dianne, Lori, Pamela. After the event Dianne and her family, who have been in Barcelona for the past 2 years, drove me back to my home in Great Barrington to visit. From the age of 13 she has always had a keen culinary interest (Lori, as well. Pammy inherited my reticence in the kitchen).  One evening gifted me with a great and very complicated dinner.  She shopped for all her ingredients.  I think she used every pot and utensil my kitchen possessed.  There was no room for me in the kitchen.  It was overloaded with all the food she bought and the equipment and my daughter. I was excited and I might add, a little curious.  Since Humpty Dumpty was nowhere to be found, who was going to put the kitchen back together again?  We’ll get to that later.  Best not to disturb the creative genius at work.

A triumph. The dinner was brilliant. So delicious. Each dish in itself was tasty and unique. It didn’t matter that all together they didn’t quite go together.  She has a very natural culinary talent.

In an instant, my memory was jostled back to a Christmas years ago when she was 13 and her sisters 11 and 9.  They had asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I asked them if they would each prepare their own dinner for the family.  Her sisters prepared age appropriate menus… hot dogs and beans, hamburgers and chips.  However, at 13, Dianne decided to challenge Julia Child to a food duel in my kitchen. The same result. Even if nothing went with anything, each dish, in itself was excellent.  

Back to the present… As she put the kitchen back in order, I reminded her of that long ago Christmas gift. She remembered. We laughed.  She left the next day to travel to visit friends and family and her storage unit in Baltimore.  She was in a cleaning out mode before heading back to Barcelona.  

A day or so later, she called and said she found the Christmas gift menu of when she was 13.  I couldn’t believe it.  Serendipity, synchronicity …

Here is her menu. 

Like I said.  Everything had great taste…then and now.

There are so many questions that have occurred to me from this memory box.

Why did I ask my children to learn to use the kitchen at 13, 11 and 9?

At the time we were living in Washington, D.C. Somewhere deep in my subconscious… I wanted to return to New York City, pound the pavements of Broadway to become a STARRRRR.   I had to wait until the children were at an age where they would be able to care for themselves and to understand why I needed to go.  To assuage the guilt for even thinking about  such a “bad mommy” idea, I thought of it as just a practical application of life… kind of an at-home home economics course .  Oh, my dears, I don’t know about you, but my ability to block my subconscious tends toward genius.

The other part of this memory that brings an appropriate question to mind is why is a Jewish family celebrating Christmas.  It actually comes from my family tradition.  I am one of 7 brothers and sisters.  We all went to Sunday School.  The 4 boys all had a Bar Mitzvah.  The 4 girls Confirmed.  We were Reform Jews and back then, girls did not have a Bat Mitzvah (that’s how old I am!).  Most importantly we did celebrate all the Jewish Holidays which included Hanukah, but my mother loved Christmas.  She loved the spirit of joy and peace.  She loved the music. And most of all she loved SHOPPING.  Even through the depression, she opened a Christmas Savings Account to put money away every week to buy all of us presents.  And my father who had always wanted to be an actor played his starring role of the year, Santa Claus. 

I will say that his costume was a bit bizarre.  He had a great Santa mask with beard and a gorgeous Mandarin Silk Robe as his suit.  Please don’t ask me.  I have no idea where this combination came from.  It occurs to me that perhaps as a Jew this was his “not going all the way” in the Christian mode.  It was, to say the least, memorable.  I continued this tradition.  Unfortunately, my former husband had no theatrical ambitions so we did it without a Santa.  I wonder… was our Christmas celebrations of the past an unlit spark in my daughter who was just Bat Mitzvahed?

So many questions and any answer I might have just brings up another question.

That’s life, right guys?? I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am happy to live with another question.

Right????  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. I don’t remember looking this good.

Am I Out of Touch, Out to Lunch, or Just Plain Out of IT??

I have children and grandchildren so I spend some of my time working hard on being “with it”.

I haven’t gone as far as wearing short skirts and dresses (not with my knees, please), or styling my hair a la early Barbie (if I had a Ken, I might think differently), or buying 5 inch stilettos (I’m Chair of the CLSW… The Committee for Licensing Stilettos as a Weapon).

Here is my rationale for my commitment to electronical living…

I love my children and grandchildren and I want to be able to communicate with them. Somewhere in that rationale is a glimmer of truth, but only a glimmer.

I am your basic garden variety guilt-ridden judgmental person.

So of course, THIS HAPPENING IS NOT MY FAULT.

Here is the backstory… I was dragged kicking and screaming into electronic living.

One of my sons-in-law took time away from work to educate me and hook up my first computer. A friend bought my first iPad to help me navigate that new phenomena. An ordinary cell phone was not enough, I had to become an iPhone owner.

Like I said… Not My Fault.

Slowly, but ever so surely, I have been co-opted by the tech and social media industry.

Don’t you believe it.

I went willingly to the gallows.

Without having to resort to short skirts, long hair, stilettos, I was a with it mother and grandmother.

I was plugged in! (Sorry!)

Over the last two years, I added texting to my growing bag of tricks. I was so with it, I frightened myself.

Then, like a character in a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode (if you haven’t heard of him…that is really what the internet is for… research), I began to see and hear things that no one else was seeing or hearing.

Very recently, I hosted an immediate family picnic by the lake. So great! So lovely! Good Food! Good drink! Good people! Good texting!

Did I say texting???

Yes, I did.

You see I am old enough to remember family picnics when we ate, we drank, we talked, we played and then we went home.

At this gathering, everyone… and I mean everyone, including me at some point eventually hauled out the cell phone and started texting.

I had developed one rule over the years and that was no cell phones at the dinner table. Everyone agreed, charitable to me out of family title and respect. But this was a picnic… buffet and chairs all over the lawn… so I watched and I timed. If I thought I was frightened before, that was nothing to what I was feeling then.

And this was just one instance of what I have come to believe is a really serious communication problem.

We all think that texting is communicating!

Really???

How can that be?

How can a one-sided text be likened to a dialogue between two people?

There was a time when if there was a misunderstanding I took the time (not the trouble… the time) to connect with the person involved and work it out. Of course I am older, and truly my friends, at this stage of my life, no matter how clever the machine, I cannot afford to lose any more friends and family than I have already lost… so if there are problems, I want to work it out.

Texts don’t do it!

Sorry!

They never will.

Does that mean I want more in a relationship than a text will give me?

You bet I do!

So, what to do??

NOTHING!

I cannot change the world. I can change me. I don’t want to misunderstand or be misunderstood. I prefer to hear your voice. I want to discuss, challenge, interest, invite, share… but I do not like sharing my thoughts with a machine.

‘Tis a puzzlement… how to be in this world but not of it. I have a dear friend who shares my conundrum… Recently, she sent me this article from The Week, reprinted from an op-ed in the New York Times.

THE LAND WHERE THE INTERNET ENDS By Pagan Kennedy

It is a gift. Isn’t it nice to know we are not alone? I would like to offer this gift to any who would receive it in the spirit in which it is sent.

Right?? Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

Growing Up In My Backyard

Remember this…?

 I recently wrote a Blah, Blah, Blog accompanied by a photo of a trio of newly hatched Robins.  Three huddled, featherless babies lay in their beautiful nest nursery in a cedar bush in my backyard; hovered over by Mr. and Mrs. Robin in vigilant watch-bird mode for worms, insects, and loudmouth and dangerous Blue Jays and Crows along with other predators.

My friends, forget about your alarm and security company, Mr. and Mrs. Robin exceeded all expectations.  Any would-be predators didn’t stand a chance.  The parents proved their worth in birdseed.  They took over my backyard as the Dangerous Drones of Cedar Bush.

It is now Day 11 of  the baby Robins’ birth.  TA-DA!!!!!

All decked out in their beautiful feathered coats.  They sit in their Royal Nest Nursery.  Mouths always opened ready for the feed. ( I spend a lot of time checking them out… and when I say open all the time… I mean open all the time.)  For the last 11 days Mama and Poppa have fed and protected them. 

Today, for the first time, I have noticed a change.  I can go right up to the nest and no parental dive bombing. 

I have come to a brutal conclusion.  My baby birds’ childhood is almost over.  In  too short a time, if they want their beaks filled, they are going to have to leave the nest and fill it themselves.   

LEAVE THE NEST????  OMG!  They’re still babies.  What do they know about life?  What do they know about men? (one of them must be a female)  

As long as I did what they wanted me to do, my parents fed and protected me at the beginning, and as I remember would have done so forever.   

OOOPS!!! On second thought…

Hey, my adorable use-to-be-babies, shut your beaks and test your wings.  You can always come back for a visit.  The cedar bush ain’t going away.  This is your chance to be you.  Take it! 

In my backyard, I do not allow any FEAR OF FLYING.  (sorry, I just couldn’t resist)

Love, Sally-Jane

DIGITAL AGE? SCHMIGITAL AGE!

My Dear Friends,

After a recent conversation with a loved nephew, my busy brain began ruminating. That happens on its own. Ideas hit my headball, and I am once again in rumination.

Our tête-à-tête moved as it does from family to our favorite subjects… social and political issues.

He was describing his research into how propaganda and mind persuasion for the American public existed way before digital inventions. Before computers and cell phones there were newspapers, radio, movies, handbills, and pamphlets to dispense political and social points of view. Points of view that would influence voters and prepare the way for legislation, always towards goals of one political party or another.

malicious-botIn other words, my friends, even before the bots, people could be and were HAD.

This blog is not about right or wrong nor is it about good or evil. It is about how easy it is for the human psyche to be manipulated.

Not so long ago a television series called Mad Men illustrated the birth of advertising as we have come to know it. Mostly men… and a lone female, understood how to use the many powerful tools of persuasion, aka propaganda. Yes, it showed us how they manipulated consumers.

vintage celebrity christmas ads (4)How many times have you said, “I just bought this gizmo. I absolutely didn’t need it. Last night, in the commercial break, my favorite movie star was using it in her home and I just knew I had to have it. So I bought it. I don’t need it. Like I said, I have absolutely no idea why I bought it”?

We know why I bought it! “Gadzooks, someone got into my head! I wuz robbed!”

You would think after years of living with a mother who had a Ph.D. in manipulation and mind control, I would know better. You would think!

And all of this took place, as I said, before computers, cells, iPads. Yes, the radio was a powerful tool but it could only get into homes that had radios. But as radios and then televisions became more affordable there was a seismic shift in the abilities to persuade and influence the public.

Speaking in digitalese, let us fast forward….

first computer

In 1976, the first commercial computer was born.

In 1976, I was… [I am pausing here because those of you who know me know I need to take off my shoes so I can use my toes along with my fingers to count.]

I’m back! In 1976, I was 43 years old (Ah, yes, I remember it well!)

Mother of three living and performing in D.C.. You know Washington! Even if it was only smoke signals, it was the spin capital of the world.

To me, computers were part of the old chapter series in the movies of my youth. Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. [Please tell me someone else remembers them!]

I did not get into the digital thingies, computers, cell phones, Ipads… and because of my schedule, I never had the time to watch television. If I wasn’t doing household chores and child activities, I was at rehearsal. Not complaining, just the facts.

In 1997, I was 64 years old. My last daughter finally married (she was and still is very picky) and her husband, my new son-in-law, a very brilliant IT man, convinced me I could learn to use a computer. [I wasn’t kidding… he had to be brilliant!]

computer problem

He actually did teach me. Of course, it helped that he worked a few blocks from where I was living in Manhattan. When the hysterical emergency calls went out [and they did fast and furiously] he would walk over and bring what I surely thought was a dead thingy back to life.

At 64, I had 64 years of living without digital anything. The life I tasted, sipped, swilled, was dimensional, real, pure uninterrupted life sans machinery.

When I wanted to write to someone, I sat down took out a piece of stationary with my name engraved at the top. I sifted through my thoughts slow enough to really think about what I was thinking and what it is I wanted to share. Yeah, I know what would my Blah, Blah, Blog be without this machinery. As Yul Brynner used to say nightly in The King and I, “… It’s a puzzlement.”

The biggest change for me is in my personal relationships. I made time to get together. It was and still is important to be in each others company. Don’t tell me about Skype… it’ll never replace the hug, the kiss, the touch of one to another.

Today that time is taken up with texts. If I send an email, I have to text the person to check their email for something that carries more portent than a text message can handle. And no one uses a phone anymore.

In pure defiance, I got myself a landline in Florida because I wanted to be connected to the land and not cyberspace. Big joke! Because the only way you get a landline today is through the Wi-Fi of your cable company.

phones

They gotcha!!!!

The biggest change in this digital age belongs to the number of interlopers we let into our lives. As I said before, I can be had. And today, with all the available electronic equipment and all of it pointed in my direction, at least it feels that way, to buy, to read what they want me to read, to join, to contribute, to do survey after survey, I feel abused.

On a daily level, I am bombarded by organizations like Cambridge Analytica. Oh, yes, it is now out of business. What do you know? They got caught. However, there are thousands of similar corporations slithering in and around your computer continuing the dirty business of messing with our heads.

abe.png

It is amazing but when you hearken back to Nixon and his “dirty tricks”. He was such a beginner! In Trump’s White House, he never would have been caught!

I OBJECT!!!!

At this stage of my life, I do not want to share whatever time is left of my life with what I call The Distractors. It is hard enough to focus when there are forces whose only reason for being is to manipulate me away from being me.

It’s what I told my Generation-X nephew…

I am so grateful I had 64 years without the accouterments of this modern society. I know something they don’t know. Life was definitely not easier, but somehow I think it built up my resistance to the viruses of these manipulator machines.

Not to worry! I am not going to cancel my Wi-Fi.

I won’t de-chip my cell phone.

I will charge my iPad battery.

And push comes to shove, if they come after me, I can always call on my protectors… Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon!

Right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Thanks to Lynnette for collecting the photos and illustrations.

Lessons in Catalonia (aka Barcelona)

My Dear Friends and Family,

Do you remember back in September when I wrote that I was trying to learn my smother-mother lessons…?

“… I have three daughters.  My oldest daughter and her husband and their 16-year old daughter decided to move to Barcelona for a year…”

Don’t tell anyone, but I flew to Barcelona anyway….

This is what I did learn.

10 LESSONS IN CATALONIA (aka Barcelona)

1.  Eat Tapas 

2. Walk

3.  Eat Tapas 

4. Shop

5. Eat Tapas

6. View the artists from Picasso to Miro to Gaudi to Mercedes Pasquale

7. Eat Tapas

8. Pay for Tapas

Cash Machine

9. Important vocabulary: Hola, Gràcia, Mucho Gràcia, Te Quiero

10. Eat last tapas before leaving

Traveling to foreign cultures is a balm for the spirit.

No twitter. No tweet. HEAVEN!!

Travel offers perspective. Try this one for size…

Every country carries it’s own political baggage. At different times in history, some of that baggage is heavier that at other times. For me, the week away lightened my overloaded brainball.

I recommend trying it… and the tapas!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S A little smother-mother goes a long way… like, over 3000 miles.

A Thought…

I read this book.  I read a lot of books.  This one really got to me.  Anyone heard of the repetitive syndrome in relationships?  Apparently, however we were raised… good, bad, or indifferent, we want to recreate those beginnings with every relationship we have.  Sometimes to snuggle back into fond childhood memories, but mostly, it is to make those bad and indifferent beginnings better. Get it?

How many times have you said, “I am never going to be like my mother… father…”?  Isn’t it amazing how that voice creeps in when you least expect it?  I wrote a series of vignettes about a woman named Harriet Ferment.  Two disclaimers:  First, I am the mother of three daughters.  They didn’t make it to my show.  I gave them the wrong time and date.  And two, any resemblance between myself and Harriet is coincidentally, accidentally spot on.  To give you a sense of where Harriet came from, let me share some of her mother’s bon mots.

When she took Harriet to camp, she inspected the bunk bathroom and exclaimed to Harriet and the counselor how to use the seat so she wouldn’t get diseased or pregnant.

Harriet, cleanliness, like Godliness is in the eye of the holder.

On preparing Harriet for marriage…

Harriet, no man will marry spoiled fruit.

On how much she loved her…

Harriet, a mother to a daughter is like a camel to his hump.  

On the privilege of having a daughter…

Harriet, a mother’s blessing, like her curse is forever.

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