Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today I Celebrated

Last night I cried missing my Valentine. If you missed it, click here (opens in a new window) http://mhorvich.blogspot.com/2017/02/last-night-i-cried-happy-valentines-day.html

Today I celebrated our love with joy: A candle, my favorite photo, flowers, Chocolates, and fond memories.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Last Night I Cried, "Happy Valentine's Day"

Don't know why I cried last night. Maybe because tomorrow is Valentine's Day and even though I still chat with Gregory, my Valentine only exists in my heart and in my head. I miss him so!

Maybe the emotions are raw because every morning I have been working on my memoirs and editing past blog posts. I am currently up to March 1, 2012! My experience with this editing alternates between seeing how WELL Gregory dealt with his changes, seeing how GOOD I was at supporting him, feeling BAD about when he was sad or frustrated, and feeling SAD about when I was not as good to him as I could have been!

Last night, the tears crept up slowly as I looked at Gregory's photograph which sits on the shelf next to a photo of his childhood favorite person, Grandma Carrie, and next to that, her sewing box which contains Gregory's remains.

I say goodnight to the photo every night and some sixteen months later, the photograph most often brings fond memories and joy; and peace in the knowing that he is no longer struggling with Dementia/ Alzheimer's.

Sometimes the photograph brings back the experience of our final goodbyes as I sat with his dead body ... but usually even with this image, the fond memories and joy and peace remain.

I flash on arriving at Lieberman at 12:30 PM or so on Sunday, October 4, 2015. Gregory had just died maybe 30 minutes earlier as I sat with him in his room. He was still hugging Peaceful the Bear, who was lying on his chest.

I kissed his Gregory's lips, still warm, and held his hand as I cried. I put my nose near his mouth and inhaled deeply so I could carry part of his last breath with me and in doing so allow his spirit to fill the hole which Dementia/ Alzheimer's had torn in my chest, allowing me to begin the healing process.

I cried tears of sorrow but also of joy. I was truly happy that he had died and that he had died peacefully. I felt a great loss but also a great freedom. We both could now move on with our lives ... his on the other side and mine on this side.

For some reason, last night my memories brought a flood of tears and sorrow; a renewed awareness that Gregory is dead and that I will live out my final days missing him and wondering: "What is death?" and more importantly ... "What is life?"

Gigi, Gregory's cat came to comfort me, as she always does when I am upset. She pushed me with her head, climbed my shoulder and rolled onto my chest. She sniffed my eyebrows and my eyes. She pushed me again.

She knows my sorrow, and I think she misses Gregory as well. Not long after Gigi's and my interaction; the tears subsided. I went to the bathroom and washed my face with a hot cloth. I felt better, no longer had the need to cry uncontrollably, but still felt sad and heavy.

I easily fell asleep and dreamed about Gregory. He is often in my dreams but usually does not take an upfront, active part. He is just there loving me and being part of my life. I awoke remembering the dream and felt his love. I know he feels mine.

Happy Valentine's Day to the person who taught me the meaning of unqualified love. I am forever grateful!

My Kitty

Perched on the stool
At the kitchen counter
Having buttered toast
And raspberry yogurt.

My kitty, Emma,
Jumps up behind me
Turns around once
And settles in.

I feel her warmth against me
And I imagine she feels
my warmth against her.
Love can be so simple.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Conversation with Faith

These are some supportive, gratifying comments from and a conversation with my dear Facebook friend Faith R. 

Faith was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer's a number of years ago but she did not accept the diagnosis as a death sentence! She has been working hard at living the best life possible with her family, including her daughter and grand-daughter. I am honored that she has shared part of her life with me! 

Thank you Faith. I appreciate you! (I hope you don't mind my wanting to share with my BLOG friends a photograph of your BEAUTIFUL, kind face!!! I will remove it if you ask :-)

F: Well...I just watched it (Alzheimer's: A Love Story) on Amazon....and I am sending you big ((HUGS)), Michael....you are just such a loving man....and you story is sooo loving. I wish there was something I could do make you grief easier bare. Thank you for making this film and sharing you story. ❤

M: Thank you so much Faith for you kind comments. I can feel the love you are sending. I am very proud of the documentary and the four kids who made it did a wonderful job. It has now been accepted to 70 film festivals and won 30+ awards! Never imagined this would happen. 

I have been using the documentary as a base for presentations in which I talk about Alzheimer's, Same-Sex Relationships, and most importantly ... LOVE! I am also working on my memoirs and hopefully one day I will send you an autographed copy 🙂 

Meanwhile, I miss my honey every day, we have conversations often, I continue to be grateful for having had him in my life and for the gifts he gave me, and my grief grows lighter each day. Take care. Fondly, Michael

F: I loved you table by the door...it very inspiring me. I look forward you memoirs. You love him very palabable...and you grief. I cried whole time and just wanted hug you. If only we could all be so lucky as have such wonderful care you gave him....and what a wonderful care home.  

Some kids from NYC are wanting make a documentary re end of life Alz, they want feature me....they coming town SAME DAY you film showing DAI....I was stressing hoping not miss it as I had waited sooo long, but was glad be able see on Amazon. I think the guys go back Wed AM.  

I have been real struggle much of late. I progressing. I miss that we used talk. You have been such a light my life, give me faith people. I loved getting know Gregory a little bit. You have very powerful movie. You love him very beautiful. Thank you again share you life.

Sorry if I have no been much a friend like I used be....I have had a real hard time keep up. Somehow I sense you understand. Please don't ever think you not in my heart and mind though. You, more than anyone, have helped me see things from the caregiver perspective. Thank you all you patience me.❤

M: I do understand. I think of you often and picture you in happiness and strength. I do NOT spend my time thinking "Poor Faith!" You are fortunate and you are blessed!

I will try to drop a line now and then but meanwhile I have been posting more on http://mhorvich.blogspot.com with my regular writing and now and then things dealing with Gregory and Alzheimer's.

I have been writing about Trump but letting people find it at the BLOG rather than filling Facebook, if you know what I mean, being more controversial. Look forward to hearing more about your experiences with your documentary team. Maybe DAI will record the session. I'll let you know.

F: I will still try make session. It'd be nice see you say hi. I will check you blog....I never get emails from it telling me you posted. I will try stay in touch also. ❤

M: Do you know how to "bookmark" the bog? I could arrange for it to come directly to your e-mail if you share it with me.

F: I did bookmark it....or add my favorites. But that require me rember it there, and find and go check. What I need do....and should ahve done (but sometimes it take talk with someone for it click for me) is put a icon on my desk top go check it every day when I sitting down morning coffee or tea things read.

I mean, that only makes sense right? Somedays I feel like I must have been a really stupid person in life as these things occur me and I think why did I no always do it this way?! You are such a dear friend. ❤

M: ... BUT, they do occur, don't they 🙂 I'll add your e-mail to my automatic send for the blog. Let me know next time I post if you get it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Latest Documentary Acceptance

Pleased to announce our acceptance to Film Festival #70: The International Women and Minorities in Media Film Festival at Towson University in Maryland. April 19-22, 2017.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two Doses of Spirituality: "His Holiness, the Dalai Lama" and "The Buddha Nature in Donald Trump"

Previously, I posted about my conversation over lunch with Corinne about DT and how to think about him while maintaining a sense of calm; why I was having difficulties being able to feel at peace with myself and the world with him in the role of "not my" POTUS.

Click this link to revisit that post. Will open in a new window. http://mhorvich.blogspot.com/2017/02/possible-thinking-about-dt.html

Ironically, on returning home Corinne received an e-mail (and shared the details with me) informing her about a webinar on Sunday with Steven Bodain, sponsored by the Open Circle Organization. The topic was: "Does Donald Trump have a Buddha Nature?" I decided to sign up for this experience.

On Saturday night as I was taking one last peek at Facebook, I came across a live broadcast of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama speaking in New Delhi, India on the topic of "Reviving Indian Wisdom in Contemporary India."  You can see the broadcast here (opens in a new window:) http://dalailama.com/vidyaloke-delhi-2017

The essence of his message was that the ancient wisdom of Buddhism began in India, has been protected for a 1,000+ years by the Tibetan Monks, and that it is now time for the people of India to take those truths and use them to help better humankind.

He said that it is not prayer, or meditation that matters the most, but rather education that makes the difference. And not only current education, which often causes additional societal problems, but an education from early childhood to university level which deals with moral values.

He feels that there should not be conflict in the spreading of one's attention between the demands of personal, spiritual, professional, and family life but rather if one acts from a true motivation of the heart, if acting with love, all those aspects of life are really ONE and the SAME, just as we are all one and we are the same.

While practicing this ancient spiritual wisdom at one level, you are practicing it at all levels. He also feels that these studies in spiritualism are not just for monks and nuns, not just in monasteries, not just for prayer or meditation during short periods a day; but for all lay people in everyone's daily lives at work, at school, and at home.

He said that he hopes that the 21st century can be one of peace in the world so that "hell would not need to make more room!" Then he laughed, large smile on his face, in his chuckling, hissing manner.

During the Q&A, he was asked his feelings on the "going ons" in the U.S.A. with their new president. He felt that "America is OK. It is strong. With the balance of the two houses of Congress and the Judicial Branch of government, America will be OK. The best we can do is wait and see rather than rush to judgment!"

I finally turned out the lights at 2:00 AM after watching this amazing man speak and peacefully, quickly drifted off to sleep.

• • •

I woke refreshed on Sunday looking forward to the seminar by Steven Bodain dealing with "Does DT have a Buddha Nature?" What I will attempt to do here is summarize and paraphrase what I heard during this two hour presentation.

Yes, DT has a Buddha Nature, but it is not visible and most likely not available to him. He is ignorant of its existence, does not tap into or practice its presence, and therefore is the antitheses of what most of us hold dear including acceptance of others, love, truth, etc.

So many of us act from our True Nature through our actions which are based on love, and equanimity. We are aware of all others and their suffering and we are moved to do something. He and his people act from hate, discontent, greed, and division.

In dealing with our feelings towards DT, one needs to work at not dividing life and the world into good and evil. The reality is that life and the world "just are." The division is our own social construct, when we compartmentalize and judge ... we are behaving like those people with whom we are unhappy.

A quote from one of Stephen's teachers: "Everything is PERFECT ... with room for improvement!" Our challenge with DT as the POTUS, is to come back to peace and love within ourselves, act with goodness, do what we have to do to protest and also work at leaving the anger and drama behind. The anger and drama is what DT and his people want for us, so we must avoid these feelings.

A saying: There is the Sun Face Buddha and the Moon Face Buddha. This means that the Buddha is in everything that happens, good and bad. He is in DT as well as well as the Dalai Lama. Life is absolute and essential, but also there is room for improvement and it is ever changing. DT does and cannot act independently in the world, he is acting in relation to everything that exists around him.

So our upset and distain for DT lies not only in his actions but in his use of the antitheses of what we think to be proper beliefs, behavior, and actions. We are conflicted by our view of those actions, our personal experiences, our hopes and fears, our trying to hold on to feeling good and avoiding feeling bad, to health vs illness ... but all those things will pass through our lives at any given moment and we will get to the other side only to welcome the dichotomies back again and see them leave again.

We must drop the "therefore" in our reasoning. Cause and effect does not work here. NOT: DT has a Buddha Nature therefore what he does is good. What DT does is bad therefore he has no Buddha Nature.

In our thinking there is the "Absolute" and the "Relative." We must avoid being "attached" to either. There are dark times and there are light times, there is a time to destroy and a time to build, there is a time for sorrow and a time for happiness. Life is always changing. The suffering comes when we try to hold on to this "ever changing" condition which we cannot ever really grasp!

We must detach from our beliefs on how life is or should be. Yes, we can be heartbroken over the way DT behaves but then we must accept reality as it is and do what we can to make it better. Holding on to beliefs of how things should be is what makes life possible during difficult times but we must also work at not becoming so attached to these beliefs that we become like DT himself! We must remain open to "possibilities!"

We must continue to bring love and wisdom into what we do no matter who the president is or his politics! This too will pass.

If we are upset with the people who voted DT into office, we must try to understand these people and what they are suffering which caused them to vote for DT. What caused them to think that he could help them to feel better?

Most people live in a world of duality, competing views, a polarization of us vs them, and feel that with limited resources we must fight to hold on to our own. There is, however, enough go around and without being selfish or greedy, we can share the "wealth" with everyone!

One set of beliefs does not have to cancel out the others. We must try to keep our eyes open to the relative vs the absolute (which doesn't really exist!) Nothing is independent, no one is independent of the forces at work around us. Everything that takes place and everything we do is interrelated.

Take for example the bag of potato chips from which you just took a bite. The creation of this one bag of chips included thousands of people including farmers, scientists, factor workers, package creators, advertisers, truckers, grocery store owners, clerks who stock the shelves, cashiers, people who grow trees to create the paper bags in which you took the chips home, people who built the machines that were part of the process, and we could go on and on!

Compassion is a better way to go, by living through our essential being, we can stay open and live with inclusion not separation, always open to anything, ready to see the good in everything, but also acting on and doing what we feel is right.

"Politician Politics" is about having a strong point of view and fighting to win with that point of view. Sometimes this works when the politician acts with compassion from the heart and essential self. Citizen Politics can maintain an interest for all possibilities and work for the good of all.

DT is a mirror of that part of ourselves with which we are not pleased. It is a mirror of the internal war which each one of us conducts within our mind. He is an expression of the forces in the universe that are greater than he is, than any one of us are, and he represents the shadows of the U.S. coming to the surface.

They have been there a long time. They are coming to be seen and understood in the person of DT. These forces have become more overt and less covert as they have been for so long. These feelings invoke a helplessness and rekindle our childhood fears. But one good thing that has come out of the current situation is that multitudes of people are no longer complacent in allowing the shadows too be hidden and to go unattended. People are speaking out, marching, and calling for change with a strength we have not seen since the Vietnam War. These are only a small part of the good that has come out of DT's administration.

Again, we can recognize the Buddha in these difficult times, be angry and frustrated; but then act according to our hearts with love, compassion, and wisdom. We can be angry with DT, demonstrate, speak out ... but then regain our peace of mind and know that we cannot possibly see all the ramifications of this situation. This situation is not independent but rather the result of many influences grander then we can imagine; and although we may be suffering, angry, and frightened now ... we can hold on to the knowledge that good will come out in the end.

Possible Thinking About DT

Yesterday, at the end of my post, I talked about how the issues with DT are affecting me.


Today, I had breakfast with my guru (she blushes when I call her this) Corinne Peterson. http://www.corinnepeterson.com. My intension for our discussion was to hear her thoughts on how it seems that everyone is trying to find a sense of solid ground – but also really want to have a feeling of being able to do something about their discontent.

Here are some of her comments and my thoughts which were generated by our get together. Many are also based on our current readings in: Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chödrön.

We are trying to deal with the daily difficult behavior of the current "he is not my" POTUS; and why his behavior, attitude, decisions, actions, etc are causing me such grief and such feelings of helplessness. It is difficult to know how to think about him let alone know what to do about our feelings and/or how to go about letting our voices of dissent be heard.

She commented from a yoga point of view, I thought in terms of Buddhism, and most religions speak to the issue as well; "the more we can get in touch with our own internal landscape – deeply listening to our emotional responses, beliefs, etc.; they can inform us, giving us direction on the next actions to take. This way our responses are deeply authentic. The Bhagavad Gita is also a great source of wisdom: We take action, honoring those inner callings, regardless of the outcome (which is always unknown anyway.)"

She asked me what about him and his "doings" did I think most upset me. My reply included feeling that in addition to his poor, self serving, in my opinion; actions and decisions; that his blatant lies, manipulation, "gas lighting," and "alternative facts," have created a situation in the world unlike any other before. He goes about it in a way that is unnerving and leaves me not knowing how to think about and/or deal with  those "doings."

He goes about his decision making in a way that clouds me from seeing any good that may come of it. A secondary feeling is that his lies and manipulation are so obvious, how can anyone not see through him and why do they still support him? What does this say about some of my fellow Americans and about our country's governance?

In high school, I remember being taught in "Civics" not to believe everything I read or heard: whether in books, newspaper, radio, or T.V. Now we are not only exposed to how rampant the "Fake News" has been but how it has been used against us by way of manipulation and gas lighting us to the point of not knowing what is true and what is false and/or how to tell the difference.

The ground under my feet has felt as though it is shaking, crumbling. Up until now, government (even if erroneously) has given me the feeling of stability with the balance of powers and checks making it alright. Now I worry that the constitutional purpose of those three branches of government might fail. I cannot find a place of peace or distance from the chaos that is the DT reign and the potential dangers that lie ahead.

With all the progress it felt that we have been making in the area of world peace, civil rights, woman's rights, LGBTQ issues, immigration, etc; I was most likely lulled into a false sense of security that things would always improve and that those changes would last forever.

"Do you think," Corinne asked, "that your sense of instability comes from being reminded of the Buddhist belief that reality is always changing and shifting? That you do not go to bed the same person you were when you woke up?"

This reminded me that at the basic level your body's cells are dying and rebuilding themselves. You are growing and changed based on the day's experiences?

Also, there is the belief that most situations are "empty," they just are! They are not necessarily right or wrong until we make a judgement about them? That an idea or belief is "real" from our point of view but perhaps not from the next person's point of view and not necessarily interpreted in the same way? That our judgements can be based on personal bias and with the ability to "listen" and to gain more information, they may change? That our judgements might be made on faulty or incomplete information? That over time, facts do change when elucidated?

Perhaps my "suffering" (as the word is used in Buddhist discussions,) is because I am being reminded that nothing is ever permanent and my trying to hold on to the illusion of permanence is to blame for my feelings? Everything is changing all the time, and life is impermanent?

My struggles have been trying to make sense out of the nonsense that probably has always existed but currently is so flagrant. I had come to expect and accept things to meet my reality and currently Trump is redefining that reality. I am having to rethink it for myself and how I want to be involved. My struggles have been causing me grief as I try to make sense of nonsense.

So where do I go from here? I must decide where I am coming from and act out of love. That is what should motivate my actions no matter what the U.S. and/or world situation. I need to decide what matters to me and work out how I can make a difference in ways that  I am able.

I cannot change DT, time will take care of that and hopefully the damage he does. I cannot see the good that might come out of his actions no matter how "bad" they seem but most likely there will be some good and I must  really work on looking for the good!

One good thing is that already it feels like there is a renewed energy on many fronts in having an opinion, taking action, speaking out, protesting against what we feel are bad decisions, and protesting in favor of ones we believe are right. It seems so strong again, like the Vietnam era, when protest was everywhere and it felt good to be vocal and to express one's opinions.

Perhaps people will not be as complacent with "things as they" are but rather re-establish a close look at "things as we believe they should be." Perhaps it will cause us to listen to those people on the other side to see why they are unhappy or feeling left out. Perhaps we each need to review our own biases: nationalism, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, etc.

I cannot somehow magically change the world by myself and bring it back to where it was but I can be part of the whole. I cannot let the changes and discomfort of the present situation cause me to feel helpless and to suffer but I can grow in awareness of what I am feeling the way I am.

I can recognize that things right now are out of control, that DT and the government will make some changes I dislike, that I can ride the change and hold on to my self respect and opinions as well at to be open to changing my beliefs as necessary.

I can hold on to the belief that most people are basically good and will raise to the occasion as necessary, as can I.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Some Random Thoughts Today

Emma plays with a red and blue puff ball approximately 1½" in diameter. She thinks it is her mouse, her prey.

Like most cats, she likes to show off her prey so she screams loudly as she carries the ball around the living room. She screams so loud that when I am on the phone, people often ask what is happening and probably think I am torturing her! I am not.

Unlike most cats, she loves to play fetch with the puff ball. We can spend long period of times with me throwing it across the room and her chasing it madly, picking it up in her mouth screaming, and then bringing it back to me, dropping it at my feet.

Gigi, on the other hand, and in keeping with her personality, will pick up the blue and red puff ball, bring it into the room, drop it by my feet, look up at me, and finally ... quietly ... walk away. Mission accomplished Gigi style!

When I wake up during the middle of the night too pee and an unusual time is showing on my digital clock, I like to think that it is a "hello" or "nod" from Gregory. Last night I awoke to 2:22 and also at the bottom of the clock noticed the date: February 2. 2:22 on 2/2!  Hi Greg!

Last night I had two dreams in which Gregory figured prominently. When he shows up in my dreams,  usually we do not interact but his presence is there and it is good to be with him.

One: I was at a party at long time friends and owners of Prairie Joe's restaurant in Evanston on Central Street, Aydin Dinner and Diane Ubl-Dincer. Aydin's mother was making flowers out of colored paper which were beautifully professional looking. Gregory was at dinner with me.

Two: I went into our bedroom at home (where I was actually sleeping) and Gregory was sitting there reading a book. I got what I came in the room for and left.

With all the "STURM und DRANG" of Trump as POTUS, I don't know what to think anymore! 

Sturm und Drang comes from German, where it literally means "storm and stress." Although it’s now a generic synonym of "turmoil," the term was originally used in English to identify a late 18th-century German literary movement whose works were filled with rousing action and high emotionalism, and often dealt with an individual rebelling against the injustices of society. The movement took its name from the 1776 play Sturm und Drang, a work by one of its proponents, dramatist and novelist Friedrich von Klinger. Although the literary movement was well known in Germany in the late 1700s, the term "Sturm und Drang" didn’t appear in English prose until the mid-1800s. 

On a daily basis, I realized that I have actively been reading about, studying, and trying to understand and come to some conclusions about what is happening at the White House and how it will affect my country and how it will affect me! I also realized that I DO NOT WANT TO BE SPENDING THIS MUCH ENERGY TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OUT OF NONSENSE! I do not want to be trying to outguess, to figure out, to decide how to respond actions  to the POTSUG (President of The Strum und Drang.)

I do not feel that I can ignore the POTSUG but I also realize that my emotional/mental well being is at stake! As I feel many people are doing, I need to think about how to deal with this.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Early Childhood Memories

When I was young we lived in a one bedroom apartment at 1141 West Anslie Street in Chicago. These memories are from that early part of my life up until I was nine years old in 1954.

The halls were dark and musty and I played there with my yellow "earth mover" truck.

Once I left the yellow truck on the stairs when I went in for dinner. I never saw it again.

My aunt lived in the next entrance and I had my second dinners there. Not only second dinners but my Aunt Annette and Uncle Sherwin were like second parents to me.

My grandpa (father's side) would rest in the darkened bedroom. I could see shadows from the blinds playing on the walls through the partially opened door.

My grandpa (father's side) was not a friendly man and I do not remember much about our interactions.

My grandma (father's side) spoke only a very little English and she always smelled from fish because that is what she ate most meals: chub, salmon, lox, whitefish. I remember her as being unfriendly like her husband.

My grandma (father's side) called my grandpa (father's side): "Mr." And he called her "Mrs." They never called each other by their first names Sarah and Max.

My grandma (mother's side) would send me to the mom and pop store down the block to buy olives and pencils. I loved her very much and she was a good friend to me.

Grandma (mother's side) was diagnosed "manic/ depressive." When she was "manic" she was fun (but a danger to herself.) She smoked up a storm and left cigarette burns in her chair. Every now and then she would run away to Detroit where she was born. When she was "depressive" she was quiet and calm (but mostly distant.)

I still have an image of my mother telling us about the "Kitchen Klenser" (like Comet) fight which grandma had taken part of in the bathroom with one of the other woman at the institution.

I remember that we went to visit my grandma (mother's side) at the "mental institution" where she was staying. Turns out I did not know that she was being released and would come back home with us. She had always been a full, heavy woman. When I saw her, she was a frail, empty, thin person. I was shocked.

Sometimes my grandpa and grandma (father's side) would arrive for a visit unannounced and wait on the back porch until we got home.

We would take them for a ride to the drive-in that sold accordion french fries and had a sign on top with a larger than life hot dog dressed like Tarzan. (SuperDawg)

One of my earliest memories, aged three, was when SuperDawg opened in 1948. My dad had worked on the electrical signs, lights, and order call boxes (it was a very early drive in.) They had an opening party for everyone who worked on the place and my dad took us to the party.

Once and a while I would take ten cents from my mother's purse without telling her. I would use the money to buy penny candy. To this day, candy is one of my weaknesses.

Mr. Hartell and his wife lived next door. She gave me yellow raisins. I had never seen yellow raisins before, just black ones.

One Thanksgiving, Mrs. Hartell was not feeling well so my mother brought her dinner on a tray. Mrs. Hartell died shortly after that. Mr. Haretell missed her very much. I was eight years old.

When we would visit my Grandma and Grandpa (father's side,) I would help pick onions in the "victory garden" on the lot next to their building.

For Passover, Grandpa (father's side) would set up saw horses with plywood on top to create a long table for the Seder meal. The service would take over an hour so Grandma would sneak us children a hard boiled egg each to tide us over. One was not supposed to eat before the service so this was very clandestine!

The Passover service would take so long that the children would get antsy. We would begin to get the giggles and often the adults would as well. Grandpa would get furious that we were not paying attention and yell at us, which would serve to settle everyone down for a little while before we began to giggle again. This tradition of the Head of Household getting furious was passed down to my father, who would do the same thing when we, now as adults, and his grandchildren would get the giggles.

In my paternal grandparents' living room was a clock. I would watch the little open circle turn from red to white as a little wheel behind the opening turned with each tick of the clock.

My grandma (mother's side) would repeat what the characters said as she watched television. She mispronounced some words like Tuuurkey, and Glub (for globe or lightbulb.) For thanksgiving, she hated turkey, my mom would make her a hot dog (ot-og.)

My parents would talk to my grandparents (father's side) in Yiddish when they didn't want me and my sister to understand. We usually understood!

My mom used to make Christmas Press Butter Cookies on the ironing board because the kitchen was very small and didn't have a work counter.

In the middle of the kitchen, a cord hung down from the light. At the end of the cord was the on-off switch and a plug outlet. That's how apartment's electrical systems worked in those days.

Over time, my father the electrician, added wall switches around the apartment and additional outlets in the walls.

Once I locked myself in the bathroom by accident. When my father finally got me out, my parents were so happy to see me that they yelled at me!

Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein owned the mom and pop grocery down the block from our apartment building. She called me DARK EYES and gave me a stick of licorice whenever I dropped by. My mom would write a list of things to buy on a piece of scrap paper and I would hand the paper to Mrs. Goldstein who in turn would pick and package the order and hand it to me when she was finished. Usually with another stick of licorice!

During the summer, my mother would set up large pots filled with water on the second floor back porch of our apartment building on Anslie and my sister and I would play "beach."

My mother and father slept in the living room on a sofa bed and my sister and I slept in the one bedroom. When my sister grew old enough, she got the bedroom and I slept on a small bed under the window in the dining room.

I slept in a crib until I was six because we couldn't afford to get me a new bed. I sucked my thumb until I was nine.

Before bed my sister and I would check under the beds and in the closet for "boogie men."

When my mother and father would fight, sometimes my father would enrage my mother until she would go at him with her fingernails. He would run to the bath room and lock the door to protect himself from her.

My sister and I would try to separate them when they fought. I would hide under the bed wishing my father would die, and then feel guilty that he might.

In an argument, mother would often tell father, "You father was a miserable person and you are just like him!"

Father would call mother, "Mrs. Jesus Christ," implying that she always saw the good in other people at the expense of never taking his side when he was upset with some one.

Once my father brought home a short Christmas tree from work. He got it for free. We propped it in a bucket between two coconuts we got while visiting Florida. We decorated it with school art projects that my sister and I made and which my mother had saved in a box she kept in the closet.

When I was sick I would play with cars on the window sill and watch people on the street below.

One summer afternoon, while plugging in my record player, I touched the electrical prongs with my fingers as I was leaning, without a shirt, against the metal radiator. I got quite a shock.

My mother was always reminding me to not lean back while sitting at the kitchen chair. I usually did it again later or the next time, to another reminder. Earlier in my life, I had done that, the chair slipped out from under me, and I cracked open my head on the radiator. As you know, head wounds bleed a lot even if minor so you can imagine that I scared my mother almost to death, thus the repeated reminders!

I remember the dish I painted for my mother as a Mother's Day gift. It was done in a pretty pink and blue pattern that looked like a flower. My mother kept it in the dish cabinet.

Sometimes when my mother and father were out, I would go exploring in the dish cabinet and found magical things. Usually the cabinet was off limits to me and also, I had to climb on a dining room chair to reach into it.

My friend and I each had a cigar box in which we kept magical, shinny, wonderful things. We would sit in the hall and look at each other's collections.

I remember waiting for my aunt and uncle to come home from the hospital with their new first baby. They let me hold him.

Once a little boy was hit by a car on Broadway Street, just at the end of the block from our apartment building. My dad told us about it and said that the boy's shoes had been knocked off. I couldn't imagine why that had happened but I was afraid to ask.

When my grandma died (father's side) I stayed home and cried instead of going to the funeral. My parents thought I was too young to go. I was nine.

There was a automobile dealership next to our apartment building. I used to set up an orange crate and sell lemonade to the mechanics. Many a turtle or fish, in a special box, were buried with a beautiful ceremony, on the next door lot before it became a dealership. I remember thinking that my deceased pets would be immortalized under the black top forever!

Once I set up the orange crate on the sidewalk near Broadway Street. I placed a table cloth on top and beautifully arranged my "collections." I sat behind the box, like the curator in a museum, pretending that the passing people had come to admire my museum. (Early beginnings to Michael's Museum?)

In front of a building across the street, the janitor had planted "Four O'Clocks." I considered them my favorite flower. They would not open until late afternoon and by morning would be closed again. They smelled sweet, were red and pink and orange and yellow, and were shaped like little umbrellas. If you carefully pulled out the fruit, a string would stay connected to the petals of the flower and when thrown in the air, would float down like a parachute.

In the shopping area down Broadway, there was a Vallowille Fresh Chicken Shop. They gave children a yellow, plastic chicken when they came in with their mother to shop. Wish I still had mine.

There was a shoe store down Broadway that had a grand opening. Clarabell the Clown, from the Howdy Doody Show, was the guest of honor. I used to have a newspaper photograph of the event showing me standing in the crowd with Clarabell. I had circled my face in red pencil.

The shoe store had a Fluoroscope machine which showed an x-ray of your feel so the salesman could tell if the new shoes fit correctly. Eventually they got rid of them because of the harmful effects.

When I was nine years old, we bought our first house. It was on Kedzie Avenue, was one of four units in a "Town House," and was build by our cousin Irving. Uncle Al helped my parents with the down payment.

A future post will relive some of the memories from that time in my life.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Documentary

Please to announce that ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story has been accepted to the 20 ZOOM International Film Festival to take place in Jelenia Gora, Poland February 20-16, 2017. 

ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story is pleased to be part of the We Care Film Festival to take place in New Delhi, India from January to May 2017.

Building on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its unique mandate on education, science, culture, communication and information within the United Nations system, BROTHERHOOD in close cooperation with UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, UNESCO, National Trust (Statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) and Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication hereby announces the 14th global edition of the WE CARE Film Fest from January to May 2017.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Moment in Time with a Message for the Future - 2009

First published in 2009

Step out of the oppressive afternoon sun into the cool shade of a typically Mexican Café just off the Rio Cuale. The Rio is actually two rivers with an island down the middle. The rivers and island run in parallel through the center of the city and empty into Banderas Bay. A this time of year the Cuale contains smoothly polished rocks in abundance and only a little water. The island down the middle is home to the Puerto Vallarta Cultural Center, gifts shops, restaurants, and vendor booths galore. 

The Café we have entered is just clean enough and open to the air as are so many of the restaurants here. The stone fountain, four levels high, ornate, adorned with Mayan figures and symbols does not work. Several dozen tables with multi color striped cloths are arranged along the railing that overlooks one of the branches of the Rio. Each table has four brightly colored, locally made high backed chairs with a soft seat pad tied in place. Orange, turquoise, navy blue, yellow, red, crimson, green. Did I say brightly colored?

Large piñatas gently blowing in the breeze are hanging from the wood beamed ceiling, along with out-of-place crystal chandeliers. Green plants abound growing up from the river bank and filling the Café. Green painted cans suspended from the awnings of the restaurant are filled with vines that lace from one to the next. Other plants hang from the columns and more grow in terra cotta pots leaning one against the other. Fresh flowers adorn each table.

On entering, I motion towards the tables rather than towards the bar and ask if we might sit only to have a drink. The waiter waves us in with, “Bienvenidos!” “Welcome!” He asks what we would like to drink and I ask for “la lista” or menu. He returns and after a short look at la lista, I order a Sangria for me and a fizzy water for Gregory. His arrives in an old fashioned glass soda bottle with a stemmed wine glass full of lime halves and mine in a locally made, oversized, thick walled glass with a layer of lemonade on the bottom and red wine and ice floating on top, which when mixed become my Sangria. The haze of condensation on both of our glasses speaks to the refreshing drinks within.

As we sit at a table by the railing among the plants, an older man is playing a fairly well but not perfectly tuned piano. After each piece, he looks to the two tables of people currently in the restaurant to acknowledge our applause at his playing. Sometimes he looks to us before we begin our few-personed accolades causing us to increase our enthusiasm. His songs include classical, Spanish type Malegueñas, and tunes from the fifties. With the latter we try to guess the titles and in my mind, nostalgia of a childhood begins to take shape. The old man covers his missed note mistakes as easily as he makes them and every now and then a flourish on the keyboard actually causes you to listen more closely. 

Outside the shaded walls of the restaurant, the sun is brightly warming the passing people with its glare. We watch and comment as people pass over the bridge. Some tourists shopping, some workers returning home, some natives just out for a walk. Then a dog or two. Birds fly from tree to tree and call out. Busses, taxis, cars, motorcycles rumble past on the rough road.

An old old man selling “Tuba” or coconut milk out of his aged, hand carved gourd which holds at least a gallon of the stuff, is stationed at one end of the bridge. An old lady selling “Fruta” of various types on sticks works the other end. Perhaps they are a couple. Vendors sit in their stalls, greeting and waving in the shoppers who are walking by. Children sit under a table watching a beat up television set with cartoons speaking in Spanish. 

As we are sitting there silently, neither Gregory nor I saying a word, both contemplating our surroundings, listening to the piano, quiet together - I realize that I am so very happy. And that Gregory is so very happy and so very content. And that no words are passing or need to pass between us in our contentment. I realize that I am sitting there, taking it all in and wishing that this moment could go on forever. That it would never end.

Tears fill my eyes as I realize that our love will always go on forever and that in the silence of our lives and inability with words that someday living without each other is destined to arrive, compliments of Alzheimer’s Disease. But for now, words are not necessary between us, just silently being together is enough to express our contentment, our love for each other, our joy at life!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cafe Mañana - Lincoln's Coffee Shop in San Pancho

Part of the Casita Cielo Azul guest house houses Cafe Mañana, a little coffee shop run by guest house proprietors Lincoln and Jill. He does the brewing and serving, she does the baking. Together they make a great team! 

Anywhere from a few to 30 people can be seen enjoying the shop's wears on any given day (except Wednesday and Thursday) from 8:30 - 1:30. There is seating in the shop, in the court yard, upstairs, and on the street. 

In addition, the coffee shop houses a large library of books which can be purchased or traded, an array of souvenirs, as well as fresh roasted on the premises Oaxaca coffee to purchase by the pound. Often Jill's pastries and breakfast sandwiches are purchased by the multiple as well!

The great thing about this coffee shop is that they keep the prices low so everyone can join the aroma and taste: locals, tourists, snow birds, ex-patriots, and a dog and cat or two.

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