Youthful Beauties

dead of winter

It amazes me how nature displays its wonder in winter.  Tree trunks bend forward, youthful beauties, beginning their growth, all limbs.  Their branches hovering over the stream, awkwardly, self-concious preteens, adolescents, seeking their status within the group of boughs.

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Winter trees with branches that are almost colorless stilts, drab to some, but lovely to me in their neutralness.  They too, hover over the river, and their reflections appear stick-like in the water.  Come spring their branches will flourish with leaves, perceptions of fullness, as they mature.

grasses

Grasses and shrubs compete for attention in the stillness of winter.  Golden blades, stand tall, proud.  Splashes of green fencing form a wall fronting the river.

Winter beauty, bare branches, grasses, and river, nature rests in quietude.

Copyright Lorri M.

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Quotes, Bird Photos, and a Book

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.  -Anais Nin

cardinalsnow.jpg

 

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.  -Robert Lynd

white egret

 

I would rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach 10,000 stars how not to dance.  -E.E. Cummings

tree and bird

Tree and Bird-A Havdalah Adventure, by Leora Lazarus, and Leon Lazarus, is a beautiful, insightful, and delightful book, about friendship between a bird and an olive tree.  I highly recommend it, for your own child/children, grandchildren, classroom library, school library, and any personal library.

-Photographs Copyright, Lorri M.

 

 

 

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I am a Bookworm

If you truly know me, and my passions, you know what an avid reader I am.  My name is known to a few very dear friends, and family, as Bookdiva (for 20 years, now).  That persona illuminates my love of books.

For me, books are more than an inanimate object.  They breathe life, filling my senses, from their feel, scent of them, varied page textures and scripts, within the books, the taste of each book’s aura, and even listening to the pages being turned, by my fingers.  The stories within them inspire me, bring me hope, educate me on many levels, make me mad, make me cry, make me smile, and make me feel grateful for having perused them.

When/if you call me a bookworm, I receive it as a compliment.  Books are a part of my soul, ever present, surrounding my hours with comfort.

Here are  the books that I have read, so far, in 2020, in no particular order:
A Bell for Adano
The Family Upstairs
The Survivors
Under Occupation

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Grandma Mary and Her Parents

My maternal grandma,  Mary, lost her father as a teenager (she was 14-years old). Her father, Raphael died November 30, 1897, and the death certificate lists food-poisoning as the cause, with a cold and indigestion as contributing factors towards heart failure. He died at home, in Manhattan.  Her mother, Felicia died December 29, 1902, at home, of heart disease (grandma was nineteen-years old). They are both buried at Calvary Cemetery.  I was stunned to learn that they both died before grandma turned twenty.

Grandma was an orphan, both parents deceased by the time she was nineteen-years old.  I now know this is why she was so empathetic and understanding, when my father died, always concerned about me, about my brother, and how we were.  She totally understood, having lost both of her parents by the time she, herself, was only nineteen-years old.  How sad for her, that she lost them both so young.  It must have altered her life immensely, in ways I can’t even begin to understand.  Losing one parent, my father, at the age of 16 was traumatic enough, and I can’t imagine losing two parents within five years.  I cried and cried upon discovering this fact.  May they all rest in peace, together as a family.

Life was hard, the stress of trying to maintain the necessities of life was difficult, often causing heart attacks, and disease, such as typhus or pneumonia, which was rampant in epidemic levels, and many immigrants died early in life due to these factors.  Several ancestral babies died, and I am assuming they might have contracted typhus or pneumonia.  There are other factors  of course, for my great-grandparents dying at the ages they did.

Being an immigrant forged many hardships.  Survival in an unknown world, with new surroundings, caused extreme stress on those who emigrated to America.  Assimilation was difficult, especially for those who didn’t speak English.  I am positive my great-grandparents only spoke Italian  Jobs for immigrants were few and far between, causing additional stress for families trying to maintain the essentials for life, food, shelter, clothing, etc.

There are times I sit and weep, thinking about the life they dreamed they would have, the life they actually had, and how life took its turns on Raphael, Felicia and their children.  I speak to them during those moments, and thank them for their endeavors to begin a new life.  I yearn for them, at times, yearn or long to know them, physically.  Genealogical research often brings up those emotions to those searching for links to their ancestral past.  You become so involved with lives of the past, and each time you find a new piece of data, the puzzle gets filled a bit more.  But, at the same time, you become so emotionally involved in not only the searching but the information received, as well.  It is life-altering in many ways.

After all, you realize that these individuals, these courageous, wonderful human beings, are your ancestors whom you are descended from, and without their emigration, without their lives as immigrants, you would not be here, in America, you simply would not be, at all.  It is difficult to escape that reality, while researching family history.  It is as if they are there, before your eyes, and in a sense they are.  Their DNA runs through my veins.

Original signatures on death, birth, and marriage certificates are intriguing, as well as the information garnered, such as addresses, dates, ages, names, etc.  Reasons for deaths often make sense in the scheme of future generations.  One becomes immediately consumed and involved.  At least I was consumed, and realized the profoundness of their journey from Italy to New York City, and wanting to start a new life, in an unknown world.  New York City was not only a ‘melting pot’, in 1890, but also a city that held extremes for daily existence.

Through death certificates, I realize the extent of the hard childhood my grandma had, losing both of her parents so young in life.  Research has also revealed to me the difficulties of daily life, hour to hour, at that point in time, in New York City.  Difficulties that Raphael and Felicia did their best to overcome, handling the struggles before them.  They somehow managed to fulfill the necessities needed, through long hours of hard work.  They were fighters, warriors of a societal age that often prevented immigrants to obtain a minimal, yet decent standard of living.  They persevered, along with their children.

My grandma Mary was a part of her parents’ struggle.  They made sure she went to school, in an age when education was often seen as a negative.  She worked after school.  Once she graduated, she worked full time as a dressmaker for a clothing company, with her salary helping her family maintain daily needs.

Upon the death of her parents, she moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, continuing to work as a dressmaker.  Life was definitely difficult for all of the family members, each one an immigrant.

To me, grandma Mary is a testament to strength, courage and love, for succeeding within the confines of being an immigrant.  I thank her for sustaining the hardships thrust upon her, and her ability to move forward through unknown doors.  I am grateful that she had the tenacity to conquer the strains and stresses life set before her.

Grandma Mary was a warrior, before females were considered to have such recognition.

 

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Bubbe Fanny

I remember Bubbe Fanny with fondness and love, humor and joy.  Grandma Fanny enjoyed people, enjoyed her family, and I remember visiting her during the summer and winter, and having fun with her.

She would always take me to New York City, we would ride the train from her apartment in Brooklyn.  We would always go to the Horn and Hardart Automat.  I loved being able to view the food and choose what I wanted.  Sandwiches were piled high, cakes and pies gleamed and beckoned me.   I could choose a hot meal a la carte, or choose a steaming soup.  My bubbe would let me put the coins in, turn the knob, and out would come my choice.  I felt very grown-up and important.

I loved the food she cooked, the delicious briskets with the edges crispier.  I would peel a piece off, and she would tell me not to do that, but the twinkle of joy in her eyes stated a different story.  I loved the yummy potato latkes she cooked, and the wonderful desserts she baked.   I was always looking inside her refrigerator, for some deli food and/or herring in sour cream sauce or gefilte fish, to eat.  I am sure I ate her out of house and home when I was there.  She never prohibited me from eating what I wanted, or showed any dismay regarding my choices.

You would think that I was deprived by my parents, but I was not.  I just relished what was in her refrigerator, and also inside her cupboards.  Yes, some of the same items were in the refrigerator, and cupboards, at home, but it felt different to be able to browse through hers.  I imagine it was because I was treated special, being the grandchild.

I remember us packing sandwiches, drinks, snacks, sun lotion, towels, an extra change of clothes, etc., and traveling on the EL to go to Brighton Beach with her, during the summer, and we would always get in the first car, and I would go up to the front window, and watch the journey.  I loved looking out of the first car window, as the train moved along the tracks, clacking sounds, and the motion, made it delightful.  We would get off the train, and there were stalls of vendors everywhere, and you could feel excitement in the air, along with the wonderful scent of the ocean and foods from the vendor stalls.  Chatter surrounded us in varied languages from English to Yiddish, Italian to Russian, and other European dialects.  Hand gestures followed the people conversing.  It seemed to me, then, that all ethnicities spoke with their hands or other body movements.  The cultural diversity was fascinating to me, and was wonderful to be in the midst of.

Bubbe loved the beach, and would often meet her girlfriends there (who also brought their grandchildren along), and chatter the afternoon away. Brighton Beach was always crowded, no matter the season, but especially in the summer.   You could listen to conversations, and people-watch all the ladies sitting on their broad-striped beach chairs, in their bathing suits and their bright head scarves or bandanas wrapped around their heads, underneath colorful umbrellas hovering above them.   You could hear them laughing and speaking Yiddish, and enjoying the afternoon together.  They would have huge bags of homemade egg salad or tuna fish sandwiches for their grandchildren, cookies and bottles of soda-pop.  I could always talk bubbe into buying knishes, or sometimes a Nathan’s hotdog.  Those were truly joyous days.  Life was filled with innocence and fun moments.

Bubbe returned to England (where she was born), in 1961, one year after my father died. She must have felt quite alone, seeing as my grandfather had died, and then my father died five years later.  We were there, were her family, but I know she still felt a loss, a great void.  She wanted to start anew.  She still had living relatives in England, sisters and brothers.  She eventually remarried an American she met while he was on vacation in London.  He was a widower.  They married and they spent the rest of their lives in Rochester, New York (upstate New York).

I saw them in 1972, when I took a trip from my home in California to New York to visit relatives, with my husband, and my 18-month old son.  They were going to stay at a hotel in New York City, rather than have us travel to Rochester.

We reunited at Grand Central Station.  She looked the same as I last saw her, and hadn’t aged in appearance.  We walked through Grand Central Station.  She slipped her arm through mine and we walked around.  It felt like old times, with comfortable conversation and the ease of familial bonds.  We eventually went back to her hotel room, as her husband was getting tired (he walked with difficulty from a stroke) and we had food brought up to the hotel room.

I am grateful that bubble was able to see her great-grandson.  I am grateful that I was able to see her, after so many years.  It was a wonderful visit, and one I will never forget.  It was the last time I saw her.

Although separated by distance, we continued to write, and have phone conversations. Although she died in 1983, z”l, her essence is a constant, remaining  within me.

Happy Birthday, Bubbe.

 

 

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Similar to Trees

tree branch arches

Look at the bark’s exterior, striated, cracked fibers, clinging to its core, the skin of the elderly.  Look at those roots, gnarled with age, much like some humans, as our years move forward.  

trees stretch

Think about the unseen life harbored within the confines of the tree, ants, other insects, squirrels, frogs, raccoons, weeds, and seeds of life ready to burst forth, much like the children we have harbored, and loved, within our arms.

treeslikeus

Trees, similar to us (or vice versa), connections to the past bring life to the present, and spread their branches outward, creating environmental love, elegance and continuing ancestral connections.  Think about the unseen, the beauty, the wonderment of it all.  

branches

Copyright Lorri M.

 

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