Monthly Archives: September 2020

Great White Egret and Turtle

 

What is it about great white egrets that make me feel wonderstruck when I see them?  I could stare endlessly at their beauty.  I also want to take photos, but usually restrict myself to one or two, afraid the beautiful, feathered one will fly off.  In my experience that normally happens.

I also have a deep love of turtles, and tortoises.  This particular photo shows both a white egret, and a turtle in it.  What struck me about the scene was the way the egret was looking towards the turtle, and the way the turtle was definitely staring up at the lovely bird.  I was almost paralyzed, staring at the beautiful egret, the majestic look to it.  It was an unusual sight to see the two of them together.

They looked like buddies, having a conversation.  I wondered what they would have talked about.  Could it be the weather, or possibly the latest prey, or fish, they managed to catch for dinner.  Yes, turtles will eat small fish.  Often birds will compete with turtles for food, but this wasn’t the case in this setting.  The egret stayed with the turtle for about a half an hour.  I know this because I was there longer than that amount of time.  I was there with my grandson, and with my granddaughter.

We were at the area for a morning walk, and to look at the various birds and other creatures.  Our hopes were to come across some turtles and fish.  We were excited to see these two buddies, sharing the rocks surrounding the still waters of the enormous pond.  The two buddies stayed together, seemingly enjoying each other’s company.  The egret barely moved, and was comfortable in its surroundings.  I have never seen an egret stand so still for so long, knowing that there were people so close to them.  We were just a few feet away.  The egret wasn’t standing still in order to catch prey, but was in a relaxed state.

Beyond the two beauties, there were dozens of turtles swimming about, and fish, as well.  We bought food from a machine for 25 cents, to feed the turtles.  It was such fun.  We had a wonderful couple of hours watching the turtles, the fish, the various birds.  There were a few goldfinches flitting about, and robins, as well.  There were two ospreys, high up in the tree that was near us.  They were squealing a warning, “beware of humans”.  The goldfinches and robins didn’t care that we were there.  In fact, the robins walked in front of us, on the path, not flying away.

But, for me, the incredible event, was seeing the two buddies, the egret and the turtle, pals, communicating in a language we couldn’t hear, and enjoying the sunshine day.

___

Copyright Lorri M.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Here are a few links for you to read, in order to educate yourself, or learn more about breast cancer.

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Wikipedia Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The Breast Cancer Site-Greater Good store.

 

My mother had Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer, and had a mastectomy, to remove her entire breast along with more than a dozen of axillary lymph nodes (supraclavicular nodes, infraclavicular nodes and internal mammary nodes). She was extremely lucky to have the surgeon she did.

She survived the cancer, and when she died it was not from breast cancer or any form of cancer.  She was an inspiration, forging forward, ever cognizant of life, and held a positive attitude throughout everything she encountered.  For her, the loss of a breast was nothing compared to loss of life.  She would look in the mirror and not let her scarred skin determine the person she was.  She was a warrior, in every aspect of her life.

My first cousin died in 2008 from breast cancer. She battled it for three years.

National Mammography Day is October 16, 2020.  It is observed the third Friday in October.

Be aware, educate yourself, your family, and others.

Writings Copyright Lorri M.

 

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Golden leaves peaked out from the top of the tree, reminding me that autumn was here at last, and  beginning to show off its October colors.  -Lorri M.

Autumn whispered to the wind, I fall, but always rise again.  -Angie Weiland-Crosby

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I finished reading Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey:  A Novel, by Kathleen Rooney.  It is a historical novel, based on Cher Ami, a homing pigeon (a factual pigeon who served in the U.S. army), and Charles Whittlesey, a commanding officer in the army (a factual person), during World War I.  Their perspectives alternate, and make for an excellent story.

The prose is well defined, depicting the horrors of war, with a tiny bit of humor, here and there.  It is beautifully written account of true events that occurred.

I am in the middle of reading Long Lost Brother, by Don Kafrissen.

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Copyright Lorri M.

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Rosh Hashanah Service Streamed

My synagogue is a small one, compared to most.  It is part of a multi-purpose building, which houses rooms for teaching/study, a social room, and other rooms.  The main, prayer sanctuary is small, and its interior structure is simple, including the accessories for the Torah Scrolls.

There is a small Jewish community where I live.  And, the synagogue fits the needs of all who gather together, whether adolescents, teens, young adults, middle aged Jews, and senior citizens.  We are a small, but mighty community, and we band together to strengthen each other, to pray, to educate our children and adults, to socialize, to help those in need, whether Jews, or other individuals in the surrounding areas of the city.

I feel comfortable in this small prayer sanctuary, and it feels like the right format to be holding services, whether Shabbat or festival services.  This year Rosh Hashanah services were streamed, and I watched them from home.  Actually, I have watched Shabbat services from home, on occasion, due to weather, or other circumstances that were beyond my control.  There were six individuals in the prayer sanctuary, including the Rabbi, who physically facilitated, and participated in the services.  There were four others who facilitated, online.

Many of the decorations are handmade, by congregants past, and present, as you can see, from my few photos that I took during our streaming service.  Some were embroidered, made through needlepoint, quilting, and sewn together.

I liked being able to photograph the four scenes that I did.  It is a strong reminder of the services, the prayer sanctuary, and the accessories that congregants have made in order to decorate our two Torah Scrolls.  I am glad to have these to look back on, during times of uncertainty, bringing me comfort and stamina.

We had quite a few participants during the streaming.  It was nice to be able to see the names and faces of those attending the services.  Most of them were the ‘regulars’, as our Jewish community is composed of individuals who attend Shabbat weekly.  There were only two individuals that I did not recognize.  We are a close knit group, a stable group, there for each other within our inner group, and there for the city, community as a whole.

Rosh Hashanah has ended.  Erev Yom Kippur will be here before we know it.  Now, we continue to pray, meditate, ask for forgiveness for what we feel we might have done wrong, and seek to be mindful, respectful, sensitive to others, during the coming days.  This should not only be because Yom Kippur will be here in the blink of an eye, but because this is the way we should always behave, as decent, caring, kind humans.  We are all one, under the sun.

Humankindness equals human kindness.  _____

Copyright Lorri M.

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Taslich, Sea, Pond, River

When I lived in Southern California, it was traditional for many Jews to go to Venice or Santa Monica, in order to “cast away their negativeness and sins (Tashlich, Tashlik, Tashlikh)” during Rosh Hashanah.  It was an emotional sight to see the Jewish community gathering together, at the sea, heads bowed and heads raised upwards, in prayer.  But, the sea is not the only place where we can achieve Tashlich.

Prayer seeking forgiveness on Rosh Hashanah, and reflecting on the issues within our lives in order to improve in the year ahead, can also be attained at a pond, a river, a lake, or other sources of water.  If you do not live near a natural water source, use your bathtub, kitchen sink, or even use a sprinkler in your backyard, or a small, child’s inflatable pool.  Some of these ideas might sound silly, absurd, but it is the thought that counts, the idea that water is a symbol for absorbing our sins, our impurities.  It signifies our determination to move forward in a positive light, and not repeat the negativity of the past.

 

Water is viewed as a cleansing, and a healing power, to restore the mind and the soul to a new beginning.  We hope G-d can forgive our negativities.

My Jewish community meets at a local point by the Columbia River every year.  We stand together, as one community, praying.  And, we stand individually, as one person, reflecting on the past, and praying.  We pray, we ask forgiveness, we cleanse our souls and mindsets, and hope to be included in the Book of Life for another year.

Let us all, no matter our religion, or no religion, endeavor to be nonjudgemental, understanding, mindful, positive, and kind, in our days ahead.

Copyright Lorri M.

 

 

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Jewish Great-Grandparents’ Headstones

I was in Leeds with two cousins of mine.  It was a trip we had planned for two months, with me traveling from California to Paisley, Scotland.  From Paisley we drove to Leeds, specifically to go to New Farnley Cemetery, a Jewish Cemetery, where I would try to find the headstones/grave sites of my paternal Great-Grandparents.  Walking through the cemetery, trying to locate their headstones was quite the emotional experience, in many ways.

The day was clear, the drive there was pleasant.  I stepped foot inside the cemetery, it began to rain, lightly.  I walked up and down the aisles, trying not to step on headstones, as the gravesites were crammed together.  The light rain continued.  I was there for almost one hour, looking and looking, to no avail.  The cemetery was open until 5:00 pm.  I looked at my watch, and it was nearly time for them to close, we had less than an hour left.  I finally looked to the sky, and spoke softly and said “Please dear great-grandparents, please Joseph and Amelia, please grandma, please dad, anyone, everyone, give me a sign.  Please.”  

Right at that moment, after I finished my pleading, it poured, the rain was torrential, out of the blue, no warning.  I walked several more steps, looked to my right, looked to my left, and staring at me, two aisles over, were the headstones of my great-grandparents.  It was quite the emotional moment, a sight beyond words, knowing I was actually there, I had found them, and I was looking at their headstones, their physical resting place.  

What struck me at first glance was how Joseph’s headstone was leaning towards the right, towards Amelia’s headstone, almost as if he was protecting her, or acting in a loving manner.  It moved me to tears.

I walked over, quickly, stayed, spent time with them, and said prayers, spoke to them, let them know I cared, let them know I wish I had known them, and the rain kept coming.  All the while it poured.  I let my grandma know I was there, although I know she was looking down at me, along with my dad, and great-grandparents.   I let my grandmother know I thought she was an extremely brave and courageous woman, to have gone through what she did, and manage to emotionally survive all the horrid situations and struggles that she had struggled through, bringing my father up as a divorced, Jewish woman.  I cried…no…I actually bawled like a baby.  

I then walked to look at the back of their headstones, and was so upset.  The back of the headstones bordering the ground, where the bodies are buried, had been destroyed/vandalized.  Theirs is not the only gravesite that this has happened to in this cemetery.  There were so many more.

I was getting ready to leave, and I picked up two stones, and placed them on their graves.  The Jewish religion believes that when you visit a cemetery, you should place a rock or stone on a gravesite, to let others know that someone came to visit.  It is also a sign of respect.  It is a lovely gesture and tradition, I continue to do this to every gravesite I visit.  I also brought stones by their grave sites, back home with me.

My cousin Moira was flagging me down, letting me know we needed to go.  She quickly walked over to view the headstones.  She was teary…she understood how I felt.  It was a mixture of emotions, happiness I found their gravestones, sadness at their being gone, sadness at what my grandmother was put through during her lifetime, happiness and admiration for my great-grandparents for supporting my grandmother through everything.

The minute I walked out of the cemetery gate, the rain suddenly stopped.  There wasn’t a drop in sight.  It stopped, altogether, as if it had never occurred.

My cousins had a theory on this:  Ann said to me “they were all crying because you were there, crying tears of joy and happiness, crying tears of emotion over vindication for Fanny, and once they started to cry, they couldn’t stop”.  My theory runs along the same line of thought.  They were all glad to see me, my great-grandparents, my dad, my grandma, all of them were there in the moments, and I felt their presences surround me.  Pent up emotion came out.  We all had a good cry.  The rain was a definite “sign”, as far as I was concerned. 

Jewish cemeteries worldwide are having this situation, with vandals breaking in and destroying headstones, completely, in some cemeteries.  It is appalling, unthinkable, and definitely an act of antisemitism.  I read in the newspapers, or hear on the TV news about such vandalism several times a month.

I’ve also discovered that during World War II, the Germans and Russians used Jewish headstones to create streets or walls, with total disregard for those who had died.  

That particular day, in Leeds, was not the only Jewish cemetery we visited.  More to come on that.

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