Monday, January 26, 2015

Some of the Best of 2014...

I suppose I should have written this earlier in the month but because I cannot seem to return to sleep, now seems as good a time to think about the highlights of 2014 as any other. There are a few loyal readers out there who may be thinking there haven't been many high points in my life of late, but there were several:

December: Seeing a London production of Phantom of the Opera with one of my nicest woman friends...She shared an extra ticket with me and we saw what is easily one of the top produced shows around and probably the best performances ever presented here. It was a lovely time.

November: Getting a visit from Stepsister and her husband...They were in another part of the state for something else and drove over to see me...As they live in Texas, we do not see each other frequently. We had a memorable day in Ybor City with good food and laughter. Dinner later at a Basque eatery in my neighborhood is still being mentioned because the food is that good...I also got a surprise Kindle, onto which I can download library books...She who no longer sleeps well has been reading like a maniac ever since.

October: Stealing away for an overnight and daytime adventure with another friend...We had a PJ party complete with an old Stewart Grainger film, King Solomon's Mines. Since the original film predates my birth by almost a decade, I had never seen it before but being a movie buff, I have to say I enjoy going back in time, even if some of the lines are a bit corny... The next day, my friend and I visited Tarpon Springs for an art festival and lunch, then took in some exhibits at a local museum. There is a lot to be said for spending on experiences rather than material things.

September: A George Gershwin fan since my fifth grade teacher during my expat childhood demanded a report on him and on Tin Pan Alley, I caught a more recent version of Porgy and Bess on the small screen. Fortuitous since I do not own a television myself...The rest of the month was a washout due to illness

August: No, it was not the gossip-ridden birthday party a friend convinced me to have at my house...After that experience, I may never have another, at least not with the same people...That event forced me to step back a bit and re-examine who I was spending time with and why...
and today, when I see certain persons, it is strictly hi and goodbye, politely and speedily. Why is it that those with the smallest minds often have the biggest mouths?

Two other things sprang from that party: A quiet lunch with a dear friend who understands that the purpose of conversation is not to air everyone else's dirty laundry, unbidden, and with a sense of inflated self-importance...That equates, at least in my mind, to the verbal equivalence of flatulence...and who needs it? The other was a conversation with a friend's friend about what we value and why...

July: Othello, from the Met, at my local theatre...Almost makes up for not being able to see it in New York...and Renee Fleming...Always fabulous...The birth of my best girlfriend's first grandchild, which she missed by a mere two weeks...Sometimes, life is just so unfair...

June: A beautiful day spent on the streets of a local community commemorating Pride Fest...dancing, music, merchants, artists, local businesses, churches and other organizations combined to make it wonderful for the city and all of its visitors. Though the streets were mobbed, people were polite and helpful to one another. The only downside was a need for more public conveniences and those accessible to wheelchair users.

March: A gorgeous time or two spent in a regional park with a bagged lunch, a notebook and alas, a camera with dead batteries. I am starting to think something is wrong there because my camera batteries always seem to be dead or dying...but the weather was great and I enjoyed being out of doors and not around too many cars or people.

February: Finding out I had no cancer and sneaking off to the beach for an afternoon...

Have a great week...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK DAY 2015

Good Evening,
I am reprising a blog post from 2009, which commemorates the birthday and achievements of the Reverend Martin Luther King. I have just come from an ecumenical interfaith service my Rabbi was fortunate to be part of, along with Muslim, protestant and other clergy, at an AME congregation here. It was a welcoming environment that featured the music of that congregation's choir and the women's community chorus known as Crescendo. I was reminded of both the risk and reward of speaking one's truth.

The first recollection I have of the word "pacifist" is in connection with Martin Luther King, Jr, and protests for both Civil Rights and an end to the war in Vietnam. Residing in a community dominated by both military and government employees, the questions asked of my parents and teachers were often met with cautious responses.

"What is a pacifist?," was one of the first. The initial response, "Why are you asking?" then led to a series of even more provocative inquiries on my part that culminated in the simplistic reply, "A pacifist is someone who does not believe in violence."

When I pointed out that killing people only resulted in more people getting killed and asked why both sides could not just stop and talk with each other, my exasperated mother conceded the point that talking was indeed a better solution than shooting or dropping bombs.
Her frustration reached new heights when I observed that it was wrong to put Mr. King in jail just for standing up for people who could not stand up for themselves, then wondering aloud why everyone did not have the same rights, despite differences in their houses, the color of their skin or where they were from. She knew I was right, but offered no satisfactory answers as to why the rest of the world did not see things my way.

I knew by age nine that discrimination, cruelty and ignorance existed, for I had experienced them in my school and neighborhood, and so had my mother. I was growing up female in a world full of sexism, disabled in a school in which well-meaning teachers and neighbors, and even some doctors, were often ignorant.

Despite having the things many of my neighbors and their children had, I was also growing up in a Third World Nation, in which many neighborhoods overflowed with poverty. I also grew up around people from throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as the United States and Mexico, and grew to love many of the wonderful foods, customs and cultural experiences that sprang from this exposure.

That this environment, coupled with personal experiences, also gave me a first-hand look at the differences in the way people are perceived and treated is no surprise. Indeed, the desire for fairness, equity and dignity for everyone, which I also later learned from Judaism, and first glimpsed through the eyes of a Baptist civil rights activist and minister on an old black and white television screen, remain at my core as a woman today.

As a citizen, I often find myself at odds with the activities and views of elected officials and wonder what we are coming to as a nation and as a member of a much larger and diverse planet. I am sure that forty years ago, Reverend King hoped fervently that through his and the actions of others, rampant prejudice would end, and that rights and human dignity would be respected.

Many people, including Reverend King, were forced to give their lives in pursuit of a better world for all. While much has changed, as evidenced by the historical election of Barack Obama, we dare not forget the past nor can we assume, particularly in the face of recent events, that the battle against racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and other forms of prejudice is easier now than in past years. There is still much we can do personally and politically. That said, the commemoration of the birthday, achievements and sacrifices made by Martin Luther King, Jr provides individuals and communities the opportunity to reflect upon where they are, what they as part of society have accomplished, and what they want to see in the future.

Thank You, Reverend King.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

There Are A Million Things Floating Through My Mind...

Paris hasn't been far from my thoughts this week. After watching the film, Just A Sigh, this afternoon, I turned on the computer to write about it but instead found photos of the two million gathering in the streets of Paris today. While my days of marching around cities banner-clad are long gone, I did wish, just for an instant, to be there. I hope the families and loved ones of those killed will find some healing...Take a look at the blog called Peter's Paris, and you will see some of the photos I was looking at earlier.

Otherwise, life in my corner of the world has been uneventful. I have a touch of bronchitis and a lingering cough, but have resumed normal activities. Thanks to those of you who suggested books or borrowing opportunities for Kindle users. They all sound great. For the moment, I am reading The Winter of our Disconnect, by Susan Maushart. Anyone who is raising, has raised or who is working with teens will find plenty of humor and situations to which they can relate. I will write more about both the book and the film mentioned above in a later post.

Happy Sunday.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Slowly On the Mend

Five days into the New Year and I am finally on the mend from upper respiratory hell. The cat seems to have recuperated from his traumatic foray outdoors and all animals and their favourite human are looking forward to the year unfolding.

I was able to work on two hours of Hebrew with my friend and tutor today. That felt wonderful as I was afraid I'd forgotten all I had learned previously, which fortunately, wasn't the case. Surprisingly, it only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes of review daily to keep up and build upon what one already knows and I think I can manage that.

As for the rest of life, there are decisions pending as I have decided to look into going into a 55 and up community, providing I can find one that I like and can afford. Both are big "ifs" at this point. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am enjoying my new Kindle, a holiday gift, and on the look out for a few good reads. Suggestions are welcome.

Happy Sunday...