The Best Frying Pan in the World!

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When I was a child my mother made us blintzes (thin pancakes, crepes or blinis). We usually ate blintzes on summer days, and those were the days we left our third floor apartment door open, and we used a screen door. First, my mother used the frying pan you see here to prepare the thin pancakes that she would later fill with cheese or blueberries. Then after sautéing her filled blintzes in butter in the same frying pan, our family would eat them with dollops of sour cream and/or sugar. Yummy!

On one of those blintze-making days long ago, my mother said to me, “Rowie, someday this frying pan will be yours.” According to her, this amazing frying pan was the only frying pan on all seven continents that could prepare blintzes the right way!

I offer Ma’s frying pan here for your consideration. It’s aluminum and it’s about sixty years old, give or take a decade.

My mother died on December 19, 1988, and I wanted to write about her a few days ago, but nothing I drafted— worked. I posted nothing on December 19th. I was trying to stick with my theme of writing about introversion, solitude, and the effects of too much stim (light, sound,) on my delicate psyche.

Normally, I am calmed by textures that are dull and natural looking. If I could decorate my whole house with driftwood, and soft earth colors, I believe, I could be more serene. Shiny makes me crazy. This whole holiday season with its bright lights, loud music, and the in-your-face commercials makes me as frenetic as the squirrels at my bird feeders when they find the peanut butter. I’m an introvert. I need solitude. I need softness and muted colors.  I need time with my own thoughts.

The other day, I found my mother’s shiny blintze pan on a back shelf in our basement. After she died, I made blintzes at my home, but only once. I stopped making blintzes because Jerome the Great and Good didn’t care for them; they’re a pain in the neck to make; and blintzes are very rich. The word, rich, has become a bad word in foody circles. I know many people who screw up their noses like squirrels and say, “Oh, I couldn’t eat that. It’s too rich.” Then they go eat their kale.

I make kale soup and it is really great—but it’s not blintzes! Blintzes, eaten on a hot day in Apartment 33B on the third floor, with the screen door open and the smells of the vanilla, butter, cream cheeses, and dough wafting into the entire apartment house, is an experience that I will remember, forever.

I stared at the blintze pan a long time. Then I picked it up and kissed it, and I held it close. I was alone.

I’m sure extroverts do things like kissing their mother’s frying pans too, but I’m an introvert, and my moments of solitude sustain me. So I am sharing my holiday thoughts with introverts, extroverts, and everyone.

Once in a while, eat stuff that is rich. Tomorrow there will be plenty of time to diet.

Go off into your little private place; caress your grandma’s old recipes or your ma’s old pots or your dad’s old work clothes…the ones you packed away because you couldn’t bear to part with them.

Find that box where you packed away your kids’ size 3 month undershirts and stretchies. Pick them up, hold them, and let your senses overcome you. Cuddle them, smell them, talk to them, have a good cry, and then come back out and join the party with your best smiling extrovert face!

It’s good to remember and it’s great to be alive!

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy New Year to Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Getting Your Child Off to a Successful First Day of School: People to Thank

Looking out my living room window at the kids and their parents waiting for the school bus, I am remembering my own first days—as a parent, and as a teacher. No one has asked, but I am prepared to say, “Thank these folks.”

  • School Staff who are also parents of young kids: Many of them left their own kids in the hands of spouses, grandparents, and neighbors so they could be there for your kids.
  • Those wonderful spouses, grandparents, and neighbors who stepped up for all working parents.
  • The Boss who said, “It’s OK to come in late. Bring in photos!
  • The municipal workers who protected my child.
  • Your school’s: aides, nurses, social workers, office staff, janitors, bus drivers, crossing guards, and those truly wonderful cafeteria ladies.
  • The school’s administrators, who got about an hour of sleep last night, if they were lucky.
  • Your school’s teachers who are experiencing “the longest day” of the school year and who will arrive home absolutely exhausted. Somebody please bring in a pizza for them. For some teachers, it may be just the reverse. For them it will be “the shortest day” because they so over-planned, and the time flew by, and they couldn’t accomplish all they planned. They should get a pizza too.
  • Here are two additional categories of teachers to thank on the first day:
    • Smiling teachers. They could be the best teacher your child ever had.
    • Non-smiling teachers: They could be the best teacher your child ever had.

Parents, you won’t know yet. Give everybody a chance!

  • Finally, anyone in the school community who “parented” any child who nervously waited on line or walked through those big doors that day. Believe me, every school has many of these wonderful people. They are the folks who supply a change of clothes for a wet child, and a comforting arm around the trembling shoulder of a frightened child. These “mama’s and “papa’s” are also the ones who make sure every child has a costume for Halloween; a warm coat, mittens and boots for the winter, and (about fifteen years later) a cap and gown, and maybe even a tux or a  dress for a high school prom.

Parent, you thought I was going to forget. Thank yourselves too! You have done a wonderful job!

This retired teacher wishes everyone a wonderful school year!

Clean-Up in Aisle Six!

Photo Credit: TheGiantVermin via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TheGiantVermin via Compfight cc

I was buying cheese at the deli department of my local supermarket. Several other customers were behind me, when I heard someone say, “May I have some paper towels please.”  The deli man handed the paper towels over the counter, and a tall silver-haired man, stepped forward from behind me and took them.   I turned around and watched him bend down and wipe up a spill on the floor behind me. As I lifted my eyes, I noticed another woman watching him too.

As I didn’t hear or see the spill occur, I asked her, “Did he do it?”

“No, some little kid dropped it from a sippy cup,” the woman, who was about my age, said. The child was nowhere to be seen.

She and I looked at each other, smiled, and shared an unspoken, “This guy is a keeper.”

I spoke first, “Some woman is a lucky girl.”

She said, “I don’t know if my husband would have done that.”

I nodded my head in agreement.

I’m guessing that the same thoughts that flashed through my mind also flashed through her mind as we went about the day’s business.  We were probably thinking about the men in our lives, our fathers, our husbands, our sons. Yes. I nodded in agreement when she commented about her husband; but, I did that just to be congenial. I like to think that my men would have done the same thing as the good looking stranger in the supermarket.

 Photo Credit: twm1340 via Compfight cc


Photo Credit: twm1340 via Compfight cc

Working, then Walking to Brooklyn in a Blizzard

A man walked to Brooklyn from mid-town Manhattan during the blizzard.  He missed the last subway running at 11 p.m. because he was doing his job, shoveling snow. I don’t remember the details, only my own outrage.  Why was I outraged? I was outraged because the news reporters told the guy’s story, and then they left him to walk to Brooklyn from somewhere in Midtown, in the snow and oncoming blizzard.

I wanted to play the news clip for you here on this blog, but I could not find it. My husband says the guy was walking from somewhere on Park Avenue to somewhere in Brooklyn. His memory is better than mine, and, as much as I “search” for a recap of the story, I can’t find it. Coincidence?

Is it that the local TV station  received some heat for not helping the guy, perhaps by giving him a ride in their van, making some phone calls to police, or getting him hooked up with a warm place to sleep?

The man was dressed warmly, and he did not complain about his impending trek.  Am I just an overprotective liberal New Yorker? What would my conservative Arizona son say?

It might be something like, “Ma, Pop Pop (his grandfather, my father) walked to work in the snow. You are an overprotective liberal. The man made the choice to walk. Celebrate the guy’s self-reliance, his fortitude, his American gumption. The reporters probably asked him if they could help, and he probably turned them down.”  Then, knowing my son, he would say, “It’s people like you, Ma, who are ruining America.”

I don’t know. I do know that I’m beginning to see there are so many different perspectives on just about everything.

1954: The Stupid Teacher

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FOR VETERANS’ DAY 2014

1954: Fifth Grade Classroom: Yonkers, New York

“Do you know what they do with stupid boys like you?” Miss Reynolds, my teacher, said to two boys in my class who were fooling around.

Nobody answered, so she continued. “Well, I’ll tell you what they do. They put them in the army in the front lines so that they can be killed off right away.” I swear this is an exact quote, even though this event took place sixty years ago because I remember going home and sharing what Miss Reynolds said with my mother and father.

My father was a World War II Veteran. To be exact, he came to the United States in 1936 from Poland, just ahead of the Holocaust, served in the American Army, won his citizenship and a Bronze Star along the way. He saved another soldier’s life when they were crossing the Moselle River in France, under fire. This amazed me because I thought my father, who did the sidestroke, swam like a girl.

I was born in February of 1945. My father did not meet me until he came home from the war in November of 1945, and I was nine months old.

My father never talked about the war, but when he did speak, he spoke with a heavy accent.  He said things like “uppels” for apples and “vash” for wash. When I was a child, I wished he did not have that accent. It made him seem less American. But, what did I know? I was a child.

After I told my parents what Miss Reynolds had said to the boys in my class, my father, the man with the accent, went to my school the very next day. He didn’t even dress up. He wore his heavy work pants and works shoes. I was not there for the conversation.

I do know this quiet man, for the first time in his life, arrived at work late because he needed to meet with my teacher first.  He never shared what he said, but I knew I was very proud of him.

 

 

 

 

School’s Starting! Let’s Go to the Pool!

When I’m not writing about stuff, I help teachers, teach. Uh-oh! So now that part of me is out of the closet on this blog. Yikes!

Prior to admitting that I teach teachers, (I did teach kids for 30 years first) I outed myself in this blog for being:

  • a fake foodie
  • a pear-shaped clothing shopper
  • an inept cook, social media user, hiker, dieter, etc. etc. blah blah.

Then I outed myself as a gephyrophobic. That’s a fancy word for a person who is afraid of being or driving on a bridge. I prefer to use my own made-up word, Brobic.

From my background as a phobic, I was hooked by The NY Times Article, “Terror Conquered, the Water’s Fine.” Written by N. R. Kleinfield, the article’s tag was “A New Yorker Faces His Phobia, One Stroke at a Time.” It was about a 33 year old guy, Attis Clopton, who was afraid of swimming. After suffering  with his aquaphobia  for years, Attis signed up for swimming lessons.

As I read  his story, I forgot that I was originally hooked by the phobia angle. I was caught up in the methods,  an old teacher word, that teacher, Lori Pailet, used  to help Attis learn to swim and overcome his fear.

The story showed a teacher at work, a damn fine teacher. Most teachers I know are damn fine teachers too. Some of you will look at the article and say the man in this story  was “ready to learn,” and that’s why it worked. I don’t know.

I do know that we, teachers get all kinds of kids. Some of those kids are “ready to learn,” and some of them are not. Good teachers do their very best to reach them all. Hats off to Lori Pailet, and to all great teachers!

Here’s the link to the story: http://nyti.ms/1pPOPYU

Can I Laugh My Way Through Panic Attacks?

Yesterday I watched a wonderful Huff Post Live broadcast called Mental Health: Living With Anxiety. Thanks to the moderator and panelists who shared their experiences with phobias and panic attacks. The link to the program is below this post.

Here in my blog, I have begun to write about my own panic attacks on bridges, planes, mountains, and let’s just say, “anything that goes up, high.”

Here in this blog, I can be real smart. I can invent solutions, laugh and make cracks about heads floating up in the sky when we, panic attackers, are having our out of body experiences.

When I am not here in this blog, I am not so smart.

Let’s take Saturday night when my husband, Jerome the Great and Good, and I were heading to a restaurant in Queens.  He was driving and I was giving directions. Missing the access to the main part of the Queensboro Bridge, he drove on to the lower level. In seconds, we entered a rickety, single, OUTSIDE lane, which was once used as a trolley track. We were there with nothing between us, the East River and the rooftops of Manhattan and Queens, but a teeny-weeny, rusty, ripped up fence.

So, during that time, when I was not here in my blog, I did not say funny things.

I did sweat, hyperventilate, clench, pound, moan and pray.

And, in case you were wondering, I cursed; but I did not use the word “doodyhead” like I do here in my blog. Sometimes, “doodyhead” just doesn’t cut it.

I am fortunate that I will still travel on bridges, planes, even an occasional tram up a mountain. But nine times out of ten, it will be a hellish experience for me.

The thing is I keep living to tell about it.

For that, I say thanks to all those others who have shared their own stories and research. Thanks again to Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety, one of my favorite books, for tweeting and reminding me of the Huffington Post Live broadcast.

Also, thanks to the wonderful moderator and panelists at Huffington Post Live for their insight. The link to the program is below.

And I will continue to make attempts to look at the light side of all my stuff. Believe me, it would be a heck of a lot easier to write about only the dark side, but what fun would that be?

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/anxiety-in-america/53eaaa3778c90ab003000010

 

 

Partners in Crime

href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/57712432@N00/3867677945/">jennypdx via Compfight cc

My friend is celebrating her 70th. birthday today.

I cooked a brisket for her party.

We met in junior high school, in detention.

We were there for talking too much.

Photo: href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/57712432@N00/3867677945/”>jennypdxvia Compfight ccccccccccv

Water ATMs in a thirsty land

On this July 4th., I will celebrate being an American.

Eatocracy

In a New Delhi neighborhood, residents line up in the blistering 45 degree Celsius heat (113 Fahrenheit) carrying empty jerry cans and water bottles, waiting for the government water tanker truck to arrive.

“We only get water once a week and each time we have to fight for it,” one woman yells.

There are no laid pipelines in unplanned areas like this, so tanker trucks are their only source of water.

With the truck arrives chaos.

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Chatting with Dr. Ruth on the Line to the Ladies’ Bathroom

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Me

Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Me

We were both on the 45 minute wait line for the Ladies’ Restroom at The Javits Center during Book Expo America and BookCon. Most of the other ladies were under the age of twenty, and did not recognize the celebrity in our midst. I recognized her immediately and chatted with her about…you’d really like to know, but I won’t say.

Dr. Ruth was one of the kindest, friendliest people I have ever met! When I asked her if I could take her picture and send it to my kids with the caption, “Mom giving advice to Dr. Ruth,”  she readily gave her consent! What a wonderful lady!