Friday, June 26, 2009

The Heart Of The Matter, "We Are The World, We Are The Children" Michael Jackson We Will Miss U*

Yesterday 6/25/09 at apx. 5:10pm my husband & I were at a TGI Fridays waiting for our son, daughter-in-law & granddaughter, they were dropping our grandson off at an end of the year party at his friend's house.  Today was to be their last day of kindergarten, & with summer vacation on the horizon they were to all celebrate becoming 1st graders!  By the time the five of us were sitting together the news of Michael Jackson was on the TV at the restaurant. There was the emergency vehicle in front of the Jackson residence, with also a helicopter view.  The news of his being transported to the hospital, the news of the coma, then suddenly the news of his death.

Here in New England we have been dealing with gray skies, cloudy weather & rain upon rain, for weeks.  "It's feels like we are living in a cloud."  I would say every day, [not complaining mind you as I can't tolerate our hot humid summers], just merely in awe of the weather which of course we have no control, only to observe, remark, study & report, & also no control as to who becomes our pop stars as to how they live & how they die.  The grayness of the cloud went poof, as did the colors & vitality of Michael Jackson's young life.  

I enjoyed the artistry of Michael Jackson & loved his beginnings with his fam* The Jackson Five.  Everyone knew bits & pieces of their childhood, the overbearing stage father, & that kind of info.

William Shatner's, Denny Craig from an episode of Boston Legal had said it well, "We are all victims of our childhood."  It is no different for any of us in that regard, that can't be escaped, we can only, with dedicated determination, with the strength of our spirits-- overcome it, & learn to heal.  One can't help but wonder the extent of the abuse Michael Jackson must have experienced which was probably the main contributor to some of his more bizarre & questionable behaviors in the past decade or so.  The abuse a person received as a child in no way makes them unaccountable for how they choose to behave once an adult, it only explains it.

Michael Jackson, the immensely creative genius that he was, like many fell victim to his childhood, sadly as his star descended into free fall, it fell hard, final & shocked us all.  His recorded record of artistic contribution will forever be a part of our civilisation's pop culture, this his larger than life Michael Jackson, of which he gave us, it is this, that a majority of the world, will always love.

The "What ifs..."  I tend to think, run through the mind of a life long care taker & the, "if onlys..." If only he had a permanent psychiatrist/counselor, an expert in the kind of mental health condition that he must have suffered from all his life.  If only he had the benefit of this expertise & somehow listened to sound medical advise.  We all know that is not always possible, for once a person becomes a legal adult, unless a court declares that they are harmful to themselves or others, they don't have to listen to anybody, not even the sane & responsible side of who they are.  Through all the creative genus that he was, he seemed troubled & alienated over the past years, a lonely soul in a world filled with love & hate.

Michael Jackson, may you rest in peace.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Sojourn To The Lower East Side Of N.Y. With Fathers Day Thoughts*

The above photo was taken on 6/13/09 only last week.  The next to follow is my father so very young, before going off to war, still living in this neighborhood & before my time.  All in the blink of an eye.
Samuel Myron Kapelner was a fantastically devoted father to all his children, & grandfather to our sons, this photo to follow-- we're at the Bronx Zoo on a hot summer day.
The color on the street & all the energy, different from long ago, yet still with the promise of hope.
Inside a coffee shop.  The up side of the Lower East Side, seating with a view inside with local art & outside, cafe style with excellent coffee, all on Orchard Street, where someone I know, their family flourished, lived.  So that makes us neighbors/cousins in a sense.
*I still remember, that Passover Seder, decades ago--
The saying now is:  Everything Old Is New Again, so true in many ways--

Last weekend my husband & I went on a sojourn back to my father's childhood neighborhood, the Lower East Side of NY.  The last time I had been there was when I was quite young, my brother was a baby & I the big sister walked along side my mother as she pushed his stroller, we were in the Bronx & my father was to meet us after he got out of work, he worked as a chemist then at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  It was dark out & we were standing next to a concrete embankment or overpass, waiting for a bus to attend a Passover Seder at my grandparents, my father's parents who lived at 61 Lewis Street.  Lewis Street no longer exists today, as apx. five streets or more were eliminated from the city street map.  My husband with the help of one of the Tenement Museum guides, [who would have thought, almost 2o yrs. ago a museum would be established of the neighborhood where my family & millions of others roots  had started out in this country] obtained a copy of an old map of the early to mid 1900's, it was noted that the building & street my father & his family had lived on no longer existed, but had been reconfigured into a newer apartment development or condos, along the East River.  That was ok with me as 61 Lewis Street was only one of many addresses they had.  My father often told me bits & pieces of his childhood memories, but many were far too painful for him to completely retell, for there were occasions when his entire family of seven people were put out on the street, furniture & all, [like a Dickens novel] because there were times when my grandmother could not pay the rent.  When I've asked my aunt the 2nd of my father's 3 sisters if she could share some information back to those days on the Lower East Side, all she would say, as her voice would waver & quake with emotion--  "I can't, I just can't talk about it, it's too, too painful."  None of that could be detected by the young observant child that I was way back when I attended that long ago Passover Seder, but of course times had gotten better for my grandparents, by then the Great Depression was over, it was the early 1950's for that Seder.

After attending just one of the mini lectures of the tour entitled "Piecing It Together" at  the Tenement Museum on 97 Orchard Street, in NYC, I got it, I could feel what it was my aunt was trying to convey. It was at that moment, being involved in the tour, hearing the details from someone who never knew my family or any of the 7,000 people a year, who had lived in just that building alone #97, & multiply it, & multiply it [more people were living in the Lower East Side of NY during my father's childhood, then were living in Bombay, India. It was the largest ghetto in the world, all immigrants.  And to think, from that small geographic neighborhood of Italians, Irish, Polish, Russian, German, Romanian, Austrian, Hungarian, with Jewish People from all over Eastern Europe,  they came to a world community of diversity & blended their cultures.  Many of the people who were fortunate enough to survive, experienced living in some of the worst sanitary conditions in the U.S.  The masses of individuals fortunate enough to survive, grew up to relish hard work & education, & many grew up to become well accomplished people of note in all trades & professions.  There are a zillion stories that have come out of the Lower East Side, & my family though special to me, are just one of so very many.  Even to this day when I meet another person, such as a member of the local Sisterhood that I belong to, & she would share her family's story, I know we share a uniquely special heritage, perhaps our families way back then may have known one another, in school, maybe gathered in the same place for religious services, worked, shopped, socialized or just passed one another on the the crowded streets.  Whatever they may have done, we were for a short moment in time, neighbors/cousins & shared a collective vision for a better life for ourselves & our children, the future generations of which we are now.   

My father, to his family & to all that knew him was a man of kindness, honesty & compassion, & was known for his great sense of humor.  He not only served with honor during WW11 , but was an accomplished scientist, [a nuclear physicist/chemist, a rocket scientist literally] who loved his chosen profession all of his life.  So it is with great love & honor that I remember him on special dates, & this one, Fathers Day will do, but I never really needed a designated day, he knew, he's my hero.  Myself having reached what seems like an immense decade in time, I needed to embark upon this roots trip--  "From Whence I've Come".


Postscript--  My cousins who now live in Texas were both born in the Lower East Side, they have taken the influence of the family's tradition into their present professional lives-- one of my cousins, her husband & her have chosen to continue their father's/my uncle's children's clothing business.  My uncle began by selling children's hats, which were made in the garment district in the Lower East Side, [of which as a child I had many & wore with style & pride], he later had a children's clothing business in Dallas, Texas which our cousins lovingly continue to this day, with an eye for quality & style which takes them all over the world.  If ever you are seeking something most special for a child in your life encourage your local children's boutique to purchase from Cooper Kids, a world wide buyer & distributor of high end quality children's clothing, or just go to [] & check out their creatively colorful web site of great fashion, taste & style.  Yes, a definite Lower East Side garment district influence here, with added steps into this computer age. 
My other cousin along with his wife own & operate a gallery that specializes in photographs, the gallery located in the art district of Dallas, on Dragon Street is the noted-- Photographs Do Not Bend or PDNB as some know them by.  You never know what it is that will catch your mind or imagination when you pop in for a viewing, presently there is an exhibit inspired by an artist's experience of when he was in the  Viet Nam War, & was an officially assigned artist of the military.  If I were a hop, skip & a jumper I'd travel into Dallas on a regular basis, but since I'm not I will continue to be thankful for the ease the internet gives me in order to click onto their site & at least get a mini taste of what it is the gallery is showing.  You can get in touch with them at []  

The Works Of A Favorite Sculpture Artist Of Ours*

The Spirit Of The Artist, Expressed By A Child--

June 21st, 2009 Marks Our 39th Wedding Anniversary & With A Fathers Day Bonus*

Yes, we are definitely opposites as my tooth pasting  husband  reminds me with a clip.  Some days around here are definitely from a sit com,  Seinfeld & Larry David,--  we've got a few scripts for "yaz":  

Today it is 39 years for the Baby Boomers who reside in these hills.  Pretty fine accomplishment being we've both come from several generations of divorced parents & grandparents too.  One of our finest joys is to be able to show our children & grandchildren that "yes" marriage can & does work, but not without a lot of hard work.  We're no Pollyannas to that thought concept, at times the hard work was really hard, but ultimately well worth it. We're not "The Waltons" by any means or the other TV family from "Father Knows Best", [as much fun & enjoyment they were to watch].  We are who we are, an interfaith family that hand carved it's own road into the future, ultimately that's what each & every newlywed couple is required to do, we just had a few statistical chips stacked in a direction to more readily lean us off the side of the road, thank goodness during those off centered times we always returned to the main core of why we chose each other to marry--  love & mutual respect.   In a Fairy Tale it all sounds so simple, but real life is far more complex than that.  We take "all" of who we ever were, with us at all times as did, Siddhartha.  

When we are able to do something with any of our adult children & the multi-generational extended family we've become, I am always thankful.  For in all honesty to make a marriage work, to become long term, the couple, especially if there has been generational divorces on branches of the tree-- the couple must be "self taught",  having learned all to well, what definitely will cause a failure, as we've both witnessed that from the ground up, the rather dumpy corner of the garden lacking in essential nutrients for growth & health.  Good fodder for Broadway & the arts, for from many of those ashes & compost heaps, great art has been known to come.  How else would so many of us cope, "Viva la Art!"  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

May Was A Busy Month For Moi' & June Is Blooming Along*

May is so long away now, & Gemini will soon be coming to an end.  There has been so very much going on in my small cosmic life, & "small is beautiful!"  May is always busy for us with Mothers Day, our eldest son's, my mother-in-law's [may she rest in peace], & my birthday, along with the observance of Memorial Day, all in the month of May.  My husband of what is to soon become 39 years of marriage on June 21st, gave me the thumbs up in mid-May to have a pretty good sized Garden Party.   He was in the works of attempting to pull off a surprise party for an up coming birthday of mine, but I got wind of it, being I work some weekends.  It ended up that when I got wind of the planning it appeared that the date wasn't going to work for all of my extended family, who due to important job commitments & or final exams many miles out of state, everyone could not gather together on the same date with enough ease for me to not have a "mommy worrisome meltdown".  So rather than agonizing over the traveling issues, we instead planned to celebrate over various different dates with whoever could visit when it was right.  I gently reminded myself of something I had learned some 20+ years ago at a Day For Women Conference at my University.  As woman, as mothers, yes we can--  "have it all", but we can't have it all, all at once.  So with that teaching at the back of my mind, I smiled inside my heart & gratefully counted my Blessings.

The Garden Party that we hosted was given to honor our family & friends.  It was a true Blessing to welcome to our modest hand built cottage in the woods, the people who have given our lives that special zing, that helps to make life truly worth living.  A garden is certainly a great metaphor of life, its starts out small, everything that grows has it's own nature with it's own unique needs & requirements.  Some flowers & plants are more delicate, interesting or more beautiful to the human eye.  Some intrigue you with their alluring scents, others are extremely fascinating in their physical sculptural form.  While still some flowers are under appreciated & labeled as weeds.  Various plants have similar requirements for light, nutrients & soil, while others are known to be fussier, & more of a challenge.  There are plants that like to grow in clusters & clumps & even partnered with plants that seem so opposite to their nature, & some just like to have their own space, & if you take good care of them & trust them they too will mature.  In my view raising a family & growing forth as human beings is very much like a garden.  For everything there is a season, & everyone flowers in their own unique time.  A quality garden takes time, patience, love & care.  It's been a wet spring here in these here hills & my garden is growing like a rain forest, any day now it will be time for our Annual Yuka Festival, now that, that is really something.

Out & About For A Cup Of Coffee, I Wish I Could Remember Their Names & This Couple Is Not Only Cute, But Very, Very, Friendly & Sweet, Honestly!