Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


How It Happened To Me

I met him when I was 10 years old; he was 16 and to me he was totally cool. He was dating my oldest sister for a short time and after a few months she felt uneasy so broke off with him.

We had an issue with communication in our family. My parents wanted us only to express “positive” emotions, so her concerns about him were never brought up.

Meanwhile, my mom had essentially noticed he was a bit of a lost one who could benefit from a healthy family and so, “adopted” him. My sister never said much of anything whenever he showed up for dinner, but she always had a lot of homework those days.

He went off to VietNam for not one but two tours as a Green Beret. Special Forces, rah rah. Mom was so proud. He never told us anything, just brought gifts for each of us whenever he returned to the hometown and ended up at our dinner table again.

So, when he proposed 12 years later, I sort of knew him but only realized later that I had no idea who he was. I thought since he cherished his “home away from home” at our house, he understood and believed in the kinds of ethics and love we exhibited.

I was eager to get away from New Jersey and he offered a route away. I was such a fool. Naive. Innocent.

And so I jumped in, prepared to love this man until death do us part.

But on our first few weeks of marriage he wanted to invite another woman to join the two of us on his boat on one of Nashville’s lakes. I suggested he should not; that we could enjoy some “special time” in a secluded cove, but he was not on the same wavelength.

I had a friend from college visit and after dinner I drove him to where he was staying the night and he asked me how I was. He saw clearly that something was not right. I denied it. All was fine.

Still in the reserves he would go spend his weekend up at Fort Campbell where he worked in the hospital. He was trained as a medic and had dreams of becoming a physician’s assistant but had no sticking power in his studies. He would leave the house to go to school but I noticed he never worked on any homework. One day a woman called asking for Sargeant X. I gave him the phone and he took it into the bedroom for a private conversation that included a lot of laughter and lasted over an hour. When he came out he told me that she wanted to know who had answered the phone. He had not told her he was married. npr_abuse_

One day while riding in his sister’s car we were struck by a truck. My head hit the side window hard but I recovered my wits faster and told her to put her foot on the brake as we were headed to a ditch. . When I called the place where he was hanging out (he should have been in school) he told the person who took the call to tell me he was in class. I told her to tell him we had had an accident and where it was. Believe it or not, he was there in about 15 minutes, an illegal driving speed was evident.  But he did not go to me. He enveloped his sister in a warm and caring hug.  She had started sobbing as soon as she saw him, and told me to get out of the way.  On the way home he told me her stomach was upset and I needed to make chicken soup…from scratch…and have it ready fast.  I was glad I had some in the freezer.   But he never asked how I was and since I had a raging headache for 3 days, I probably had a concussion.

I needed my wisdom teeth extracted. He came to pick me up about 2 hours after I called him I was ready and then dropped me at home and took off to join “the guys for a drink”.  I truly felt unloved.abuse power wheel

But I was raised that all issues in marriages can be worked out and that there would be no such thing as divorce in our family. So I tried all different things. I tried being nice and sweet. (okay, it was not as hard a stretch at age 23 as it might be now…quit laughing) I tried to be firm and strong back at him. He only raised his voice and got angrier.

My sister, his old flame, came to visit with her husband. She told me later that he hit on her, but at that time she shared a technique she had been learning while pursuing her master’s’ degree in psychiatric nursing. The treasured “When you do such and I such I feel this way” which is a fairly non confrontational alternative to “What the hell are you doing treating me this way!”  He got angrier with that one also.

There was no way to escape his anger. Basically, there was no escape.  He had the car and a motorcycle and never gave me a set of car keys.  He often would leave the house on a weekend day on the motorcycle, taking the car keys and not tell me when he would be home.

All this is classic emotional abuse. It was my fault there were red lights. It was my fault it rained. It was my fault if I did not automatically intuit what he wanted for supper. But I kept hoping things would get better.

My period was late one month, something that never happened. Yes, I prayed. I knew children with this man would be a mistake. The prayer worked a couple of days later.  Thank you Lord.

And then he announced we were going on a honeymoon, about 15 months into our marriage. He wanted to go scuba diving at Grand Cayman. Cool. I also learned to scuba.

But I anticipated a new beginning. I bought a new negligee and was ready to play the  excited and eager bride. He had selected a place to stay on the eastern side of the island, far away from all the touristy things. I loved it. It was a small place where each room had a slider out to the beach.

I suggested we go for a walk on the beach and he angrily said no. He then proceeded to rape me.

Some people believe that in a marriage there is no such thing as rape. I anticipate a lot of women snorting when they read that statement. We know, so without getting graphic, let me explain.

When you want to make love you spend a bit of time making sure your partner is relaxed and then titillated. That caresses and kisses help build the energy and help the juices flow.

When you have a man who has no concern other than where to put HIS body part, it can be a long, dry, painful experience.

The next evening, when he expected the same activity, I smiled in what I hoped was a sweet way and suggested we make love.n-WOMEN-VIOLENCE-large570-427x178

He hit me.

Immediately I knew he could kill me.  I grabbed my clothes and went out on the beach. I sat there, waiting for him to come out, to apologize, to realize he had chosen something very wrong.

After 3 hours I went in. He was snoring.

The next day he told me he would prefer if I would leave. From Grand Cayman. When he had the money and the tickets and was supposedly the man who had promised to care for me.  I stayed.

Grand Cayman has a bit of a volcanic section called Hell. It has a post office and I actually had enough chutzpah to send him a postcard at home that said simply, “The next time you tell me to go to Hell, I will remind you that you drove me there.”

He was not amused.

Everything came to a head about a month later when my parents came to visit and he was rude, even to my mother, someone who had always given him love.  She said to me “I don’t understand how you can stay with him” and the gates permitting me to leave opened.

I left the next day, after my parents were gone. Three weeks later he came over to my friend’s house where I was staying and tried to rape me again. I was able to get him to leave.

Valentine’s Day came and went with no comment from him, not even a “I know we’re in a tough place but we can work this out.” I filed for a divorce the next day.

I had nightmares for years.

So when I see women in a similar situation, particularly women I know and consider friends, I don’t avoid the issue. I want them to know I have been there and they need not stay there.

Most never make a move. Most continue the same way.

Someone posted today on facebook that about a third of all women have been the victim of domestic abuse. I think that number is low. no silence





Earning It

Many of you know I lost a husband to cancer. He was born and raised in Nashville and I learned a lot about the way people in the South thought and felt through his family and him. His mom was an orphan, raised by a family in West Virginia. His dad was raised in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. He quit school to join the CCC and after WWII, earned his high school diploma. He worked hard all his life, working their small farm before heading off to work at the Air National Guard. On weekends he also worked for an auction house. He wasn’t an intelligent man, but my father-in-law was one of the Salt of the Earth. His word was his promise. He always did the best he could, for his family and friends and for his community.  He was an ornery old coot in his last years and he definitely earned my love and respect.

We’ve heard it all our lives but here is Merriam-Webster’s explanation:

Definition of respect

1:  a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation <remarks having respect to an earlier plan>

2:  an act of giving particular attention :  consideration

3a :  high or special regard :  esteem

3b :  the quality or state of being esteemed

3c respects plural :  expressions of high or special regard or deference <paid our respects>

4:  particulardetail <a good plan in some respect

Some of us were taught to respect our elders. We learned the Ten Commandments dictate us to Honor Our Father and Mother. This is the 5th Commandment, the first after the four that deal with a person’s relationship with God.  Christian doctrine teaches even if the relationship is abusive, one must learn to love that abuser by forgiving their transgressions or acting kindly towards them or writing a tribute about them or praying for them.

First off, I am not a Christian.  Good thing, because this will not exactly be a tribute. And I don’t think I can pray this one away.

I am Jewish and based on rabbinical interpretation of the law there is no strong requirement to be respectful of an abusive parent. There is, however, a careful examination of respecting the position, not the person. I can live with that.

I am not talking about my parents, by the way. I had issues with them and managed to resolve them and reach understanding. That process was one of respect.

I am talking about another authority figure: our incoming President.

Some of my most conservative friends on Facebook tell me I MUST respect Trump because he will be President. I can not. He has not earned it. Perhaps he will. But when he says things like this, he has dug himself a hole, not only with me but with the majority of voters in this country.

Image result for trump quote about how great he isImage result for trump quote about how great he isImage result for trump quote about how great he istrump-5th-avenue

Right now I will respect the office of the President. I will respect it so much that I will continue to hold a high expectation of the role the person in that position holds.  Here are a few quotes about the Office by some of our past Presidents. Image result for respect the office of the president quotes

Image result for respect the office of the president quotesNotice the difference?

By the way, those conservative Facebook friends also believe spanking instills respect. One finally admitted she hated her father for hitting her. Her behavior modified because she wanted to stop getting beaten. That is not respect. That is fear.

It concerns me that the people who support Trump are ones who have had a strong authoritarian parent. They are used to listening to nonsense and accepting it. They are used to shutting down their own reactions to try to keep the peace. I guess that makes them conform to the Christian concepts mentioned above. If only they didn’t express hatred so much.

Meanwhile, the rest of us poor sinners will keep working to remind Trump that he has to rise to meet the responsibilities of the Office. helen-thomas-repect-the-office

Grimace or grin, Helen Thomas said it well. And any President who tries to muzzle the Press will clearly be hiding something.

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They Can’t Win

A friend asked me last night if I would take a Syrian refugee family into my home. It was not a quick answer but I will explain to you:

  1. Refugee resettlement programs do not ask people to take families into their homes. They ask for help being a local friend, a person to help them maneuver in their new world. To help set up the apartment, which the organization finds, with furniture, which the organization helps find. There is some outlay in money, to buy a list of basic toiletries and some groceries to start the pantry, but for the most part the host’s involvement is time.  Time to teach about the neighborhood and town. Time to teach about the United States and its freedoms, something refugees have not experienced. A commitment to help them become Americanized. How do I know this? I was one of two families that helped a Russian Jewish family settle in West Hartford, Connecticut several decades ago. I saw how the family learned English, got jobs, bought a house, had a new baby. I saw them become almost indistinguishable from the thousands of other residents of our town with one exception: their pride in being New Americans was evident. And they practiced it. They took the time to be informed and involved. They voted and they volunteered on community projects.  Why did they do that? Partly it was in their own nature but it also was something I tried hard to nurture in them.091715-naturalization_PIT4057
  2. I am Jewish. Asking me to take in a Muslim family who comes from a nation that promises to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is a ridiculously senseless question. But I paused, and finally said yes. I would help a family get resettled here. I would teach them not only what being an American is like, but what being a Jew is like. I would teach, as I have learned by going to church with my husband, that we have more commonalities than differences and as soon as we all realize that, peace is possible.god-everywhere
  3. I am Jewish. I know my history. He had no recollection of ever hearing about the St. Louis, a ship full of Jewish German refugees in 1939. Most of the passengers had applied for refugee visasto enter the United States. It was well known what atrocities were happening in Europe. But the ship was turned away and ended up returned to Germany, and the passengers went to the death camps. We Americans have this blood on our hands. We righteously stuck to quotas, ignoring the horrific conditions that the refugees were fleeing. This situation was not unique.  Even children, as Chris Christie declared so vehemently today, were not wanted.
  4. 1939 poll
  5. I asked him questions about his own family’s migration to the United States. What had prompted it (famine) and who had some (a young male adult). He brushed away the similarity to the many young men feeling Syria, saying all of his great-grandfather’s family had died of the famine.  Three-ImmigrantsHe said the current situation shows that Muslim men do not value their families. I told him how my maternal grandfather had left the shetl in what is now Poland and made his way to New York City, earning money as a tailor, and then sending for his sisters within the next few years. I pointed out that many women and children are fleeing. He chose not to respond.

So, my answer to my friend was yes, I would help resettle a Syrian family. That’s what a good American citizen who loves this nation does. That’s what someone who refuses to be terrorized decides to do.  That’s what someone who understands that they have an inherent ability to help teach new ways. That is what someone who is willing to take the time and make the effort to move off my own comfort a bit does to help ease pain and suffering in the world.

Is there potential danger? Oh yes. There are ways to minimize it that people trained to work with immigration and terrorism have experience and expertise to propose. It is beyond the scope of what I personally can do. But I also know this: I have more risk of being hurt or killed by someone angered by my opinion who is home-grown here in the United States, than I have a chance of being hurt or killed by a terrorist.  The angry people in this country who seem to be unable to work to a common goal need some help. That solution is harder than the one dealing with refugees.journey-to-resettlement-in-the-united-states



The Next Stage

Death. So final. At least from this perspective.

Why are so many people afraid of dying?Life-is-pleasant.-Death-is-peaceful-quotes

Judaism does not particularly get into an Afterlife, so it leaves it open to personal interpretation. The strong message is to do good deeds while living. In fact, there are 613 mitzvot that are required by texts in the Torah. That is the Old Testament for you Christians, so if you are really good Bible thumpers (literal followers, take heed) these are for you, too. Death may simply be a cessation of life, or there may be a Heaven, or there may be a rebirth.

Christianity, on the other hand, promises you Everlasting Life.  There is some teaching that good deeds are not important but there is also a bunch of good deeds that are needed to be done by a good Christian and even an admonition that without good deeds, faith is dead.  However, for the believer, death should not be feared.

The promise of eternal life refers to the soul and that is a commonality in most religions as well as New Age concepts.  Other religions also have concepts of reward or rebirth. Basically….this stage where we are now is only that, a stage…a short visit in the continuing growth of our soul.affirmation447

So, back to the basic question. Why are people so afraid of dying?

A huge change. Not knowing what will happen. Not knowing how it will feel. Sort of like me moving from West Virginia to Oregon…..well, almost Heaven to a beautiful place.

I subscribe to a daily email that is a very positive word from The Universe and want to share today’s email with you:

The top 10 things dead people want to tell living people are:

1. They’re not dead.
2. They’re sorry for any pain they caused.
3. There’s no such thing as a devil or hell.
4. They were ready to go when they went.
5. You’re not ready.
6. They finally understand what they were missing.
7. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.
8. Don’t try to understand this now, but life is exceedingly fair.
9. Your pets are as crazy, brilliant and loving, here, as they were there.
10. Life really is all about love, but not just loving those who love you…

They also wanted you to know that they really do show up as orbs in some of your photos,  but so does water. Quite a talkative bunch.

Interesting to consider.Tattoo-Love-Life-For-Eternity


Like to Panic?

Right now there are a lot of pretty bad things happening around the world.  A separatist movement backed by Russia in the Ukraine. A fundamentalist Islamic group acting on a political agenda and killing innocent people in Syria and Iran.  The threat of a climate change which, whether or not the actions of industrialization had an effect, is causing horrible storms, drought conditions and lack of water, rising water levels causing flooding and loss of polar habitat. We also have domestic issues where people seem angrier and more polarized than ever over differences in opinion about religion and politics. But the newest crisis du jour is Ebola.Ebola-Outbreak-Map

Did you travel in Liberia, Ivory Coast or Guinea in West Africa in the past 21 days?   If you answered NO, relax.

Do you work in any of the hospitals here in the United States where Ebola patients have been treated?  These are Emory Hopsital in Atlanta; the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha; and of course, the two that were at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.  If you answered NO, relax.

Were you on the flights between Dallas and Cleveland? If you answered NO, relax.

Do you have a family member who has Ebola? If you answered NO, relax.

Have you helped prepare the body of someone who died from Ebola for burial? If you answered NO, relax.keep-calm-and-relax-366_large

I think that’s it.  So, you are not at risk.  Still want to panic?

Okay, think about riding in your car. Do you do that? Well, about 115 people die each day in automobile accidents here in the United States.

How about your meds, either prescribed or recreational?  About 114 people die each day from overdoses.

How about diabetes? Did you know the number of people with diabetes is climbing to record highs, mostly because of diet..something people can do something about. Diabetes is the direct or additive cause of about 830 deaths per day.

Do I really need to go on? ebola-info CDC

Yes, Ebola is bad. It has about a death rate between 50 and 90%.  It requires human-to-human transmission to spread and has an incubation period of 2-21 days. Infection occurs if you touch any secretions from the affected person. It is not an airborne illness but can be caught if the ill person sneezes on you.  For more information from the World Health Organization, go to this link.  Don’t bother if you still want to panic.

But if you do go to the WHO page, you can also read how Senegal, a neighboring West African country, is now declared free of the disease. It is a good example that with the proper protocol.

So, the protocol works. Yes, there are only about 9 hospitals in the United States that currently have the means to isolate infectious patients.  It is apparent from the Dallas hospital experience that without the proper protocols, health care workers are at risk.  Various nurses’ unions are demanding action on this.  My sister, who works in the lab at Salem Hospital, told me that when a patient presented with symptoms recently, the protocols were rapidly put into place. (The blood work came back negative.) Every hospital in this country SHOULD have protocols for a major infectious outbreak.

If you are concerned, call your local hospital and ask.   But above all, don’t bother to panic. That, certainly, does no good and annoys the people close to you.motivation___dont_panic

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But I’m Really Worried About You

Those were the words a very earnest and polite 14-year-old said to me. I was living in Nashville, the Buckle of the Bible Belt.  I had been sitting in the hallway of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University where Sam was in rehearsal for the Nashville Boy Choir. It was a marvelous choir experience.  The director, Hazel Summerfield, had an amazing way with the boys, ranging in age from 8-years-old to voice change.

She had formed another group called the Young Men’s Choir for those adolescent boys who were going through those awkward singing years. That is how I overheard a conversation between two of the 14-year-olds, waiting for their rehearsal to begin when the younger boys finished.

They were in discussion about the Reformation. (I was a bit surprised 14-year-olds knew about that, but then realized my own awareness of it came later. It had not been part of my Jewish education.)  What really caught my attention was when one boy said to the other “And what is a real shame is they don’t even know they are not really Christian!”Christian-Car

The other guy immediately told him that his reasoning was limited (I’m giving you the cleaned up version of what he actually said) and after chiding myself to be careful, I gently asked the speaker to explain. He said that the ONLY people who were true Christians were members of his church. After further questioning I determined there were about 50 members of that church’s congregation.  When I suggested it was a bit egocentric to think only those 50 people out of the billions on earth who worship a High Power were the right ones, he said they were, and he was particularly worried about me.Worldwide_percentage_of_Adherents_by_Religion

It reminded me of another conversation I had had with a man who was second in charge of a place I worked, again in Nashville. (That place was a challenged environment because of the management and I refer to it as the “Hell Hole of Vanderbilt” which is the nicest way I can describe the experience.)  The work day was structured so that everyone ate lunch at the same time  except for me, as I was needed to cover the phones. They ate in a room right behind my desk and I could overhear the conversation. Once this boss said something that made the table go silent. He said his church was the only one in Nashville where the members where Christian because the name of the church was the “Christian Church.” Other churches are Baptist or Methodist or whatever and their members are not Christian.  No one said anything to him, shocked.

One day that man came into work looking exhausted. His wife had recently given birth to their second child so I asked if the baby had kept him up. No, he said, it was something church related that was bothering him. It seemed, he was slow at first to tell me but then eager to get it off his chest, that there were several members of his congregation who had been active and they had come forward when the news came out that new Sunday School staff was needed. He just was not sure they were right for the job.

He was a bit slow to admit to me that his concerns were because the people who offered to help were gay. I asked him what the issue was. His answer was simply “You know.”  I didn’t let him off the hook. “No, I said, I don’t know your church. What is your concern?” He was afraid they would teach the “wrong” things. I asked if the church had a Sunday School curriculum. Yes. I asked if it involved getting naked and touching each other. Of course not! So?  He walked into his office and shut the door.bigotry-sign

But it wasn’t over yet. About a week later he came into work once again  dragging his tail. Once again I asked if the baby had kept him awake and once again he said no, it was still the “other thing”.  I didn’t have to say anything; merely raised my eyebrows.

He said he and his wife were in bed, the lights were out and she was already asleep. He was just drifting off when he heard a voice, very clearly. “Love your brother!” He sat up, very much awake and heart pounding. The voice came again “Love your brother!”

That was it. No other communication. It took him hours to fall back to sleep.

I asked him what he thought it meant and he said “I don’t know.”

I asked him if he was an idiot.  He slammed his office door again.love your neighbor

What is clear to me with both the adolescent and this middle aged guy is that the fundamentalist church has such a narrow definition of love and acceptance that they would rather cut themselves off from mankind then realize we are all one family of God.

They are highly incensed that the fundamentalists in the Muslim world are killing others who don’t believe the way they do. They do not want to admit their church history includes the Crusades, the Inquisition and more, each time resulting in many many murders where people did not accept their practice.

Seriously, people, this can’t be healthy. Hating in the name of love is sick. Killing in the name of God is sick.

Denying that there are other ways to reaching the Spirit does not make it not real. So many pathways. Some are healthier than others. Some are way healthier than the narrow fundamentalist way.UFO rel;igion




Fundamentalism is a Problem

Every religion has its super conservative side. The group believes strongly that THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD, WRITTEN BY GOD, AND MUST BE FOLLOWED EXACTLY.  My religion has people who feel this way and so does yours.word of God

Every religion has its super conservative side.   This group denies that others who practice the same religion are members of that religion BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES RIGHT.  My religion has people who feel this way and so does yours.funda2

Every religion has its super conservative side.  Other members of the religion often explain to outsiders that that fundamentalist group is not really an indication of the religion.  My religion has people who feel this way and so does yours.

Every religion has its super conservative side.  Including yours.

If you believe yours is the only right way to God, you may be a fundamentalist.funda4

If you believe that others are doomed to Hell, even if their religion does not have that belief, you may be a fundamentalist.

If you believe that this country needs to put God in every governmental agency and activity, you may be a fundamentalist. And if you think it is the atheists that are the ones who are uncomfortable, you are apparently forgetting there are other religions, so you may be a fundamentalist.Separation1.002

Every religion has its super conservative side. They don’t want anything to be different, ever.  They don’t want anyone to believe differently, ever.

Every religion has its super conservative side. They think women are not as important as men. They think women distract them so want their attire to cover up. They do not accept any responsibility for controlling their hormones. They want to control the women though.Israel Enforcing Modesty

Every religion has killed people for not believing their way. Even yours.  My religion has done this, claiming it is their God-give right and so has yours.

So tell me why you are so horrified that ISIS is acting the way they are?  They are just following the model our religions established.  If it was okay for you, why not them?


Truly, it is horrific behavior meant to tyrannize us. No question about it. It was tyranny each time in history any religion killed people who did not believe their way. I do not condone it. I just want you to understand there are people in this country who are not Muslims who feel this way also. You probably know one or two.