Wednesday, October 2, 2013
"You must have been an elegant woman," commented the stranger at the bus stop. "I used to dress women, advise them on clothing." I do take trouble to match and complement colors, so I appreciated the compliment. I wear hats to avoid skin cancer in glaring San Diego, but I always did like hats. The speaker had an easy, casual, tasteful style herself. This was Tessa Schlesinger, a free lance writer and blogger who has ebooks and paperbacks on Amazon.com. She suggested I look her up on Google, which led to reading an article and buying her publication of articles by her father, on being a Jewish journalist in Hitler's Germany, and then South Africa. Among other publications, Mr. Schlesinger wrote for JTA, Jewish Telegraph Agency, whose website I consult at least once a week now. It's a period of perennial interest to me. As a teenager I had a dear friend who searched Europe after World War II for 200 relatives, and found none. No records. In my extended family by marriage, hurt silence prevails on the loss of relatives during those killing times. I have always known people with numbers tattooed on their forearms. In my native New York City I often worked for and with Jewish people of every range of education and economic status. Now at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, I strive for justice and spiritual development among folks of Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist background. Some of us are theists, many agnostic, humanist, Earth Centered and yet more varied and unique. We find something in a spiritual community that reflects our real lives in a pluralistic, ever rediscovering society. We seek to go beyond tolerance to compassionate living in the belief that everyone and everything is connected. Well, I hadn't given much thought to Jews in South Africa until now. So I just read a long review in Goodreads of "The Lion Seeker," by Kenneth Bonert. Inspired by his interest in his own family's roots, the novel follows a Jewish family from Lithuania to South Africa between two world wars, through the changes wrought in the second generation. Based on the way Bonert expresses himself in the interview, I'm expecting a well written story.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Now heaven help me, I looked in my bookcase for something I might move out of my house, and didn't I start READING the cursed addictive things! A booklet called "Naming: poems by 8 women," published in Oregon in 1976, fell open at "I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO MARRY AN ARTIST," by Carol Erdman. The writer daydreams of living in creative clutter, "oozing rainbows through the honeymud between our toes." I have to keep that, I haven't read all the poems yet. I might want to read them again. Then I wondered if I really need books acquired when I was researching background for writing a short story or child's book about my mother's childhood in Muinish, in Galway Bay. I pulled out "Our Like Will Not Be There Again," a collection of essays on interviews of older people in the West of Ireland, by Lawrence Millman. That opened at "Listenin' Was a Great Thing Once," about a man who had forgotten his father's stories, until he was stuck for weeks in a hospital. He remembered story after story as he told them to sick and fretful patients, who forgot for a while to feel pain. Well, I have to read more of the essays now, don't I? Only this week I pulled out a slender hardback by May Sarton, "Joanna and Ulysses," published in 1963, and isn't it speaking straight to my heart on the same subject as "Artists' Journey," by Julia Cameron, which a group of us have been studying for months? "Somewhere deep down inside her there was a being who was not the dutiful daughter she had forced herself to become. She felt she had earned a commitment to this being, the painter, because although she had no illusion about the value of what she did, painting could, she felt, become a way of finding out what she really thought about things, where she was now, at thirty." Of course, she did have an illusion. She supposed her paintings were not good. My precious, precious books! How I neglect you for years, yet cling with strength to the great good in you when I meet you again.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Woman-who-runs-with-terns scurried back and forth in tandem with the bird, chasing and retreating as wavelets rushed up and then ebbed. Today I got my feet wet, and sandy, and I smelled the sea air and was surrounded by the rumble of wave after wave. Surfers fell off their boards but kept after the choppy, hard driving waves. A whole family turned out to watch a toddler encounter the ocean. She squeaked, surprised by the water, safe between mom and dad. I contested territory with an opportunistic seagull. Iridescent bits of mussel shell found a way into my hand. I'm Irene, and I'm alive.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Since I posted in the Facebook page for UU's (Unitarian Universalists) of San Diego, celebrating the Liver Walk and my rising health, I've been contacted from within my congregation by folks with a loved one just starting treatment. Posting on the American Liver Foundation's Facebook page also resulted in a couple of contacts. I'm glad to offer moral support. Apparently in the last couple of years lots more pages relating to HepC have been formed. I need to learn how to post links to good information!
My life is so different now! On May 12th I walked twice as far as the first year in the American Liver Foundation's Liver Walk in the San Diego Zoo, 3K. (Monkeys interested, meerkats suspicious, big cats bored.) Then I walked another 1K around the park and the neighborhood. Art classes, volunteer work, study groups - I have the nerve to complain that I get tired sometimes! At my age, 70, it's great to be getting stronger and more active.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Six months ago I ventured to volunteer, 3hours a week, at Uptown Faith Community Services Center, which helps homeless people and folks with low incomes. Uncertain whether I had the stamina to keep a commitment, I was encouraged to try because I had managed a few months of occasional help in the religious education program at my church, First Unitarian Universalist of San Diego. Soon I learned that my church was one of the sponsors of the this social justice work. I became liaison between the church and the Uptown board. Of course, one can't just go to the board meeting once a month. So once a month there is also a subcommittee meeting that targets the needs of the direct service center. Occasional meetings to report to the congregation. Plus a great deal of thinking, planning, suggesting, writing, emailing, trying to raise funds, raise consciousness, gather more volunteers, obtain donations in kind, seeing that these donations reach the center. It turned out that I had been missing having a consistent purpose and goal in my life. I have a passion for direct help, and informing people. I can do it. Now I do have the stamina. Terrific people have become my colleagues and friends. During the same period, some concepts from art class have sunk in. I can continue to learn and improve. I love the process. I'd say I've made some progress.
Friday, December 9, 2011
In October I reached the age of 70. My son and daughter-in-law threw a party for me at their home. People said nice things, and I cried. Let the love in. Thanksgiving brought my sister to be my first guest in this apartment. Slight snag: the borrowed aerobed filled all the living room floor space, so I had to deflate and fold it every morning. We had a lovely dinner at a friend's home, and visited several museums. Yes! San Diego has art museums. Building toward Christmas has been frazzling and fun. I just started volunteering at an organization that helps the homeless. Art class continues to challenge and fascinate me. Women's support group anchors and connects me. Over my shoulder I can see the full moon shining through mist in a pale purplish sky. Things could be worse.