So This is 70!?

BIRTHDAY GIRL AT 70

I made it! This week I turned 70!!! I was surrounded by my two sons, my precious grandchildren, and my sister. What could have been better?

My children planned a Sherlock Holmes Escape Room Mystery Birthday Party for me and we had a fabulous time deciphering challenging puzzles, figuring out unusual clues, and finally solving where the mystery person was hidden, and still found our way out of the locked room before our time was up! It was the best birthday ever! I highly recommend an exciting event room party! It stimulates the mind and is filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Or legs actually, since you will be running around finding clues!!

I have been a Sherlock fan for decades, so being able to shout, “The Game is Afoot” after walking into a duplicate version of 221B Baker Street was absolutely delightful!!! I can’t tell you how much fun I had!!


I learned that age is indeed a number and as long as you spend time with those you love, the number isn’t important. But, solving mysteries is ageless!

Come celebrate with me as I dance my way into my 70’s. I plan to have an exciting decade ahead!! So WordPress buddies, rock on with this gal and keep on dancing right along with me!!! I’m going to tell old age to just “Hit me with your best shot. Fire Away!” Because I am still dancing!!!!

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The Woman

The Woman 

Down a narrow corridor the image of a woman approaches far in the distance.  A soft stream of light dances off the walls and casts an ethereal glow in her direction as she slowly glides towards me. I am instantly intrigued by her familiarity and mystery.

The illumination of her face enables me to observe segments of her features in the hopes of discovering who she is. Attempting a closer glance, I study her face and notice a faint smattering of freckles sprinkled across her cheeks and a wide-eyed astuteness in her demeanor. I am puzzled by her contradictory expression. She somehow blends innocence and experience together painted with a splash of wisdom as she gazes in my direction in bewilderment.

I’m temporarily surprised by her youthful aura, since my eyes tell me she has walked this earth for eternity.  I see fine lines at the corner of her eyes revealing a life’s journey well traveled. Young and old co- mingle together, as if in a dance, whirling to form a pirouette swaying jointly to create an enigma.

Hers is a face that has experienced the complexities of life; the power of love, exciting adventures, births and deaths, sorrows and joys. Her eyes stare right through me, twinkling as if they hold all the mysteries of the universe deep inside.

We smile at one another and she nods knowingly in my direction. Sudden laughter erupts from her lips and it is instantly contagious. I catch myself laughing along side of her creating a synchronized sound.  As I continue to examine her image carefully, my confusion becomes amplified.

I notice her strength, determination, and the plethora of memories she embodies. I can detect that she carries a reflection of childhood playfulness, teenage angst, young love, ambition, a carefree spirit, peace protests, rock concerts, limitless novels and plays, motherhood, a successful career, and being called grandma for the first time.

Glimpses of a life filled with unusual adventures and ordinary daily events pass before me as I approach the tall mirror in the hallway.  And for an instant I see a flash of mini skirts, bell-bottoms, guitars and peace signs transforming into the grandmother standing before me in the mirror. I see myself.  

I see me at 16, 20, 40, 60 and today. I see 70!

Suddenly, I look away for a split second to double check if the girl I used to be is still there behind my reflection. I need to know that she still exists in the likeness radiating from the hallway mirror.

I blink to make sure the essence of who I was still lingers somewhere in the glass before me and I let out a gasp.

YES!!!!! Oh, YES! I see her. She is indeed still there!

Older, softer, rounder, not quite as tall as she used to be.  Hair drizzled with a few silver streaks but ever full and luxurious, Eyes, expressive and large, ready to explore the unknown, all while surrounded by laugh lines from decades of smiling.  And as I recognize my reflection I sigh and then speak aloud.

“Hello old friend. I see you in there, I’m so glad you’re still here to continue this journey with me.”

And a few tears softly slide down my cheeks as I realize that years and age cannot change who I am inside. I tightly shut my eyes and envision that vibrant and vital young girl protesting for peace. I open them again and stare into my reflection. I inspect the determined woman I am today. Older, smarter, and ready to keep fighting for change.

I may walk a little slower, but I’ve become quite a bit wiser. I take nothing for granted and appreciate every moment I am given. Always trying to find a new pathway to creativity, and ready to gain more knowledge with every decade I’m allowed to endure.

I take one last look at my image in the mirror and then smile.

“So this is 70? Happy Birthday to me! 70 doesn’t seem quite as old and scary as I thought it would be.”

And then I hum a few bars from a song that I identified with in 1967 and dance my way out the door.

Where Have All My Blog Posts Gone?

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WHERE HAVE ALL MY BLOG POSTS GONE?

Where have all my blog posts gone?
Long time passing
Where have all my blog posts gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the blog posts gone?
I have avoided them every one
When will I ever learn?
When will I ever learn?

(Adapted from the song Where have all the Flowers gone by Pete Seeger.)

Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted on my blog since the beginning of 2019.The good news is… I haven’t stopped writing for months; I just haven’t posted anything on my blog. I assure you that I still write routinely and produce daily Facebook posts about current events and do my usual grandma bragging. I also respond frequently to Word Press friends with lengthy philosophical answers, as well as working on my current novel. But, I have certainly neglected and avoided my Word Press blog.

Why you ask? Well, I’ll attempt to explain. You see, In January I set a personal goal/promise to myself, to write less about politics and focus more on positive topics. So, I told myself when our current President did something extreme, to wait at least a full week before freaking out and writing yet another political blog. In trying to avoid posting something negative (brought about by the madman in White House), I discovered that I was unable to write anything at all. My hands were tied because “45” was always doing something infuriating! And in my intent to avoid continuously writing how frustrated I was with this administration and the lack of courage and core values I saw in many of the current GOP representatives, I was left helpless and unable to abide by my promise to myself.

Therefore, every time something happened, I took a deep breath and decided to wait before blogging about it. And so I waited, and waited, and waited. A full week never passed without our President behaving badly, acting ridiculous, inept, or unconscionable. Since he couldn’t make it an entire week without a crazy tweet, or a rambling unintelligible TV appearance, or a bizarre trip to meet with one of his favorite dictators, I  was forced to stay away from my blog lest I succumb to discussing his appalling behavior. And because his actions were worse than ever  I tried my best to ignore what was happening…  However, I was unable to turn on the news without hearing about former colleagues or WH staff members being sentenced to jail.  AARGH! How could I write anything positive with a daily Trump corruption soap opera revealing itself? I promised myself 2019 would be more upbeat and less about this administration or politics around the world. But today I had to go back on my word and forget the goal I made.

With the horrible tragedy that happened in New Zealand I just can’t stay quiet any longer. I care too much about humanity to remain silent. I am terrified of the hate crimes inundating the world. I will never understand this! No group of people should ever be targetted because of their faith or their color. There is no logical reason for this kind of bigotry!!!!!

In my every day life I am a happy person. I share peace, love and joy to those around me. But I care way to deeply about the world in which I live to turn a blind eye. I want this country and the entire world to be safe for my grandchildren and all the children who will be around long after I am gone..

And so I must do something!!! I can protest the high prices of medicine in my country (Which I do), I can protest for equality and stand up for safer gun laws, I can write my representatives and volunteer to help others. I do all those things. But I NEED to write about politics too. My voice, your voice, WE THE PEOPLE have a voice and need to use it! And so I write.  My blog will continue to be about politics when it needs to be.

Righting the wrongs of the world is who I am. It was who I was in college when I protested against the Viet Nam War. When I fought for women’s rights. It was who I was when I marched outside the campus library wearing jeans with protest signs because girls could only wear skirts in the library and to class.(This was 1967, girls believe it or not had to wear dresses everywhere in public on campus.) I wanted equal rights. BTW, my protest got news coverage and the next school year women were allowed to wear pants or jeans in class AND in the library!!! VICTORY!!!!

I played in the first all girl’s rock band in South Florida and my political voice was heard through my music and my lyrics.

I could go on and on about everything I have stood up for over the years and how I protested for what I felt would benefit women, children, minorities etc. It is who I have always been. So why should I stop now? If you are looking for contests on my blog site you won’t find them. I spent 36 years teaching and every year I created a  million poetry or writing contests for students. So I am done with that now. I write to enlighten and to blow off steam. I write to find joy and I write because I must!  Freedom of speech.  I am woman hear me roar!

Yes, at the beginning of 2019 I wanted to approach the new year with a different vibe but I have decided that the old vibe is working just fine. So, since next month I begin an entirely new decade (I will soon write a blog about that.) I had planned to turn over a new leaf. Instead, I am embracing the old leaf. It might be turning brittle, cracking and breaking apart. (That happens when living things age). But, like a leaf, I am as colorful and vibrant as ever. And I will be blowing in the wind for as long as the universe allows me to do so.

Note to you younger folks…I got the title for this blog from a Pete Seeger song I used to sing. In fact it was the very first song I learned to play on my guitar when I was in middle school. I heard it on a Peter Paul and Mary album and by ear I figured out the chords. It was my introduction to folk music and I strummed away and sang this song along with many others by PP&M, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger etc. After that I wrote my own protest songs and eventually saved up for an electric guitar and switched to rock music. But this particular song has always stuck in my head and seemed the perfect title for my blog.

Yep, I suppose I am just going to have to write what is in my heart. I’ve fought for change for too long to give up now. So where have all my blog posts gone?? No where!!!!! They are right here. I’m back baby!!!! I have never really been gone…

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Happy 2019!!!

Happy

We are about to embark on another new year. How exciting!

In the past, I’d always make New Year’s resolutions. Being a teacher, it would be the first assignment after winter break, and my personal list would be the example I’d show my students. Then, our individual resolutions expanded into a discussion, which led to a creative writing session. Year after year a variation of this activity transitioned into a positive goal experience and a way to allow the students to get back into the swing of things.

This year I think I might try a little mini version of that concept with my grandchildren that involves crayons, playdoh, and perhaps hand made sock puppets, culminating in a puppet show presentation of their goals for 2019. Yes, I am always using my teacher brain to think of new and excting ways to enlighten children. And I must admit, it is even more fun when the lesson is created for my own grandchildren!

However, now that I’m in retirement, this year I think I’m going to skip making my own list. Why? Because I always tell myself to drop ten pounds, to exercise more, to read more, and take more “me” time to write, or finish projects etc. Bla bla bla. 

I think perhaps, I’m just going to try to survive this New Year. I’ll do my very best to endure this administration and make it through until “you know who” is either voted out or impeached. And I’m going to trust in our newly elected representatives to bring a sense of calm, rationality, and decency back to our government.

Also, my little goals are rather petty in comparison to the resolutions our nation needs to make in healing the divide created by the current resident in the White House.

So, Happy New Year dear friends! Here’s to a better future! To a 2019 that brings us more peace and calm. More hope, more world allies, safer schools for our children, more kindness given to our neighbors, more empathy and tolerance for our fellow human beings, and more love in our hearts to share.

And if we ALL just resolve to show kindness and respect to one another, then 2019 will be a fabulous year.  Happy New Year! Good health to you all! ❤️xo

Chanukah, Christmas, New Years, Oh My!

2018 is almost over and what had been a dreadfully turbulent year, ended with the most delightful holiday season, filled with love and joyous memories spent with my beautiful family.

December started off with a Chanuakah filled with laughter, spinning dreidles, candle lighting, and holiday songs.  Then Christmas Eve began with my youngest son flying home in time to spend the rest of the holidays with us. So, I had both my sons and my grandchildren with me, how perfect!!!!  A year that started out so filled with turnmoil ended with complete joy.

I thought I would post a few family photos of my precious blended family. We celebrate everything and embrace it all.  So, take a look at my gang. We even were able to take a train ride on the Polar Express.  In MIAMI!!!!!!

Happy Everything! From my family to yours, may you all have a very Happy New Year.

Haunted By The Past

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I have a peculiar feeling deep down in my gut as I write this post…

My newly discovered Kluchinski cousin who lives in France, is working on our family tree. One that includes pictures of our blended relatives.

So, here I am staring into the faces of Kluchins (Kluchinski’s) and I am wiping away tears looking at relatives that I never got a chance to meet because the majority of them were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

These people are so beautiful to me. They look like my father, his brothers, and a lot like my sons. And they look like ME!!!!

These pictures are the faces of my relatives who died in Auschwitz. Good people I never got to know. Adults, teens, and children, who were never able to live their lives because Hitler’s Nazi’s cut them down in their prime. And I am literally sobbing because they look so much like my family. Like the people I love. It is like staring into the mirror and seeing MY eyes, my smile… And I am utterly heartbroken.

It is one thing to read the names of someone on a wall. It is another thing to look into their eyes. For the first time seeing my Father’s side of the family, the Kluchin relatives, I feel like the wind has been punched out of me. I have a lump in my throat from forcing back pain. I so wish my Dad were still alive and could see their faces too. All we knew was that my grandfather took his family and left Paris to come to America around 1918.  I didn’t know that he had several brothers and sisters that stayed in Paris. What my siblings and I assumed was that my father’s side of the family was lost in the war. But none of us could have suspected that one of my father’s first cousins survived because she hid from the Nazis, and years later her daughter found me while doing ancestry research.  She thought she was the last surviving Kluchinski, until she discovered me. Pretty miraculous I’d say!

Before my father died he began an ancestry quest to find out about his family and my sister and I, in our retirement, took up where he left off. And luckily our precious cousin, Sandrine is compiling a tree filling in the blanks with the Paris Kluchinski’s. We are seeing new names, new faces, and it is overwhelmingly emotional.

It is wonderful to say their names aloud so they can be remembered. (Judaism says our loved ones need to be remembered in every generation. We say their names and give our children their names so their memories live on.)

But this is gut wrenching too. My heart literally hurts. These souls didn’t deserve to be dragged out of their homes and killed. Nobody deserves to die like that. These people need to be more than just a name on a wall. They need to be a face with a smile and a name that my children and grandchildren can look at and remember. Because their lives mattered!!!!!!

Now perhaps those of you who read my blog will understand why I am continually fighting for truth and justice. Why I persist and resist the madman in the White House. Because, I understand how dangerous fascism is, and how easily corruption can take over a nation. How hatred can take away those we love.

I am going to take one more look at the faces of my long lost ancestors tonight and say a prayer to let them know they are still loved. Below are just a few.

Thank you, dear cousin Sandrine for this gift of placing faces to names.

*On the memorial wall in Paris, the names of those who died in Auschwitz were based on Nazi records, which were spelled phonetically. Therefore they spelled Kluchinski with a C. (Cluchinski )or in other areas of the wall just Chinski.

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My newly discovered cousin, Sandrine on the bottom, facetiming me from Paris. I am in the top of this picture using my phone to snap a pic as we are chatting on my iPad. The wonders of technology and DNA!

Tumultuous 2018

Tumultuous 2018 – A spoken word poem about the past year.

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2018 began with a frightful flu that quickly turned into pneumonia; grave enough to produce an awakening of my own vulnerability and mortality.

And as I struggled to breathe and gain strength, our country also gasped and choked, coughing up discord, bellowing chaos and despair, coupled with unprincipled deeds pushing us further away from democracy and decency.

While I healed, the nation came down with a poisonous affliction. America was heavily infected with bigotry. An ailment that previously hid in the shadows of every city and slithered out only in darkness. 2018 saw it vaulting into the sunshine to spread its deadly tentacles into the light of day.

Hatred was no longer disguised and concealed. A horrific epidemic rapidly spread across the country that was cringe worthy to the majority, yet targeted the minority, as safety became less accessible day after day, and ordinary citizens found there was nowhere to hide and no one to save them from the storm troopers infected with the Trump Plague, carrying out orders that were cruel, demented, and often lethal.

Schools transformed from places of learning to halls oozing blood. Babies torn from their mothers’ arms as dogmatism reigned from sea to shining sea. Cries of children, not soldiers, rang out in the night, their moans wafted in the wind from “California to the New York Islands” to verify if America still had a conscience.

This virus begged us to ask and update the age-old question; “If a tree falls in a forest, does it still make a sound?” to “If children weep in cages does a nation still hear their cries?”

2018 was headed by a leader who alienated our allies and embraced our foes; took away our clean environment and our food regulations. Our health care was at risk, and our debt piled higher with each tick of the clock. And a madman in DC smiled and wanted parades while shaking hands with dictators. This was the 2018 I remember.

Yes, as I recuperated from illness and regained my own strength, our nation came down with a sickness that I fear may never heal. Not without preventative medicine.

I learned this year that preventative medicine is needed to care for our bodies and also to cure our political souls. Honesty, integrity, and simple kindness can wipe away greed and corruption as effectively as antibiotics cure disease.

Our nation is sick. It is time for it to heal. We must wipe away the germs that destroyed its health and find a way to bring it back to its former glory.

The cure is a simple one. The vaccine is written in the words in the poem engraved on the statue of Liberty. Every time a person reads it they will heal. Share the cure! Save a life.

THE NEW COLOSSUS by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”