Friday, October 31, 2014


FOTO FRIDAY: What's not political? And we are at the countdown before Tuesday's official voting day. Many have taken the opportunity to vote early. Will citizens actually vote to protect their self interests/will "fear" rule? 

Do you have a favorite photo from this voting season? I have many but here's a good one.

Add yours. Don't be shy.
Here's is a link to last week's unbearable entry:BARE ALL

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Saying the Right Thing...

There's nothing one can say to someone who has lost a loved one... 

In fact, I recently learned one is really not supposed to offer words of condolence/comfort at a shiva (a period of seven days' formal mourning for the dead,beginning immediately after a death) but rather let the mourner set the agenda.

So with a heavy heart I took some photos today out in the garden to express the words I can not utter...

                              To everything there is a season...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Too Much Heart?

Wouldn't it be better to see newspapers filled with articles about good people rather than bad ones? Yet the latter dominates the pages. 

There really are more people with good hearts than bad and today I wanted to share a little about one such individual who will be buried this morning in Little Rock. A quiet soul with a Mississippi accent, Glenn Lowitz's heart gave out too early at the age of 62. Glenn was a friend from my Arkansas days as an adult.

It's fitting that memorials are to be sent to his synagogue, Congregation Agudath Achim as his week included hours donated to serving both his Little Rock and Arkansas Jewish communities. There weren't many religious functions at which Glenn wasn't present and he was on too many committees over the years to enumerate. Quietly also doing more jobs than most people knew- keeping the books, helping with membership, etc... He had a good heart.

In his professional life it was the same as he was a Child Psychologist and in private practice. It was a good fit as a good listener who nodded more and listened rather than dominating air space. He helped countless children over his career also serving as a mediator in the family courts and on advisory boards. He had a good heart.
 photo credit: Doris Krain
Glenn was a family man. He was attentive as a husband to Ellen and father to David and Brett, taking great joy in his family's accomplishments. In the last couple of years the family grew as he became a father-in -law to Mike and Susan. His smile was always bigger in his family's presence. He had a good heart. 

Our family was honored to call him a friend. During my adult years in Arkansas we socialized together as couples; attending the Rep, going out to dinner, helping each other celebrate life cycle events. Here's a pic at a Murder Mystery party. Glenn came dressed in his assigned part. He had a good heart.

He knew his way around the kitchen and his baked goods were at most events including my daughter's Bat Mitzvah. Just this past weekend I kidded him that roasted veggies at a recent shiva (visitation) brought by his wife were not the same as his baked goods. He laughed in his quiet way. He had a good heart.

And the last thing he said to me as he was heading out the door on Sunday night was asking me about my parents's health. He was just like that. You know now even without newspaper sensationalism, Glenn Lowitz had a good heart. 

It was his heart that gave out on him Monday.  We that knew him can repeat, "May his Memory Be as a Blessing." 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Difficult Conversation

I don't know how many of you have had to broach "the" difficult conversation with aging parents of "assisted living."  At this time for us in our family it will be called Plan A and Plan B. 

Our 89 yr old Father for the last 21/2 years has been the caregiver for our Mom who has a progressive eye disease.  Until a doctor's visit this week we, her family, didn't know it was progressive. If  our father knew, he hadn't shared that piece of important information. So now the 15% sight left in the one good eye has decreased.  With the loss of sight, brain memories have replaced reality and created their own reality with various types of hallucinations.  Days and nights have been interchanged and it has taken its toll on our Dad. Of course it would, even on a much younger person. He had kept this a secret.

I don't live in the same town much less state so it was a phone conversation last week where the stress and exhaustion were audible and evident. It was time for intervention and we all knew it wouldn't be easy.

Essentially when you get to this stage there are really only 2 plans, Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is to stay in their home of 60+ years with help coming in shifts for both days and nights/ plan B is to go to assisted living. The folks  had expressed their desire to stay in their home as long as possible a couple years back and we as their children do want to honor and respect that wish but not at the expense of one/the other parent. We had encouraged them to check out senior living facilities in town which they have visited.

Starting last night the first of many steps was made as a nightly professional caregiver stayed at their home. Fingers are crossed that this will eventually give our Dad the necessary sleep he so desperately needs to regain some strength and also make some more good important decisions together with our Mother. Cleaning help has been hired but more is needed as physical efforts will be needed elsewhere. Baby steps are better than no steps at all, right?  

Daytime help is next and we, their kids, dread those calls to notify us of serious falls. They both had a spill this past Tuesday. Luckily, a neighbor saw their demise and came to assist them.  All we can do is NUDGE heavily but sooner rather than later we will have to dictate.  Hopefully they will come to the choices themselves for extra assistance... Time is not on our side. 

Folks enjoying sitting out in their backyard yesterday enjoying some sunshine

Monday, October 27, 2014

Raining Cats & Dogs...

You know pets really play a large role in one's lives. This pet presence couldn't have been any more poignant than my visit to friends and family's homes this past week. EVERYwhere I went there were cats and dogs.

The Gray's
The Alman's

 And the Velasquez home's menagerie... 
 It made me also think it'd be so nice if my folks had a pet again to keep them company since they really won't be traveling... It 'd be nice to have a smaller lap dog type.  My Dad does love taking walks,    
Fritz at the Cohen-Sherman's

BUT and that's a big but, perhaps with my Mom's limited sight, life might be a bit dangerous with a dog underfoot.

Maybe a 220 pound guy like the one below's presence might be easier to detect.

Then again, he might eat them out of house and home. His owner said she spends about $200/mo in dog food but I think she'd agree he's definitely worth his weight in gold.

My folks certainly have enough to adjust to and perhaps their pet owning days are past.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Thursday morning while sitting in the Radiology waiting room for my Mom to get her CT, an elderly gentleman struck up a conversation with me. (Don't worry Natureman, his wife was sitting next to him.) Anyhow, I shared that I knew that it was muzzle hunting season in Arkansas and he perked up as he and his son who happened to be sitting across from me had been in their deer stands when a black bear had ambered up to his son's tree. He told his son to show me the video and 'Sho' enuf' there was one very nice sized bear... Last week Paul answered the question about the age old question of whether a bear sh.... in the woods. Well 'bear' with me because Paul has more 'bare' photos. Maybe you too could add some?

A breafast  'bear'

a belly up to the bar bear...

Something for a hungover bear... 'Bayer' aspirin

                And how do you recognize a Scott Walker supporter?

Oh yeah the gun toting bear... unbearable
Check out last week's FOTO FRIDAY by clicking :
 Airing Dirty Laundry

* My Mom's CT was clear... albeit eye disease has worsened both physical and mental states. TBC.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

I am back in Little Rock again and it wasn't because I needed a home fix... My flights were not only on time but once again got me into both airports a bit early. And that was a good thing because I needed to be timely at my Little Rock destination as I had a funeral to attend... a member of my extended family, Sonny Marvin Cohen left this earthly world at 93 years old. 

I have known Sonny long before he became my brother Marc's father-in-law. You see Sonny was one of those people that even as a kid from my early years at the downtown shul I knew Sonny's presence  at every Shabbos (Sabbath), holiday and synagogue event. He knew he had a special obligation which he embraced as a Cohen (literally translated priest in Judaism "a member of the priestly class, having certain rights and duties in the synagogue."

I especially remember him towering over me with his 6 ft stature in a white apron and chef's hat in the shul kitchen and handing out whatever he and the Men's Club had cooked for that synagogue meal whether it would be latkes (potato pancakes)/brisket always with a smile after an entire day of cooking.

Sonny had a presence. A stern look when children got too rowdy in services or a laugh that I can't duplicate after he had shared a joke or funny story. And I heard a lot of them over some 55 years of my life...

Sonny not only served his religious congregation but he also had served his country in WWII, was a Lion's Club member for eons and uber Red Cross volunteer serving as chairman for many years.

His participation in the Red Cross impressed me so much, I not only joined the Red Cross Club in high school but became club president to help organize care kits for servicemen and disaster victims and organize blood drives where I always saw Sonny putting in extra hours. And I remember his family being there was him to at these events. His children and grandchildren continue the generous volunteerism he modeled so well.

Sonny Cohen was a family man, married over 60 years to Leaine, his bride, and father to Terri (my sister-in- law,) Perry and Jerry. He loved and continued fishing with his boys for as long he could physically manage. 

Cricket, his dog, kept him company at home
In addition to all this, his daytime job was being a podiatrist at the Little Rock Foot Clinic where he worked until he was 88 and health dictated him to retire. My sister-in-law took over his practice which he built and served 1000's with hopes to convince a grandchild one day to take over the practice.
Granddaughter Becky and Sonny 

As his granddaughters extolled his virtues at his memorial service 
I witnessed an overflowing funeral home with people who were all touched by his life like me and were there to pay respect to a real"Mensch," a person of honor and integrity. We that knew him, will all miss Sonny.

They just don't make 'em like that anymore...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Boobies, Ta Tas, Hooters, Whatever...

There many words used to refer to breasts and no matter what they are called, one thing we all share is knowing someone who has/has had breast cancer. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and in each city around the world there are activities to raise research funds and create awareness about this disease. My Rosh Chodesh spirituality group held one such evening as we gathered in comaraderie to share sisterhood, honoring those who survived/haven't. 

Besides listening to factoids shared regarding this disease and receiving a handout about breast examination, the evening was also used for some creativity and fun to decorate bras. These whimsical creations's  pictures will be submitted to UpLift, Hooked in A to DD, an international effort to create awareness of breast cancer. Each bra represents the 1000's of women who have been saved due to breast cancer research.

Here are some of our creations... Each received "Best in Category" and I know I won't remember all the titles. "Bare" with me...

Rocky Mountains

Luau Lola


Viva La Vi

Fly High

Tutti & Frutti

Au Naturale Fiona
No matter what you call them, we hope one day this disease which affects so many will be eradicated... 
                       "May the day not be distant Oh Lord."

Here's a link to the Hadassah's UpLift Project.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

As if Once Was Not Enough...

I went back for seconds... to carve pumpkins at Norskedalen that is...  After having to depart midday the previous day, I knew if I could, I needed to go back as many pumpkins still were awaiting jack o'lantern status.

It was a nice sight to be welcomed with all the completed jack o'lanterns filling tables and one corner of the pavilion floor with some very unique expressions. Doesn't this look like a happy crew?


 There were some nice guys and some not so nice guys...
You've heard about biting someone's head off...

Nicole, who spearheaded the event, had taken over the drill and was feverishly cutting the lids and loosening the guts of some 50 remaining pumpkins. 

As I mentioned yesterday the drill was ingenious as a huge energy and timesaver. So I know you know what a 'saw' bit looks like (for removing the lids) but here's what the paint stirrer bit looks like for the innards. 

without goop
To wrench one's guts out... (Paint stirrer)

Even if you don't have 400 pumpkins to gut, it's worth it's weight in gold. I was able to complete carving five pumpkins  in my 90 minute shift versus 3 yesterday with an extra half an hour.  

Knowing that a group was arriving in the evening to finish the last 40 jack o'lanterns made me feel that the task would be completed and ready for "Ghoulies in the Coulees" this week. 

It should be a really fun time and who knows if you go, you just may see one of my creations. 

 Have a Terrific Time in the Coulee!

Be sure and make reservations for the Pumpkin walk and Haunted Hikes. They fill up, so call!

To contact Norskedalen:
 Phone: 608.452.3424

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ghoulies in the Coulees

The Norwegian Heritage Farm in Coon Valley, Norskedalen, requested the help of the community to assist in carving 400 pumpkins for their annual jack o'lantern lit trails for the "Ghoulies in the Coulees" later this week.

My Global Buddy Jie and I were two of the volunteers to answer the call for help. The majority of the volunteers during our shift were UW-L students completing community service hours. 

This was Jie's first experience to create a Jack-O-Lantern since Jie is from Guillin, China and this is her first Halloween. 

It was a bit chilly in the open pavillion and the pumpkins were cold but we managed to carve up 5 jack o'lanterns during our two hour stay. On the left is Jie's first jack o'lantern. I think both Jie's and the pumpkin's smiles represented our fun afternoon together. We also chatted with some of the volunteers around us but most were concentrating on their artistic efforts.

My geometric design should cast some nice shadows...
Luckily for us after our first pumpkin, a couple of the guys had electric drills which sped up the procedure since they drilled off the tops and scooped out the majority of the innards so all we basically had to do was design and carve. 
It looks like Jie has done this many times...

My third
 My second effort was a small pumpkin with the word BOO.
Jie read it as BOD. Uh oh. Easy enough to fix the 'D' looking letter into an 'O'. Thanks, Jie.

Unfortunately, we missed out on the promised snacks as they arrived after we left. It would have been nice to have had some hot cider/ hot cocoa.

Monday at 10-6, the 20th, more volunteers will be needed to continue creating more 'pumpkin' lanterns. Maybe, if you have some free time and are in the area you could help/ perhaps you will want to attend and support "Ghoulies in the Coulees."

 Here's the: LINK

One thing's for sure, it is a 'drop dead' gorgeous drive and you will be in a beautiful setting, just as beautiful as End of the Rainbow Valley... Jie and I will just have to return one day to be tourists and visit the historic buildings.