Archive | March 2013

Photo Challenge: A Day in the life

WordPress asked us bloggers for an in the moment day in the life photo challenge. I am sure That others will post about their day on a safari or exploring  some Eastern European hamlets. I wish I could offer a post as exciting. But, here is an honest glimse of my life from yesterday. The last […]

Swan Song, House Hunt

sold

soldOn my latest trip to Wegmans, my shopper’s club card failed to scan after many attempts to swipe it though the machine. It seems I have used this card so many times I’ve worn it down. Now, if a girl’s Wegmans shoppers club card no longer functions, I guess that’s another sign that it’s time for me to leave town. 

Here is my final column in the Democrat & Chronicle. Thank you to all the readers, including the cashiers at Wegmans who recognized me with my groceries, who all made me feel like a celebrity. 

Tomorrow, we head to Detroit for a “vacation” of looking at houses that are already pending a sale, houses that just went on the market only days ago. 

Maybe at least this time, we won’t get a flat tire on the way. 

Never underestimate the power of a smile. If you attended a CenterStage show at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester in Brighton, Cora Holliday’s smile from the box office booth was almost as unforgettable as the performance.

For the last several years, Cora was box office manager for the theater. When she sold me tickets to shows, we always chatted about how rehearsals were going and how excited she was for opening night as she browsed her computer screen to find me the best available seats.

“Even if you came to just one play at the JCC, you would remember Cora. She just had that way about her that made everyone feel special in her presence,” said Ralph Meranto, director of JCC CenterStage.

Behind that smile, Cora was fighting diabetes, a battle she succumbed to on March 13. She was 50. Even after having her second leg amputated, Cora’s positive attitude never faltered as she planned to soon be driving and yes, dancing on her prosthetic legs. The JCC in January held a fundraiser in her honor to offset her medical bills and to retrofit her car.

A celebration of her life is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton. Donations in her memory can be made to the JCC or the National Kidney Foundation, 15 Prince St, Rochester, NY 14607.

Thanks to all who shared stories

Goodbyes are tough. I have been dreading writing this final column for weeks now, but it is time for me to focus on my family and our big move to Detroit.

To all the readers and all who made my job so easy by pitching me story ideas over the last three years, I thank you. I especially want to thank the Democrat and Chronicle for helping me find my voice in reporting on all the local heroes in our midst. It gave me such a sense of connection and belonging in Rochester to know that this column helped raise funds and awareness for so many of the causes that you support. It truly has been a privilege to write it each and every week.

I will be sticking around for a few more months, so say hello if we bump into one another in the Pittsford Wegmans. You also can follow my Motor City musings and adventures at my blog atwww.stacylynngittleman.com or @slgittleman on Twitter.

Starting next week, please welcome Missy Rosenberry to this column.

A graduate of Cornell University, Missy has lived in the Penfield/Webster area with her husband and three children for 11 years. In addition to writing this column, she is a teaching assistant for the Webster School district and a part-time karate instructor. Please send her the latest happenings in your town to missyblog@gmail.com.

As for me, it is time to plan my life’s next chapter. Once I get to Detroit, I hope to find a writing gig as good as this one.

I also look forward to making many new friends in a city poised for an economic and cultural renaissance.

I hope to take part in Detroit’s gardening movement as it sets to turn its urban blight into the world’s largest urban farm.

And when new friends ask me where I am from, after living here for 13 years, I have earned the right to proudly declare, “I am from Rochester!”

Here is why I didn’t buy that sweet little bouquet of Daffodils at Trader Joe’s

daffy

In my blog posts, I am trying to avoid having a bitter tinge in my writing.

I’ve heard advice to avoid politics in my blog, unless I want to have a political blog.

I want to write about happy things, like the anticipation of spring in this very cold corner of New York.

When you live in Western New York, winter can drag on until mid April.

When you live in Western New York, you hang on to your “sleeping bag” puffy black jacket until Mid-April.

“Spring” sports have begun in school.

Youngsters at this very moment are at an ultimate frisbee match.

Outside temperature right now is 28 degrees.

And it’s still snowing.

And when you are a Western New Yorker, a yearning for spring makes beautiful, sweet bouquet at Trader Joes – prices at $1.49 for 10 flowers – extremely hard to resist. 

So I picked two bunches and carefully placed them in my cart, as to not crush their happy yellow heads.

As I got on line, I happened to check the label of the flowers.

“These flowers were proudly grown for you in England.”

England. A product of England, eh?

Nope. I put them back.

Wanna know why?

Because my love for Israel is stronger than my desire for a floral impulse buy.

The UK, in the past decade, the anti-Israel atmosphere has only thickened and intensified.

In the UK, it is just fine and socially acceptable to call upon the boycott of Israeli products, Israeli-created technology, and even Israeli intelligence all under the guise that Zionism= racism. 

Zionism, by the way, is no way related nor does it ever condone discriminating one because of one’s race, religion or sexuality. Zion comes from the Hebrew word “excellence” which is what Theodore Herzl dreamed about – the creation of a homeland that would be for the Jewish people but would also serve as an example and a resource of excellence for the rest of the world.

At Oxford University, students are set to vote whether or not the university should boycott all products and companies that have ties to Israel.

In the UK, academics at top Universities call for a boycott of collaborating with universities in Israel. At one point, there was a petition to arrest any Israeli academic visiting England upon landing for war crimes. 

And finally, I thought about England’s Chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks address at last month’s AIPAC conference, which he referenced how anti-globalisation protests in England quickly devolve into anti-Jewish protests.  You can check out the video here:

All these thoughts swirled around my head as I admired the daffodils.

i didn’t start a protest to boycott Trader Joe’s, as many Arabs have done outside TJ’s around the country for daring to carry Israeli products.

No. I just had my own personal boycott.

No England. You can keep you daffodils. I’ll boycott you back. And I’ll wait for my own flowers to pop up in a few weeks, thank you very much.

A Woman’s Mad Mad Thoughts within a Hot Hot Housing Market

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Last night, in a frenzied attempt to make me fall in love with a house he saw in Michigan, my husband tried to email me a video of a property he walked through yesterday.

He wants me to fall in love with this house, because by the time I get to Michigan next week to begin our house hunting  in earnest, this house, with the right square footage in the right neighborhood in the right school district, may already be sold.

After the video failed to arrive in my email inbox, and our Skype call kept freezing because of a poor connection, we gave up and said good-night.

I shut my laptop. As I tried to get to sleep alone again, against my yoga teacher’s teachings, some thoughts entered my head.

Pizza dough.

I have to use up the flour in my cabinet before Passover.

I also have to use up that jar of tomato sauce so making Pizza for tomorrow night’s dinner would be the perfect way to use up both flour and sauce.

But that means I will have to mess up the perfect feng shui of my empty kitchen counters.

Kitchen counters usually littered with – appliances like toasters and electric can openers, of all things, and a FRUIT BOWL.

And now I want to clutter the pristine emptiness of my vast kitchen counter space with a

BREAD MAKER

of all things?

I mean, who keeps things on their kitchen counters?

Everyone, unless you are selling your house.

Who makes their beds each an every single morning??

No one! Unless you are trying to sell your house.

(And my mom.)

Today, if the sun stays behind the clouds, as it does on most Rochester days, my realtor is coming to take photos for the listing.

But, after the National Public Radio report I heard this morning – the first thing that entered my ears after waking from my fitful sleep — I’m wondering how hard we really have to work at this house selling thing after all.

To sum up the report – houses are selling insanely fast. So fast that if you want to find that house, you may find yourself checking your Zillow alerts at 2 a.m.

Guilty as charged.

Oh yeah, spring has sprung today and that means it is the very beginning of house hunting season. This year, the spring house buying/selling frenzy started weeks before the calender heralded the March 21 arrival of spring, even as the snow keeps falling.

I write this as I wait for my realtor to come take those fantastic photos of my house that has floor-to-ceiling 1920’s charm.

I write this as I wonder if I am going to find a house in Detroit that will speak to me, that will make me fall in love with it hook line and sinker as I did with the house I am dwelling in right now.

Or, am I going to have to settle. Because it is in the right school district. Because it was all that was on the market. Because, unlike the casual looker who is looking for a bigger house in their same town, we HAVE to move.

Tonight, I am going to try my hardest to listen to the sage advice of my yoga teacher and let my breath be louder than my thoughts.

100 views (please) for my son, the rock star!

Jewish mothers brag about their son the doctor.

Jewish mothers praise the accomplishments of their son, the big-shot lawyer.

I don’t know if I will ever have those bragging rights, but thanks to Craig Taubman and his band of gracious musicians,  my son rocked the bimah at Temple Beth El in Rochester!!!

Thank you, thank you thank you, to Craig and his band and ALL at Temple Beth El who made this weekend happen!

For myself and most of the audience, we expected to be moved by Craig Taubman and his seasoned ensemble comprised of a pianist, drummer, guitarist and a phenomenal woman violinist.

We had no clue that my 14-year-old son would be bestowed the opportunity to show off his latest slide guitar improvs to an audience of about 200.

Jewish rock musicians were not exactly my son’s “thing” – up until last night. He poo-pooed them in fact. If they play Jewish music, how can they be cool???

Kid, you’ve got a thing to learn.

Last night, after a Friday Night Live service, he had the honor of having Shabbat dinner sitting with the band.

They got to talking, and then they got into some serious talking about music. Two realizations were discovered. My son discovered that, yes, these were real, bona fide musicians even if they played in a Jewish rock band. And Craig’s band, after listening to my son go on about designing a pick up for his guitar for a science project, concluded that my son in spite of his young age is also a real musician.

I didn’t think they would let him jam with them tonight. I mean, they are grammy-winning road-touring musicians. Professionals. And my son is good, but he has to earn his musical chops before he gets to share a stage.

But share they did. And this is how it sounded. Excuse the screams from his biggest fan:

stacylynngittleman:

So, the cardinals voted in a new pope. Why don’t you vote for a new name for my blog, results will be smoke free!

Originally posted on Stacy Gittleman's blog:

Thank, you, WordPress, for your latest daily prompt: All About Me.

It was the impetus that got me thinking: Once I move to Detroit, the name of my blog will be outdated.

When I started this blog about three years ago, I named it Transplantednorth because that’s how I felt. Even after nine years of moving from the New York Metro Area to Rochester, I still felt somewhat on the outside, still very much a transplant.

Now, (as we native New Yorkers say)  whadaya know? Just as I’m feeling grounded and rooted, it’s time to move, to transplant, yet again! (Yay.)

So, this is where you come in. And you get to vote.

When I move, what shall I name my blog:

 

I’m waiting with bated breath for your vote OR other suggestions!

 

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Let All Who are Hungry Come and Eat … at the Table!

Rubin 4.5
Image

Israeli, born Romania, 1893-1974
First Seder in Jerusalem
1950
Oil on canvas
129 x 162 cm
Collection of the Rubin Family

You know that piece of furniture in your kitchen, the one with the round or sometimes square flat surface? How many times do you eat at it with all family members present and accounted for?

I’ll fess up: Now that my family is in transition, it’s boiled down to the weekends.

In American culture, the days where families gather at the table to eat dinner on a nightly basis are going the way of Saturday mail delivery.

Eating on the fly, wherever and whenever, has become the norm, right? We eat walking, driving, or even standing up at elevated tables because we didn’t get a table with seats at the mall food court.

We can go on and on in school about nutrition, but often our kids are rushed through their meals at their lunch period, that’s if they HAVE a lunch period.  My high school daughter eats lunch in class nearly every day. She can’t fit in lunch because of her electives.

The proof in the pudding (a food substance I would highly implore be eaten at a table) is a conversation I had with a bunch of my 7th Grade Hebrew school students as we prepared to study the Birkat Hamazon. This is a long Hebrew blessing known as Grace after meals, but it actually translates to: the blessing of nourishment.

I think that hundreds of years ago, those wise rabbis who constructed this prayer were onto something: eating together and then SINGING together at a table gives us nourishment that goes way beyond the physical.

Before we got into the nitty-gritty of the Hebrew vocabulary of the prayer, I asked a general question that can be asked to any kid regardless of their faith:

How often do you eat together as a family?

The general response was, “not much.”

“Everyone has sports so people eat at different times whenever.” 

“My mom doesn’t make dinner so i just grab something from the fridge and eat it in my room.” 

“My dad works late so we eat without him lots of the time.” 

I listened to these honest yet sad confessions just one week after hearing a recent report on National Public Radio of the demise of family time around the table.

On a positive side, because of  Jewish camping,  some of my students were quite familiar with the Birkat Hamazon. And in the summer, they do sit and eat meals with others and then sing this prayer together, complete with all the campy hand motions. Thank you camp!

And even if we ARE around the table, we often bring some kind of electronic device with us to further distract ourselves from the people in our lives who really count.

As Passover and Easter approach, who will be around your table?

Boca Botox Babes and Snowbirding Baldies: A Floridian Tale

lips

I recently returned from a great vacation visiting the family and many close family friends in Florida.

Yes, it was nice to get away from the snow and cold for a bit. It was nice to feel the warm sun on my skin.

But I couldn’t help notice when I got back north, most everything in Florida feels fake. I’m using almost as the operative word, because we did take in some great wildlife in the Everglades, which faces one more challenge to its survival now that the government is in sequestration. More on that in a future post.

So there I was about to get on line at a Boca supermarket when a Boca Babe cuts in front of me, seemingly clueless of her offense. I stood in stunned silence.

She had to be at least in her mid 50’s but she was trying to pull off 22.

Her highlighted hair was pulled into a pony tail and bangs curtained her forehead.

She had a tuck. She had some nips. Clearly some collagen had been injected into her puffy lips.  I could not see her eyes, which were hiding behind a pair of huge sunglasses.

She casually and slowly talked to someone on her phone bedecked in a jeweled skin as she pilfered through a purse, which, if it wasn’t hot pink, could have been mistaken for a small long-haired lap dog.

Meanwile, an older gentleman, balding and shorter than I, spoke the thoughts that I dared not say.

“Unbelievable! She should get off the phone. I’d like to crack her over the head with it, don’t she realize other people behind her would like to get out of here?” He mumbled to me.

Then, he went ahead in a much louder voice to give her a piece of his mind.

“Hey lady, get off the phone and do your business, will you? You’re holding up the line!”

Boca Botox Babe had a quick retort: “Excuse me, but I am doing my business. Unlike you, I can do TWO things at once!”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry but you gave me the wrong change. I need five more dollars,” said the equally stunned cashier woman.

“Oh, you’ll have to forgive me, I just got back from Vegas.” And then to the man behind me:

“Hey, what are you from New York?? You sound like you’re from New York, so RUDE, like a boyfriend I had once.”

Hey. HEY, I thought as Boca Babe and Baldie fought over my head.  I’m from New York!!!

But my natural lips stayed silent.

After Botox Babe left, I don’t know why but I apologized to the cashier for her behavior. I told her I would never talk on my cell phone when someone was waiting on me packing my groceries because it was very rude.

And yes, I am from New York and proud of it.

I left the store back into the February Florida warmth just laughing at this state with its Botox babes and perfectly-manicured golf courses.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

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