Remembering the Children

Anticipating a few days at our lake house with one son and his family, I’ll spend a good part of today scurrying around collecting items we need, shopping and cooking. I’m envisioning our activities together and smile.

I’m thinking also about other grandmothers.

I’m thinking too about grandfathers, and mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sister and cousins.

About those  girls kidnapped in Nigeria since April.

About the Syrian and Iraqi families displaced by civil unrest for whom home is a refugee camp. About Israelis and Palestinians divided by war, sending children to fight their neighbors.

About Michael Brown’s family in Ferguson, Missouri, and those of other gunshot victims.

I’m thinking about other peoples’ children around the nation and the world.

And I have no words.



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Grandmother Diary: Answering the Whys

I met my son about halfway between our houses to collect my grand-daughter, nearly 3. Her older brother is in camp for a couple of weeks and my daughter-in-law hadn’t found a camp program suitable for her. She’s been happy at home, helping her mother and playing with her baby brother. I offered to do a day of “grandma camp.”

As soon as she was buckled into her carseat, the “whys” began.

Why do I only have one carseat?

Why did I need to get gas in the car?

Why were the men working on the road? In the trees?

We were going to the local zoo and I decided I needed a stroller—the one piece of baby equipment I hadn’t accumulated. We stopped into Target and found an inexpensive umbrella stroller.

Why do you have to pay?

At the zoo, taking the stroller out of the car, I realized in my haste to get there,   I hadn’t noticed that the wheels were attached to the frame with those tough plastic ties.

Why can’t you put the wheels on?

Having no tool in the car to cut them, we proceeded to walk around the zoo, shortening  the visit.

The whys continued all afternoon. I loved answering them.

My favorite: Why is it taking so long for my birthday to come?  (She has a another month.)

I’ve already planned the outing for this week. I can’t wait to answer more whys.


Pushing the stroller

Pushing the stroller


At the zoo

At the zoo

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The Shabbos List: A Review

I have rather blogless lately; post-play, summer activities, who knows. Thankfully, my blog friend Miriam Hendeles,  has been very busy writing and took the time to watch the video from my play and write about it. Here’s her wonderful post.

Thank you, Miriam.




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Madeline at 75

It’s a big birthday week. My mother’s 84th  a grandson’s 1st, and Britain’s Prince George also turning one.

This year also marks the 75th birthday of a very special little girl, beloved worldwide: Madeline. Immortalized by author/illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans , the character first appeared in 1939. The New York Historical Society is celebrating this classic (and the six books about her) and its creator.  bemelmans_flower_shop

My sister Naomi and I loved the book so much when little, we asked our parents to name the new baby, if a girl, Madeline. And they did.

Born in 1898 in the then Austria- Hungary, Bemelmans flunked out of school and failed working in the family hotel business. He arrived in New York in 1914, alone. He landed a job at the Ritz Hotel and began drawing, creating Madeline on the back of a menu at Pete’s Tavern in New York’s Gramercy Park.

I attended the exhibit with a friend, also a former educator and grandmother. We particularly enjoyed the reading room, where we plunked ourselves down on couches and read, noticing that at the back of each, there’s a list of all the places Madeline visits in the stories. Bemelman’s grandson John Bemelmans Marciano is continuing the legacy, creating Madeline and the Cats of Rome, Madeline at the White House, Madeline’s Tea Party and his latest, Madeline and the Old House in Paris

Of course the museum shop couldn’t be missed.

Rachelle as Miss Clavel

Rachelle as Miss Clavel

And there’s a little girl who’ll be getting a Madeline doll and a collection of books for her 3rd  birthday very soon. This grandmother can’t wait to snuggle up with her and read:

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine—
The smallest one was Madeline.”



Posted in Books, celebrations, Family, Grandchildren, History, Museums, galleries, New York City, parenting, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

“Break A Leg”

With the opening of my play, The Shabbos List, tomorrow, friends are wishing me “break a leg.” Curious about the origin of the term, I did some Internet browsing.

Here’s a summary culled from various sites:

The idiom “break a leg” is said to actors instead of good luck, which is not said as it could jinx the performance and bring bad luck. Wishing an actor “break a leg” hopes a performance will be so well received the actor has to bend his/her knee in a bow or curtsey to acknowledge applause or that going on stage will give the actor the “big break.”

The phrase’s origins are unclear. Some link it to the Ancient Greeks, who showed appreciation of a dramatic performance by stomping feet instead of clapping hands. Stomping too hard could break a leg. Likewise, some say the term comes from Elizabethan times, when audiences stomped their chairs, leading to possible furniture fractures.

Some cite the Hebrew blessing ‘hatzlakha u-brakha’, meaning ‘success and blessing’, that was then adapted by the German World War I aviators into “Hals und Beinbruch,” meaning “break your neck and leg,” to wish a good flight. It coincided with the phrase “Happy Landings,” used by English and American flyers.

Regardless of its origin, I wish my cast and crew, “break a leg,” and also much gratitude for all the hard work and dedication that helped bring my words to stage.

Tickets still available:

Roy Arias Studio II, 300 West 43rd St. NYC


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Children’s Book: Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?

Where do Diggers Sleep at Night? Unknown

I mentioned I’d bought this book for my three- year-old truck -loving grandson to his mother, who replied, “Hmm I’ve always wondered that question.”

 Brianna Caplan Sayres‘ charming debut picture book, first published in hardcover in 2012 and recently released as a board book, is sure to delight toddlers with its rhythm and rhymes and whimsical illustrations by Christian Slade. From diggers, the book goes on to ask where other trucks and construction vehicles sleep- like dump trucks, garbage trucks, fire trucks, snowplows and more.

Here’s the first verse:

Where do diggers sleep at night?
Do they dream of holes they dug?
Do their moms reach front to backhoe
when they give a good-night hug?

There are no answers; readers have to imagine until the last page, when we learn they’re snug in a toy box, awaiting the next day.

What makes this book extra special to me is that I know Brianna. Many years ago, I joined a children’s writing group and met Brianna there where she shared versions of this wonderful book. The children’s book market is a tough nut to crack; one must have incredible tenacity. Bravo to Brianna and I look forward to her next picture book, Tiara Saurus Rex  due out in February.

Meanwhile, I’ve already read Where do Diggers Sleep at Night about six times to my grandson, who always asks me to read it again.




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Finding the Right Birthday Book

I asked my sister Madeline, bookmaker extraordinaire  to make me something to help remember all the birthdays and anniversaries of the children, their spouses and grandchildren.

Give an artist a project and it becomes a mission. Madeline created a work of art, using collage items like buttons and photos, poetry and quotes, and applied fashion as a theme to remember the year. Each season has a different motif and different ways to record names on dates.

It’s beautiful; yet even she admits, not too functional. I love it; and have it on my shelf over my desk.

For July & August: "They say stay out of the SUN- NO! Be in the sun; play in the sun; worship the sun; DANCE in the sun! WEAR SUNSCREEN! Simple!

For July & August: “They say stay out of the SUN- NO! Be in the sun; play in the sun; worship the sun; DANCE in the sun! WEAR SUNSCREEN! Simple!

I had bought one for my mother, thinking that she too could benefit from it and has even more dates to remember than me. While it serves the purpose, it’s long and narrow and doesn’t fit on a desk or shelf. It needs to be hung on a corkboard, which my mother doesn’t have near her desk. 51VrgU7kmtL._AA160_

Having some time before a hair appointment, I entered a stationary store, and asked the proprietor, an elderly woman, if she had perpetual calendars, having learned that’s what these things are called when no year is given.

Delighted to have a customer on a scorching summer day, she smiled, and said, “You mean you still send cards?” I try I responded, if I can remember.

She dug around and found a book on a bottom shelf, covered with dust. It’s a greeting card organizer and comes with an assortment of cards, and each month not only has the dates listed but a pocket to store extra cards. photo-49 I could buy cards when I see them and save them for when they’re needed. Its design is no match for my sister’s creation – but it will work, if I remember to look in it!

The shopkeeper and I chatted about the lost art of writing personal cards- like thank you notes. Most of her business is custom printing for invitations and such. I suggested she move the remaining organizers to a higher shelf – certainly there are other grandmothers who’d want one as a gift.


Now if I could combine the artistry of the one Madeline made me with the usefulness of this one…

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