Laundry: To Fold or Not?

“Fold the laundry,” was a familiar mantra of my mother’s when we’d come home from school and there would be a few chores we did before starting homework or eating dinner. And one of us four did it; another put away. Someone else might have made the salad or swept the floor. No big deal, really.

But folding laundry apparently is one of the most despised tasks, creating a niche for manufacturers to invent machines to take over the dreaded chore. Get yourself a “Laundroid” and the job is done.

Almost. You still have to collect the laundry, load the washer and dryer, and put clothes away. And for many, that folding chore and putting away have taken on new appearances.

I’m perfectly happy to fold laundry. Now with only two of us in the house and not that much laundry a week, it takes a few minutes. I’m not worrying that the time spent folding could be spent learning a language or otherwise increasing my intellectual prowess. When the kids were home, I enlisted them to help, assigning them the “sock helper” title and they honed their matching skills. We’d sneak a baby t-shirt inside their father’s drawer, just to be silly.

Curious about the changing attitudes toward folding, I conducted a very unscientific poll among my sisters and daughters-in law.

It only takes me about 15 min to fold a load.  Don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Have to unload/load the dishwasher too. What’s the difference? (one sister, mother of 3 grown children)

Hahaha I like our method (which they actually mentioned briefly), which is where we have a bin of clean clothes, which we dig through every day. If I have extra time I’ll sometimes even throw the clean clothes into everyone’s correct drawers (obviously still in a ball). We do at least two loads of laundry A DAY. On the weeks we are busy and don’t get a chance to wash during the week we have the laundry machine going literally all day on Sunday – we usually just do the “everyone dig through the clean clothes bin” method – it’s a form of family bonding as we help each other find sock matches.:) (daughter in-law, mother of 4, ages 5 and under)

Show me a machine that can sort the family’s laundry, then fold, and then put in the correct drawers.  Then I’ll take it.😉 (daughter in-law, mother of 3, ages 7 and under).

My other sister said her husband obsesses about laundry and folding. A friend reported she folds her own and leaves her husband’s in the basket for him to do. Her children folded their own since they were 11.

And so it goes. Everyone does something different. Habits and methods change. My mother used to iron pillowcases and my father’s handkerchiefs; I don’t. Technology contributes wonderful inventions – a laundry-folding machine isn’t one of them.

What about you? To fold or not to fold?








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Stephen King’s 11/22/63

When I tell people I’m reading a Stephen King novel, many are surprised.

Really? Isn’t he all horror? The skeptics ask.

Not all his books. And over the years, I’ve managed to read quite a few that capture the imagination, ok maybe with a bit of fantasy and horror, like few other writers do. King, whose combination of 54 books have sold 350 million copies, have been made into movies and television series, whose written short stories and non-fiction, continues to produce at a prodigious rate.

His time travel tome, (the paperback clocks in at 842 pages), 11/22/63, was recommended to me by a local bookstore employee on a visit to Connecticut a few months ago. I needed something for a long plane ride and even though I have an e-reader,  I still prefer the real thing.51gir4MU+2L._AC_US160_

The story begins in Maine and moves to Dallas as the main character, Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, assumes a new identity and resolves to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He travels from 2011 to 1960 through a “rabbit hole” discovered by the owner of a diner, who passes the mission onto Epping when he becomes too ill to continue.

The book barrels along at a fast pace. There’s danger and romance, cultural references and social commentary, and of course time travel. You have to suspend belief to enjoy the story and I found myself admiring how King crafted the time travel conceit, making it so credulous as well as frightening. There are plenty of events to convince the reader that the past really needs to remain the past.

So when I heard the novel had been made into a television series, I was curious. Starring James Franco as Epping, and Chris Cooper as the diner owner, the television show seems so far mostly true to the book. Yet I do find myself getting annoyed at plot and character changes and am not sure I want to finish watching the series.

Here are some other King titles I’ve enjoyed: Hearts in Atlantis, Bag of Bones, and Different Seasons, a quartet of novellas that include “The Body,” the basis for the movie Stand By Me and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” which became The Shawshank Redemption, and Apt Pupil, which became a movie of the same name.

When I taught middle school, a favorite unit was “You’ve Seen the Movie, Now Read the Book.” Students enjoyed exploring books that their favorite movies were based on and writing comparison/contrast essays.

What are your favorite books that have been made into movies?





Posted in Books, commentary, Education, History, Movies & TV, Reading, teaching, travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Bear, My Birthday & Facebook

Between the bear earlier this week and my birthday yesterday, I experienced my own little bit of Facebook fame, garnering more likes, comments and reactions than I’ve ever had.   I’m not too embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed the attention and checked in frequently to see who had commented.

For me, Facebook has become a fun way to connect with high school and college friends, “meet” writers, cyclists, and horse people who share similar interests, and share photos. It reminds me of peoples’ birthdays, invites me to events, and knows my hobbies so well it posts advertisements directed to me— yarn, exercise gear, shoes, and such. I admit I’ve gotten lured into shopping thanks to FB ads, and also have wasted time participating in inane surveys asking me if I can identify movie stars, how many states I’ve visited, whether I can distinguish a specific shade of green, or how much Yiddish I know. And probably tons more.

Then I read James Stewart’s “Common Sense” column in this morning’s New York Times, and sat up a bit straighter.

Fifty minutes. That’s the average amount of time, the company said, that users spend each day on its Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms….)”

Whoa. I thought about my own habits. I check my email in the morning and then jump over to FB. I don’t use the other features. I’ll scan a screen page or two, extend birthday wishes if need be, and then proceed with my day. Unless I have posted something, like the bear blog or it was my birthday, I tend to not check it all day long.

Or do I? I’ll pull my phone out while waiting in line at the grocery store. I’ll check my phone upon leaving yoga class. I’ll check when I re-enter the house and then again before going to bed. I don’t keep my phone besides the bed; I still read real books.

50 minutes.

That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours) It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participate in sports or exercise (17 minutes; and nearly as much time as people spend eating and drinking. (1.07 hours).”

I’m not even in the average age group of users, the 18-34 range prized by advertisers. When I was in that age bracket, I was a college student, then working, then raising small children.

What would I be doing with those extra 50 minutes? Writing a great novel or play? Mastering a new sport? Taking up a new hobby? I worry that I’d probably still be on-line—browsing, shopping, chatting, emailing.

I was off the grid briefly in April when we were hiking in Arizona.  and didn’t miss the constant need to check in, report my status, or tag my friends.

Yet, this entire social media is here to stay. The challenge is to monitor one’s use.

I hope to start by cutting 50 minutes at least in half.

What about you? Do you suffer from Internet Addiction Disorder?

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Lions and Tigers and Bears… Oh My!

I was peacefully reading the newspaper, drinking my coffee this morning when a dark shadow appeared across the page. Looking outside the doors leading to the patio, I saw a small black bear in the garden. My first reaction was to call my husband, who didn’t answer. Then I thought I should call the police but didn’t have the non-emergency number at hand. I called 911 only to hang up after one ring. But that’s enough apparently to register with the police and a dispatcher called back. I apologized for using the emergency number and mentioned the bear, who after a little stroll around the BBQ and air-conditioning unit, seemed to have ambled away.


They were already aware of the little bear’s presence and an officer was in the area that would stop by. I wasn’t scared – I was inside and don’t have pets or small children outside, nor did I see the mother seeking her baby. We’re quite used to seeing bears in Pennsylvania, where the critters seem to know the garbage collection schedule and appear with frequency to dump trash. One knows to keep your distance and if hiking to make loud noises and huddle together. I had no fear that The Revenant would be reenacted in my suburban backyard.

When the policewoman came, I expressed that I hoped they wouldn’t kill the bear. She reassured me that unless anyone was in danger, they let the wildlife find their way back to the woods. Bears climbing up trees, however, often don’t come down and then need to be tranquilized and returned to the forest. She took my name and my birthday (???) and left, warning me to be careful. I finished my coffee and went to yoga, adrenaline already pumping a bit from the morning excitement.

Earlier that morning, I read about tigers in Thailand  who are embroiled in controversy as they’re raised in captivity in a monastery that considers them spiritual animals and makes money on tourists who come and pet the tigers.

This past Sunday, we visited some of the grands and were regaled by a puppet show, including a lion, a monkey, a shark, and a pirate. There wasn’t much dialogue or plot, just a lot of sounds, particularly roaring. I saw my thespian niece Dasha last week and she was reading A Midsummer’s Night Dream because her school drama club is planning a performance of “Pyramus & Thisbe,” the play within the play. She’s cast as the lion; and I mentioned, having taught the play to middle schoolers, that the part involved only a few lines and mostly roaring. She’s a busy high school kid and felt better about what she needed to memorize.

Lions, tigers, bears and other wildlife belong in the wild. Let’s not make pets of animals not intended to be. Go on a safari. Go to the zoo. Don’t feed bears or deer that may enter your yard. Enjoy these animals from afar – or at least from behind glass, in a puppet show or play.

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Hillary: Play that Woman Card!

Donald Trump did Hillary Clinton a favor yesterday when he accused the former Secretary of State, NY Senator, First Lady, Yale Law School graduate, Wellesley College graduate, and perpetual campaigner for children worldwide as playing the “woman card.

Her response, “If fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in,– apparently one of the most popular quotes of the campaign to date, only serves to strengthen the differences between her and Trump.

I just finished listening to Hillary Clinton’s memoir Hard Choices, 515otzAA0oL._AC_US160_her book about her time as Secretary of State. I had previously listened to her first memoir, Living History,41zWbcsr8ML._AC_US160_ about her childhood, college, law school, and years as a First Lady. Having these lengthy books on tape made my drives (more often to Connecticut these days to my parents) go quickly and much more stimulating.

She faced the “woman issue” early on. Whether it her hairstyles or her pants suits, she was held to a higher standard than any man in the roles she held.

I also bought the books too, thinking I’d read them when not in the car. Though I didn’t—I’ve become too engrossed in switching between Ron Chernow’s Hamilton41G1MFH04PL._AC_US160_ and Stephen King’s 11/22/63, 51gir4MU+2L._AC_US160_I liked having the books to check on things I may have missed while driving and also to look at the photographs.

Keep playing this woman card, Hillary. There’s no one more qualified to be President of the United States.



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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!I-Pledge-Allegiance-Poster-(4426)

The first official Earth Day was celebrated 46 years ago, in 1970. I remember we took a family camping trip to Massachusetts and attended an exposition of all sorts of inventions designed to save the planet, including geodesic domes created by Buckminster Fuller.

Back then, we drove with leaded gas, didn’t recycle and I’m sure did many more things harmful to earth. Science and habits have contributed greatly to our understanding of need to preserve our resources to continue life as we know it here on Earth.

When I first started teaching in the late 1980’s at what was then Project Link,  an alternative junior high school in Newark, NJ, the day began with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and then the Pledge to the Earth:

I pledge allegiance to the Earth and all its sacred parts,
Its water, land and living things and all its human hearts
I pledge allegiance to all life and promise I shall care
To love and cherish all its gifts with people everywhere

 When I returned to this school last fall (and stayed only three months), I asked if students still recited this pledge. For whatever reason, it had been dropped many years ago. I’m saddened that this part of the school was lost, though students participate in community clean-up efforts and other outside endeavors. I liked the daily reminder that we’re the planet’s stewards and it’s up to us to stop pollution, climate change, and other destructive behaviors.

Today coincides with the first night of Passover, an apt pairing as each celebrate rebirth and new life.

It’s also my niece Ruby’s birthday. I remember when she was born and now she’s a wonderful young woman of 22. What a lovely gift to the earth!13012749_10207858081883197_1030092526868547423_n13010733_10207858093923498_2837635624799555206_n

I took a quick ride (21 miles) through the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and stopped to watch the swans. Every time I ride through here, I’m grateful to the forefathers and foremothers who had the wisdom to save this area from development. IMG_1292

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Prepping for Passover

In kitchens around the world this week people are planning and preparing for their Passover celebrations starting Friday, April 22. The holiday commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The meal, the Seder, includes the retelling of the story, often accompanied by songs and traditional foods, particularly the eating of matzo, the unleavened bread the Jews made in their hasty retreat from Egypt. It’s the night we ask the Four Questions that begin “why is this night different from all other nights?

I’m hosting a group of friends on Friday, most who aren’t Jewish. I don’t know if they’ve been to a seder before or not. I love the holiday foods (including my mother’s matzo ball soup)  and enjoy the cooking involved. I’ve tinkered with the Haggadah, the Jewish text that details the order of the seder and explains the symbols, to make it more inclusive of all people seeking freedom. In addition to the traditional symbols on my seder plate, I’ll add an orange, a symbol created to represent any people who feel marginalized. Spitting out the seeds (perhaps not literally) is meant to remind us to rid ourselves of hatred and prejudice. I’ve added some modern plagues, like hunger, pollution, and bigotry to the traditional list of 10 that were inflicted upon the Egyptians. When we sing “Dayeinu,” the song that celebrates the many miracles of Passover noting that any one of them alone would have been enough, I’ve added some verses that address contemporary issues. I hope my guests like it!

On Saturday, we’re traveling to my sister Madeline’s, for dinner, and also to attend the World Premiere Concept Opera, I am Anne Hutchinson/I am Harvey Milk, written and composed by our friend Andrew Lippa.  The production weaves weaves together the lives of 17th century women’s rights activist Anne Hutchinson and 1970s’ gay rights leader Harvey Milk. An apt celebration indeed.





Posted in celebrations, Civil Rights History, Family, food, Friendship, holidays, Judaism, Recipes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments