Archives for August 2008

Despite Motherhood

My daughter, Rachel Inbar, has a new blog that I find fascinating. Even if you aren’t interested in reading it from the beginning (which I highly recommend), you have got to check out a video she posted today. I will give you a hint: it contains two people I love and an furry blue old friend. You can see it here: here

The wind in my hair

I walked out into the hot sun this morning on my way to synagogue and suddenly I was hit by a strong memory, so vivid I could not only see and hear it, but I could smell it and touch it…

It is summer of 1952. I am six years old, going on seven. This summer my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my grandparents have rented a huge house in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the ten weeks of school vacation. All of us are living in the house- but my father and uncle and grandfather leave each Monday morning to go to work in Philadelphia. They visit on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and leave again the next mornings and they return on Saturday evening.

Life is good. My mother and my aunt Mildred have a lot in common and they get along well together. My grandmother likes sharing a home with her daughter and daughter-in-law and 3 of the 4 grandchildren they produced. My cousin Murray goes to overnight camp and is not home this summer.

The house is wonderful. It has about 20 clocks with chimes so that each hour, we have a symphony. It has two staircases and a room with a window seat and a porch that wraps around one side. We have a 45 rpm record player and we can listen to children’s songs whenever we want. We also hear a lot of Frank Sinatra and Eddie Fisher.

But the most wonderful part of this summer is that now that I am getting big, I have a lot of freedom to do things on my own. There is a pharmacy down the block where I went to buy my parents an anniversary card. It was a wonderful card with a paper disk that you could use to change the number of years. It made me happy to be able to get it for them. When I gave it to my mother, I expected she would be surprised and happy. I had kept it a secret. When she opened it, she said, “You have the number of years wrong.”

The best part of my freedom is that I am able to ride my bicycle on the boardwalk in the morning, all alone, by myself.

Atlantic City has a rule that you could ride on the boardwalk from 6:30 to 9:00 a.m. and so I walk down the brick steps in the front of our house, open the garage, get out my bike, and take it up to the boardwalk to start riding. Sailing along the boardwalk, at first I see the ocean to my right beyond a long stretch of white sand. The sand is so fine it just falls away as you walk on it, but when the sun has been beating down on it, it gets very very hot. I love building sand castles nearer the water where the sand is damp and packed down.

I look to my left and see the beautiful lawns with hydrangeas in pinks and purples and blues and petunias in pinks and purples and white and red and the marigolds in yellows and oranges. The flowers are so bright I feel as if I want to make them part of me. I want to keep their beauty with me all of the time.

Now the shops begin. They are wonderful. There is the “Million Dollar Pier” that has rides and games. My grandfather goes there to win stuffed animals for us children. There is the shop where they have a pitcher of orange juice that keeps pouring but never runs out. There is “Teepee Town,” a store that has all sorts of Indian items including feathered headdresses and beaded bracelets and beautiful leather and suede jackets with long fringes. Walking into “Teepee Town,” you can enjoy the smell of the leather. There is the salt water taffy shop where my mother often buys us “paddles,” chocolate covered salt water taffy on a stick. Farther up the boardwalk are shops that sell beautiful ladies’ jewelry and dresses and hats. There is “Mr. Peanut,” the Planter’s store just opposite the “Steel Pier” and the place on the corner of Virginia Avenue that sells the foot-long hot dogs. I haven’t even mentioned the beautiful hotels– the Traymore, the Shelbourne, the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall- many built in art deco style. And then there’s the Traymore Fountain- beautiful by day, lit in colors in the evening.

My ride is a feast for the senses- the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the wondrous smells, the beautiful sights, and the feeling of freedom. I ride until just past New Jersey Avenue to where I get to the end of the smooth bicycle strip and turn around and return home. Nothing I will do today will be as wonderful as this ride– but tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.


Our last day in Los Angeles was eventful. We spent the morning picking up last minute items, packing our things, and straightening the place where we were staying. I was seated at the computer when suddenly the room began to move– it seemed one corner of the the room lifted and then the other and the mirror on the wall went swinging and the blinds were moving back and forth. There was no mistaking that it was an earthquake. I thought about having seen the Wizard of Oz display in Kansas and I thought about the fact that the guest house we were staying in was not very different in size or shape from Dorothy’s house and it too was being buffeted. I can’t say I was afraid. I only worried that somewhere people were being hurt.

Fortunately, when the news media funally reported the quake, it was determined that there had been very little damage and no injuries. They said it was the strongest quake felt in the city since the Northridge earthquake in 1994! What a farewell!

We went out for a pleasant lunch with friends, and then at about 6 pm, we headed toward the airport to return the car and begin our journey home.

Good things about our trip home:
1. No overweight charges
2. They checked our luggage through to Tel Aviv
3. The planes left close to on time
4. Spending time with my sister in New York
5. It’s over

Bad things about the trip home
1. Cramped plane seats
2. Unpleasant people in front who liked to recline at all times, including mealtime
3. Unpleasant person in back who liked to put his feet all the way beneath my seat so that when I sat normally, the toes of his shoes scratched the backs of my legs. (When I turned around to see what was happening, he lifted his fingers, pointed to himself and smiled– but continued to put his feet there through most of the 8 hour flight.)
4. Not enough room to stretch out, causing me to adopt odd postures to try to sleep including the one where I moved my body to one side and my head to the other and stretched my neck to such a degree that I am sure I resembled a body discovered on CSI. It didn’t feel so good either.
5. Looking like a total dork with a blindfold around my neck (so I could use it when I wanted to sleep), earphones sticking out of the pocket of my magic vest* (from my iPod, so that I could drown out the ambient sound so that I could sleep), and one of those inflatable u-shaped pillows aroumd my neck. Despite all of that, I was still uncomfortable.
5. The sounds and smells of airline food by the time it’s the third or fourth time in the trip.

But coming home was the best! Our daughter Rachel and her youngest child Yirmi were there to greet us with a cold diet coke and lots of smiles and when we got home, there was her adorable husband and one of their gorgeous daughters and our younger daughter and her little girl whose hair now curls and is now taking steps!

Now there is only the task of putting things away and cleaning the house (I forgot we live in a desert and was not happy to note that while we were away a truckload of dirt blew through…)

It’s really good to be home.

*some day when I am out of things to write about, I will tell you about my magic vest.