Monday, February 23, 2009


We are enjoying being back in Paradox after visits to Northampton and Chicago! Had a great time with the grandchildren and there are videos in the last couple of posts to attest to this fact.

One of the pleasures of being back in the valley is making contact with old friends. We had neighbors over for dinner on Saturday night and just today I had an old friend over for lunch and a winter walk. Knowing people over many years in a variety of settings gives a fullness to relationships that is very satisfying. We can talk of children, shared work, play, past celebratory experiences, and shared troubles. When there is such a shared history, there is a comfort and trust, that enriches the contact. We have hurt and loved each other enough and shared enough pain and joy, that a lot of the fear is gone. We've been through it before and come out the other end still friends, so we are easier and can be more revealing and not so protective as with less full acquaintances. It is a comfort and a full contact that affirms.

So, why the title 'Chickens'?
I ordered 25 baby chicks to be delivered in the middle of April. Another little project. Another connection with my own past. I did grow up on a small poultry farm just outside Saratoga Springs. I've had a yen to raise some livestock on our place since retiring. They will also enhance the gardening experience with manure and facilitate composting. Besides they are good eating and we will be in control of their diet and their manner of raising. Free Range chickens they will be!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Visiting Maria in Chicago

It is hard to believe, but Maria is four years old as of the 12th of February. She shares this birthday with Lincoln and Darwin - auspicious company. Maria had a fun birthday party with her friends at a nearby bowling alley. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves even though they understood the game differently than most adults. Maria seems to be moving right along in her development. Her dancing is getting a little more body movement other than just jumping up and down, although that still plays an important part. Here are a couple of pictures from the party and a short video of Maria's new dance moves.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tu B'Shvat - Birthday of the Trees

This is the eve of Tu B'Shvat - the birthday of the trees. Tovah has been sick so we celebrated at home with just the immediate family. Tovah participated with interest throughout the special Seder Meal for the celebration.
Earlier in the day, Naomi and I went to a presentation by Ellen Bernstein at the Jewish Community Center in Amherst. She wrote the first American Tu B'Shvat Seder Haggadah for the holiday back in the 1987. Click on her name to go to her web site. Her presentation focused on the first translation into English of the first known written Tu B'Shvat Seder Haggadah in any language. This Seder was done by the Kabbalists of Safed in Israel in the early 1700s. The purpose of the Seder was to heal the enmity caused by the sin of Adam. Basically to repair the alienation between humans and the earth - expulsion from Garden of Eden and the command of G-d that the earth produce thorns and thistles and the requirement that food would only be grown for humans by sweat of the brow - which was ordered by G-d as a result of Adam's sin. The multiple blessings of fruit of trees was to manifest the intent of the participants to heal this rift. It was a very thought provoking teaching and allowed us to approach the Tu B'Shvat seder with a different spiritual awareness of it's purpose than previously. What more can you ask of going to a lecture?

The videos are of Tovah's participation. In the second one she is directing all of us to breath as an experience of the spiritual dimension of life and the spiritual healing that must take place to restore the alienation of humans from the world. You can picture her as a Rabbi directing a seder sometime in the future.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tovah visit in Feb. of '09

We are spending a week visiting Tovah, Bekah, and Mitch in Northampton. It has been a pretty laid back week. Below is a video of Naomi reading Wynken, Blynken, and Nod to Tovah.

And below is Tovah washing a plastic crocodile in the kitchen sink!

Naomi and I have been doing the usual - cooking, babysitting, grocery shopping, and just generally hanging out. And, finally a picture of Naomi and Tovah doing 'downward dog'.

And, even more finally -
I should mention, for what reason I do not know, that we bought a new car. It is just an updated version of our old car - Honda 4 door sedan civic. We got it on our way down to visit in Northampton.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Joe's Mom talks about dating during WWII

Visiting Mom and Vern today. I brought along my camera because I thought it was time to record Mom a little for memory's sake. She is still vigorous and healthy, but she is 84 and..... I took a little video segment of her telling a tale of her dating during WWII. Mom graduated from High School in '42 or '43 and, of course, as was the custom in those days, was ready to marry. As she mentioned, all the young men were drafted immediately upon graduation from High School and the picking was pretty sparse. She married my Dad in February of '45 which was several months before the war was over. This was possible because my dad, who was in the Army from '37 to '44, applied for and received an agricultural exemption to return to the home farm in '44. He must have almost immediately begun dating mom considering when they were married. So, he was one of the limited number of available young men around at that time. The Mel she mentions going to dances with was her brother, who also had an agricultural exemption from service. See the video at: . The video is just a little over a minute long.
Mom and her brothers were all Quakers (Society of Friends) and, as religion based pacifists, they all would have had alternative service to the army in any event.
This is a living link to WWII and to personal family history for my grandchildren and their children, etc.