“How did you become an author?” you ask.
It was a sheer accident. Or at least I thought it was. A friend of mine was writing, I considered doing it and immediately put it out of my head.
I was spending the summer in a rented apartment near Peekskill in New York State. My granddaughter, Shana, lived not too far away in Connecticut and drove over to spend a long weekend with me. I indulged her, took her shopping and out for dinner and we watched whatever she wanted on tv. We always have fun together.
The first morning I realized that I wake up early. She does not. Shana was sleeping on a futon in the main room where the tv and my computer were. She was so peaceful I could not wake her. I went to the kitchen, made my morning tea, sneaked into ‘her’ room for a yellow pad and pen, and climbed into my bed. I took a few sips of tea and words came into my head. I started writing and the words poured out onto four full pages.
When the words stopped coming, I read it over and realized that every sentence started with she. I thought about that for a while and looked up at the ceiling. “Hey,” I said, “You gave me all these pages but you didn’t tell me her name.” I never did anything like that before.
I received an answer, “Elisha,” whoever they were said. ‘Am I losing it,’ I thought. ‘This was beyond weird.’
When Shana woke up I read the whole thing to her. “Oh Grandma,” she exclaimed, “you have got to write this book. You must.”
“Ok, Shana, I will.”
That’s how Elisha was born.
I decided to take a longer summer vacation than usual, three whole months away from the tropical rains in Florida that give me horrific headaches. The trip was well-planned. For the first two months, I’d visit my son and his wife at their new home in Hamden, Connecticut, the farthest destination. Then spend one month in a house my brother and his wife rented in New Rochelle, New York. They had the month of August and September was my turn.
The drive to Hamden went smoothly. The two months were comfortable in their lovely home surrounded by a wooded area and community swimming pool and tennis courts. Not that I play tennis or swim. I did get a lot of writing done. It was exceedingly hot and humid, (could have stayed in Florida). Short bursts of cooler weather were more than welcomed. I was allergic to their cat. Their bickering and arguing was something they always did (I hated that), but this time there was added tension. Most of the hollering was done in their bedroom where I heard raised voices, but not the words. The fighting grew worse. I could live with that; my parents were experts. Before I moved on to the next city they announced they were getting a divorce after more than thirty years of marriage.
My brother, Jay, and his wife, Joan had to stay longer than we agreed, so I was invited to come a few days early. The drive there was full of upset about the break-up of the marriage and made it impossible to enjoy the trip to the house my brother picked out. I consoled myself with memories of their making up after each blowout. Maybe it will happen this time. The house Jay rented looked charming in the pictures online. It was built in the eighteen hundreds for a wealthy man who owned hundreds of acres of land. His name was Davenport and there were so many streets named for him, you could go around in circles and easily get lost.
The few charming touches lost their appeal quickly. When I woke up in the small bedroom that first morning, my back was in knots. It was painful but I worked out the kinks with a twenty-minute stretch in all directions.
I found out there was nowhere, nothing to see except to go except the Dollar Store or a restaurant. I went to get hangars since Jay and Joan used all there were in the house and were going to take them home when they left. The television had a different system I never heard of and don’t want to ever again, called FIOS. No Netflix or Amazon, and a guide that literally took at least forty-five minutes to run through. I gave up and left it on CNN.
They left and tried getting comfortable enough to watch TV. Another problem. I sat in every chair. All three should have been in the garbage twenty to thirty years before, or at least reupholstered. The couch was so full of lumps and bumps a kid could have a grand time riding them.
I had moved into the master bedroom and woke up screaming. My back was broken, and I yelled, “Ouch” with every move. It took more than an hour before I could walk straight. Breakfast was fine, everything worked in the kitchen, but there was not one pot in which to make cereal or the bean soup I brought from home. There were plenty of pots – each as old as the house, with insides so eaten up, I was afraid I’d get sick if I used them.
Since there was nowhere to go and nothing of interest to see, I stayed in and worked on my book. My eldest son, Tedd, came for a visit and I described what those two weeks were like.
“If you’re so uncomfortable, why are you staying?” Tedd said in disbelief. “No one’s stopping you from leaving.”
“I thought about yesterday and you’re right. I can go home. I’ve been away long enough already, and I want to be ready for my birthday dinner and the grandkid’s tenth-anniversary bash.”
After that, going home was all I could think about. It took a few days before I made the decision and let Tedd know. He drove back to have a last lunch with me. We dined at a lovely restaurant called Dubrovnik. The food was good and the service excellent.
We went back to the house. “I decided to leave,” I told him.
“You know there’s a hurricane coming.”
“Yes. I checked it all out. If I leave right now I can miss it. I’ll be five hours ahead of the storm.”
“You’re leaving now?”
“As soon as I give you all the food and finish packing the car.” I bought all the food, mostly frozen, that I would need for the last two weeks and it would never make to Florida.
A half-hour later, I was on the road having called the woman who rented the place to us. I told her exactly what I thought of it and her having no chance of getting long term- rentals she wanted because it was so uncomfortable. She actually thanked me, so I felt better about our talk.
To my surprise, there was little to no traffic through New York and onto the Jersey Turnpike. It was not until the end of the pike that things changed.
I got as far as Washington, DC, without a problem. I must have missed the sign for the tunnel to continue on I95. The next sign said south on 295, and I jumped on. At that point, anything that said south was okay with me.
I was not on 295 long and we moved at a good pace when the entire line of cars was ushered off the highway by three policemen in some small town without a name and no detour signs. I reprogrammed my GPS three times hoping it would find a different way to go. It didn’t. It kept taking me back to where I got thrown off the road. Wandering around and with a sigh of relief, I finally found I95 again.
About a half-hour later the same thing happened. It was not raining and there was no sign of any hurricane, but they were closing parts of the road. Now I was angry. Why didn’t they post a detour so strangers like me would know where to go? Again, the cars in front of me had no clue and wasted time driving around. I watched the compass on my display until it said south. I drove for about an hour and found a highway.
The third time it happened I was ready to scream. After driving around again I decided to go east. I95 had to be east. Maybe I could find it. I pushed myself to not give up and drove for at least forty-five minutes. No I95. I went all the way back west, was in North Carolina completely confused, and drove in circles trying to find a way south again. I don’t know how I found the road or what it was named if it had one, but I was finally on my way – again.
My lights stopped working. The only way I could drive was by pulling that stick toward me and holding it in one hand. The only light was the high beam. I avoided all the cars in front of me, didn’t want to blind them. Driving was difficult and my hand was soon numb. By that time, it was late and I was in the middle of nowhere and had no idea where the next town might be. I locked the doors and slept in the car. I could get gas and have someone fix the lights in the morning.
I was up very early and on the road looking for gas when a police siren was behind me. “You are driving with your high beams on. You are not allowed to use them at this time of day.”
I explained my situation, he was kind and told me where to find gas and made me promise to have the lights fixed. But where I could do that, he didn’t know. I filled the tank and took off for home.
I found myself in a town called Lumberton and decided to stop for breakfast. When I finished eating, I inquired about a road going south. “When you leave, turn right and then at the next intersection turn left, and you’ll be on route seventy-two.” I did as he said and there it was.
You don’t think this was the end, do you? Please subscribe to I can let you know what happened next.
I am so happy. It worked. I made three cakes and decorated them for Ima. She ate one after each meal. I watched her down them with the biggest smile on my face. And you’ll never guess what happened next.
She was kinder to me for the next three suns. Did not yell at me as much, showed me how to grind better, and we actually laughed together once. She still did not allow me to play my harp, but that did not ruin the enjoyment I had. Did three cakes make the difference? Or what really happened.
I figured out that for the first time I gave something to Ima and she gave something back to me. Giving to someone is a way to receive something from them. What a thought, what a lesson. I must not forget.
One more thing. If you speak to my mother please do not say anything about the boy, the one I thought might want to marry me. It will only make her angry and disappointed again. I am twelve seasons of growth, have my monthly flow, but no man has the least interest in me. That makes me want to cry.
Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Patties 6 Servings 1 hour and fifteen minutes.
3 cups 2 inch cauliflower florets
One 15 oz. can chickpeas drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
One ten-ounce package spinach, frozen chopped, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
¾ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp, ground turmeric
Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs lightly beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs + more if needed
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, + more if needed
Sauce of your choice – tahini, salsa, spiced yogurt
Pre-heat oven to 350. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment + second sheet with waxed paper.
Use stockpot with steamer. Bring 2 inches of water to simmer over medium heat. Cook florets 8-10 minutes.
Use a potato masher to crush chickpeas until smashed but not smooth. Add spinach, bell peppers, scallions, garlic. Parsley and mix well. Add cumin, turmeric, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper. Add eggs, ½ cup panko and stir to combine.
Place remaining panko in shallow dish. Shape 1/3 cup of mixture into a patty ½ in. Coat lightly with panko 12-14 patties. Heat oil in skillet and cook until golden brown – about 4 min.
Transfer patties to baking sheet, place in oven and bake for 10 min. Transfer to serving platter, pass sauce separately.
Why is my mother so mean? I’ve seen other girl do bad things. Scream and cry and lie. I guess my mother wants me to be perfect. But she never tells me how.
I love my Abba and my Ima, but I am not sure Ima loves me. Sometimes she does something nice. Makes me a special treat, usually on my day of birth. Or a new tunic. Is it because there is too much work for her to do? I try to help as best I can. But it is never good enough.
I have an idea. Maybe I should do something nice for her. A gift. Something. But what?
I will sneak some flour when I finish grinding and make her a special cake with dried grapes. She loves dried grapes. That will make it all better.
I look at the sky. The rains are coming. That means no cakes from the tabun until it stops. Sometimes the rain goes on and on for many suns. There is no choice. I must grind the flour Ima needs first. When I am done I will see if I can make her present.
I am so excited to do a nice thing for my Ima. And sorry I did not think of it sooner. Does that make me bad?
A gift for no reason. I wonder what she will say when I hand it to her.
I am sad that boy I told you about was just a visitor. I never got to meet him. I know we could have been friends. At least. If we could have met maybe he would want to marry me. But it never happened. I am almost thirteen seasons of growth and should have been married way before now.
Aren’t parents supposed to help and teach? That’s was other kid’s talk about. Am I an orphan? Did my parents find me somewhere and bring me to their hut? I am separate from them, don’t think about them the same way as the other kids.
Or is it just that I am a bad girl and they can’t stand me. Want me to go away. Maybe permanently. I do the best I can but it is never enough.
Do you ever feel that way? I know they are busy and work hard. I understand that there is little time in the day to do anything else and there is no day of rest. But surely there are a few minutes to talk – maybe at mealtime – but it never happens. Maybe they are just too tired.
I must learn to accept things as they are. I cannot change them. So I must change. I do not know how but I will figure it out. The Council of Elders is tired of hearing my parent’s complaints about me. I must be more careful or I will have to go in front of them and receive a punishment again.
Life here is hard. Hard for adults and hard for kids. But I will survive. I will change and find a way. I must. I do not want to be a constant complainer. No one likes that. And neither do I.
I will work figure it out on the morrow. I will. I promise.
Some of you may remember a short post I did way back when I first got my dog, Star. For those who didn’t see it – or forgot, I’ll give you a short recap.
Star was a rescue dog and one of the reasons I chose her was that she came into the Broward Humane Society on my birthday. It may sound silly but for me it was a sign that she was the one. My son and I walked her and put her in the car. We drove home and when I opened the door my grandson and his wife were there.
I brought Star in. She looked around, she was frightened, something I did not realize at the time. Were there too many people in this new place? She sat down on the rug and proceeded to poop all over it.
I cleaned it up, with no other help of course, and was concerned. Is this what I was going to deal with?
After almost a year, she turned out to be the most loving, gentle, and smart dog I ever had. She is a pleasure to have and I love her madly.
Why am I bringing this up? I wrote a book. Three hundred pages, that was the easy part. I am now trying to learn social media.
I’ve done a bit but feel like it’s another disaster, like Star was at the beginning. I have some followers, some who go to my website and read but do not leave comments. I get scared like Star did when I brought her home. I’m still not doing it right. How will I learn?
How will I connect with people online and be part of a community? I live alone with my dog and would love to make friends.
Like Star, it will take more time and I hope that people in the know will help me out. I want to do it, do it right, be successful. I know it will happen if I keep trying. I hope it will not take too much longer.
Thanks for listening.
I just got back home from a cruise to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. It’s great to get home and feel relaxed and ready to tackle all the social media.
One of the tours they offered was to Grand Cayman where we were invited to swim with the stingrays. At first I looked at where I had to climb and said, “No Way!” We were on a boat and had to go down steep steps that were wet and slippery and then put ourselves in danger with a stingray.
But as I saw others laughing and enjoying themselves I changed my mind. One of the men in charge helped me down the steps and off I went swimming into high waves in every direction where I was tossed from one side to another. Salt water in my eyes and nose, I kept going and was I glad.
I swam to my family and we were encouraged by one of the deckhands to touch the stingray he held in his hands. Others who were around backed off, but I went for it. The skin was lovely, very soft, and the fish was docile. I ran my hand all over its skin and then the guy suggested I kiss it. Me? Kiss a stingray? Am I nuts? Yes. I was. I kissed it twice and my lips felt as if I kissed a human.
The whole experience was amazing and I would do it again in a second. One lady said. “You are my idol. The only reason I went into the water is because you did it first. Thanks.”
I’m back home and doing wash, unpacking, etc. I’m glad to be home with my dog Star (I did not name her, she is a rescue dog, and believe me, she is a Star) and my son who will be living with me until he finds a place of his own.
I am also getting back to work.
This time it is my parents. They are at it again. Abba and Ima are fighting. Not just fighting but screaming at each other. Screaming so loud the the entire village hears them.
They embarrass me. Is it not bad enough that I have problems with the villagers? Do they have to cause more discomfort? They do it at almost every sunrise and all I want to do is hide. But of course, I cannot. I have to stand there and listen until they finish.
I guess I would not care if they were quieter. They say I embarrass them but never consider how their fights affect me. The other kids hear it and taunt me all day. They are mean and make me wish I could run away and hide or live somewhere else. But, I am stuck where I am.
I apologize for having to write about all this bad stuff but that is what my days, my life is about. That is how it goes. I must admit it makes me sad and I cry a lot. Not where my parents can see or hear, but in some far corner. Usually after a whole day of grinding the flour when I want to play my harp.
That’s how it is.
From now on I will try hard to talk to you on Tuesdays every week. That is if Ima does not find more chores for me to do.
Please help me understand if there is a way to feel better about my life. I swear that sometimes I just want to end it all.
Again I have to say I am sorry. Stomach, vomit, and you know what else continue over and over every day. This has been my life since I last wrote to you. I don’t dare tell Ima I am feeling a little better. She will insist that I( do my chores and again and I don’t have the strength. I really don’t. It’s not a lie – but she won’t see it that way.
Can I tell you another secret? The other morning I was walking toward the trenches yet again, when I really nice looking boy passed by. He tossed his head of long brown hair streaked white in places the sun chose to honor. He waved at me and I waved back. He smiled.
He must be a visitor. No one in our village would do that. He was so friendly. But let’s face it. No one in our village wants me. Not one man or boy. They all believe there is something wrong with me. That I am weird because I look like I am talking to the air when I speak to my guide, Sandalphon. I must face the fact that I will never have a husband. Or children. I am doomed to be alone.