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Freedom: big and not so big

Freedom. What a complex word. There are big freedoms: slaves–historic and current–risking their lives in their search for freedom from subjugation and bondage, women in too many countries around the world struggling to break free of suppressive religious and cultural chains, victims of intolerance–sexual orientation, religious or political–struggling for the freedom and right to express their personal ideas and opinions, and the freedoms granted by our citizenship to express our ideas and opinions through speech and written word.

There are the not so big (in a numerical sense,) but equally as important freedoms: the freedom to be able to act according to one’s true character without being coerced or subjected to the controlling influence of others, the freedom a woman experiences when regaining herself after a controlling marriage is over, and that of the once abused child who finds the freedom from fear in safety.

Freedom. It is a word that has interesting synchronicity with the deeply embedded theme of this seasons Jewish holiday, Passover. Each spring, families gather together around a Seder table to retell the story of a people seeking freedom from unbearable persecution. The relevance is as poignant now as it was thousands of years ago. It is a theme –deliverance from persecution– that has been repeated throughout history, and sadly continues to be prevailant today. In our lifetimes there are horrific examples of people denied freedom in Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. The continued violation of human rights in Syria and North Korea and other nations around the world fill the newspapers each day.

Freedom. It is the most critical expression of humanism. It is our responsibility to retell the stories of people historically denied freedom and it is our responsibility to keep forefront an awareness of people who, today, are still denied this most basic of rights.  It our responsibility to refuse to let violations of freedom within our personal environment go unaddressed.  We have the freedom to speak and we have the freedom granted to us through writing to make a difference.   It is our responsibility to use our freedoms to help others attain theirs.

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A second life extender

Traveling is a life extender–each adventuring moment demands complete attention and focus. Unlike blurred together home days routines, when traveling  I can remember every morning sunrise,  where I was sitting eating each juicy mango and sticky rice breakfast, the smells  of  barbecue over makeshift oil drum fires flickering on our evening walks, the unique cacophonies of produce markets, tree top monkey jungle songs,  and the bewitching call of  Balinese women luring us to let them “braid babies hair”.   When was the last work-a-day week you could remember what you had for dinner even two nights Ago?  I can effortlessly recite a litany of not only what I ate,  and the music of the kitchen’s  clankings and steaming’s , but the breathtaking sparkle of luminescent plankton laughing at our toes under our dinner table .”

And now,when least expected, I have a second life extender: writing – – not just writing, but writing for ME, for the joy and mindfulness  of transposing those traveling awareness skills  into a literary Springboard to look closer, feel stronger and think longer about where I am right now. This second life extender is a new coat of awareness, for once, not dictated by my clients’ editing constraints for essay due dates, or a publisher’s  preordained deadline.   This joyful traveling with words has been ignited and nurtured by a fabulous community of wonderful writers and I am so grateful to have had the slice of life experience. I know, my life has been extended by it. Thank you’s  are in order :
Thank you
To Brian Rozinsky for your daily bits of encouragement and wisdom. Your support translated seamlessly into motivation and reassurance.  I am truly touched  someone I have never met has put forth such kind, consistent  effort on my behalf.

To my first SOL contact Betsy: With words alone your made me feel so warmly welcomed. Then, as I read your slices, the generosity of your support became even more poignant; I pieced together your devastating life situation. I wanted so much to respond to your slices in a meaningful way—to offer words of consolation , or wisdom or helpful reflections. I wrote, and I deleted and wrote and deleted– my attempts were inadequate when addressing the pervasive impact of fire. To write a gloss of unknowing support seemed intrusive –a disconnect between the depth of what you experienced, my fledgling acquaintance with you and the comfort I wanted to convey. I wish I had the skill with words, but please know I had the thoughts

To aggiekesler : Meeting you through SOL has been a surprise and sweet connection. I Love your ex pat stories– what a delightful way to start getting to know you. Thank you for taking the time to read my slices–your comments have been helpful, looked forward to, and motivating…and I love we have a mutual personal connection.

To DJ vichos: I have enjoyed reading and commenting on many slices, but every reader has the style that resonates with her, and I have particularly looked forward to reading your slices. If you ever get tired of teaching, do, do think of becoming a published author – – you have the gift.

To readingteachersu, mrssurridge and the other kind repeated commenters – – thank you for taking the time to read my posts and for your supportive and insightful comments.  They were personal and reinforcing and truly look forward to

To the organizers and facilitators of slice of life – – thank you for facilitating a truly life enriching experience.

Most importantly, to Laurenrenah: I decided to participate in SOL because of your suggestion–the opportunity to join you was irresistible. Your vivid,   Capture-the-essence writings are real slices of life. Thank you for so beautifully describing moments I have treasured reading. You never cease to amaze me, my incredible daughter.

Wisdom+

Wisdom+a virtual nudge=a really good day

I almost talked myself out of it. I sat on the couch through a first, then a second cup of strong coffee, wavering. After all, it was a legitimate waver…I am no spring chicken and it was flat light (I really don’t like flat light) snowy,cold and a bit windy. Indeed, it was legitimate to think about staying in a cozy condo, in front of the cozy fire, reading a cozy mystery, thinking how nice it is to be ….cozy. And then came the call from halfway around the world and my very wise (and probably really really Thailand hot and sweaty) daughter said, “Mom! just go. I promise you tonight you will not say to yourself I’m sorry I went skiing in that cold miserable rotten weather.

I went and it was grand–in a stoic sort of way, better than had it been a bluebird day. Actually, it was better than grand, it was invigorating and made me feel once more I won a little battle with father time.

P.s. I did call my daughter and told her she could say, “I told you so.”

Restaurant Rules: Part I and Part II

Restaurant rules: Part I and Part II

Part I:  A wise woman once said there are three critical rules to follow when entering a new restaurant. Number one: take a circuitous route to your table eyeballing as many dishes as possible being enjoyed by fellows diners. Number two: always read the dessert menu first. Number three:  if the place smells fishy… Leave.

Part II:  Unless you have an eminent trip planned to Italy, never give up on the quest for the perfect pizza.   Although a seemingly impossible challenge when inundated by cardboard like take out choices or double stuffed crust monstrosities, do not lose hope. Case in point, last night, when we least expected it, in a small understated restaurant in Ketchum Idaho, we found pizza near perfection – – the best we’ve had in the USA, and we have had an embarrassing amount in our search.   The wood fire oven tucked in the back corner replete with visible flames, so necessary for just the right hot searing of the dough  immediately  caught our attention. The  undertones  of fresh roasted tomato sauce perfume  got our hearts beating  faster. The mouthwatering burrata and show stopping flatbread appetizer made the wait for our pizzas delightfully unbearable.  At last, our waiter approached; the suspense mounted , and then, it happened:  A gustatory transport back to our favorite Italian dive–the  one in Naples not Rome. Oh my! Could it be? Had we found it? The plates in front of us we’re pure art, authentic in Napoletana style.  Look at the tomato! look at the mozzarella and basil on top ! The crust was bubbly and chewy crunchy ; A drizzle of bright green and yellow olive oil with just the right bite provided the perfect balance miraculously melding the flavors.  I closed my eyes in pure bliss and for just one moment , I was in Italy.

Happy-sads

The word “Bittersweet” never worked for me.   Conflicting double emotions should be called, “happy sads .”   Bitter sounds too harsh.  I  think of those  multilayered moments like seeing a rainbow during a thunderstorm . Sometimes, they are predictable–the stuff my pockets with Kleenex  occasions such as my children’s graduations moments.   Sometimes the intensity catches me off guard, like standing on the sidewalk waving goodbye as our daughter strolls confidently towards her college dorm, not looking back for a final wave. Sometimes they sneak up  unexpectedly,  like when  my grandson lets me know  it’s OK mom and dad forgot to pack Veggie (his go to stuffed animal )  for his overnight at our house. He can go to sleep just with his Ni-Ni.    However they reveal themselves, “Happy sads” are moments of change, two emotions colliding simultaneously, making me feel even more alive.

The Other Courduroy

Corduroy is not just a bear; It is my skiers caviar, a snow canvas of velvety ridges that  overtakes the sensuous softness of favorite L.L. Bean name-sake fabric pants. It is a frozen magic carpet.

Come with me on a virtual run. Tear yourself away from the floor to ceiling stone fireplace crackling and begging you to stay cozy. Stuff your still warm feet into iron trap boots,  buckle if you can, click on the ticket , listen as skis thud in readiness on the snow. Bindings: clip clip. Jacket: zip. The soft whirling of the high-speed chair calls. Ready? Load ! Moment by moment snow covered Sawtooth spires backed by saturated cerulean sky dazzle as they increasingly surrounding us; at last we are at the top of the world. Boot tops buckled, jacket adjusted, Bruce Springsteen on; a slide a push and it begins. The bottoms of our feet start to tickle from the untouched perfectly ridged snow crunching beneath our skis edges. Singing biting gliding snow crunches and squeaks beneath our skis.

The freedom and unharnessed bliss of gliding down the mountain–minds cleared of worry and stress. Breathe in the clear, crisp winter air. Feel the incredible rush of flying down the mountain toward the expanse of the world below. My years start melting away, overtaken by the sensation of euphoric speed. More than a memory of the physicality of decades past, it is a brief return to the thrilling charge of speed–moving faster than I imagine running in my dreams. It is the essence of reality– our own Goldilocks snow experience: not too hard not to soft and, this morning, it is just right.

Slacking and Skiing

Two days in the car and no cell reception. I am a loving writing every day and will keep the commitment of doing so if at all possible, but The slice I have been composing in my head across Eastern Oregon and into the Sawtooth Mountains needs more time than I have before The deadline( especially  since I’m trying to figure out how to do this on an iPhone) . Therefore will just slice that we are in heart stoppingly  beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho , cut myself some slack and look forward to finishing my other slice for tomorrow, after what Should be a phenomenal day of skiing.

Slushy Curve

Our superhero suburu didn’t even flinch going around a snowy slushy curve but two minutes before, the people we were about to drive to Klamath Falls had a different experience. Their little Southern California Fiesta locked on the ice. The tree that shattered the passenger side of the car saved them from rolling down an embankment. As we saw them and stopped,the second of the passengers was crawling out of the smoking car. Chris, her lips were blue and she was shaking. She grabbed my hand and I helped her to the side of the road. A speeding log truck soaked us both with freezing slush and we first yelled in indignation and then we started laughing –the shock spiral was stopped. By the time we all made it to the tow truck rendezvous we had picked most of the glass shards out of Chris’s hair, exchanged addresses knew each other’s kids names and realized how fortunate they were to be OK. So so fast. An accident can happen so fast.