Back to Europe From The Holy Land. I’ve Landed in Barcelona, Spain!

December 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Almost two weeks ago, I flew from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Barcelona, Spain, and have been staying in the St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel here. Christmas passed quietly and I’m looking forward to the same sort of New Year’s holiday, where I’m enjoying the balmy, sunny weather and getting some of my neglected writing work accomplished.

Entry to the Barcelona Hostel

Entry to the Barcelona Hostel

I took the Free City Walking Tour on one of my first days here. It's hard to tell Barcelona from Jerusalem!

I took the Free City Walking Tour on one of my first days here. It’s hard to tell Barcelona, Spain  from Jerusalem, Israel!

A Church In Barcelona.

A Church In Barcelona.

Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The ladder under the window is historical and can't ever be moved.

Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The ladder under the window is historical and can’t ever be moved.

The nine Christian sects controlling the church can't agree to move the ladder some ancient workman left. It's wooden and has been replaced over time, but it's always there. History!The nine Christian sects controlling the church can’t agree to move the ladder some ancient workman left. The tiny Coptic group insists that it stay there because “nothing can be changed!” But, I’m sure that they simply enjoy exercising that kind of control over the more powerful churches of Christianity. The ladder is wooden and has been replaced over time, but it’s always there. History Rules!

Gargoyles peer down from a Spanish building.

Gargoyles peer down from a Spanish building. Guess they can’t be moved either!?

But, there's only one Wailing Wall and that's in Jerusalem.

But, there’s only one Wailing Wall and that’s in Jerusalem.

Barcelona's beautiful, pristine white university, which no graffiti artists touch!

Barcelona’s beautiful, pristine white university, which no graffiti artists touch!

The Barcelona University Culture Museum's initials are written in the architecture - CCCB

The Barcelona University Culture Museum’s initials are written in the architecture – CCCB

This is Spain, but it could well be Israel.

This is Spain, but it could well be Israel.

Same here. The Spanish Old Town is a warren of tiny streets.

Same here. The Spanish Old Town is a warren of tiny streets.

And other Old Towns are stacked in layers upon each other - Jerusalem.

And other Old Towns are stacked in layers upon each other – Jerusalem.

And, some Oldies are merely Stacked!!! What can we say?

And, some Oldies are merely Stacked!!! What can we say?

 

 

Leaving A Legacy Of Jitterbug In Tel Aviv, Israel

December 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Last night, for the second time on this solo, around-the-world jaunt, I taught some fellow-hostelers how to Jitterbug! That’s the fast, Rock & Roll Dance that I used to do in The Fifties, when I was in high school. Unfortunately, our favorite teen dance has practically disappeared from the planet these days and nobody has even heard about it. I discovered this fact at the Hostel Euphoria in Tallinn, Estonia, when I heard their band playing all of my old favorites. The only way I could conjure up some dance partners was to teach them the steps. We all loved the results and I vowed to find other teaching opportunities.

That was last August and I didn’t pursue it until the chance happened, almost accidentally, here at the lovely Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, just before I fly to Barcelona, Spain, tomorrow morning. I must get my videotaping act going, though. I came completely prepared to film this class; but got so wound up in selecting the music and setting up my computer, I didn’t even get the cameras out. When will I start recording this trip?

Me and my Jitterbug class in Tel Aviv, Israel. Hostel Abraham.

Me and my Jitterbug class in Tel Aviv, Israel. Hostel Abraham. Fluorescent feet always help. There were about eight students, altogether. They all caught on, quickly, to this sixty-year-old, vintage dance.

 

Our Sox don't show for our Sock Hop in this shot. We danced to Bill Haley & The Comets.

Our Sox don’t show for our Sock Hop in this shot. We danced to Bill Haley & The Comets. The three gals on the left are from Russia. Benny, the hostel bartender, is on the right.

This dance was the last fast-dancing, Ballroom Touch Dance where the man leads the woman. In 1960, Chubbie Checkers introduced The Twist, where the partners faced each other and wiggled to the music, with no spins or even steps. Kaboom! That was that!

Dance Liberation! No more touching or Leading!

Much less fun, though the same amount of exercise! Boogie-Woogie is coming back in style, but it’s a strange conglomeration of the Lindy and some athletic show pieces, with women being thrown overhead and underfoot for the international competitions. You’ll find it all on YouTube. At least, I’ll do my part to bring a little authenticity to this modern-day interpretation of dancing. No problem that mycontemporaries who also danced this in high school, are pushing eighty. Let’s get out there all you 1950s graduates and set the record right! It’s great exercise!

 

 

Make Friends! Not Art!

December 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Amit Netzer, an Israeli hostel developer

Amit Netzer, of Eliat, an Israeli hostel developer. Anytime you need a long-term, solo, experienced, RTW hosteler to tell you what we want in a hostel…I’m your gal! I’m already getting some good ideas for you!

Hey, It' an art to make friends!

Hey, It’s an art to make friends!

Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel. The construction is the new underground metro, to be finished in six years. Boy, will that be convenient.

The Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel, where I am now. That construction work in front is the new underground metro, to be finished in six years. Boy, will that be convenient!

On the free Jerusalem Tour.

On the free Jerusalem Tour.

We meet; then we eat! What a great way to bond! Make Food; Then Friends!

We meet; then we eat! What a great way to bond! Make Food; Then Friends!

Me and Debbie from Thailand

Me and Debbie from Thailand

Some of my hostel mates from the Citadel Hostel in Old Jerusalem.

Some of my hostel mates from the Citadel Hostel in Old Jerusalem.

These guys saved my life, helping me get up on time and drag my heavy suitcases a long way to catch the taxi to travel to Tel Aviv. Couldn't have done it without them!

These guys saved my life, helping me get up on time and drag my heavy suitcases a long way to catch the taxi to travel to Tel Aviv. Couldn’t have done it without them!

I inadvertently cut off the M on the last word. But, this way, it makes sense too! Hmmmmm!

Okaaaaaaaaay!  But, this is the same graffiti artist who advocates making art, not friends. How will he manage this?  Maybe he’ll Picket Parliament? Peter picked a peck of pickled peckers…..? Um, Peppers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Europe, I’m in Israel For A Month

November 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

My story is the same as it was a month ago, except that I’ve covered different ground. I flew from Paris, France to Tel Aviv, Israel on October 29 and it feels as if I’ve been here far longer than just three weeks. Maybe, TIME just expands here, or something that mysterious? Maybe, it’s because I caught a cold during my midnight layover in the Cairo, Egypt airport on the way, and I haven’t shaken it yet? Still coughing, hacking and feeling lazy with it, though I have stayed on the move, spending a week in each of the three major cities.

The first week, I stayed in the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, enjoying the warm weather of my new latitude. Paris was definitely showing signs of Fall. Then, I took a Sheroot (a small bus/large taxi) for two hours to Haifa, up on the northern coast, where I stayed for ten days in the Port Inn and enjoyed wandering about in the city of Mt. Carmel. It felt wonderful to have chosen a hostel that was still in the flat, port area; as the mountain rises very steeply, just a few blocks from the water. Then, a few days ago, I took the bus to Jerusalem and am staying in another Abraham chain hostel. Next week, I’ll shift over to the Stay Inn Hostel, which is closer to the Old Town. I’ll blame my cold on the lack of photography but here are some few that I have taken this month. In my walking explorations in this hostel’s neighborhood, I discovered the nearby Marketplace, or Souk, which bustles with life and interesting activity; plus piles of merchandise, fruit, vegetables, meats and tiny restaurants.

Here are some miscellaneous shots of some curious things I’ve seen lately.

Have you ever wondered about the new conversion to electronic cigarettes?

It’s only his safer smoke! Have you ever wondered about the new conversion to electronic cigarettes?

He really seems to love it! Sort of sucks on it like a pacifier! What is MANkind coming to?

This guy really seems to love his new and healthier gadget! He sort of sucks on it like a pacifier! What is MANkind coming to? So, let’s call a spade a spade…. it’s a “MANCIFIER”…. A man’s afire?

I think that they must get a whole lot more smoke from them.

Oh no! Is he actually on fire? Could be! He walks around in a real cloud of smoke. What’s cool about this?

Have you ever played Beer Pong? Obviously, I hadn't because I thought these cups were for us to fill and drink water from. Later, I learned that they toss ping-pong balls into them (like tennis). Those balls are all over the floor and in many hands. Maybe that's where this "cold" came from?

Have you ever played Beer Pong? Obviously, I hadn’t because I thought these cups were for us to fill and drink water from. Later, I learned that they toss ping-pong balls into them (like tennis). Those balls are all over the floor and in many hands. Maybe that’s where this “cold” came from?

This is a ship on a Paris canal that serves the neighborhood as a library.

This is a ship on a Paris canal that serves the neighborhood as a library.

Here is the floating library's interior.

Here is the floating library’s interior.

Somebody lives aboard this Paris converted canal barge.

Maybe somebody lives aboard this Paris converted canal barge?

OHHHH! It's a restaurant!

OHHHH! It’s a restaurant!

In Israel, I visited the ancient fortress city of Akka, near Haifa.

In Israel, I visited the ancient fortress city of Akka, near Haifa.

Here is a Souk, (market) not far from my hostel in Jerusalem.

Here is a Souk, (market) not far from my hostel in Jerusalem.

The Souk's glass roof protects us from the weather and gives a lovely light throughout.

The Souk’s glass roof protects us from the weather and gives a lovely light throughout.

A meat seller and Orthodox customer

A meat seller and Orthodox customer

Have you EVER seen such convoluted and gigantic eggplants?

Have you EVER seen such convoluted and gigantic eggplants? Like small, purple pumpkins!

More giant Aubergine and their tremendous cabbage cousins.

More giant Aubergine and their tremendous cabbage cousins…or are those cauliflowers?

Fancy cakes, anyone?

Fancy cakes, anyone?

This is a one-stop-shop that just doesn't stop. It takes up blocks!

This is a one-stop-shop that just doesn’t stop. It takes up blocks!

Isn't this just plain pretty?

Isn’t this just plain pretty?

You can probably find anything in here.... nuts & spices, cell phones.

You can probably find anything here…. nuts & spices, cell phones.

Where, Oh Where, Is The White Sea? Near The Arctic Circle….In Russia!

October 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Here's how I spent my 79th Birthday, beachwalking along the White Sea.

The White Sea is serene, cold, and beautiful.

The White Sea is serene, cold, and beautiful.

 

There were lovely forests along the shore. But, there were also fancy hotels and apartment buildings. Just like Miami. Well, not quite....

There were lovely forests along the shore. But, there were also fancy hotels and apartment buildings. Just like Miami. Well, not quite….

 

On my 79th Birthday, September 10, I came north in Russia to walk along the White Sea in Archangelsk….  The name commemorates the Archangel Michael. Who better to ring in my 80th year? It was a gorgeous, warm day, and my friend Karina   from my Hostel Troika,  suggested we take a walk along the White Sea Beach.

Karina took the shots

Karina took the shots …..

....and, so did it!

….and, so did I!

Then, we had a great dinner at the Hostel Troika in Archangelsk.

Then, we had a great dinner at the Hostel Troika in Archangelsk.

More of my Russian Family in the Troika Hostel.

More of my Russian Family in the Troika Hostel.

My Arkangelsk Friends are bright, warm, and beautiful.

My Archangelsk Friends are bright, warm, and beautiful. And, I miss them already!

And so, I can truly say that it's perfectly safe and highly-recommended to walk into unknown forests and seascapes with brand-new friends, you simply haven't met yet. AT ANY AGE!!!!

And so, I can truly say that it’s perfectly safe and highly-recommended to walk into unknown forests and seascapes with brand-new friends, you simply haven’t met yet.  AT ANY AGE!!!!

So Many New Moscow Friends…… But I Had To Travel On To Riga, Latvia

September 22, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

On the Moscow Subway. I got lost when I tried it myself.

On the Moscow Subway. I got lost when I tried it all by myself.

They liked my new book....so I gave Edu an inscribed copy.

They liked my new book….so I gave Edu an inscribed copy.

Victor and I "blew up the world" just as everyone expected the Russians and Americans to do. It's my inflatable globe....the only way to pack!

Victor and I “blew up the world” just as everyone expected the Russians and Americans to do. It’s my inflatable globe….the only way to pack!

I made lots of friends from Jakarta, Indonesia.

I made lots of friends from Jakarta, Indonesia. That’s me in middle back row.

I couldn't find Karina! Probably, because I stood at the wrong subway entrance!

I couldn’t find Karina! Probably, because I stood at the wrong subway entrance!

At last! Reunited for lunch!

At last! Reunited for lunch!

Can you believe that I met all of these dear people within a six-day period? Then, I came to Riga, Latvia, only to nurse a very bad cold. I'm heading to Rome, Italy next, simply to warm up!

Can you believe that I met all of these dear people within a six-day period? Then, I came to Riga, Latvia, only to nurse a very bad cold. I’m heading to Rome, Italy next, simply to warm up!

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Moscow & Me! I Like It Just As Well As I Did At Perestroika Time!

September 22, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

Twenty-six years ago, I flew into Moscow rather frequently, when I planned and led group Citizen Diplomacy Tours between 1990 and 1994. When the country opened to Americans at Glasnost/Perestroika, even before the collapse of the USSR, I began leading grassroots, peacekeeping trips to the Ukraine. We entered in Moscow and took the overnight train to Kiev. What exciting travel times those were! And my best memories centered around the people we met and the families we homestayed with. Americans and Soviets simply loved each other whenever they got together!

But, it had been a quarter-of-a-century! What changes might have occurred? Would the atmosphere be different in the capital city? I found it more swishily-commercial with all of the expensive name brands in very stylish shops; but the people were just as welcoming and friendly. The ambient atmosphere within this formerly undeclared-enemy country still makes me very happy.

The Moscow Hostel Netizen is brand-new and very welcoming.

The Moscow Hostel Netizen is brand-new and very welcoming.

So, I had a very lovely six days at the modern Hostel Netizen in Moscow. It’s almost a hotel, but it’s still as informal as a hostel, meaning it’s easy and natural to get acquainted with fellow guests.

The lobby, as seen from the cafe area. That's a security guard at the doorway.

The lobby, as seen from the cafe area. That’s a security guard at the doorway.

My six-bunk, female dorm room. Each bed is semi-enclosed and I carry sarongs to curtain the opening.

My six-bunk, female dorm room. Each bed is semi-enclosed and I carry sarongs to curtain the opening.

I met Eduardo, an official with the Olympic Committee, who has invited me to visit Sochi, Russia, (site of the 2014 Olympics) in November.

I met Eduardo, an official with the Olympic Committee, who has invited me to visit Sochi, Russia, (site of the 2014 Olympics) in November.

Lucas and Tatiana, behind the front desk.

Lucas and Tatiana, behind the front desk.

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A free walking tour of Red Square brought us to St. Basil's Cathedrals, which is actually nine chapels, hence the many domes.

A free walking tour of Red Square brought us to St. Basil’s Cathedral, which is actually nine chapels, hence the many domes.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin, 

and the famous and fancy GUM Department store...

and the famous and fancy GUM Department store…

That's a gondola on the red carpet at GUM....

That’s a gondola on the red carpet at GUM….

GUM is a mall, under a glass roof. Very fancy.

GUM is a mall, under a glass roof. Very fancy.

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Gum's central fountain

Gum’s central fountain

See what I mean?

See what I mean? Swishy!

And, the military, on eternal vigilance....

And, the military, on eternal vigilance….

These living soldiers stand, unflinchingly, in all weather....except that their duty period is only one hour long!

These living soldiers stand, unflinchingly, in all weather….except that their duty period is only one hour long!

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They swooped upon me....

We danced a few steps......

We danced a few steps……They requested a handsome tip and swooped away!

They extracted a fine tip.... and swooped away!

A Funny Story About A New Dress Purchased The Night Before My Aeroflot Flight To Moscow….With Its Anti-Theft Device Still Firmly Attached!!!

September 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

I like clothes and it was my birthday, after all; so when I saw a darling dress in a cute little store in Archangelsk, Russia, I snapped it up the afternoon before I flew to Moscow. Instead of taking it out of the shopping bag and figuring how in the world I was going to stuff it into my suitcase; I simply took a nap, and didn’t address my last-minute packing until after five in the afternoon.

OH. MY. GOD! The anti-theft device was still firmly attached! Well, the store clerk, Lee, and I had gotten to talking rapidly, even though we had no common language….. but now what? It was so late that I was sure her store was closed by then. Maybe, the nearby bridal store could get it off? Oh, this must be the receipt, which I had yanked off when removing it from the bag! Nope, they didn’t have the right equipment!

Look at this gorgeous place! They tried to help but don't use anti-theft devices. Who's going to slip one of these dresses out in their purse?

Look at this gorgeous place! They tried to help but don’t use anti-theft devices. Who’s going to slip one of these dresses out in their purse?

And anyway, my receipt was for boots, not a dress! Oh no! I did buy boots earlier in the week…. black beauties…..You see, I’m thinking ahead to my mid-October World Congress of the Hearing Voices Network Conference in Paris, at which I will be teaching a workshop. Gotta’ dress right for that city!

I ran back to my room and found the correct receipt in the wastebasket. How was I to know? I can’t read Russian. Any other day during my stay, I could have simply gone in the next day and had Lee remove the plastic warning device; but I needed to taxi to the airport early the next morning. I ran the three blocks from the Troika  Hostel to the mall and found the store CLOSED! Yoiks, what now?

Roman Baranov, proprietor of the body-building store next door to the clothing shop, and speaker of English, became my new best friend. After calling his mall-manager about the closed shop, he shut his own store and we ran together an additional three blocks to another swishy mall. By now, it was getting so funny and desperate, that I began a photo story. Three stores in a row, heroically used their little machines to remove this strange anti-theft device and I soon learned that the buggers are specifically programmed for each store and theirs didn’t work. But they pounded and stabbed with sharp objects, hoping to break its lock. I worried about the dress fabric getting slashed, but couldn’t complain. They put heart and soul into trying.

Roman and the first store clerk, tackling my dress. Luckily, I had the proper receipt, or I couldn't have proven that I didn't steal it.

Roman and the first store clerk, tackling my dress. Luckily, I had the proper receipt, or I couldn’t have proven that I didn’t steal it.

Such a beautiful little black dress. Form-fitting with metal decoration on the scoop neckline. Swish! But not with this alarm attached!

Such a beautiful little black dress. Form-fitting with metal decoration on the scoop neckline. Swish! But not with this alarm attached!

We tried a second shop....

We tried a second shop….

She took to beating on it.

She took to beating on it.

We ran to a third clothing shop.....

We ran to a third clothing shop…..no luck!

Ramon gets a call from his Mall's Manager.... "Hurry back to the original store! Natasha will be there in ten minutes!

Roman gets a call from his Mall’s Manager…. “Hurry back to the original store! Natasha will be there in ten minutes!”

The owner of the shop where I bought it, had rushed in; but, she had lots of trouble too. The poor thing was all beat-up.

The owner of the shop where I bought it, had rushed in; but, she had lots of trouble too. The poor device was all beat-up, but the dress was okay.

 

By now, other shop owners, Svetland and Andre, had gotten involved helping Roman help me.

By now, other shop owners, Svetlana and Andre, had gotten involved helping Roman help me.

Yay! Success, at last! I can fly to Moscow with a wearable new dress.... and lot's of darling new friends in Archangelsk.

Yay! Success, at last! I can fly to Moscow with a wearable new dress…. and lot’s of darling new friends in Archangelsk. Plus, I have such a great story to tell, that it was all worth it. The only frustrating thing, was when I returned to my hostel, I couldn’t find anybody to understand what I was babbling and giggling about in my English and total lack of Russian. Many, many Russians do speak English, and finally one of them came to translate, but just that moment, they were all male business men and very keen to hear the joke that I was so keen to share! However, everything works out in the long run, if only we will all TRUST THE PROCESS! Usually the worst things that happen, yield the Best Stories and the Best Friends.

And, here I am, wearing that very dress in Moscow with another hosteler who also likes little black dresses with gold at the neckline.

And, here I am, wearing that very dress in Moscow with another hosteler who also likes little black dresses with gold at the neckline.

One of the shops was named Ga Ga, which is my own nickname used by my grandchildren. It seemed to be telling me something!

One of the shops was named Ga Ga, which is my own nickname used by my grandchildren. It seemed to be telling me something!

My Hostel  Troika in Arkahgelsk, Russia.

My Hostel Troika in Archangelsk, Russia.

I met Karina Simakova at that hostel. We met up again in Moscow.

I met Karina Simakova at that hostel. We met up again, twice, in Moscow.

 

 

 

 

I Spent My Birthday With The Archangel Michael, Near The White Sea In Russia

September 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

This is me tonight (9/13/2016), in my newest Hostel Netizen in Moscow. I was just gifted with watermelon to eat while I'm catching u on these Russian blogs.

This is me in my newest Hostel Netizen in Moscow. I was just gifted with watermelon to eat while I’m catching up on these Russian blogs.

I went to Archangelsk, near the Arctic Circle, to celebrate my 79th birthday on September 10. I especially wanted to visit ancient Solovki Island in the White Sea, which has a monastery thousands of years old. Valodia of Moscow, is on photo left, and Pavel, of Vladivostok is on the right,

I went to Archangelsk, near the Arctic Circle, to celebrate my 79th birthday on September 10. I especially wanted to visit ancient Solovki Island in the White Sea, which has a monastery thousands of years old. Valodia of Moscow, is on photo left, and Pavel, of Vladivostok is on the right. My scarf and overskirt was required to be properly dressed as a woman in a monk’s world.

We women were given black silk, wrap-around skirts to cover our blue jeans.

We women were given black silk, wrap-around skirts to cover our blue jeans.

Our small tour group was served a delicious lunch in the local restaurant.

Our small tour group was served a delicious lunch in the local restaurant.

 

This ancient, ancient medieval Russian Orthodox Monastery on Solovki Island, is built in the Ark shape and has withstood attack over the centuries

This ancient, ancient medieval Russian Orthodox Monastery on Solovki Island, is built in the Ark shape and has withstood attack over the centuries.

Our guides, a nun and a monk, describe a mountain chapel.

Our guides, a nun and a monk, describe a mountain chapel.

This is the "downtown" area of the small village on this remote island in the Russian White Sea.

This is the “downtown” area of the small village on this remote island in the Russian White Sea.

This church at the very tip-top of a hard hill, has a light beacon on top, that was made in Paris. It guides the ships of the White Sea to safety.

This church at the very tip-top of a hard hill, has a light beacon on top, that was made in Paris. It guides the ships of the White Sea to safety.

After driving and then, hiking up a mountain, we found a pilgrimage path leading to a lighthouse chapel at the top of the hill. It felt like hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

After driving and then, hiking up a mountain, we found a pilgrimage path leading to a lighthouse chapel at the top of the hill. It felt like hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

 

At last, our climb to the top was rewarded with 360 degrees of clear vision.

At last, our climb to the top was rewarded with 360 degrees of clear vision.

Thank goodness for very steep, downhill staircases! Whoosh! This was WORK for an old lady, turning 79! But, we count our blessings! I made it on my own two feet!

Thank goodness for very steep, downhill staircases! Whoosh! This was WORK for an old lady, turning 79! But, we count our blessings! I made it on my own two feet!

The Solovski Airport. We were soooo lucky with the weather! It's often freezing and very windy here.

The Solovki Airport. We were soooo lucky with the weather! It’s often freezing and very windy here.

The runway in the background is made of bumpy metal sheets....probably for traction in the ice and snow. It does the trick!

The runway in the background is made of bumpy metal sheets….probably for traction in the ice and snow. It does the trick!

Bye Bye, Beautiful Solovki! This whole region is blessed by the Archangel Michael, and is considered to be the Spiritual Heart of Russia! This is why I chose it for my Birthday Trip.

Bye Bye, Beautiful Solovki!
This whole region is blessed by the Archangel Michael, (hence, the city of Archanglsk,) and it is considered to be the Spiritual Heart of Russia! This is why I chose it for my Birthday Trip.

Our wonderful, double-engine, propeller plane was made in the Czech Republic. What fun the half-hour flight was! I was so lucky to be included on a special, off-season trip as normal flights had stopped the week before.

Our wonderful, double-engine, propeller plane was made in the Czech Republic. What fun the half-hour flight was! I was so lucky to be included on a special, off-season trip as normal flights had stopped the week before.

My Little Sister, Ann, Makes Me Proud For My 79th Birthday!

September 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

              Revenge  

by Ann Dickinson Sargent 

 

My mean big sister told me,

“If you stood sideways and stuck out your tongue,

people would think you were a zipper!’

Well, this morning in my mirror, that too-tall,

crook-toothed kid with washboard chest,

looked in my eyes and vowed to be a spy;

my sister’s got a date tonight.  I’m supposed to stay upstairs.

Later, hidden in the triangle of sofaback and wall….

dust, cobwebs, things that look like chocolate sprinkles

ornament my hair. I can only see

her saddle shoes, his loafers, in my narrow slot of view.

Light from the lamp glows on the scuffed wood floor;

scents of Shalimar and Old Spice

sift through stale old-couch miasma

as I wait for something interesting to happen.

They’re watching I Love Lucy on the tube.

Just as the laugh track soars,

The couch springs groan; maybe he’s going to kiss her….

Eeeeeeeeew! But instead, more dust rains down.

I sneeze! And Oh! Her screech and jumping-up and yelling-at

are worth the penalties.  He sees the way she really is

and even though her chest is so unwashboardlike,

I think I’ve saved him.

 

Dear Linda, I wrote you a poem!  Well, not exactly, but I was taking a month-long online poetry workshop in August, and one of the assignments was a family memory. This is fictionalized, but I do have a memory of having fantasized about doing such a thing. Last week, I taught a workshop to the Creative Writing Club at Polk State College. When I read this aloud (performed it), I got lots of laughs and big applause.  So I hope you’re not too offended!        

Ann

And, here is my reply…..

Dear little sister, Ann,

OH MY GOSH! What a GREAT birthday present!! Thank you, you great poet, you! I’m in touch with some of my high school friends and I’m going to ask them to circulate this! it is so FUNNY and brings us all right back to 1955…… which I’m reveling in now because I’m trying to teach our rock and roll dance, the Jitterbug. over here in Estonia and Russia, so they can complete (and win) in the international Boogie-Woogie contests, nowadays. So, I’m right back in high school, mentally, anyhow. Now, that my 79th birthday is tomorrow!

 

I do believe that “Revenge” is mostly fictionalized but, it was surely a neato fantasy that you must have indulged in, over and over. through those  years that you had to live with a mean big sister. You did get a reprieve during my sophomore year (your 8th grade) when they sent me to Massachusetts to live with Grandmother Elsie. But then, I was back for my Jr & Sr year again to share a bed & bedroom with you and tease you about being a zipper. I really did say that….. probably more than once! That memory is accurate.

 

But, I have a string of reasons that occur to me, that probably prove this was only a poetic dream and not a reality.
I don’t remember dating, at all, in high school. I was “popular” but I wasn’t in the Cheerleader/football player group – who were so pretty and handsome, and dated each other, and won Homecoming King & Queen titles . Our whole, large group of friends were the club & student leaders and we were really close buddies and saw a lot of each other, but we were “a crowd” that hung out before the bell rang; and the ones with cars picked the rest of us up for the Thursday night Teen Center, where we jitterbugged our little hearts out to the new Rock & Roll music. Then, driving home, three or four to the car; we would “park” somewhere and have “Unburdening Sessions” about the problems in our lives. We provided excellent counselling services, apparently; where we could be heard and understood by our peers.
I can picture that old sofa and catercorner across from it, the overstuffed (older-stuffed) chair. and an old-fashioned, wooden radio on a stand. We loved to listen to programs which said, “The Shadow Knows!”  I sure did love radio drama! But, ours was not so modern a household as to have a TV set, though your allusion to I Love Lucy is perfect and maybe a television set showed up sometime after I left for university???.
How could I have dated like that, even if I had wanted to? You make it sound so easy to dispatch all my younger sisters to the upstairs by command…..BUT, what would I have done with Grandmother, Matilda, and Mother? Assign them to stay in the kitchen? Ha! It was Matilda’s house! One didn’t tell her what to do, in our family!! And then, how about noisy Kippy and little-kid, Lee? Me, count on all three of you kids to stay upstairs, while I necked on the sofa? Double Ha! I didn’t even know HOW to neck, till I got to college! The front porch swing would have been the only possibility if I’d had such a date as that……but then, you’d have had nowhere to hide and there was no TV or radio out there. And that thing squeaked, didn’t it?
Anyway, the poem is universal and will hit home with everyone and get that great rewarding laugh! Let’s circulate it far and wide and let it win you prizes! I adore it! I think I’ll make a blog post out of it for both my websites!
Lots of love,
Your Big Sis, Linda

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