The empty suitcase.

May 25, 2012 § 7 Comments

We caught the ferry to Ellis Island to admire my brother-in-law’s work.

A museum writer, Paul Rosenthal, had put years into the explanatory text that went with each exhibit.

We began our visit intent on reading, but were quickly overtaken. Vacant rooms still seemed to reverberate with footfalls and quiet conversation, a Babel of many languages. Daunted by fatigue and doubt, held upright by the stories they’d heard of this new country, potential immigrants waited in patient lines to be processed into America.

Like many Americans we had a personal stake in this place. My Swedish grandfather, Carl Axel, was the eldest of four boys who accompanied their mother to America. Their names are on the roles of Ellis Island: Helen, Carl, Earnest, Theodore and Emil.

Here is where they stood in line to fill out their paperwork.

Nearby is the infirmary where they waited to be graded for quality. A chalk X on the back of a shirt branded an applicant as not healthy enough to become an American.

Though the lines of aspiring new citizens were long gone on the brilliantly sunny day of our visit, on display, heaped floor to ceiling, were some of the suitcases they once carried. « Read the rest of this entry »

Apologies from Uncle Harry.

May 17, 2012 § 11 Comments

Bet your family has at least one Uncle Harry.

The guy whose stories you know so well you can anticipate the cheesy grin.

The pregnant pause.

The guffaw.

He smells like cough drops and, lord love him, he never shuts up. As he likes to say, “I can’t exhale without talking.”

Get ready. He’s about to exhale.  “Did I tell you about the time…?” And of course he has, but you smile. You pretend to listen. Good thing you love him or you’d never put up with him.

This is my hundredth blog post. By now you probably know me as well as you know Uncle Harry. “Did I tell you about the time…?”

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Shiny objects.

May 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

Every year I’m the visiting author at Kate Sullivan Elementary’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award luncheon.

We celebrate our reading prowess by eating chicken tenders and doing screwball if-you-were-an-author exercises.

This year I went home with a beautiful thank-you arrangement of rosemary branches and larkspur. Tied around the vase were two ribbons, each of which restrained a star-shaped mylar balloon, one green one gold.

Celebrating great readers with mylar and helium is such a human gesture, but the balloons have three things which, to us, say joy!

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On three legs in the evening.

May 3, 2012 § 22 Comments

Riddle: What walks on four legs in morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?

Answer: Man. Four legs in the morning (a crawling baby). Two legs in the afternoon (an adult). Three legs in the evening (an old person on a cane).

I am paying an early visit to the evening of life during which unsteady humanity walks three-legged. Actually, having broken my pelvis in a car accident, I’m not steady enough to manage a cane and so the doctor prescribed a walker.

With three breaks on my right side, I’ve been instructed to put no more than 20% of my weight on my right leg. That means that with each right step 80% of my weight is carried by my shoulders and arms (I see a foxy strapless dress in my future).

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