Who Am I?

I took Olivia and Leah into the Hall of Mirrors at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.  Lots of fun, uncertainty, confusion, a bump or two on the nose and ultimately a deeply human experience. We stumbled our way through the mirror matrix, losing and finding our way step by step. Everyone we met was laughing and as confused as we were. “If we see ourselves,” I told the girls, “we have to go another way.”

Little did I realize how profound a metaphor that would be. At one point, I came face to face with a fellow maze traveler. She was laughing and smiling.  So was I.  She was disoriented. So was I. Without thinking I exclaimed, “Are you me? Am I you?” I felt as if I had ceased to exist knowing that her face was reflecting to me exactly how I felt. It was quite surreal to feel that I’d lost my sense of self only to regain in the face of another. Eventually the girls and I found our way out.

The memory of meeting that woman, and my own confusion over where I ended and she began, stays with me.  Isn’t that the crux of so much philosophical musing?  Hillel’s do-unto-others admonishment? The Holy Grail of pursuing peace and loving our neighbors as ourselves? How do we see the other in ourself? How do we see ourself in the other?

Perhaps the world is nothing but a grand hall of mirrors. We stumble along trying to find the way out of our confusion. We bump up against our own foibles, limitations, pain and missteps again and again until we (hopefully) take a new path. There is surely less laughter in such halls.

What if we could cultivate that sense of fuzzy boundaries? What if we could meet eye to eye, forgetting ourselves while recognizing in the other a similar sense of disorientation? What if we observed ourselves convinced we are on the right path, only to crash into our own strictures again and again?

I have no ready answers. This drawer in the curio cabinet is named Questions, after all.



photo by Debra Darvick

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Do You FaceTime?

Every now and then a word or phrase snags my attention and its meaning completly changes. “Do you FaceTime with your granddaughters?” someone asked me recently.  After answering her, my mind went back to her question because what I heard was, “Do you face time with your granddaughters?” The answer to that is a resounding, “Yes, as never before.”

I have been facing time a lot, lately. Maybe it’s the accumulating creaks in my bones and creases across my forehead and upper lip. Dear friends are ill with wrenching diagnoses. My father, God bless him, is still alive and doing well. Few daughters are so fortunate at this stage of the game. Covid has done a big number on us all. The lucky ones have lost only time, not life or loved ones.

Despite inheriting my parents’ age-blurring genes, Olivia and Leah have placed me solidly farther along my own personal timeline. I am a grandmother. I sense my wisdom deepening and with it the need, and perhaps the responsibiilty, to share it, judiciously but share it nonetheless. It is hardwon. Life continues to provide opportunities to deepen it further.

Facing time these days means that I am adored by two beautiful little girls for whom there is no past or future. There is only the delicious present given over to dancing, singing, art making, sliding, swinging, reading, cuddling. As they grow older, the ings will expand: sleep-overing, traveling, asking and answering hard questions.

Yes, I face time a lot these days; with gratitude for what is and has been and with hope and prayers for might yet be.


photo credit: by France 1978 ShareALike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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How Was The Food?

Enjoying trofie al pesto

You cannot have a bad meal in Italy. Period. From small cafes to the fanciest restaurant, every meal was prepared with fresh ingredients and was a delight to consume The house wines were smooth. The pasta dishes had body, a great “mouth feel.” The desserts were delizioso. Keeping kosher meant I stayed on the fish, pasta and vegetable side of the menu. Pure heaven.

Martin treyfs out!

Martin, while not hewing to the rules of kashrut, went to town enjoying the incredible seafood dishes Italy is known for.

This sweet man was at an adjoining table. I loved his face and how he spoke with his hands.

We had some great pizzas, amazing parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan) and my newfound fave — pepe e cacio, which is an Italian take on mac’n’cheese. Saying that, however, is akin to saying Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus is a painting of a naked woman standing in a seashell. The pasta was light, the four cheeses (cacio) were smooth and the pepper (pepe) gave the dish a memorable kick. We tried each region’s specialty — trofie al pesto (from Liguria’s twists of handmade pasta) to carciofo alla guidia (artichoke the Jewish way) in Rome. It was good but not as rave worthy as we’d been told.

In Amalfi, we sampled the region’s beloved dessert Delizia al Limone — a mound-shaped spongecake filled with lemon cream, dolloped with limoncello-infused whipped cream and topped with a strawberry. I challenge you to look at a tray of these Delizia’s and not see breasts. This is not accidental as the cakes are a tribute to Saint Agatha. Hers was a pretty grim story but her suffering is celebrated with this delicious anatomical confection. (I don’t know what it is about Europeans and their penchant for creating desserts to honor nuns and their bodily parts and functions but there you have it. The French serve pets de nonne, nuns’ farts, akin to a beignet but smaller.  ) 

Soooo good!

Italian hotel breaksfasts were surprisingly ample and varied. They reminded me of Israeli breakfasts — fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, wonderful breads and cheeses — with the bonus of Italian pastries.  I even had a daily cappucino. (Those who know me well, know that I don’t drink coffee. But when in Rome…And Naples and Florence and Venice and Sorrento!)

You could see Mount Vesuvius from the breakfast room in Sorrento










As you will read elsewhere we enjoyed a daily gelato and sampled tiramisu from region to region. You can’t go to Italy and not indulge in the country’s gustatory pleasures. Besides, we were clocking close to seven miles each day. Surely that worked off a strand or two of pasta.
Buon Appetito!


Ready for some sightseeing? Next up…Rome.


 All photos courtesy of Martin Darvick.


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