Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stash Away, Stash Away

Reed Krakoff. 'Tis the season. 

I have this thing about bags. You know, those things designed to carry your things. Funny thing: the more things I have, the more I lust for The One. Perfect. Bag.  That one elusive object of desire I have yet to define. 

And so I carry on, as carry on I must. 

Bag lust.

Our mothers called them purses.  Pocketbooks.  Back in the cash-and-carry day when ladies kept white gloves in tote, along with bright red lipsticks and those things called coin purses to stash spare change inside their, uh, purses.  

Handbags -- considered by Sigmund Freud to represent female genitalia in the language of dreams -- used to be little more than a stylish essential, a well planned investment one could carry for years, if not for a lifetime.  My old trusty Coach a case in point. 

Vintage Coach

I don’t get it

How did the ordinary handbag slip into the status stratosphere?  The term It Bag was coined in the 90s with the inexplicably explosive growth of the handbag market in high fashion.  Logos became emblems, badges of shopping honor worn by the hip, the chic and the most fashion-forward of consumers.  Designers competed for those customers, young and old around the world, to produce that One, Single Sensational iconic design to be celebrated by the press, or better yet to be seen on the Red Carpet. 

Go figure  

They were oversized, strappy, and frankly kinda schleppy, but among the more successful individual designs created during this time were the Paddington by ChloĆ©, @$1540 retail, now a "bargain" on ebay at $899; the Motorcycle by Balenciaga, @$1750 retail, “pre-owned" on at $1145; and the Alexa  by Mulberry, a rather baggy looking thing  still hanging around Harrods in London or on$1650.  

Other creators of coveted bags that rose through the ranks: Chanel (forever Chanel), Bottega Veneta, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Burberry,  and the ubiquitous Louis Vuitton. All still carry on today in department stores, duty-free shops in airports and in knock-offs found and sold on the web. 

If the appeal of the IT Bag is on the wane, sorry, I’m a bit out of step, still hunting for The One.  Rarely do I walk through a department store without a pawing through a handbag or two on display.  Is it the supple leather, the shiny new hardware, the strappy sensual curve thrown over the shoulder?  What is it that I find so seductive, so promising and yet so impossibly stupid about a handbag with a price equivalent to twice the median weekly earnings for full-time working women in America?

Get real real.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: WTFC,  “Go shop at Target, honey.  Buy yourself a Burlington. Whatever. Get a life!"


In “virtual reality,”my favorite place to shop for bags is online. Here I can lay to waste my leisure time, browse with the best, visit the swankiest sites, hit “Add to Bag,”  then quietly, discretely move to the next page, credit card safely out of reach.

The black hole theory

What feeds this obsession? What could possibly be missing in my life that compels me so to shop without purchase?  Go figure. 

On a day to day basis, I carry a serviceable if not lovely black shoulder bag of fine (enough) leather. Trouble with a basic black bag, things get lost. Hunting through those deep dark recesses and crevices of its multiple pockets, I need a flashlight to find car keys, cell phone, that red lipstick and oh, yes, that occassional stray black glove.    

And so my virtual shopping obsession has yet to staunch my desire for IT.  I hold the flame still burning for The Mother of All Bags.  

Oh, how I carry on. 

My latest jag for bags is the designer Reed Krakoff.  Not the most expensive designer on the block, but no slouch, even so for a slouchy hobo kinda bag. 

In search of the perfect evening bag, an accessory for a wedding, I was smitten  by a small leather woven box with a clever little knot clasp.  Ah yes, The Knot!  Perfectly tied and true.  A clutch known in better circles as a classic Botttega Veneta. A collector's item, a handbag of heirloom quality.  Tempting as a BV may be, there’s no way I could spend that much for a bag designed to hold nothing more than a compact and credit card. 

Vintage Bottega Veneta Circa Whoknows

Chanel? A little stodgy quilted affair on a chain?  That too, out of the question!  

Another designer bag that’s gotten under my skin is Chloe. My niece(-in -law) just came back from Vegas with a Chloe.  Nice winnings.  Good for her!  There but for the grace . . . but anyway . . . so it goes with bag envy. 


Handbags aren’t the only category of bags that appeal to me. Unfortunately. There are camera bags -- bags with specific requirements:  to have and to hold multiple lenses, batteries, memory cards,  just what you “need.” 

There’s the laptop bag, with it’s little accessory bag, now supplanted by the iPad case. 

The things we carry.  So much baggage.

And don’t get me started on luggage.  I’ve never met a Tumi I didn’t love. There’s the day tripper, a weekender, a voyager, the sojourner, the wanderlust bag, not to mention the packing cubes and clever bag-in-the-bag organizers.

Bag lady that I am,  I’ve now spread the bag bug to my husband!  Like codependents we have encouraged our bag habits. And now at last, in his inimitable competitive style, my dear husband (the love of my life?)  has found The One.  A bag I would never imagine we’d need.  The Bag to End All Bags.  A bag worthy of a Dr. Seuss book, if only Theodore, himself,  were with us still to write it.  

Behold:  the Biknd Helium Bicycle Travel Case

A bag for a bike!  You know:  the thing most people ordinarily ride on two wheels?  
Who’d imagine a bag so clever as to carry a bike?  
The Helium. Only 24 pounds. Big enough for a human stowaway, albeit somewhat dismembered.  Tough ballistics nylon on the outside, comfy, cozy pockets and sleeves on the inside.  And no,  it’s not filled with helium. The case comes with inflatable pneumatic padding.  And its own pump. Just 70 poofs per side and it's ready to fly. 
Utilitarian Biknd design that it is,  the Helium offers storage for not only for two, but four wheels. (“Go ahead,” the copy invites, "Take your aero wheels and your lightweight wheels for the days when you'll be high in the mountains.) How high in the mountains?  
Oh, the places we'll go with this. Bags packed.  Jingle bells. . . all the way. 

Photos: Bagged, borrowed and stolen off the Web
(Thanks, SuperStock, Tumi, Chloe, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Saks, Reed Krakoff, Coach and Target. )

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Old Dog, Wise Soul

Photo of the Day

5:00 in the morning.  Up and at’em, hands poised over the keyboard at this early hour, on the pretext that this is my habit. Writing.  

I would just as soon roll over, settle back undercover, into the familiar warm depression and tangle of bedding.  Close eyes and let sleep take over until sunrise. Another two hours to rest.  

But no. No rest for the weary, sleepy, happy, dopey or grumpy, as they say. Seems it’s off to work I go, tapping on keys. “Beating the daylights out” (wondering where that expression comes from), readying myself for the drive uptown later this morning. . . headed to another desk in the office where I’m employed, the place I will spend the entire day in the same posture, the same activity as now, tapping away at a keyboard. Writing.  


This is what I do. I have no wish to do otherwise today. I like my work, I am deeply habituated to it. I have no plans to retire, though the age looms and there will be decisions to make and a transition to navigate.  Soon.  Sooner or later.  Not now.  

Moments ago I opened an email from my brother-in-law, announcing his retirement. A short plat planner for the city of Seattle, he’s been working that one gig for thirty-five years, or something like that.  He’s had no other job to my knowledge. One place, all those years. Steady work. Steady worker. Working right up and through the holidays, retiring with lunch at noon on December 31 with many Happy new years ahead. 

Steady.  I would say that describes my work-style, as well.  I have worked nonstop since the summer I graduated from college.  

How many jobs have I had? 

Never counted.  Let’s see: a dozen or so: 

Four short “apprenticeships” as a copywriter and art director of sorts in retail, working in-house at department stores (good for the development of a fashion sense and shopping discounts) 

Two short passages and two long journeys home as a writer and creative director in ad agencies. (Had my fun.)

A seven-year stint as a public relations writer for a non profit org. Good, serious hard work.  

Four years of smoke, mirrors and alchemy as an exhibit developer for a science museum, until it closed its doors a year ago.  (No worries, the museum is reopening after Christmas.)

One year as a web content developer, writing and editing a monthly newsletter. 

Seems I’m an old dog. Still learning new tricks. Still running in the park, well, figuratively speaking.    

If you’ve ever owned a dog, one you’ve raised as a pup, groomed and nurtured as “one of your own” dear members of the family, then you know, it takes many dog years to cultivate that mutual unconditional love which can exist between species, human and canine.  

Old dogs are the best.  

Long-time employment ain’t so bad either. 

The pace of my new job is supposedly slower - a three-day work week gives me time and space to roam, to write, to pick up a camera and play.  Old working dog that I am, I’m loyal, tenacious. Throw me a bone, I’ll chew on it for days. Still working with a purpose, on the short leash of people to reach and deadlines to meet.  Sit. Stay. 

I laugh when I think of my past work-lives.  Bad dog!  Running-crazy dog.  Bitch. Ad show dog, Barking at strangers. Chewing up the furniture. Tearing up newspapers. Working in advertising, I had my run.  I had my pups. I won some medals.  

What irony: I’m a far better dog, an older but wiser writer now than I ever was back then, in the day.  

Old dogs.  Dang, if they don’t just keep getting better!  

About the dog in the photo: he’s not my pooch. I just caught his eye and he stayed to chat with me as I poked my hand and camera through his gate during a walk down his street in Lincoln Park, Chicago.  Photo taken September 2012.  

Thanks for walking by. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Digital Playpen: Out of Site, Out of Mind

What's Up on the Desktop?

Promiscuous with my words, eclectic in my interests and tastes, I maintain a digital presence far too wide and unwieldy on the web.  

The effect has been a cumulative and disturbing bogging down of my attention;  an increasing disability to keep up any sense of participation in the various “communities” which I have “joined” so enthusiastically  at one time or another. 

To enumerate the sites where I have left my identity, maintained, if not curated profiles, and invested precious time, I am struck dumfounded by the actual count:

Let’s see:  

There’s Blogger: this is my mainstay, the blogspot where I began on a dare from a friend four years ago. There we started a writers’ collective we called Artist’s Wayfarers. (Too cute!) There we giddily blogged for the very novelty of the act, until we all ran dry.  Still scribbling, dismayed to lose the company of my friends on AW, I set out on my own to (a site from which I still launch all my posts).  Wild turtle crossing.  I own the domain, have yet to turn it into my own dot-com. That’s another story.

Open Salon: three years ago, I dropped into Open Salon by happenstance, after reading a rant from  book editor, Laura Miller, on the absurdity of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) On OS - as insiders call it, I discovered a chummy and chatty (sometimes deliciously catty) company of writers of all stripe.  Here I suddenly found I had “readers” with a running commentary, a social media site at its best. Here I had a community of “virtual friends” - though I’ve never met a single one of them in person. We entertained one another with with an endless supply of advice, accolades, opinions, recipes, photography, poetry and bouts of tribal wisdom. Our writing was sometimes rewarded with an “Editor’s Pick” that extended our audience to the Big Salon, a pet name for Salon Magazine, a site I have followed for years. 

Sadly, OS appears to be in shambles of late. Navigation is painstakingly slow, spammers are rampant, my “virtual buddies” are abandoning ship, fleeing to a new site called Our Salon.

Slow to rile, I’m sticking with Open Salon for now because I have hope that it’s not going down. (Please say it’s so.)

Our Salon: this one’s new to me. A robust site with lots of functionality (is that even a word)? Our Salon is “busy busy” as the most recent email from the site describes, listing the new tabs and drop down menus, all designed to ‘simplify my online experience.’ The site literally chirps, cheerfully indicating members online - a feature that compels me to hit the mute on the computer. Plenty of  “sharing opportunities” with Facebook Twitter and Pinterest, all good social media tactics make the site downright friendly . . . but a little too busy-busy for my tastes. Anyway, on I go, and here I am.  

Food52: this is a drop-dead gorgeous food site, arguably the best spot for food on the web. “Because if you cook, you’ll make others happy, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.” I remain in awe of founding editors, Amanda and Merrill - the heart, soul and brains behind this site. Lots of humor, beautiful photography and genius recipes. Then there’s the “crowd-sourcing" aspect of the site.  Cooks, pros and amateurs alike, are invited to post and maintain recipes and to jump into a biweekly recipe contests. Proud to say I've earned a “Community Pick” or two.  Below are results from the test kitchen for my Crab Mac, with photography a lot more polished than the photos I submitted. Fun stuff. 

LinkedIn:  I don’t spend a lot of time here, but it’s an invaluable spot for keeping track of colleagues, companies, jobs lost and found, gossip.  It’s astonishing how much useful information just flows into my email box on a daily basis just keeping pace on Linkedin. 

Facebook: Ugh. I resisted this one for a long time.  Now as a web content developer for a nonprofit, I’m now obliged to partake.  

Twitter: I was an early adopter, have been on Twitter before I had any idea what I was doing on the site. Truth be told, I still haven’t a clue, but sure enough, I have followers.

Smug Mug: A fine place to upload, store and share photos. Got a zillion reasons to use the site as it easily works with the Lightroom software on my computer. 

National Geographic: MyShots  My camera skills aren’t much, but I compensate with a good eye, a love of interesting faces and spaces, and the chutzpah to shoot strangers on the street.  I get lucky sometimes.  Just started posting my favorite shots on the site, for nothing more than the sheer pleasure of seeing my stuff under the National Geographic banner.

Library Thing: a great place to catalog a book collection.   Unfortunately I can’t and so I haven’t kept up 

Noting Books: another great place to track and document what you’ve read - with short reviews. As much as I (want to) read,  I have a bit of catching up to do on the site.   This is where I spend most of my time: my day job, writing and editing the community online pub, powered by the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. 
Visit if you dare. . . for articles on for every taste, from old Detroit to young startups  from urban gardens to Yeshivas kindergartens, from Eastern market tours to missions to Israel. 

That's it.  At least that's all I admit to following. My top 12 sites. And my 1000 words and pictures for the day.  Appalling!  Where does the time go?  

So, where do you live online?  What are you doing here?  And geeesh, isn’t it about time to get up and stretch, take a break, take a breather, go outside, enjoy the rest of your day, whatever is left of it?

Photos: Vhenoch
James Ransom: Food52
Thanks for stopping by

Friday, November 30, 2012

On Zester, On Muddler, On Bundt Pan, On Roaster

Photos of the Day

Oy, before it’s Christmas, I need to wrap up Thanksgiving. Truly, dearly I love each and every member of my family, but honestly, we went a little over-the-top this year.  

Starting with thirty people for dinner,

eleven houseguests, divided among three households 

5 cooks

3 cats 

2 infants including a newborn. . .

and a party planner. 

Making our pilgrimage from Boca Raton and Sarasota, from Cleveland and Detroit, from Dallas to Lincoln Park. . . and on to Evanston, we carried cakes on planes, packed coolers with pastry and produce, stuffed diaper bags with sippy cups, graham crackers and blankets. . . all to convene in my nephew’s kitchen, armed with recipes and carving knives. 

Savory rugelach

Because we could, we did: cook, bake, baste, simmer, stew and stir way-out-of-control.  

Not only did we roast a turkey, we grilled a breast, and bought a smoked turkey, too, because really you can never have enough, can you?

We shared the wealth (and expense) of an extravagant menu. We took obsessive and compulsive trips to the grocery -- remembering and forgetting item after item. One at a time.  Berries for the Bundt cakes.  Limes for the margaritas. Rosemary for the birds.  Cream for the pies.  Celery for the bloody merry drinks. 

Because we needed to, we divided our labors, disrupting three (no, make it four) kitchens, each according to the household where we were guests. 

In a flurry, we divvied up the meal-prep, two-by-two and much-too-much of everything in proportions that could feed Noah’s Ark. Two kinds of stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, two cranberry relishes, two vegetable casseroles.  Appetizers, breads, pies, cakes and sweets in multiples too numerous to mention. 

Because we dared, we set the table in the finished basement of my nephew’s elegant home in Evanston.  We rented tables (two-by-two), rented dishes and linens and even  hired a designer to make the setting outright spectacular.  And it was.  Candles glowing. Silver and crystal gleaming.  A chandelier hanging over the serving buffet?  A Thanksgiving banquet table (and fire hazard) worthy of a state occasion - a royal feast -- far, far from the original intention and gesture of our founding fathers and Native Americans.   
Table setting for 30
Ah well, so much for the Norman Rockwell version of our story, here’s what really happened.  

Control freak that I am, I served as the self-appointed sous chef, researched and devised a menu out of the pages of Bon Appetit and the website Food52 (where I now collect my recipes).  I “assigned dishes” to each of the participating cooks, each according to their preferences and culinary strengths. 

A little pretentious and intimidating?  Ya think?  

Expecting the Clash of the Titans in the kitchen, my nephews steered clear of our menu choices while their mother - my sister, Susan - and I hashed out our plan to tackle most of the meal, starting with separate runs to Whole Foods on Tuesday.  Susan (my only sib) and I have the longest history in the clan as it stands today.  I know from vivid memories of Thanksgiving Days past that she can be accident prone with a knife, so I know not to mess with her head.  Nonetheless, Susan and I think in perfect synch when it comes to cooking and together we whipped up our part of the meal quite compatibly and amicably -- and quite well, if I must say so myself. 

Matt, Mason, Wendy

Jeri, Ben (Ben & Jeri!) and Andy
Our gracious, most generous and patient hosts: Douglas --  my hyperkinetic nephew - and Ellen, quite the opposite in temperament -  started the tradition of our  family Thanksgiving Extravaganza a few years back.  The table has expanded and extended again and again, as our family has grown, now to include a new generation of married cousins  - their babes in arms and in-laws, too.  Add my husband’s cousins - and you have a houseful of us, before we even get started with Doug-and-Ellen’s family and friends.


In all the clamor of a loud Jewish family,  Ellen is Irish and gently ribs us for carrying on the way we do about food.  Why can’t we ever keep dinner to one simple choice of each thing - why all this megillah?  And all the calls and emails back and forth. . . on and on for a month it goes.  Ellen claims no specialty for the holidays -- but she’s fine “for perfect comfort food” in her own right, and quietly bakes the most beautiful pies I’ve ever seen or tasted.  
Caramel apple cranberry pie

Sandy and flight-worthy chocolate cake

Douglas -- everyone should have a Douglas in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day -- on any day for that matter.  We joke about the “Douglas gene” - lament that it’s recessive in our children, and attribute it to my father who was the family neat-freak, running the vacuum after guests even when they were still in the house. Douglas has inherited the trait to extreme. Okay, maybe he’s a little OCD, but in a good way.  He trails you in the kitchen like Smokey the Bear stamping out forest fires; with wet towel in hand he mops and wipes and polishes surfaces, clear of every spec and splatter of grease and flour. Doug alphabetizes his spices -- removes them from their carrossel and wipes the bottles clean after every use. His refrigerator, his cupboards, his drawers are all wonders of organization.  And yet, as tidy as he keeps his home, he’s a good sport, ever-so-welcoming of people who come in to his kitchen, tear through his cupboards, - abusing his pots and pans, sharpening his knives, scorching his burners on a new stove, no matter.  He’s with you - and with his God -- rag in hand, cleaning up the aftermath.  

Douglas in his element: kitchen

My husband, Mal: the turkey roaster.  For as long as we’ve been making Thanksgiving dinners together -- and that’s a long time now -- he’s bee the designated hitter for the task. Because he’s never overcooked the bird - not ever,  it’s always done to perfection. As a physician, he’s seems the natural for the job of carving . . . even though he's not a surgeon, and so it’s done.  (Truth be told, on Thanksgiving morning, if he had his druthers, he’s be out there riding a bike along Lake Shore Drive; he doesn’t even care for turkey - we roast exactly one bird a year and that’s it.)  

Malcolm, turkey-roaster

David, Doug's bro

My nephew David: another welcoming and gracious host and fine cook - accommodates our family from out of town in his condo.  David is always ready, willing and very able to fill in, shop, cook as needed. . . I’ve never seen him break a sweat -- that is, until this year, when his oven went out on Thanksgiving morning.  He had undertaken the prep of all the veggies, as well as the menu choices of his house guests - my husband’s cousins, Sandy and Robert, who traditionally bring the gravy, soup and a surprise dessert. 

David and twins, Lauren and Zachary

Robert, gravy-maker

Without the oven, there was quite a flurry and change of venue  - whereby Doug and David “commandeered” the neighbor’s kitchen next door -- the neighbors being good friends and out of town.  

Matt and Mason, learning A-OK

Lauren and Mason

Long story short, it was a mess at times and much-too-much of a fuss, but the result and the family who came to the table made it all worth it.  Of course!   We may have alarmed the in-laws with all our antics in abundance, but hopefully we didn’t scare them away.  For the first time, we got to share the pure joy and wonder of our grandchildren together - twins Zach and Lauren, toddler Mason and new baby Ben!  Really, it doesn’t get any better than that: 

Great grand mom, Helene
Carin and Ben
Ben, rarely seen in PJs. . 

Until next year.   

The players:
The Hosts: Doug and Ellen
The Cooks: Susan, VH, David, Mal, Sandy, Robert, Carin
The Kids: Matt & Wendy, Andy & Jerry, 
The Grandkids: Lauren & Zach, Mason and Benjamin
The Grandparents: Susan, Jeanne, Mal, VH, Carin, Drew, Nan, Helene, 
Good Friends: Bob, Jean, Michael, Allie, Preston, Dwayne, Gina, Cameron, Evan

Bob and Susan

(A funny wrap-up email  from Doug in response to our search of a zester in his kitchen: )
Now seriously…I’m fine with my two Bundt pans and I’m also fine with my 2-rack ovens.  I do acknowledge that our bar was not complete without a muddler, so I purchased one…along with a new-fangled can opener…I dare anyone to try to use it successfully next time you all are here.

But to have been accused of not having a zester when I was quite positive I had one…now to THAT I took exception.  And worse, I was told it had to look like a rake or some such gardening tool…now that had me all muddled.  So upon inquiry at Williams-Sonoma for a proper zester, what do they bring me to?  Well, have a look yourselves at the attached pictures.    It’s a bird, it’s a (micro)plane, it’s Ultimate Multi-Zesteur!  Now in one of the  pictures, if I might please bring your attention to the end of the handle on the left…see right there…those circular doo-hickies…two sizes no less!  With those you may make your citrus peel curls in, not one, but two sizes. 

So I am writing to exonerate myself of the accusation that I did not have a zester.  To the contrary…I had quite the zester.  It seems it was not I, but everyone else that was muddled over my zester.

Now I am still in search of a proper roasting rack…so far all the ones I have found come with a roaster, of which I already have 3. Thanks, Doug

Zester in question

Thursday, November 29, 2012

To Write. Or Not. Every Day.

Photo of the Day

If it’s not a New Year’s resolution, it should be.  

If it’s not a habit, then it’s a good one to start. 

If it’s not something you care to do, then stop. For god-sake, stop. 

But if you’re a writer -- a real writer, then you know. You must. Write. Just keep the hand moving across the keyboard, no matter what or how painful the process.  Keep the brain working. No matter how foolish or dull you feel or how much drivel it seems you can produce.  You must.  Write. Write every day.

I do. For the most part. Almost every day, there’s an an article or some project waiting for completion on my desk. It’s work. Nice work if you can get it. But the fact that I’m working as a writer on assignment for others is still my cop-out. . . one vainglorious excuse for not writing for myself. Every day.

In my book, (and no, I am not working on a book)  writing on assignment doesn’t count for writing that’s true and fine and. . .and who am I kidding?  What I have here - staring back at me in black and white print  - is not indeed true or fine.  It’s a complaint. . . a kvetch, a rant about not writing.  

By my own admission - and negligence -  I have a “blog” that’s run dry,  gone fallow lo these many weeks. Blogger's block.  Like Peter Pan visiting Tinkerbell at her last gasp, I must "clap, clap if I believe" in fairies and tap-tap on the keyboard - my launchpad - from which perhaps someday I will take flight for good and write, write as if my very life depended on it.  Puzzling in a tumble of words. Letting them spill forth. Perhaps one day I’ll have enough scrabble pieces to fill the board.  

Or not. 

For here and now, blogging will have to do the trick.  Turning over a new page  Every day. 
It may not be the best, but it’s certainly not the worst way to pass the time.

And thanks again for stopping by. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You should live so long

Photos of the Day

Other than the fact that I snapped her photo as part of an interview in her apartment last Friday afternoon, the lady pictured here is of no relation to me.
And yet, as I processed her photos the other day and study them now more closely, I see how easily she could be my own grandmother. Her smile, her laugh, the sparkle still in her eyes, her spry little body, her energy, the way she carried herself, the natural instinct she had to hug and kiss me goodbye, all reminds me how long it’s been since I sat in an apartment chatting with my own mom, and my grandmother before her . . . how the years just melt away, as we live so long. 

I’m reminded, first with a jolt, then a laugh:  I’m on my own path, now a grandma, myself. 
Were she still alive, my grandmother Sarah would be 114 - give or take a year, as she never quite divulged her exact age to us. 
The woman in the photo is Mary Kantor, remarkable in her own way at the age of 102. A resident of “Jewish Apartments” - an assisted living campus in Oak Park, a suburb of Detroit -  Mary has lived in those apartments “aging in place,” as the industry is given to  saying, for more than 20 years. 
When asked how many grandchildren she has, Mary needs to stop and think.  Six grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren?  Or is it the other way around, sixteen grandchildren and. . . no matter, Mary has a lot of descendents, as she enumerates with her own daughter, sitting beside her on the couch. It’s Mary’s daughter who uses the walker we find parked next to the couch in the living room. Mary’s daughter is visiting - from another “senior apartment” where she lives nearby. 
“You should live so long.”

The expression is Yiddish in origin.  “You should live so long,” is generally used to convey nuances of skepticism - sarcasm, affectionate ridicule. . . 
Excuse the expression (another Yiddism) but you should live so long means. . . don’t wait forever, because it will never happen. 
And yet, here’s Mary, alive and living well enough, living through a century of life. We ask what’s “the secret” of her longevity.  A loving family, a caring social network?  Good health, good meds?  Yogurt, wheat bran, a daily walk in the garden, meditation, faith?  No.  Mary answers that she keeps no secrets.  I’ve lived a normal life,” she says, “Who knows, I guess I’m just blessed.”
Come May, the Jewish Apartments supported by caring families and the philanthropic dollars of the Detroit Jewish community will celebrate “Older Adults Month.” There will be a luncheon in honor of those “most senior” among us, ranging in age from 95 years (the “youngsters” of the group) to 108, or whomever remembers the count this year.  Each year the party gets a little bigger, a little giddier as the number of invitees and their offspring keep growing. Older and older.  

It is estimated that by the year 2050, (we should all live so long!) the number of centenarians worldwide will reach nearly 6 million.  Some say that half the babies born in the U.S. today will live into the 22nd Century. 
Imagine. The miracles of science and medicine. The advancement of industry and the workplace. The world a better place? With more to life?  Or just more living in apartments for the “aged.”  With more discrepancies. More decrepitudes and imbalances. More social insecurities.
Most everybody wants a good long life, or to live for as long as possible.  Given the strides made in medicine and the healthcare during the past 150 years, our life expectancy at birth has nearly doubled: from 40 years to 75. With the oldest among us living well past 100 years, some reaching 115 and onward (or so we’re told) it’s not surprising that we’re starting to believe in our own invincibility, that we too can be. . .curiously, deliciously, wonderously, insufferably long-lived.  

May we all.  Live.  So long. 

Photos: VHenoch
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