A Gate in the Fence

download (2)I had a friend from childhood. I said “I had” because from that fall when she went to finish her school in the city, we lost the connection.

Amelia was two years old when my parents took me to my grandparents for the first time in the village. I was a few months old. Amelia’s mother was my grandma’s best friend. They were next-door neighbors and part of the same church. I knew they carried their burdens together for a lifetime.

It was a little unusual that grandma’s best friend was getting pregnant at an old age. She was a mother for a young little girl and also a grandmother for her oldest children’s offspring.

Amelia and I grew up together, since I was staying with my grandparents pretty often before going to school. Then, I spent most of my vacations in the countryside, and I was very happy.

There were those early mornings during the summer time when Amelia and I woke up right after the daybreak. We waited for each other in the corn garden, on the path that separated ours from theirs. My dog followed us to the end of the patch, where my uncle and Amelia’s father had built a fence. My uncle put a gate in the fence towards the large fields of the communist agricultural cooperative. The system owned the cattle, the horses and all the livestock they had taken from the villagers.

That was our destination, the field.

Amelia carried a small tin bucket. I carried nothing, but had my aunt’s large apron tied around my waist. That area wasn’t a safe place for two little girls to hang out because of the dangerous shepherds’ dogs that roamed up and down. They were trained to kill. Anyway, we had a mission and my dog was with us. The grass was full of dew mushrooms early in the morning, before the sun was getting strong to wither the fragile vegetables. The mushrooms were the size of a quarter, maybe a little bigger, grown like this during the night, when the ground was cold and moist. There was nobody else looking for them there, but us.

Our hands worked fast while my dog watched the premisses. We didn’t dare to go too far from the gate. The shepherds’ dogs were there in our sight ready to come and attack us. I picked the mushrooms and placed them in my aunt’s apron I was holding with one hand. Amelia and I were talking and even laughing, but we both were alert. Sometimes we had enough time to fill the tin bucket and load a good measure of mushrooms in my apron. Other times, we just had to run to the gate. My dog was keeping away the dangerous dogs until we got safe behind the fence. Then, he had to run for his life and get through the gate just in time for us to secure it behind him.

I never told my grandma what was going on beyond our fence in the back of the corn garden. She would never let me go there again.

The field around our life can be a dangerous place.

That’s why we need a friend, a dog and a gate in the fence.


A Promise or Living in Two Worlds and Trying to Stay Sane

People start to drink it when they feel they are ready, or when their parents allow them to have caffeine, or when they go to college, or get married – like I did…

Today I realized that I didn’t have my coffee in the morning. I was out for an appointment early in the morning and then, when I stopped for a small breakfast on my way home, I didn’t order a coffee. I liked mine, the way I made it. So, I got home, sank into writing and rewriting, took a nap, and after a few hours I really needed my cup. It was after 5PM when I brew it, and I’m still enjoying it now, after 6PM.

When we stayed in Nazareth for a few days, I was amazed to see children drinking coffee every morning. They were full of energy anyway, but that didn’t seem to bother the adults. ( I recall that their specific coffee is strong and has a fragrance of pine.)

I saw mom making her first coffee when I was a teenager. I knew that was coffee, but I had never tasted it. I’ve always associated its aroma with the cigarette smoke. Mom got her bag of ground coffee from the Communist store, where they kept it in small containers when they had it, mixed with ground chickpeas. I found out that mom’s dear boss, a lovely German lady, shared some cups of coffee with my mom during their work break and mother kinda got used to it. I recall that she invited me to try a sip. I tried it, but I didn’t like it.

If I’m correct, I had my first coffee with my mother-in-law. Her son and I were newly weds and we lived with my in-laws for a few years. We had the entire second floor for ourselves, with a common entrance and a common interior staircase. When my mother-in-law made coffee, the strong scent invaded the second floor. She started to make one for me everyday. But what was special was this: because original coffee was impossible to find ( it was always mixed with chickpeas), some small merchants who had the right to travel to former Yugoslavia, started to bring instant coffee and sell it on the black market. I can’t forget it, “Amigo” instant coffee.

Making a cup of instant coffee was art.
You put a full teaspoon of the granules in your cup, add the same amount of sugar and 3-4 drops of water. You start working it, mixing it with the spoon until it comes out like a foam. Then you add hot water.
It took maybe 10-20 minutes to finish the process, time when we were around the table in the courtyard under the cherry tree and sharing about our day. I liked drinking my coffee, but much, much more I enjoyed the company of my family and friends.

After many years, when I had my own children and we lived in a flat, I used to send one of my children to the store to buy a few sachets with instant coffee for the week. I can’t forget what I said to my oldest son when he was about 8 years old:
“When I will get old, you will come to visit me and we’ll have a coffee together.” Because coffee is not only a hot drink, but a promise of a sweet relationship, a dear fellowship with family members and friends.

Pepper and the Man with the Shack – chapter book

If your children like adventures, you can get the story here. http://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Man-Shack-Series-Volume/dp/1493516396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382977087&sr=8-1&keywords=Pepper+and+the+man+with+the+Shack

Cover Pepper 2

Pepper and the Man with the Shack


Children’s Picture Book on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Down-Chimney-Penguin-Rodica-Iova/dp/1492879606/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382320653&sr=1-1&keywords=down+the+chimney+penguin+joeimage (1)

Our Backyard Like a Jungle

Pepper the dog here-
I took a walk in our backyard today – it was cool enough to breath without the oxygen mask on this time of September. Actually, I am mean: I always can breath out there because the ocean breeze keeps us comfortable, but why not complain about things? Whatever!
So, I strolled the backyard with trees and high bushes and I thought : this was like a jungle. You can get caught by living plants crawling on your legs. It didn’t happen to me.
I saw a snail and didn’t turn it over this time. Its life was miserable enough.
Then I found a button: it was made of golden metal. I took it in the house to surprise mom for Mother’s Day next year. Then I went in the backyard again to find more treasures, but I got lost.
If you see mom tell her I’m still there. And she can bring me a pack of bacon.
In the shade.
Because our backyard is like a jungle.