Check This Out

KnightsI have been elected to the Board of Directors of the US Blind Chess Association. I am officially out of my comfort zone and into something unlike anything I have ever done before.


In Memory of My Mother

In loving memory of my mother

Ruth Weiss

June 7, 1920 – April 21, 2018

Yesterday was my mother’s funeral. It took 3 hours and 20 minutes for me to get to my mother’s funeral in central  New Jersey, a trip that took us through a Thursday morning New York City rush hour and stuck behind a disabled train which then forced us to reroute by first traveling in the opposite direction.  But we got there. We got there just in the nick of time.

Rabbi Bill Kraus officiated. He spent over 30 minutes on the phone with me just days ago collecting information about the grandchildren and great grandchildren. I spelled every name, describing each and every grandchild, great grandchild, and their spouses, and shared memories of my mother. He took copious notes, commenting, questioning, even  sharing his own thoughts as we chatted. He brought none of those notes with him to the funeral. He mentioned not even one of us by name, and even called my mother Rose.

For reasons I will never understand, there was no obituary prepared on my mother’s behalf, nor on behalf of her family. So I am writing that obituary here, now.

My mother was a loving woman. There were good times and bad, hard times and joyous times. She grew up through the depression, married Leonard Finkelstein at age 22 and met the challenges of life and young motherhood while my father served in the Philippines in World War II. She had three children, Sidney, who sadly preceded her in death on Thanksgiving Day in 2004, Renee, and Vivian. With the family established and the children no longer needing her full time, she entered the work force, first for the New York City Department of Health and then for the New York City Board of Education. She remarried Barney Weiss in 1975, an elementary school principal whom she met through her work.

Mom loved to paint. She enjoyed art classes and working with oil paints. Mostly she painted landscapes, one of her first of Lake George from a trip to upstate New York. She painted a number of still life paintings including the white chrysanthemums that hangs proudly on my kitchen wall today. Her last painting was her first (and only) portrait of a nude woman stretched out seductively on a couch. She enjoyed that one in particular and it hung in her bedroom for many years.

Mom loved knitting, crochet, and needlepoint. She liked to relax in the evenings with her needlework while she watched TV. I still have a black and white knitted sweater she made for herself that she later passed on to me. Her mother taught her crochet and Mom later taught me to crochet when I was young, maybe 8 or 9, and I continue to crochet today. I sure wish I had even one of those intricate doilies Grandma Goldie had made years before I was born.

My brother was the family spokesman. He toasted our mother and her new husband at the celebration of their marriage, he spoke at family gatherings. He was a shy guy with a big heart that he tried to keep hidden but couldn’t. Sid had a daughter Susan who married Ken Brening, and Susan has three boys of her own – Michael, Caleb, and Noah – all grown up now.

I married Charlie Braverman just a few months after Mom married Barney. We have 2 fabulous children, Melissa and Ken. Melissa, married to Zeb Lamp, has two beautiful daughters, Emilia and Sidrah. Emilia and Sidrah got to visit with Great Grandma Ruth a few months ago by Skype. They live in Glyndon, Minnesota. Ken married Tiffany Benson and they have three boys – Porter, Tanner, and Cooper. Cooper is the newest addition to the family. Great Grandma Ruth got to visit with them also by Skype just a few months ago. She even got to meet tiny Cooper. Ken and his family live in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

My mother’s youngest child Vivian married her high school sweetheart Gary Levine. They have four children – Jodi, Brian, Adam, and Randy. Jodi is married to Adam Rieger and they have two children Naomi and Nathan. Jodi and her family attended the funeral yesterday.

Mom is also survived by nieces, nephews, cousins, and even her best friend, her sister Martha, who today, at 102, lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

I held my mother yesterday for the last time. She will remain in my heart and my memories.  I know she will visit me often when I see her face in the faces of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, when memories, fleeting as they may be, wash over me. Mom, I know you are with me every moment of every day. I love you Mom.

*****          *****          *****          *****          *****          *****          *****

The Things Grandma Has Wrapped Around Me

by Melissa Lamp

A knitted purple and black sweater that used to be too big and now almost still fits;

A painting of my mother on the beach when she was not yet a mother on the beach;

A zig zag crocheted blanket in 1970s colors that still warms me on so many cold nights;

A charcoal sketch of my mother when she first became my mother, loving her baby the way my mother’s mother loved her;

A potato blintzes cooking demonstration, so complicated that it could never be repeated on my own;

A towel, when I came back from fishing with Grandpa and had fallen into the pond face-first;

A nursery song about trees in holes, and holes in the ground, and the green grass growing all around, all around;

Stories from the past, that created our shared history;

Her laughter — and the tears from her laughter — that filled our house at every visit, a sound synonymous with comfort, connection, and love;

Her arms;

Her love.

001 Cover

The Leaker

Wabbitat ICON 2016-smallAnother day, another leak. This one under the kitchen sink. So we texted the super who turns out to be “on vacation.” Thirty minutes later, Miguel (not the super) knocked on our door, ready to fix the leak.

Today’s plumber carriers no toolbox. No need. He has a cell phone. With that,he can do anything. His phone has flashlight and all the information at hand. He found the source of the leak, headed over to the hardware store 3 short blocks away, and within half an hour the 80-year-old cracked pipe was replaced. Total charge: $38.22, including parts and labor.

My only surprise – how come his iPhone didn’t have a built-in 3D printer to instantly create the necessary part and then have Siri complete the installation!

So disappointed.

Plumber Assist


Wabbitat ICON 2016-small

Bert New Toy 1

That’s Bert. He is playing with his favorite new toy. Not what you’re thinking! It’s a piece of twisted wire he retrieved from the garbage yesterday.

Bert New Toy 2


Discover Me

Wabbitat ICON 2016-smallWe moved here just a year and a half ago. I thought it was Queens, an outer borough of New York City. I think it is really Hollywood.

A few months ago, the TV series Blue Bloods did a shoot on our street. Right in front of our building! (See Through My Window for details.) Today we came upon this:


That’s right – an episode of The Good Fight is being shot right here, right now! This is just 2 short blocks from our home.


Dressing Rooms

I wonder if they were hoping for a gloomy, rainy, foggy day in New York, because that is what they got! (Unseasonably mild temperatures though.)


 *Waving*   Here I am, Hollywood!

Roll Over George Carlin

Wabbitat ICON 2016-small

The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

The forbidden words are:

  • vulnerable
  • entitlement
  • diversity
  • transgender
  • fetus
  • evidence-based
  • science-based

These are not the first words to be banned. As George Carlin had famously demonstrated, the entertainment industry has long maintained its list of 7 forbidden words.

I suspect there are more forbidden words to come.

The next group of 7 banned words may include:

  • abuse
  • harrassment
  • pollution
  • collusion
  • Puerto Rico
  • moron
  • dotard


Migration? Time Travel?

Wabbitat ICON 2016-small


On our walk today –



Up! Up in the sky. It’s a bird – LOTS of birds…in just one leafless tree.



A closer look

And on the next block

TV Antenna 2

Only the daughter of the TV Man would notice that rooftop TV antenna.