♦ The Life Force Persists

Dear Shaina,
I am deeply saddened by all that has been and is going on in Israel. I am saddened by all the losses, the terror, and the inevitable fear experienced by all who must endure the fallout of extremism. I am mostly saddened that we, as human beings, can’t simply agree to keep our children safe. I believe that is what we all want.

Despite the state of the the world, the individual life force persists. We go to sleep each night (sometimes not so easily), get up each morning, put one foot in front of the other and chop more vegetables to satisfy our ever renewed need for food and drink. Although chopping vegetables may not be enough, it’s goes a long way toward nurturing the life force…and that’s no small thing.

.4th of July Picnic at the Park


We just celebrated Independence Day for America, a holiday that celebrates individual and political freedoms guaranteed for all. There are many in this country, still, that would claim that this dream has not yet been fulfilled for everyone. It seems so simple and logical…equality and freedom…wouldn’t we all be better off? Yet we somehow insist on playing the top-dog/bottom-dog game; scratching our way, desperately, violently, inhumanely, to maintain this skewed balance. I am most saddened because I see no way out. We have always counted on the next generation to have a clearer vision. That is my prayer for you as you continue on your life’s journey.

This year we celebrated the Fourth of July downtown at Railroad Park amidst a diverse Birmingham crowd listening to a Smooth jazz concert. It was Birmingham at its best! It had a City Stages feel, but a lot more relaxed and spacious as we stretched out on the open grassy hill facing the stage. Trains rolled by slowly as the sun set painting the city skyscape a rainbow of orange and magenta hues. Even the food turned out pretty good. This may be the beginning of a new Fourth of July tradition.

Sunday afternoon I left for a girl’s spend-the-night at the lake to play mahjong. I am glad to hear that you had a little mahjong exposure over the weekend with your cousins. I can’t think of a better pastime for Israelis. Mahjong is the perfect distraction for this overanxious mom. I need all my brain cells to play and have no room for intrusive worry thoughts.

Shaina, this is your last five weeks in Israel before your brief stop in Birmingham on your way to the next chapter of your life. Our home, like yours, is in a state of transitional disorder. Although not always comfortable, it does force you to experience new edges. For us, it means sifting through and throwing out and making choices about what is important and meaningful in our lives. I guess that’s a process that never changes no matter how old you get.

I hope your remaining weeks in Israel hold some moments of peace and that this year leaves you with many rich memories. Most of all, I pray for your safety and welfare and your safe return home. I may be scheduling lots of mahjong games over the next few weeks to distract me from my worrying mind.

French Tarragon From Dad's Garden

French Tarragon From Dad’s Garden



Fourth of July Fare

 Easy Tarragon Potato Salad


  • 3 lbs small red potatoes
  • 4 scallions or 1/3 cup purple onions, sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted calamata olives, halved


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice and zest of one fresh lemon
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of fresh French tarragon (finely chopped) or 1tablespoon of dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste


Boil potatoes in salted water until just done. Cool under cold water.
The potato skins may be left on or peeled off. When potatoes are cooled cut in bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
Cut up scallions into quarter inch slices and add to the potatoes.
Slice the olives in half and add to the potatoes and onions.
Place mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in lemon juice, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Blend thoroughly.
Pour mayonnaise mixture over potato mixture and mix until potatoes are covered. Adjust seasonings.
Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
This dish tastes even better the next day.


Easy Bok Choy Slaw


  • 1 pound of baby bok choy, cut up in thin slices
  • 4 carrots, grated or shredded
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds


  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce
  • Juice and zest of one fresh lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place sliced bok choy, grated carrots and cut up scallions in a large bowl.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.
Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss until all vegetables are covered.
Adjust seasonings. Top with toasted sesame seeds.

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