My friend, Janice Kaplan Carno is no stranger; I’ve introduced her to you before. One of her daughters was sorting through boxes of photographs and forwarded this picture of five beauties of the fifties. 

Although I don’t remember posing for this picture, I realize that it’s a few members of our house plan, taken during our sophomore or junior year at Hunter College, N.Y.C. The varieties of house plans were looser alternatives to sororities, organized for socialization. As members of a house plan we received invitations to events throughout the city and surrounding areas. Janie had invited me to join the house plan that she founded. In the picture, Janie is the cute one on the far left and I am standing next to her. I recognize one other woman in the photo. I’m second from the left, next to Janie.

I can’t imagine that we posed for a photo where we were all smoking. I guess we thought we looked so “sharp” and sophisticated, imitating movie stars smoking in the films. We didn’t realize that showing smoking on the screen were advertisements for the tobacco industry. It’s really amazing that pictures produced today tell a story without having the characters smoke. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a week, in the company of others and never while eating. I remember casually mentioning to my mother that all of my friends were smoking. She said that if I felt better smoking I shouldn’t spend money on cigarettes and gave me a pack from the carton that my father kept on hand. When I went on dates, it was assumed a date would buy you a pack of cigarettes. Things have changed.

We can laugh at the smoking, but the photo is a priceless memento, reminding me not only of our college years, but also of the enduring friendship that Janie’s family and my family share.





High Tide

About two weeks ago, Marty and I were invited to attend a memorial service for our friend, John, and witness his ashes being scattered in Long Island Sound. About fifty close friends and relatives arrived at the home of the deceased around 3:30 p.m. so that we could be at the beach at high tide, around 4:00.

People wrapped themselves in coats and scarves, in anticipation of cold winds coming off the sound, and we walked a short distance to the beach from the home.

It was a cool fall afternoon without other beach lovers in the vicinity. The children in the group didn’t hesitate to splash in the water and draw figures in the sand.

John’s son, Christian, donned a pair of short pants and carried a large plastic bag containing his father’s ashes. John was a big man and there were seven pounds of ashes. Christian spoke briefly about his Dad, and about how he always waited for the tide to be high to enjoy a swim. There were tears in his voice as well as in his eyes.

Christian waded into the sound just above his knees. We watched as he fed the voracious waves small amounts of his father’s remains until they were all devoured. A very emotional experience!

Even without the accoutrements of a formal funeral, saying good-bye to a parent is traumatic. You become part of the older generation when your parent is gone. Every family must choose the form of closure that is right for them. Yet by disbursing the ashes of a loved one, you in effect, return the person to nature.

We quietly walked back to the house. A gracious reception awaited us.


Lunching in the Yurt

In 2002, we branched out from poultry husbandry. We were invited by Winrock International, another arm of Aid to International Development, (AID), to consult with members of the “Sheep Breeding / Marketing Cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia.

Aid to International Development, originally “The Four Point Program”, also known as the “Food for Peace Program”, was intended for the U.S. to share it’s “know-how” and help nations develop with technical assistance, especially in agriculture. It was the “fourth” foreign policy objective presented by President Harry S. Truman, in his inaugural address, January 20,1949.

Between June 12 and June 29, 2002, we met with 64 sheep farmers, including five women at four seminars in Osh, formerly part of the old Silk Route, and the Kadamzhay, Alay, and AlaBucka regions. The sheep breeding cooperatives were growing. My husband, Marty, and his family, were among the farmers who established the Central Connecticut Feed Cooperative in Manchester, Connecticut. During the years that we were participants the Coop produced excellent feed and provided other services to the farmers, enabling the members to maximize their profits.

On one occasion, we were invited to a seminar, with lunch following, held in a “Yurt”, not far from Osh. Yurts, prevalent throughout Central Asia, are large round tents covered in animal skins. This yurt was furnished lavishly with beautiful carpets and cushions. I didn’t see other yurts, tents or buildings on the premises. This yurt could not have been a home to all of the families present, but probably housed the family that managed the site. There were cars and pickup trucks. The children were in jeans, tee shirts, sandals or sneakers. The men wore casual western clothes and some men had, cone- shaped, beautifully embroidered woolen hats, peculiar to Kyrgyzstan. The women, according to tradition, were attired in long skirts, and usually had their heads covered. Horses and sheep wandered freely; the mares were fitted with wooden aprons to prevent them from mating while they were lactating. We didn’t try mare’s milk, but were told that fermented mare’s milk was popular amongst the people of Kyrgyzstan, and was available in the market.

We noticed a tree with a dressed lamb hanging on one of the branches, and were informed that this would be our lunch.

During the seminar we were served hot tea, soft drinks and flat bread. There was a dish with something that looked like crushed pineapple, from where I was sitting. I was told that it was butter   made from mare’s milk. I remembered that was how my grandmother’s butter looked right from the churn, before being pressed into blocks.

After the seminar, Marty and I walked around. The lamb was being cooked in a large kettle of boiling water over an open fire. Some of the women were having their lunch in a shed, under a tarp, and asked me to join them. I excused myself, saying that I would have my lunch with the rest of our party so I could take notes for our report. The children were drinking the mare’s milk, which looked like cow’s milk, from bowls.

The word was out that lunch was ready. Marty and I used the “facilities”, and washed our hands in the creek. Before entering the yurt, one of the hosts handed us a towel to dry our hands; the same towel used by each of the participants.

The people in the area sat with crossed legs on the floor, but we were provided with a table and chairs. Each person was given a plate with a beautifully carved chop, a piece of liver, and a slice of meat from a larger cut, which we would use for roasts or stews. The meat was tender and tasty, but like any plain boiled meat, could have used a little horseradish for some zip. The fresh tomatoes and cucumbers that accompanied the lamb were delicious, and we didn’t peel the vegetables or ask how they were washed. After lunch we were joined by several women and enjoyed a lively party.

We offered the guidelines of the Central Connecticut Cooperative to the members of the sheep growing/marketing cooperatives in hope that these suggestions would help the cooperatives expand aid to their farmers.




Dan, the Man from Thermopolis

If you are motoring to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, in all probability you’ll stop in Thermopolis, a small town, southeast of  the park, for a swim or soak, in the ”World’s Largest Hot Springs,” located in Hot Springs State Park,  where there are two privately owned thermal facilities. We have been visiting Thermopolis for about twenty years, and enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool, where the water is approximately 94 degrees. In the cold of winter, it’s fun to duck in the hot water to get the icicles out of our hair.

It’s hard not to notice Dan Moriarty, part owner and manager, of the Teepee Pools, the facility we prefer.  Dan is not particularly attractive. He’s overweight with a grey beard. He was a former alcoholic and suffered many illnesses. Managing the pool requires knowledge, and is labor intensive. Dan and his crew are out in all kinds of weather to assure that the equipment is functioning. This fall, the roof of the Teepee Pools suffered damage from hurricanes and can’t be repaired until spring. Meanwhile, Dan has been conferring with contractors, state officials, and his partners, about replacing the roof. They decided on using brick red metal paneling that will be both attractive and able to withstand rough weather.

Dan had the habit of greeting us with brash “can you top this” remarks. I wasn’t offended. I’ve known people with harsh demeanors who were good -natured. It is my observation that the bravado is only a mask for a person’s insecurity. Marty and I are fond of Dan. We enjoy getting together for lunch or dinner. He’s intelligent, and is not reluctant to talk about politics. We’ve exchanged many heated discussions. Who else, but Dan, would keep us up to date on the news and gossip of Thermopolis? We can also depend upon Dan for information about good restaurants.

In the locker room at the pool, I overheard some women describing Dan as a womanizer, and disrespectful of the opposite sex. I have the impression that he is the first person a woman, or anybody, would turn to when help was needed. He has often been accompanied by a date, when we went out, and was always considerate. We recently met Dan at a restaurant with several women. He was with the local women’s basketball team and had treated them all to dinner!

Dan would discuss some of the problems caused by customers. There are those who don’t watch their children. There are others who bring small children into the hot tubs, ignoring signs prohibiting children under 14 from using the tubs, citing serious health risks.

One of the most bizarre stories, Dan told, is of George, an older man whom we knew. When he passed away, his wife approached Dan about having a special funeral at the pool, because George loved swimming and spent part of every day there. She suggested bringing George to the pool in his bathing suit, after nine in the evening when the pool is closed. Dan bellowed, ”NO WAY.” We can always count on Dan to entertain us with his stories.


Bolivia Revisited with Jack and Jane

We met Jack and Jane Zeigler in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1991, at the Arenal Hotel, where we all were staying. We and the Zeiglers, were working on agricultural projects with VOCA (Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance.) Jack, the head of the Department of Food Science at Penn State University, was conducting a feasibility study on opening up a pork slaughtering plant in Santa Cruz.   Jane, the daughter of farmers, taught school and was assisting Jack. Marty and I consulted with poultry farmers, helping them to improve their skills in poultry husbandry.

We spent most of our free time with the Zeiglers, dining together, touring Santa Cruz and traveling to other areas in Bolivia. On some occasions we accompanied each other to various sites. Abraham, a farmer whom Jack and Marty visited, was extremely pleased with Marty’s suggestions. When Marty mentioned that his father’s name was Abraham, he said that he knew that Marty was sent by G-d.  When we noticed a group of school children playing soccer with a beat up ball, we scoured all of Santa Cruz for a new soccer ball, which delighted the children.

The Zeiglers invited us one weekend to visit a neighboring community, Samaipata, and look up an Austrian sculptress whom they heard about.  We trekked across the hot desert to find her home.  unnamed-2unnamed-4 I purchased a small piece of pottery and they bought a terra cotta figurine of a mythical female character. Since this was an intricate piece, they were worried about getting it home without breaking it. I suggested wrapping the “Lady” in their underwear.

Jack & the sculptress

Jack & the sculptress

When we stopped for coffee in Samaipata, someone brought the proprietor of the restaurant a bag of apples. She suggested that we return in a couple of hours for freshly baked strudel. We accepted her invitation and happily devoured her delicious strudel.  Jane was cautious about eating only foods that were cooked or could be peeled. She’d order bottled water “san hielo”, without ice, and no familiar with the restaurants in  Samaipata, stuck to their own rations of  bananas and granola bars.

One evening we treated ourselves to steak at a prestigious restaurant in Santa Cruz. The salad was mouth watering and Marty proclaimed that he was going to eat that salad even if we didn’t. We all ate the salad. The four of us enjoyed onion soup and banana crepes flambeau, at a French bistro in Santa Cruz.

Jack and Jane were very closely involved with their family, and in the community where they lived, and with their church. They were both extremely gracious hosts, when we visited them at their home in State College, Pennsylvania. Both had excellent culinary skills. Jack surprised us with creative breakfasts and Jane cooked everything else.

We’ve been in close contact, but it had  been quite a while since we were able to get together. When we visited them this January, Jack showed us the changes in State College. He is still involved in Food Science studies at Penn State University. Jack told us that with globalization and with food coming from all over the globe, much of the work that Penn State is doing is in analysis of imported foods.

Now Jane seemed to be almost completely dependent on Jack. She probably didn’t remember us. I so wanted to show her the beautiful hand knit alpaca sweater I wore that that I  had bought when we were all together in Santa Cruz.  unnamed-1

A Day Trip to LaJungus, Bolivia, 1970

In January 1970, my husband Martin was invited to counsel Peruvian and Bolivian farmers in poultry husbandry for the International Executives Service Corp. (IESC). He worked with William Hannan, an English farmer with poultry operations throughout Latin America. Hannan was the regional distributor for Highline Hatcheries and provided extension services in poultry raising for his clients.  Although provisions were made for me to accompany my husband, my children were quite young and it was difficult to have someone stay with them for about two months, the length of the assignment. I was able to join Marty for ten, exciting days.


On one memorable occasion, six of us were scheduled to visit farmers, in LaJungus, the jungle, in the most southernly region of Bolivia. Our group included Hannan, Kevin McCauliffe, a former Peace Corp Volunteer and assistant to Hannan, Dr. Tao, the veterinarian, Carlos, our driver, Marty and me.  We had flown from Lima, Peru, to LaPaz the night before, and began our trip to LaJungus, at daybreak, in an International, double cab pickup truck. LaPaz nests among mountains with the highest elevations in Bolivia, (13,500ft.) and it is common for travelers to get “sirochi” or altitude sickness in that area.  While the hotel provided oxygen to help the guests cope with sirochi, there was none available in the car and we were all affected in some way, with either headache, nausea, or vomiting. As the only woman in the group, I experienced “sirochi” in a way no man could. I got  my period, completely off schedule  and was hemorrhaging, profusely. I had anticipated traveling through areas with extreme climates in the course of one day. When we left LaPaz, it was quite cold, and I wore a black quilted raincoat over white silk pants, and kept the raincoat on for a good part of the day, even when we were in warm areas. I was determined not to let my discomfort and embarrassment prevent me from enjoying the culture and scenery observed.

Herds of llama and alpaca grazed throughout the Andes. We saw trucks carrying crates of bananas from the tropics. The workers, people of all ages and possibly from the same family, sat on top of the crates. On the way back we noticed trucks carrying supplies to the jungle, with the workers, again, perched on top of the cargo. We stopped at a mountain village and saw people squatting close together, chewing on cocoa leaves and drinking cocoa tea. The cocaine in the cocoa numbed the peoples’ senses making them both immune to the cold and to pangs of hunger. I tried the cocoa tea but it didn’t seem to have any effect on me.

The Andes are known for avalanches. Think of any mountain pass and imagine any of these passes with shear drops and no guard rails or warnings. This is what we encountered on our route to LaJungus. We got out of the truck and walked around. My husband who is not phlegmatic by nature, was exceptionally calm; while I was wondering if I would ever see my children again. Out of nowhere, people appeared with shovels, and dug our truck out of the avalanche. Carlos, our driver, took off his coat , climbed into the cab of the truck and announced that we were “Ready for Oction”.  We all climbed into our seats and were on our way to LaJungus.

It was hot in the jungle of LaJungus and I was still wearing my black raincoat. We tried to locate the party who would meet us and learned that he was in Caroica, several miles away. While we were having lunch we met a young Diocenes priest from the U.S., dressed in hiking boots, jeans and a plaid shirt. After hearing about our escapades, he casually remarked “Oh, we lose a few each month over those mountains.”  It was still early in the day and we decided that if we got some rest we could make it to Caroica that afternoon. The five guys and I entered a hotel, and Marty told the desk clerk that the “Senora would like a room.” I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. We did get three rooms though, and Marty and I were able to shower and nap.

Caroica is a town in the mountains, known for coffee production, and the  aroma of the roasting coffee embraced the entire community.  Our hotel was previously a school or a monastery. Again, we were in a climate with cool weather. I was in long pants, shoes and socks and a beautiful handknit alpacca poncho. The women in Caroica, wore Derby hats, full skirts and were barefoot as they carried their babies in blankets on their backs. To this day, when I smell roasting coffee, I’m reminded of Caroica.

Janie: Lifelong Friend

I was a freshman at Hunter College for only a few days when I met Janice Kaplan, who called herself Janie. We became lifelong friends.  Janie, an energetic young woman, invited me to join a houseplan with her, and a few others. The houseplan was a rather informal alternative to belonging to a sorority. I don’t remember the “Greeks” having much influence at Hunter, since there was no on campus housing and most of the students commuted.

The houseplan provided a sense of community. Hunter was a women’s school at that time with the exception of a few veterans. The members of the house plans received invitations to functions throughout New York City and beyond, and participated in stimulating intercollegiate activities.

Our house plan, “KUNER 52” was named after a teacher whom I never met. I tended to be friendlier with the members who were from Brooklyn, where I lived, rather than those from the Bronx. After a while I met more of my friends through my classes. I have to admit that Janie was a more serious houseplan member than I was. She has a way of keeping old friends and keeping friends together. I still meet former acquaintances when I visit her.

One summer my wonderful, whacky friend and I were intrigued with the idea of taking a Youth Hostel bike trip through Cape Cod. Since we still had classes we couldn’t start on schedule, but were told that we’d be able to catch up with the group if we left a day or two later.   We started our trip from Provincetown, where we rented our bikes. On the first day we biked to Truro and got as far as Eastham on the second day. It didn’t take us long to realize that we couldn’t meet the rest of the group. We rented a small house between Truro and Provincetown and toured the area for a couple of days.  We spent the last day of our trip in Provincetown, so we returned the bikes and got a room at an inn.  A few of the guests, classmates from Hunter, were decked out in trendy resort wear. My “dress outfit” was a denim skirt with saddle oxfords and “bobbie socks.”

Janie and I might not have been lifelong friends if our families didn’t meld. Her husband, Irving, a physician, and my husband Marty, got along well. We attended each other’s weddings and visited often—they’d come to our farm and we’d travel to New Jersey.  Our children, four in each family, of similar ages, had great times together. The Carno children remember collecting eggs at our farm. The Klein children recall the long Passover Seders at the Carnos.

Irving passed away a year ago; we recently attended the unveiling. It was a nice chance to see Janie and her family and reminisce about a lovely friendship.

Janie, left and me. We were invited to dinner and we had blind dates. We had a lovely time but never saw those men again.

Janie, left and me. We were invited to dinner and we had blind dates. We had a lovely time but never saw those men again.