Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Fairy Tale Wedding

Have you never been to a wedding in Italy, in a castle? Not a destination wedding, but one where the couple is Italian and the bride grew up in castle. Sounds Like a fairy tale, right.) If the answer is yes, you were probably at the same wedding we were. If the answer is no, you have missed quite a treat. It was not quite a Fellini movie but it is the closest we will ever come. With that in mind, the drama unfolds. Certainly well worth a blob and pictures from the unofficial photographer, (there was an official photographer, but he was not as cute.) The wedding was called for 5:30. The couple wanted everyone in the church so the ceremony would begin promptly at 6. David started to shoot intimate family photos at 5:00 and the getting ready was progressing as planned. Some of us, who were feeling a bit in the way, went to the church to reserve seats. Did I mention that the Priest is in the throws of full blown dementia? We'll get back to that.

There were about 200 guests in the church, which was tastefully decorated with a ruby red carpet and delicate bouquets of white lilies on every other pew. The church is in the middle of the small village of San Casciano dei Bagni, where everyone knows who belongs there. So even if you didn't get an invitation you were welcome to come to the ceremony, or be part of the crowd that, much like a Felini movie, acts as participating observers. The Catholic ceremony was much longer than it should have been because the Priest lost his place any number of times. The lapses seemed to be expected.

They provided adequate time for people to chat and catch up on the latest news. A not unimportant exercise in Italy. In fact by the time the ceremony ended, everyone under 30 was gone -- including the bride’s mother. She didn't leave entirely, but she did go outside to organize the throwing of the rose petals. And much to everyone's surprise, the ceremony ended, the rose petals were thrown, and the happy couple led a parade through the village, (kissing local friends along the way), into the garden of the castle where there were 50 tables elaborately set on the tennis court, right next to the swimming pool. My favorite thing about the wedding was the overwhelming generosity with which the hosts treated the guests. For example, instead of asking for a glass of wine, the guest just took a bottle with the number of glasses they needed. There was an appetizer course (sausage, cheeses, tomatoes, wood oven baked pizza bread, rice, and fruit frito misto), after the first selection of treats, which was passed on trays, there were two pastas and a number of other vegetables served. It was about 11 before Feda announced the steak break, and 1 in the morning before the wedding cake (3 giant layers of napoleon), was cut. There was dancing til dawn. A DJ/karaoke Entertainer who amazingly sang for four hours without a break. And with whom the guests could sing. And much love and goodwill. We made our way home at 1:30, happy exhausted and very well fed. More drama unfolding tomorrow.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Other Than Newburgh...

Other than Newburgh, NY…… San Casciano de Bagni might be my favorite place in the whole world. Yes I love Pienza with a passion that cannot be explained, but that can be attributed to the Romeo and Juliet thing. In San Cash, as we refer to it, we have amazing friends, two of whom own the most delightful B&B in Tuscany, or Umbria. And the others live in a castle (not a pretentious castle), have their own swimming pool with healing mineral waters, and are the sweetest people imaginable. But I'll get back to that. First I want to finish the trip saga --which you already know, has a happy ending. But can you believe that Delta Airlines will no longer fly Jewish passengers (or anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport or anyone who has a religious symbol that is not moslem related -- I assume that's a cross), to Saudi Arabia. Not that we know anyone who would want to go there, but it should be fascinating to see how our government responds to the outrageous agreement by Delta to comply. But that's not what I wanted to blob about.

It was neglectful of me not to mention the people on the plane who were seated near us. You know how when you are sitting in the waiting area, before you board the plane, you see a family where the adults have no control over the children and you think, Geez, I hope they are not sitting near us. It would be torture to have to deal with that for seven and a half hours. Well, did we get lucky. The children and their Nanny sat near us. The parents, grandparents, and friends sat in First Class. The children were incredibly well behaved unless a member of their family came to make sure things were OK. Not that they would have given up their seat for the Nanny (who was a grown-up), but just to pose for people on the plane. And pose they did. In fact, the father unfortunately posed too long when we were about to land, and the other child, she must have been at least four, cried, screamed and carried on so, that he was forced (he did it with such reluctance), to sit with her on his lap while we landed. The Flight attendants were not too happy about this but it was the better of the choices they needed to make. It never occurred to him to just switch places and send the Nanny to First. I guess she must have had cooties.

Anyway, AS LONG AS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT LANDING (oops I forgot I didn't have to yell). The pilot, as this pilot often did, announced our progress and asked people to take their seats. It was late and Pisa is a small airport so he wanted to be certain we had a gate. The majority of people respected his request. But their are always that few, who think the rules are for everyone else. In desperation, one of the Flight Attendants had to slap a guy on the hand who was still fooling with his suitcase and she pointed and shouted at someone else who refused to sit down and shut up. We landed.

We went through customs and went to find our bags. David went to get the rental car and I said I would collect the luggage we had checked. We were among the first people to clear customs so when I got to baggage there were very few passengers waiting with me. But soon enough there were hundreds, among whom were the grandparents of the children who sat near us. The grandmother had the 4 year old, in a carriage, turned so it and she blocked a good portion of the conveyor belt. When we saw our bags passing by for the third time, and the carriage and kid and grandma prevented access, we suggested she move the baby back a bit. Her face was such that I expected a, "Do you know who I am?" And at almost the same time, one of their other traveling companions, came running over to tell Grandma that they had all been searching for her and were very upset that she had disappeared without announcing her intentions to take the baby and block everyone who was trying to retrieve their bags. Which the poser/father had already done.
DB and the "Crocetta cats"
I managed to identify David's black roller bag, which looked exactly like every other black roller bag on the belt, except everyone else had some way to identify, their bag-- a ribbon, a stamp- and David didn't. So I simply looked for the one without any special marking. As it turned out, we had to take another shuttle to the rent-a-car building, but we didn't have to wait 45 minutes.
at the pool...
We arrived in San Cash yesterday, to many joyful reunions. But today we were reminded of all our friends and family with whom we have shared this always memorable experience. A big hug to -- in chronological order, Jordan Kai, Joyce K, Doug W, David F, Melanie O, Joe and Marthena C, Birra Billy and Cathy, Patrick and Timothy and Pablo B, Joe O, and certainly not to be forgotten Soozy M. We're Just Sayin’…. Iris
a breakfast worth waking for

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

45 Minute Increments...

We arrived at the airport – JFK - Terminal 2 Delta airlines, at 7pm. The plane was on the board for 9:15. There was a lovely receiving line of employees and very few passengers. We had followed instructions to Terminal 2 as was marked on our boarding passes, but quickly discovered we were actually leaving from Terminal 4 -- which we were told was quite a distance and we would have to take a shuttle bus from gate 19. It was early and we were so amused by the short lines at check-in and security that we went to the Delta Club -- in Terminal 2. The club in terminal 4 is outside security and that was logistically impossible.

The club was crowded and without any character. We decided the boarding area had
to be better. We were wrong. As soon as we sat down and got comfortable they announced that the shuttle was leaving and we should get ready to board. Which was also not true. It was 45 minutes before we boarded, and after we reached the plane, which was on the Tarmac and not at a gate, we waited another 45 minutes to get off the bus, and climb the stairs. Yes steep stairs in the middle of the Tarmac. But this was only the

We waited another 45 minutes until we left the middle of the Tarmac to get in
line to take off. Intermittently, the pilot apologized because it was so hot on
the plane. Duh... A sign that more problems were on the way perhaps. It was at
least another 45 with the plane just idling in line when the pilot came back
on to say, the problem with the air-conditioning was related to the air
circulation, and we would proceed back to the gate. 45 minutes later the pilot
announced that we would need to change planes. I threw up. I have never done
that on a plane but I just let it rip. The bad news was that there was no vomit
bag. The good news was that we were changing planes.

We were told to proceed to gate number 6. We had arrived at gate 4. 300 of us
proceeded to gate 4 waited about, you guessed it, 45 minutes and were told that
there was yet another gate change and now we needed to go to gate 5, which was
closer to the aircraft. I have no idea what that meant. Anyway, lucky us, we
were offered a $6 voucher for complimentary food service, but only grunion
donuts was opened. For $6 you could almost get coffee and a donut (it is the
airport, after all).

Once again, Intermittent announcements told us first that the new plane was at
the gate, that the new plane was clean, that all the bags and the catering would
have to be transferred, and that the flight was delayed, about another 45 minutes.

Not to be deterred, I ate a donut, had some coffee and perhaps, said a prayer.
Is Italy worth all this trouble. I think it is but i'll let you know in 45 minutes.

We’re just sayin’…Iris

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feet Together, Knees Apart -- Wide

On Memorial day weekend. Sarah Palin stormed into DC on the back of a Harley, with Rolling Thunder -- the motorcycle tribute for troops who were killed in a war. Just FYI, she could still be heard above the roar of the cycles, but no one cared what she said. It was a Sarah, get over yourself, moment. But that’s not what I wanted to blob about.

This is a question that needs to be pondered, so don’t answer right away. When we got on the plane for Sacramento, (we’re on our way to a wedding in Sonoma), I took the window seat. My legs are short, so I am less likely to feel squished, regardless of leg room. My legs were crossed at the ankle, in order to maximize space, and I tried to get comfortable.

It was at this point (as my mother would have said, I was trying to find a place for myself), when I looked over and noticed that David was sitting with his legs apart and pretty stretched out. So I asked him, “why is it that men always have to sit with their legs like that?” He feigned ignorance, but I continued. “With their legs taking up not only their seat, but mine and the one next to them on the other side.”

He looked down, and sure enough, he saw – maybe for the first time in his entire life, that he was as spread-eagle as a person could be and still be in a sitting position. “I don’t know, maybe it’s to prevent genital compression.” He said it like ‘gential compression’ was an actual disease or syndrome.

I couldn’t stop. “This male positioning, is especially irritating, when you get on a crowded subway and there is tuchas room for three but because some guy refuses to have his knees touching, unless you leap over him, there is only leg room for two. “There’s noe much we can do about it”, he said wanting to be asleep.
“I’m not sure that’s true” I responded. “When women sit on the subway they sit with their legs crossed at the ankles or the knee. For the most part and regardless of size, they take up only the space they require. I counted today and if there are only men on one side, there is room for six. But if there are women, you can fit eight.”
“Women don’t like to be touched by strangers. They sit small because they don’t want to be touched”.
“No, they sit small because the guy next to them has his legs spread, the same distance as Pittsburgh to Chicago.”

There are many other things that men do that women find irritating, but with the invention of the GPS, not asking for directions when they are lost has gone the way of the electric typewriter. Oh, except now you have to listen to some annoying voice give you instructions that will take you the shortest route, but not necessarily the fastest. So yes, you can wind up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere hoping that someone will notice you are missing before you starve to death.

And why does that voice have to be female. Oh, you can choose the accent, but there is no choice bout gender. It is always a woman determining which way you should go, and talking to you like you are an idiot when you decide, that “she” has no idea what’s going on. “She” is, after all, merely a voice spewing directions that some guy programmed into the system without asking directions.
But probably the most outrageous manipulation is what I call the “is there any…?” beginning of a sentence, they use repeatedly. Here’s an example. A male and female are sitting at the table having lunch. The male will turn to the females and say, “Hon, is there any salt or it could be pepper, water, bread, milk, shaving cream?” Nine out of Ten times the female immediately jumps up to check. If you are a woman, you know what is wrong with this picture. If you are male, you are thinking, “Of course I’m going to ask if I don’t know?” Getting up to see for himself, is never an option.

Women are not perfect, but given the choice, if you needed something. Who would you ask that you knew you could depend on… We’re Just Sayin” Iris

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tony, Oh Tony!

So what do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Nevermind, I like to end on a happy note.

A tree fell on our house. There was a storm. A big storm. The hail was big as golf balls (and I don’t even golf.) The sky was so black it was impossible to see 2 feet in front of the car. You couldn’t pull over because you couldn’t see what you might be pulling on to. It was terrifying. Certain the car would be lifted and twirled until I was not in Kansas anymore, I shouted all my goodbyes. And then I was at Joannie’s house, and I lived. However, although we did not lose electricity, a giant branch fell in the back. It must have hit with such force that it knocked over a large photo of Jordan and broke the glass on the frame. It’s looks like the damage was minimal and the house is still adorable. That’s part of the bad news.

When the invitation came for the Tony awards and after party, the first thing I said was, “I have to call Aunt Peppy.” But she is longer able to answer the phone. And so now life begins for all of us, as orphans. My guess is that there are a whole lotta 60+ year olds who have become recently orphaned. With the death of Aunt Peppy, for me and my cousins, her passing was also the end of a generation. Now we are the senior generation – from our eldest first cousin, who is in his early 80’s, to the youngest first cousin – late 50’s, none of us will ever think of ourselves as “the kids”, anymore. On a lighter note -- (what does that mean? What can be lighter about a note?) That’s the end of the bad news and it is not what I wanted to blob about.

Imagine the sheer joy of a struggling producer, receiving an invite to the Tonys, and the After Party and an actual ticket for the ‘gift bag.’ (It’s always about the gift bag – with dreams of expensive make-up, new tech toys, trips to foreign lands, free tickets for shows). I’ll get back to the gift bag.
Big Fish Big Pond, in attendance
We arrived at the red carpet fashionably late. The doors closed at 7:20 and we arrived at 7:15. Not because we were so fashionable, but because we were having drinks and a schmooze with other insiders around the corner. My dress, (my mother’s dress), was quite smashing. Not only did other Tony guests stop me to remark about it, every server at the after party had a comment (and you know they all have a sense of style). The show was entertaining and even watchable for the first time in many years. We had good seats and were able to see everything that we were supposed to see and more. Loved that the “Book of Mormon” took so many awards but, along with Norbert Leo Butz, it would have been terrific if Donna Murphy had taken the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.
the After Party
We commandeered the second bus to the party, which was at the Plaza. There were at least two floors of tables and chairs. Twenty open bars, 25 food stations, including sushi, a raw bar, a sliders bar, grilled fish bar, grilled vegetable bar, cheese and cracker area, desserts galore and of course, like any good Bar Mitzvah, a pasta station. The selection and quality were excellent. It was a colorful scene, with Stephen Sondheim holding court in one room, Tony winners accepting congratulations in another, and theater gawkers trying to take photos with celebrities like Stephen Colbert. Everyone who is anyone in the theater, as well as a great many rich corporate executives were there – I like to think--with me.
the SouthPark Bauble Head
At the end of the evening we walked to the 5th Ave entrance, turned in our prize tkts and got the GIFT BAG. It was the only moment of disappointment during the whole event. The contents were not expensive and or elegant toys… The was a bauble head, a bar of candy, a cell phone holder and some cheap cologne. It certainly wasn’t an Emmy or an Oscar gift bag. So who cares! My first year in NY and I got invited to the Tonys. This year was just practice for the future, when we sit with the winners and accept our awards.
“Gefilte Fish the Musical” or bust! We’re just sayin’.... Iris

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Finally, a Reunion

The Reunion

Peppy: It's nice to see you too Rosie, although to tell you the truth, the 11 months was a nice break. I did miss the arguments and even the yelling, but mostly the love and laughter. Now we have an eternity to catch up. Where is everyone else?

Rosie: Moishe is waiting for you and he'll be here right after the services. Fritzie and Eddie and Sarah, Jack and Helen by the pool. You should see the pool, as big as the ocean. Milty is taking ballroom dance lessons. I think Lou and Joe are at the races - you know here they go on as long as you want. And you always win. Betty, is delegating tasks to everyone she meets. Sophie is baking. Helene is cutting coupons and Phil is painting. Mama and Papa, are just kvelling to have everyone back. You want to play cards?

Peppy: I never liked playing cards. I only did it to make you happy.

Rosie: Then you don't have to do it anymore. Here you can do anything you want. Just make a wish and poof, like that, you can do it. How was the funeral?

Peppy: Wonderful. The Rabbi was a little trouble, but the girls gave him a what for so it went without a hitch. Everyone was there. The whole family. They were all together-just like we wanted them to be. It was quite a spectacle.

Rosie: Of course. Did you think you would come here without a big send off.

Peppy: There were even six police cars and two motorcycle led the way with sirens blasting. I thought that was a nice touch. Did you have motorcycles?

Rosie: I thought the dust would aggravate my allergies. Do you think we did OK Pep. In our lives.

Peppy: I think we did the best we could. And weren't we lucky to have all those brothers and sisters, friends, nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren. There's going to be a musical. And you know what? We're all famous. By the way, did you see what your kids put on your headstone.

Rosie: Sure, it was perfect. Did you decide that you wanted on yours?

Peppy: I told Iris to put Rosie instead of Rose -that's what on your birth certificate.

Rosie: You looked at my birth certificate.

Peppy: What do you think? I wanted to know who was really older. Also I told Iris what I wanted and I hope my kids listen.

Rosie: So? It's a secret?

Peppy: No, everyone knew I was a beloved sister, wife, daughter, aunt, great aunt, grandma, great grandma and friend. I just want to make sure they know... I had a wonderful life.

I'll play some gin while we're waiting for everyone.... if you want.

They're Just sayin... Iris

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Rose by any other name is a Pearl

Peshie, Peppy, Phyliss, and rose by any name is a pearl. It is with great sadness that I tell you that Aunt Peppy (the boss),passed away this morning. She wasthe last of the Dubroff siblings. It is with great joy that I tell you she died exactly the way she wanted to… at home, surrounded by her children, and without any pain. It is with incredible selfishness that I tell you how much I wanted her to be in the front row of the opening of Gefilte Fish Chronicles, the Musical.

It was a project that meant so much to her. She loved the music and the story, not only because it was inspired by the Documentary, but because it continues to send a message she felt was so important. It has to be someone or many someone’s responsibility to keep the family traditions, celebrations, recipes and stories a part of how we live our lives – because it is what will keep all our beloved family members alive in our hearts and our memories.

And so Peshie, Peppy, Phyliss and Pearl, I promise I will do whatever I can to keep us all connected and to keep all of you always as a part of our conversation. I only wish you had waited to taste the new Jack Daniels with honey – you would really have enjoyed it on the rocks. We’re just sayin… Iris