Butcher Shop

I have a little more than a week in India under my belt. Yay!

No friends yet but I’m really okay with that for the moment.

Totally chilling after a very busy and sometimes trying year.

The other day I planned to make lamb chops for my husband.

Are you sick of the same old “blah” lamb chop/pork chop dishes? This one is so easy and so delicious. Here it is. I’ve used it for pork and lamb.


Anyway, I went to a nice grocery and the meat department didn’t have the cut I wanted.

So, I was taken to a very local butcher by the driver. Place was totally real.

Before you get all, “Oooh, Mary has a driver. She must think she’s something else! Isn’t she a lucky duck!” please remember that this is India and a lot of companies do not allow their employees or families to drive here. So transportation is usually provided. You’d only need to be in Delhi for five minutes before realizing this is a very safe and sound decision on the employers’ part.

Back to the local butcher shop down a Delhi side street.

I walk in and ask for lamb chops. Try not to look around too much because I don’t want to see too much by way of a butcher shop. Like blood or extras if you know what I mean.

The butcher, who is sitting, understands and has his assistant grab the meat from behind a counter. Young guy hands it to the head honcho who then asks me how much I want. I tell him.

He has his butcher’s knife firmly planted between his feet. Yes, that is correct. Knife between his two feet.

Then he takes the meat with his hands and brings it down toward the feet clamped knife and slices the lamb chops for me.

Okay, that’s not something you see every day.

I pay him and am soon on my way back home.

There is no way I am telling my husband the butcher feet story. He’d never eat the meal.

I clean the meat and make my lamb chops.

My husband keeps saying how good it is. Happily chewing away. And it was really good. If I do say so myself.

All of a sudden, he’s got a funny look on his face and is taking something out of his mouth. It looked like a bit of bone.

Oh my gosh. What bit is it? I knew this butcher thing probably wasn’t a good idea.

It ends up being his temporary partial bridge! Poor guy! Must have been the slightly sticky (although yummy) brown sugar sauce.

Ingredient related. Age related. But not butcher related. Whew!

Just the same, I think I’ll hold off on any future butcher shop visits.

At least, for a while.









When I lived in Southern California I attended Mass in my community. It was always led by Fr. Fred.

Loved his sermons. I would, more often than not, leave with a message that would cause me to reflect for the week.

Fred would also write a little blurb in the weekly bulletin.

I just moved to India and was unpacking some things in our new home. A purple piece of paper fluttered in the drawer. It was one of Fr. Fred’s reflections that I had cut out of the church bulletin about seven years ago.

It is as relevant today as it was then. Nature wreaking havoc (always) and the “blamers” coming out of the woodwork (always) to tag these disasters as God’s dissatisfaction with us.

“God is punishing us because…..!”

“God is punishing them because…..!

Ummm, no.


It sort of struck me as interesting that I should find this-with the U.S. coming off the heels of Harvey and Irma and some folks wanting to place the blame on the sins of the people.

What Fred’s saying is that natural disasters are just that. We sometimes happen to be in the path because of where we live. It’s not a judgement or punishment. It is what it is.

Many folks are faced with personal disasters that have nothing to do with Mother Nature’s force and it’s hard to understand. It might be illness, an accident, death of a loved one, job loss, etc.

We are not being punished although it can feel like we are. It might not be anyone’s fault but still we are rendered feeling helpless. I suppose the only choice, in these instances, is how we try and move forward.

Other times we can get trapped in our very own disasters which are caused by the choices we make. Not anyone else.

This is when we need to be looking within and not blaming outside sources. And really ask ourselves if we are owning our choices.

We are not being punished.

It’s all about choices.




I was at a party yesterday. My best friend’s daughter graduated with an engineering degree. So proud of her!

So there was lots to celebrate.

And then there was this.


Wine glass markers.

My friend Jenny said she tried something similar at her son’s party but it didn’t work so well with younger folks. And when my niece and nephew are visiting my mom’s house I always see their names printed with a black sharpie on the plastic cups.

But I never thought about it on wine glasses. Not sure why.

Pure genius.

This from the mouth of a woman who once thought wine charms were so very clever.

It was a new age. No longer did we have to compare shades of lipstick on the rim of the glass to figure out which glass was ours.

But the reality is that people forget which wine charm they had. That could have something to do with wine consumption but I would also add age as a factor. Most of the women I share wine with are “of a certain age.”

It goes something like this.

Grab a glass and pick out a cutesy charm. Usually it’s a theme. Like fruits. Or USA symbols. Or flowers.

Drink. Set glass down. Chat. Go to bathroom. Have a snack.

And then try and remember which charm is yours.

“Hey, am I the Statue of Liberty?”

Or “Am I the American flag?”

“Who’s the Liberty Bell?”

By the end of the evening it’s, “Oh, who cares? I think I’m the Liberty Bell.”

Share and share alike.

You just hope that all goes well and that no one has mono.

But these wine markers?

Pure genius.



I was on one of my visits to New York City. This was a couple of years ago. Totally enjoyed it.

Happened to be outside the hotel one evening and a fellow strikes up a conversation. He was from England. First time in the States. Said that his fourteen year old daughter had wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial.

This guy had nothing good to say about his visit.

He talked plenty about his little garden in Leicestershire (or one of the ‘shires) and how peaceful it is. Also mentioned his work hours (an hour and a half for lunch and home by 4:30pm!)

Bemoaned the long lines (queues) and the expense of New York. He wondered how Donald Trump could have all that money when there are homeless folks in the city.

He said more than once, “How do people live here? How do they do it? It’s not for me.” And he apologized, “I’m sorry. This is just not for me.”

I told him there was no need to apologize to me.

He continued chatting. Said he did a lot of charity back home. His mother was giving and charitable. Had Diwali and Christmas celebrations where everyone was welcome.

He said, “But I guess we can’t change the world.”

I was quick to advise him that we can only do our part. That’s all you can do.

But I sort of felt bad for him. It did sound like he had a nice simple life (and schedule) back home. But he was on a holiday. No one was wanting him to give up his life in the garden or time at his Mom’s house. Cast it all away for a life in the Big Apple.

I kept trying to counter every negative (because there were so many) with a positive. “Well, did you see this? Did you go there? What about the food?”

No positive responses.

He was leaving at 6:00am the next morning.

Finally, I asked, “Did your daughter enjoy it?”

And he said, “Yes.”

So I said, “Well, alright then. There’s something.”

Hoping that everyone, as summer comes to a close, truly finds something to enjoy. It really is what you make of it.




Ask Him Something

My husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in November. So, of course, I get to thinking about “that day” so many years ago.

It was a very small wedding. Maybe sixty guests. If that.

Many are no longer with us. My next door neighbors, Dot and Eddie and Mr. and Mrs. Thomson. My Auntie Elaine, my Uncle Pat, family friends Danny and Phyllis O’Hara, Frank P., my aunt’s in-laws Jargu and Gram, my beloved Nana, and my best friend’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Amerantes.

All gone.

And my Dad.

I posted this photo on my husband’s Facebook page with the caption, “Papa. Probably thinking, She’s all yours now. Good luck!”


So after I posted this photo one of my daughters asked me, “Do you still miss Papa?”

I said, “Yes, every day. Today I just wanted to ask him something.”

She asked, “What did you want to ask him?”

I replied, “Something about the family history. He loved that and always had time for me.”

But there are so, so many times when I just want to ask him something.





I was at a friend’s party today.

Someone was asking me about my older daughter and I said that she was in her first year of law school at Berkeley.

The person said something about Berkeley but then followed up with, “Great school.”

I said, “Yes, it is.”

Then, of course, there was talk about Left and Right.

I laughingly said, “I’m right.”

Friend’s husband said, “Ummm, no.”

I said, “Okay, no, I lean to the Left but I mean that I’m right.”

He said, “Lean??????” LOL

I said, “Okay, I’m totally Left but I’m totally right!”

And yes, this was the best conversation about politics because it was filled with laughter. Nothing more. Welcome change.


Not My Story

This is not my story to tell. Wait a second! Yes, it is. It most definitely is my story to tell.

It’s everyone’s story to tell.

But it wasn’t written by me. This is an article written by Dick Sheridan of the New York Daily News back in 1999.

It is just one more example of why we cannot look the other way when hatred toward a particular group of people is exposed.

It’s about a man named Jack.

Jack’s history, sadly, is not that unique. His experience, although somewhat different from Sam Silberberg’s experience in my last blog posting, is woven with the same sickening threads. The thread of millions.

Why would I want to share one more horrible story of past hatred?

Because I’ve actually met Jack at family functions. My cousin is married to his son.

He exists. His experience is documented.

Imagine, if you will. I know I say this frequently. But we will never understand if we don’t even try to imagine someone else’s situation. Put ourselves in their shoes.

Read the Daily News article below and insert a mental image of yourself in the story or that of a family member. Imagine the fear, horror and hopelessness.

What if it were me? What if this happened to my family? My beloved Dad? My mother and sister?

Jack’s the cutest little old man you’d ever want to meet. Still drives around New York in his itty bitty car. He’s now in his nineties.

He forged ahead and made a life for himself in America. He survived.

Jack’s last line in this article is, “This is the very best country in the world.”

And that is why we confront hatred. So that something this evil doesn’t ever happen again. To you. Or someone you know.

Read Jack’s narrative and remember that this occurred while our parents or (for the younger set) grandparents were alive.

It’s your story to tell. So that it doesn’t ever actually become your story.



MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1999, 12:00 AM

Nearly 60 years ago, back when sculptor Jack Betteil of Bayside was just a teenager, he found himself a prisoner of the Nazis in a camp at Plaszow, near his birthplace in Krakow, Poland.

One day, the SS guards delivered a huge pile of clothing that had been stripped off Jews who had been gassed at Auschwitz. The clothing was to be cleaned, sorted and redistributed. “

The pile was two stories high and was made up of all kinds of clothing — children’s shoes, women’s dresses and men’s suits and shirts,” recalled Betteil, who then was known by his Yiddish name, Yankel.

The pile was in the middle of the parade ground, and I went to look at it because my parents and my two sisters were prisoners at Auschwitz.”

Sticking out from among other garments near the bottom of the pile of clothes, Betteil, now 76, saw the sleeve of a green jacket.

““I saw the jacket sleeve and right away I knew it was my father’s” he said.

“It was a bright green, not like any other jacket that people wore at that time.” He dashed past the cordon of guards surrounding the pile and grasped the garment. “

“Three Nazis jumped on me and started to beat me,” he said. “

“They hit me with rubber hoses, leather hoses.””

Betteil, his head and face bloodied, screamed that the jacket belonged to him.

“”The Nazis told me to prove it,”” he said. “

I felt the jacket and found my family’s passports and photos were still in my father’s pocket.”

Maurycy Betteil had been planning to flee Poland with his wife, Roza, eldest daughter, Cesia, youngest daughter, Salusia, and son, Yankel.

But he was too late.

The Nazis locked up all five members of the Betteil family in the Krakow ghetto before packing them off to the camps.

All except young Yankel Betteil went to Auschwitz, where father, mother and 12-year-old daughter Salusia died in the gas chambers.

Yankel Betteil was sent to Plaszow, then on to Mauthausen in Austria, then to Melk and finally to Ebensee on the banks of the Danube. “

“I was a slave laborer and did heavy manual labor in a quarry,”” he said.

In May 1945, after nearly five years in the camps, Betteil was liberated by elements of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.

““I weighed 80 pounds,”” he said.

Betteil discovered that his older sister, Cesia, also had survived the camps.

In 1947, after spending a year in a displaced persons camp in Italy, he joined her in New York.

“When I first came here, I had a lot of jobs,” said Betteil, who after a while studied electronics at the RCA Institute and opened his own television repair shop on 163rd St. near Bowne Park in Flushing. “

“I had that shop for nearly 40 years,”” he said.

He retired about 10 years ago.

Though he no longer went to synagogue or practiced his faith after his experiences in the camps, Betteil still believed in good works. He began repairing old TV sets in his shop and donated nearly 100 of them to the mental hospital at Creedmoor, near his Bayside home.

““That was before the state installed TVs,”” he said.

Then, about 20 years ago, Betteil took up sculpting.

His works — which share the strong primitive emotion of Grandma Moses’ paintings — have since been exhibited by the Douglaston Art League and the Nassau County Holocaust Museum. Betteil works in wood, stone and copper, carving faces — many of them stern-visaged American Indians. “

“He calls them ‘inmates,’”” explained Helen, his wife of 47 years and the mother of two grown children.

She said her husband’’s doctor suggested that Betteil felt the need to sculpt the faces of Native Americans because they too experienced genocide.

Betteil shrugged. “

“I have insomnia,”” he said. “

“I feel sad.””

Despite the sadness of his memories, however, Betteil has no regrets about his decision to come to America. “

“This is the very best country in the world,”” he said.