The week held a plethora of diversions, and yet there’s nothing much to report . . .
I was randomly selected for drug testing. In the words of my honey, they are barking up the wrong tree. All the same, I nearly blew my eyeballs out trying to get the breathalyzer to beep; and it was somewhat appalling to know a stranger stood guard right outside the restroom, and I couldn’t flush the toilet or wash my hands immediately following. Eew.
On a brighter note, I was able to “collect a sample” on demand (something of a miracle, that); and the elevator didn’t fail me on the way down to the basement (equally impressive).
Of course, to recover, I had to make tacos for dinner–Double Decker tacos, no less, with all the fixings . . . including green onions.
I’ve not had a raw green onion for quite some time. It took me right back to my childhood.
You see, my dad had two great aunts: spinster sisters, they had carved out a comfortable life for themselves–laughing, reading, doing as they pleased. Every so often we’d go over for dinner. Mom and dad would sit with them around the table and talk for hours; I’d lounge about on the sofa, playing with my dolls, perusing books and magazines, watching television.
And the food! If food truly is the way to a man’s heart, I’m amazed there wasn’t a line a hundred miles long. No matter the menu, it was always delectable; and there was always enough to feed an army. Platters and bowls covered every inch of the table. And without fail, there were green onions.
Those ladies loved their onions. And it tickled them pink that a little girl with strawberry blond hair loved them too. Here’s our onions, Amy, they’d cheerfully announce. They’d hand me the bowl and I’d dutifully place them on the table. Then they’d chortle with glee as I spooned a helping onto my plate. You like onions; that’s a good sign, they’d say. You’re obviously destined for greatness. Then they’d throw their heads back in a fit of hilarity.
Funny how a taste (or scent or sound) can take you right back . . .
With that, I wish you a happy weekend. May your days be full of small blessings and the simplest of pleasures . . . plenty to make you smile.
I’ll be heading to the office today. Seems a bit melancholy, that.
You see, last Friday my love and I played hooky (I feel compelled to add that we did so quite legally, in full, grow-up fashion, with approved time off) . . .
We slept in; we sipped coffee and tea and nibbled freshly baked biscuits; we played a rousing game (or two) of cribbage; we meandered a museum;
we read a bit, lounged a bit; we discussed story ideas, and holiday ideas; we ate by candlelight, with music to soothe the soul.
Of course, right on the heels of such delightful nothingness came the usual flurry of activity. We finally took down the tree (all other Christmas decorations had been safely tucked away, mind you, but the tree remained). There were chores to do, clothes to wash, meals to plan, groceries to buy–another hurried week for which to prepare.
But Friday? Pure bliss.
Needless to say, I highly recommend. Even if you’re unable to take a workday, find time that’s all your own; no plans: nothing you have to do, nowhere you have to be . . . just wide open hours with which to kick back, relax, catch your breath, dream, maybe stumble upon an adventure or two . . .
You just never know where it will lead you.
PS. I don’t do well with electronic organizers (I’m sure that comes as a shock). This year, I’m trying something new: a Day Designer. One, it’s adorable; two, it has a full-month calendar + a day-by-day breakdown for the week (including Today’s Top Three). I don’t know; the year’s but a babe, but so far I think it a brilliant idea.
I keep trying to jump on the book club bandwagon. Alas, more oft than not, either I flounder with the book at hand; or the thought of being called upon in a room full of intellectuals unnerves me and I lose all hope.
Yet the dawn of twenty-seventeen found me opting to forgo such tomfoolery and read whatever I pleased.
One such book was Safe Passage by Ida Cook.
It was a complete mystery when I picked it up at the bookstore that day. With nary a review to be had, I had no inkling others were aghast it touted as “the incredible true story of two sisters, who rescued Jews from the Nazis.” It’s little more than an old story of two sisters who flounced from one opera to the next, they critique; they saved but twenty-nine Jews, they cry . . . and their escapades took place before the war, they’re quick to add.
I dare say that’s exactly what makes this story so spectacular.
Ida and Louise Cook were, indeed, two ordinary, young Englishwomen; they went about their civil service jobs, they lived quiet lives in a London suburb.
Then they fell in love with opera . . .
Starstruck, they saved and scrimped to follow their favorite performers (as far as New York City). Ida took up writing to fund their passion. They snapped photos. They hobnobbed. They received an urgent plea to help the Jews flee the Nazi regime; and they helped as only they could.
Their love of opera served the perfect cover for their many trips to Germany and Austria. Ida financed the trips with the earnings from her writing; Louise taught herself German to conduct interviews with those seeking help, as well as the authorities. Together they smuggled out furs and valuable jewels to sell in Britain, to help the refugees settle in a bit.
Ida’s writing style is conversational; she tells their story as if sitting down with a friend, for tea. As such, we’re afforded a glimpse at opera life in the nineteen-twenties (which I found fascinating, and I’m not the biggest opera fan) . . . the thrill of saving a life . . . the agony of losing a life . . . the blessing of surviving The Blitz. . .
‘Then one woman looked directly at her husband. ‘Is our place gone?’
‘I’m afraid so, girl,’ he said. ‘There isn’t much left up there. But we’re alive. We’re all lucky to be alive. We’d have been dead if we’d stayed up above.’
‘Oh, what a mercy we didn’t!’ she exclaimed. ‘How lucky we are!’
Incredible though it sounds, within a few moments, a whole lot of people were congratulating each other on their extraordinary good fortune in only having lost all their worldly possessions.
Do I recommend the book? I most certainly do. It’s charming and inspiring. If you’re an opera aficionado, you’re sure to geek out; if you’re nothing of the sort, you just might learn a thing or two. In short, it’s a perfectly delightful read–proof it behooves us, every now and again, to pick up a book we know nothing about, and see what it has to offer.
It’s also a good reminder: you just never know what an ordinary life might accomplish, or the difference a passion can make.
This book was originally published in 1950 as We Followed Our Stars. John Murray is said to be publishing a biography of the sisters in 2020; and there have been talks about a film, as well.