Dollar Snow-Cone

The August summer heat would not relent as she defiantly arched her elderly frame to rise from the cracking concrete stoop in this ignored part of the city.

I walked up the block with a crumpled dollar bill for the ice – without the syrup.  Sweat scattered from my hairline.  My face and neck burned scarlet.

The makeshift plastic table was wobbly-arranged for quick sales anticipated from the two buses of people who visited for a mere afternoon, scheduled in to clean up the neighborhood through a service agency.  All in the name of peace and solidarity.

A battered aluminum urn, dented from years of use, held ice that would shave pieces into a forbidden Styrofoam cup – a cheap fix.  A neat row of glass bottles with plastic pumps each waited with their blaring color of sugar syrup attentively for its snow-cone debut – chartreuse mint, tangerine orange, bright violet grape – nothing known to Nature.  My only wish was the frosty shavings to melt my dusty, gritty throat.

She rose from the stoop as I smiled deeply breathing in front of a torn plastic umbrella, offering some shade.  Her cocoa-colored skin clenched hard onto muscles whose strength was all but gone from years of sacrifice.  Her knotted, ebony hands buckled from years of toil…fields, factories, mills?  I couldn’t imagine.  This heat would not stop her today.  Nope.  No way.

“Just ice please.”  I handed her the dollar bill.

She pulled the black plastic lever to shave the ice into slivers of cool relief.   Gently she extended her arm giving me a cup filled with ice shavings and started to count out change – one worn quarter, one dime and three nickels.  Her hand trembled as she counted and then my eyes rested on her wedding ring encircling the on her left hand.

The simple band was of thin gold, but the worn beveled edges reflected the mysteries of a previous life filled with more joy than today brought.   The pattern of the bevel was exactly the same as the wedding ring belonging to my grandfather which I wore in the middle of my right hand.  I had asked for it and wore it every day without fail since his death.   Nonu’s hands were the worker’s hands of a turn-of-the-century Italian immigrant – massive, skilled and unfaltering.  They could crush rock, melt brass or graft five different apples on to one tree for autumn pies Noni would make each year.

I reached for her left hand with my right so she would see my ring as I touched hers.    She slowly lifted her eyes to meet mine.  Her heavy blink under sagging eyelids gave way to a weakened smile as time and space held us united in some unexpected enigma made for this day.

“No change”, I said, “and God bless.”

boards baltimore

Last week

Last week

    Admonitions heeded, Devices less needed. War on common core checked out at the door. Common sense quest proves always the best. Our kids are still human and always will be while oligarchs see them as machinery obediently marching  towards … Continue reading

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After All

After All

is said and done, there is no college degree or expensive continuing education course mandated by money-making state standards, fancy printed parchment or staged self-accolades that can substitute the appreciative whisper of ” I love you” from a student to … Continue reading

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Being a Teacher…

Being a Teacher…

isn’t really about how many questions your students have correct on standardized tests, but how well you have shown them the winding avenues of Life, how much you have always remained present in their background, oftentimes unnoticed, leading them to … Continue reading

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at the end of the day…

at the end of the day…

all anyone can do is to try. try to build relationships, try to open minds and hearts, try to introduce empathy and understanding. for those who have never experienced trauma, poverty, hopelessness, judgment is passed upon others. even among the … Continue reading

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Non-violence  = the Way of the prophets

Non-violence = the Way of the prophets

Kindred spirits identify and seek living non-violence worldwide. In war-torn Afghanistan, Afghan Peace Volunteers dedicate their lives to studying, understanding, trying to practice non-violence, the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. and Gandhi, independent of government, religious alliances.

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Acts 10, 34 – 38

Acts 10, 34 – 38

As I listened to today’s words of the Second Reading, I thought of the significance of our judgments and how little we practice this understanding of Peter’s: – “In Truth I am understanding that God does not make preferences in … Continue reading

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seeing through the smokescreen

Tonight I will be bringing students to once again meet the petite, yet dynamic Kathy Kelly, whose activism has earned her three Nobel Peace Prize nominations.  Being ready, able and so prepared in the arena of faith, belief, hope and love seems to me exactly what we are all supposed to realize and follow on our own paths.  Planning her visit on Long Island makes me feel as though I am part of something larger, more important, more purposeful.  I plod everyday to work, teaching or trying to bring interest to a world that is more in tune with “Dancing with the Stars” than reaching for the stars.  I question my path.  I wonder if it has meaning, if the seeming routine is merely a monotonous drumbeat, mandated but producing little but catatonic sounds.   Espresso wakes me.  Spirit keeps me.  Faith and Trust waver.

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