At the Women's march

At the Women's march
All Lives Matter

Never Again

Never Again
We Won't Go Back

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

As a grandmother, I love China. When Mark & I went there a few years ago, we saw grandparents everywhere taking care of their grandchildren. My favorite was a village woman carrying twin 1-year-olds on her back, with both babies wearing the split pants popular there. And whenever we had the littlest problem, our Chinese guides told us to emphasize our advanced age, since this is one part of the world that still venerates age and the aging.

So I’m looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year. The holiday begins on Monday, January 26, but don’t worry if you can’t celebrate tomorrow -- celebrations typically last 2 to 4 weeks. In China celebrations used to last that long because farmers couldn’t plant crops during the winter anyway, but now that so many Chinese live in cities, celebrations usually run about two weeks. Like Jewish holidays, Chinese New Year is dictated by the lunar calendar (based on phases of the moon – rather than the solar calendar, which has a fixed number of days – 365 or 366), it never falls on the same day from year to year.

Families clean their houses before the New Year to get rid of bad luck from the year before and accept good luck for the new year; they buy and wear new clothes; and children get little red envelopes with money in them to assure prosperity in the year ahead.

Eating is always a good way to celebrate – either in your favorite Chinese restaurant or at home. For some good, easy recipes you can go to: Symbolic foods include dumplings (because they look like golden nuggets" says Daria Ng), oranges ("because they are perfectly round, symbolizing completeness and wholeness"), and long noodles ("served to symbolize long life").

For other ways to celebrate at home, including craft ideas, books for kids, and popular traditions, go to In cities with sizable Chinese populations, you can often see wonderful parades. We have taken our grandchildren to New York’s Chinatown parade featuring fireworks, marching bands, and the “lion dance,” in which several dancers get under a long decorated costume and dance together to scare away bad luck.

So I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


The following recipe came from a friend (who didn't make it) who got it from a friend of hers (who didn't make it). And I haven't made it yet either. I'm waiting for a visit from a grandchild so we can make it together. I can hardly wait. Meanwhile, I'm putting it out here so that one of you grannies reading this can get inspired -- and can tell me whether it's really as good as it sounds. Also, if anyone knows where it originated, I'd like to give credit where credit is due.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

Sunday, January 18, 2009


On Tuesday, as I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama on TV with a group of fellow Obama supporters, I wore a silver medal with the profile of Abraham Lincoln on the front. Around the edges of the medallion are the words: "WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE, WITH CHARITY FOR ALL" and the date Feb. 12, 1809. On the other side of the medal are the words "Awarded by the Public Ledger to Sam Wendkos for Merit in Essay on Abraham Lincoln -- 1909." (These days I need a magnifying glass to read the writing.) Exactly 100 years ago, at the age of 10, my father won this medal from a Philadelphia newspaper for an essay that he wrote for a contest held 100 years after Lincoln's birth.

It's especially meaningful to be wearing it now, 200 years after Lincoln's birth, to the inauguration of our 44th president, a man who could never have been elected to this position without Lincoln's role in our country's history -- and who speaks often of his debt to and connection with this 15th president of our United States.

My heart bursts with pride. And it bursts with gratitude, too, to the two women who guarded this small treasure: my grandmother, Dora Wendkos, who saved this medal and eventually passed it on to my children's grandmother, my mother, Leah Wendkos, who saved it for so many years and then passed it on to me. I treasure it and plan to pass it on to my daughters and to their children. I'm sure one of those will value it as much as I do. And so I see an important role for us grandmothers -- to protect and preserve important family memories and heirlooms.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


According to Stephanie Azzarone, president of Child's Play Communications (a marketing firm that specializes in products appealing to moms), at a recent Marketing to Moms conference, a speaker from (a great website!) reported that a recent study found that the typical grandparent spends nearly $1700 on every new grandchild in the baby’s first year of life.

The first grandchild gets most of the booty, since first-time grandparents outspend repeat grandparents by about 25%. Furthermore, many grandparents create their own nursery in their own home, complete with baby furniture (69%), diapers (54%) and baby food (57%). And the more grandchildren you have, the more likely you are to spoil them. So we grandparents certainly seem to be doing our bit to shore up the economy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


What a treat – Last weekend Mark (Opa) & I went with our daughter, Nancy, and her daughters, Anna (16) and Nina (8), to the Pinegrove Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, New York ( A makeover from one of the old Catskill Mountains hotels (better known as the “borscht belt” and the launching of many a comedian’s career), Pinegrove turned out to be a great place for intergenerational fun, with something for everyone.

One horseback ride per person per day was included in the overall price, and you could sometimes get an extra ride by going standby. A few years ago when Mark and I rode horses in the Camargue delta in Provence, I used my best high-school French to plead for the oldest, calmest, slowest horse they had. Here at Pinegrove, because of the snow on the ground, all the horses walked slowly along the trail, and I didn’t need to know any horsemanship other than the basic talk we all got at the beginning of the 40-minute ride.

Nancy and the girls, all good swimmers, spent a lot of finger-wrinkling time in the heated indoor pool – but since it’s hard to heat the pool room on cold winter days up to the sweltering tropical heat I require to get wet, I just served as the cheering section. Mark & I played ping-pong and got most of our exercise picking up the balls that went wildly around the room. We needed the exercise after what felt like nonstop eating -- besides the breakfast and dinner served in the dining room, lunch and snacks were available all day and evening. At night we watched cowboy Chris McDaniel do his amazing rope tricks, some with volunteers from the audience.

Anna and Nina played laser tag and ping-pong, Anna shot pool and (almost) entered the hula hoop contest. Then there was snow tubing, which they all did; ski instruction on a little hill (since when do people ski without poles?); arts and crafts; bucket toss; the fitness center where I checked out the treadmill and watched the snow coming down outside; and Bingo, where Nina won Pinegrove dollars that she happily spent in the gift shop.

Bingo was a revelation to me. I hadn’t played since I was in school, and I hadn’t realized that there were so many different ways to play. Also new to me were the cards we used, on which you could cover called-out numbers just by pushing a closure tab -- a lot easier than keeping track of markers that always seemed to slide off their proper place, which is what I remember. For any family reunion or good-sized group of any age, the variations (which you can find by googling “Bingo variations”) make the game more fun. First we played standard Bingo. Then “H” Bingo, where you have to cover all the numbers in the first and fifth columns and the center row to make the letter “H.” Then a couple of other variations, and finally elimination Bingo, in which the goal was to be the last person in the game with no numbers covered. Anyone who had a number called out on his or her board was eliminated immediately. Here’s where Nina was the big winner. But after a fun weekend together, we all felt like winners.