Astrology, customs/rituals, folklore, good luck/bad luck

I Stopped Reading My Horoscope

Scorpio Astrological Symbol.  © Text copyright, Norine Dresser, 2014.
Scorpio Astrological Symbol. © Text copyright, Norine Dresser, 2014.

I stopped reading my horoscope.  What kind of future plans can an 82-year-old woman have?  A new romance?  I don’t think so.  I already had my grand romance of almost 56 years.  Why would I even seek a relationship with another old man?  Nowadays, it’s hard to find one who still drives at night.  Who needs that?  Of course, if it were a younger man, that might make a difference, but what younger man is going to be attracted to me?

If I had read last Sunday’s horoscope and had seen, “You will soon take an unexpected short trip,” I would have scoffed.  Yet, only hours later, I did take a trip — on uneven brick steps where I lost my footing and came crashing down face first on the rough hard surface.

While falling it felt as if I were moving in slow motion until the sharp contact and then — OUCH! — followed by the taste of blood.

Predictions can be risky.  When I was a lot younger, I experimented with different modes of trying to find out the future.  I went to a palmist and recommended him to several friends.  He painted my future as rosy but told a friend that she would not live beyond 39.  How irresponsible!  She was terrified until she survived beyond that birthday.  She lived into her 70s.

Some forms of fortune telling are fun.  Before our children could read and we took them to Chinese restaurants, my husband, Harold, always offered to read the small strips of paper inside the fortune cookies.  I had to hold back laughter as he pronounced:   “Honor your father and your mother and you will have good luck.”

Back to last Sunday.  As the paramedics transported me to the local ER and indicated that I was probably OK, I told them how grateful I was that I hadn’t been severely injured.  One EMT agreed:  “Your Guardian Angel must have been watching over you.”

Upon checking into the hospital and signing all  the paperwork I had to also date the forms:  January 19, 2014.

AHA!  January 19, 1911, was the date of my late mother’s birthday.  SHE was my Guardian Angel.  Thank you, Mom!

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who generally does not believe in Guardian Angels, except when in need.

loneliness, Los Angeles Times, loss, senior online dating

“The Number You Have Reached Is No Longer In Service.”

My heart sank when I heard the above message while trying to reach a friend by phone.  Optimistically, I called again hoping I had mis-dialed the first time.  No. the message repeated.

Old Fashioned telephone.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Old Fashioned telephone. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

In this most recent experience I was calling a gentleman I had met online, someone I used to see before I moved from California to New Mexico.  We became good friends, but he had severe health problems that worsened after I left.  His condition deteriorated so dramatically that that was our main topic of conversation when we talked by phone.  Nonetheless, he regularly tried to liven up the dialogue by asking, “Are you running for Mayor yet?”  Now he was dead.

Loss of friends and family members is painful, but that is the price we pay for having outlived them.  I remind myself daily to be grateful for each moment that I have when I can do as I please, something as simple as getting out of bed on my own.

When we are young we don’t think about our physical moves.  I used to drive my car into the garage and make numerous trips sprinting up and down the front stairs while carrying groceries and children.  No longer.  Now I plan each move, especially when getting in and out of the car.

Another significant loss occurred when a friend called to say she saw a high school friend’s name in the Los Angeles Times obituaries.  I called his home and confirmed that he had died.  He was my boyfriend from junior high school.  We remained friends from then on, albeit with many time gaps of non-interaction as we moved our separate ways.  But over the last decades we had renewed our friendship, mostly via e-mail and an occasional phone call and attendance at special occasions.

When close friends and family members die, especially mates, loneliness is a realistic expectation.  But it isn’t a given.  One must continue to honor and cherish the gift of life that we have been given.

After my husband died in 2007, I co-authored a book with Fredda Wasserman called, Saying Goodbye to Someone You Love: Your Emotional Journey through End of Life and Grief (Demos, 2010).  We included a pithy quote from someone in a grief support group.

“Do you believe in life after death?”

“Yes, MY life!”

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who, despite widowhood and infirmities, is grateful for every day that she has.

customs/rituals, Festivals, food, holidays

♪♪♪ “One Meatball” ♪♪♪ ?


© Photo by Daniel Zolinsky, 2013. Tortugas Pueblo, Las Cruces, NM.
© Photo by Daniel Zolinsky, 2013. Tortugas Pueblo, Las Cruces, NM.

December 11, along with dozens of other volunteers, I made hundreds of Mexican meatballs — albóndigas — to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe at her shrine located in the Tortugas Pueblo, in Las Cruces, NM.

Some of you may wonder, “Why is this Jewish woman making meatballs for a Mexican Catholic holiday?”  Here is my response, “Why not?”

As a folklorist rituals are one of my passions, and I prefer to participate rather than just watch.  As long as the ritual is for a positive purpose, count me in.  Consequently,  I accompanied my comadre, Denise Chávez, who was the cultural leader for a tour of Colorado seniors.  She wanted them to experience this annual event from a personal point of view, so there we sat for hours making this annual treat that would be served the following day to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe and her followers.  As we rolled the ground beef and chatted, a meatball captain patrolled  up and down the aisles to ensure the unwritten rules about the size of the meatballs — that they were not too big.  If so, he tossed them back into the pot to be re-sized downward.

On December 12, the actual feast day, we returned to the Pueblo to sample our handiwork.  There were hundreds of noon-time diners, two shifts worth.  The meatballs were served in their own juice inside a stainless steel bowl.  For each eight persons, we shared a bowl of meatballs plus three other stainless steel bowls containing macaroni and cheese, boiled pinto beans, and red chili beef stew.  Each place setting had a paper soup bowl with only a soup spoon and napkin by its side.  Servers also distributed big chunks of homemade white bread.  What a fabulous meal!

Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Tortugas Pueblo, Las Cruces, NM.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2013.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tortugas Pueblo, Las Cruces, NM. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2013.

I almost always have a tune going through my head, and while anticipating this meatball adventure, I couldn’t get that old song,   ♪♪♪ “One Meatball” ♪♪♪   out of my system.  I asked several people if they knew it and was surprised when most didn’t.  George Martin Lane wrote it in 1885 and titled it, “The Lone Fish Ball.”  In 1944,  Hy Zanet and Lou Singer revitalized and modernized the song renaming it, “One Meatball.”  Many singers popularized it including  Dave Van Ronk, Josh White, Bing Crosby, and the Andrews Sisters.  What’s surprising is that despite the song being popular in the 1940s, the lyrics seem more fitted to the Depression.  The song describes a hungry man with only 15 cents in his pocket.  He enters a restaurant, studies the menu and discovers that all he can afford is one meatball.  When he asks the waiter for a slice of bread, the waiter embarrasses the diner by retorting harshly, “You get no bread with one meatball!”

If that same man had been at the Tortugas Pueblo on December 12, he would have gotten more than one meatball plus not a slice but at least one chunk of bread.

Food served at the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Tortugas Pueblo, NM.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2013.
Food served at the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tortugas Pueblo, NM. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2013.

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who enjoys participating in rituals of all kinds.