Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The day begins with work, busy store and trying to get a move on all our fall projects. Dad calls me at noon, I’m at the bank, he’s going to walk to my car, I need to take him to physical therapy. He’s waiting for me in the passenger seat of my car and I drive him over to his appointment, he doesn’t look that good, he’s complaining about his ibs, if he’s down, it’s always his stomach.

Back to the store, Jackie meets me to walk the dogs, she’s on the phone with the car guy, andrew’s car is not doing that great, his flat tire is unfixable and his car is burning oil. Our friend Josh pulls up, he gets a cup of coffee and the three of us take the dogs for a walk. At the turning back point the phone rings, it’s Dad, time to pick him up. He tells me he has low blood pressure. I tell him I’ll be there in 15 minutes and I will talk to his physical therapist. We get back to the store and there are people looking for me. I say hello as quickly as possible and then I’m off to get Dad. When I get there, he looks half asleep in the chair. I tell him he can go to the car and I will talk to Dan, his physical therapist. Dan tells me the bottom line is that Stan is probably dehydrated. Bad stomach, not eating, not drinking, tired, dizzy, dehydrated. And so I think to myself, I haven’t spent much or any time with him since Friday which means he hasn’t had a square meal since Thursday night, he doesn’t drink enough, he’s not eating. So I get to the car and tell Dad, your dehydrated. You need to drink some Gatorade especially if your stomach isn’t good, you need electrolytes, you need to eat. If you don’t have energy try eating. I tell him, Jackie’s the one who’s more worried about you then me. And so we get back to the store and he gets a Gatorade, Jackie gets him some lunch and we all sit down. Dad is looking better right away. That’s when my cell phone rings, it’s Harold following up on the cemetery questions. After getting off the phone with Harold Dad comes alive as I talk to him about the relatives. Harold sends me an excel sheet of who’s buried at the cemetery and then when I start asking Dad questions I start getting the full list with stories about them all and so I write Harold the following e-mail:

O.K. So now I have more information on who is hanging out at Mt Aratat and who isn't...

Supposedly there are 2 deeds, a Robin Deed and a Roogow Deed and Dad says they are in his filing cabinet probably filed under funerals in his apartment in Bayside. Or they are on top of the filing cabinet in a metal box. Or they’re in the safety deposit box.

He also says he has a pinky ring for me, a black sapphire ring in his safety deposit box in Bayside and he has a gold watch that mom gave him for their engagement that's for Louis.

“How about Harold and Ben?” I ask him

He replies, “just money.”

“Are you planning on going somewhere?”I ask him

He smiles.

“Are you going soon? In a week or two? or in a couple of years? after Howie's Bar Mitzvah? “

He's still smiling. "I don't know," he says. "I hope HE doesn't play any tricks on me."

"yes, HE's played a lot of tricks on you in your lifetime."

"I hope I die in my sleep."

O.K. enough conversational stuff, actually I'm sure there will be more - Stan's in a talkative mood now that he's feeling better, after a Gatorade and a decent lunch... He had low blood pressure at physical therapy today and I'm realizing I haven't been paying enough attention to him since I was away this weekend, he probably hasn't had a square meal since Friday.

Let's see if I can do this in a way that makes sense...

Celia Robin and Jacob Robin had 4 kids

Grandma Celia made a terrific apple pie

Benjamin Robin, Henry Robin (buried in Kentucky) Elizabeth Frank (cremated) and Josephine Cantor who is buried there. She had no children, miscarriages, but no children. She was married to Sam Cantor who was a rehearsal pianist. He claimed that he was a composer and his music was stolen. "He was a mental case. That's what he was. They lived on 57th street on the east side. Sam Cantor claimed that he was robbed by Tin Pan Alley. What a character he was. He was a nut. He smoked these big cigars. We would go to Elizabeth's on a Sunday. You could look out her back window and see Ebbets Field. Elizabeth would buy Hoffmans soda - it was a class soda, she would make candy. Elizabeth was good natured to her siblings.

That was a crazy thing we found her naked in her bathroom, the ambulance took her to the hospital, she was there for a week and died. She stopped functioning, she stopped eating. That's what old people do...

Celia Robin is buried there. Jacob Robin was an inventor and a philanderer. He was buried in a potter's field. (Our grandpa) Benjamin Robin refused to bury him as he took a walk on the family. Elizabeth never forgave him for that.

"Josephine Cantor was a happy woman, always fluttering around. She used to go "ahhhh ooooh" She was a seamstress for one of these fashion designers. She was a talented girl. She was flittery"

Henry Robin is buried in Kentucky - we have Robin cousins in Paris, Kentucky, Harry and Gerry are Dad's first cousins, Gerry died... Henry Robin was gassed in World War 1. He was an ambulance driver. Dad met him only once or twice as a kid. He got sick and died young.

Henry’s wife was Louise Cohen, her family had a jewelry store…

Abraham Roogow and Rose Roogow had 5 kids Anna Roogow (Grandma Robin) was the oldest, then Louis, Ernest, Irving and Sol - all buried there except Sol, Sol was buried in Florida with his wife Rose.

Ernie was moved to make room for his wife, Bell and the she ended up being buried somewhere else so Ernie is buried all alone in that other plot.

Esther Flex is buried there - she was one of Rose Roogow's sisters

A man named Morris Hermanoff is buried there - he was from Detroit - his boys were always grateful to the Roogow boys for burying him there. He was a brother-in-law to Rose Roogow. He was married to one of Rose's sisters.

Rose Roogow had 4 sisters, Anna, Esther (Stera) Hashka and Minscha

We also need to make sure there is a grave for our cousin Fred Robin, hopefully next to Uncle Eddy.

So there you have a Robin/Roogow history lesson....



Stan continues, “I’m lucky. I have 4 sons and they are all terrific. It’s amazing what goes through your mind. The brain is an unbelievable organ. But how can you doubt that there is some kind of a power. Just take the human body and how complex it is. It’s amazing!”

And how lucky am I…. to have my Dad here, my 3 sons, and everything else that surrounds me, my business, my wife, so many many things going on all at the same time… and so many people that I love and care about literally all over the world!

I just sent an e-mail to a friend of Stan’s saying we hope to see him at Simcha Torah services on Friday. and then Dad says,

“This reminds me of a story. The rabbi was standing outside the synagogue on Yom Kippur. A pretty young girl walks by and the Rabbi gave a long look at her and this guy standing next to him says, Rabbi, what are you doing, you can’t look at her like that it’s a “shunda”, it’s a shame.

Yes, the Rabbi replied, you’re right. In my mind it’s Yom Kippur but in my “hazen” it’s Simcha Torah

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mount Moran

Great Fountain Geyser

Monday, 9/27/10

Dad didn’t feel well the other day, his ibs (irritable bowel syndrome, aka a bad tummy) was acting up…

what can I tell you mark? that’s what happens when you stick around.

it doesn’t happen if you leave early….

Dad stopped by my desk at one point this afternoon, “Your mother used to always say to me, “How do you remember all their names? You always remember all your customers’ names.” And now it’s you who remember everyone’s name.”

Not sure where that came from. He had just stopped by after taking a walk around the block, it’s been spectacularly beautiful weather the last few days, Indian Summer, the last week of September. I hadn’t seen Dad all weekend. Spoke to him when we got home from Jackson last night. He didn’t come over to the store at all this morning, we saw him when we went over to his apartment to hold a couple of evaluation meetings with employees. He didn’t seem to be doing that well, but I wasn’t focused on him at all. I was focused on the meetings. After the meeting he told me that he wasn’t feeling well, he thought he was going to pass out, but he went to the bathroom and after that he felt much better. Our meetings ended around 4 pm and I sat down with him for a few minutes – he told me he needed to talk to me about something. He had been thinking about Mount Aratat, where the family cemetery plot is, where mom is buried and all Dad’s ancestors, his parents, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles. He wants me to call the cemetery and make sure he has perpetual care for all the plots. He hasn’t received a bill from them in over a year. He was worried that the plots aren’t being taken care of. So I will need to confer with my brothers and call the cemetery and see what the situation is. After telling me all that he felt better and decided to go for a walk. He seemed in much better spirits after his walk – that’s when he told me about remembering names. He hung out with Howie who was having a grilled cheese in the dining area of the store.

When I went to say good night to him at 7pm before heading home, he was in good spirits laughing because the Yankees were losing and the Red Sox were winning and the Yankees would go one more day before clinching at least the wild card.

This weekend we went to Jackson with Micah for a soccer tournament. It was a gorgeous weekend spent with soccer families and friends, the boys unfortunately didn’t score a goal all weekend, losing their 2 games on Saturday and tying their last game which was on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful drive home stopping at the Jackson Lake Lodge for a beautiful view of the Tetons and a very wide valley of willows and golden aspen trees. Unseen elk were bugling in the distance.

Later we stopped at the Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone. We happen to arrive at the geyser at 4 pm, it was supposed to go off some time between 4 and 8 pm. We decided to hang around for awhile, talking to other geyser gazers and just enjoying the scenery. Luckily for us the geyser started going off around 4:30, so we didn’t really wait that long before it started going off, it erupted on and off for about an hour, it was fun to watch, it was a beautiful evening, and the people there were really nice. This man from Utah who had a second home in West Yellowstone was sitting next to me and telling me all about the Great Fountain Geyser and just talking. He was a very nice soft spoken man, he and his wife truly enjoyed traveling in the park. Another family was very excited to stop and watch, they had once seen the geyser go off from far away and they thought it was huge! And then there was the geyser gazer who came towards the end asking me when the geyser had gone off and if I knew about the phases and which phase were we at? She was an official geyser gazer who left a note for people that the geyser had gone off and to expect the next eruption in 10 -14 hours…

Great Fountain Geyser...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Dad got talking a bit after dinner. We were talking to Andrew about colleges and stuff and went to this website called freerice.com where you earn rice to be donated to the hungry by answering vocabulary questions. We were talking about first semester senior year of high school being a tough semester and then second semester being a breeze as all your college applications are done and you’re just waiting to hear and figure out where you are going to go. Dad started telling us about how his English teacher failed him because he didn’t do any work. So he had to go to school for an extra semester basically because he was a smart ass. He would get to class and write the teacher’s name on the chalkboard, because he thought it was funny. We were joking around how Jackie was loquacious and Dad said his father was an introvert and we asked Andrew if he knew what those words meant. Dad told a story where he went into this Greek coffee shop and his Dad was sitting at the counter having a cup of coffee and Dad sat down next to him and his father never said a word to him. He drank his coffee, paid and left without ever saying a word to his son. “And I thought I was quiet sometimes.” I said to Andrew. “Your mom is an extrovert.” And so we tried working on some vocabulary together and then switched to the painting questions earning 600 grains of rice for someone out there….

The film we saw last night was very thought provoking. About 10 of us were there to see the film, “Little Town of Bethlehem” and after the film we had a short round table discussion about our feelings about the film. The film was basically looking at the Israel – Palestine conundrum through the eyes of an Israeli, a Palestinian Christian, and a Palestinian Muslim. The most memorable moment of the film for me was when the Palestinian Christian man said he was visiting Auschwitz and there was a group of Young Israelis there and he overheard the tour guide telling them that this is what the Palestinians want to do to Israel…

And that made me think of one of my most memorable moments during our trip to Israel. After our 3+ hour hike in the Yehuda National Park Reserve we bought a couple of ice creams from the park shop and sat down on some steps and relaxed and ate them. The man who sold them to us went on break and walked by. I asked him if he knew how far it was to Tel Aviv and then we got talking. He lived in a town close by where he said 200 of his and his wife’s relatives lived. He told me that Israel was the only place for Jews to live. He was expecting his fourth child any day. The day before was the terrorist killing of the 4 innocent Jews in their car outside of Hebron. He was the first one who told me about that – Micah and I had been in that place only 5 or 6 days before. We were talking about the conflict and he said, “there will not be peace in my life time. Arab children are taught to hate Jews and Jewish children are taught to hate Arabs, until we both change how we teach our children there will not be peace.”

That reminded me of something else I learned while I was in Israel. At some point in Israel they did a reeducation campaign to teach people not to pick the wildflowers, they started with children and somehow it trickled up and down and it was the most successful reeducation campaign in Israel – no one picks the wildflowers anymore.

Now we just need to teach them not to throw their trash all over their parks….yet another issue.

And so that was my roundtable contribution. The conversation was lively about the bias of the film and how complicated the situation in Israel is, with secular jews, religious jews, and the history, so much history, Iran, good Palestinians, the Hamas, the Hezballah. Syria, land swaps. There is no simple solution, but it doesn’t mean that there will never be peace.

One day there will be peace, but in whose lifetime?

Today, I worked a full day. Getting my work done, getting broken machines fixed and running the register and talking to customers and generally having fun. One funny exchange with this woman I know from back east, she was walking around the store with her 15 month old daughter and this other younger woman I thought was a mother’s helper. They were shopping, I was visiting with the mom and her baby and then later on almost as an afterthought she introduced me to her niece. And I said, “Oh, I thought she was your slave.” The woman laughed hysterically, saying, “My niece is loving that,” and I said, “well, I said it for her benefit” and then everyone was laughing even harder. I asked the woman’s niece if she had ever been here before and she hadn’t and the woman said, “yeah, not a bad place to be a slave…”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today is Grandpa B’s yirtzheit, my mother’s father. Which means it's succoth, Grandpa B also died on a jewish holiday. Dad lit a candle for him and told me a story about when he worked for him.

Dad was saying, “You worked with your grandfather at the store." "When did he die?" "1978" "So I was 16 years old." "He wasn’t the easiest man to get along with, but I stood up to him. He was a good man.”

“We had a disagreement and whenever you had a disagreement you would go to the basement of the bakery. I said to him, we’ve got to straighten something out, he replied, ‘Stanley, some things can’t be straightened out. They remain crooked.’ Grandpa was a brilliant man, what could I say to that.”

Micah got braces today, blue and red railroad tracks. To be on for at least a year, he seems to be doing O.K. Dad and I were talking about my orthodontist, who was also my mother’s orthodontist. Mom and I had braces at the same time. Dad was being funny, he said he argued with grandpa about my mother’s teeth, he felt he got cheated, that he got faulty merchandise and that grandpa should have paid for Mom’s braces. No dowry and imperfect teeth, that’s a raw deal. Mom’s orthodontist was a very interesting woman, I think her name was Naomi Coval. She was a total believer in fixing people’s faces by fixing their teeth, she had some amazing before and after photos. People who would never smile before, She also traveled to Africa to fix teeth. She had pictures all over her office of Africans and her successes, plus she liked to talk, told interesting stories, not that I can remember even one of them, but I do remember not minding my visits to her, they were often just me and mom together and her office was in North Lawrence which was almost a 20 minute drive from home – at least it seemed really far to me at the time. I think the stories she told were often about Africa…

This evening in a little while Jackie, Stan and I are heading to the synagogue for International Peace Day to watch a movie called the Little Town of Bethlehem…

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last day of Summer...

Monday, 9/20/10

Dad showed up in the store as I was wrapping up my deposits from the weekend. “Are you heading to the bank?”

“Soon. do you want to come with me?”

“I could go for a toasted bagel with cream cheese.”

“So could I. I’ll sit down with you.”

“We’ll sit down after we get back from the bank.”

“Good, that way I won’t leave the money on the chair like I did the other day when Louis called and I completely forgot about the money.”

“What was in it, some singles?”

“No it was my deposit, I got distracted and forgot it was there. It was a good thing you found it.”

By now we are walking to the bank together. “Remember Max the bookie?” Dad asks me, then continues, “Max was a bookie, you don’t remember him, he was short and stocky, used the phone booth, and left a bag of money, came back a couple of hours later, his face was white, the money was still in the phone booth. My friend Harry. (from the hosiery next door) used him. Harry liked to bet on baseball, one time he bet on Cincinnati, they took an 11 run lead…” My phone rings, we are just outside the bank, it’s Jackie, Dad goes into the bank. I stay outside and talk to Jackie. She's just checking in, I tell her how Dad keeps telling me stories, I need to write them down, I wish I could recreate his language, the way he tells them to me. A few minutes later he comes back out and takes the money bags from me to bring to the teller for me. A few minutes later I follow him in and then after we leave the bank I remember, “So what happened with Harry’s bet?” “ The other team came back and won the game in extra innings.” “Betting baseball is a crapshoot.”

We walk back to the store and have coffee and bagels, I read the sports section to him. I tell him in a monologue of my own, "The Mets are now mathematically eliminated. They play Florida tomorrow, I guess those games mean something they are fighting for 3rd place. Atlanta plays Philadelphia those games mean something, The San Francisco Giants are in first place, so are the Yankees, the Mets are done, stick a fork in them."

Today is the actual day my mom died in 1999. The birthday of my dear cousin Rachel, who died in that terrible car accident in November of 1996 with her father, my dear beloved Uncle Howie. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of all 3 of them.

Today felt like my official back to reality, back to work, Monday, trying to deal with all these little work things that have been piling up on my desk or in my mind. There is still one computer/register issue that I need to deal with. I already tried one day for an hour or so to get this issue resolved, but I failed. It was the one thing I didn't deal with today. And then the ice maker stopped working over the weekend, the refrigeration guy did a major cleaning on it on Friday while I was deep cleaning the produce case which he fixed for me, but now the ice maker isn’t making ice, but the produce case appears to be working well. I did have my head literally inside of it for about 2 hours cleaning and scrubbing on Friday before quitting work early and heading to temple… Blah blah blah, I don’t think any of that made any sense, but oh well. It was a Monday, payroll, bill paying, odds and ends, thinking of doing all this refinancing, ugh, it was a work day, but I’m feeling good, feeling centered, looking forward to the fall, which begins tomorrow! And tonight when the sun goes down in the west, the moon and Jupiter should rise in the east, it’s another beautiful evening, blue sky and white clouds over Ramshorn…

Sunday, September 19, 2010

End of Yom Kippur, Andrew's Homecoming, Micah's Birthday


Stan monologue on the car ride home just a few minutes ago:

Dad puts his cane in the car upside down and I say to him as he struggles into the passenger seat, here’s your cane, you put it in the car upside down, why did you do that?

“what can I tell you, you do what you can, it’s like Tommy Powers said, “Do the best you can, as soon as I get another man, I’ll shoot him right in there.”

“I thought you said that.”

“No that was Tommy Powers, he had 5 boys, he worked at the track, he was a cashier, back then they had sellers and cashiers, he was a $2 cashier, they had them on the mainline, cashiers and sellers, he said, “go to the seller” Have I ever told you that story, I must have. Back then you were either a cashier or a seller, and these guys would go to the wrong lines, they would try to buy a ticket at the cashier, they were Puerto Ricans, or Hispanics and this guy came up to Tommy and kept trying to buy a $2 bet on a horse and he was getting frustrated. Tommy kept telling him he had to go to a seller. They guy didn’t understand, but he finally walked away and then he stopped turned back and looked at Tommy and said, “I’m just as good as you and I’m staying up here with everybody else!”

“Then there was Johnny Devaney, a big Irishman, he’s gone now. He was a $10 cashier, He had this guy who kept cashing in these $10 bets, a bunch of them on almost every race. He told a friend of his, follow that guy and buy what he buys. 15 minutes later his friend comes back with $10 worth of hot dogs.

“There was this other guy who was a $10 seller in the clubhouse. One day he gave me a few horses to bet on. I wasn’t working that day. I was at the track with grandpa B and Uncle Jack and Aunt Rose Eshay. He gave me a bunch of winners one of them was a 40-1 shot, we made out that day. Your grandpa liked to go to the horses, so did Mr K. One day we were at the track on the escalator and Mr. K saw this $20 bill on the escalator and he was going for it. I yelled at him, I get halves.

“I need to be careful about what I say about Germans. “

“We were talking about Germans?”

“Yes, you mentioned some German girls.”

“That’s right, I did, but I’m not prejudiced of Germans so I don’t even realize it. I didn’t grow up in World War II.”

“Yes, but I did, I experienced a lot of anti-semitism, there was a lot of anti-semitism when I grew up, they killed 6 million of us, but we’re still around, what a nice congregation you have in Bozeman, what a friendly group of people. I like the rabbi, he was a bit long, but I liked him, the music has been playing in my head all day today, the guitar, the cello, all of it. “

So that was my car ride home, just now Sunday night, the end of Micah’s 14th birthday.

Services ended around 6:40 pm last night and Stan, Howie and I broke the fast with the rest of the congregation at the temple, as Jackie sped off to get pictures of Andrew and Sawyer and their homecoming dates and as it turns out we know the parents of Sawyer’s date. So while Jackie got the photos and visited with the girls’ parents, Howie played in the yard at the synagogue and Stan and I ate with some new friends at temple. Dad truly enjoyed himself. The Yizkor service earlier in the evening (from 5 – 6pm) was very touching, the rabbi created a sacred moment for me as I journeyed in my mind and saw my mother again and we spoke and all she said to me was “Oh, Mawkie, Oh Mawkie.”

Dad was very solemn during the service and I know he was thinking of Mom all day, and especially at Yizkor, which is the memorial service held in the evening of Yom Kippur. And especially since it was this day, Yom Kippur, when Mom died 11 years ago. It was the only service the entire weekend in which he tried to read the prayers from the pamphlet, he just isn’t physically able to see the words, but he tried, he kept rubbing his fingers over mom’s name which is listed in the congregations book of rememberance. He kept asking me and I kept showing it to him. Immediately after Yizkor the service continues with Neilah, the concluding service for the Day of Atonement and then since it was also the end of Shabbat we all went into the back yard of the temple and had a havdalah service, lighting the havdalah candle, smelling the spices, the wine prayer and the bread prayer, finally eating after 24 hours.

After the service we sat with a man who recently lost his wife only a few months ago. We broke the fast together and we introduced ourselves to each other and I think it was very meaningful to Dad, he is very empathetic to people who have lost a spouse or any loved one.

Jackie came back from taking pictures of Andrew and his friends and we drove home to Big Sky where Micah was already home with his soccer friends who were ready to start celebrating his birthday. They had spent the day playing 2 soccer games in Helena, losing the first and winning the second.

Sunday, today, Jackie took Micah and his 3 friends to go Zip Lining at Big Sky through the trees and and then Yeti dogs – the best hot dog place in the universe – and then swimming. At the same time I took Howie to Bozeman where I watched him in the beautiful hot sun play 3 one hour soccer games in a row. He played goalie in the first game which his team won 6 -5, then he played left wing in the second game in which he scored 2 goals and had 1 assist and his team won 5-2, and then in the third game he played goalie and left wing and his team lost 5-0. On the way home he was starving and thirsty. 3 bites and 2 sips of his drink and he was fast asleep for the ride home.

And then it was Micah’s birthday dinner. For his birthday Jackie and I bought Micah a Presto Cool Daddy Deep Fryer and we made falafel, hummus, salad, pita and steak and we had a terrific meal. The deep fryer worked great and we will probably have more and more falafel meals and who knows what other deep fried goodies will appear on our dinner table.

Margy and Jim came over for dessert and it was great to see them as they had just arrived back in Big Sky today – I had not seen them since Micah and I left for Israel – so at least 5 weeks ago… and it is always great to see them and share good times. Micah opening up all his other presents, what a year his 13th year was, what will his 14th year be?


Micah's Birthday...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur

Back from morning services, opting out of the full day of services, we will go back for the Yikzor service at 5 pm and the break the fast at 6pm. Dad and I are hanging out at our friends apartment in Bozeman, watching the Bobcat's football game for now. Dad will want me to find the Mets game once it's past 2 pm. Jackie and Howie went to meet friends for a light lunch to keep the head aches of fasting at bay. They will bring dad back some lunch, I'm going to try to fast until 6 pm. In the meantime I am sitting with Stan and blogging.

Services last night and this morning were long, but meaningful, full of great music and singing. Kol Nidre sung by Maddy and the cello played by her brother Louis was awesome. Thinking about the meaning of life, the meaning of services, what is the meaning of it all? In listening to the rabbi and trying to come up with my own take on things I came up with this:

it's not so much about coming up with meaning, but it's about getting closer to the holiness of life, the miracle of life, the what puts a smile on your face or better yet, what puts smiles on the faces of everyone around you, what brings us closer to the holy energy at the center of it all...

The rabbi spoke of many things. Yom Kippur is the time for repentance, prayer and charity. But the rabbi says those 3 words are the wrong words and it is actually their opposites that are true. Now if I could only remember what he meant by that. I will try, but I'm sure I will be coloring this in my own way (and I'm sure making some of this stuff up - I've always been good at making stuff up):

Repentance is not about feeling sorry for things you've done, but taking ownership of them, learning from them and improving yourself.

Prayer is not about asking for things, but looking inward, getting closer to the holiness of life, in fact being grateful for what one has. Whenever I find myself praying, I find myself being so grateful for all I have (I have so much to be thankful for!) and simply praying for things to stay the course... to continue to be so blessed in life.

Charity, "Tzadaka" is not about just giving handouts. It's about loving kindness. It's about a responsibility to help others less fortunate than ourselves. Not something you do if you feel like, but something you must do.

Yom Kippur is a time of reflection, a time to think about the things that have missed the mark, missed the target and think about how one can do better next year. It's a time to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. To start fresh, to truly reflect about one's life and to move forward.

Writing this blog right now is a way for me to sort things out, to think about myself, my family, my communities, and my role, my desires. Every year at this time I think about working less, reading and writing more, being a better father, a better husband, a better son, a better employer, and a better person to myself. That's a lot to think about, a lot to sort out and though writing all this helps, sometimes I think just thinking about it, letting it all sink in and resonate deep inside is very important. Sitting at synagogue, reading prayers, partaking in services, let it resonate, let it be, let it resonate, let it be....let it all sort itself out inside without writing it all down...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Time with Stan...

Wednesday 9/15/10...

Haven't blogged in a week or so, but I think I will start with today and work backwards. Jackie, Stan and I all went to the dermatologist today to get baselines and check for melanomas... Stan had a couple of things the doctor decided to scrape off and I had one thing she thought she better scrape off because it was speckled while none of my other moles were speckled. Then I took Dad to get his flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine, so hopefully no side effects, Jackie got the last in a series of hepatitis vaccines and I did not get any shots today... We had a very nice lunch at the bistro after doing some looking at winter shoes for Stan. A little chocolate for dessert and then a trip to Target mainly to get Micah his birthday present ( A presto cool daddy deep fryer so we can make falafel - that's what he wants, but don't tell him, it's a surprise - his birthday is Sunday - 14 years old!) So we spent the day with Stan, and Beth you will like this next paragraph if I can remember everything he was talking about today. Lately he's been remembering a lot of snippets from his childhood days or stories about Uncles, and other relatives. He told us a story that when he was 15 his Uncle Louie took him out to the movies and offered him a cigarette (not his first, by any means) a Camel, no filter. He was telling me that he used to visit his Grandfather, his mother's father, who he calls Pop (Thanks, Pop - he's the one who emigrated to America). Pop was about 72 when he died and dad would visit him at the nursing home in Valley Stream where Pop would sit outside in the yard. That was around 1942, so dad was about 12 years old. Stan also talked a bunch about his father's father, Jacob, who was an inventor, invented some kind of gas mantle. I asked Dad, "didn't he invent the automatic bowling alley?" Stan replied, "No, I invented that, I drew it up on a piece of paper, I didn't really invent it, but I thought it up and drew it up, but that was it." Jacob did also invent the plastic bag, he sold it to laundromats and diaper services, but he was ahead of his time. If his timing was better, who knows how rich the Robin family could have been....

My Grandmother, my dad's mother, Anna Roogow, worked for Jacob Robin in his office and that's how she met my grandfather, Dad's Father, Benjamin Robin. My dad told me that his dad hated his father (grandfather Jacob) who was a womanizer and deserted his family - my dad's father, his two sisters Elizabeth and Josephine and his brother Henry (who I don't think I ever heard of before). Aunt Elizabeth I knew - she lived in Hewlett (my home town) for the last years of her life - she moved to Hewlett when I was about 10 and she died about 10 years later. Josephine I never knew and I never knew Henry either who Dad tells me lived in Paris, Kentucky. So lots of family history today. Dad talked about his mother, Anna, the oldest in her family she had 4 younger brothers, Louie, Irving, Ernie and Sol. I knew my Uncle Sol, he was a sportswriter, famous for being mentioned in the famous baseball book about the Brooklyn Dodgers, The Boys of Summer. Dad told a story about Uncle Sol as a young boy crying at the dinner table. When asked why he was crying, he cried, they (his older brothers) are looking at me.... Anna's mother was Rose Roogow, the matriarch who came over with Anna(5) and 2 of her brothers (2 yrs and 2 months old at the time) who were on a boat through Ellis Island. Pop, Abraham Roogow came over first on a boat by himself through Ellis Island and was a professional lithographer.

What I really need to do is set up a little desk at my dad's apartment and take out my computer and while we are watching a Mets game just get him talking, he is full of stories, lots of stories and he enjoys telling them, often with this silly grin on his face...

After our doctor's day in town we drove home, dropped Jackie off who had to take Micah back to town for soccer practice and Dad and I went over to pick up Howie from gymnastics class (see video at bottom of blog). Then back to Dad's apartment where the dogs were waiting for us (we had left them there so Lauren could walk them while we were in Bozeman) - I took the dogs to the store to get dinner, hot dogs and baked beans, then back to Dads where Howie and Grandpa hung out watching the Mets game while Howie did his homework and I took the dogs fishing down by the south fork.

The dogs love fishing - Buddy seems very tired out from all his running back and forth and Murray usually gets her nose in whenever I catch a fish. Tonight I had this big bird, maybe an osprey, maybe a young bald eagle, not really sure, fly by me and perch himself in a tree right above me where he sat and watched me fish the entire time. He saw me catch and release the two fish I caught and he never moved. It was a beautiful evening, but no picture of the bird as I forgot my camera in the car. Then back to Dad's for dinner and then back home with Howie for the night...

Monday and Tuesday were typical work days.

Last Sunday, we had family pictures taken down by the river in addition to Andrew having his senior portrait done. We had the pictures taken right were I fished tonight. It was actually a really good photo session with Kene Sperry and I am looking forward to seeing the results. After the photo shoot it was off to town for Howie's soccer where as soon as we got there Jackie found a brand new baby to hold...

Jackie with the baby and the baby's mom...
Howie scored 3 goals - his team tied 4 -4
Monday night I finally got to go fishing with the dogs on the Gallatin...before coming back home to make the family a mango fajita dinner.... Murray looks like she's going to have some trout for dinner...
but leaves it for me to throw back in...
My prize fish so far this summer... about a 15 inch rainbow trout... who is now back in the water swimming around getting bigger for the next time...

Howie doing aerials...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rosh Hashana

Labor Day hike down to the river with the Gettlers...

Thursday morning service begins with the kids singing...
and ends with a photo...
After services we taught the bnai mitzvah class how to tie tzittzit...

Snow on Ramshorn Peak...

We spent Rosh Hashana at synagogue in Bozeman, Wednesday night service and Thursday morning service. Lots of people asking Micah and I about Israel, including of course, Rabbi Ed. The services were great. I love the high holiday services as a time to think, to contemplate about myself, my life, my good fortune.

This year the rabbi talked about tossing away things one doesn't need to carry with them anymore, more in the spiritual sense. What are the things you don't need to carry around with you anymore, what are things you would like to improve about yourself? Every year it seems more possible, to become a better person and enjoy life more, a better father, a better husband, a better son, a nicer guy to myself. Change for the better... for some reason this year, I feel closer to maybe really doing it, maybe because I just spent 3 miraculous weeks in Israel with Micah, maybe because I'm getting older, more wise even...

The rabbi talked about science and religion, about changing and repeating, his sermon on Thursday talked about lifting your eyes and seeing what might have been there all along, seeing what's in front you, opening your eyes and seeing what was there all along. Somewhat similar to Micah's torah portion... And it all spoke to me, something to do with getting older, something to do with the things you begin to understand when you start getting older, I guess I am finally getting older... though inside I still feel like a little kid, life's experiences are maybe possibly giving me some wisdom, maybe I've finally learned to be a better listener...and then again maybe not. Let this be a year of positive change, of lots of smiles, of lightness, of love...

L'Shana Tova ( to a good new year) to everybody!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


And now I'm back at work, my second day, all going well, store really does run without me, I'm like the little push behind the clogged drain full of ping pong balls, just nudging everything so the balls go through the hole and the business keeps moving along. The weather has been crappy. Cold, wet, needs a bit getting used to, I've hardly seen any friends yet, I feel like I need some time to think about those 3 weeks with Micah in Israel. This blog has been such a reporting of what we did and what happened with just a little bit of reflection. I need to, I want to, I will reflect... as I run into people and of course everyone is asking me "How was your trip?"

(I'm at my desk at the store writing this.... and I hear "MARK!!!!" I ignore it. Seconds later, "FALSE ALARM." That is my life at the Hungry Moose, knowing when to react, and then when I need to pushing things along...)

So my answer for now on How was your trip?:
Great, Awesome. It was a 3 tiered trip for me,
1. Israel. Israel is twice as old and ten times as built up. History, Spirituality, the politics, the people...
2. 3 weeks with Micah, wow, what a great kid to travel with, he loved it, he participated and he soaked it all up like a sponge.
3. The People. This is your life.... visiting with 3 friends who at one point or another in my younger days I was very close to. Revisiting the old Mark.

And now back at work, things going well, saying hello to everybody, reconnecting with the staff, waiting around now mostly to say hello to my manager for the first time, who kept everything running well, and then it's Rosh Hashana, so off to temple tonight and tomorrow, the Jewish New Year.

Shana Tova to everybody!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We're Back! To Snow!!

24 hours later from getting on the plane, we were finally in Bozeman getting off the plane, where Micah and I were met by Howie, Grandpa, Jackie, Murray and Buddy. Hugs and kisses all around. Only disappointment for me was no whines from Murray... We drove home, where Andrew was waiting, unpacked slowly, hung out, gave out some gifts, sat around and just enjoyed being home with everyone. Miraculously, slept very well last night. Now it's Sunday afternoon, Stan is here, will probably put the Mets game on in a few minutes. Would like to go down to the river with the dogs and go fishing, but it's cold and rainy out. Colder than it ever was when we were in Israel. Actually it's snowing out!

So we're back, going to take it easy and stay at home today. Maybe venture out tomorrow. Just going to sit around and enjoy my family. How fortunate am I?!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

On Our Way Home

9/3/10 11:45 pm

on board, taxiing to the runway waiting for takeoff. 3 weeks with Micah in Israel...wow... the last few days have been a glimpse into the Mark of old -
staying at Lisa's, moved to Israel in 1995
seeing Marc with a C, moved to Israel in 2004
having yet another meal with David, moved to Israel in 1984
junior high/high school/college
close your eyes, snap your fingers, give a whistle and it's 30 some odd years later
and our kids are us
they are the ages we were when we met...
Well, the plane will be taking off any second leaving the land if Israel... until who knows if and when we, I, or Micah will return...

a trip to think about
to digest
to remember
to write about
and to jump off from - a renewed interest
(or for Micah, a new interest)
in what happens
is happening
in Israel, in Palestine
in the middle east,
in the world

in the air...
say goodbye to Israel, "l'hitra'ot, shalom"
"l'shana tova"