Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

I Planted A Lithuanian Tree Today…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman July 20, 2018

I planted a tree today.

The grayish-bluesy sky was gloomy, threatening to rain, and I was standing in my garden thinking:

 “Good”.

 Some days drag themselves like there are elephants hanging onto each hour. I had no plans, no list of anything to do, no calls to make. I thought,

“Bob, plant a tree”.

(Read on …)

A “Chocolate Phosphate”, or what my Mother told me in the Fifties…by Robert M. Katzman

When I was very young on the South Side of Chicago, my Mother, a daughter of immigrants from the Jewish Pale area of Eastern Europe where Jews were forced to live by the Czar, was addicted to this drink called a “chocolate phosphate”.

She ordered this delicacy in Jewish restaurants which was essentially ice cubes, chocolate syrup and carbonated seltzer water. The basic point, she explained to me, was to make her “greptz” or belch after a heavy meal.

Decades later when I began going to New York City in 1980 for book conventions, I naturally assumed this common Chicago beverage would be available anywhere in a city with the largest Jewish population in America. But no one heard of it, didn’t know what I was asking for and quickly conveyed the impatience and rudeness that NYC was also famous for.  (Read on …)

America, Please, Don’t Do This!…by Robert M. Katzman

America, Please, Don’t Do this!

By Robert M. Katzman © July I, 2018 (Canada Day)

Eyes flicker open in the darkness. I hear the battery wall clock ticking, so I must still be living. Pale morning light is peeking past the loose drawn shades covering some of this small house’s dozen large windows. If this were a fort, no way to defend it. But on a sunny morning, cool wind outside, shades up and windows open a bit on four sides, I don’t need electricity to clear the stale air or illuminate my house.

Wearing my usual long black T-shirt with the screaming American Eagle on it, the one that stops near my knees so I always appear modestly dressed to a morning visitor, expected or not, except for the fact that its only about five ounces of opaque cotton, I decide to do my morning routine, parts of which I’m recording here for future anthropologists. Present day people may be less entranced.
(Read on …)

Wildflower Diary-2..by Robert M. Katzman

Wildflower Diary (2)

by Robert M. Katzman © June 23, 2018

 Short essays, reflections & captured moments about prairies, plants, food and people worth writing about, at various times:

 July 30, 2017

My original essay, posted separately:

Wildflower Diary: Caring For Joy’s Garden”

https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3550

 March 6, 2018

 Ok, this is my grandfather, South Side Jacob the Carpenter’s quick recipe for tiny seasoned red potatoes with cheddar cheese. He was from Byelorussia, born in 1882, so ya gotta take that into consideration. He used unusual tools to achieve his aims.

Here it is:
So, you roast the red potatoes on a metal tray for about 4 minutes in an oven, broiling them at 450. Then take them out, go look in your closet for a steel hammer with good balance to it. Wash off the serious part of the hammer, then beat the hell out of them little potatoes (with the skin still on) until they are totally defeated. Kinda like what happened at the 1968 Democratic Convention. But, I digress.

(Read on …)

Vicki, the Tattooed Armenian Motorcycle Chick…Needs a Break…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © June 3, 2018

Recently, a year after my wife died, I decided to get “back on the horse,” a mysterious phrase some older people say and see if I could find a new relationship online. Like I had a clue what I was doing. But after a few weeks of zero responses, late one night I got this letter from Vicky with a picture of petite her astride a very large motorcycle, saying she’d like to meet me, and against all the rules I read online that are supposed to protect women from dangerous men, she included her phone number. I waited until morning and decided to call her.

We talked for a while and it was clear very quickly from her story that while we weren’t a good match in many ways beside the motorcycle. Vicki’s life was in shambles and I got this idea that perhaps I could possibly help her by writing about her life. I’ve been so absorbed by my own loneliness and misery that it never occurred to me that I might be helpful to another person worse off than I am. In Jewish culture, this is called a “mitzvah” or a good deed. It is up to each person to decide whether to choose to help, or not. I decided to call and meet with her and see what Vicki thought about this idea, if she was comfortable meeting with me.

(Read on …)

Just One Punch, But Mickey Remembered…by Robert M. Katzman

Acts of Friendship: Mickey Remembers

by Robert M. Katzman © May 18, 2018

 I had dinner with a friend in Chicago last night at the kind of a classic guy’s dark wood steakhouse restaurant my Dad and I would go to on a special occasion. Except this was the 18th anniversary of his death in 2000 and in his memory, I had a great dinner with my old friend. He lived far south of Chicago and I live in southern Wisconsin, so this was a good central meeting place.

We talked about many old times, good and bad and the price Time can exact on a person and their relationships. One of the rare things as a person travels through life is to still have a person you can talk to about something that happened 40 years ago or more. That begins to change year by year when a person hits 68, which is what I am now. As my Dad used to say: “The circle gets smaller.”

After a couple of hours it was time to head out to our respective homes because it was a hike to get back, but still, worth sharing company with each other. You get what you give.

(Read on …)

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