A very different July

This summer we are enjoying Ithaca and our travels are experienced vicariously through the sojourns of others.

My sister was in Sicily and visited a WWII cemetery, This cemetery is the resting place of her husband’s grandfather who lost his life in the invasion of Sicily, a key battle in the liberation of Italy. July in 1943 was a very different July to the tranquility of our July in 2013.

WWII graves

My sister kindly gave me permission to share her photographs here.

The vast majority of graves are marked by a cross interspersed with the graves of Jewish soldiers who fought in the allied armies. The inscriptions on the graves are heartbreaking, she told me about one that read: “Dear G-d, you will tell us one day why you broke our hearts when you took him away”. Another reminder of the tragic cost of war and the depth of gratitude we owe to these incredible sacrifices.

grave Italy

12th July 1943

Z”L May their memory be a source of blessing and inspiration.




A friend’s mother used to say that she would rather spend money on food than on doctors. She was an old-world mother, but she presaged the American belief in food as medicine. We can somehow fix things with food in this culture, for good and for ill.

I do the lion’s share of cooking in my family, not because we’re very traditional, but because my husband’s repertoire is limited to one item: chicken soup. It’s easier for me to cook and him to clean up than to give him cooking lessons, and stack the dishwasher myself.

I don’t obsess over food, and don’t want to give the impression that I do, but I’ve noticed myself thinking of food less in terms of what we enjoy than what it will do for us: lower my husband’s cholesterol, keep my daughter healthy, be “anti-inflammatory” and keep my prematurely arthritic joints supple for a few more years.

When did I stop enjoying food, and start thinking of it as a pharmacy? Even though I don’t consume a lot of mass media, I can’t help thinking of meat in terms of “pasture raised” or “carbon footprint.” What about BGH in milk? Pesticides on produce? Should I be training my little carnivore to appreciate black bean burgers to prevent heart disease for her 60 years hence?

Would it be irresponsible to put down my “awareness” for a while, and just enjoy a meal?