Caroline is a master at the art of storytelling…
Blueberry picking at a local farm, so much fun! There were many different varieties, what a great family activity.
For Cee’s flower of the day challenge.
It’s your immune system here.
I know you think of me as a wise guy and a nag sometimes, but we gotta talk.
Lately I’ve been feeling a little down. You know, like the time 2 years ago when you got that awful stomach bug?
Yeah that was a doozy. But we beat it!
Right now I’ve noticed you’re not really going anywhere much. Which means I’ve got nothing to do. I’m bored.
Listen, we gotta work in harmony here; what I’m saying is I don’t mind you taking supplements and herbal tinctures to give me strength. As a matter of fact, I appreciate it.
But you gotta expose me to something.
Well, not covid 19, I need to battle that like I need a hole in my head!
But what about flus, colds and other viruses?
Go out, take a walk, smell some flowers please!
I could use a little distraction you know.
Just saying, throw me bone, will ya?
Waiting in anticipation to your response.
Your body’s natural defenses
This was written in response to:
***If you are unfamiliar with our beloved Jewish Godmother series, scroll to the end of the story and click on the links to read our introductory parts 1-4
**If you are not caught up with part 4 of The Dueling Dons, click on link below:
Let me tell you my friends, after meeting Don Bustamonte behind the dumpster I couldn’t sleep. I was tossing and turning all night long. I did, after all, make a deal with the head mob boss of New York City. The excitement of owning a piece of Via Roma Pizzeria got me so fershimmeled and I ended up biting off more than I could chew. How will I follow through? What will happen to me if I don’t, is he going to break my kneecaps or give me my own pair of cement boots so that I end up sleeping with the fish? Maybe I’ll go the way of the beanie baby empire!
The next morning at the deli I must have looked awful because Francine took notice and asked, “What’s the matter, Jose’? You didn’t happen to eat the whitefish that was accidentally left on the counter last night?” I answered, “No, it’s not that, I’m in big trouble Francine.” At that, Francine motioned me over to the walk in refrigerator for privacy. She put a sweater over my shoulders so I wouldn’t catch a chill and then shouted, “All right Jose, spill it!” I then explained to her the encounter I had with Don Bustamonte and the deal I agreed to. “Francine, it’s obvious she loves him, how can I make this happen?” Her eyes lit up and she replied, “I saw Fiddler last week at the theater, I have an idea, don’t worry, I’ve got your back, I am my mother’s daughter after all, aren’t I? Trust me!” As she walked out of the refrigerator she turned to me one last time, “Oh and another thing, just to be clear, if this works, I want a cut of your pizzeria cut!”
Soon after, The Godmother entered the deli. She grabbed a fresh bagel and some shmaltz and headed to her office in the back. It was then that Francine put her plan into action as she gave me a ‘wink’ and rushed to the back of the deli. “Ma…ma…ma!” The Godmother, startled, answered, “Francine! What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” Francine clutched her chest, “Oh my gosh ma, is it that obvious, something’s happened, I had such a vivid dream last night. At least I think it was a dream, but it seemed so real, I’m not sure what to make of it.” This got the Godmother’s attention, “Sit down, tell me all about it.” She handed Francine a plate, “Have some leftover cholent from Shabbos, it’ll calm you down, I’m all ears.”
Francine continued, “I was in my bed sleeping and I was awoken by a small crowd of people bursting into the room. “The Godmother was curious, “A crowd of people, what were they doing, why were they there?” Francine replied, “They were celebrating, singing and making such a racket! But Ma, they weren’t strangers; they were our relatives, ones that have passed away.” Francine then reached for her mother’s arm and placed her hand gently on it for effect, “Ma, your Bubbie Sylvia Faiga was there.” At hearing this, The Godmother gasped, “My dear Bubbie, Sylvia Faiga? My beloved Bubbie whom I loved more than anyone? How did she look? Was she wearing the scarf I knitted for her when I was 12 years old?” Francine knew she had her mom on the hook, “Other than needing a little bit of sun, she looked great. And she was wearing the scarf, she looked quite lovely in it.” The Godmother was happy, “Was she asking about me? What were they celebrating?” Francine answered, “Well they were celebrating the happy couple who found love at last.” The Godmother was puzzled, “Who is the happy couple?” Francine then went for the kill, “Why, you and Don Bustamonte, that’s who!”
The Godmother’s spine stiffened, “I have no interest in that man, that will never happen.” Francine then pulled out a small notebook from her purse and opened it, “Really? No interest? Then how do you explain this? Here on page 3 you wrote the words: Mrs. Sylvia Bustamonte 20 times!” The Godmother’s face turned red. Francine went on, “I know you are fighting it ma, so I had to let Bubbie Sylvia Faiga know that you are not interested!”
The Godmother looked worried, “What did my Bubbie do, how did she react to the news?”
“She said that if you two do not get together there will be serious repercussions.”
The Godmother was quivering, “What kind of repercussions?”
“She said that I’m going to get married.” Francine replied.
The Godmother looked a little relieved, “That’s a bad thing? I’ve waited for this your whole life!”
Francine narrowed her eyes and paused for dramatic effect and then let the ax fall, “Ma if you don’t end up with Don Bustamonte then I will end up marrying a goy! And not just any goy ma, she said I’m gonna marry MEL GIBSON!”
At that moment The Godmother acted as if she was struck by lightning and clutched her chest. She leaned back and fell off of her chair and as she hit the floor the entire deli shook, dishes fell off the shelves, patrons scattered and some even ran out the door in fear!
I had a feeling that Don Bubbieberger saw this as a sign. For she valued the opinion of her Bubbie more than anyone, and took the warning seriously. Francine and I could see her mother’s demeanor change, she then gave me another wink. We both knew her plan was working. The Godmother turned to me and said, “Jose’, I would like to see The Godfather. Do you know where he is?” I answered, “Yes, I know exactly where he is, he’s in the back parking lot by the dumpster. He spent the night there, refusing to budge until you agreed to see him.”
The Godmother then stormed off towards the back parking lot. Upon seeing The Godfather, she said, “Well Don Bustamonte, you look like something the cat schlepped in, you must be hungry. Jose’! Get him a sandwich.”
The Godfather held up his palm and answered, “That’s ok, I found some day old marble rye and tuna salad in the dumpster. You guys throw a lot of stuff away! We don’t do that at the pizzeria.” It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should rethink the deal I made to own a part of Via Roma’s.
The Godmother looked him over and held her nose, ” You need a shower!”
The Godfather replied, “Sylvia I’m filthy because life is not perfect.” At that, The Godfather pulled out a piece of cardboard from behind the dumpster. “Sylvia, during my time spent behind the dumpster I realized something. I wrote all of my feelings down with some spicy brown mustard I found.”
He then began reading as a crowd started to form around us. “Sylvia, my darling bagel with everything I’ve ever wanted on it, I recognize that our love is not perfect, God did not make us to be perfect. The universe is perfect, pizza is perfect, at least it is at Via Roma’s. My Mamma’s meatballs are perfect, The Brooklyn Bridge is perfect, especially when it’s lit up at night. But we are not perfect. I have a very quick temper and I can be very messy at times.” The Godmother nodded her head as she pulled off a piece of herring from his shoulder. He continued, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but one thing I know is that I love you and we were meant to be together. Our relationship will not be perfect.” At this point he grabbed a second piece of cardboard and kept reading, “But I can’t live without you. You are my Brooklyn Bridge, you are my Mamma’s meatball.” He then got down on one knee, “I’m pouring my heart out to you and in front of all these people Sylvia, my darling, will you have me?”
The Godmother was blushing, I could tell she was completely smitten but she was still holding back to keep up appearances. “I’ll give you my answer after I get you cleaned up upstairs.” And with that Don Bustamonte took her response as a “yes” and a smile washed across his face. He scooped The Godmother up and led her upstairs. The crowd began applauding as they witnessed something very rare. This man, this mafia boss who comes from another world, just won the love of the woman whose heart is as cold as Brighton Beach in January.
You see my friends, love does prevail in the end, and to top it off, I get free pizza for the rest of my life!
fershimmeled: flustered, confused
shmaltz: chicken fat
cholent: a traditional stew served on the Sabbath
shabbos: the sabbath
goy: a non-Jew
schlepped: carried or hauled
For part one of The Godmother Introductory Series:
***If you are unfamiliar with our beloved Jewish Godmother series, scroll to the end of the story and click on the links to read our introductory parts 1-4
**If you are not caught up with part 3 of The Dueling Dons, click on link below:
Well my dear amigos, when we last met I was telling you about all of the romantic gestures that The Godfather was making in order to win The Godmother’s affection. He did not hide his feelings; this was a man in love.
But through all of the Godfather’s wooing, the Godmother seemed unfazed and refused to give in to his amorous advances. When she walked outside and saw the words “surrender Sylvia” written across the Brooklyn sky, The Godmother scoffed and called the Environmental Protection Agency and reported his contribution to emitting co2 into the atmosphere. Upon seeing the back room of the deli full of Ruby Begonias, she claimed to suddenly be “allergic” to them and started sneezing and coughing into a big vat of matzah ball soup. Upon hearing that his DNA test verified his Jewish heritage, she exclaimed, “The only Jewish thing about that guinea is his accountant! He’s probably not even circumcised, If he wants a chance with me, not only is he gonna have to cut off the tip of his cigar but also cut off the tip of his ‘Italian sausage’!”
But, was The Godfather’s efforts making an impact after all?
Although It seemed like The Godfather’s romantic efforts were not winning her over, I started seeing subtle changes in her behavior. When Avi brought out her usual lunch of borscht and tuna on rye, she pushed it away and exclaimed, “Jose’, you know what? For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have a sudden hankering for some Italian. Go down to that place on 4th street and get me the Calzone Special!” She also had me take down her picture of Mayor Bloomberg from the wall and replace it with a picture of the former Governor Mario Cuomo. She had me change the piped in music in the deli from Klezmer tunes to opera sung by Pavarotti and Bocelli.
It was obvious that she was falling for Don Bustamonte, all the signs were there. But she was so stubborn, she refused to admit it. She continued with her daily business but I knew that deep inside, she was pining away for him. She rejected his constant attempts at contacting her. She ignored his text messages, his snapchat stories and his even finsta account. He even found her profile on J-date and she responded by swiping to the left, then swiping to the right. In frustration, she threw her phone towards the front of the deli and it knocked a knish out of the Dean of Yeshiva University’s hand. The knish ended up in poor Sheila Mendelbaum’s lap.
After the apologies and the cleanup, I received a text from non other than Don Bustamonte himself. It read, “I am in the back parking lot of the deli behind the dumpster, I request a meeting with you, and bring me one of those egg creams!” I was a bit frightened, but I grabbed an egg cream and I headed towards the back of the deli and out the door. Behind the dumpster I saw the Godfather, who seemed like a shell of his former self. His hair was disheveled and he looked like he had been through 18 Yom Kippur fasts back to back. He snatched the egg cream from my hand and chugged it down and threw the glass in the dumpster.
What did he want from me?
He approached me, grabbed my shirt collar, pulled me towards him and he said very slowly, “Jose’, you have to help me, I’m a wreck, I can’t sleep. All I can think about is your darling honeysuckle of a boss, my love, my sweet feisty Sylvia!” He started smelling my shirt and exclaimed, “You even smell like her, a mixture of matzah balls and Jean Nate perfume!” I felt my pulse racing and I had to calm him down so I responded, “Don, what can I do to help you?” He said, “Whatever it takes to win her love, you do this for me and I will do anything you want, name your price!” I thought about it for a minute because I knew I had the advantage, but I didn’t want to push it. I then said, “Don Bustamonte, you have the best pizza in New York City, I want a piece of the pie! I want to own a “slice” of Via Roma Pizzeria!” He let go of my collar and mulled it over for a few seconds. He then kissed me on both cheeks and said, “All right it’s a deal, I’ll make it happen.”
My dear friends, I have to say that I have never made a deal with a mob boss before, this was risky to say the least! Next time we meet, I will fill you in on whether or not love prevailed!
To the tune of I dreamed a dream from Les Miserables
Sang by our lovely and talented friend, Andrea.
Lyrics by Caroline and Linda
There was a time when the world was kind
The air was clean and inviting
There was a time when we were blind
To the virus
And the virus that was coming
There was a time BC 19
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream of times gone by
Before covid 19 and quarantining
I dreamed that I rarely shopped online
And never bought buttloads of toilet paper
Then I was young
And so naive
And paper was made and used and wasted
There was no sanitizer to be made
No masked used twice, no bleach was tasted
But the fevers come at night
Then you panic that you have it
As they say you can’t be tested
And they tell you to go home
Social distancing is a bitch
Now my days are filled with endless boredom
Corona took my social life in its stride
We thought it’d be gone when summer came
And still I dream of dinner parties
That we will live our lives together
But covid said that cannot be
And there is nowhere that we can gather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
Every day is groundhog’s day to me
The same again and again and again
They say he was a legend,
A great captain of the seas.
For he always loved an adventure,
And the company of thieves.
He set sail one stormy night,
The rage of it was brewing.
Under the bright light of the moon,
He said he knew what he was doing.
‘O’er there!’ cried the ship’s first mate,
They couldn’t believe their eyes,
The swells of the ocean were enormous,
They could sense their approaching demise.
The storm was just too mighty,
He knew they were doomed from the start.
The ship clearly never stood a chance,
This captain met his end for following his heart!
A modern day fairy tale? You decide!
One year ago, my brother was getting married to a wonderful girl and I was over the moon! She often referred to my brother as her “Prince Charming.” She and I got along famously and not only that, my dear friend, whom I always have adventures with, became very close to her as well. My friend and I decided that we would help with planning the wedding and finding her the perfect dress! We chose a day and ventured to the nearest bridal store. It was just lovely, the staff served us champagne and we had quite a good time. My future sister in law tried on several dresses until she found one she liked. It was beautiful and by the time she found it, we were a bit tipsy, and fun was had by all. The dress needed some alterations, so the store manager told us there were business cards with highly recommended local seamstresses placed at the front counter. So, my friend picked a card that had some kind of sparkly dust on it and said, “This one looks interesting, her name is Crisabella Fairweather.” I looked at the card and said, “What an odd name but she’s conveniently located right around the corner.”
So my future sister in law purchased the dress and we called the seamstress and she said she was available right away. We then went to her home. Upon arriving, we noticed immediately that it was a very small cottage. Lining the perimeter was a white picket fence and it was surrounded by an array of colorful roses, daisies and petunias. There was a very large oak tree in the front with squirrels and woodpeckers surrounding it. A cute birdhouse hung from one of the limbs and a red cardinal peeped its head out as though it was welcoming us as we walked to the door.
Things got even stranger……..
We knocked and the door opened slowly as we were greeted by a cocker spaniel, there was no sign of any human being! My future sister in law exclaimed to the dog, (which I found odd, but this whole situation was) “We are here to see the seamstress!” The dog barked and turned around and started walking through the house. He turned back at us, to make sure we were following. So we proceeded to follow the dog. He led us to an open sliding glass door and we walked through it to the back yard. What we saw was so unusual that we must take a moment to describe it! The back yard had several large birdbaths filled with bluebirds who were noisily tweeting. Also, There were hens and chickens running amuck. We saw more squirrels and what we think might have been mice scurrying about. The dog continued to turn around as he was leading us. We then walked down a stone pathway to a small thatch roofed cottage which was her workshop. The cottage was painted white with robin’s egg blue trim. She had more flowers lining the workshop and the top of the doorway was arched as if it was part of a fairy tale. We looked uncomfortably at each other, but then she opened the door to greet us. We couldn’t believe our eyes. She was around 4’11”, very long gray hair with flowers strewn throughout it. She was heavily wrinkled and wore a long lace gown and flat pointed slippers. She wore a ring on every finger and smiled as though she knew us since birth. She had bright piercing blue eyes that seemed to twinkle and when she moved glitter fell off her gown. My heart raced as I looked at my friend who had a complete look of shock on her face. The seamstress said, “Hello my darlings, I have been expecting you. I see you’ve met Prince, my dog, he loves to bring guests to my workshop.” We all found this to be very unusual, but she did come highly recommended so we stepped inside. The floor of the workshop was wood and creaked as we walked on it. it was dimly lit and very tiny, which we thought would make it difficult to work in. She got uncomfortably close to our faces when greeting us which made no sense at the moment. She told the bride to change into the dress, but there was no dressing room. So, she uncomfortably slipped into the dress in front of us and in front of a very large uncovered window that faced the street! We looked out the window and there were about 20 small bluebirds flitting about!
As she was changing, my friend as nonchalantly as she could, pointed at a very rusty antiquated foot pedal powered sewing machine. I thought to myself, How can she get this intricate job done with such an old outdated machine? I then looked up and noticed the walls had small shelves with hundreds of different threads, buttons, ribbons, scissors and sewing needles not in any particular order. The entire workshop was in disarray, things were strewn everywhere. Suddenly, she picked up the hem of the dress and held it extremely close to her face as if she was going to smell it! The Bride to be looked at me with wide eyes as I shrugged my shoulders. Crisabella then stated that she merely had to see the beading on the dress and had to hold it 1/2 an inch from her eyes to get a better look. Our mouths were agape, it made no sense. Most of us use reading glasses to see up close. she saw our reaction and said, “Oh fiddle dee dee, I am as blind as a bat, I have to hold things up very closely to see them!” We thought, how effective could a legally blind person be at altering a wedding dress? And with a rusty sewing machine? Who puts the beading on, the bluebirds? None of this made sense, but, we are just 2 middle aged Jewish women, what do we know from this?
Miraculously, she was able to take measurements while squinting and was confident the job could get done in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the bride was not the best at preparing in advance and the wedding was only 2 1/2 weeks away. We were worried but Crisabella put our minds at ease. As we left, she handed us each a thimble and an apple for the road!
One week passed and we heard nothing from Crisabella. We tried calling but the line was out of service! We thought about stopping by her home, but in the end we decided to not panic yet and gave Crisabella a few more days to get in touch with us.
Four days before the wedding we were nervous wrecks. The catering, the venue, the decorations and the photographer were all taken care of. But we had no idea if there was going to be a dress or not! My future sister in law was starting to truly panic, so we had to make a plan B. Her sister still had her old wedding dress and being that they were the same size, she decided to borrow it. It was not the dress she wanted, but at this point, it would have to do. We called the bridal store to report Crisabella, and they apologized and said they didn’t know who we were talking about!
The wedding day arrived!
My friend and I showed up early to the venue to help the bride get ready. The wedding was to take place on the beach, and we were able to get ready in a lovely beach house on location. We were all excited and the disappointment of the dress debacle for the most part was forgotten.
Twenty minutes before it was time for the ceremony, we heard a knock at the door.
What happened next was unbelievable!
As we opened the door, standing in front of us was Crisabella. She was dressed exactly as she had appeared 2 1/2 weeks ago! In her hands, was the wedding gown, altered and as beautiful as ever. She calmly said, “Did you even doubt me?” Next to her was her dog Prince who seemed to bark a hello to us. Also, on her shoulder, was a tiny blue bird! I looked past her to the driveway and saw no parked vehicle. We were very curious as to how she got there with the dog and the dress and the bird. However, we were even more curious as to how she knew where to find us! We didn’t ask for it, but she added a lovely blue sash to the waist of the gown. We each gave Crisabella a big hug as we were speechless and thrilled beyond words! We briefly turned around to bring the dress inside, and when we looked back, Crisabella, Prince and the bluebird were gone, and all that remained on the threshold was a pile of glitter!
Hola Amigos, I’m sorry to have kept you in suspense all this time. When we last met The Godfather was kissing The Godmother’s hand in his “office” in the back room of Via Roma’s Pizzeria. He seemed to be so captivated with Don Bubbieberger that he couldn’t control himself!
The Godfather had been struck right in the tuchus by cupid’s arrow. His kisses slowly went up Don Bubbieberger’s arm and when he got past the crook of her elbow she reared back and gave him such a slap on the noggin. The Godfather fell back in his chair and was softly singing what sounded like the Italian love song That’s Amore. “How dare you,” barked the Godmother, “no one kisses my arm without my consent.” She turned to me and asked, “Did I give consent?” I shook my head. As she used the tablecloth to wipe his kisses off of her arm she declared, “No consent, no amore!”
“Then how do I get this consent?” Don Bustamonte inquired desperately. She grabbed his face in her hands, looked into his eyes and stated, “You have to earn it, besides, I only let Jewish men kiss me!” As she started to gather herself to leave, I rushed up front to order a couple slices of Via Roma’s famous pizza. I figured if I am going to have to deal with all of this drama, I deserved it. As I was handed my take out treat, the Godmother came bursting out the door, turned around and yelled back at the Godfather, “You’re gonna stay outta Brooklyn and you’re gonna stay outta my Spanx!” We then got into the Lincoln and planned to never see the Godfather again.
Meanwhile, days later it was business as usual at the deli. The Godmother was busy dealing with Rita Goldfarb’s latest issue. Rita felt she was overcharged by Stu Botchnick’s Plumbing Service. The Godmother sent her enforcer Avi to give Stu an atomic wedgie right up his plumber’s crack. It was so lethal, that he gave Rita a free toilet installation.
So as you can see all was well and good in Brooklyn, but back in The Bronx a storm was brewing. For Don Bustamonte was not a man who would give up so easily. He was going to do whatever was necessary to win the heart of our dear Don Bubbieberger. I knew that they came from 2 different worlds, how could love possibly prevail? He smokes stogies and she smokes whitefish. He fires a pistol and she fires kitchen staff. He plays the horses and she plays Mah Jongg. He eats meatballs and she eats matzah balls.
How could this ever work?
Well my friends, let me tell you. Don Bustamonte hired a skywriter to write “Surrender Sylvia” across the Brooklyn sky. Through means only a Godfather could use, he found out about her favorite flower, and he had the whole back room of the deli filled with ruby begonias. Neither of these things fazed The Godmother it seemed. But, I heard that he hired a Genealogist to scour his family tree in search of any potential Jewish roots. Lo and behold, he found out that his great great grandmother was of the “Hebrew” persuasion. With the knowledge of his Jewish blood, he hired a Mashgiach to make the pizzeria’s kitchen kosher. He had his pizza chef start making a special pizza bagel and added lox as one of the toppings. Sausage and pepperoni were stricken from the menu. Everyone thought he was losing his mind, but he didn’t care. The heart wanted what the heart wanted.
My friends, that is all for now. The next time we meet you will find out if the Godfather “makes a deal” to win the Godmother’s heart. Will the Godmother choose Don Bustamonte, or Door #2?
Yiddush Word Glossary:
*tuchus: butt or rear end
*mashgiach: a jew who supervises the kosher status of an establishment