Category Archives: Parenting

The Goodbye Window

Dear Ones,

It is a sad day for America and the world. Our country and planet are in danger.

We’re saying goodbye to one of the greatest men, one of the greatest presidents to ever live. So much has been written and said by others, I had no idea what I could write, or how to say goodbye today.

When M was little, and in preschool, if he or other children were having a hard time separating from parents, saying goodbye at drop off, there was a little window, near the front door, and a teacher would hold M up to the window on the inside, and I was outside, and we said goodbye, blowing kisses, and waving at the goodbye window, and then he would be OK, and so would I.

So, back then, I made this:

The Goodbye Window
The Goodbye Window

 

This was a poster I had made during the 2012 election:

supportobama

And this was inspired by the First Family’s 2016 holiday / Christmas card photo:

1stfamily2017

Thank you, President Barack Hussein Obama.

Thank you, First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Thank you, First Daughters, Malia and Sasha.

Thank you, First Dogs, Sunny and Bo.

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica en route to Panama City, Panama, April 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica en route to Panama City, Panama, April 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Looking through the many pictures and waving goodbye, through the screens, or waving goodbye in our hearts inside, while you’ll wave back to us, no doubt, and we already miss you, tearing ourselves away and muttering yes, we can, we have to, but its super scary, and its real, and can we really?  It is such a long fall downwards from the high bar you set.

Thank you, Mr. President, Our President.

Thank you, to everyone who’s been marching and fighting for justice for decades, or days, and to those who have not started yet, but will.

Thank you, to all the artists, writers, musicians, singers, comedians, journalists, filmmakers, dancers, scientists, organizers, activists, dreamers and believers in all that is good in the world because we need everyone to pitch in more. We need many voices and art and comedy and film and songs and it will be  oxygen, a compass, and a way through and over and out of hopelessness, despair, and defeat. As it always is.

M is 10, and he came with me vote in 2008, 2012, and 2016, and he worries about more then a child should have to, because he feels and sees the truth, like so many children do, and he and many others are  deeply sad today. And it shouldn’t be this way; that children  everywhere are afraid and sad because a new president is taking office in the United States of America.

And we, the grown ups, somehow have to explain how this happened, how we’ll protect him, how we’ll continue to work to try to change things.

Every single child needs protection and love and clean air and water  and shelter and food and education, and we as a country already fall terribly short on that, but it could get worse.

It is impossible to explain to M how a dangerous bully tyrant, a most unfit to serve man is going to be in charge and is already working to dismantle life as we know it here and in the world.

So we tell him the truth: Yes, this is really bad. We look forward to the impeachment process to begin as soon as possible.

We stay who we are. We fight back. We don’t give up.

Be well and safe,

Love and Peace.

Elana

Snowy night films

Dear Readers,

Two documentary films are going to be on tonight,
Saturday, January 7, 2017 and both are at 8pm.

Life Animated will be on A & E and is a stunningly
beautiful film.

Bright Lights: Starring  Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds will be on HBO.

And…
Here’s our cat watching the snowfall this morning.

15871892_10154761491928449_5528384204886789911_n

Hope all are safe, cozy and warm.

Peace,

Elana

A Painting of a Bird

Dear Readers,

A few weeks ago, Max came into my office/studio and said, “I’m bored.”
I offered him a few options. One was to paint. He said, “Yes!”

I asked if he wanted paper or canvas. He chose the canvas board, then picked out
a few of my brushes and I helped him set up his workspace on the dining room table.
He didn’t want an easel, saying, “Painting flat is better for me.”
I helped him put out colors (he wanted the acrylics), water, some rags and paper towel.

He was clear on which colors he wanted to start with (blues) and what he wanted to paint (a bird).

While painting, he called me over and asked:
“What do you think of this color?”

I replied,”What do YOU think?”
Then I continued, “Max, I love your color choices. But its your painting. You get to decide if you like it, if you want to change it, if the colors are the ones you want. Really, all that matters here is if YOU like it. If you’re happy with  it.”

He carried on. M used a lot of water and realized that if he tilts the painting, that very watery paint will run.  Instead of it potentially being a “oh, no, my painting is ruined” moment, we used this discovery for good.  M took it in stride. I showed him how he could dab off extra water if he wanted, and explained that even if it ran, that he could choose to keep it as part of the painting.

Then he said, “I’m really interested in making a realistic eye for the bird. All my pieces have some realism in them.”  He spent a lot of time on the eye and he talked more about how important it was for him to do.

M said it was a painting of a Robin and also of a Flamingo, but didn’t want to title the painting too specifically.

So, here it is, “A Painting of a Bird” by Max  Halberstadt Turits, August 2015,  11″x 14″ acrylic on canvas board.

A Painting of a Bird by Max 2015
A Painting of a Bird by Max 2015

Love and peace,

Elana

Ringo Good Cat Angel with Fur

Dear Readers,

Ringo has been gone now a little over 26 hours. I just cleaned out her litter box and completely broke down crying. The house is empty without her.

One of the first pics of Ringo, May 1999.
One of the first pics of Ringo, May 1999 at 5 weeks old.

Our announcement about Ringo to friends and family,
written yesterday 10/1/2014:

January 2006 at age 7, photo by Ari Halberstadt
January 2006 at age 7, photo by Ari Halberstadt

Ringo Halberstadt Turits Good Cat

Born, exact date unknown, March 1999
Joined Andy & Elana on May 2, 1999
Died Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Our Dear Sweet Angel Cat, Ringo left this planet at around 10:30 am this morning. 
She was 15 years and 7 months old.

Ringo was born in Hoboken, NJ and rescued by Eileen “Honey” O’Leary. We were truly blessed to have luck put us right there to pass by a friend, who called us over and said, “Guys, you’ve got to come see these kittens!” Andy and I found her there when she was approximately five weeks old. We brought her home and she became an essential part of our family. We have loved Ringo every day since and she has loved us.

Ringo died peacefully and with us holding her paws and touching her beautiful fur. 
The last things she saw were our faces and hands. The last words she heard were 
“We love you. You are a good cat. Thank you, Ringo.”

We talked about arriving at the Rainbow Bridge. We envisioned for her an open field with wildflowers, bugs and butterflies to catch, and a sunny spot of sun for her to be in always.

Grace and Peace to Our Beloved, Ringo, our Love Angel Cat of Destiny and Healing Paws. We miss you dearly, terribly, and we are heartbroken. But we’re also immensely relieved that you are free of pain. Your infinite, kind spirit and soul are already working in mysterious ways to help us through.

Yesterday Max said: “Ringo’s work here is done. She has achieved all her life goals. So now, she can rest.”

This afternoon, after we told him the news, he looked up to the sky and waved, “Hi Ringo.” And then he said, “She will meet up with all the other cats. There’s a cloud where all the cats and animals you knew are playing together. No more pain and running free like when she was a kitten.”

All Goodness and Love.

The last pic I took of Ringo at 12:27am on Oct. 1, 2014, her last night's sleep at home on the purple couch.
The last pic I took of Ringo at 12:27am on Oct. 1, 2014, age 15 years and 7months  for her last night’s sleep at home on the purple couch. (The black spot on her left hind leg is where the extra sweetness went in when she was made.) 

In the final hours all the things we do with love

Dear Readers,

I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support by readers here. Many of you have sent me personal messages and  emails and all are so greatly appreciated. Thank you.

9/29/14
9/29/14

It’s harder the before part, isn’t it? When you know the end is inevitable, but yet, you watch looking to find glimmers. Oh, Ringo walked to her bowl. She’s still making it to her litter box. Oh, and she ate a bit more! She’s purring. After a few days of her withdrawing to under the table, resting and sleeping mostly, not sleeping on our bed, not jumping up on my desk to lounge on top of my laptop and help me…

After days of not, this morning Ringo jumped back up to my desk and sat in her usual spots. On the right side, behind the laptop, on top, on my lap, over my shoulder, and then circle back again to look out window at birds. She meowed and asked me to pick her up and I held her, Ringo Lite, so  airy and fragile, and she did that thing she does, nestling into my neck, hugging and purring. We sat like that for a while, while I cried and cried. I wasn’t sure I’d get to experience that one more time. But she came and gave that moment to me. One more time on my desk, inspired.

I thanked her out loud for being here with us for so long, and all her goodness. I thanked her for being there and helping us through tragedies and health problems and happy days and holidays, and boring nothing happens days, every day. I thanked her. I cried into her fur and she just purred. “What a good cat. What a good, good cat, you are. Thank you, Ringo. “

Then she got down and I thought, OK, she has given me her love for 15.5 years, a third of our lives. I have given everything I could to her. I’m lucky.

pic from 9/16/14 but she did this today, too
pic from 9/16/14 but she did this today, too

A little bit on how we found her is in this below:

Exhibit curated by Holly Metz, Cover -An Exhibition at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 2004
Exhibit curated by Holly Metz, Cover -An Exhibition at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 2004
The bit about Ringo starts on this page
The bit about Ringo starts on this page
And the rest is on this page
And the rest is on this page

This painting (sorry for not such great photo of it):

Ringo, 2001 by EH
Ringo, 2001 by EH

was inspired by this photo:

August, 2001 by EH
August, 2001 by EH

Today, Ringo enjoyed chicken and kugel (she can be such a little Jewish cat) cut up into the tiniest of pieces and heated up in the microwave. It’s hard for her to eat. It’s almost time.

Here we are with TableCat in September 2010 during Rosh Hashana.

September 2010
September 2010

When we first got her, she also couldn’t eat. So small, at 5 weeks and abandoned without her mommy cat,  we went to a vet and tried everything, used a dropper, but for days she seemed to not eat enough. On Mother’s Day morning, 1999, maybe a week after we found her, I was eating a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Suddenly, Super Tiny Ringo jumped with all four paws into the bowl and starting chomping down. I let her (and got myself another bowl), but then I made her little cracker type things using the cereal as a base and smearing on baby cat food. She gobbled it up, eating from my hands. She’s been a great eater ever since and she grew into a whole cat.

Vintage Ringo Collection
Vintage Ringo Collection

In recent years, she’s been finicky with food, but that was fine, but really, she’s eaten very well her whole life, enjoying plenty of delicious home food courtesy of Andy’s amazing cooking skills. Now, at the end, she can’t eat enough to sustain. It is  almost time, soon, before she knows hunger, before it hurts too much, her pain meds keeping her comfortable for now.

M said, “Her work is done. She has achieved all her life’s goals. Now its time for her to rest.”

But denial along with that, “At least she doesn’t have cancer. She’ll be here, probably two more months. I’ll have one more birthday with Ringo.”

I had to tell him the truth. “Yes, Ringo does have cancer. She is going to die soon, but we don’t know exactly when. She won’t be here for your birthday. I’m so sorry.”

Watching him let that sink in was hard. His face fell. He bit his lip. I could see he was holding back tears. He gets it and doesn’t get it. We talk of the Rainbow Bridge. I told him whatever he feels is OK. I told him all feelings are OK. I said, “Let’s talk about FutureCat. Let’s eat more ice cream.”

I check on Ringo, watching her breathe. Making sure. I look around the house at all the spots where she has always been. The windows. The couch. The table. My desk. The beds. The hall. The litter box. Under things. There is fur in the screen of the window. There is fur.  More windows. She’s still so present and here. I’m already sad at the thought of her absence. All the above, but without Ringo in the picture. All the drawings I have made over the years which include her. There’s that empty space, the negative space, where she won’t be.

I cry a lot. I keep it together for when M is home. He’s so sensitive, we need to be careful, what we say, how we say it. But we still need and want to be honest and tell him the truth. We keep searching for ways to be as gentle as possible, knowing that while he often seems older than his years,  he’s also younger in other ways. All those feelings of loss and grief are certainly hard enough for an adult to process. I don’t think there’s any one right way or wrong way. We know our M and we make decisions that we feel are best for him, for us. So far, it is a mix but it is also calm and peaceful and is also a thing our family is going through together, each in our own different ways, and there really is no way out of it, just through it.

"Through the storm" made after Superstorm Sandy  in December 2012.
“Through the storm” made after Superstorm Sandy in December 2012.

This morning, M made some video of Ringo. He pet her head. He talked about names for his next Future Kitten.  He listed for me all the reasons why rescuing a cat is best, why we’ll get one from a shelter, why we won’t buy a cat from a store. M gets it.  He’s a real  cat person now. I’m glad for that.

I’m pulling out albums and looking through pictures and scanning and the time is going by too fast and it isn’t  just Ringo, but all the STUFF that has happened in the past chunk of time, 15.5 years, all rushing by. Little blips of images, memories, deaths, losses, snapshots of happy days and nights and all the days in between. Like a blur  going inward and backwards, but holding on to the pieces of the moment. I need to remember to eat. There is fur in corners and on steps and on my desk and on the window sill and —- and I like it that way.

Cat lovers know how special these creatures are. Ringo has been a muse for me. She heard me when I talked about trouble and when I triumphed. I have received and received. Grateful.

detail from illustration 2012
detail from illustration 2012

A silly ditty we had and rhymes…oh, there are so many silly songs and memories and things we have said:

“Ringo, bingo, bango, bongo, cat would eat a mango. ”

“Who’s good? Ringo’s good.”

“Ringo, Cat of Excellence!”

“Ringo, Cat of Destiny and Density.”

“Ringo, Cat of Constant Furrinness and Love.”

“Ringo, Healing Paws.”

Ringo is  a state of mind and an attitude. Ringo is pure love. We got to have pure love for 15.5 years.

How lucky is that?! Wildly, incredibly lucky to have Ringo in our life. All joy and love covered in fur. All goodness and peace. Our Beautiful Ringo, Angel Cat.

Ringo is made of StarStuff.

With love,

Elana

from Creative Systems Thinking
from Creative Systems Thinking