Thursday, 13 July 2017

Off to Durham, N.C.

for the Consecration of Sam Rodman as 11th Bishop (Episcopal Church) of North Carolina at Duke University Chapel.  I've known Sam since circa 1978.

I'll also see old Pittsfield MA friends George Blaisdell Jr and Kadi Kool

I'll be incommunicado until Monday 18th July

Neighbour Barbara B is taking care of my cat and my home

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Don't talk to the Police IMPORTANT VIEWING

Two videos, one from a law professor at Regent University (a conservative school founded by Pat Robertson, and by no means a bastion of  liberal ideology!); 

the other from  a Virginia Beach policeman.

Long but important for viewing (even if, like me, you find the prof's "style" to be a bit annoying.   The Professor. The Policeman

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Among the Reeds

Among the Reeds. The true story of how a family survived the Holocaust

by Tammy Bottner

Amsterdam Publishers 2017


"Among the Reeds"  (c.f. Moses in the bulrushes) is the harrowing and tender story of the Offner/Bottner family during the Nazi occupation of Belgium.  The family were Jewish refugees from eastern Europe.

It's a story of efficient brutality. If the Nazis were clear about anything it was about "The Final Solution" - the extermination of every Jew in the territories they controlled, often aided and abetted by local anti-Semites. 

It's a story of misplaced trust.  Jews often went along with Nazi demands  (e.g. registering as Jewish, wearing the infamous yellow star), reasoning that if they complied their persecutors would "play nice".

Queen  Elizabeth of the Belgians put all too much stock in Hitler's personal promise that Belgian Jews would not be deported They were.

It's a story of tragic collaboration  with the Germans by many "god-fearing" Belgians, and of at least one renegade Jew.

It's a story of single minded determination e.g the harrowing journeys of the Bottner extended family as they journey from eastern Europe to Belgium.

It's a story of the risk-taking bravery of family members, especially of the teenage Nathan Offner.

Mostly it's a story of Melly (Offner) and Melek Bottner, the author's grandparents, and their two children, Al (Bobby) Bottner (Tammy Bottner's father) and Irene.

Al Bottner at age 2 was sheltered in two Belgian Convents, thanks to the amazing and risk-taking courage of a Belgian woman,Andree Geulen.

Irene Bottner was adopted by an older Belgian couple who took her in on the basis of a creative and necessary lie by their son, a Roman Catholic Priest, who told them that she was a foundling, abandoned on his Church steps.

Melly, Melek,  and their children Al and Irene survived and were re-united soon after liberation. This reunion was not entirely rosy.  Melly and her daughter Irene had a particularly fraught relationship, Irene was never entirely happy that she had been snatched away from the older Belgian couple - she knew them as Dad and Mum and they loved her dearly.  Melly never bonded with Irene, and was incapable of showing her love.

I have a local and personal interest in this story because Al Bottner and his wife Rosalie are local acquaintances.  They live in the neighbouring Glen Oaks Manor community, and we often have friendly chats as we encounter each other whilst walking. Al  (then known as Bobby) is the young boy on the front page of the book.  


About Tammy Bottner

Tammy Bottner is a physician who treats children and adolescents in a small city north of Boston. She lives with her husband Danny Carlat, and their two nearly grown children.  When she is not seeing patients or writing, Tammy enjoys yoga, dance, tennis, biking, photography, travel, reading and spending time in nature. This is her first book.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

When the little things make the world go round

Last Thursday I went to my local 7/11 to get a newspaper and some cigarettes.  The cigs were not for me, but for my friend Bob who is in a memory unit in a retirement community.

I was a dollar short, so started to use my debit card.  The clerk/assistant said  "You don't need to use the card, I'll make up the difference as I go along". I protested but she was firm.

Later in the day I found the missing dollar bill in my pocket.  I went back to the store to hand it over to the young woman who had waited on me.

She smiled and said "I knew you would be back".


Saturday I went to the gym. The man who checked me in had the most delightfully resonant baritone voice.

As I left I told him that he speaking voice was so mellifluous and delightful.  He was grateful.  He told me that five years ago he had been offered a job as a radio announcer on the basis of his gorgeous voice.  He turned the job down, choosing to stick with his chosen career.

But he was so pleased that I cared enough to compliment him.