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CT 169 Club by Martin Podskoch

Available through me, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Below is one of my articles appearing in newspapers and in the travel book, CT 169 Club, with a twist of getting to know your Connecticut neighbors. See homepage for more information or contact me to purchase the book. See events and exhibits page for upcoming signings. Below is the article from the book, it has been appearing in many travel sections of regional newspapers.

Summer Sandals
Published in Spring 2019 New Authors Journal

 

An excerpt from Summer Sandals, read the whole story in the Summer 2019 New Authors Journal. Available on Amazon

 

Fast forward to the Fourth of July 1993. I was at a barbecue given by some Bosnian refugees I had helped to resettle in the US the previous year. As i looked around, I noticed I was the only social worker that was part of their resettlement team who was there. In fact, I was the only American.

 

I wriggled my toes in the grass and thought about freedom. and the choices people have to make for that very privilege. I thought of the refugee in my own soul. Hadn’t I left everything familiar for the freedom to choose a better life?

 

just a year ago, I had to explain what fireworks were to two refugees after they dived down to the ground and covered their heads in he middle of the street thinking they were being bombed. Their war wounds were not yet healed, and the fireworks scraped away at their still fresh battle scars.

 

A year later, and they themselves are celebrating the fourth of July; their new American holiday. They are celebrating freedom as United States citizens.  This one year grant position to re-settle refugees was some of the most gratifying work I would ever do. Many people who sought my counsel were not interested in taking it. However, these refugees ate up every bit of advice I gave them. They wanted freedom and to have a better life, and saw my guidance as part of a means t that end. 

 

Soon through them revelations about my life, the summer of  1971, and my struggle to be free from my past became clearer. I too left everything familiar so long ago to create the life I wanted. To become free from the limits of my past was the gift that now helped me relate to their current circumstances.

 

I never was really aware of the pain and suffering in the world outside my own life. Yes, I watched the TV news and read the newspaper. Yes, I cared about all of it, but it was far removed from my daily life. Nestled snuggly into my Connecticut shoreline home when I took the job, I never knew how close to the world and its suffering I would become. Yet, at the same time, I realized how far I had traveled  away from my own suffering.

 

When I took the job, I thought, “I’ll sign them up for English as a second language classes, fill out food stamp applications, get them apartments, find them jobs. Yes, I did all those routine things, but not before I learned of their torture and pain. I prided myself on being strong, but when I would pick these clients up at the airport, some who were bloodied and beaten, I realized what strength really was. Some were recently raped, or had seen their family members shot in front of their eyes, and some were malnourished near death. I realized I was a very small fish in a big pond of survival techniques. Telling me their story was necessary to heal. It was a gift to listen and be a part of something bigger than myself. I was a stepping stone on their journey, just like Margaret was in mine.

 

A year later and they were celebrating Independence Day. They had jobs, Spoke English, and some even had cars. They were smiling and proud. They were shaking my hand, telling me how grateful they were. They are no longer afraid of fireworks.

 

I thought that I should thank them. Through them I realized I too had been a refugee. I left my family, friends, and familiar surroundings to start a better life. Years later, there I was trying to help others do the same.

 

Sometimes I think of them, the refugees I met, and wonder if they are still doing well. I wonder if telling their stories helped them be free, or if the past still haunts them.

 

I write this knowing we have a world full of terrorists and full of wars. I wonder what crosses people around the world, including my children will have to bear. I hope they find a way to tell their stories, to have their stories lift them to freedom. I hope they eat some ice cream, and wriggle their toes in summer sandals on a Fourth of july as they watch fireworks. 

Cathy's Cottage Cookbook by Cathy Weiss

Easy recipes for a casual and healthy lifestyle. Contact me for copies or see events and exhibits page for upcoming signings. Here's one of my spring favorites:

White Bean and Artichoke Salad

9­10 oz can artichoke hearts
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (be sure

to remove bitter white pith)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh chopped basil
1 lb can cannelini or small white

beans, rinsed and drained

4 whole tomatoes seeded and chopped, or sliced thin (depending on tomatoes use use) You can halve cherry tomatoes as well

for dressing
3 T. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Prepare salad ingredients and place in bowl. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Let sit for ten minutes to meld flavors.

Personal Notes: This can be made ahead for dinner. It travels well as a picnic or pot luck take along! Once I made an elaborate picnic for an outdoor concert date, I made this, the marinated mushroom recipe, Uncle Mikes olive recipe, a hunk of cheese, and some some crusty bread. Another couple was passing by and the husband said" why don't you ever make me a nice picnic like this". Little did he know how easy these cottage make ahead recipes, combined with some simple store bought ingredients can be so elegant!

© 2015 Proudly created by Cathy Weiss and Rachael Mason

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