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Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day can be a wonderful day, or a day fraught with sadness and grief. There are also so many ways one can be a mother or take on the mother role – it doesn’t have to only mean via biology. And for those who have suffered devastating losses, you most likely don’t even want to hear all the cheery greetings that seem never ending and relentless when it feels like the rest of the world is celebrating. Self-care is so important when you need to grieve any kind of loss – you don’t have to feel like something must be wrong with you if you don’t want to celebrate. And if you do have reason to celebrate someone who is still in your life and has in some way taken on the mothering role, please, by all means, let them know what they mean to you. We all need to know we are loved and appreciated.

Two years ago, I wrote a poem called “The Letter.” It was published in May of 2021 by a literary magazine called Page & Spine which seems to be defunct and also doesn’t seem to have an online archive. For the past two years I have shared it on my Author Page on Facebook (Nancy Machlis Rechtman, Author). This year, I’d like to share it here as well. I hope you like it.

Wishing you all peace and love and finding some reason to smile.


The Letter

by Nancy Machlis Rechtman


I recognize the handwriting

On the crumpled, yellowed note immediately

Most likely written

With a blue Bic pen,

And my breathing stops.


It was stuffed in the back

Of the drawer that I was cleaning out

And that’s why I had forgotten

The words on the decades-old page.

But it might have helped

If I had found it seven years ago

Although just the fact that I’ve got it now

Means maybe this is when it was meant to be found

Because I have yet to figure out

How you celebrate Mother’s Day

Without your mother

Except maybe to read the words

On a letter that crosses time and space and a lifetime

About the little daily acts

That at the time seem like nothing

But now they are everything.


The tears are an unbidden deluge

Pounding through the rain gutters

Leaning against the house

Threatening to overflow into the yard next door.


I trace the curve of each letter with my index finger

Willing a connection to come through

As if maybe I can absorb the energy and essence

That was there when the letter was written

In the blue ink on the page.

And when I get to the end

When a mom assures her vulnerable daughter that she’s proud of her

And that she loves her always

The letter drops to the floor

As do I

And my heart is full

And my heart is empty

And I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this jagged hole that’s overtaken my life.


And then I hear the blare of the TV in the other room

Cheerfully reminding me to buy a card for my mother

To wish her a very happy Mother’s Day

And I know it’s a message

From my mom with her quirky sense of humor to make me smile

So I whisper something only she can hear

And I hope I made her smile, too.



Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved




Stick ‘Em Up

So as most of you know by now, it seems that every time I travel, I come back with stories. And I just returned from an amazing trip up North which couldn’t have been more wonderful. My children’s play, “Threads – The Musical!” was produced for five performances in Pennsylvania and I had the privilege of attending one of the performances. I had the time of my life.

However, this post is not about my wonderful experience. This post is about highway robbery, figurative and literal.

Part One of this tale occurred when I was in the Charlotte airport with a three-hour layover on my way up north. I had an early flight and hadn’t eaten anything nor had I had anything to drink since I had left my house several hours earlier. I did have snacks with me, but I really wanted some water and a piece of fruit, preferably a banana. Since I had so much time between flights, I thought I’d stroll around the airport in search of sustenance. It seems counter to the natural order to be strolling through the airport when most people are frantically shoving their way past the hordes of other frantic travelers in hopes of not missing their plane since usually the gate where you land and the gate where you have to connect to for your next flight are miles apart and you only have 20 minutes to get there before they slam the door to the plane shut just as you approach.

So anyway, I strolled through the airport in search of an affordable bottle of water and a banana. The thing to remember in an airport is, there’s no competition. If a bottle of water is $3.95 in one place, that same bottle of water will be $3.95 everyplace so you might as well buy it in the first place you stop at. Now, finding a banana was a whole other story. Because it seemed impossible to find one in the little convenience stores that pop up every six feet throughout the airport. I didn’t want to sit in one of the “restaurants” there. I just wanted a simple piece of fruit. Finally, I found a place where you could buy bowls with yogurt and fruit. And in their display case must have been 80 bananas just sitting there, waiting for someone to ask for just one. And so I did. I waited on line and asked the cashier if she would sell me one banana.  I don’t eat dairy and I didn’t want a big bowl of fruit anyway, I just wanted a single piece of fruit that I might be convinced to pay a dollar for since I was at the airport after all. After waiting for several minutes, I approached the cashier who looked at me in confusion and told me they didn’t sell bananas. I stared at the 80 bananas in the display case and asked if she could just sell me one since I was very hungry, getting hungrier by the minute, and this shouldn’t have been so hard. She pointed across the way where there was a little alcove where you could choose your food and then put it on a scanner and pay for it, all without the benefit of having contact with another germy human being. She told me they sold bananas there. So I walked over to the shelves and guess what – there weren’t any bananas! There were drinks and sandwiches, but no bananas. So I walked back to the yogurt bowl place and told her there were no bananas and once again, asked if she would just let me have one of her 80 bananas and I’d give her a dollar for it. She shook her head but then handed me a banana. She said I could put it on the scanner across the way and pay for it there. I knew it was pointless to argue, so I thanked her and walked towards the scanners, noting that there were several people shaking their heads and waving their fists in the air, directing their wrath at the scanners.

“These aren’t working?” I asked as I approached.

The fellow travelers were so frustrated they sputtered, and no intelligible words actually came out of their mouths. They eventually stalked off with empty hands.

Just for the heck of it, I tried. I laid the banana on the scanner. Soon, the price appeared. But this couldn’t possibly be! $3.79 for ONE banana! Maybe it had mis-scanned. But no, the banana image had the word “Banana” right above it. Well, I have my principles even when I’m faint from hunger, so I trudged back to the cashier across the way, wordlessly handed her the banana, and left. Highway robbery right there in the light of day!

Part Two occurred when I left PA and headed to NY via bus where we were let off at the Port Authority and I walked the nine blocks to Penn Station, dragging my suitcase and dodging all the people who don’t look up from their phones as they navigate the sidewalks, and I was proud of myself for not knocking anyone over and not getting knocked over at the same time. Fancy footwork was involved. Because it was a Sunday, the Long Island Railroad trains were departing every hour. There is also a lot of interminable construction going on meaning everything I ever knew about Penn Station is no longer true or where it should be, but there are signs and they are accurate and I made it to the track that listed my destination. And when I got there, I saw that my train had left five minutes earlier and I now had nearly an hour to wait. There is no longer anywhere to sit or even browse near the tracks. I had had such an amazing night the night before and had been so wound up, I could barely sleep. So once again, I went in search of food and drink, taking the escalator upstairs. I walked in and out of the little eateries, once again frustrated with the prices. This time, I had eaten a little bit before I left PA, but even so, I was curious to see what was available and what it cost. Between being tired and shell-shocked at the prices, I wasn’t paying attention to things as much as I should have. So, as I walked out of what was probably the fourth place I had stopped, a young man approached me, standing way too close for comfort, and asked me for change.

I normally don’t carry change these days, and I was lugging around two personal items, plus dragging my suitcase, and I told him wearily that I was sorry, but I wasn’t carrying any change. And then, before I knew it, he jumped closer to me and said, “Stick ’em up!” He stuck his arms forward towards my stomach and I stared at him. A million thoughts raced through my mind at that moment, but the funny thing is, I wasn’t scared. My heart didn’t pound, my adrenaline didn’t pump through my veins, no fight or flight reaction. Instead, I looked down at his hands – which were balled up into fists with his pointer finger sticking out, but there was no gun, no knife, just empty hands. And he didn’t look scary. In fact, he now had a strange smile on his face. And the inanity of hearing someone say “Stick ’em up” like we were in an old heist movie almost made me laugh. I mean, who says that? I felt as if none of this was real, like he was playing a part and I was supposed to play along. So I just shook my head and told him I had to go. As I walked away, I heard him shout, “But what about last summer? You promised!” And then I had to wonder if he really was playing a part. Or maybe he was just crazy, or on drugs, or a student doing a sociology experiment, or all of the above. So as I continued to walk, I called back, “Sorry, but that never happened!” And I continued on my way, taking the escalator back downstairs to wait for my train with no further incident.

So I can’t really explain why my heart didn’t race, why there was no adrenaline, why I didn’t perceive him as a threat even before I saw he didn’t have a gun pointed at me. It just seemed so cinematic – an absurd scenario being played strictly for reaction. Of course, my gut reaction could have been wrong, but fortunately, it wasn’t. But for whatever the reason, I was more outraged by the figurative holdup I experienced at the airport by the corporate greed and indifference I encountered just trying to pay for a piece of fruit, than I was about this guy jumping out at me and claiming it was literally a holdup. Which of course, fortunately, it wasn’t. But I’ve told way more people the banana story than the story of the guy and the fake holdup. That was largely because I wanted this trip to be remembered for the wonderful and special things that happened, not anything even remotely distressing. Or nuts.

And in the end, both stories are bananas, that’s for sure!





Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Blame It On Mercury

Did you ever have one of those months where everything you touch seems to go wrong? Or break? Or disappear? It’s taken me awhile to realize that it’s not just random misfortune. It all started in late December. And it looks like it might continue on for at least another week or two. So upon some extensive research (Google), I discovered that these dates align with Mercury being in retrograde.

What exactly does that mean and how worried do you need to be about chaos and mishaps overtaking your life? Mercury in retrograde is an optical illusion making it look like Mercury is moving backwards from what we can see here on Earth. And everything seems to go haywire here. There’s no actual chart for the range this might encompass, but at the very least, your life will be off kilter for a few weeks.

My first sign of this phenomenon was when my garage door broke in late December. Well, it didn’t exactly break, it just stopped working properly one day. Every time I tried to close it using the remote the garage door kept popping up again. I got out of the car. I searched for some kind of obstruction. I cleaned the sensor lens. I kicked leaves away. I jiggled the sensor. Nope. The garage just wouldn’t stay closed. Eventually, since I had plans to meet a friend, I had to manually close the garage and hope it would fix itself while I was gone. But when I returned, I was unable to get the opener back on the track which had never been a problem before, so in the end I had to call the garage door company to send someone over to repair it. A very nice gentleman was dispatched several days later and did some high-tech computer adjustments to the motor and voila, I had a working garage door again!

Next came the day I stopped at the mall when a bout of insanity overtook me during the busiest shopping week of the year. Reality hit me pretty quickly and I soon left. And my car wouldn’t start. I tried a few times and decided to give it a rest. Just as I started to release the key, the car started. It bucked a few times as I carefully made my way out of the parking lot. It was a few more seconds until the four yellow warning lights on the dashboard got my attention, but when they did, I didn’t know whether to just stop in the middle of the road, try to make it home on a wing and a prayer, or head directly to the mechanic. At a red light I quickly called one of the repair places I have relied on over the years and they said it sounded like the engine warning light was on but as long as it wasn’t flashing, I should head home and check with them in the morning to see if they could look at my car in the near future, but they couldn’t guarantee they could see me then either since they were overworked and understaffed. I made it home and called another mechanic, sending them a picture of my dashboard. They said to bring it in the next morning. I headed out the next morning and when I turned the key, there were only two lights on, which I hoped was a good sign until the check engine light started flashing. I called the mechanic, knowing what they would say. Yep, I needed to get it towed to them. So I did, and miraculously, the tow truck showed up ten minutes after I called! Never in the history of my life has that happened, but of course I was safely home, not in the middle of a highway with cars and trucks whizzing by me within inches of my life. I was very grateful for their promptness. It turned out it was my starter which had been replaced years ago, but the repair place had not used the factory-specific starter the maker of my car recommends, and that meant it was sending out wrong messages to the computer in my car which caused everything to eventually go bonkers. It took a day, but it was all good and I gratefully got my car back.

Then came the toilet and shower that no longer worked in the bathroom in my bedroom. Still not working great, but thankfully, I have another bathroom. This week, the kitchen faucet has started to leak, but I have temporarily found a way to close it if I toggle it back and forth to the side just enough, so for now, that will do. More little things have broken or stopped working or vanished into thin air this past week, but they’re too minor to bring up except for the fact that they all fit this pattern.

So Mercury, we’re looking forward to you finding your way back on track again, optical illusion or not. It’s good to shake things up sometimes, but we have had several years of being shaken. And as we try to adjust to the possibilities of the new year, our jangled nerves need a break. Please, take pity on us, we really really need a break.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Ups and Downs

First, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, healthy 2023. May it harken the arrival of all good things into all of our lives and sweep away the detritus of 2022 and whatever damaged our lives in the years before it. I’m not going to get into the really heavy things today since I do despair on a daily basis about the political situation in our country, the horrors going on in the world, climate change, and anything else that can possibly cause me to stay in bed all day with the covers over my head. But since it’s the first day of the new year, I’m going to focus instead on the more minor annoyances that fill our lives with gritted teeth and fists shaken at the sky.

I know we’ve all been complaining about the lack of civility in our society. And while I don’t think it was ever as civil as we claim it was in the good old days, it does seem to have gotten worse. Of course, the internet has been pivotal in allowing people who don’t even know each other to hide behind the screen of anonymity or fake identities to curse each other out, bully each other, insult each other, spew false information, and more, all in the name of free speech. The thing is, this kind of behavior is flowing over into the real world as well and this is the world our children are growing up in. This is what they’re seeing is acceptable behavior and don’t think they’re not absorbing it. Or there’s just not a sense of caring how their behavior might be affecting others. The world has become centered around each one of us in a bubble of self-absorption.

One small example is a trip that I just took with a friend to explore a new city for a few days. We rented a lovely condo through VRBO in the heart of the city. It all seemed perfect. Until it sounded like a herd of elephants above us. Clomp, clomp, clomp. Slam. Bang. Clunk. On repeat for hours. I promise you, I’m not exaggerating. This went on until about midnight. And then started up again around 7 AM. Since we spent the next day exploring the city, we don’t know if this went on all day as well, but all would be quiet for a few hours and then start up again around dinnertime and continue until late at night. Since people are crazy these days, we decided against bashing a broomstick into the ceiling or knocking on their door, so we just made do. I don’t function too well on a 7 AM wake-up time, especially on vacation, so it was pretty frustrating. On the morning of the third day, not only was there the usual clomping and clunking, but a new sound of things being dragged across the floor. Suitcases? Didn’t sound like dead bodies at least. Were they leaving? Oh please, let them be leaving. Soon all was quiet, and we hoped against hope they had left. A few hours later came the sound of a vacuum. Yes! They were gone. And then several hours later we heard the sound of several people seemingly racing back and forth across the floor. Without end. But the tread wasn’t as heavy, so these were presumably children running with boots on for hours across the room with no one even thinking to say at the very least, maybe you should take your clunky boots off if you’re going to run for hours on a bare floor on top of someone’s head in the condo below? They, too, were early risers so 7:00 AM was now the official wake-up time. Fortunately for us, we were heading home later that morning so, as much as I loved this trip, I have never been more thrilled to return to my quiet house. Now, I’ve lived in apartments over the years and have never been thrilled with bare floors and thin walls. And people were never especially considerate of their neighbors. But it just seemed that right in the middle of the holiday season with everyone spouting Peace On Earth, and Good Will to All, it might have made a dent in someone’s consciousness.

And on a totally different thread on annoyance, I have a question about what is happening to the things we buy in the grocery store. First, just the price of goods like the juice I buy for me or the dog food I buy for my pups. Yes, we had shortages for various reasons for a while, but things are supposedly more normal at this point. Why have the prices remained $1 more for my juice and approximately $7 more for the large bag of dog food I buy on a regular basis? And then, have you noticed how everything is shrinking? So a roll toilet paper is very obviously narrower than it used to be, there are about 6 pounds less in the bag of dog food that I’m paying $7 more for, and then some containers of food that hasn’t gone up in price look the same until you look at the weight and realize you’re getting less than before. And to add insult to injury, a few weeks ago I realized that the paper bags at the grocery store were about three inches shorter than they had been since basically forever. What’s the point of that? They have to use more bags now to load the groceries since so much less can fit in them!

I could go on and on, but I think we are all aware of the aggravating things that are spiking our blood pressure these days, along with the really scary stuff. So to end on a happy note, there is good in the world and there are many people focusing on kindness and doing good for each other. Let’s try to be those people this year and see if we can do our part to make it a better world for us all. Here’s to 2023 – let us all be the ones who work on making someone’s life easier, bring smiles to people’s faces, and set the example for how people should treat each other.

Here’s to 2023 being the year of kindness for us all.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

You Talkin’ To Me?

My best stories seem to come from when I travel.  There’s something about flying, especially these days, that just invites some kind of craziness in one form or another. These little vignettes are from a few days ago when I was out on the West Coast to visit my daughter and her family. It was a wonderful visit, but since the first part of the trip had been uneventful, it was pretty much guaranteed that the return trip would have at least a few glitches. Thankfully, none of them were major, but they always add spice.

If you know me, you know that me having to use any kind of equipment that involves technology starts my heart racing, and not in a good way. I arrived at the airport about 2 1/2 hours before my flight was supposed to leave – I was taking the red eye and didn’t want to take any chance of hitting traffic or encountering snaking airport lines that might cause me to miss my flight since it was obviously the last flight of the day. But we hit little traffic for a change and the line at the counter was almost nonexistent. What a pleasant and unexpected surprise! I did have a bag to check in since I had been gone for over a week and the weather was far from balmy, so I had several sweaters and jeans with me plus a bunch of presents and other clothing and a carry-on wasn’t going to suffice. I got on the surprisingly short line, and the agent at the counter looked up. “Oh,” she said, like it was a shock to find someone waiting her turn on the line. “I’m going to be awhile with this gentleman, so you need to go to a kiosk and print your tag for your suitcase and your boarding pass if you need to. Then you need to bring your bag over there…” She waved her hand to a vague and nebulous part of the airport and then went back to ignoring me. This is a huge airport in a major city. How did this airline only have one person working the counter, even if it was at night?

I stared at the agent for a moment and muttering to myself that I absolutely did not want to do any of this, but I obediently trudged over to one of the kiosks, my bag in tow. I diligently read the instructions, found my flight reservation number and typed it in, answered all the rest of the questions, pressed the button and….nothing. I groaned. I knew this would happen. I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. Because I always have to be prepared for something to go wrong. But then, a minute later, sounds started emanating from the kiosk and there it was – a bright and shiny luggage tag, followed by my boarding passes. But then came actually putting the tag on the suitcase with very specific instructions on how to attach it to the luggage, which part to keep, etc. I groaned again, but took deep breaths until the tag was firmly affixed to the handle of my suitcase, my part of the tag was placed into my pocketbook with my boarding passes, and I searched for the unspecified area where I needed to drop off my suitcase. After spinning in circles for a few minutes, I eventually spotted the counter for bag drop-off in the distance. Considering I didn’t get scolded by the agent for screwing up the printing and affixing of the tag to the suitcase, I heaved a sigh of relief. And when I asked him where I needed to go to get through security and get to my gate, he told me I’d have to take a train to my concourse and pointed behind him. 

So I found security and got on the line to show them I was who I said I was and then put all my belongings in the bins and get scanned. As I waited on the line, I went to open the zipper to my purse to get my driver’s license and boarding pass out. And the zipper got stuck. It wouldn’t open more than an inch; it had gotten caught on the lining on the inside of the purse. I silently told myself to breathe. This has happened to me before with this brand of purse, but not at such an inopportune time. I once had to actually cut the lining away from the zipper of another purse because it wouldn’t open. Before you say anything, I love this brand – their purses are whimsical and made from recycled water bottles and very affordable, and I always get compliments when people notice the designs. But the lining is just a bit too much so it can get caught in the zipper. So here I am inching closer to the TSA agent with the very stern face and I’m now frantically trying to pull the sides of the purse apart, praying the zipper will magically slide down at least a few more inches. I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead. I was reaching inside with my fingers, trying to yank the lining out from where it was stuck on the zipper. We were down to two people in front of me and I wondered if I could throw myself on the agent’s mercy at this point and ask for a pair of scissors to once again cut the lining out. I didn’t think asking for scissors would go over real well though. I gave one more mighty heave as the person in front of me walked up to the agent and then, to my astonishment, the zipper gave up its claim on the lining and smoothly slid down the length of my purse. I tried to act nonchalantly as I walked up to the agent and presented my boarding pass and I.D., as if the previous five minutes of frantic contortions hadn’t occurred.

While I was at the gate waiting to board, there were several muffled announcements that the plane was on time and we would be boarding in a few minutes. Soon, we were told we were boarding in three minutes. When three minutes came and went, we all started looking at each other, wondering if we had heard correctly. Finally, there was an announcement that we were going to be delayed because… the cleaning crew hadn’t shown up yet, but they’d be arriving any minute. It was late and everyone was tired and it ended up being about a half hour until we were told the cleaning crew had shown up and we would soon board. For once, I wasn’t stressing since I had a three-hour layover in Atlanta so knocking it back to two and a half hours was fine with me.

We finally boarded the plane. I always choose an aisle seat which ended up being near the back of the plane. I was the first to arrive in my row, so I sat down and waited for my seatmates to arrive. Now here’s the part of the story that I have never experienced in all my years of flying and I was pretty much gob smacked by what happened. The plane was completely full, people were in the aisle attempting to get past others who were trying to jam their bursting carry-ons into the overhead bins. I looked up when a middle-aged woman with a very sour expression on her face glared at me. Without saying anything, she jerked her head to the side. I stared at her. She jerked her head to the side again. What the heck? Surely, she couldn’t be trying to communicate with me. So I continued to stare at her. Then she jerked her thumb at me with the international motion of Get Up. Oh, no, no, no. I continued to look at her. So she did it again. Now, if you know me, you know that if someone is rude to me, I respond with sweetness to drive them crazy. So I smiled at her. “Oh,” I said quite innocently. “Is this your seat?” 

She continued to glare at me but finally spoke, which was my goal since I refused to respond to head and thumb jerks.  “Yeah,” she said. “And you need to get up so I can sit down.” 

“Of course,” I said, smiling. And I very slowly got out of my seat and into the aisle, allowing her to shove her way past me. She had the window seat and soon, a young woman arrived and took the middle seat, much to my relief.

The flight was uneventful, and most of us slept the whole way to Atlanta. When we arrived, groggy and exhausted, everyone was anxious to get off the plane. But being in the back, we had to wait for all the people in the rows in front of us to get up, grab their carry-ons from the bins, and toddle off the plane. Finally, the people in the row in front of us got up, so I stood as well and waited for them to move. And then I heard the lady by the window growl at the young woman in the middle who was trying to gather her things. “You’re going to need to move now because I’ve got a connection to catch.” I didn’t wait to look to see what happened next because I had an opening to move and off I went!

When I finally arrived at the airport in my hometown, I made my way to the luggage carousel, hoping my suitcase would be one of the first to come down because all I wanted was to get home and get a nap in before I had to get started with the rest of my day. The carousel kept dumping luggage out of the chute, but my suitcase wasn’t one of them. More and more suitcases came, and yet still, no suitcase. Oh no, I thought, it’s because I didn’t put the darn tag on properly. My suitcase is probably somewhere in a field in the middle of the country. As I was mentally beating myself up, lo and behold, the trumpets blared and at the top of the carousel, there it was! One wheel was kind of wonky, but I didn’t care. It was my suitcase and it had arrived. For a change, I hadn’t screwed up and neither had the airline! I consider that a win-win.




Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved


We Are All Broken

We Are All Broken

Over the years, I have been adopting older, sometimes sicker dogs, and sadly, three of them passed in less than a year. It’s been devastating in so many ways. But I know I can’t close off my heart, especially with so many dogs in need, and I’ve learned it’s not that one dog replaces another, but that one more dog can find a loving home when there is room in the heart. And I believe that my dogs who have passed lead me to the pups who come after them.

So I adopted Jax back in January soon after Maddie passed, and Lacey a few weeks ago soon after Heidi passed. Jax is approximately eight years old, and Lacey is almost seven. They are getting along well and I love them dearly. But one thing I know is that when you adopt an older dog, they come with baggage. Just like people. And I’ve learned over the past few months that Jax freaks out over certain things. Like if I say I’m going to pick him up, he goes nuts, like a bucking bronco. It’s as if he needs to make sure he has an escape route. And I wonder what happened to him in his previous life that makes him so stressed by that simple phrase. But in the first few weeks after he came to me, I saw him flinch when I went to pet him on the head. He was fine if I scratched him under the chin, but I saw the flinch if my hand moved towards the top of his head. And it made me wonder again, what happened to him. He doesn’t flinch anymore when I pat him on the head, so I know he has learned to trust me. To a point. But he still yanks away from me when I ask him if I can pick him up, usually when I’m trying to help him onto a couch or bed.

Lacey seems to be a very happy-go-lucky girl, full of energy and very playful. I have discovered she is terrified of thunder, and even rain without thunder since it seems she anticipates the possibility that thunder might come. She shakes so hard that she could be a Vitamix, and there is no comforting her. I’m thinking I need to buy her a thunder shirt to see if that will help. She cringes when I just tell her “No.” Again, I have no idea what her history is, but from her condition upon adoption, it might not have been all that happy. The first few weeks, when it would be time to go to sleep, she would dive under my bed and not come out until morning. And then, suddenly last night, she jumped onto my bed and spent the whole night up there with me. I was so glad she felt safe enough to do that. Jax, due to some arthritis issues, cannot jump onto my bed and he won’t let me pick him up, so I need to buy some kind of stairs or ramp for him and hope he’ll use them, because I can see he really wants to come up as well now that Lacey is up there.

So brokenness is not exclusive to any one species. And life experiences and the age an animal or a person is when they are rescued play a big part in the healing process. However, rescue, when referring to an animal is a lot more clear-cut than when talking about humans. With an animal it usually means getting them out of a bad situation and finding a loving and safe place for them to heal and trust again. With humans, it’s a lot more complicated. Especially once they’re older. And unless we’re talking about rescue from a life-threatening situation, once we’re adults, do we really want to be rescued? Many of us don’t want to be dependent on another human being to get us out of a bad situation. And we may not even want to tell anyone how bad the situation is. In fact, we may be so scarred by previous situations that we can’t really trust anyone to not hurt us. And we may end up building protective walls and be unable to recognize who we can trust. And in reality, we learn that we are the only ones who can rescue ourselves. But again, depending on the level and depth of the brokenness, we need to at some point chip away at those walls. Because loneliness can be just as toxic as living in a bad situation. And a life without love will often have us merely existing in a beige world.

We can learn a lot from our pets. I watch these two sweet babies wanting so much to trust that they’re safe and loved now. I’m hoping time and patience and pouring as much love as I can into them will teach them that they are finally safe and loved. I’ve been through this before with many of my pups who have passed. And it’s the most gratifying thing in the world when I can actually see the change in them, the uncertainty disappearing and the trust and the bond between us growing. But people aren’t as straightforward as dogs, and hurt and confusion are hard to cast off. But we need to take lessons from our dogs. We need to sense who is good for us and who we need to keep away from. And once we know who is good for us, we should embrace them and open our lives to them because while we may not be looking for rescue, we do need that human connection to make our lives whole and worth living. And of course, our animal babies do that for us as well. We just need to have the courage to open our hearts.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Nothing Changes

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Aching heart

No sleep

Mind on an endless loop imagining the terror

And the screams and cries

Of the babies for their mothers

As they were slaughtered

By a monster

As their teachers

Threw their bodies over them

Hoping to protect them

From weapons that rip holes through bodies

But they didn’t stand a chance.

And picturing the families

Who kissed their babies goodbye that morning

Who were destroyed forever

And how everyone in that school

And in that community

Will never be whole again.

And fury at the insanity of the endless empty platitudes

And useless thoughts and prayers

Spewing out of the mouths of those who are complicit

But somehow manage to sleep at night

As these repeated tragedies

Never end

While innocence and innocents die.

But their blood money

Makes their pockets heavy

While their spirit are light

Because as long as they make sure nothing changes

To prevent this

For as long as they block even the smallest move

That the rest of us drop to our knees for

To make life a little safer

And a little more sane

They’ve once again won

And they rest smugly

On top of their blood-soaked sheets.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

If It’s Not One Thing

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So it all started last weekend when I was scheduled to fly to New York. (Airline that starts with an A and ends in an N) Unfortunately, there were no nonstops available, so I had to change planes in Charlotte. If I had any clue of what was about to happen, I would have driven to Charlotte instead of taking a connecting flight. But I have a tendency to be clueless, so that didn’t happen. The flight was supposed to leave at 9:00 AM. I boarded the pups the night before since I needed to leave my house by 7:00, got up at the crack of dawn, got to the airport in plenty of time, and waited at my gate with approximately 36 other passengers for the hop, skip, and a jump flight to Charlotte. The screen at the gate said the flight was leaving on time. Even at 9:00 o’clock when we still hadn’t boarded, it still indicated we were leaving on time. Even though there was no plane. Well, surely, that meant the plane would arrive soon, right? Not really. Soon, the screen was updated to read we were leaving at 10:00. I had a connecting flight to New York at 11:00. It became immediately apparent that I wasn’t going to make that flight. I headed to the gate to change my flight. But no one was there. Did I mention it was a Saturday? I guess the airlines don’t want to pay for workers on the weekend. There was only one gate in the whole area with two workers and it wasn’t mine. The line to rebook was long, but I trudged over and waited my turn. I was eventually put on a later connecting flight and all seemed good.

But another hour went by. Our little band of travelers waiting hopefully at the gate started to bond, as we simultaneously looked out the window for a plane that still wasn’t there. As it approached 11:00, we started to lose hope that we would be taking off any time soon. But we noticed at the next gate, there was a plane there. And people were lining up to board. And word got around that it was another flight to Charlotte leaving on time at 11:00. How in the world was that possible? Why weren’t we getting that plane after waiting for two hours? I called the airline as I waited on the line once again to see if I needed to change my connecting flight. Oh, and we were not told anything at the airport. No announcements that the flight was delayed. If you didn’t receive a text or email, or bother looking at your phone, you would have no idea that things weren’t going as planned. And certainly no idea why this was happening. In fact, when I asked the woman at the gate, she was annoyed that I even asked and told me that no one had told them anything about a reason. When I finally got through on the phone to an agent while still waiting on line, she told me the reason was maintenance issues that had started early that morning. I asked why the other flight to Charlotte was getting to leave after we had waited for two hours, she said because that plane was full! So what? We were almost full from what I eventually discovered, but we had been there for two hours already with no sign of our plane. She assured me our plane would be leaving at 11:00 and at that point I also found out that on the connecting flight I had been moved to by one of the agents, I had been put in a middle seat – no thank you! And she couldn’t change my seat because she hadn’t booked it, but I should ask for the bulkhead and no, I shouldn’t be charged because this was due to having to be rebooked. Well, all of that was wrong. No plane at 11:00, and of course the annoyed agent told me that no matter what I had been told on the phone, I’d have to be charged for the bulkhead even though they were rebooking me. I didn’t make the change because I had a gut feeling the day was not done with us.

When noon came and we were still waiting, losing hope that I’d ever get out of the airport that day, I rebooked my connecting flight once again. A much nicer employee took pity on me and told me she was upgrading my connecting flight seat. Since I didn’t think I’d ever even get on the plane, I took it as a nice gesture which still couldn’t possibly make up for the aggravation and loss of my afternoon visiting relatives in New York. My new connecting flight was supposed to leave at 2:30. It didn’t look hopeful. But then, suddenly about 12:45, a man swung through the doors like our fairy godfather and announced that we were going to be boarding in fifteen minutes and we should all get ready. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we did board. So I was hopeful I’d make the 2:30 connecting flight. And yes, I had been upgraded to First Class, which was a nice perk. And then we sat on the tarmac for quite awhile without moving. And the pilot eventually announced that he had been instructed by the Charlotte airport to keep us on the ground for a half hour. Noooo! The next flight after the 2:30 flight was at 4:30. Well, amazingly, we were airborne at 1:30, and got into Charlotte at 2:00. If you’ve ever been to the Charlotte airport, you know that if your connecting flight isn’t at the same concourse where you land – and it never is – you will usually have to run through the airport like an Olympic athlete for what seems like miles to get to your connection. I landed at concourse E. My flight to New York was at concourse B. Since I am not an Olympic athlete, I didn’t hold out much hope for sprinting across the airport in twenty minutes, but miraculously I breathlessly made it just before they were going to shut the doors. That’s Part One of my trip.

I stayed at a hotel for three nights. Because there was a fridge in my room, I wanted to stock up on food for my meals so I wouldn’t have to pay a fortune to take in food. My cousin took me to a nearby market where I got a bunch of yummy options. When we unloaded my purchases into the small fridge, I noticed it didn’t seem very cold, but I was so exhausted, I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. So when I got up in the morning, hungry and ready for breakfast, imagine my shock when the refrigerator was no cooler than my room and everything I bought was inedible. I called the front desk and was told oh, yeah, there’s a button on the inside of the fridge that you have to press to turn the fridge on! Are you kidding? Did anyone mention this to me when I checked in? Was there a sign on the fridge to notify guests about this button? Was this a secret only the cool kids knew? Was I supposed to psychically guess this? I mean, how many of us think we need to press a button that you can’t even see unless you’re on your stomach on the floor like a lizard, peering into the side of the fridge, in order to turn it on? So I finally located the button, pressed it, and the refrigerator was suddenly working. But it gets better. I bought dinner, put the leftovers in the now cooler fridge for breakfast, and when I woke up, guess what? It had turned itself off during the night! So now the new food was also inedible. I called the front desk again. Oh, yes, they told me. They were so sorry. But I wasn’t the first to complain about this happening! This was not a cheapo hotel, you guys. (Starts with an H and ends in an N) Allegedly, I’m getting some kind of refund, but I haven’t seen it yet. I will be contacting them. Part Two of the saga.

The night before I was supposed to leave New York, I called the car company which I use to get me to and from the airport. Always reliable, always arrive about ten minutes before scheduled. I had a morning flight and was supposed to get picked up at the hotel at 7:30. When they hadn’t arrived by 7:25, I had a nagging feeling that something was screwy, especially because of everything else going haywire on this trip. I called them. I was put on hold. I was told that they’d be there in seven minutes. This was very odd. They are about seven minutes away from the hotel, so it sure sounded like they had forgotten about me. When the driver arrived, he told me he had just been notified that he needed to get to the hotel and get me to the airport. I called the company from the car and asked what had happened. I was told they weren’t sure but were looking into it and would call me back. So far, guess what? Radio silence. I guess this will remain one of the great mysteries of the world. Part Three.

Amazingly, nothing worth reporting occurred on the flights home. Well, hopefully, the black cloud over this trip was over, right? Oh, no, life had one more sharp stick to poke me with. After picking up the pups, and arriving home sweet home, I grabbed something to eat and a drink out of my fridge since I hadn’t eaten all day. Everything seemed OK until about a half hour later when agonizing stomach pains ripped through my body to the point I could barely stand. Without the gory details, let’s just say the emptying of my body lasted for about a half hour. I finally crawled into bed, begged the Fates to forgive me for whatever I had done that had angered them and to take pity on me. I fervently apologized for anything and everything I had ever done in my life that could have caused this. Part Four, and hopefully the end.

Fingers and toes are crossed.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

The Sunflowers Will Always Grow


The history of the world

Is filled with those whose thirst for infinite power

Is like their need for water

Or oxygen

And their desire is boundless.

They don’t hesitate to sow chaos

And fear

And death

Where cruelty is the point

And peace is the enemy.

We believe we live in modern times

Where we’ve learned the lessons of the past

And understand the cost of not standing up to evil

Yet evil continues to flourish

Like a snake slithering across the earth

Seeking its next victims to strike.

We don’t need to go back too far

To find examples of hate

And sadistic acts

And slaughter of the innocents

On a scale once beyond our imagination.

And while we are determined to never live through these monstrosities again

It’s already too late

For they’ve never really disappeared

Since the seeds have been cultivated from the beginning of time

And they continue to spread like kudzu, choking their way across the landscape.

The world now watches in horror

As blameless people are attacked in Ukraine.

A peaceful nation where the sunflowers grow

And the people just want to exist in harmony

Which has now been invaded by a Goliath filled with evil and madness

And false ideology

Determined to grind them into submission

No matter how much blood is spilled

No matter how much pain is caused

No matter how many people die

All for the insatiable lust for power that bleeds across the world.

Families are torn apart

Babies starve

Children scream for the safety that they were wrapped in only weeks ago

As they hide below the ground

While screaming bombs and missiles shatter their lives.

And death and destruction march across the land.

The world cannot remain silent

But needs to continue to stand up for those in Ukraine

And let the Russian dictator know

That these barbaric, sadistic acts will be met with righteous responses

From every corner of the earth

And evil will not win

For we will not forsake

The innocent people who are fighting for the country they love

And a return to the peaceful world they once knew

Where the sunflowers will always grow.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

The World’s Upside Down

I’d like to tell you about my passion project. “The World’s Upside Down,” is a song and a music video that I have been working on for almost two years. I recently released the music video, and before you hopefully watch it, I’d like to tell you how it came about.

When the world shut down in March of 2020, I was alone a lot (except for my puppies). So I’d take long walks every day just to get out of my house, but still see people from a safe distance. Up until the week that the schools shut down, I had been a tutor for elementary-school-age children for many years. And I started thinking about all the children and how they were feeling and reacting to what was happening in the world. I knew it was confusing and scary for adults, so I could only imagine how it was affecting the children. So I wanted to write something for them because I’m both a tutor and a writer, and so much of what I’ve written over the years has been for children. I also wanted to assure children that at some point, the world would return to some sense of normalcy through caring for each other and acts of kindness.

And so, “The World’s Upside Down” was born. It started with the idea of animals and a farm. And a farmer who should have treated them better, so they turn his world upside down in protest. Every day on my walks, I’d come up with more lyrics and another part of the melody, and I would record myself as I walked – quite a sight, I’m sure!

And once the music and lyrics were finished, I searched for people who could help make my idea a reality because beyond writing a song, I wanted it to be a music video. I needed performers and at least one musician, plus someone to do illustrations for me. Over the next two years and after lots of setbacks, I finally found all the right people for this project. And I’m hoping that I will find a way to raise money for several charities that help children and animals, which is my next step. And the step after that will be to make this a book that children can read while listening to the song. And maybe even an animated video after that. After all, this is my passion project.

I hope “The World’s Upside Down” will bring children hope and trust that things will one day get better if we are kind to each other and look out for each other. And I hope at some point it will make money to help the charities that work with children and animals to make it a better world for them.

Here’s the link:

I hope you’ll like it and share it so that more people can see it and enjoy it and hopefully find hope and healing.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved