- Just stopped by a panel discussion event at today’s Annapolis Film Festival on “The Pitch” and am looking forward to seeing a few movies this weekend. In case you’re curious, I got to preview one of the wonderful feature documentaries entitled, “Little White Lie,” written, directed and produced by Lacey Schwartz; and below I share a post/review.The evening I watched “Little White Lie” I’d just returned from a visit to my family home in Baltimore. Standing around the dining room table, my brother David Maril, our cousin Ron Becker and I tried to identify a stash of old family photographs. We searched our memories trying to recognize names and face of relatives going back several generations. There were photographs of my grandfather, a child sitting on a rocking horse and as a soldier in postwar France. Another larger photo showed my grandmother, as a young girl posing for a picture surrounded by her parents and four brothers and sisters in Bel Air Maryland where the family once had a farm. My grandmother, the eldest child, was ashamed of having been born in Russia. When the courthouse burned down and the birth records destroyed, she told everyone she was born in America. That was her little white lie. But some lies are much larger.The documentary “Little White Lie” begins with archival footage of the Jewish community in Brooklyn during the mid 20th century and there are old photographs and a timeline showing the Schwartz family arriving in the United States at the end of the 19th century. There is footage of old home movies showing parties, bat mitzvahs, picnics and other family events. Everyone looks happy.
We all grow up hearing stories about our grandparents and great-grand parents. But what if a one line of our ancestors had been completely wiped from the family history and another group of ancestors put in their place? What if our true heritage has been hidden?
Lacey Schwartz grew up believing both of her parents were her biological parents and that she was the descendent of Eastern European Jews, but that was only half the truth. The little girl and young woman in the family movies has darker skin and fuller features than her parents. When she asks questions about her appearance as a child she is told that her mother’s family had a Sicilian great-grandfather and that is why her skin is so dark. She accepts their explanations and when she looks in the mirror does not acknowledge her bi-racial heritage. Children believe their parents.
The movie is framed within the preparations for a wedding, Lacey’s wedding. As she tells her story, she shares with the viewers her belief that she did not feel ready to join her life with someone else’s until she understood the actions of her parents. They divorced when she was a teenager. What did her father know about the identity of Lacey’s biological father? Did he realize his wife had been unfaithful and that her lover had been African American? Why had her mother not been forthcoming with the truth about her heritage ? Her biological father was a family friend named Robert Parker, but he dies when Lacey is 30 with no opportunity to develop a relationship.
Lacey’s dad Robert Schwartz is the only father she has ever known. Although her bridegroom is African American, Lacey holds steadfast to Jewish traditions complete with the breaking of the glass as the two are pronounced man and wife. She decides to retain her last name of Schwartz, delighting in the double symbolism. The word “Schwartz” means black in German.
One of the many fine films coming to THE ANNAPOLIS FILM FESTIVAL.
By Nadja Maril
As soon as I see the sun
I reach for my coat in the closet.
It is time to walk
On this ice day.
Frozen bits melt into drops
Slide down gutters, pipes, trees
Plop on to the cold wet mush we once called snow.
I match my steps to my dog’s wet prints on the asphalt
Keeping her leash firmly taut I choose my path
Carefully inspecting the speckled road and pavement
Remnants of ices to be avoided, clumps of salt
Detours created for the sake of Chloe’s paws.
This is a strange time of year
Transition from Winter into Spring
Cold and wet ooze
Sloppy puddles, chilly mush
I think of snow cones so desirable in summer
Now distasteful as the wind blows briskly on my face.
The sun’s rays warm my armor
Heavy jacket, wool cap and padded gloves
Ultimately arctic blast seeps into my bones
Hastens my return to shelter
Listening to spinning wheels and scraping shovels
I admire the still blue sky from my window.
Like every campus, Cal Poly has a few traditions. Girls are given a lei by proud parents rather than a bouquet of flowers. It is customary to lavishly decorate the top of your cap and go drinking the night before you “walk”. A large breakfast is recommended during the wee hours of the night, prior to downing a few more stiff drinks at 6:00 a.m. Some parents accompany their son or daughter to the bars. We didn’t. On Friday morning we were out scouting the campus to see where the big commencement was taking place on Saturday morning while Alex was at a second job interview. That afternoon we went grocery shopping with the help of Alex and her boyfriend T.J. to prepare for a Graduation Eve barbecue for Alex and her friends. They enjoyed our food and libations and we enjoyed meeting the friends who were in town. (Many not yet graduating had gone home for the summer or weekend). Good news arrived for Alex. A job she wanted working as a patient care technician in a local dermatology office which will provide her with both steady employment and needed experience towards her goal of becoming a Physician’s Assistant (P.A.). My dear friend Barbara, former college roommate and my West Coast sister, made the trip from L.A. with her husband Ron to be there on Alex’s special day. It was hot sitting up in the stadium bleachers and hot for Alex below. By the time she met up with us after the large ceremony she was grateful for water and a muffin. (She was starving too.) After some picture taking, it was on to the smaller ceremony for the various departments, where the graduate’s names are actually called and students are personally graduated by the head of their department. In Alex’s case, she graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the College of Liberal Arts. On her sheet she elaborated on her name by adding the words “Amazing” and “Meow”. A few more photos and we returned to Alex’s house for brunch. (Plenty of food was leftover from the night before and just to make sure we had plenty, we stopped at the grocery with Ron & Barbara to buy more). There was time in the afternoon for rest and a swim before a celebratory dinner. Sunday was Father’s Day. We spent the afternoon at Montaña de Oro State Park referred to in my captions as Los Osos, the community it is adjacent to on the coast. Monday, our last day with Alex, we spent part of the time at Avila a small beach front town 20 minutes away from San Luis Obispo and walked on the windy pier and beach. Tuesday it was time to leave, early in the morning for a drive down the coast to LAX and our return flight. Hope to visit soon.
Lately I’ve been using the phrase “less is more” . It applies to so many things from why I put less sugar in my apple pie to why too many chairs in a room make the space look cluttered.
It’s the phrase I use to explain why it’s better to leave open space on a dinner plate if I want to make what’s on the plate important. It’s why it’s better to wear less make-up and less aftershave.
Yes, less is more applies to many situations including size. Does a piece of artwork have to be large to be important? I say no. Many of my favorite paintings are very small oils, little paintings I could put inside a suitcase and take with me when I moved from Maryland to California. Easily they made the cross-country journey more than once.
“Less is More “ is the title of a national juried art exhibit opening next week at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College in Annapolis. The work was selected by distinguished juror Domenic Iacono, director of Syracuse University Art Galleries You can see all the items in the exhibit, which will be hanging until June 15th online. The profits from exhibit sales will help fund educational programs.
On Wednesday May 28th there will be an opening reception from 6:30- 9:30. Sip wine, beer or an artini. Listen to the music of the Rob Levitt Duo. Sample gourmet food provided by leading caterers in Greater Annapolis. Be one of the first visitors to the exhibit to make an art purchase. Tickets are $100. https://community.stjohnscollege.edu/lessismore-2014
or call 410-626-2536 to purchase a ticket.
I hope to see you there at the Mitchell Gallery on the evening of May 28th so you can decide for yourself if Less is More.
Last weekend my son Christopher Patrick got married to his long time sweetheart Laura Smith. The wedding took place outside the home of Laura’s parents in Oregon, Wisconsin near Madison. I had not seen my son Justin, who lives in Indonesia since Christmas, so I was very excited at the prospect of a family reunion. He and his fiance Suci made the long 25 hour trip the middle of the week and arrived at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago. My husband Peter and I flew into the Midway Airport Thursday morning and rented a very large van so we had room for everyone and their luggage. Once we picked up Justin and Suci, it was time to wait for the arrival of daughter Alex, coming in from California. A few hours later we arrived in downtown Madison, near the Capital. In the photographs that follow you will see we enjoyed each others company over a lavish family style meal served at the Heritage Tavern in Madison. While Laura was still busy with her wedding preparations, we spoiled Christopher as a bachelor one last time and no he did not eat that sundae served in an ice sculpture all by himself! Saturday we took the opportunity to tour the inside of the Capital building and take a walk to the fountain located on Monona Terrace looking across the lake. Friday afternoon was a time for wedding rehearsal and then a dinner for the wedding party at Restaurant Muramoto, also in downtown Madison. You’ll see in this group of photos, Alex, Suci, and myself dressed in our party dresses for the evening. On Saturday morning while Alex was having her very long hair arranged into an elaborate bun, Peter and I walked around the Farmer’s Market which is set up all around the Capital Building. All kinds of delicious cheeses, fruits, and vegetables are featured at the weekly market but I was most impressed with the gourds and flowers. Unfortunately as Saturday progressed it began to rain heavily. In parts of the state there was a tornado watch. The good news is that the weather cleared long enough for the wedding ceremony to take place in the Smith family orchard and for wedding photographs to be taken. Only a few are posted on this blog as I wasn’t taking any, but I’m sure more will surface. Most of the afternoon we were under the tent trying to stay dry, joined at our table by my brother David and cousin Ron. It was a weekend to remember!
This past weekend we celebrated Diane FIen Kelly’s birthday. She would have been turning 57. So her dear friend Jean Melton lit 57 candles and put them all around her house and threw a big party where we ate, and drank, told stories and jokes, and reconnected with old friends. It was the kind of party that Diane would have liked. I could almost hear her laughing.
The following day was the dedication of a bench, purchased by our book club in Diane’s honor and memory, positioned on the trail by the USNA stadium trail by her home. Diane loved to be outside walking on a trail, and her last year on earth she made of point of truly savoring every precious moments, moments that included her two children Brendan and Lauren and her dog Stuart, a rescue from Hurricane Katrina.
Book clubs come in all shapes and sizes, and with a variety of procedures and traditions for choosing books, organizing discussions, and providing food and libations. While some years Diane was busy with her work, training teachers in the field of special education teaching deaf and blind children, when present at a book club gathering her enthusiasm for our selection (even if she didn’t read the entire book) and for the food being served was always heartfelt. She was the one who kept asking us to keep a record of the food being served with our selections for a future cookbook. Diane’s big heart and positive approach to just about everything she did was inspiring. She was the kind of person who was always looking out for the “little guy” and the person who when faced with adversity always managed to see the situation in a positive way.
Last week we were asked by her college friends for suggestions of the books which were Diane’s favorites and while initially I thought of her puzzling over Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills , it was Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards which tells the story of the impact of a doctor’s decision to give away his infant daughter at birth because she has Downs Syndrome, that I remember being one of Diane’s favorite books. The doctor in the story assumes his wife will be satisfied raising the daughter’s healthy twin brother and thinking her daughter died at birth, but he’s wrong. Meanwhile his former nurse raises the baby girl as her own in another city and as the years pass memories are not forgotten. That’s all I’m going to say because I certainly do not want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t read the book.
So in closing, if you are walking along the trail around the USNA stadium and want to take a moment to stop and think about your day or listen to the birds and feel the breeze rustle through the trees (There are a few small ones nearby) have a seat. Read the plaque and think of Diane!
Thank you to Eileen Leahy and the Department of Recreation of Park for helping to organize the bench installation.
Muggy August weather here in Annapolis, Maryland means mushrooms in addition to sticky doors, damp clothes, and frizzy hair. Well to be honest I’m not certain whether the crop I spied this morning on the front lawn were mushrooms or toad stools, but I’m sure they’d make good spore prints. They are definitely large in size. I saw many mushroom crops on my walk from Murray Hill to City Dock this morning and I’m sure I’ll see more mushrooms in the upcoming month. What fascinates me is how quickly they pop up.
The texture and color is quite remarkable.