Published April 3, 2017 by rochellewisoff


        There is a scene in my second novel, FROM SILT AND ASHES, where Yussel Gitterman tells his grandchildren that the Almighty is merciful. His fifteen-year-old grandson, who has survived the violence in Eastern Europe, lashes out. “When we light candles for the dead, it will start a bonfire. How can you call that God’s mercy?”

            Yussel, who is blind, answers by pressing his hand over Lev’s eyes. He then challenges the boy to see his surroundings with his ears, nose and skin.

 “Tell me what you hear, Lev.”

“I hear Bayla and Evie’s giggles.”

“Anything else?”

For a moment Lev stood still, bit his lip and cocked his head. “Kreplakh’s (dog) snoring under the sofa. Tikvah’s (infant) bawling.”

“Good, Lev. Now what do you smell?”

“What do I smell?” Lev’s voice scaled up an octave with each word.

“You have a nose?”


“And it works?”

“All right. All right. I smell…mm…sponge cake and apple pie. Coffee. Aunt Cate’s lavender perfume and Uncle Wolf’s nasty cigar.”

“You see, Lev, not all smells are pleasant. Not all sounds are sweet. But…we are alive. That, my son, is God’s mercy.”

            For the past couple of weeks, the weather in our area has been, to say the least, wet and gloomy. Although the rain is much needed, day after day of grey skies has had me digging holes in my outlook.

            Inspired by my friend, Valerie Davies’ blog https://valeriedavies.com/2017/03/26/simple-pleasures-they-may-not-be-what-you-think/           and thinking about my book’s passage, which is one of my favorites, I’ve decided to take Yussel’s challenge.

            I exercise at least five days a week—sometimes less, sometimes more. More often than not, depending on the weather, I walk to the fitness center, a little over a mile away. This way I am able to do both weight bearing and aerobic exercise.

            To some, swimming laps might seem like the penultimate boredom. Not to this Spanish Dancer. The gurgle and swish of the waves is music. I note the difference in watery tones as I vary my strokes and the way the water billows when I exhale. As I flip-turn like an Olympic swimmer to change directions, I’m weightless, buoyed by the current. Unlike an Olympic swimmer embroiled in a race, I take my time when I somersault and enjoy the patterns the ripples make. As I suspend for a few seconds I note the way the water blossoms overhead.

Spanish Dancer Human

Spanish Dancer Jellyfish

            Once showered and dressed, I’m ready for my mile trek home.

            Spring is upon us and splashes of color are everywhere—bright yellow Daffodils and Dandelions—Redbuds and Dogwoods, stunning against a Payne’s grey sky. I fill my eyes with them.

The scent of charcoal from someone’s fire the night before hangs on the breeze. Exhaust fumes and a hint of cigarette smoke taint the rain and grass scented air. I wrinkle my nose. “Not all smells are pleasant.” As I near home I breathe in the scent of hyacinths from a neighbor’s garden.

            Crossing a bridge I, listen to the voice of the water as it flows over rocks. Although I don’t know one bird’s call from another, I can tell that there are several different species singing their arias. Robins, geese, crows and owls are among the few I recognize. A lawnmower starts up in the distance. A rooster crows. Two dogs bark as I pass their turf. A chainsaw grinds and a rake scrapes the sidewalk. “Not all sounds are sweet.”

            I am happy to be alive.  



    • Dear Jan,

      I thought about how much you enjoy camping and riding your bike for the same reasons. As a result of this little sensory exercise, I realize just how ‘noisy’ our quiet suburban neighborhood really is. Those birds are loud. 😉 Thank you for reading and commenting, m’love.



  • Dear Rochelle,
    I searched in vain for the “love” button and had to settle for “like”.
    Thank you for sharing this part of you. I have to agree with your choice of favourite passages from FSAA.
    I love how you have put the two together.
    Lotsa love,

    Liked by 1 person

  • I enjoyed your glimpse into a painful reality. Such heavy questions and concepts for young people to wrap their minds around! The age old question, “What about when bad things happen to good people?” (Or trying-to-be-good people.)

    Yussel’s words remind me of Habakkuk 3:17-18, where the prophet says (my paraphrase), “Even if everything good fails, I will still trust God and believe in his goodness.” A faith like that comes from a deep understanding, built on years of experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Christine,

      “Though the fig tree may not blossom…” Alas bad things do happen to good people. Which is the gist of that excerpt. Glad you took the time to read and remind me of a favorite passage from the Tanakh, Old Testament, if you will. Thank you.




  • Dear Rochelle,

    This is a lovely, positive post. I think it would be a good idea if I followed in your footsteps, with regard to a fitness regime. When I lived within two minutes walk of the seafront, I used to exercise strenuously every day, but where I am now, going to the sea involves driving and parking, otherwise it would take me half the morning to walk there and back. I take my dog out for a walk each day, but she’s getting older and likes to plod and sniff.
    You look like a mermaid in that picture. Very graceful 🙂

    All best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah,

      Exercise and diet are the reason I’m not on medication for Type 2 diabetes. I wish I lived close to the sea but for now the pool will have to do. It’s raining for yet another day. No walk today…stayed home and pumped the elliptical trainer. Not quite as satisfying as a good walk/swim but keeps me active.
      Thank you re the picture…it’s an older one. Can’t quite remember where it was taken. I fancy myself something of a mermaid. 😉



      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Rochelle,
        Well done to you, for managing diabetes without medication. It must be exhausting getting the balance exactly right between exercise and diet. Any break in your routine must be extra hard to manage. I have enough trouble with my intolerance of cow’s milk and chocolate. There are all those lovely puddings on menus and I have to ask myself, is a few minutes’ pleasure worth the after-effects? D: Fortunately, quite a few Italian restaurants now have goat’s cheese recipes on the menu for starters and main courses.
        I would make a very skinny mermaid … more like an eel!
        All best wishes,

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dear Sarah,

          I’d rather feel like a skinny eel right now that a whale. 😉 As for milk, puddings…ice cream…gave up sugar years ago. That made a huge difference in my depression. I am also lactose intolerant on top of everything else. Currently eating is a necessary bore. Restaurants are always a challenge. But it all beats the alternative. Thank you, my friend.



          Liked by 1 person

          • Dear Rochelle,
            I’m slightly lactose intolerant, but can deal with goat’s milk products as long as I take my probiotic capsules daily. If I don’t, my life is a misery.
            I love eating out, just occasionally, but have to be careful about which restaurant it is. My favourite one is a Greek restaurant, where all the food is freshly prepared. It’s all delicious, wholesome stuff and I never suffer afterwards.
            That being said, striving for perfect health becomes more of a challenge with each year that passes D:
            All best wishes,

            Liked by 1 person

  • love the exercise regimen. I walk, walk a lot because that’s about all I can do anymore. It’s a mile to the posting office, two to the soup kitchen, three point four to the library, and a measly one half to the grocery. It all adds up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jelli,

      A few years back a good friend dubbed me Spanish Dancer for my love of swimming. I owned it. They are such graceful creatures. Walking, they say, is the best exercise.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and leave a nice comment. Keep working that paintbrush. 😉



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzanne,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this piece. It’s nice to know that there are people out there who are reading more than my flash fictions. 😉 On a happy note…the sun is actually out and shining this morning. 😀 and you’ve made me smile on top of it. Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

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