Tag Archives: mah jongg

IN MEMORY OF A SPECIAL FRIEND…

Last week I received a very sad message from Joanne Cusumano, the daughter of Phyllis Cusumano. Phyllis, who was known and loved far and wide, had finally succumbed to brain cancer. 

Phyllis was my friend and, even though we had never met in person, we were frequently in contact by phone and email. Phyllis vowed that some day we would meet in person but that day never happened, which makes me very sad. 

Phyllis was a beloved Mah Jongg teacher living in Naples, Florida. I would often receive messages from people in and around the Naples area, inquiring about Mah Jongg lessons. I always responded to their inquiries with a message letting them know that they were in luck as the best teacher in their area was Phyllis Cusumano and they should contact her immediately. Phyllis always called or wrote with a thank you and, more telling, I would usually receive a message from the students thanking me for introducing them to Phyllis and letting me know what an amazing teacher she was. 

This world has lost a very special woman. I send my condolences to Joanne, her daughter, who now has Buddy, Phylis’s beloved dog. 

There will be a mass for Phyllis on Monday, August 14 at 11am at Most Blessed Sacrament in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and there will also be a service for her on November 13 at 10am at St. Williams Church in Naples.

Rest in peace, Phyllis, and hopefully there will be many Mah Jongg games for you up in heaven.

OMs RECIPES

The two candies/cookies that I made for our Wednesday Mah Jongg game were so easy that it is almost embarrassing to write down the recipes. These recipes are always a big hit.

The first recipe is for what my mother named Crunchbirds, in honor of my uncle’s Oscar-winning animated short, The Crunchbird. I don’t know if she actually made up this recipe herself as I think variations of it exist all over the place. But whatever, they are so delicious and, just as an aside, men LOVE them!

MY MOM’S CRUNCHBIRDS

1 12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

1 12 oz. pkg. butterscotch bits

1 can Spanish peanuts w/skins

1 can Chow Mein noodles

Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch bits in the top of a double boiler until completely melted and blended together.

Remove from heat and stir in the noodles.  Carefully fold in until the noodles are completely covered. Then add peanuts and again keep folding until everything is mixed together and completely covered. Drop by teaspoonful (I use a tiny ice cream scoop) on a waxed-paper covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate until completely hard.

The next recipe is also silly easy but so nice to get those sweet and salty tastes together. You can top them with anything of your choice but I like those M&M Pretzels the best. Again, hard to say who came up with this idea because photos and recipes for these are all over the Internet. Rolo Candies bring back sweet memories for me as my father always carried a roll of Rolos in his pocket. 

ROLO PRETZEL CANDIES

Mini Pretzels

Rolo candies, unwrapped

Pretzel M&M’s, peanut M&M’s, or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place mini pretzels on a large baking sheet. Top each pretzel with one Rolo candy. Place in the oven for 2-4 minutes, until Rolo candies start to melt. Don’t melt them all the way.

Remove from oven and lightly press a Pretzel M&M, Peanut M&M, or a pecan on top of each Rolo.

Eat warm or let them cool if you want them to set up.YUM!!! Enjoy!

 

SWEETS FOR THE OMs

We had a great afternoon of Mah Jongg today and, as usual, I was so engrossed in the game that I totally forget to take photos of some of the winning hands. However…I did remember to take a photo of the candies that I made for the afternoon and I will follow up with recipes tomorrow. These are SO easy to make that it is almost embarrassing! 

In the meantime, I wanted to ask you what you think of the 2017 card. Many people have complained to me about so many different things on this card and also the fact that there are more wall games than ever before. What are your thoughts? All I can say is that I really miss Ruth and the amazing Mah Jongg cards that she and her group turned out year after year.

WORLD IVORY DAY IS ON AUGUST 12TH

Statues and jewelry made from elephant ivory were destroyed at the “Ivory Crush” event in Central Park on Thursday. CreditJustin Gilliland/The New York Times

A loud rumble and giant billows of dust interrupted an otherwise serene day in Central Park on Thursday as hundreds of cream-colored carvings of dragons, Buddhas and horses awaited their public execution.

Onlookers waved paper fans reading “Protect their home.” They cheered as sculptures and jewelry made from elephant tusks were carried on a conveyor belt and dropped in a pulverizer.

Brian Hackett, an animal-welfare activist from New Jersey, patiently awaited his turn to choose a carving from a table to be destroyed. For him, the mood was solemn.

“Every piece, no matter how polished, represents a beautiful animal that was slaughtered,” Mr. Hackett said.

The carvings were confiscated in recent ivory busts in New York. They once belonged on the faces of a least 100 slaughtered elephants. Nearly two tons of ivory worth about $8 million was destroyed at the “Ivory Crush” event, which was timed to precede World Elephant Day on Aug. 12.

In 2014, New York was among the first states to prohibit the sale, purchase, trade or distribution of items made from elephant and mammoth ivory and rhinoceros horns.

Photo

Nearly two tons of ivory was destroyed on Thursday. Credit Justin Gilliland/The New York Times

The law helped “spur the world into action for elephants,” said John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a statement.

“By crushing a ton of ivory in the middle of the world’s most famous public park, New Yorkers are sending a message to poachers, traffickers and dealers who try to set up shop right here on our streets,” Mr. Calvelli said in the statement. “We won’t stand for the slaughter of elephants. Nobody needs an ivory brooch that badly.”

About 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa because of ivory poaching, according to the society and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. All of the ivory destroyed on Thursday came from the undercover work of 300 officers during the past three years. While some of the ivory was found in Buffalo and Albany, 95 percent was found in New York City, said Basil Seggos, the commissioner of the environmental conservation agency.

Over half of the ivory was confiscated from Metropolitan Fine Arts and Antiques in Midtown Manhattan, which state officials raided in December 2015. From intricate carvings to a $200,000 pair of tusks, 126 ivory items were at the store.

On July 26, the brothers Irving Morano, 47, and Samuel Morano, 49, pleaded guilty to illegally selling and offering for sale more than $4.5 million worth of ivory. As part of their sentence, they forfeited all the seized ivory and an additional 1,657 ivory carvings, all of which were crushed on Thursday.

Mary Banerian, 67, who watched the destruction in Central Park, went to Western Africa in the 1980s, when there were fewer regulations, and remembered seeing about 10 elephant tusks for sale there.

She said seeing the ivory be rendered valueless on Thursday was “long overdue” and she hoped the destruction would hurt poachers and dealers.

Photo

Most of the carvings crushed were confiscated in recent ivory busts in New York.CreditJustin Gilliland/The New York Times

“I feel terrible that those elephants had to die to make those items,” she said.

The event was the second Ivory Crush in New York, after one in Times Square in 2015. The first in the nation was in Denver in 2013.

Rachel Karr, 48, the owner of Hyde Park Antiques on the Lower East Side, who specializes in 18th-century antiques, said the ivory-crushing events upset her and other antique collectors because some of the ivory found in bona fide antiques could be 300 to 400 years old and could have religious and historic value. For example, in teapots from the 18th century, the handles were carved from ivory to protect hands from burns, because ivory does not conduct heat

“Even with my love of nature, I simply cannot understand what good it does to destroy things that were worked on 300, 400 years ago before conservation was part of daily language,” Ms. Karr said.

“Face it, we’re the original recyclers, antique dealers,” she said. “We have no interest in using new ivory at all. We are willing to say we aren’t willing to use it to repair old ivory.”

Sam Wasser, a professor at the University of Washington who has performed forensic analysis on seized ivory for the last 13 years and analyzed the ivory that was crushed, said it was unlikely the destroyed carvings were more than 100 years old. The results are pending.

Iris Ho, who is the wildlife campaigns manager at Humane Society International, said the existing law does enough to protect antiques. The law provides exceptions for antiques that are determined to be at least 100 years old with only a small amount of ivory.

“Even if it’s old,” Ms. Ho said, “as long as you have an ivory item, you are perpetuating the myth that ivory has value and is collectible.”

ANOTHER TOBY SALK CONTRIBUTION…

Here’s another photo found by the wonderful Toby Salk and this one is quite historic. From The Great Mahjong Book: History, Lore, and Play by Jelte Rep we learn that our beloved game was brought to our shores in 1920 by Joseph P. Babcock, an expat working for Standard Oil while living in Shanghai. Babcock and his wife were great lovers of the mystical Chinese tile game. Here is a bio of Babcock by Jelte Rep:

And here is the historic photo that Toby found…It is Joseph P. Babcock and his wife enjoying an evening of Mah-Jongg with their friends…we might be living almost 100 years later since the game came to America but we recreate this scene daily (maybe without the formal evening clothes!).

TOBY ALWAYS MAKES ME SMILE…

I love receiving emails from my dear friend Toby Salk who lives in my once-upon-a-time home of Berkeley, CA. Her email photos always bring a smile and I thought you might enjoy a couple of her most recent pictures. And, by the way, if you live in or around the Bay Area then you are lucky enough to either take Mah Jongg lessons from Toby or join in her Sunday Mah Jongg brunches and other Mah Jongg events.