Friday, June 27, 2008


I love hearing the sweet sound of Sgt. Pepper reading to Hedgehog at night. I know she's happy and he's happy and I get a nice knitting break. We have an upside-down apartment--bedrooms on the first floor, kitchen, dining, living on the second--and Sarge's voice rumbles up the stairs; I can't hear what he's saying, just the bass of it, and Hedgie's little piping tones.

They just finished "The Hobbit," which Hedgie is raving about. She loves the riddles with which Gollum and Bilbo challenge each other--if you're familiar with the book--if not, they're still wonderful--Hedgie wrote them out and posted them on our fridge:

Just so she wouldn't forget.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Is it just me, or have folks been going a bit existential of late? LOL, who am I to complain, I love a good reckoning with the great beyond and hereafter as much as the next gal...sort of...

Brian at CSI Seattle has a great post up, all about making one's life list of goals and aspirations small and fact, as I suddenly remembered, Gig from Gigsville also had a post on her own take on this very interesting topic. Oh, and don't forget Kylie!

So motivated, I went to do my own version of this exercise and found it hard, in a way. I revisited old regrets (dropping out of Rabbinical school), inadequacies (hello? dissertation? where art thou?) and my ever-present fear of death and dying. Between this list and my memoir...oy. But then I decided to cheer up, and also to not call the list "things to do before I die." I mean, are we so sure I'm not going to live forever anyway? But I digress...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Six Word Memoir

Cecile from over at Mindworks of Cecile has tagged me for a really good meme--your memoir in six words. I in turn challenged my home folks, who rebelled as you can see:

"I never wanted a short memoir."--Sgt. Pepper

"No memoirs while I am eating."--Hedgehog

Here's mine:

"Sun and shadows, wind and rain."

Yep, the Grateful Dead said it all so very well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Spot of Cheer

What does a lady do when she is sick a-bed but must hold court for a lively 7-year-old? Well, we are inhabiting our very own Land of Counterpane. And this amazing discovery is helping us wile away the long coughing hours. I encourage you to visit The Toymaker for her lovely, lovely printable paper whimsies (a "sun box" with a little window through which you can glimpse a frolicking teddy bear, and a set of fairy furniture, among other things) suitable for children and other people who adore such things (me). Don't forget to check out the amazing otter paper dolls, complete with a colorful and elaborate Seahorse Carousel to print out and build...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


i am totally demoralized


Thank you for leaving such sweet thoughts the other day! It's so bolstering. I've been finding that whenever I feel particularly glumpy like that, it means I'm getting sick, and in fact that was the case, so here I lie once more on my bed of woe, stiff neck, cough, and stuffed head...I bet I'll chirk right up when I feel better...then I'll be back...


Thursday, June 12, 2008


Peter, who blogs from Moscow (hi Peter!), and is quite an adventurer, has inspired me to trot out some old photos of my time in Israel and try to write a bit about it (he also inspired me to put up the current songs I'm listening to, so I must admit I'm a real copycat).

I love Jerusalem--I think it's the most beautiful, magical, spiritual place on earth--and I loved living there.  I haven't been back in well over a decade, and now that I have Hedgehog, it'll probably have to wait a little longer.  My only worry now is that, since I took Sgt. Pepper's exceedingly Arab last name when I married, we might be stopped by airport security for a little chat when we enter the country.   And I'd hate for that to be Hedgie's first experience of that place.

I moved there unwillingly--all first-year Rabbinical students had to--and I left Sarge back in the States.  I've never cried so hard in my life as I did when I left him at JFK to get on my flight.  It was literally agonizing.  And ultimately I dropped out of Rabbinical school and returned to him, for a number of reasons including the fact that a pulpit rabbi in an interfaith marriage would have a heck of a hard time.  That, and I missed him too much to stay alone in Jerusalem.  It made it almost worse that I loved that place so much--I felt guilty for enjoying it without him. 

It's true, though, that everything about Jerusalem agreed with me.  The weather (hot and dry in the day and cool and breezy in the evening); the food (a lovely combination of Sephardic and Ashkenazic--fresh, light Middle Eastern dishes as well as the tender little pastry pockets and potatoey things of old Europe); the way of living (neighbors always visiting back and forth).  Being the homebody homemaker that I am, this image more than any other captures my experience of living there--me, in my dear local grocery store, shopping for Shabbat: 

On Thursdays, and Friday mornings, every week, week in and week out, there was a mad rush on the stores, which closed down and shuttered before sundown on Fridays and reopened on Saturdays after sundown--24 hours of lockdown. The feeling of panic was legendary in scope. Everyone behaved as if it were the imminent apocalypse, and one couldn't survive without plenty of mango juice and challah and pieroshkis.

And there's nothing like shopping for groceries to help you understand and know a foreign place. You quickly come to know the locals, even if you're much less than fluent with the language. For instance, the babushkas in Jerusalem really didn't believe in queues. I learned quickly that the same behavior that would be unthinkable, and might possibly earn you a punch in America, in Jerusalem was the only way: to reach the checkout with your groceries, you sometimes had to just plain shove your cart into the fray. Literally shove people out of the way, or you'd be standing there like an idiot for an hour as 70-year-old barrel-shaped ladies (in the pink of healthy strength, I might add) would just jab you out of the way, one after another, ad infinitum. The other ancillary truth of living abroad, I believe, is that once you keep house for yourself, you're really there.

Here's the view from my bedroom balcony:

It's nothing but a thing to have a balcony in the Middle East--pretty much everyone has them. As exotic as a pomegranate tree in NYC, Jerusalem has them both in abundance. I loved the balconies in our apartment. I would smoke out there on mine, in the cool evenings, listening to the clink of dishes and hum of voices drifting from the neighbors' late dinners.

There were also, of course, soldiers everywhere, men and women. Here were some hotties who noticed me getting a surreptitious shot, and in the manner of all good grunts everywhere since the beginning of time, got in a little clowning for the interested girl:

So cute.

But the best part of being in Jerusalem was the feeling of being close to the holy.  I have never had the feeling before, and never since, as strongly as I did there.  Walking in the Old City at night gave you an eerie feeling that you could run into God around any corner:

And that it might not be peaceful, but rather unsettling.  

One Shabbat evening, my sister, who was visiting, and I ventured out to the Wailing Wall at the center of the Old City.  There was no one there but us, and a lone Jewish man across the barricade at the men's section, chanting a long, ululating Hebrew chant; soon the muezzin from the Dome of the Rock, across the wall, joined in with his call to prayer, and just then a strange wild wind blew up around us, and I could swear to this day that it was the Ruach Adonai...

Monday, June 9, 2008

This is why...

I'm not a Democrat.  In a piece of performance art, I registered as a Republican several years ago.  That's right, people, you heard it, I'm a card-carrying Performance Artist Republican.   And I say with pride that I haven't voted for a Democrat in years, even before I joined the reptiles.  But something thrilling happened to momentarily lessen my cynicism, and that is that a ballsy woman ran a real honest-to-gosh campaign for president of the United States.  I cried a little the day I told Hedgehog about her campaign and about how there might be a woman in the White House.  And then what happened? Something really bizarre.  Although she was quite viable, although many (nay half) of the votes went to her, the media ran a weird anti-campaign, maintaining vociferously from early on that she had not a snowball's chance in Hades of winning this preliminary.  Now if you were watching closely, you realized this was patently untrue.  So untrue, in fact, that I'm still reeling from the untruth.  If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd have a field day.

I can't say anymore right now on this painful subject, but I'll leave you with a link to an op-ed piece that for me says it all brilliantly: "Political Viagra"

*arggh...strangled cries of disappointment and chagrin as I wave my Voter's Registration card around wildly*

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Really Embarrassing Private Moment

Okay, picture me:

all alone blowing down 4th Avenue in Brooklyn in my 1995 Grand Marquis, making all the lights, Hedgehog's hot pink Hello Kitty purse-shaped cd-player on the seat beside me, blasting the soundtrack from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," me singing along less than tunefully to "Origin of Love," weeping a little at the the poignant lyrics.

And there you have it: a really embarrassing private moment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Hedgie's last day of school is tomorrow, and every day of the past couple of weeks she has been bringing home a stream of evidence that she was, in fact, working on things all year long. Rarely did any tangible proof of this make its way home before now, with the exception of bi-monthly poetry books written by the kids. I think this dearth of product reflected school policy--they don't encourage parental involvement with the classroom. The idea is that the teachers are free to exercise their autonomy without constant interference.

This may sound shocking, and even though I went to this school myself and was prepared for it, it took awhile to get used to the fact that, although I was welcome to peek into the classroom and occasionally admire some artwork or poetry, I was largely and deliberately out of the loop. There's no parent-teacher organization, no parent curriculum input or meetings. After I got used to it, it was most relaxing to drop Hedgie off every day and not really give it another thought. It required a leap of faith and once I leapt I could let go to some extent. What a revelation, especially for a micro-managing parent.

One of the things that came home today was a little book written by Hedgehog, complete with a jacket blurb author bio: