Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

i just got back from a new year's party in the artist colony in the holy city of zefat. i actually danced for a couple of hours. first time in years. the party was mixed but i only danced with the 'grannies'. it wasn't very crowded and there were some younger kids but the grannies rocked! it was way too hot in the newly constructed gallery and we were all wearing many layers and thermal pants under our skirts. after a few songs i ran into the bathroom and took off my pants and turtleneck sweater. this time it wasn't a hot flash. i had burst my zipper before we left but put on a long sweater to cover up. after i removed the sweater, i draped it around my waist to hide the broken zipper and pot belly.

i was really thirsty but didn't feel like shelling out a lot of money for a drink. a good friend came along and offered to buy me and my 'girl friends' drinks. i felt like a kid again. i can't recall the last time a man bought me a drink. how pathetic is that ! we were able to catch a ride home so michal and i left just after midnight. i had wanted to stay a litle longer but a neighbor complained about the noise and the local police broke up the soiree soon afterwards. how fun is that! i really felt like a kid again!

earlier this evening, a few of my lady friends stopped buy for a drink and a light dinner. i simply cut up some red and green peppers and sliced some cucumbers. i put out black olives from a can, and some home made tahina and chumus. i cut up some low fat bulgarian cheese into cubes and served a whole brie. i made instant whole wheat couscous with baked pumpkin slices, covered in sesame seeds. i made a fish fillet for one friend and some chips for another. i felt just like a short order cook. i was in my zone. another friend brought over two gigantic pomegranates and a bottle of vodka. i also made white chocolate chip cookies, and my newly popular almond chocolate balls. i made corn muffins and banana cupcakes too, for the more health minded of the group. i also served buckwheat rice cakes. i had wanted to make a sour cream dip but the local store was all out of dehydraded fried onion flakes.

at 10:00 p.m. our dear friend was falling asleep so we rode back to town with her and went to our party. i found out later this evening that it had been one of the ladies' birthday and she never mentioned a thing. if i had known, i might have put a candle on her non fat muffin. she brought her dog with her but i could not deal with one more canine. the dog stayed outside all evening and was fine.

this morning, we went to a nearby moshav to visit out close friend who is currently in a senior citizens' facility and rehab. the poor woman was sucking on a morphine lolly as we spoke. she goes home for shabbos but prefers to spend the rest of the week at the rehab. she looked better than i imagined, but it was hard to see her suffering. she reminded me that we had met about 22 years ago at the pediatrician's office.

we got back from the moshav at 12:30 p.m. and michal and i babysat for sahar. michal was watching an old star trek film and we calculated that it was about 30 years old. sure enough after 'googling' we were surprised to learn that the television series had ended 40 years ago. i'm in a trivia kind of mood this evening. my sister, ann, will be playing the real trivia persuit later tonight with her friends in sunny california.

my brother in phili is readjusting to his daughter moving back home after college. it seems like just yesterday that he was suffering from empty nest syndrome. and now it's more like three's a crowd.

i'm really glad that i spent an evening with dear friends tonight and that i got to dance again. i wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! and a good shabbos!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Staying In

last night was a bust. michal came over early in the evening. as we were both really hungry, i quickly heated up the chicken breasts and made a few french fries for michal. it was really turning cold. i found a warm turtleneck sweater to wear and a warm valuor snood to match. suddenly, moments before we had to leave, i started to feel uncomfortably warm. i can't say if it was a real hot flash or not but i immediately, ripped off my turtle neck and snood and put on a lighter woolen top. moments later, once we were outside, i was frezing and chilled to the bone. it was also very windy and i frantically, wrapped my thin woolen cape around the right side of my palsied face to protect it. it made walking much harder. i had a hard time seeing the pavement. we tried to flag down the bus on the wrong side of the street but he wouldn't stop for us. so we had to wait another five minutes or more in the cold for him to turn around.

there wasn't much of a crafts fair at the hall. there was one stand and table full of very used clothes for sale and another table and stand of somewhat more expensive new clothes to buy. i spotted a realitively inexpensive, nice looking skirt but i had to go downstairs to the bathroom to try it on. it didn't really look that flattering on me. i guess i've gotten used to wearing 'moo- moo' style skirts. i still need to drop another ten pounds to look more trim. there was a table of natural face and body creams but i was not feeling up to blowing a lot of money on myself.

the speakers began the program so we made our way into the hall. there was only a hand full of women in the audience. the men were on the other side of the room seperated by a huge white sheet. the new young mayor spoke first and it took all my willpower not to shout something rude at him. i've had my share of problems with the city. the head rabbi spoke next. it is usually a pleasure to see him speak but i was very uncomfortable in my seat. it also made me nervous that it was so empty. thank goodness it began to fill up. i wish i had known what time the musical portion of the evening was scheduled for.

there were long discources by several rabbis that seemed to go on forever. i started feeling warm again and started to have a headace. i actally fell asleep at one point. why can't these speakers keep it short and sweet. by the time the singers came on i was ready to go home. the music was actually quite good but i needed some gum or coffee. there weren't any refreshments served. i find it hard to go three hours without a coffee.

i ended up giving a monthly check of $10 to support the women's yeshiva and couldn't wait to get home. i couldn't catch a ride home so i walked up to town and found a taxi. the night ended up costing me over $100 and i didn't enjoy a moment of it. i am staying home today and not budging from my house. my head is still achey and i haven't had my morning java yet. i just ran outside to see if my gardener was here but the noise was coming from the city worker's leaf blowers. thank goodness, one less check i need to write.

it's cold and grey today. a perfect day to be indoors. a few of us are planning to visit a friend tomorrow, who is currently in an occupational rehab, in a nearby city. we are hoping to raise her spirits and bring her some 'goodies'. i'm babysitting for sahar and will have to bake some cookies a little later. the chocolate almond balls seem to be a great hit. mikimi even offered to pay for some. i often fantasize about going commercial but i know that it isn't really feasible here.

an old acquaintance from the states is coming up to safed in a couple of days and i'm really excited to see her again. i met her and her husband in safed many years ago and we have been communicating by snail mail and interet ever since. she has been reading the blog too. i also heard from a good friend in n.y. yesterday. she tried to internet chat with me but i forgot to hit "enter" and she didn't receive my messages.

i may be hosting my sister's niece from the states for about a month. she is planning on learning in a women's yeshiva in jerusalem. apparently, the school is on hiatus so she needs a place to crash. i wish i could make some money out of this but i know i won't. i keep asking family members to come up with a grant to make their own programs and use the downstairs. i can't seem to make the house work for me. in the meantime, i enjoy having my son and his family close by.

i just received a phone call offering me work from home. as much as i need the money, i can't commit to telemarketing from my home. easy come, easy go!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rainy Day

it's tuesday afternoon in the cold and rainy town of zefat in the holy land. yesterday was like summer time. i spent the morning in town with friends drinking coffee on a park bench. i didn't even wear a jacket. i got home at around 2:00 p.m. and went downstairs to finish setting up the apartment for the two guests. i made the beds and used my nicest flannel sheets and put out two nice guest towels and washed all the floors. i put rose essence in the bucket water and shook lavender oil on the pillows and blankets. i placed some geranium, myrtle and rosemary from the garden, into a small vase on the kitchen table. i may not have fancy furnishings but i try my best to make it homey and clean.

i picked some tangerines from the tree and i put out some cake that i found in the freezer. it looked like it was made with rye flour. maybe, it was banana cake. i don't remember. i really should start labeling things. i prepared a tray of boiled eggs, plain yogurts, corn muffins, mini organic whole wheat pitas, butter, honey, diced cucumber and tomato salad and olives for the following morning. i set out instant coffee, several types of herbal teas and regular tea. i even left fresh milk in the fridge. all this for a mere $50. it was an old acquaintance from years ago and i wanted to give her a complimentary 'like' stay. i hope that she'll bring me some business in the future. i can only pray! it's such a lot of work for so little money. but looking on the bright side, it will pay for the pooch's haircut.

i made plans to go with michal to an event in town tonight. her breslov neighbors are sponsoring a concert and crafts fair to raise money for their women' yeshiva. i agreed to go while it was sunny and warm. now that it's cold and raining, i feel less enthusiastic about leaving my home. not that's it's warm inside. it's actually freezing inside. as i look outside and see how wet and green the garden is, i feel so grateful for the rain. who knows what will be this summer. they are actually raising the price of water here and lowering the alloted amounts for everyone. they are also beginning to fine people for their overuse. as shocking as it is to admit in cyberspace, i do not shower every day. and i only do laundry once a week. i don't wash my floors with buckets of water and i only wash down my driveway once or twice a year. i try not to flush the toilets unless it's "brown" and i don't own a car so i don't wash one.

my friend shoshana from n.y. tried to chat with me through cyberspace and i couldn't figure out how to send back my response. she has become an official member of the blog. i am so grateful that she can find some time from her busy teaching schedule to read my monologue. i guess she's on winter break now. i would think that entails marking midterms and such. anyway, it's a good way for her to catch up with me and a lot cheaper than using the phone.

cloey continues to terrorize the new dog. the wimp doesn't seem to fight back. but i can't deal with the noise. it's constant growling on cloey's part. the new pooch started barking when i leave the house. i don't know how i 'm going to get the pooch to the "hair cutters" yet. that ought to be a scene! michal has already brought over a doggie sweater for afterwards. i wish we could find him a home already.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Keeping Busy

on thursday i went with gal's parents to make a shiva call to a moshav near the town of Afula. it was about an hour and a half 's ride. gal's uncle's wife lost her father. it is quite a large family. there were about a dozen women sitting on mattresses on the floor in the house and there was a gigantic tent for the men outside. the sephardim make a huge seudah for everyone and bring rabbis to say divrei torah for hours. there were hundreds of people milling around. at one point it was so crowded in the house, that it took me a good while to get to the bathroom. i sat and spoke with a few of the sisters who are chabadnikim for a few hours until the meal started. there were at least a few dozen women seated at the table for the memorial meal. sephardim have the custom of abstaining from eating meat or chicken for thirty days after the funeral. the meal consisted of a breaded fillet of fish, a piece of kugel, a plate of rice and olives. there were a lot of hot peppers and spicy salads on the table. i only ate a piece of fish without the breading and some olives. i was still hungry but i didn't want to eat bread.

when we were getting up to leave i saw a group of women in the kitchen already preparing vats of many kinds of fish for the shabbat meal on friday. apparently, the family's mother had suddenly passed away last year just before our kid's wedding. how hard it is to lose the surviving parent so soon afterwards! i was amazed to see the closeness between all of the siblings and other extended family members. this father had the merit to have married off his last child two weeks before he died. unfortunately, the new bride's birthday, falls out on the day of her father-in-law's passing.

we returned to zefat at about 10:30 p.m. i was physically and emotionally drained. i woke up late on friday morning and i was still tired. the weather was sunny and bright and unseasonably warm. i wanted to take a nice leisurely walk to the supermarket, which is about 20 minutes away, but i knew that the day was too short. zefat shabbat candlelighting time is still around 4:00 p.m. i simply jumped downstairs to the local store to buy challah and some canned goods. the house was still trashed from the birthday party and i really wanted to make order and wash the floors.

i enlisted gal to make the fish and she was quite pleased that i asked her to cook the st. peter's fish fillets. i decided that we didn't need to also make the tuna steaks. i made a small amount of potato salad for gal and an 'israeli' salad (diced cucumbers, tomaotes and onion) for zvi. i also made a small salad of romaine lettuce and red onion. i made a lot of frozen string beans for myself, and a small portion of rice that hardly anyone ate. i opened up a jar of asparagus, a can of baby corns, and a can of sliced palms, which are all of zvi's favorites. i also opened up a small can of corn that didn't go. i have to stop doing this.!

i cut up some chicken breasts into smaller pieces and stewed them with a few chicken thighs. i 'doctored' some of the left over lasagna sauce with my middle eastern spices and added a lot of cooked chick peas and navy beans. i also made a very small cholent out of a little hunk of meat and two chicken thighs with a potato or two and a lot of chick peas and beans. i didn't have enough potatoes left to make a kugel for michal. i made a modest portion of boiled potatoes and hard cooked eggs for the morning lunch for zvi and gal. zvi actually, took a portion of the cholent to eat with his mashed potatoes and eggs. i didn't bake a cake because michal was bringing over zvi's all time favorite, lemon meringue pie. i had a small amount of chocolate birthday cake left over and i had also bought a new tin of cookies that the kids love.

half an hour before candlelighting, zvi brought home the most mangey looking peekenese dog that one has ever seen. he mentioned the stray dog a few times during the week and i had tried to dissuade him from bringing him home. here i was, outside, cutting bristles out of his face and eyes half an hour before the shabbat. he didn't even growl or try to bite. instead of washing my floor, i helped wash the pooch. i had already put all of the food onto the electric platter so things really, were under control. i put the wet dog into the shed and went upstairs to light candles. the dog started yiping and wouldn't stop. i knew that the neighbors were not going to put up with this noise all of shabbat, so i let him out of the shed. slowly, slowly, he made his way into my house. once he was inside, he settled down on the floor under the table and didn't make another sound.

i washed all of the dishes last night and also washed the floors. the doggie hair cutter can only come over at the end of the week. the poor things needs a 'baldie.' zvi realizes now that he can't keep the dog upstairs. so i am playing mommy and referee once again between the new dog and cloey. she was so freaked out by the new dog that she didn't take notice of the baby over shabbat. i let the boy dog have the dog bed as the girl dogs sleep on the t.v. sofa with me. sometime last night, he tried to join us in bed. it didn't go down well with cloey.

today's fast day is over at 5:00 p.m. i am not feeling all that great. i really need some caffeine. i sat for sahar for three hours in the morning and i started to fall asleep. he slept for about two hours which was great for me. he drank a bottle and was in a mellow mood. i have a couple of loads of laundry to do for the kids this evening and i have to straighten the downstairs because i have two sleepover guests tomorrow. i'm trying to get people to bring groups here for shabbatons and during the week. i want to make up a batch of muffins for the guests. i am really keeping busy thee days.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Night Out

my son just called from work to thank me for the concert tickets last night. he really enjoyed the music. what's so interesting is that the singer was from america and sang chassidic ashkanazi songs. i guess in his heart , my son is still ashkenazi despite his food preferences and religious customs. i also enjoyed myself too. i bought an extra ticket for safta miriam and filled up her gas tank so that she could have a night out too and also be our chauffer. she is one heck of a driver, i must say! we weren't exactly on schedule but we arrived before the concert actually started and i was very impressed with how orderly things were done there. we were also very fortunate to find parking relatively close to the theatre.

i have to admit that i was a bit nervous on the way to the theatre. i haven't been out of zefat for over a year. i kept imagining the most awful things. i started to pray in the car that baby sahar should grow up with both of his parents and that we should have a safe return to zefat. i then handed zvi the standard traveller's prayer to recite for all of us. thank goodness that i was more normal on the way home. i opted to wear my short wig last night and made an effort to wear a little eye makeup and lip gloss. i have been running around as a total 'slumpadink' all year long. it still is difficult to do eye makeup with my facial paralysis. it looks a lot better but it's not 100% healed and i don't know if it will continue to be better. it should be my worst problem in life!

during the intermission, i treated gal and miriam to ice cream cones and i had two really strong coffees (lattes). zvi had another red bull. he apparently, is addicted to the junk. he had two on the way to the concert. i don't know how i can encourage him to stop drinking the stuff. they had a boy's choir from america and it brought back memories from when zvi was a little boy. either i or my mother would take him to see boy's choirs whenever possible. when he was five or six, he was actually in a choir from his school. i can still remember his solo and how proud i was at that time. he used to sing a lot at home and at the shabbat table. every once in awhile, he will still honor us with a few niggunim.

i kept day dreaming about my grandson sahar. i was trying to imagine what he would look like and sound like as a little boy. i was also fantasizing about taking him to a concert on my own. i pray that i will live to see him grow up and have a lot of years to bond with him like my mom did with my son. i believe that i am becoming a sentimental fool in my middle age. i get to babysit for sahar this morning when gal goes to the dentist.

i am travelling with miriam and her husband later today to make a shiva call in another town about 1/2 hours from zefat. we probably won't return until 9:00 p:m or later. miriam's sister-in-law lost her father last week and i have enough of a relationship with the young woman to visit her. it has been a rough couple of years for this lady, having survived lukemia and the loss of both of her parents. she has three sisters who have become chabadnikim. i look forward to meeting them in spite of the circumstances. gal wants to come along too. the entire clan will be there en mass. i think it will be too much for gal but i have learned that my opinion doesn't always count. i look forward to other nights out in the future.

shabbat shalom!

Birthday Party

yesterday we threw my son a surprise party for his 23rd birthday. i know that 25 is more of a milestone than 23 but i wanted to make it more momentous. i ran to town the first thing in the morning to sign up at the unemployment office and to have a few photos made. i bought a white board which was perfect to attach the various pictures of zvi to commemorate his first 23 years. i spent hours the night before trimming and assorting the pictures more or less by age. i had one from his bris, one from his pidyon ben, and one each from his first and second birthdays wearing crowns. there was one of his first haircut when he turned three, and one of his kissing his tsitsis for the first time. i had one of him lighting the chanukiah at a young age, and two shots of him at the kotel (the wailing wall). i had the 'bar mitzvah boy' shot complete in suit and tie and black hat. i also included a couple of shots from the bad teenager period. i was missing pix of his engagement, wedding and son's bris. so i spent most of the morning in the photo shop.

i also went to the bakery and bought a ton of pitos and rolls. i was so spaced out that i left them in the bakery, on the counter. i was in a taxi on the way home when i realized that i didn't have the bread. i wasn't exactly sure where i had left them so i started back to the bakery. thank goodness, they were there and i was able to jump back into the taxi right away. of course, safta miriam brought home made pitos so once again , i filled up the fridge with bread. too bad we didn't coordinate with each other. our communication is sorely lacking. i also served mini pizza barekas and salty cheese barekas. both remained untouched. i think the dogs will enjoy them during the week. surprisingly enough, the lasagna went. i forgot to buy a large aluminum throw away pan. my pyrex pan was just too shallow to accomodate the entire box of lasagna noodles. so it wasn't my usual, multi layered lasagna.

i returned home from the city at 2:00 p.m. i normally would have started to make the cake and lasagna then but gal wanted to set the table and decorate the dining area. i watched sahar until she finished. she really did an elegant job using my table cloths and plastic goods. i offered to use real cutlery and dishes but she opted for the disposable ones. i had bought very childish birthday napkins and party props but it really didn't go with the fancy gold party bags that she had bought. i put all the birthday goods in the closet and hopefully, we'll get to use them for sahar's first birthday party later this year.

we had planned a ruse that gal would meet zvi in town for a celebratory coffee. everyone else was supposed to arrive at 7:30 p.m. i knew that i would be on babysitting detail so i asked my good pal michal to come a bit early to help me out. i never thought that gal would be leaving as early as 6:00 p.m. i threw together a cake at 5:00 p.m. i have never made one so last minute. i also threw together a pot of pasta sauce and started to layer the lasagna really fast. i quickly chopped up the lettuce and threw it into a huge pot to rinse. i then heated up a little honey and a cup of chocolate chips to add to the whipped cream for the frosting.

i kept staring at the clock and knew that i was running out of time. i tried to reach michal several times to let her know that she was badly needed. i frantically whipped up the cream by hand. i threw the warm cake into the freezer and mixed up the frosting. miraculously, michal appeared. she went upstairs to babysit for sahar and gal left. i threw a vat of frozen french fries into the oven and i also got all the barekas ready to go. the family came over promply, at 730 p.m. they immediately snatched the baby from his carriage. he had been sitting in the television lounge with michal watching the children's channel. when i heard them arrive, i quickly ran over and shut off the television.

not only did miriam bring over two dozen pitos, she also made a vat of french fries and a green salad. that's after i cut up three bags of lettuce. beleive it or not, there was hardly a french frie left over with this crowd. michal frosted the cake while i attended to the last minute details. the birthday 'boy' arrived at 8:15 p.m. and i can't say if he was really surprised or not. i did notice that he was limping. i just remembered that when he was a little boy he called it 'himping'.

apparently, he had dropped a bottle of wine at work and made a mad 'save' with his leg. no doubt this was a reflex from the many years that he played soccer. we were very lucky that he hadn't broken his leg. i rushed to get the arnica and ace bandages from the bathroom. he allowed me to rub some arnica on his ankle area but declined the bandage. today, he was as good as new, thank the Lord! the little boys ran around lighting sparklers until they ran out of gas and fell asleep at the dining room table. no one from my family managed to come. the party broke up at 11:00 p.m. i was too tired to clean up. the girls cleared the table before they left.

in a couple of hours, we are on our way to a live concert. safta miriam is driving tonight. what a luxury to be picked up at the door. they're taking the baby over to the married sister's house. it wouldn't be my first choice. i would bring the baby but the music might be too loud for him. her sister is a bit of an alarmist, not having any children of her own. let's hope that her husband is more relaxed. this should be interesting, to say the least.

the reason that i made an extra effort to bake the cake myself and to prepare his favorite dish and order concert tickets, is that i wasn't 'emotionally' present last year. his birthday came two weeks after my mother died. i was so into my grief that i couldn't even speak to anyone. his sephardi family came over with gifts and goodies and put up balloons and ordered pizzas and made him a party. so this year as my grieving period just ended, i wanted to make up for last year. does that make any sense?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Morning

went to bed after 3:00 a.m. i finished up all the laundry and hung the towels out to dry on my porch. woke up at about 10 a.m. the dogs were barking because the gardener was waiting outside. i didn't even hear his leaf blower. today was his payday. i pay him every other time that he comes. he lives on a religious moshav and harvests the grapes there for free. in all honesty, i don't think that he is a great gardener, but he is a real mentch!

i rushed to wash my hands and rinse my mouth, but we didn't have any water. my first thought was that perhaps, someone from the city came and took out my water meter, because i haven't cleared the bill yet. i ran outside to check if my worst fear was true. thank goodness, the meter was still there. it was either a problem in my neighborhood or maybe the city didn't pay their water bill again. either way, i had no water. i had one bottle of mineral water left so i used that to wash up and make a coffee.

i went upstairs to babysit for sahar. first, i called the plumber to let him know that we had no water. he was supposed to come today and clean out the furnace. he let me know that he had no intention of coming until thursday. anyhow, the couple was still coming at 11:45 a.m. to check out the downstairs apartment. i brought sahar downstairs with me and he fell asleep in his stroller. we were waiting outside in the sun for awhile but the couple didn't come. i came inside to check my messages, and lo and behold , there was a new message! they were now planning to come around 12:30 p.m. i walked over to my post office box with the baby but i didn't dare go to the supermarket because i was afraid i'd miss the couple. they finally showed up around 1:15 p.m.

sahar woke up right after they arrived and was not very comfortable. i finally got him upstairs when he actually started screaming. i fumbled to get the 'mommy milk' out of the freezer with the baby in my arms. i couldn't manage to open the plastic baggie and fill the bottle with only one arm so i had to put him on the bed. he became absolutely hysterical. by the time i had the milk ready for him he was too upset to drink it. i managed to calm him down a bit but he was not to thrilled with the bottle. he wanted the real thing. gal wants to go back to work soon. i told her that i prefered that the baby stay at home rather than go to day care. i am willing to try and watch him but i know it won't be easy. i also know that they probably won't offer to pay me anything.

i picked up the mail and found a letter that was posted a couple of weeks ago, informing me about the course for the elderly. apparently, they started last thursday and i missed 3 entire days already. i was waiting for an email all along. i never thought that they would inform me by mail. what a shame! i don't know if i can just show up next week in the middle of the course. but who knows? perhaps i'll be babysitting next week on a permanent basis.

mikimi and michal joined me for a shabbat sleepover this past weekend, and got to taste my almond ball cookies. they seemed to be a hit. i'm always a bit nervous when someone who reads my blog, comes to visit. i feel a bit pressured to measure up to the reports on my blog. and let's face it, i do love to exagerate.

i have to get to the post office now to pick up a package. my friend, madeline from london, sent me a blouse. she says that red blouses are all the rage there. you don't see too much red here. the rabbis have pretty much forbidden women to wear it. i have a funny feeling that my package may have been sent back already. that's what you get for not picking up the mail! oh mondays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


it's nearly 12:00 a.m. and i'm really tired. i'm just beginning my laundry detail. last night after shabbat ended, i received another request for help with the laundry from my son's mother-in-law. her husband, hasn't successfully fixed the washing machine yet. she brought over 2 large laundry baskets and a third jumbo size plastic bag filled to the brim. i used my super large cycle and i still have 4 batches to go. i have never seen so many towels in my life. of course, i stuffed them all into the dryer and after an hour or more they're still damp. i wasn't outside today so i don't even know if it's raining.

i spent a few hours this morning babysitting for sahar. he slept for about two hours so i really only had to deal with him for about an hour. i was trying every trick in the book to get him to giggle but no deal. at least he wasn't crabby or whining. he drank a bottle of 'mommy' milk and seemed satiated. he loves to watch television. gal put a cartoon on for him and he watched the entire thing with great amusement and concentration.

last night, michal and i watched 'australia's got talent' to about 1:30 a.m. we got hooked on mark vincent, the amazing 15 year old opera singer. then we switched over to 'britain's got talent' for a short while. i went to sleep with a huge amount of dirty dishes on the counter and in the sinks. i only got around to washing the dishes a couple of hours ago. i washed out the glass bowls from the chanukah menorah and finally put it back on the shelf. i had wanted to go to the supermarket but it just never happened. i had a request this evening from zvi for some left over chicken soup. gal ordered the usual, french fries and vegetarian wieners. i fried up some frozen prepared morrocan 'cigars' for them after they didn't like the taste of the mini meat pockets that i brought up.

on tuesday night, my son turns 23. his wife wants to throw him a surprise party and asked me to make a dairy lasagna. she likes it but i don't know how it will go down with the rest of the sephardi clan. i'm thinking about making mini pizza wheels. they do eat pizza. i may opt to buy frozen mini pizzas, and cheese barekas. and of course, there will be french fries on hand. maybe i'll come up with an innovative potato dish. we'll see tomorrow how mulch energy i have. the plumber is coming around noon to clean out the boiler. and a couple are also coming to check out the downstairs for a possible short term rental. i was supposed to get to the store to buy liquid laundry softener. i decided to do the laundry without any and use the dryer sheets to compensate.

i also decided that i wanted to bake the cake for my son's birthday. i know that the family probably likes miriam's cakes more than mine. but i want to do my own thing this year. i'll use white flour instead of the usual, rye or whole wheat. i want to decorate it more or less imaginatively. i don't care so much about the taste. i am definitely going to use paper plates. i need to buy balloons and gift ribbons. i have babyish birthday napkins and a few sparklers left over from the last birthday bash. i am going to invite my family to join us later on for dessert or a late night supper. the following evening, we are going to carmiel for a live concert. i am really looking forward to it.

i spent a few hours this evening selecting photos to highlight the many milestones of my son's past 23 years. i want to mount them on a huge piece of oak tag and make a presentation. i have photos of the bris, pidyion ben, first birthday, second birthday, first day in cheder, his first haircut, and many others through bar mitzvah and up until army. i need to copy a picture of him as a groom and as a father. i'll ask gal to borrow some pix tomorrow. what a shame i can't make a slide show.

anyway, its down to the laundry room for me. it will probably be another few hours again. oh, sundays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On The Last Day Of Chanukah

it's friday morning in the holy land. it has been raining quite heavily for the past few days. thank the Lord! i have been unusually busy. i have been doing tons of laundry. gal's mother brought over 3 huge batches on wednesday. her machine broke down and i offered to help her out. i threw in one batch and then came upstairs to make some spaghetti for the young couple. my friend michal came over for a chanukah afternoon get together and we had a make shift lunch. we watched chanukah videos on you tube for awhile and then caught up wth our soaps. my niece came over to visit gal and watch a movie with her. my sister showed up with a friend. they had been visiting the neighbors on behalf of chabad and talking about chanukah and distributing menorahs to those who didn't have any. they were supposed to stay for just enough time to have a hot drink. they left at midnite. michal had to keep both dogs snuggled in her arms for hours because the other woman was afraid of dogs. we talked about recipes for kugel, homeopathic remedies, and miracle stories of the late Rebbe of Lubuvitch for several hours.

suddenly, i remembered the batch of laundry sitting in my washing machine. i made a mad dash for the downstairs. i did another two batches and by the time every article of clothing was dry and folded, it was 5:00 a.m. my friend michal slept over and decided to go to sleep just after 3:00 am. the next morning she answered the phone, hoping to catch it before it woke me up, and then told me at 10:00 a.m. that gal needed me to babysit for sahar at 10:30 a.m. i jumped out of bed and had a coffee. i could barely see straight. thank goodness, michal was there to help with sahar. he's so much easier to care for now. he likes to play by himself with his toys. he keeps amused for a long time by sucking on his hand or thumb. he also likes to watch television and look at the computer. he's beginning to giggle. what a treat! when gal came home i decided to make donuts. i have these cute mini molds with a hole in the center, that makes bite sized donuts. i quickly mixed up a batter but i mistakenly threw in 2 tbs instead of 2 tsp of baking powder and they exploded all over the oven. i took out the frozen chanukah donuts from the other night and tried to "revive" them but no one wanted any. i made a small bowl of homemade applesauce for michal. i didn't have any latkes to serve with it so i reheated some of the falafel balls.

yesterday, i spent the entire afternoon doing the kids' laundry. it took hours to dry all of the training suits, towels and baby blankets. in the summer, things dry outside in ten minutes. i felt ambitious so i made another batch of donuts using rye flour. they came out perfectly this time. i also made up a batch of applesauce cupcakes and used up the remainder of the sour cream icing. i also made a dozen corn muffins and a batch of almond chocolate chip cookie balls. i am expecting my friends michal and mikimi for a shabbat sleep over. gal and zvi and sahar are going to 'the clan' for shabbat.

last night my niece called to ask if i had a cold air humidifier. menachem mendel had an inflamation of the vocal chords. he's teething like mad and has been sick for the past two weeks. luckily, i had bought one last year to keep mom's room moist. i jumped into a cab and decided to bring the humidifier in person and pop in for a moment to say hello. my sister was there and they both urged me to stay for a while. i had some cofee and a small piece of fish and distributed some of my baked goods and chocolates. i gave my niece some chanukah gelt and played with my grand nephew. i decided to walk home even though i had come with only a light cape. i drank a l'chaim (a shot of vodka) for the new month, and chanukah and literally ran home. it felt great to move. i got hit with a down pour on my way home but i didn't really care.

i was thinking about going to the store to buy whole wheat challah but i might just serve pitas and pull out some whole grain bread for the meal. today is the last night of chanukah. it is also the beginning of a new jewish month, as well as erev shabbat. next week is zvi's 23rd birthday. i ordered tickets for a concert of a popular jewish singer in the next town. it's been years since i went out and heard live music. i am pretty excited about it. i wish everyone a good shabbos, a happy chanukah and a good new month!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chanukah Party

last night, we had a chanukah get together with gal's family. i bought pitas and prepared frozen donuts, falafel balls and french fries. i also bought tons of cucumbers and tomatoes to make an israeli salad. the french fries took over an our to bake. i usually like to have things done before the company arrives but i was on baby sitting duty in the evening. i took the baby down to my apartment and rolled him to sleep in his carriage, so i could fry up the eggplant and cut up the salad. i set the table in the early afternoon.

i made a menorah out of packages of chocolate coins. the packages of coins were already in the shape of candles so it's not like i did anything that creative. i simply took a small tray and covered it with aluminum foil and lined up five packages of these coins (it was the fifth day of the holiday) and added an extra package for the shamash. sorry, but it was a bit hectic to take a picture of it. i also bought individual candy packages in the shape of dreidels for each kid. i placed one on each plate as a sort of place setting. i got lucky and they were on sale for only $1 each. i made some tahina to drizzle on the falafel. i put out a carton of chumus and two types of olives. i also put out different flavored yogurts, some sour cream and some chocolate puddings. i cut up some low fat 5% bulgarian cheese and sliced up some 28% fatty cheese. i fried up a few dozen sweet potato latkes before i went upstairs to babysit.

i was going to use paper plates but in the end i opted for the real deal. i didn't dare use my mom's special dairy 'company' floral set. not with this crowd! we were a 'lucky 13' at the table. one of gal's sisters was missing but two of her female cousins showed up from out of town.

zvi played 'spin the dreidel' for a bit with his eight year old brother-in-law. but there was no serious dreidel playing, once again. i made marshmallow kababs for the kids. each stick had three marshmallows, pink and white. ever since we roasted some marshmallows at the family barbecue, it has become a trademark at my house.

safta miriam, who is ten years my junior, made about a hundred fried sephardi crepes. she probably stood on her feet rolling the balls of dough and then frying them for a couple of hours. this is after she did a seven hour stint at her job at a chabad day care center, preparing two meals for seventy kids and cleaning up afterwards. is there any wonder why no one ate the falafel balls or pita breads or had room for the donuts. but i have to say, there wasn't one french fry left over. i will invite over a friend or two and make up a holiday meal with the leftovers. i guess the evening was a success because there was no yelling or punching, or pinching or kicking. perhaps they don't yet feel comfortable enough to fight here. who knows?

one of the female cousins jumped up to wash the dishes but i told her to sit down and relax. before they left, safta miriam went over to the sink with the female cousin to do the dishes. once again, i refused any help. i guess seven hours of KP today wasn't enough for miriam. separdim are known for their cleanliness. they wash their floors on a daily basis. but when push comes to shove, they are no match for us Polish!

the funniest event of the evening was their playing with my musical chassid doll, all night long. the joke is that it was a santa claus doll, that some jewish toy company, turned into a chassid. they added a back fur hat and a long black frock with a belt. the chassid sways back and forth as he plays a jazzed up saxaphone version of 'santa claus is coming to town'. now, these people are extremely pious, observant jews. they don't watch television or go to the movies. they don't even have a computer in their house. israeli' sephardim have no knowledge of these american non-jewish holiday songs, thank goodness. i had to hold back my laughter every time they played the tune.

i bought this doll a few years ago in the holy old city of zefat. some vender was selling them behind the ari shul. as i passed by and heard the music i stopped for a moment because it sounded so familiar. when i realized what the song actually was, i bought one for $20. my father used to love it. he would get up and do his 'bootie' dance to it. i 'm pretty sure that i got my money's worth out of it, last night.

i am feeling a lot lighter now and want to make another chanukah party. i'm ready to dance and listen to music again. my parents are in heaven and don't need me any more. my gandson is becoming a person and is developing his own personality and i want to enjoy him for as long as i can. life is good!

on tuesday when i finally made it to the bank, they were in the middle of lighting the chanukah menorah. the customers and tellers were standing around in a semi circle , singing the chanukah blessings. only in israel! ! we should all share in the light of chanukah. happy chanukah!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Mourning Ends

today was the last day of the mourning period for my mother. my sister and i went down to the cemetary together and tried our darndest to find ten men to say a kaddush for her. the timing was all off. some men have the custom not to visit the graveyard during chanukah, and some were on their way to daven the afternoon prayers. others were hurrying home to light the chanukah menorahs. it was most stessful. we were both feeling guilty and helpless. as i stood by my parents' graves reciting psalms, i was having a silent conversation in my head with my son. he had called a couple of times from work to ask what time we were going to do the kaddush. no one had an answer for him. it was all kind of 'up in the air'. i guess since the element corresponding to zefat is air, it seemed appropriate. last night, my son berated me for not telling him sooner about the memorial. i simply answered, that it had been the topic of my conversation for the past two weeks. he said that he just didn't hear it. perhaps, i spoke about it with his wife and assumed that she had relayed the message.

i was a little miffed yesterday when my daughter-in-law told me that she was going to a bar mitzvah in another city with her mother. i honestly, think that i was more upset that she was taking the baby out in really bad weather. never the less, i started to feel betrayed. she knew that i was planning a memorial dinner for the family and i think that it was most inappropriate for her not to have joined us. i was really getting all worked up. i started a silent 'zelda rant'. i wanted desperately, to get onto my blog and document it. i thought about all of the appliances and furniture that were purchased for her from my mother's funds, not to mention, their living rent free on my inheritance money. i started to really resent her for being disloyal. i was going on and on in my head so i asked G-d to help me see the good in the situation and to help me deal with the things that i cannot change. i suddenly thought about the '12 step' programs and realized that there ought to be a 'mother-in-laws' anonymous'. that observation put me back on the road to 'emotional' sobriety. and i focused on my quiche and other dinner preparations.

menorah lighting at chabad was at 4:50 p:m. zvi came home from work at about 5:30 p.m. and lit his menorah. i figured that 'coming over right after candle lighting time', meant about 7:00 p.m. so i set the table and put all the food in the various ovens to keep warm. zvi was starving so i served him a bowl of piping hot, mushroom veggie soup. i ended up making a squash and eggplant quiche with two kinds of cheeses, a huge greek salad and a red cabbage slaw with pecans and dried cranberries. since no one showed up by 7:30, i fried up a dozen or more little sweet potato latkes. at 8:00, i frantically fried up two dozen yogurt whole wheat 'greek' donuts. i was so wired that i also threw in a package of fish croquettes and french fries to boot. i reasoned that someone might not want to eat dairy. the phone kept ringing while i was busy, frying up a storm in my little alcove kitchen. i knew it was a family member calling, but my mobile phone was out of order and i had to run to the other side of the house to get the phone. of course, i missed it each time. after a while, i stopped trying and kept on frying. my niece called once again to let me know that she was on her way over. after a while, the other family members arrived. everyone was disappointed to hear that baby sahar was out of town.

we sat down to eat closer to 9:00 p.m. we were only 6 at the table plus baby menachem mendel. no one was really hungry. everyone was tired. everyone had a stomach ache or a headache or something else. the baby was recovering from a bad virus, too. no one had any room for greek donuts, or french fries or fish schnitzels, or chocolate candy coins. no one had any anecdotes to share about mom. no one really had any energy to be out. i felt that everyone came out of obligation and to humor me.

zvi said something about mom and excused himself for the night. then everyone went to the computer room to watch the live hook up from 770, the lubuvitch headquarters in brooklyn. they were lighting the giant menorah in the shul and we were able to spot my nephew out of the sea of lubuvitchers. my niece started going through the arts and crafts materials, that i had been storing for her, and took home the plastic cabinet too. so i have even more space in my newly vamped blog room. the family left around midnight and i cleaned up the grease from the kitchen alcove and did the dishes and washed the floor. i then ate all of the leftover salads and quiche and had a coffee. i hit the bed at around 1:30 a.m. gal came home with baby sahar after 2:00 a.m. and i watched television to about 3:00 a.m.

my brother-in-law gave a torah class in honor of my mother, this morning. it was called for 11:00 a.m but i came late because i was having a 'heart to heart' phone conversation with my sister ann in california. i then went upstairs to see the baby. he was giving out free smiles and i was really enjoying them and in no hurry to leave. i had promised to make a sour cream coffee cake for this morning's class but i was all out of eggs, cash and energy. i took the almost, whole, white cake that was left over from shabbat, and covered it with a sour cream and butter frosting, and i sprinkled some roasted chopped pecans on the top. i found the frosting recipe on the net at around 2.00 a.m. needless to say, the cake was a big hit. i'd like to think that my talent for 'reinventing' food stuffs comes from my mom, the queen of recycled leftovers. i ran over to borrow some cab fare from my niece and she met me outside of her in -law's apartment. i went inside to greet her mother-in-law, who is visiting from india. she and her husband have been running the chabad house in puno for about 10 years. her daughter is expecting momentarily. my little nephew, menachem mendush, gave me a very warm greeting. his israeli/indian grandmother was surprised that he knew me.

anyway, we honored our mother as best as we could under really hard obstacles. we just have to 'gird our loins', as my good friend, judy, always says, and continue to be a source of pride for our parents. i am certain that they are watching out for us in heaven and happy to know that they produced such fine people. i asked mom to forgive me, my transgressions, and i requested that she look out for the new generation of great grandchildren. officially, the mourning ends.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

thursday morning : i don't know what time i got to sleep last night. it was really cold and i was too tired to get out of bed and put on a heater. the dogs were buried under the comforter and didn't move. zvi woke me up at 7:45 a.m. i was glad he did because i was on babysitting detail at 8:30 a.m. while gal went to get a blood test. i was afraid that i might oversleep. gal offered to take the baby to her mother but i didn't want him to have to brave the cold weather so early in the morning. it is getting a lot easier to care for him. he spends more time now playing in his crib or on the bed and doesn't need to be held as much. my motto has always been "let sleeping dogs and babies, lye".

'saharkush', as i call him, just woke up. i will give him a little 'alone' time before i take him out of the porto crib. he has found his hand and loves to put it in his mouth. he gets a lot of pleasure from this but can also get very frustrated. he can lift his head up now and is pretty active. the other day while he was in my arms, he managed to get himself into an upright position. pretty amazing! i can see some motion and hear some noise, but until i hear a whimper, i will stay right here at the computer.

i am listening to my soap, 'the young and restless'. they are doing a memorial service for cassie, the teenager, who they killed off of the show. i can't believe how much i cried watching her die. i am an emotional sap.

thursday night: it's 3:30 a.m. and i'm ready to crawl into bed. after baby sitting for sahar, i made gal, her favorite lunch of french fries and tuna salad. i use ready made frozen fries. she actually likes them. i then, went downstairs and threw in about 3 batches of laundry. gal and her sister wanted to cook in my kitchen so i decided to clean it up. my little outcove kitchen, where i actually cook, was trashed. the dairy toaster oven was covered in grease and the large stove was no better. all the counters were covered with assorted pots and pans from the previous shabbat. some were clean and others were not. i started to clean the toaster oven and one thing lead to another and before i knew it, i was doing a pesach cleaning and pulling out all the stops. i reached for the windex, and oven cleaner and some type of mildew cleaner, all very caustic. i didn't stop for a moment. i didn't drink or eat anything for about 12 hours. and the scary thing is that i didn't even think about it. i had no sensations of hunger or thirst or exhaustion. i felt no pain. i just kept pushing on. i just sat down and had a cup of coffee and ate a plain yogurt. i probably didn't lose any weight because i didn't eat anything today.

friday morning: gal just came down to start the cooking. she needed the fish. it's just 9:00 a.m. it's really a very normal time to start the preparations, considering we start the shabbat at 4:oo p.m. i already set the table last night and prepared the chanukah and shabbat menorahs. i told gal that i needed to rest for another half an hour before i could start my day. i heard sahar crying, so i ran upstairs to watch him for a bit while his mom started to cook. we decided that it was best if gal did the cooking upstairs with the baby.

i was really feeling a bit dizzy from lack of sleep and too many cleaning agents. i didn't think that i would be able to run down to the grocery to buy the challahs but i got my second wind and managed. by the time i got back home, both sisters were in high gear. they were like a tag team from wrestling. they each came down a dozen times or more to request some spice or pan or item. i did less cooking, but it was a lot more work for me.

gal made two types of fish with potatoes, three types of eggplant salads, and a tomato relish that took about 3 hours to cook. and then she was done! she was too tired to do any thing else. i was still doing my last minute spring cleaning but stopped to threw in a pot of chicken thighs and chicken schnitzel. i also made a small piece of meat with beans. i scrambled to bake a simple white cake, made an avocado salad, boiled a bunch of eggs, threw together a corn salad, which went untouched, cooked some beets, whipped up some non dairy cream and washed the strawberries. we ran out of potatoes and i was about to make a mad dash back to the store, but orital's husband saved the day. he cooked some at home before he came over. at 3:00 p.m. we put all the cooked food on the hot plate and realized that no one had made the rice. we decided that we could manage without the rice and the sisters took their showers. i had to forgo mine. i quickly threw on a shabbat moo moo and cut up an israeli salad.

friday night: the girls got all dolled up and took the baby out for a stroll. i put out the napkins, goblets and cutlery. the girls came back shivering. it had turned really cold outside and the house wasn't much warmer, even with the two electric heaters running. gal put out all the salads and the men came home from shul. i served the hot food and the tuna was really hot. i must have gotten a piece of the chili pepper. no one had any room for cake but the strawberries and whipped cream was a big success. everyone enjoyed the wines that zvi brought back from his work. i think gal enjoyed the wine a little too much. i kept following her from room to room to make sure that she wouldn't drop the baby. everyone went to sleep in a good mood and i cuddled with the dogs on the t.v. couch and read the magazine for a while and then fell asleep on the couch, as usual.

saturday night- shabbat has just ended and we lit the chanukah menorahs. my son and his brother-in-law thought about playing 'spin the dreidel' for chocolate coins, but ended up playing electronic monopoly, instead. gal and her sister went upstairs to bathe little sahar. my family isn't coming over tonight for latkes so i think i will take it easy. i didn't finish washing the dishes but i can deal with that. i'm not the type who can't go to sleep with a sink full of dirty dishes. actually, i am fading. i feel like a wind up toy whose batteries are dying. i got up at 6:30 a.m. this morning and needed some coffee desperately. i drank about three cups and read my shabbat magazine. the weather was quite stormy and it was definately a day to be inside. gal and orital came downstairs with the baby for hot drinks. we all shmoozed for a while and then i said my prayers before the men came home from shul. gal set the table and took out all the salads. after lunch, everyone went for a nap while i stayed with the baby. he was almost asleep in his carriage so while i read some psalms, i rocked him back and forth. cloie, the dog, was fast asleep in my lap. last night the dogs were hyperventilating from all the thunder. i gave each one a dose of rescue. cloie was crouched down low in front of the doorway. she wanted to go downstairs to the bomb shelter.

i don't think that i am capable of doing one more thing tonight. i think that we will have a family dinner here tomorrow night for my mom's memorial. i am too tired to even think up a menu now. i pulled out some recipes and we'll see how much energy i have tomorrow. i might make a quiche or we might end up eating fried potato pancakes. i don't do anything that involves using yeast so that limits me condsiderably. i wish you all a good night, a good week! a good new month and a happy chanukah! check out adam sandler's and tom lehrer's chanukah songs on you-tube. they'e a hoot!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Chanukah

it's wednesday night here in the holy city of zefat. i just got back from the supermarket. friday night is the first night of the eight day holiday of chanukah. we light festive colored candles every night and eat fried foods. in israel, we eat these awful yeast donuts that have been fried in oil and injected with a bit of really cheap jam. if you are lucky your donut will have some jam. i bought a box of frozen donuts to reheat if i have any company because i don't do anything with yeast. i also bought some cherry jam and i have to search for a plastic syringe that i have somewhere in the house. i also bought tons of the holiday chocolates that look like coins and are wrapped in gold foil to throw all around the table, for effect.

my daughter-in-law and her sister want to prepare the shabbat meals here this week. so i bought some frozen tuna steaks, and some chicken bottoms and tons of veggies to make salads. the sephardim like their variety of salads. it is customary to have about ten salads on the table. we'll probably start the meal with cole slaw, corn salad, beets, chumus, red cabbage, potato salad, fennel and colorabi, tossed green salad, avocado and egg, and fried eggplant. i'm thinking about making a greasy potato kugel. the tuna steaks will probably be cooked with potatoes and a tomato sauce. i will be making the chicken dish. i bought fresh strawberries, which cost a small fortune. and i bought non dairy whip cream for the topping. perhaps, i'll make a plain loaf cake and turn it into a strawberry shortcake.

sunday night marks the first year anniversary of my mother's passing. it is customary to visit her grave and recite some psalms. we will go down in the day time. i want to make a family meal which is also a festive chanukah meal. this will entail dairy products and some fried foods. i'm thinking about making eggplant parmesan. i'm also thinking about a greek salad. i bought some frozen french fries and fish patties if i want to go in another direction. normally, i would make my own fried fish, but i couldn't find anything suitable in the supermarket. i'm also thinking about making a quiche. my mind has been very busy lately, thinking up menus.

i decided that i wanted to start to sleep in the master bedroom once again. so i started to clean out the porch. i washed down the shutters and mopped the floor. i then put away all of the clothing that was strewn all over the bed and did some dusting. it isn't easy cleaning when the house is so cold. i put on a pair of gym pants under my skirt and i was ready to go. i put away all of the jewelry that was strewn all over the dresser. tomorrow, i will mop the floor, and make the bed with the warmest of my flannel sheets. i also have to clean out the kitchen area so that gal and orital can have a clear and clean space to cook. i have to babysit in the early hours tomorrow but i'll have the afternoon free to finish the job, i hope.

it's hard to think of mom and sometimes, i think i can't really remember her. the other night i was looking through the wedding pix on the computer. i used the mouse to touch her. it's hard for me to look at the pix, because it was before my face took a 'twisted' turn. i have aged so much in only a year. i'm holding strong to the diet and hopefully, i'll get back to my pre wedding shape. i've lost almost 5 pounds in nearly 2 weeks. i'm feeling better since i started to eat more protein. i don't really miss the carbs. but today i started craving a sweet. i am allowed diet candies, but i 'd rather not put those chemicals into my body right now. i had a plain yogurt with vanilla extract and it seemed to do the trick.

i think my volunteer program starts next week. i am taking a course in caring for demented elderly patients. hopefully, i'll be volunteering on a weekly basis at the new senior citizens' center in zefat. they have a special wing for altzheimer patients. they are mostly in the early stages and aren't heavily medicated. the social worker is a breath of fresh air. she is very motivated and concerned. it was not depressing there at all. too bad they weren't open when my father was still around.

i started to revamp my computer room, but the bed is still covered with all the additional parts. i never did get around to redoing the hallway closet. let's hope i'll get a lot achieved tomorrow. i bought a new heater at the supermarket and i hope it will keep us warm enough throughout shabbat. the kids don't want to eat upstairs. the supermarket shelves were jammed with all kinds of menorahs and colorful boxes of holiday candles. there was tons of bottles of lighting oil for the purest and tons of chocolates and gift packages for kids. i bought a gift package of assorted goodies for each of the young couples and a small one for my grandson as a joke. tomorrow, i will set up the 'family' electric plastic menorah (all the way from brooklyn) to stand in the kitchen window. i actually, bought an electrical converter and new bulbs a couple of years ago. last year i painted all of the bulbs, gold. the nieghbors really like it. it's really beginning to look a lot like chanukah! i wish you all a good shabbat and a happy chanukah.!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


i remember sundays in new york when everything was closed. we stayed inside and watched million dollar movie all day long and mom did the new york times crossword puzzle. dad watched some sports. and we ate left overs for dinner. buying the times for mom, was my life long task. if you waited til sunday afternoon, you took a chance that it night be sold out. my coming home without the sunday times crossword puzzle was a really big deal for mom. i used to buy it on saturday night at the train station on avenue m. , on my way home from a night out in the 'city'. it didn't matter if there was a ton of snow on the ground, someone would have to trudge out to buy the times. i am certain that it didn't happen too many times that mom didn't get her paper. i can probably recall each time it happened. there were actually times that it didn't get delivered to our neighborhood in brooklyn due to strikes. i think that later in life, mom started to get the times delivered to her home. she eventually cancelled her subscription due to the times' anti israel policies. when mom moved to zefat it became a major mitzvah for me to get her the friday edition of the jerusalem post and of course, the monday edition, that had the crossword puzzle. mom did the crossword puzzle the night before she died. i can also count on one hand, the number of times that i couldn't 'score' a newspaper for her. i try not to read newspapers and i cancelled our subscription to the jerusalem post because of their anti-charedi politics. i ocassionally, read arutz 7 on line to find out what is happening in the country. sundays in israel is like mondays in the u.s. it's all business as usual. i wanted to go to town this morning and sort out my water bill. i also made plans to meet a friend in the maul. the 'maul' in zefat is about 6 or 7 stores and some offices. i woke up with a really bad headache and pain in my right foot. i had actually, enjoyed a couple of days without pain, but i guess with the advent of rain, the pain returned. i helped keep my grandson amused for a couple of hours today, while his mother straightened out the clothes closets. afterwards, i was given two batches of laundry to do. last night i cleaned my electric burners, and i think i may have shorted out the wires. i tried to cook some eggs and lost all of the electricity. it didn't last too long, but i was really hungry and wanted warm food. not having any gas or electric burners, made it a bit tricky. i thought about heating up the leftovers in the toaster oven, but instead, i called the gas company to order a canister or two. they told me that they could come on friday. i panicked and explained that i was completely out of gas. they then told me that i needed an inspection because the new law states that it must be done every five years. i couldn't believe that five years had already passed since the last inspection. it seems like it was just last year. i was just watching a movie about the murder of the jewish journalist, daniel pearl, and i was shocked to learn that it had happened seven years ago. i don't know what it is with me and time. i 'm stuck in a perpetual time warp. anyway, the lady at the gas company told me that i could not get any gas until i had an inspection, and that wasn't going to happen any time soon. i thought about running to town to buy a new electric burner. the next thing i know, the gas inspector was at my door. he promised to call the office and let them know that it was okay to bring the gas balloons. the lady from the gas office called again, to let me know that the inspector could come tomorrow. i explained that he had already been here and had given me a clean bill of 'gas' health. she told me that she would check it out and call me back. of course, she called back a little while later and i got my gas. not bad for a sunday! so i cooked some eggs in tomato sauce. it's a sephardi dish. i lost about four pounds but i'm still bloated. i'm going to continue the south beach diet until i see some real weight loss. sundays, sundays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Life In 2009

as the year 2009 is winding down, i feel the need to recap the crucial events of this year. i also want to participate in 'the daily blog tips newsletter' project. when i first told my sister ann, that i was interested in starting a blog, she sent me the daniel scocco newsletter. the year 2008, ended with my marrying off my only son and burying my mother, just three weeks later. my son met his present wife last april. he brought her over to the house on their second date. both my mother and i thought that she was a 'keeper'. she had a light about her. i didn't know it at the time, but just like the beatles song, she was just seventeen. i met casually with her parents in the summer and the young couple became officially, engaged in october. my son finished the army in november and they were married in december. my mom died during chanukah, three weeks after the wedding. the year 2009, began a year of jewish mourning for me. i stood up from the shiva on new year's day. after being in the house for seven days, we went down to the cemetery to unveil the memorial stone. in america, it is done after a year but in israel, we have other customs. soon afterwards, my son came over to tell me that his new wife was expecting. i broke out into loud sobs. i was so deep into my recent grief. i don't think that i could feel any joy back then. in 2009, i was alone for the first time in my adult life. my son lived about five minutes away in an apartment in the neighborhood, but i barely got to see him during the week. it was quite the adjustment, living alone in an eleven room house. for the past seven years, i had existed, exclusively, to care for my elderly parents and teenage son. in the winter of 2009, it was just me and the 'dogs'. at one point, i had three female dogs and two male puppies. i spent many a sunny day outside playing with the dogs. in 2009, i started to go through my mom's clothing and papers. it was not a simple feat. my mom had been a saver and a bit of a hoarder. i threw away all of the hospital papers because i didn't want to be reminded. i can see now, that it was a big mistake. i gave away alot of her clothes to charity. i painted several of the walls in the house. i needed everything to be fresh and bright. i wanted to get a jump on the pesach cleaning. i went back to aerobics and yoga classes. i lost six pounds. two days before pesach, i was stricken with facial paralysis and my face became twisted. in 2009, i lost my good looks. after pesach, my niece gave birth to the first great grandchild in the family. in 2009, i became a great aunt. my son lost his job and moved back into the house. in the summer pf 2009, i began computer dating and nearly lost my mind. in the summer of 2009, i realized that i was officially, 'over the hill'. in september of 2009, i became a grandmother. and in just a couple of weeks, the mourning period for my mom will end in december of 2009..

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Upstairs Downstairs

i'm sitting at the desk of my son's brand new computer and i am doing my blog upstairs in my son's humble abode. my computer downstairs has been taken out for repairs. it apparently needs a new hard disk and a new windows. we have several viruses. the repairman made a back up copy of the hard drive but i can't think of anything of great importance that might be lost. i only used the computer to receive mail and to do my blog. everything else belongs to my son zvi, and my deceased mom and my nieces, who occasionally use it. i feel a bit strange sitting here. i was supposed to help out with the baby while my daughter-in-law takes a shower. my son took one first, so i jumped to the computer. it's hard to believe that he is an adult now and capable of buying his own computer. i spent the morning with my grandson because his mom and dad went to town to do some errands. zvi stayed home from work because he was sick. and doctor nechmad confirmed that he had a throat infection and of course, gave him some antibiotics. nechmad is the hebrew word for very nice. dr. nechmad isn't. i tried to encourage zvi to take some probiotics too, but he probably won't. this young generation is hooked on drugs. my daughter-in-law has been on antibiotics about 10 times in one year. heaven help us! i should talk! i woke up yesterday with a red eye, my foot was throbbing and my stomach was distended. i do homeopathy. once every 2 months i receive a remedy. i don't know what i'm taking but as long as it's not real medicine, i'm fine with it. the baby is being fussy today and no one really has patience for him. i'm afraid the honeymoon is over. the dogs are downstairs and cloey is barking her head off. she wants to be upstairs but it's off limits to her. we have a huge heating unit upstairs and it's like a sauna here. i am spritzing! we have no heat downstairs and it's like siberia. but i prefer the cold. i am quite full from all the soup that i ate and from all the coffee that i drank this evening. i have nothing more to eat unless i take more soup. but just the thought of it makes me ill. i have some beets left over from shabbat but i'm really not supposed to have any in the phase 1. i guess i can have a tbs of humus with a kalorabi if i really get desperate. this diet sucks! but i have to lose about 20 pounds now instead of the ten. one of these days, hopefully, ill start to take long walks again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back In Action

i'm back on my blog in my new and remodelled blog room. my son recently bought his own computer. so today, he helped himself to one of the two computer tables that were placed back to back in our computer room for the past couple of years. one cannot imagine the amount of wires that were all connected to the computer, lying in a giant, tangled up ball on the floor. one modem box, one keyboard and mouse, one printer, eight assorted speakers, one karaoke machine, one hand microphone and one set of headphones, all cluttering up the two computer tables. cleaning the floor around the computer was always tricky. at first, i got a bit nervous, when zvi took the new computer table. where would i put the modem box, the packages of computer paper and all of the phone books and note pads that were resting on the shelves of the larger computer table? suddenly, i had a great idea! i brought in my mom's old telephone table from brooklyn, that was in the guest bedroom because it didn't fit anywhere else. it was the perfect solution for my computer room. there is enough room on this phone table for the telephone, the note pads and pens, a box of business cards, all of the telephone books, and even, the set of the funk and wagnall dictionaries. zvi pushed the remaining computer table away from the window area, so it is less drafty now. i've been sitting here for an hour and my hands and feet aren't frozen yet. while zvi was untangling all of the wires, i hung up a heater on the opposite wall, over the bed. so now we can have heat and one less object resting on the computer table. zvi erased all of his programs, games, music and photos so now the computer is virtually, empty and all mine. zvi reattached the comfortable and well padded keyboard that we had replaced two years ago, for the cheap and chometz free one. typing is once again,a pleasure. unfortunately, i can't seem to find the spelling check and the blogger format is somewhat,different. not to worry, michal the maven, should be coming back soon. maybe i'll ask zvi to help me out tomorrow. i'm sitting at my new and improved blog area and i keep staring at the clean and dust free, uncluttered computer table that now rests a modem box, a flat screen and only two speakers. there is a lot of stuff on the bed right now that has to put away in our wall closet tomorrow. i will have to reorganize all of the shelves to accommodate all of the extra speakers and computer parts that i won't be using. oh, if only mom was alive to see the change! i want to hang up curtains, now that the computer is no longer near the window. besides being warmer, it is also, more private now. the computer had been situated directly across from my neighbor's window and zvi used to keep the shutters closed, which made the room completely dark. i'm thinking about repainting the room again. perhaps, curtains will make enough of a change. i started the south beach diet today because i needed to do something drastic. one would think that the bread diet is drastic enough, but i simply, lost control again and started binging. i hope that this will help me get a handle on it. i am planning to stick to this for two weeks. if i remember correctly, in phase one, you can not eat rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, fruits, or dairy. i think beets and carrots are also not allowed. the diet is based on the glycemic level in foods. you can have a teaspoon of peanut butter, or 12-15 unroasted nuts each day. humus is also allowed. i lost 16 pounds in a month the last time i did the 'south beach'. but i was more active back then. i have been existing mostly on carbs lately, and eating far too much dairy. i simply, am not feeling all that well right now. and now that it is cold again, i will start to cook and eat more protein and vegetables. one of my problems seems to be in portion control. i tend to eat too much and i don't pay attention to the weight. i will start to load up on string beans. too bad that spinach, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are problematic for low thyroid. i have to stay away from them. i can eat beans and lentils, i think. it is nearly 2:00 the holy city of zefat and i am back in action. wish me luck, zelda.

Friday, November 27, 2009


i woke up this morning feeling, rather, groggy. i didn't sleep well, either. i ran to catch a phone call at 1:30 a.m. i thought it might be sister ann, from california, calling with all the details from the michael's thanksgiving get together. by the way, i loved the fancy dress that the little princess was modeling, and i fully applaud the little boy's aversion to flu shots. it wasn't ann on the phone. it was some young guy looking for someone. he was going through his phone numbers and somehow he had mine. for a moment, i had a flashback of the time when i would receive many of these late nite calls from young guys who were looking to hook up with my son, the pot head and local dealer. and how many nights did i lay awake until my son and his friends made it back from the pub in one piece. and then there were times that he would call me in the middle of the night to let me know that he was still at a certain place and tell me not to worry. this 'phone guy' mentioned my sister's name and said something about looking for a shidduch and his beshert. for just a moment i tried to rationalize with this guy. i told him that even if he was looking for his soul mate, it could wait until the morning. i even added a bit of musar and told him that it was inappropriate to call someone at 1:30 a.m. but he needed to talk to someone and seemed surprised that i was unwillling to continue the conversation with him. he asked me when he could call again. i told him that he should never call here again and i tried to go back to sleep. i was just about asleep, when the phone rang again at 2:15 a.m. i thought to myself, what a loser this guy is! and then i heard the phone ring again. it was now 3:00 a.m. he called one more time at 3:20 a.m. it really made me shutter. i now felt violated. i thought about calling him up at the crack of dawn to wake him up, but of course, i didn't. i'm the adult! i did go and check my phone messages. this idiot, actuallly, left one. i thought about calling the police but, of course, i wouldn't. i am so glad that i did the dishes before i went to sleep last night, because i am in no shape to do much of anything this morning. i have to make a shabbos meal and run down to the local supermarket and buy some bottled water. i am feeling a bit nauseous. i guess the barbecue flavored bisseli, that i scoffed down in the middle of the night, isn't sitting well. i had a 'soup and salad nite' here last night for my sister and two nieces and baby, menachem mendush. i made a very thick soup from acorn squash, onions and carrots. the store was all out of pumpkin so i improvised. i couldn't find my hand masher anywhere, so i let it cook until most of it was a mush. i tried to use a large whisk to mash it more, but the vegetables got caught up in the whisk. i made some corn muffins and added some canned corn and grated cheese. sadly, you can't get any tangy, sharp, chedar cheese here, so the small amount of added plain cheese couldn't really be tasted. perhaps, sour cream might have worked better, or maybe, i should have just used more cheese. i made a large salad of romaine lettuce and baby leafs and added onion, and shaved carrots. i threw in some white raisins, almonds and corn, for good measure. i made a garlic and sour cream dressing, which pleased everyone. i made an apple crisp for dessert and served up the remainder of the chocolate chip cookies, that had survived my latest food binge. it turned out that last night was an auspicious day for chabad which coincided, really nicely, with a day or night of thanksgiving. i felt a bit self conscious, using the turkey napkins without serving any turkey. but i did place, the one napkin that read, "giving thanks, every day", in the center of the table. it fit in nicely, with the chassidic theme of the evening. i had mashed up some banana and sweet potato for menachem mendush, but he preferred to eat the spicy soup and corn muffins. go know what an 8 month old likes to eat today! it was an early evening and everyone left feeling nourished and a bit stuffed. i was already in bed, feeling all warm and cozy, when zvi and family came home at midnite. zvi started barking orders at me, but i can't for the life of me, remember now, what he wanted last night. i really have to get up now and start the shabbos preparations. i am a bit 'underwhelmed' as dr. phil would say. i'll throw together a bunch of potatoes for tomorrow's lunch because that is what they like and i'll make a fish dish tonite with a lot of potatoes. i think i just might serve prepared hamburgers for the main course, instead of chicken. i am thinking out of the box! i hope that you have all recovered from your thanksgiving dinners. all the best and shabbat shalom!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Confessions Of A Middle Aged Jewish Grandma

i sat for my grandson, sahar, today for nearly five hours. at around 8:00 a.m., as zvi was leaving for work, he told me that gal needed to go to the doctor and i was needed upstairs at 8:30a.m. as usual, i was curled up on the couch fast asleep, while zvi spoke to me. this seems to be our morning ritual. i used to be a heavy sleeper, but i guess i got used to jumping up to go into my mom's room. i also wake up to let the dogs out each morning and then run back to bed, actually, the couch. zvi left, and i jumped up and ran to the bathroom. afterwards, i ritually, washed my hands and said my morning blessings and grabbed my favorite jar of instant coffee and headed up the stairs to sahar. my daughter-in-law said something about leaving some frozen 'mommy' milk in the freezer and attempted to show me something. i wasn't exactly, paying attention. i hadn't had my morning coffee, yet. she left while the baby was lying in the big crib, enjoying his new mobile and making contented baby 'cooing' sounds. i took the opportunity to make myself a coffee. i didn't want to go back downstairs for my whole wheat bread, so i ate a few cookies. when sahar seemed a bit fussy, i took him out of his crib and played with him for a while on the bed. he seemed to love today's version of 'clap hands'. it went like this: "clap hands, clap hands til daddy comes home, he works in a winery and loves to drink, rum. clap hands, clap hands til mommy comes home, she went to the miyun (emergency room) down in the darom." (the southern end of zefat). sahar was pretty attentive until he got hungry and started to cry. i put him in the crib for a moment, so i could prepare his bottle, and the poor thing started screaming. i immediately, picked him up and went about searching the freezer for the mommy milk. i had to put the baby back down for a moment until i found a small baggie of frozen milk. he was wailing and turning red while i put the baggie into a small bowl of hot water. i was so afraid that the bag might melt. in the meantime,he kept on wailing. when the milk seemed unfrozen, i carefully opened the baggie with a knife while i said a silent prayer, that i shouldn't puncture the bag. i then found a small baby bottle and put the pump contraction over it like a funnel, and started to pour out the milk. to my utter shock, i watched all the milk pour out the side of the pump into the sink and not into the bottle. there were only a few drops of milk left and i feebly, tried to use a dropper to feed them to the poor baby. he was really agitated now! i picked him up and kissed him and cradled him in my arms until he fell asleep. just then, my daughter-in-law called to say that she was on her way to the emergency room. i didn't have the heart or guts to tell her that i had just spilled out all of her expressed mother's milk. i thought about calling up my niece, sarah, who is also, nursing, to see if she had any spare mommy milk in the freezer. i played with the idea of running over to sarah's with sahar, so that she could nurse him. but i have not, yet, taken the baby out by myself, and i didn't even have the cab fare anyway, because i had given the last of my cash to his parents that morning. i figured that i could probably, give the baby a bottle of water, as the worst case scenario. just then, i spotted a package of materna, non dairy, baby formula, on the shelf. while the little angel slept, i read the instructions on the box. thankfully, they were in english, too. i quickly made up half a bottle, as an 'experiment', and at that moment little sahar woke up. i decided to try it. he drank it down, calmly and willingly, but i felt like i was feeding him poison. i had never given his father formula. i nursed my son until he was 2 1/2 years old. i felt like i was betraying my innocent grandson. i was so nervous that he may have an allergic reaction to the formula. i was convinced that the formula might constipate him, too. sahar seemed quite content but a bit sleepy, so i put him down in the small crib and rocked him to sleep. i made myself another coffee. when he woke up again, i played with him some more and then made another half bottle of formula for him. again, he drank it down without any fuss. i then started to worry that he might refuse to nurse when his mommy came home. and then i started to worry about his mommy. i was so afraid that she might be admitted over night to the hospital. right then, she called to let me know that she was on her way home. she asked how the baby was and asked if he had drank his bottle. i told her that he was fine and had had his bottle, which was the truth. but i lied about what was in the bottle. i just couldn't fess up. i was so ridden with guilt and afraid that i would be found out. the baby hadn't made a 'poop' yet and i was convinced that the formula had already clogged his delicate digestive system. gal shared with me that sahar hadn't pooped since the night before. after 5 hours, she was bursting with milk, and couldn't wait for him to nurse. i was really afraid, now. but he latched on to the nipple immediately, and drank the mother's milk until he was full. i still didn't tell her the truth and let her know that he had drank formula. perhaps, when he's married i'll let her know before the chuppah. it looks like we'll be having a thanksgiving meal, here on thursday, after all. i had searched the closet for my turkey napkins, but i could only find my chicken napkins. and there was no way that i was going to host a thanksgiving meal with chicken napkins. i did, find my two sets of turkey napkins. the small cocktail size turkey napkins will be great for serving cake. the turkey dinner napkins have a thanksgiving motif and say "giving thanks every day",which nicely, coincides with orthodox, jewish thought. i am scheduled to sit for sahar tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.while gal goes to the dentist. hopefully, i'll make it over to the chabad supermarket to buy all the traditional food items to prepare for the thanks giving meal. i think i'm going to skip the pumpkin pie and make simple, pumpkin cake 'bars" instead. we'll see. right now, my foot is hurting so much that i can't stand on it. and i've had a blinding pain in my right eye, all evening long. now my nose is running. i'm a wreck! i hope i won't have any more confessions to make for awhile.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The First Anniversary

it's nearly 8:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat and my son just got home. he left work early today to plan for tonight's first wedding anniversary. the florist just arrived with 24 red and white heart shaped, helium balloons, a gift package of a romantic figurine and bottles of musk oil and body lotion sprays, a vase filled with roses, and two bunches of orchids, i think. zvi came back from town with a brown 'fila' training suit, that he bought for gal. he spent hours in town waiting for them to inscribe the back of the training suit. the monogramed message cost almost as much as the running suit, itself. gal also bought zvi a brown 'fila' running suit and a pair of skinny fitting jeans. as gal waited downstairs, zvi released the balloons on to the ceiling above the bed and covered the bed with fresh rose petals. he placed the vase of fresh roses on the coffee table next to the gift figurine package and set down two special wine glasses for later that night. he placed a decorative, scented candle on each night stand to be lit upon their return. my task tonight, was babysitting for sahar. after i was instructed on how to warm up a bottle of mother's milk, the young couple left for dinner in town. i went out earlier this evening to the local store to buy diapers and baby wipes. i also bought two new soft toothe brushes and a tube of sensitive toothepaste for the happy young couple. it was not exactly, a romantic gift , but one that was very much appreciated. i also bought a small white teddy bear that says "i love you" in english, when squeezed. this was sahar's gift to his parents. i even made an anniversary card from sahar with childish scrawl and i signed his name. each time i asked sahar today, what he was planning to give his parents for their anniversary, he gave me a great big smile. i found an old anniversary card from my mother's cards collection and put a modest check in it for the young couple. i put the cards and teddy bear in a small bag and left it in sahar's crib for a surprise. it's hard to believe that an entire year has passed. last year at this time, mom was still alive. we spent the day hugging, and wishing each other: "mazel tov"! i think it was the happiest day of my life. i managed to trim down before the wedding, and i looked pretty amazing back then. i had a house full of guests all week long. my sister's niece and friend from yeshiva were sleeping in the computer room on mattresses on the floor. my girlfriend from efrat, surprised me and came the day before the wedding with her elderly dad, her daughter and baby grandson and her son, moshe. moshe and zvi have been best friends since they were toddlers. believe it or not, i felt less pressured, having a lot of people around me. my mother had more company to talk with and i had a good friend to share my johnny walker with. i promised my mom that i would spend a good amount of time, making her up for the wedding. she was disappointed in how she looked at the engagement, so i was going to give her the 'royal' treatment. i combed out and fluffed up her short wig. i opted for the short one because mom's face was quite gaunt and i knew it would be lost in the longer sheitel. i applied a good amount of face powder because mom looked a bit 'corpse' like. i applied her lipstick and mascara and eye shadow and spritzed her with some of her 'donna karen n.y.' perfume for good measure. i wheeled her over to the mirror for her approval. she seemed genuinely, pleased with how she looked. she was on her way out of life and hanging by a thread, and yet she looked like royalty that night. it was obvious to all, after she passed away, some, three weeks later, that she had stayed alive until her grandson was married. unfortunately, mom couldn't stand or walk on the day of the wedding. she suffered for the year, with crippling gout and didn't have the strength to get out of the wheel chair. just as we were all leaving for the wedding hall, cloey the dog, ran out of the house. of course, she wouldn't come back and we had to leave her outside. i called and begged zvi, the groom, to deal with it. he was pretty upset with me but did manage to find her and get her back into the house. i was rather concerned that moshe, zvi's designated driver, might decide to speed to make up the time. we, as well as the groom, arrived 'unfashionably' late for the receiving line. but considering all of the obstacles, it was pretty amazing that we all made it, at all. our van arrived on time but i couldn't possibly, carry my mother out of the wheelchair and into the van. we hadn't counted on her not being able to walk at all that day. i had to insist that the groom wait and deal with his grandmother. she was in so much pain that night and i hadn't given her any tylenol before we left. i packed adult diapers and baby wipes and the meds but i forgot to bring the tylenol. a young security guard helped carry mom out of the van and placed her back into the wheelchair. it was a real schlepp to wheel her from the parking area into the wedding hall. we had to go all the way around to avoid the steps and it was so windy and cold that night, not at all ,unseasonably warm, like tonight. i was scared to death that mom might get pneumonia. i felt that my wig might blow off, too. my family was already there to help with mom so i was able to join the receiving line and hug all of the members of the clan. the hall was lavish and there was an elaborate spread set out. i did not get involved with any of the wedding plans and basically, left it up to the clan to do 'their' thing and let me know what my share of the bill was. as the token ashkanazi, i did help to choose the menu. after all, without me, there wouldn't have been a waldorf salad with whipped cream! as soon as we were seated in the hall, mom 'dismissed' me. she said that i was not to be her nurse maid that night. she ordered me out and onto the dance floor for the night. she was left in good company. my niece had flown in from n.y. to surprise her. she enjoyed her meal and seemed to be doing well. i danced and boogied with my daughter-in-law and girl friends for hours but i didn't have as much energy as i would have liked. later on, i was told that mom was in agony and wanted to go home. i quickly found our driver and started to get our group in motion. my sister insisted that i stay til the end, and she and my good friends helped mom into their van and took her home. i came home shortly, afterwards, and found mom, comfortably, in bed. my sister left and i helped mom out of her wedding clothes and into her nightgown. we spent the next several hours talking with my friend from efrat into the wee hours of the morning. mom was so happy! the next evening, we hosted the first sheva bracha at home, for the immediate family. my sister prepared the entire meal and i set up the the tables. i was utterly exhausted. it was not easy getting things done with people milling about the kitchen. the following night, i hosted about 50 people for the entire shabbat. i had 50 people sleeping here. the meals were catered and served in the new shul on the next street. i had baked and prepared cakes and cookies for the past two weeks and had put everything in my freezer. i had bought tons of dried fruits and nuts for the occassion. i couldn't let mom go to the shul for the dinner because it was too cold and windy. the house was freezing and i hadn't put on the heat or put up enough hot water for drinks. i was totally overwhelmed, to say, the least. the following week, mom and i hosted the new couple for shabbat. mom surprised them by walking to the table by herself, before they arrived. we buried mom before the next shabbat. it's almost a year since mom died. i seem to find it difficult to remember how she looked before she died. my friends say that it feels peaceful here. i can't feel mom's presence here anymore. it's almost the first anniversary of her death. but tonight it is zvi's and gal's first anniversary!