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!

Friday, November 20, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be

i can remember as a child, being told by my mother, that i could fulfill my father's dream of being an actor and making it big in hollywood. when looking back, i wonder if it was her nice way of saying that i was drama queen. my father was a handsome man and was built like a boxer. he had all the makings of being a matinee idol. i used to think that he looked like a young spencer tracy. my father loved to croon and he had a really nice voice. my parents used to dance in the living room to lawrence welk and arthur murry. at their 50th wedding anniversary party in zefat, although they were well into their 80's, they glided gracefully, around the restaurant floor. even with my father's dememtia, he didn't miss a beat. i was always in school plays as a member of the dance troupe or chorus. i can't remember if i really liked to perform or not. mom said that we were always putting on shows and that supposedly, i used to sing "true love" for my tante rosie and other various family members. i don't remember. i had a speech impediment as a young child and struggled with a lisp until the age of 13. i still remember my first experience with stage freight. i was the salutatorian of my 8th grade graduation class of p.s. 238. i had the honor of delivering the opening speech of the ceremony. .although it was over 45 years ago, i can still feel the sheer panic. i can feel myself shuffling on stage. i can taste the nausea, and feel the throbbing in my head. i can also, feel the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. i didn't know at the time, that what i was experiencing, was, in fact, stage freight. after that day i stuck to being in the background. dancing and singing with a group was just right for me. no solos for zelda, please! when i was in high school, i got involved in making costumes for our annual sing programs. i was the costume chairman for three years. in my junior year, we beat out the seniors, thanks to my creations. i still have the small plaque hanging in my bedroom, today. after the sing, i was sure about how to fulfill the gleich family's dream of making it big in hollywood. i decided to become, an oscar winning, costume designer, like edith head. but sadly, i didn't persue the 'dream'. nor did i take up fashion design in college. i gave up on the family dream to persue zelda's dream of becoming a teacher. i did take an acting course in college because i had an enormous crush on my speech teacher, howie. i got an A in speech and decided to follow howie. howie was jewish and into kabbalah. i had never heard of it, myself. the acting class turned out to be a gym class. all we did was stretch and do yoga poses. howie believed that an actor needed stage presence more than he needed dialogue. at the time, i was quite hefty, and exercize left me cold. but i was in love with howie, so i stuck it out. i also took a karate class in college, and got an A. i don't remember what grade i got from howie. alas, we went our seperate ways, because howie didn't believe that i had the makings of a great actress or gymnasist, for that matter. eventually, i quit college and gave up on my dream of becoming an educator. my dream turned into my nightmare after i had a case of stage freight in the kindergarten. i was actually, afraid of standing in front of little kids and performing. so, that was the end of my acting for the next few decades. in my late forties, a good friend started to write comedic plays for religious women. she did different twists on the stories of purim and chanukah and peace in the middle east. she even put a jewish spin on the period piece, 'pride and prejudice'. i had been a volunteer for other women's productions, setting up chairs and helping the actresses with their lines. i was invited to join several of the casts but i always refused because of my stage freight. at first, i supplied the costume and props. later on, i set up the refreshments and even baked my own healthy cookies and cakes. i gradually made it to become the mistress of ceremony. i was actually, able to get up in front of ladies and be the m.c. and i was funny, too! i can't remember the first time that i actually took a part, but it must have been out of a sense of obligation. someone must have left town or taken ill or had a baby. i stepped in and joined the cast, very late in the game. i happen to be a quick study and i can memorize lines, easily. i have never really, enjoyed acting and i have never seen it as my creative outlet. i do it for the charity. we try to raise money for different causes. and we give the righteous women of zefat, a night out. i have been cast as zeresh, the wife of the evil, haman on a few occassions. i played it as a joan collins wannabe. i like to play 'witchy' women. it's fun! and i am not afraid of being type casted. i was given the lead role as a ditsy school teacher a few years ago in a chanukah show. my father was quite ill and i didn't want to leave him. i did the show for him. i literally went into a 'trance' like state for two hours until the show ended. i don't really remember being there. i haven't performed in years. i did do a purim sketch with my friend, a couple of years ago. this past purim, i created, 'living' theatre here in zefat. i dressed up as a sephardi beggar lady and actually collected some money from people on the street, which i gave back to charity. i was pretty 'authentic' in my role and i scared the daylights out of my friend's sister, when i entered the house and sat down at the dining room table to eat. oh, to be or not to be!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Mistake

my friend nechama and her husband finally arrived in zefat at around 6:00p.m. the house was freezing. i was freezing and my guests were freezing. i brought out one of the new heaters that i just bought but it really didn't heat up the kitchen area that much and it must have used up a lot of electricity. big mistake! i should have just turned on the heating system for an hour, while they were here. i think that there might have been some fuel left in the tank from last winter. while nechama was in the bathroom, her husband turned to me and asked me, pont blank, if i could afford to heat the house. it was just a little too close for my comfort zone. when they pulled up to the house, nechama exited the car, holding on to a rather, large, plastic bag that she just couldn't wait to hand over. she had already told me on the phone that she was bringing me something that would make me smile, when i saw it. i was getting a bit curious and was hoping that it might be a snapshot from one of our plays. but, much to my diasappointment, it wasn't a photograph. it was a very skinny, dishevelled, shiny, royal blue dress with sequins. it looked like a size 1. nechama thought that i was the only one in the land of israel who could appreciate such a find! she also thought that i could still fit into somethiing so small or use it in a future production. big mistake! i wish i never laid eyes on that rag. i told nechama that she was probably, the only one i knew, that was thin enough, to wear that dress. what ever, possessed her, to haul that shmatta clear across the country and bring it to zefat? i guess one could say, it was nostalgia. speaking of nostalgia, i showed nechama, a picture taken at her wedding of myself and another girlfriend, who had passed away about four years ago. another big mistake! first of all, it was still, too sad to talk about our beloved and deceased friend, mindy. and second, it was so sad that nechama had to explain to her husband that the very slender and attractive lady, smiling in the wedding photo from eight years ago, was, in fact, me, the slightly, twisted and overweight middle-aged woman sitting across from him in the kitchen. i could see the slightest shock in nechama's face when she looked at me. she said right away that i didn't look like myself. what had happened to the pretty lady in the picture from eight years ago? so we drank some tea and said our goodbyes. they had a dinner date with some friend, in town. i asked nechama if she would like to receive my blogs. she said that she wasn't really 'into' blogs, all that much. she prefered the phone. we hugged and they were gone. it was already, 7:00 p.m. and my son hadn't come home from work, so i called him. big mistake! he was still in town shopping for an expensive piece of jewelry, to give his wife next week, for their first anniversary. he then told me the price and i asked him why he needed to spend that much money on a ring. big mistake! he then asked if i could help him out with some of the payment. we agreed to talk about it when he came home. i looked up at the clock and it was almost 8:00 p.m. i decided to call a taxi and run over to the hospital to visit the new mom. visiting hours end at 9:00 p.m, so i figured that it would have to be a short visit. i searched all around the house for a gift, but everything i had bought was pink. after all, she had been told, all along, that she was carrying a girl. when i got to the hospital, i bought a lovely tin of apple candies from the gift shop. i was prepared to tell the new mom, that it was the only thing not pink, that i could come up with. when i reached the fourth floor i ran to the nurses' station to check for her room number. i was told that she had already gone home. i guess she went to her mother's house. big mistake, leaving the house at night! i jumped in to another taxi, and came home. my son was home and seemingly, miffed. he made it quite clear that he couldn't afford to buy his wife a nice gift because he had spent so much of his budget paying me for half of the electricity this month. for just a moment i thought that, maybe, i should have not answered my phone today. big mistake!

All Or Nothing!

i have been lying in bed for days. i have been falling asleep on the small couch, huddled with the doggies, under a light weight blanket that i inherited from a dear friend. i think i had a virus. i had a headache and the chills. who knows? it may have been a reaction to my new remedy. on the other hand, the weather did turn cold here and we did have some winter 'like' days this week. i actually, got out of going to the clan for a double birthday party for gal's brother and sister earlier in the week. i simply was too cold to go out of the house in the late evening. the house is already, uncomfortably, cold. that's a problem with stone houses here in the holy city of zefat. they just aren't insulated and do not maintain any heat. i still haven't decided if i am going to use oil to heat this season. the prices are so high. it will cost me about $2000 to fill up my tank and that will only last me about 2 months if i use it every day. a new air conditioner and heating unit will cost about that much to install but i will also have the additional cost of electricity to run it. so i sit here in my blog room, shaking from the cold and feeling a little hopeless. on my floor, two of the toilets are running but i don't want to call a plumber until i decide what type of heating to use. if i go with oil, i'll need the plumber to come over and clean out the boiler. then, i can ask him to fix the toilets. so in the mean time, we shut off the water valve, after every flush. it does save us water, i guess, but it's a royal pain. i have been binging on chocolates and left over cakes all week long. i haven't really enjoyed myself, sleeping all day long and watching oprah and dr.phil reruns til 4:00 a.m. every night. i finally, stumbled out of bed this morning because the phone was ringing all morning long. i hadn't spoken to anyone for days and i finally, couldn't avoid it any longer. my friend's daughter gave birth last night to a boy after being told by the doctors that she was carrying a girl. i of course, was planning to go and visit the new mom sometime today. my friend from efrat called to let me know that she finally caught up with my blog. unfortunately, our conversation got cut short. i started to feel a little guilty that i hadn't been blogging all week. suddenly, my sister in zefat, starting texting me. i managed to answer and it was the first time that we successfully 'chatted' on computer for a while. at first she discussed going with me to visit the new baby. and then my sister started discussing the probability of having a thanksgiving dinner for the family. i said that i would go for it if everyone agreed to come over in the afternoon since thanksgiving is typically celebrated by day. my chabad family doesn't usually sit down to dinner before 9:00p.m. i guess it really doesn't matter what time we eat here because israeli's don't even know what thanksgiving is. anyway, she offered to order a whole turkey from the chabad supermarket, but we both agreed that it would never fit in an israeli oven. she said that she could stuff some turkey wings. i agreed with her that stuffing definitely, belonged on the thanksgiving menu. i wanted to recreate some of my mom's thanksgiving dishes this year because we all miss her. another friend agreed to come if it's a pot luck dinner. so i'll ask her to bring a dish or salad. i plan to make corn bread and pumpkin pie. while we were texting our menu ideas, my daughter-in-law called to ask if i could sit for the baby. i was in the middle of texting, and i wanted very much to get on my blog but i put it on hold. i opted for a hot shower and shampoo before going upstairs to sahar. and just as i was getting into the shower, i got a call from an old friend that i haven't seen in about eight years. she and her husband are on their way to zefat and want to stop by and say hello. they have never been to my house. you can imagine how i must feel, being about 20 pounds heavier, recovering from facial paralysis and looking around at all of the balagon in the house. what can you do? i ran to the bathroom and frantically started plucking out all of those unsightly chin and eyebrow hairs. i then, rubbed my face with oil of olay, changed bras, put on deodorant and vanilla scented oil. i threw on my 'fat girl' olive green, elastic waist, corduroy skirt with the new sweater that my nephew gave me last week. i managed to find a matching head scarf to wear. i caught a glimpse of my face which looks swollen from all of the binging this week. i straightened up the bathroom, and ran to the kitchen to make some muffins. but, i was all out of eggs, and corn meal and frankly, ideas. my freezer which is usually stocked, with leftover cakes and muffins is empty. the refrigerator is also empty and quite a mess. but, if i remember correctly, my friend is a health nut and doesn't eat sugar or honey. i did wash all of the dairy dishes that were piled up high in the dairy sink even though there wasn't enough hot water left in the kitchen. i can't even offer them any fruit, because i don't have any. i ran around the house sprinkling drops of geranium oil essence to cover up the dogie smell that my son keeps complaining about. it was way too cold to fill up a pail of water and do a sponger. i just thought of another detail of my personality to tell the homeopath. why is it always for me, all or nothing?

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's A Small World

i watched the oliver stone movie,''twin towers" last night at 1:00 a.m. i thought it was pretty good. it's been eight years already and i'm sure that we can all remember that day very well. we were in our new house unpacking the lift. zvi and dad were sitting on the couch, that we had bought from the previous owner, and were watching a movie on the new dvd that we had just purchased. mom and i were busy in the kitchen unpacking boxes and putting away all the dishes and pots and pans. i can't be sure, but i think that the movie might have been "gladiator". all i remember is that the speakers were blasting and i could hear every sound and action movement in dolby in the kitchen. we hadn't moved in yet and we didn't have a refrigerator. we came each day and unpacked for a few hours before we would officially, move in. dad who was 'labelled' with alzheimer's, was still pretty easy going in those days. he loved watching movies and sports and could still follow a story plot and a game back then. zvi was delighted to have a television, and dvd. so delighted, as a matter of fact, that he ran away from yeshiva and became a high school drop out, shortly after we moved into the new house. mom was in her prime too, putting away her housewares and chatchkas. we were all, so much looking forward to our new life together. three generations living in one house. mom decided that she and dad and zvi would live on the main floor. she thought that it would be better for me to have a bedroom downstairs. i guess she reasoned that a teenage boy and his mom needed separate floors. i didn't make any waves and i acquiesced to her wishes. zvi painted his room royal blue and he and mom went to the home depot in carmiel to buy light fixtures and new sheets. mom and dad had the master bedroom with a private bathroom and lovely porch overlooking the garden with a view of lake kinneret. they would sit out there and enjoy the sun and dad would croon the best of sinatra. the neighbors knew his voice for blocks away. mom enjoyed sitting on her porch until the day that she died. i use it now to dry our laundry. i've moved in all of my clothes but i still sleep on the small couch in the television out cove every night. there is still a sign on the bedroom door, that reads, "in this room live in happiness, jeanette and daniel gleich". zvi made it up on the new computer that we bought for the new house. i haven't been able to take it down. so in some ways it's my room but it really isn't. i moved in my son's teenage one and a half sized bed so that cookie and cloey and i could sleep comfortably, but we're all still snuggling up on the t.v. couch. our household was never, ever, quiet. we had a teenage boy at the height of his testosterone, a menopausal middle aged shrieking mother, a demented elderly man who liked to jabber, a squawking parrot and two small barking dogs. phone calls were kind of tricky. i always, teased mom that while zvi and i had too many hormones, she didn't have any hormones at all. anyway, at about 6:30 p.m. on september 11th, eight years ago, we were all really hungry and decided to go to town and catch a bite to eat. in the fall and wintertime in zefat, the restaurants, pizzerias, and felafel stands all close around 8:00 p.m. so we were getting a bit concerned that everything in town might be ready to close. the cab driver mentioned hearing something about a plane that had crashed into the tallest building in new york. i figured that it had to be a small commuter plane that accidentally flew too close to the trade towers. i absolutely, couldn't get my head around what i saw on the television at the restaurant in town. the locals here in zefat were pretty nonplussed. only a small band of anglos were seemingly, getting excited. i was a new yorker and this really hit home even though i had been living in israel for 17 years. i once, used to sign up at an unemployment office on barrow street right next to the towers, once a week. i would always stop off at a certain pub restaurant on the main floor of the tower and spend a few hours drinking margaritas and hitting the juke box. i had previously worked on the 33rd floor in the tower at a lawyer's office for a few months. it was before they built the second tower. i know a family in zefat who's son was working at the pentagon and was killed on 9/11. his father is a convert to judaism and is very devout. the young man, himself, started learning about judaism and started keeping some of the mitzvot. i think that he was interested in converting, also. zefat seems so far away from the rest of the world but in reality, its' a small world.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Such A Perfect Day!

do any of you know the lou reed song, 'such a perfect day'? they have every version of it on you tube including, luciano pavarotti. today was a really nice shabbat. it was just gal, zvi, sahar and me for dinner. i kept cloey inside and didn't pay any attention to the baby, so she was fine. she sat on my lap, curled up like a baby for most of the meal. she occasionally, got down and went over to sniff the baby and returned to my lap. she was fed table scraps and bread all day long and wasn't very interested in sahar. today, my son got a great big smile out of my grandson. i laughed so hard that i lost my voice. the baby repeated his ear to ear grin for a few times more until he was simply, worn out. my good friend, danya, came over with her dog, jackie. cloey and cookie and jackie, all got along. in fact, cloey spent most of the afternoon on danya's lap and jackie didn't say 'boo'. whiskers and choco started howling and barking downstairs so we all ran out to check up on them. i think they were just hungry and were letting me know. so i filled up their plates and left for a walk with danya and jackie. i never walk with my dogs, because i'm afraid of large dogs attacking them. i haven't walked too much lately, because of the pain in my right foot. i managed to walk a bit but coming back was hard. normally, walking is effortless for me. i was told that a private podiatrist is coming to zefat this week. i think i might just have to go and see him. there is no podiatrist in zefat. when one has a foot problem here, he goes to the orthopedist. i tried to explain the concept to my daughter-in-law who had never heard of the foot doctor. my poor father, may he rest in peace, had a diabetic leg problem and no one to see until it was too late. as soon as the sabbath ended, i threw the lasagna into the toaster oven to heat it up. i quickly did the dishes, set the table and started cutting up a huge green salad. i made up a white cake with whole wheat flour and milk and added a packet of caramel flavored instant pudding, to disguise the taste of the flour. when it was done, i threw on some frozen left over frosting from the birthday cake a couple of weeks ago. the balloons were still hanging on the window sill. i took out the humus for my nephew, who likes to put in on everything, and minced up some fresh garlic and mixed it into the butter. who knew that it was his favorite thing in the world. go know! i toasted some mini whole wheat pitas and served some white rolls too. normally, i would have made some garlic bread toast, but with the garlic butter on the table, it was, sort of like, self service at zelda's tonight. i took out the marshmallows with the good heksher but had no way to toast them because i still haven't gotten around to ordering the gas balloons. i lit one up with a match but my niece persuaded my nephew not to eat it because she said it would taste like sulfur. apparently, some yeshiva boys had already tried to do this so, it was already, common knowledge, in the yeshiva world. i offered to make hot chocolate while everyone retired to the computer room to watch the video of my nephew's recent, death defying bungee jump in new zealand. i was out of instant hot chocolate mix and i could not find my small, dairy sauce pan. so believe it or not, i mixed together some dutch cocoa powder, sugar and milk in a skillet and heated it up on my electric burner. i even, threw in some marshmallows for good cheer. i couldn't find any clean mugs so i poured it into take away coffee cups. when there is a will there is a way! i brought them into the computer room where all the cousins were catching up and having a good visit. the two babies were also hanging out with their parents and so was cloey, who absolutely, didn't seem to care about the baby any more. while, the cousins exchanged baby outfits and gifts and i offered up cake. no one wanted to take any home. so either it wasn't that tasty or else everyone was full from the lasagna and trying to watch their weight. once again, i put some cake into my trustee freezer until the next occasion, that i host. everyone went home in a good mood and i did the dishes and came in here to blog. oh, such a perfect day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Blahs

i haven't posted in a couple of days because i've had a case of the 'blahs'. i've been suffering with a pain in the ball of my right foot for a couple of weeks, now. it seems to come and go, but for the past few days it has been hard to put any pressure on it, making it difficult for me to walk. not being one to run to the doctor, i have been suffering in silence. well, i did mention it to a couple of people. mikimi was kind enough to send me some blogs on foot problems. i have an appointment in a couple of hours with my homeopath, and i am hoping that she'll have an idea of what's going on in my body. the right side of my body has been seriously, compromised, and all my recent health issues seem to be on that side. my facial paralysis, migraines, foot pain, bunyan and loss of teeth are all on the right side of my body. i even woke up this morning with a burning sensation in my right kidney. i don't think of myself as a worry wart or hypochondriac, but since my mother passed away, i've been more concerned about my health. my son just thinks that i'm depressed. maybe i am. i'm bored with my diet and choices of food. everything seems tasteless and i'm uninspired to cook or prepare anything to eat. i basically live on sandwiches and yogurt and cottage cheese. my weight isn't budging and i'm pretty much fed up with the way i look. my face isn't back to normal yet, either. i can't remember the last time that i took a walk. this pain in my foot does put a damper on things. i sat for the baby two times on thursday and although, i enjoy being alone with him, it isn't easy. he needs a lot of physical attention, and it is a strain on me. i'm feeling basically, useless. i haven't done an aerobics workout in half a year. i seem tired all the time. i go to sleep at 3:00 a.m every day and it doesn't matter when i wake up because i always feel tired. i feel like a zombie. i don't feel like talking to anyone. i need to dye my hair, but i don't have the patience to deal with it. i look in the mirror and i really don't like who i see. someone just called from some health organization or department and asked for my mother. instead of, simply, saying that she was deceased, i told them that she was in heaven. how's that for sarcasm! i want to have some coffee with real milk, but it hurts too much for me to run down to the store. so i've been drinking my coffee with some awful, vanilla flavored, chemically treated, coffee creamer type milk, that is making me nauseous. i just opened the hamodia magazine section, and there is a supplement about last year's massacre in mombai. that's right, it has nearly been a year since they murdered the people at the chabad house in bombay. one of the sister's of the young woman who was murdered, lives in zefat. she is married to the son of a dear friend. she is also the neighbor of my sister. last year around this time, my son got married. my sister was hoping to use the neighbor's apartment for the first night of shevah brachas. i remember catching the fox news and hearing about a terror attack in india. i quite, honestly, didn't know where mombai was. i asked my niece, who was visiting with mom, if it was any where near new delhi. she told me that it was pretty far from where my niece and her husband were living. they were running the chabad house in delhi and we were all, anxiously, awaiting the first great grandchild. i went to sleep not knowing that the chabad house in mombai had been under siege. i woke up to a frantic phone call from my sister ann in california. she had just heard the news of the attack on the chabad house and had heard that rifkah bas yehudit was presumed to be dead. my niece is sarah rifkah bas yehudit bina. i was able to reassure ann, that our niece was not in harm's way because she had been seen the night before on a web cam, live, hook up at her brother-in-law's wedding. but it was still, an excruciating time for all of us, waiting for a miracle outcome. my niece and nephew flew to mombai to be with rifkah's family for shabbat. i told my mom the truth about my niece's whereabouts and it was the first time that i ever heard mom say that she didn't need to know something. when we finally, knew on motsei shabbat, that the people in the chabad house were dead, we went into deep mourning. they were returned to the holy land and buried on tuesday. my son was upset that i wasn't more excited about his upcoming wedding. i tried to reassure him, that even though, i was in 'mourning' mode on the day of the funeral, that i would be in 'simcha' mode the following day. and as soon as we woke up on the day of the wedding, we were all truly, joyous and excited. my mom and i hugged a million times that morning and i danced around in her bedroom. it's hard to believe that a whole year has gone by, already! my son and wife will be celebrating their first anniversary next week. rifka and gavriels' little son, who miraculously survived the massacre, will be turning three and the year of mourning for my mom will end. i received a new remedy yesterday and my homeopath was excited. i woke up this morning and i didn't feel wasted even though i went to sleep at 3:00 a.m. i enjoyed my coffee and felt a little more centered. i am planning to make a dairy lasagna for saturday night's melave malka for the family. i just learned that my nephew is returning to australia on sunday and we didn't get to see him this week. i wish all my followers a good shabbos! it's raining again, here in the holy city of zefat, and i hope i have seen the last of the blahs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Last Laugh!

my son just called to say that the baby would be staying with the clan today, while my daughter-in-law went to a wedding out of town. i went upstairs early this morning to check up on sahar because he received a few vaccinations yesterday, and was under the weather last night. he had little appetite and his eyes were glazed and he just, wasn't himself. the young couple came home last night with an entourage of two little brothers, two teenage sisters and one middle aged grandmother. the boys and zvi busied themselves with planting a small willow tree in our backyard, while the sisters took turns playing with the baby. safta miriam, got the bath ready for sahar because the nurse said it would help soothe him. he loves to bathe, anyway. i talked to him in english as he was being bathed and held his hand. while safta miriam was dressing him, i noticed that gal was going through his baby wardrobe, which is quite extensive. she chose the outfit, that i had bought for his redemption service at succot. i innocently, asked where the baby was going. i was told that they were going to a wedding the next day in bnei brak. that's a good three hour bus trip and an all 'nighter' affair. i immediately, said that i didn't think it was wise for the baby to travel after he received his shots. the sephardi grandma agreed with me. gal agreed that if he was feverish in the morning, she would leave him. i suggested that she start freezing her milk but she complained that she didn't have enough. when i came upstairs this morning, gal said that baby was fine. he has nursed during the night and didn't cry a lot. i just assumed that he'd be going to the wedding with his young mom. so i guess, i was a little bewildered, after my son called and very hurt that i wasn't asked to sit for him. i hadn't seen him the entire weekend, and all of yesterday. i couldn't hold back my disappointment, and told my son that i also, wanted to stay with him. my son, automatically, got defensive and went into his 'offensive' mode. he told me that i was making a big deal out of nothing and hung up on me. when i called him back, he was non-responsive and hung up again. i plunged into a black hole. my mind started racing and all i thought about was running away. i wanted to run away before my daughter-in-law left with the baby. i thought about running over to my sister's to welcome home my nephew but i didn't want to intrude on their family reunion. i thought about not being home when my son returned from work, but i didn't have anywhere to go. i thought about evicting the young couple from my rooftop apartment. i fantasized about selling the house and relocating to another city. i imagined not being home for shabbos this week and having them fend for themselves. i was raging on and i couldn't hold back my tears. that's when gal's mother came in. it was only 1:00 p.m. and they were already taking the baby. i was so upset that i could hardly say hello to her. i didn't follow her upstairs, to see the baby. instead, i started to dust off the television and it's stand. i was on my knees on the floor, cleaning the bottom shelf, when i heard them leave. good riddens! i thought, to myself. just then, miriam came back in with sahar in her arms and asked me where i had been. gal went upstairs to get the carriage but i didn't run to help her, like i always, do. i went over to say goodbye to sahar. miriam told me that he had a fever. i went over and felt his head with my lips. he was warm. we both, agreed that he shouldn't travel. i wanted to add that he shouldn't have to leave his home, either, but i didn't. miriam invited me to come over and visit him. i won't. i started speaking to sahar in english. he stared right at me and listened to my every word. and when i told him that he would be drinking mommy's milk from a bottle today, he gave me a real smile. i couldn't believe my mazel. yeh, i got my first smile from sahar! it reminds me of and old movie favorite of mine, "father's little dividend", with spencer tracy. the new baby cries every time the grandpa gets near him. one day, the grandfather babysits during a family emergency, and takes the baby to the park. the grandpa gets preoccupied playing catch with some bigger kids, and leaves the baby sleeping in the stroller. when he returns, the baby and stroller are gone. he runs to the local police station, where the toddler is being spoiled rotten by the officers. all he has to do is hold the baby so they'll know that he is the rightful, grandfather. but he knows from experience, that as soon as he picks the baby up, it will start to cry bloody murder. so, when he picks the baby up, instead of crying, the baby gives him the cutest smile and starts to giggle at him and they finally bond. my son just called to say that he knows it isn't fair and admitted that he also, doesn't always get a turn to hold him when he's over there. he told me that i was lucky not to be stuck with the baby. i tried to explain to him, that as a grandma, i indeed, want to be stuck with him. so today i got the last smile. and maybe tomorrow, i'll get the last laugh!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

tonight is my mom's hebrew birthday. she would have been 92. i am filled with such sadness that it's hard to breathe. just the other day, i was thinking about how much l looked forward to the end of the year of the jewish mourning period. mom died during chanukah. she really wasn't so keen on birthday parties. my father, bless his soul, loved a good party. he became an extrovert with his dementia, and would be the first one up and shake his 'booty'. i don't know where he learned to do that. after my father died, we would get together on his birthday every year, and go out for a meal. mom really enjoyed dining out, too. we threw a birthday party for mom, about five years ago, not so much for her, but to do something to amuse dad. when dad asked how old she was, and we replied that it was her 87th year, he slapped his head and cried out: "oy vey, how did i end up with such an old lady!" we were all hunched over, in laughter. dad thought that he was a yungerman of 72. dad died that following year. i can't recall if we celebrated all of the remaining birthdays. but, i'm pretty sure that we did a party for mom's turning 90 and 91, which was nothing, short of a miracle. my mom started to teach my niece, sarah rifka, how to cook about 3 years ago. once a week they would create a new dish. one week it was vegetarian stuffed cabbage, another week it was potato kugel. she even taught her how to make onion pletzels. mom had enormous patience with her grandchildren. she was so close to them. she was more of a confidante than a safta. she had the custom of handing out 100 shekel bills to all her grandchildren on her's and dad's birthdays and on chanukah. she would also give everyone $100 at rosh hashana time. my job for years, was to get to the bank and take out the bills for her to distribute. this year i gave out $100 bills on my birthday. mom loved the internet. she was e-mailing friends and family for the past seven years. she also loved to play bridge on line. zvi used to brag that while all his friends' grandmothers were making couscous, his safta was on the internet. mom was a zionist from back in the day and followed world politics until the day that she died. she would sit for hours, watching the israeli kineset on cable t.v and kept abreast of all the laws, being passed. unfortunately, she took it to heart, and it weakened her health. she was upset that i didn't share her burning interest in politics. on more than one occasion, i had to beg her not to listen to the news. the night before she died, she asked my niece if we still had a country left or had the government given it away. mom was like a second mother to my son, zvi. she was the good mom and i was the bad mom. living together was not always easy. it was so hard for her to become dependent on me towards the end. she took care of her ailing mother and other relatives throughout her life but couldn't stand that i was following in her footsteps. after zvi got married, mom acted like the stereotypical, mother-in-law to zvi's new wife. it made me chuckle, that i was the good mother-in-law. mom and i made peace at the end of her life and actually, got a chance to say goodbye to each other, moments before she died. she thanked me, before she died for having cared for her. she actually, admitted to me, that i had done a good job. i begged her not to die. don't we all want our mommies with us forever. she told me that she needed to go and that she missed my father. she didn't want to be a burden on me any longer. she was simply worn out and knew that her body was breaking down. she was totally lucid until she drew her last breath. whenever i hear something juicy, i always think about running in to tell her. i really miss you. Hapy birthday, mom!

Old Vs. New

i am 58 years old and already, feel obsolete. my knowledge and life time experiences are not respected and i am viewed as a joke. i don't remember feeling this way about my mom. she was 91 and had it together. she had a lot of wisdom and it stood the test of time. she was not old fashion and she made a lot of sense. i accepted what she knew as beneficial to me. her vast life experiences were still valid, not mine. it's as if i've lived in another universe and i've been recently transported to this one. my son asked me to watch the baby on thursday night because he and his wife wanted a little 'down' time for themselves. i was so excited to finally, be alone with sahar. my son gave me a set of instructions as if i were a 12 year old babysitter, coming to their house for the first time. i wasn't supposed to leave the baby alone or go downstairs for any reason. and i was supposed to call them if i had any problems. when did i become so useless? when did i stop being taken, for serious? the fact that i worked to support my son, and was a single parent has been forgotten. it's like i played no part in raising this young man to adulthood. and everything that i have learned about babies is passe. they took the baby to the hospital for a routine checkup, this morning. my take on this is why not leave well enough alone. why go to a hospital where the majority of people are sick! especially, since this is flu season, why be exposed to any of the strains that are floating around the hospital? my motto in life is to take the path of least resistance. why are we hurrying to give the two month old baby so many vaccines now, when we read so much about the side effects and health problems, including autism? how many times do i have to say that the baby should wear a hat or explain how the body heat leaves through the head? are my beliefs so outrageous? are my concerns not to be taken seriously? when my mother gave me 'motherly' advise, i accepted it as the gospel. it was always, spot on! it was after all, based on years of Dr. Spock. the pediatrician, not the vulcan from star trek. now i am told how to hold the baby's head and when to give him a pacifier. i feel like a complete boob! i would normally over compensate and start stuffing my face with something fattening, but i'm really not so hungry. i finally, took out the mattress from the computer room and unzipped it's cover. i threw the cover in a gentle cycle and washed all of the dog pee out of it. i tried washing the actual foam mattress with some bleach and water but it started to fall apart. the big test will be if i can get the foam mattress back into the mattress cover. it was definitely, long over due! it seems that every time we leave the door to the computer room open, one of my dogs pees on it. add that to my list of inadequacies. just because i'm losing most of my teeth and my hair has gone gray, doesn't mean i'm over the hill, or does it. here we go, old vs, new!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

today was my mother's english birthday. she was born on november 7, 1917. she would always brag that it fell on election day in america, every year. i believe, that it was also the date of the bolshevik revolution and the same month and year of the balfour declaration. she would have been 92. she and my father were married in a civil ceremony on thanksgiving day in 1947. they were married in a jewish, orthodox service in january1948. somehow, we mostly, celebrated the secular date. we grew up with traditional thanksgiving meals. a huge roasted turkey with bread stuffing, sweet potato casserole with pineapple rings and mini marshmallows, potato kugel made in individual muffin molds, string bean casserole made with barley and mushroom soup and covered with fried onion rings, and of course, the favorite, canned jellied cranberry sauce. i can't remember what we had for dessert. i don't think it was apple pie and i know it wasn't pumpkin pie because i never tasted any until i made one about 5 years ago in a mock thanksgiving dinner. it probably was a jello mold. we didn't have non-dairy creamers back in the day and we never ate milk with meat dishes. what i really, remember about thanksgiving day, was watching the classic movie, 'mighty joe young', every year on television. i don't exactly, get the connection, but i do remember the movie. i also, remember one year after i made the entire meal by myself, feeling terribly disillusioned, that it got gobbled down so fast , after my slaving away in the kitchen, all morning long. i can remember, one, unusual thanksgiving, when we had sloppy joe's for the meal and feeling a bit deprived. i learned in later years, that one of my mother's relatives had just passed away and my mother had been too overwhelmed to make a traditional meal. as i mentioned before, about 5 years ago, i got the sudden urge to make a traditional, american thanksgiving meal. we israelis, eat and export a lot of turkey products. we buy: turkey frankfurters, turkey necks, turkey roulades, turkey wings, and chopped turkey. we also buy something , called basar adom, which is pressed turkey meat. we don't usually, buy an entire turkey here, because our ovens are much smaller than american ones, and they simply can't fit in. i did, once, hear some sephardi ladies say, that they made a whole turkey in a pot on the stove. not for me, thank you very much! so, i settled for turkey wings and i searched every store in zefat for cranberries but could only come up with some 'craisins'. i bought a huge hunk of pumpkin squash, which is very popular here, and bought a container of vanilla 'rice dream'. i found a recipe for pumpkin pie but it called for a can of 'libby's' pumpkin pie fillling. i simply, cooked up the hunk of squash and mashed it by hand. i wasn't absolutely, sure about equivalent amounts of pumpkin, so i just, 'winged it'. i certainly didn't have any mace on hand, well not the kind you bake with, anyway; so i used nutmeg, instead. i substituted the rice dream for milk, and made a crust from whole wheat flour. the pie was a little runny, but i liked it. it didn't really, go down well, with the 'native' israelis. i tried baking the turkey wings in my fleishig toaster oven and it took forever. i baked some cranberry-orange muffins. i also, made mashed sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon and topped it with canned pineapple rings in natural juice. i think the old fashioned brand with the thick, sugary, syrup, would have been better. and unfortunately, i couldn't find any kosher marshmallows with the acceptable heksher to top it off. i think i found some frozen corn on the cob. so that was my only attempt at serving a traditional, american, thanksgiving meal here in the holy land. i'm really getting motivated to do it again , as i just bought a can of jellied cranberry sauce from the states. i recently watched a martha stewart rerun for thanksgiving and she had the cutest turkey molds ever, but the most unappetizing recipe for corn bread. i already have turkey napkins, and a straw turkey bread basket to put my own corn muffins and cranberry muffins in. and i've already bought a bunch of kosher marshmallows. i better hide them before zvi eats them all! now, i just have to check when thanksgiving, actually falls out this year. even if it's shabbos i can still do a thanksgiving menu with a sephardi twist. i can always make a turkey cholent! so one way or another, i will have my thanksgiving dinner!


last shabbat, michal and i were reminiscing about halloween. not to be rude, we tried to include my daughter-in-law, gal, in the conversation. the closest thing, that we could relate it to, was the jewish holiday of purim; not that there is anything intrinsically, similar, except for the wearing of costumes. yes, on purim, we jews like to wear costumes. but it is also a day that it is a mitzvah to get drunk! we spend the day before it, fasting until the evening and then we go to synagogue and hear the megillah. at night, after we break our fast, some of us go to parties. we have a women's party every year in the old city, where we perform comical skits, drink a 'little' wine and eat 'some' cake. the next morning, we go back to synagogue and hear the megilla once again. we then give out food baskets with lots of goodies to our neighbors and friends. later in the day, we eat a huge seudah and drink lots of alcohol, until we can't tell the difference between : mordechai the righteous and haman the evil one. some say that we can perform this mitzvah by going to sleep but that's no fun! every year, around chanukah time, i am already thinking about what i want to dress up as, on purim. some people will only let the kids dress up as righteous characters from the megilla. every little jewish girl has been queen esther at least once. i have been in a couple of purim plays, but i myself, have never spent a purim dressed up as queen esther. i prefer to dress up as old time movie stars, or wacky hairdressers, or glamour queens. once, i would check out all the second hand clothes stores for outrageous dresses or wigs. the proprietress of one store would put the more 'interesting' items on the side for me. one year, i found a pair of silver, kneehigh, platformed, boots. in the past few years, we have seen, the imported halloween costumes, making their way into main stream israeli stores. now adays, you can basically, find everything. each year, i simply, head to the purim store and buy an assortment of the latest in halloween wigs. you can also find, almost, every accessory, if you are willing to shell out a bunch of money. there is no 'trick or treat' on purim. it is all treats! you start receiving the candy baskets in the morning, and just when you think you can't eat another hamantash or look at another chocolate bar, someone knocks at the door with another basket full of candies. the scariest thing about purim, besides the incredible amount of candy that we consume, is the occasional guest who passes out on your bathroom floor, after drinking too much wine. the kids here, are also crazy for firecrackers and love to explode them all day long on purim. they even set off stink bombs, the little angels! with all due respect to purim, i can still remember, one particular halloween, when i went to see the n.y.dolls at the waldorf astoria. we wannabee punkrockers, made havoc of the hotel. i won third prize in the costume contest as an art deco cigarette girl. i won a bottle of expensive champagne, which we immediately drank, and two tickets to a broadway show, which my parents really, enjoyed. i may be living in israel now, but i still have some memories.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mission Possible!

got up again at 7:30 a.m. this morning, the second day in a row. i drank some coffee and made a couple of eggs on the electric burner. i ate a few slices of low calorie rye bread and ate some sheep yogurt with a drizzle of honey. i let the dogs out, all four of them. and i went down to feed whiskers and choco. choco is still not coming near me. i got dressed and caught the bus on the next street. i actually, made a mad dash and ran for a couple of blocks to catch the bus that was just turning the corner. i owe it all to the kindness of a stranger who held up the bus until i reached it; slightly out of breath. i had a bit of a game plan. first, i went to the photographers to get passport pictures. i actually, put on some eye makeup and lip gloss for the occasion. i was looking around the shop at all the photos and making small talk with a young, new mother. i have to say that, in all honesty, her little baby girl was not at all, pretty or cute. i suddenly noticed a large colored picture of the 'rat rav' on the wall. to my utter amazement, the photographer knew the story behind the legend. apparently, a shop owner, somewhere in poland, a hundred or more years ago, opened his shop door and a bunch of rats came running out of his store and entered the adjacent shop of the jewish owner. the jewish shop owner tried everything he could to rid his store of the rats, without any luck. in sheer desperation, he went to visit his rav. rav kasriel told the shop owner to return to his shop and tel the rats that rav yehoshaya kasriel said to go back to the shop where they came from. the shop owner thought that maybe, rav kasriel was a little demented but he did it anyway. and after he told the rats to leave in the name of the rav, they did! so the picture of this polish rav remains a segula for jewish homes today. i'm hoping to get a copy of his picture. after the amazing story, the photographer told me to come back in half an hour. i then went back to 'baby lulu', the overpriced baby store, to exchange a few of the winter training outfits that were too small. it was a bit frustrating because they didn't have the really cute ones in the next size. so i got a few other things including, a very classic but old fashioned hooded blue baby sweater. i gave gal the receipt so she can go back and exchange the items that she doesn't want next week. then i went back to 'photo golan' and picked up the passport snaps. they were horrible! my face wasn't twisted but it was really huge and looked very swollen. anyway, how often does one look at his passport? i then ran to the post office to get the stamps for the self-addressed envelope. the post office looked pretty packed and it was already 12:00 p.m. on some days the post office closes at 12:30 and on some days it doesn't. and i really, have no clue as to when the banks or post offices in town open or close. so, i left the post office and ran to the bank. i found the right clerk to make out a certified $ check but i needed to wait a while. the bank was open til 1:00 p.m. so, i ran back to the post office. and when i found out that they were open til 6 :00 p.m, i ran back to the bank. it took about half an hour but i got the check and once again, ran back to the post office. it was nearly 1:00 p.m. and the embassy consular was only there til 2:00 p.m. we had been forewarned that over 60 people had signed up for these services and that they would leave at 2:15 p.m. sharp. i quickly, bought the stamps and wanted to buy a small padded envelope but the clerk would only sell me a whole package and i didn't have enough money. so, i ran to the office in the artist colony where the consular was meeting. as i entered, i was immediately, greeted and handed forms and questionnaires by two different consular members. there were only a few people there and the employees seemed a little baffled at the poor turn out. i quickly filled out the forms and handed in my old passport, and attached the stamps to the self addressed envelope, and handed over the $75 bank check, and signed a letter attesting to the fact that i always wear a head scarf for religious reasons. even though the forms were in english, i found it hard to fill out. i think i suffer from some type of bureaucratic post traumatic stress syndrome. but the nice and patient consular worker talked me through it. i thanked everyone for their help and wished everyone a good shabbos and left. i, suddenly, felt exhausted, and i just wanted to jump into a cab and get home. i saw the daughter of a friend, who lives on the next street, and was about to ask for a lift, when i remembered that i needed to post a letter for my daughter-in-law at the national insurance agency, on the other end of town. so, i shlepped to bituach leumi and after i posted the letter, i went to the local grocery to buy some milk and eggs. i then bought a bunch of stuff for next week's shabbos when it will be my turn, once again, to host my young family. after, i bought about 30 bottles of mineral water, i decided to send the groceries home and catch the bus. as i was at the check out counter, my friend's daughter, mystically, appeared and offered me a ride home. so thanks to the goodness of the jewish peopleof zefat, my mission today was possible! i wish you all a good shabbos!