I assume by now that you are all recovered from your new year's libations. I got a call yesterday to come to the old age center to volunteer in the small group of memory loss and demented elderly. You may recall that I missed the 2 week training course because I didn't check my mail in time.
I got up early this morning in spite of having had a rough night. I drank some coffee and ate a hand full of almonds and caught a cab into town. I believe there were ten in the group. Half of the group were female and the other half were male. There were two people in wheelchairs and the rest could walk with the aid of canes and a walker.
One man was formerly from Brooklyn and he reminded me very much of my father. I don't know if he is recovering from a stroke or is suffering from memory loss, but we had a lot to discuss together. There was a lovely woman who was born in Romania. She used to have a knitting shop in town. She must have been very beautiful in her time. I was supposed to show her pictures and ask her what they were. At first she was impatient and didn't want to play along. Afer a while, she was compliant and we had a nice conversaton. The rest of the group were Sephardim from Moracco. One man lives in my neighborhood with his son's family. One woman sat and knitted while another did arts and crafts with tiny pins and sequins. Another woman did needle point.
There was one woman, also from my neighborhood, who refused to do anthing but sit and scowl. The other ladies did their exercizes and played cymbols and tambourines during the organ recital. But this one lady wouldn't budge. She did come into the lunch room and have her meal but that was all. One of the elderly Sephardi men was quite learned in torah. They certainly kept the people engaged or tried. One lady read a story about Tu b'Shvat. there were two seperate, exercize instructors. I sang along during the recital and did all of the exercizes too. I think that the instructors thought that I was one of the gang.
I stayed for the lunch and helped serve and cleaned up afterwards. I also helped to feed one of the men. It all felt natural and familiar for me. There was no one medicated or zombie like in the group. It is actually, a very pleasant environment. I kept thinking of how much my father would have enjoyed being there. While they had a tea break, I helped myself to two cups of expresso coffee. I thanked them all for sharing the day with me. They asked me when I was coming back. I almost want to go back again this week. I told the social worker that I would commit to tuesdays from 9:00 a.m til 1:00 p.m. I really enjoyed myself. The time didn't go that fast, but I made sure to talk with everyone in the room when I wasn't grilling Murry from Brooklyn.
I stopped off in town to buy some nuts and dried fruits. Tu b'Shvat is in another three weeks and since it falls out on Shabbat this year, I have decided to make a Shabbaton and invite some women to sleep over. I have made up an elaborate menu to incorporate 20 varities of friut and ten varities of nuts. We have everything from mango salsa to chestnut soup. That's just on paper, nothing is written in stone. We'll just see how the shopping goes and if I can find all the ingredients that I need.
I have been searching the web for days for recipes. The strangest and most ambitious of them all is a Thai coconut, cashew, lychee chicken dish. It's really two types of Thai chicken combined so I can use both, coconut, and lychees. A little sooner to the time, I'll post the entire menu. I was fortunate today to find a bag of frozen mango in a store in the old city of Zefat. I don't think that mangos are in season now. I also don't know if I'll be able to find fresh kumquats either. If I can't find the fresh ones, I'll have to serve the candied ones as dessert.
We just got back form a neighbor's Pidyon Ben at the loal shul. That's the Redemption service of the first born son. I had the pleasure to hold my grandson, Sahar, on my lap for a while. He looked so darn cute in his blue sweater, jeans and brown suade mocassins! I'm really enjoying this grandma 'thing'.