Saturday, May 21, 2011

Big Sisters

it is 9:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. tonight is lag b'omer. hundreds of thousands of people make their pilgrimage to meron to visit the gravesight of rabbi shimon bar yochai. it is normally, a 15 minute bus ride from zefat. not so tonight. it usually takes about an hour or more, because of the unusual amount of traffic.

i am not planning on going tonight. i don't have the stamina. it is also, about an hour's walk from the bus stop to the gravesight. i do not do well at night anymore and i must avoid being out in the wind, at any cost. i just might try going tomorrow evening. it probably will still be very crowded.

i took a long nap today because gal's sisters came over to get sahar. i think it was the first time in over a year that i slept on a saturday afternoon. i made shabbat meals for the kids and gal's sister and husband. it was their first shabbat in the neighborhood since they had their baby. they all seemed to be very happy together. i was very worn out. i still am.

i am ashamed to admit that i had a huge blow out with my younger sister on tuesday night, the night of my father's yirtseit. it has been a long time coming, unfortunately. i became the sole inheritor of my parent's house in zefat about two years ago. i know that it never seemed fair to me that i would get everything when i had another sibling in zefat. i tend to suffer from low self esteem. i am by no means, what one might call, a greedy person. i have always shared the 'wealth' with everyone.

my friends here and my siblings abroad all share the common belief that the house was coming to me for all the years that i spent caring for my elderly parents. i have finally come around to also believe that i deserve to remain in the house that my parents bought for me over 11 years ago. i say that, but i am still plagued with guilt.

i am the big sister here. in truth, my little sister has been bossing me around for many years. in fact, everyone here thought that i was the younger one. i have been the big sister who always babysat and adored the nieces and nephews. i always made the bithday cakes. i bought the appropriate gifts. i went to all of the school plays. i did the dishes. i made kugels or cakes for various simchas. i bought purim costumes. in short, i was always available. and i was always being asked to do favors.

about 11 years ago, my parents came to live in zefat. my mom had wanted me to return to new york. i had actually agreed to it but i couldn't face leaving israel. it was hard for my mom to leave her life in the usa. i wanted her to be surrounded by the majority of her grandkids, here in zefat. she got to go to their school recitals, graduations, attend 2 bar mitzvahs, and 2 weddings. she was very close to her grandchildren. they loved her very much, too.

dad also adored the kids. even in his dementia, he enjoyed being around his grandkids. he loved partying and lots of company. i was always entertaining and having friends come over. dad loved the action. we were always celebrating something here. i was the caterer. i made the parties. i cooked the dinners. i made the chanukah latke nights. i was the hostest with the mostest. so i thought, until tuesday night.

it wasn't always so ideal. mom resented me for the loss of her independence. she resented me for taking over her kitchen. she resented me for her not being able to do household chores. dad was demented and sometimes could be aggressive. he was a handful and then another half. my son was a dificult teenager. he had dropped out of yeshiva at 15/16 and was doing drugs. i was beginning menopause. what fun! 3 generations living together.

dad died 6 years ago. the loss was very hard for me. i didn't go out for about 2 years. it was also very hard to deal with mom. she suffered a lot being alone. my son joined the army right after my father died. mom and i enjoyed a certain quiet together. we got along much better without my son. she thankfully, lived to see her grandson turn around and become a mentch. she lived to attend his chuppah and died 3 weeks after the wedding.

my mom has been gone for over 2 1/2 years. the will has been probated. i'm still living in our house. my son, daughter-in-law and grandson are living downstairs. the only difference is that my baby sister announced to me one night, about half a year ago, that she would no longer enter this house because of the unfairness of the will.

it all started with a discussion of my ridding the house of clutter and chotchkas. i offered my sister to come over and take whatever chatchkas she wanted. she wanted me to pack up all the things that i didn't want and bring them to her house.

as the big sister, i got very hurt and depressed. i punished myself by binging and gaining a ton of weight. i stopped going out. i went into shiva mode. then i regrouped. as the big sister, i started taking my baby grandson over to visit my baby sister. i never spoke of how i felt. i tried to keep things 'pareve'. i kept the visits short.

once again, i offered my baby sister to come over and take whatever chatchkas she wanted. she asked me for the antique dressers that were in the master bedroom. quite frankly, i wasn't about to part with them. they are the only things in the house that i do treasure and still use. i wasn't about to take out all of my clothing and personal things to accomodate her. call me selfish! end of discussion.

so about 6 months later, on the night of my father's 6th yirtseit, we had a knock down, drag out fight. it started after i mentioned deleting emails from my mother's yahoo account, which i shared with her for years. from about 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. we went at each other until we were both sick. my niece actually, came into the room at one point, to tell us to both stop screaming.

the next day, the big sister and the baby sister went down to the cemetary together to pay homage to their father. i haven't spoken to my baby sister since. i did email her that our relationship was too toxic for me and that i needed a break. we both tried to get our older sister to take our sides. she finally told us both to deal with it on our own. what a luxury to live in another country!

anyway, this big sister is now trying to enjoy her space. she is sticking to her diet and not punishing herself anymore. she is not feeling as guilty. she is actually enjoying seeing the baby sister squirm a little. don't get me wrong, i'm exhausted. to be continued.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Blog Or Not To Blog

it's almost 1:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat. it's been a week since i blogged. i haven't had many comments lately and was beginning to think that noone was reading my blog.

a girl friend sent me an ad about a group of women who were planning to make a website for religious women. they were looking for blogs about homemaking, living in israel, cooking and child rearing. i sent them a copy of my recent blog on shabbat.

i don't know if it's what they're looking for but, who knows? they only wanted 500 words but they got the entire blog. i hope it wasn't too sardonic for them. it did deal with taking care of my grandchild, waiting for the washing machine repairman, and my shabbat menu.

the kids want to have shabbat meals here again this week. they want to invite gal's sister and hubbie, too. this of course, includes sahar's newborn cousin, baby orel. i have to do a major clean up job tomorrow, right after i come home from the senior's center. the house is trashed. we have had ash storms for days and everything is covered in thick grey dust. my lovely, clean windows are all streaked and filthy again.

I've had a virus since last week and i still don't feel 100% myself, yet. i've kind of stuck to the strict part of the south beach diet all week and it's been pretty hard. i've eaten a ton of eggs, low fat cheese, yogurt and meats. i've finished all of the almonds and hit the salted sunflower seeds pretty hard, too. i even, ate a can of dried coconut strips. they were highly caloric but at least, i didn't succumb to any sugar.

i finally weighed myself today. it wasn't as catastrophic as i thought. i really am determined to knock off these extra 12 pounds once and for all. i want to fit into my clothes again. i'll never get back to my size 10 outfits, but i want to stop looking 9 months pregnant. that would be so nice. i think my stomach is slowly beginning to shrink.

on tuesday night, my son made a seudah at his father-in-law's shul in my father's memory. it was the 6th anniversary of his passing. i brought two types of deli, potato berakas, chumus, eggplant salad, dill pickles, turkish salad and boiled eggs. i also bought dried dates, 3 types of peanuts, dry roasted peas and watermelon seeds. i baked 2 chocolate loaf cakes and 2 honey and date loaf cakes. zvi said the sephardi men loved the cakes. i used only brown sugar and whole wheat flour. go know!

i don't know why my baking has been so well received lately. last friday, i made a dozen carrot cake muffins and a banana-date cake. it nearly all went. zvi even asked for some banana cake on sunday morning. usually, i freeze most of it after shabbat. there was only one muffin left over on monday. even the toddler asked for more cake.

i don't have much left in the freezer so i'm going to have to shop at the supermarket tomorrow. i just need to plan the menu. everyone eats chumus, lettuce salad, cooked beets, cooked sephardi tomato relish, potato salad, israeli salad and eggplant salad. i haven't made tahina lately. it's become expensive but it does go well on my diet. i can also make cookies with it. if i do make the cookies, i'll need to buy sesame seeds, too. i'm also all out of eggs. i must have gone through about 50 eggs last week.

i do have a honey loaf cake in the freezer and half of a chocolate one, so maybe i can get away without baking. maybe, i'll make barbecue style chicken wings and potted chicken meatballs. i am out of white rice and i don't think this is a brown rice crowd. of course, i'll need more potatoes. i'd like to make a noodle kugel for a change. i can't believe that i'm actually, making shabbat meals again this week.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Zelda Does Chocolates

it's 11:30 a.m. on a sunday morning in the holy city of zefat. sahar is napping in the living room. the dogs are with me in the blog room. i am waiting once again, for the washing machine repairman. i blew him off at 7:00 p.m. last week.

he promised to come here at noon today. we shall see. i went to bed around 5:00 a.m this morning. we got back from gal's family around 10:00 p.m. last night. gal was feeling sick and i was also feeling viral. i had a whole lot of chocolates to mold for today's simcha. i knew i wouldn't be able to potchka with sahar around. i started melting chocolates at about 11:30 p.m. and finally finished at 3:30 a.m.

i had a mold of 8 baby strollers but there were only 4 male ones. freezing only 4 at a time was most time consuming. i decided to make 'maxel tov' molds, 11 at a time. at final count, i had made around 50 carriages and 50 mazel tovs. i bought little plastic baggies and gold ties to close them. i made about 12 gold coins because i still had some chocolate left. i used about a kilo (1000 grams) of cheap non dairy chocolates.

i have to admit that the chocolates, which were synthetic but very kosher, tasted awful. even the expensive coffee flavoring that i added, didn't make it any tastier. it looked okay, but it wasn't a culinary triumph by any standard. i will definately, not be buying these chocolates again. i bought them in the same store where i buy all of the chocolate molds. i just assumed that it was proffessional. trust me, baker's chocolate tastes better than this drek.

anyhow, i did the mitzvah. that's what counts, i guess. most israelis do not have a sophisticated palette for real chocolate. i must say that these chocolates leave a nasty after taste. it's like eating plastic spoons. it's too late to do anything about it now. the chocolates have already made their way to the shul.

the repairman just called. of course, he's running late and won't get here until 2:00p.m. i still need to feed sahar and bathe him before his mom returns from work. speaking of food, i totally, forgot that i left mini corn shnitzels and fries in the toaster oven for sahar. luckily, the shnitzels wern't burnt. i managed to salvage some of the chips, too. i was going to make him macaroni but i only had lasagna noodles and spaghetti in the cupboards. he prefers finger food, anyway, these days.

he is beginning to chat up a storm. after a week with the sephardis, he is only speaking hebrew. he is beginning to call the kids by their names. i am 'tata'. in hebrew, safta is grandma. he says aviya, and adi. he calls his mom by her name, gal. he calls his father, abba. he no longer says no. it is 'lo' now, the hebrew equivalent.

he does quite a few animal sounds, too. it's moo for cows, ga ga for ducks, ra ra for dogs, and ba ba for sheep. he does a good impression of the baby crying. i must say that he is totally being plied with sugar at gal's home. they don't believe that he drinks plain milk in his bottle. they won't put chocolate powder in the milk because they believe it will make him hyper, but they will give him sprite and artificial syrups in his water. it makes me ill to watch him being over stimulated, too.

i usually put a little molasses in his morning milk for iron. i admit that i do give him pretzels with all sorts of chemicals in them. i make him an omelette for breakfast and try to get him to eat plain yogurt. i have been known to give him pudding. i am not perfect. we all need a lot of tolerance and balance. i try to buy ices without food coloring and additives. it's a losing battle.

i am very upset that my son has started to smoke again. it is really making me crazy. what a shame! he quit over 2 years ago. i don't think he is planning on quiting this time, either. i threatened to throw him out but it doesn't work any better than before he was married. i wish sometimes that he didn't live with me. what a horrible thing to say! i know.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the waiting game

it's nearly 6:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. i've been waiting all day long for the return of the washing machine repairman. he came last week and fixed the dryer. i asked him to clean out the filters in the washing machine but it was already too late to do anything else. i don't know why i expected him to show up during the daytime.

while checking out the accordian shaped dryer pipe, he managed to break off the little shutter box, outside the house. he used some of my plastic chicken wire to cover up the large gaping hole. he actually told me, in all seriousness, that the green plastic chicken wire looked ascetic. it has been raining ever since. i'm not sure if it rained into the downstairs or not, as i haven't done any laundry since then.

the chicken wire is now hanging in the wind and the large hole is dangerously, exposed. we caught the rat on shabbat day. he entered one of the newer traps that i set with fresh salami. i really am not up for any more rats right now. the repairman told me that he would come at 3:30 p.m. i am not digging the wait one bit. it is almost dark and he said that the washing machine repair would take a bit of time.

i had asked him to also check out the dripping fridge. the guy comes all the way from haifa and i am expected to pay a large fee for his coming to zefat. i am ready to tell him not to come. i am beginning to get ticked off. it's not like i had anything to do or anywhere to go today. i guess, that i could have gone to town and checked out the open market shuk. i also could have signed in at the unemployment office, too. i hate waiting around.

sahar has been at his other grandma's all week long. i saw him briefly, for about 5 minutes this morning. i really am not so pleased about this. never the less, i could have gome back to aroebics, yoga and paltes. i had the entire week free. i, also, could have gone downtown and visted some friends. instead, i stayed in my robe and food binged all week long. i haven't moved from the t.v. area all week. i have gained an extra ton of weight.

on sunday night, we had holocaust remembrance day, here in israel. the only programming on paid t.v. was holocaust movies until late monday night. i stayed in bed and watched holocaust movies in english, french and italian for two days straight. i didn't leave the house. i think i'm in a bad state right now. perhaps, the homeopathic remedy has turned on me. i think i may need something stronger to get me out again. i did promise to go to the senior's center early tomorrow.

i am ready to start screaming at the repairman. i am not pleased one bit with him. why am i always his last stop in zefat? i think that he forgot about me, all together. last week, after i mentioned that i needed to leave my house by 7:00 p.m. he showed up well after 6:00 p.m. he also, didn't leave here until nearly 8:00 p.m. i'm getting ready to blow him off. i am getting more agitated by the moment. i need to relax. i'm not going anywhere, any time soon. so why do i feel so abused?

i lent my spare pesach gas stove to someone and it hasn't been returned, yet. this really grates on my nerves. why do people borrow things and not return them right away?? i'm trying hard not to get upset but my nerves are shot. all the sugar and ice cream that i've consumed lately, has gone straight to my brain. every little thing is getting on my nerves again. time for a new remedy, for sure!!

i hung out a jewish flag today. the independence day flags war has officially, begun. my neighbor has already put out over 32 assorted israeli flags. yes, i actually, counted every one of them. i only had one flag made out of some sort of stretchy material. luckily, i found it in the closet. i used to get some plastic flags in the jerusalem post, but i stopped buying the mewspaper, a long time ago. this one flag will just have to suffice.

well, the repairman just called and was ready to come right over, i asked him not to. i am exhausted and i didn't do a blasted thing today. i kind of whined to him. he promised to come again next week. i could have had him come now, but i couldn't suffer having someone visit now. i think i'm sick. my head hurts. another day gone to heck!