Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow Day

it is 6:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.   Shabbat just ended.   we had another snow storm yesterday.   this was supposed to be the 'big' one.   ever since last year's big storm we have all gone into panic mode every time they forecast snow.   we were house bound for several days last year.  the worst was losing power during Shabbat.  it was freezing.   the kids went over to the neighbors' house for some warm drinks and heat.  they use a woodstove.  I couldn't climb over the mounds of snow so I stayed inside.   the neighbors heated our food on their stove so at least we had a warm lunch.   people in Jerusalem lost power for days.

this winter people bought out all of the shovels, generators and kerosene and gas heaters in preparation for the 'big' storm.   I made sure to have gas balloons on hand in the event of a power outage.  I have left on the gas for the past 3 shabbatons to insure that we would have hot water and food.  we were fortunate not to have endured an outage.

yesterday morning the sun was out and we had an hour to play outside in the snow.   I managed to throw a few snowballs at the kids.  the big kids came out for a short time to take selfies.  they looked more like they were vacationing in aspen than living in zefat.  I was enjoying the sun, sitting in my robe.  I didn't look like I was in aspen.  no one took a selfie of me thank goodness.

as much fun as the kids had outside, it was torture inside without hot water for showers.  no one had turned on the water heater.   not having central heating is a drag.   I was pretty tired and didn't feel like doing much.   I had done some of the Shabbat cooking the day before.   I seem to do my best food awaiting a snow storm.  it was so cold that I dreaded cutting up salad.   I made some potted turkey balls and chicken cutlets because I didn't think we had enough stewed chicken.   I made mashed potatoes and macaroni because I didn't feel like grating potatoes to make a kugel.   I didn't have the patience to make rice either.

 I had wanted to make a Sephardi dish with green lentils and rice but I didn't have any lentils in the pantry.  with pesach so close I don't plan on buying any grains or legumes.   I made a small tray of brownies at the last moment.   I only had a cup of whole wheat flour left.  I had bought some chocolate filled hamentashen but they weren't that good.  I had gone to the supermarket with the kids and daughter-in-law on Wednesday evening.   I went to a place that takes head checks.   I didn't know my way around the store and it was difficult to buy what I needed.  we only had one cart between us and the kids were being wild. 

I had hoped to be able to buy what I needed for Purim but it didn't happen.  I will have to go back down town by myself.   the granddaughter threw a major tantrum because she wanted a kinder egg.   you know those horrible chocolate covered plastic eggs that have tiny toys inside.  she screamed forever.  being on line at the check out counter was hellish.  she even pished on the floor to boot.  it was horrendous.  on the way out of the parking area the daughter-in-law backed onto a car.  she lost it.  I felt sorry for her.   before we had left for the store, the laundry room had flooded.   she had to sponger out a lot of water after coming home from a hard day at work.

I had thought about asking her to take the kids to her mother's before we set out but I didn't.   I do not like going with the kids to the supermarket.  the next day I ran down to the supermarket nearby at 7:30 a.m. to buy a few things that I had forgotten the day before.  I had the kids with me as the gans closed early.  I made red lentil soup and tuna burgers for lunch.  we were all pretty cozy.  I had gotten a repairman to come to snake the pipes.  I thought we were all a head of the game.   my daughter-in-law did a laundry and the laundry room became flooded once again.  this time both big kids cleaned up before they made a last minute run for the super.    they didn't like the way I spongered.   they came back pretty soon because it was beginning to storm.

I was happy for the little kids having a day to themselves with their parents.   it hardly happens.  no one bothered to make a snowman.   the big kids weren't into the snow.  I'm  in no shape to make snowmen anymore.  Shabbat was pleasant but truly cold.  I had 3 heaters going but it was never warm.   today the little kids raided my Purim closet and dressed up all day long.  i'll have to get the Purim/blog room in order by next week.  I have been weeding out costumes and props as well as books from the room.  I hope to get rid of jackets and coats from the closet before pesach.   I am on a quest to declutter.   I have been throwing out manuals for all sorts of things that are no longer in existence.  it feels good. 

I'm not in a Purim state of mind.   I am very overweight and don't feel like dressing up.  I am hosting the Sephardi clan once again and it is always a drag.  this year there will be 4 kids running around and a newborn crying all day.  I always have dinner ready at a set time and no one arrives at set time.   everyone runs around with candy and ice-cream and cake and the meal doesn't get going until hours later.  I invited a couple of my friends last year and it was not a good mix.   the karaoke was too loud and it was just one big balagon.   it's better just not to invite anyone else.  I know that I will not enjoy the day.   I used to love and live for Purim.  not anymore.  after Purim its pesach cleaning with little kids home from gan.   tu b'shvat was killed for me and now I'm losing Purim too.

I no longer buy bottles of rum for Purim.  besides the exorbitant cost, I haven't seen any in zefat.  my legendary rum balls are now extinct.   my rum chocolate ice-cream parfees are in the past.  my pinna  coladas are ancient history and so is Purim for me now.  I might still make the clown lollypops but I will not be making any hamentashen this year.  I also have no expectation of having any fun or being creative.   I want to buy cocktail franks for the event.  it's such a simple thing but one that is very out of the ordinary here in zefat.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Letting Go 2015

it is 11:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I should have gone to town to deal with the water bill but nope, I'm still here.  I have been busy taking care of the little kids and have no energy to take care of big zelda.  my personal hygiene has taken a back seat in life.  I have been letting go of things lately.  when I say 'things' I don't, necessarily, mean old grudges and memories.  I have been throwing out a lot of objects lately.

yesterday, I tackled the bookcase in the blog room.  it has been smelling dank in the room.  last year I moved the bookcase away from the wall and removed the wet and crumbly plaster and spackled  the wall.   one of the shelves collapsed so I removed the books.  I searched for a peg of some sort to replace the missing one and found the actual one in my mom's box of metal latches.  I mean, how crazy is that?  it looked like I needed to add a bit of wood glue to plug up the hole before I could insert the peg.  this bookcase has been in the room for 14 years.  it came from the old house in Brooklyn.  it had to be 50 or more years old.

I then removed the rest of the books and moved the bookcase away from the wall.  the wall was intact but the books on the bottom were damp.  I realized that the bookcase was in bad shape.  there was a large hole in the backing and it needed a lot of work.  I decided to chuck the bookcase and its contents.  yes, I finally threw out introductory French and psych from my parents time in college back in the 30's and 40's.  that's not all I threw out, but I am on a roll and cannot look back.  there were a dozen workbooks in Hebrew that I bought when my son was in high school, some 14 years ago.  they were virtually untouched as he dropped out of school at an early age.  I would have normally put an add on the zefat line offering the books for free but I was on a roll.

I saved all of the dictionaries and workbooks in English.  you never know if I'll be tutoring someone some day.  I brought down an antique book case from the roof apartment to use.  my mom always had her chatchkas displayed on it.  there might have been a few books on it too but I can't remember now.  I went through the case of CDS and tossed out a bunch.  as I've already mentioned, I'm on a roll.  ever since my son told me that he was going to throw out everything after I died, I have been doing it for him.   I have recently tossed out dozens of childhood pix.

I think I understand why my mom, in her 80's, tossed out her old love letters.  I have never been a saver.  when my son finished scribbling on paper I always asked him if we needed it.  afterwards, I tossed them.  after breaking up with boyfriends, I tossed their pix.   I ripped up most of my wedding pix when I got divorced.  I'm impulsive about that.  I recently tossed out my son's first birthday crown.  I think my son wouldn't really care about it.  at the same time, I also tossed out my grandson's first birthday crown.  I am getting ruthless in my old age. 

my mom saved everything.  she was a hoarder.  she was in no way as extreme as the t.v. show portrays, but she didn't throw many things out.  she would save the new York times Sunday crossword puzzles and they would be stacked pretty high in her bedroom.  I tossed out the thousands of buttons and zippers she saved while she was sick.  I recently threw out my report cards from both public school and Hebrew school.  I was an 'a' student in both places.  my mom had brought all of my memorabilia to Israel 15 years ago.  I am thinking about tossing my high school year book next.  in the meanwhile, it is lying down on the narrow bookcase.  I have the bride and groom dolls on the top of the bookcase.  I made them when the big kids got married.  they look eerily, like the big kids.

I finally threw out the egg cartons from the small kitchen.  I had a huge collection.  did I say that I'm not a saver?   I also put all of the torah newsletters in a bag to bring to the place where they are buried or burnt.   I have another bag full of torah magazines to give away to the local synagogue.  yes I am getting ready for pesach .  my next project is to organize my medical papers.  I want to get rid of any duplicates.   my mom saved all of her medical and insurance papers for 60 years.  I had the pleasure of tossing it all after she died.  I was sorry afterwards for not saving the papers from her last few years of  illness.  I needed the documentation to write a letter of complaint to the hospital against  negligence.  oh well!

 I was looking around the kitchen and admiring how well kept it looked.  I was thinking to myself that anyone could drop in and I was in good shape until I noticed a pile of bird's feathers scattered under the table.  then I saw the dead bird and the pincher dog with a mouth of feathers.  I tried to sweep the feathers up but only managed to spread the blood on the kitchen floor.  I ended up mopping the floor instead of taking a hot shower and getting dressed.  the weather has seemed to take a change for the worse.   we might just yet, get that snowstorm they are talking about.  I have to take the wet towels out of the washing machine and run to pick up the little kids.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fridges And Seders

it is 11:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.   l woke up with a horrific headache.  I only had a small glass of wine last night but in addition to all the dried fruits I ate, I'm in bad shape today.  an hour or so before the tu b'shvat Seder I realized that the fridge had stopped working.  yes, everything in the freezer had defrosted.  I quickly ran downstairs with all the chicken, meat and fish to store in the kids' freezer.  I usually do not refreeze defrosted food items but this was an emergency.  there is no way that I could have cooked up all of the chicken parts, chop meat and fish last night. 

the fridge did the same number nearly 2 years ago on the night that I threw a sheva bracha for my nephew.  it was a week before the pesach Seder.   the ice cream logs I had bought for the special occasion were all soup.  at the time I was recovering form radiation therapy an did not have the strength to shop around for a new fridge.  I also didn't have the money after being sick all winter.  I had the fridge repaired for a small fortune.  I spent almost the third of the cost of a new one but back then I didn't have options.

I did get almost another two years out of this fridge so I can't really complain.  my family had been so generous while I was sick that I couldn't think of asking them for more financial help.  my sister recently surprised me with a cash gift to buy a new computer.  buying appliances is part of being a grown up.  I have been using my mother's things for 14 years.  I used her Maytag washing machine until recently.  I paid a small ransom over the years keeping it serviced and replacing American parts.  I could have bought a new and smaller machine for half the cost.

I don't like changes.  I  am sitting Shiva over the fridge.  it was my mom's.  she picked it out and chose the color.  it was a lemon form the start.  we  paid a small ransom for the service contract.
I shelled out big bucks for the insurance for years after mom died.  I still had a month left on the contract when it nearly died two years ago.  as it turns out, the insurance company went under and died, leaving me to pay for a new service.   this time around, I have a 10 year warranty on the motor.   when you think about it, the motor is the last thing to go before it is officially declared dead. replacing the thermostat is what keeps the service people in the black.

I do not know how I will really be able to manage the payments.  I was planning on going to the bank today to arrange another loan but I'm not feeling up to going to town.  I already emptied the fridge and placed it on the front porch.  I need to scrub the floor before the new one comes tomorrow.  the weather has taken another turn back to cold and nasty.  the drop in barometric pressure is what is killing my head.  I have to pick up my checkbooks tomorrow morning so I'll check out the bank then .  in the meanwhile, I have to pick up the kids soon.  I'm honestly not in the mood.  I have to walk over to the grandson's gan and take him home on foot.  he will not like this.

last night's Seder was about as bad as I expected it to be.  and of course, I had the added pressure of running to town to buy a new fridge.  everyone was hungry and I hadn't really made any food.  I did make a barley mushroom soup but no one except my son had any.  I only made a small portion of cooked wheat and had to tell the very hungry kids that I didn't have anymore.  I could have kicked myself for not having made a double batch.  the ladies usually don't feast on cooked wheat.  the Seder started closer to 9:00 p.m.  it was way past the kids' bedtime and way past my endurance level.

the baby screamed and cried throughout the Seder.  the daughter-in-law, aka, Kim Kardashian, spent  the evening taking selfies.  unfortunately, she didn't take any pix of the Seder table.  the little kids cracked up after eating the candied worms and bananas and left the table to watch t.v.  my son did try  to read the torah passages but couldn't be heard over the baby's screams.  no one was paying attention anyway.  I kept on thinking that I shouldn't have even bothered.   I spent so much money and effort and hours on the internet to create a wonderful Seder and in the end, no one would have missed it if I hadn't.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tu B'shvat Is Happening 2015

it is 10:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I just came back from the supermarket to get the last few things I need for tonight's tu b'shvat Seder.  I mean, how can we celebrate without designer napkins and plastic cups?  I actually only spent 10 shekels for both.  they don't exactly match my yellow leaf disposable table cloth but, what the heck, I go with the flow.

I decided to keep it small this year with just the family but I didn't keep the purchases small.  I actually found every item on my list this year.  we have grapes, wine, wheat, olives, almonds,  apricots, walnuts, pomegranate, citron, sour cherries, dates, figs, carob, loquat, peaches, kumquats, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, chestnuts, apples and pears, fresh pineapple and strawberries.  each year I serve 30 varieties of fruits and nuts so I guess, this year I reduced it.  I didn't save any money because I went for the very expensive mini pineapple, the box of strawberries and the pine nuts and pistachios.

I made a centerpiece using the pineapple stalk.  this is the first time I did something like this.  and to think I did this just to impress my big kids, their little kids and their, even smaller, little cousins.  yes, the daughter-in-law invited one of her sisters with 3 kids to join us.  now I have to think of a plan to contain the dogs in another room.  it is going to be havoc with 4 little kids running around and a very small baby crying.  what have I gotten myself in for?  what was I thinking?

the kids have never been to one of my Seders.  I have done it exclusively for women for the last 20 years.  I have already had 5 women ask if it's on this year.  my original thought was that no one was interested in schlepping out this year.  the weather is actually, unseasonably warm.  I remember one year having a monsoon like rain storm hours before the Seder.  I  think we'll get along fine with just one heater this evening.  I am beginning to regret my decision to exclude my gal pals.  it will be lonely with just the tots around.

instead of incorporating new recipes I decided to create new ideas.  I made myself crazy coming up with a novelty edible tree.  I decided to  make fake mud cakes.  I didn't have any Oreos around and I didn't really feel like bothering with cream cheese and pudding, either.  in the end, I made simple chocolate cupcakes.  I didn't have individual muffin tins so I cut up two disposable aluminum muffin trays.  I made fake grass with desiccated coconut and green food coloring.  to be even more exacting, I bought candy worms and candy bananas.  yes, I am planning on setting a worm into the center of each cupcake.   then I plan to make a banana tree by impaling candy bananas and dried apple pineapple slices onto a bamboo skewer.  are we having fun yet?  I'm already exhausted and still need to wash the floors.

I already opened the pomegranate and chopped up the pineapple.  I  have all the fruits and nuts in small serving dishes.  I will cut up the apples and pears later this evening.  I can't put anything on the table right now because the dogs will jump on the table and help themselves.  one year, cloey the pincher, ate most of the chocolates I had made.  how she got the tin foil off so easily, remains a mystery to this day.

I still need to cook some wheat and make a barley mushroom soup.  I have the kids with me this afternoon and am feeling a bit pressured.   my grandson really wants to help make the cupcake trees but I don't have patience for group projects with little kids and their grubby hands.  in  a perfect scenario, I would place a bunch of different dried fruits in front of the kids and let them make their own trees.  zelda, the control freak, couldn't really do this.   we also can't plant real trees this year because we are in a biblical sabbatical abstaining from planting all year.

I hope we'll get a  few pix this evening so I can share them with you.  have a wonderful tu b'shvat!