Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Happy Interesting Hanukkah-Christmas-Latke-Kielbasa Holiday Week

I said the prayers the best I could wasn't the right time...and I'm sure I mangled most of the words.

You simply can't take a girl from the south side of Chicago who omits the "th" in words and expect her to say "shehecheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higianu."

No way.

I listened to the audio on the net 100 times...but what I hear in Hebrew...what I see on the paper and what I say....are not related.

But it is the last night of Hanukkah and I'm in Jew I did my best.

This week my family celebrated multiple times in multiple ways ....being together....and being attuned to something beyond ourselves.
We started celebrating last Sunday when I took my entire family to the Temple for the Hanukkah celebration. They were wide-eyed and I was nervous.
In Jew School I'm about as knowledgeable as a pre-schooler and yet here I was taking everyone to Temple as if I knew what I was doing.....which I didn't...but people who knew me there ....kissed me... shook hands with my family....and smiled.

The Rabbi came over hugged me and chuckled....another complicated multiple faith/belief family what's new? There are many stories in the Temple...and mine is just another strand in the weave of this community.

As we walked back to our car after chicken, latkes and live music....we planned the rest of our week:

a dinner at a Mexican restaurant for my daughter's birthday....

latkes and beef brisket and candle lightening the following day....

Kielbasa, sauerkraut and pierogies to remember our Eastern European heritage on Xmas Eve

and finally Xmas.....which we would celebrate like we always have....with a special brunch....a family walk in the afternoon....presents... a turkey dinner....and watching movies together....including the infamous Pee Wee Herman Xmas special.

Mu daughter (on the right) watches my friend light the candles.

My impromptu candle holders for the Hanukkah portion of our week

Latkes from heaven...crisp hot crunchy....

The traditional Xmas celebration....with gingerbread houses and a glorious dinner of champagne, turkey, sweet potatoes and The Green Bean cheesecake from the bookstore.
We even tossed some movies into the holiday daughter and I watching our favorite movie...Sleepless in Seattle....caught Slumdog Millionaire at the theatre...and everyone watched Wall-e.
It was a rich and full week....the house full of angry cat.....the smell of roasted turkey and fried potatoes and fresh buttermilk biscuits.....pots and pans clanging....the dishwasher swishing through load after load of dishes....and the garage door going up and down a thousand times as 5 people got in and out of cars and ran errands and shopped and dashed to friends' houses.

In a few hours.....Monday morning....our regular life will begin daughter returns to Ohio.....I go back to work .....and my youngest son will play video games late into the night till I remind him he has to go back to college.
It's been a special week....a good week....
and now I turn towards remembering my friends......letters... emails....little presents....
it's about always was....and still is.....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wow......Slumdog Millionaire


That's all I could say to my daughter at the movie theater when Slumdog ended.

We both looked at each other and said "incredible" in unison.

A very dark, disturbing, story.....involving kismet....set in India.



Finding someone .....having your heart find if an invisible string led you right to him or her.

A love story encased in the cruel barebone poverty of the slums and the surprising energy and ingenuity which springs from that harsh reality.


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Early this morning...I woke up....looked at the sun shining through the window....and smiled.

I felt like a marathon runner who had made it across the finish line.

Bruised, weary....but in the end ...somewhat elated...I pulled myself out of bed and felt grateful.

Although January 1st is still a few days away.....Winter Solstice....has for years....been my spiritual-psychological New Year.....

a day of hope.....a day when I consciously remember the darkness and shortened days are over....and the earth from this day forward.....second by second ....minute by minute heads towards longer days and spring.

This heart, my spirit and even my body took a beating......

beloved connections lost.... surprising and difficult roadblocks in my new injury which made walking a painful ordeal for months...and of course....the encroaching storm of problems with my aging parents and their health...

everything weighed so heavily on me some days....I felt like a zombie walking through my own life .....

but small hopes have kicked in......

I started religious classes a few months ago and discovered a new spiritual home.....

my job will enter a quieter phase for the next few months....

I've found a elder-law specialist in Chicago to help me with my parents....

and duh---I've re-realized how much I value my family and friends....

small things....

............seeds actually

which like the beauty berries I found this morning up against the old wooden fence.....

wait their turn.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Erotic Electronics

The men folk say to me sometimes, "Why don't you watch TV in the family room? It's can sit/lay on the couch...why are you hunched over the kitchen counter watching the little TV?"

Here's my answer:

This is an unstaged photo of what lies on my coffee table....

All of these remotes are somehow connected to our TV/DVD/Cable/Stereo.

Perhaps there are some old remotes in this group from our former TV....but which one?

Your guess is as good as mine.

To a guy....this cornucopia of electronic devices lying on our coffee the equivalent of a happy little problem to solve.

I've watched the men folk approach this electronic collage with a sense of adventure...

they pick up one or finally viola....whatever they wanted to turn on magically begins.

They don't seem frustrated...offended ....lost....or bothered. It's like a lateral Rubik's cube.

Enter Gina.

I don't even know which one to pick up for which system....nor do I know what button to push....

and don't tell me it's the "power" button....because sometimes you press the "TV" or "satellite" button before...after...or during the press of the power button....

this I know from operating the little kitchen TV......and let me tell you my success rate for turning on and getting to the channel I about 75%.

It must be gender wiring....male pathways....which assess the situation and then feel challenged....oh look ....something for me to solve.

Do you know what I feel when I look down at this.....frustration, anger, incompetence (my own) and a dollop of exasperation.

Why does this have to be so hard?????

People we have robots scooting around the the surface of MARS.....

someone ...somewhere can figure out.....a simple system to turn on a flat screen TV.

If phone companies, airlines and consumer companies can operate on voice recognition systems ( do you have an account with us? please say yes or no. Now tell us the account number...)

Why can't my TV?

Why can't I just speak into the remote and say...."Home and Garden Channel"

That's it........

turn on the fucking TV to the home and garden channel so I can watch....My House is Worth What?

And if this horrifies males....and the male need to problem-solve.....I'm willing to compromise.....put 2/3/4 remotes in the box with a system.....just make the voice-recognition remote pink.

You can still operate your DVD by pressing buttons on multiple remotes OR you can grab the pink remote and say "play DVD".


Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter in the South....

I don't know why I try and save the geraniums.
They're cheap... replaceable... just ordinary flowers.
They sit in old clay pots with cracks and nicks and white lines etched by hard water.
As the temperature started to drop yesterday, I passed them by and shrugged.
So die this year....I'm too busy to fuss over you.
But this afternoon, when the first ping of sleet pellets hit the window, I threw open the front
door.....and hauled them into the foyer.
Leaves....dirt.....mulch....scattered on the oriental rug.
I placed a couple of plastic bags on the carpet in the living room.....and moved them over...
their leggy arms reaching for the door and their former life.
The ice thickens on the sidewalk tonight, the house is cold and feels dark
the heater hums and we are all huddled together
perhaps I am superstitious
or prone to magical thinking
but I am just an ordinary person too
in a flawed and weather shell
and like everyone
I hope my presence
in the lives of people I know and have been connected to
is valuable enough
to be saved.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ozzie and me

Nothing beats a brisk walk in the bright winter sunlight late in the afternoon. Ozzie and Me stop by the bridge near our house to watch some ducks drift by on the stream.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You know you're working too hard when..............

Everything was ready.

I reviewed my notes several times the night before. Selected my clothes, put my jewelry and shoes out, placed my purse and notebook.... in a pile on the kitchen counter top so I could make a quick exit.

Even though it was Sunday, I planned to arrive at work by 6:45am. I had a big event to coordinate at the store....lots of people, a fussy point person to deal with....and with revenue important sales opportunity.

I grabbed my purse....and realized my phone was still on my nightstand.....

A few butterflies flitted around in my stomach....but I took a deep breath....and dashed upstairs for the phone.

Now with purse in hand, phone secured....notebook....and my jacket....I was ready to leave....but where's my car key?

I opened my purse and rummaged around...hmmmmm......I thought it was on the counter....I thought I had laid it out on top of my purse the night before....where did I put it?

I checked the usual places....the key basket.....the kitchen table.....a nice squeeze of panic gripped me....this was not son lost the spare key.....there was only one key for the Subaru....and the two tables I needed for the event were stored in the cargo space.

I ran upstairs.....checked laundry room....checked pantry.....checked floors....checked the chairs....checked computer room...

I could feel my heart and arteries pound pound pound.....where is the damn key????????? complete panic....I woke hub up.....a desperate don't wake hub up on his sleep-in day.......unless it's an emergency.

"I can't find the car key .....I'm you know where it is??"

Hub turns over and growls...."It was on the kitchen counter last night"

I fly downstairs.....look under the the cabinet drawers....

full panic now...even if I take his car to work.....I need the tables ...locked in my car.....for the event.

I look up....and there's hub......eyes standing up.....think grizzly bear wearing underwear.....

"I can't find the's not on the counter." You could hear desperate in my voice.

"The key......."

He points at me.....

"The key is around your neck."

I reach for my neck and find the lanyard with the car key.

I wear a lanyard with a id badge at work... so the weight....the feel of something flapping around my the norm.

The bear retreated back to bed....I flew out the door.....hoping all the bad luck for the day had been used up already.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I set my morning alarm 32 minutes earlier today than yesterday and when it rang, instead of stepping into the shower, I pulled on an assortment of mismatched grunge clothes and laced up my old tennis shoes.

I headed down to the laundry room and as soon as I entered the room a big thump thump thump noise greeted me.

I peered down into the brand new kennel and chuckled. We haven't had a dog with a tail in a zillion the thump thump thump of I'm-happy-to-see-you....was a new sound for me.

Ozzie popped out of the cage, stretched his neck to receive his chain and lease, and we headed out the door.

His tail was like a crazy windshield wiper blade....flicking side to side as we walked down the dark street.

A blast of wind and a million crunchy oak leaves raced in front of us. Ozzie sat down. I bent over to pet him. He put his muzzle next to my cheek and left it there. I guess a new neighborhood with strange herds of leaves can be frightening.

I never expected to get another dog. When we put our last dog to sleep months ago, hub and I agreed that one dog, one cat, one lizard and one fish was enough. The Inn was full.

Ten days ago, just before I tossed the newspaper into the recycling bin.....I placed the end section on the counter top and browsed through it. I never do that....there's just ads and filler. I turned the page....and there.....was a picture of Ozzie....featured dog of some animal rescue group.

I knew instantly he was going to be our dog but I thought I would test fate.

"Hey, look at this dog, it looks like Mattie except in brown."

My hub was supposed to say, "Now now, we're not looking for another dog."

Instead he said, "really?"

Hmmm....the reality-checking spouse script wasn't being followed.

So I tried again, "6 years old, affectionate, gentle, friendly and gets along with other dogs."

He was supposed to say, " Well let's be practical we agreed on a one dog rule."

"Sounds good."

Wrong wrong wrong hub. This is dangerously off the script.

So I tested fate even more by emailing the lady and asking her to describe him including any questionable habits and traits.

"He seems to be a calm happy affectionate dog with no problems. Why don't you come by and visit him?"

Since I was working that day, I threw the final test at hub. "Hey why don't you go check Ozzie out at Petsmart."

"What time?"

If hub is going to drive across town on a Saturday morning to look at a might as well buy a new box of dog biscuits....cause this is smelling like a done deal.

When I called him to ask about Ozzie, he was chuckling. "He's a great dog."

And so.....Ozzie....bypassed the new rule of the house and leaped over fate's barricades to find a place on the soft rug, the dog rug, on the outskirts of the kitchen.

And so as of 11am today....the new rule of the house is: two dogs, one cat, one lizard, one fish.