Politics as usual

Politics: When I first registered, I wanted to register as an independent voter but in our two party system it just seems a pointless point to make. So, I am a registered Democrat. The current Republican and Democratic posturing and media spin is really mere fodder for Stewart and Colbert. And really kudos to them they are doing an excellant job! After some perspective in life and the little bit of political theory I learned in college (Hat tip to Professor Richard Pious, Barnard College, I believe that no true analysis of political achievements can be immediate. That being said, my NO HOLES BARRED true feelings are: I am honestly very very disappointed that the Republican party has the gall to dare to be so anti Democrat/Obama, while simultaneously ludicrously fractionalized that the Tea Party has possible influence and yet can not present a solid candidate which it can unconditionally support. I dislike Ron Paul as he is old and an out-of-touch isolationist. I respect only the consistency Santorum maintained (otherwise I whole-heartedly think he is a fanatical lunatic--I may be being generous here). Newt Gingrich, forget it. Mitt Romney, is really without substance, IMHO. Our current politicians are unworthy adversaries. They are poor substitutes for control and true influence in this country. The core values of our US democratic system: both independence and capitalism have rendered politics, unprofitable and unpalatable. The current reigning nightly news analysis and "shoot from the hip" criticism of Obama-care (if we should even call it that), economic recovery, is short sighted as is (IMHO) the hugely far reaching the placement of 2 moderate women judges on the Supreme Court (and one a Hispanic and the other a Jew, yet), and the all too rarely referred incredible assassination of Osama Bin Laden. I could go on but perhaps you got the picture. Soapbox, did I hear you say soapbox?

One Morning in January...

Getting my 4 children out the door this morning can best be summed up by the term "Shock and Awe".
It began with it's very own prophetic foreshadowing: every single light switch I turned on shocked me.
Miss Head in the Clouds fractured her left index finger from her incorrect catch at basketball practice yesterday afternoon. I am so sure she'll know how to do it for next year. Well, that was when the ball started rolling, around 4:00 yesterday. I got to drive in rush hour traffic up to school to pick her up and whisk her to the 6:45 pediatrician appointment I was lucky to get. Then, of course, the good doctor sent us to the Breast Building (they X ray everything there but that is what I call it). We squeezed into the last X ray of the day at 7:00 pm. Later, the doctor called and confirmed it as fracture at the joint and advised me to call the hand surgeon in the morning.
So here it is already today, and I am to try to get her an appointment with the famous finest hand surgeon, DR. Who shall not be named, sometime after I take my three hour curriculum certification exam this morning. When she awoke in pain at 5 she proceeded to wake me (misery does love company, don't let anyone tell you otherwise) for a dose of Tylenol (forgot to buy the Motrin) and a marvelous round of moaning and refusing to be touched in my bed. I finally was able to extract her from my warm cozy when I explained to that stomach pain is sometimes due to lack of food and she could go eat cereal. She was overjoyed and left my bed. Too late, though because by then the alarm was already going off. Earlier in bed, since she is quite self sufficient gal and a self soother it should really not have come as a surprise to me when she did, at one point, cease moaning to ask when she could have ice cream. I informed that few stores selling such a product were actually opened at 5:05 AM but I would try to see to it later. A order for mint chocolate chip was instantly placed.
Of course, she above did not bother to wake (the Boss) number 2, at the usual time, even though the Boss wakes her every morning ...possibly in consideration for all those who will have hell to pay if our dreamer does not wake up in enough time to hurl herself out the door to catch the bus. Thereby rendering a miserable morning for the entire "apartment-hold".
Miss H.I.T.C, now known as the disabled, needed a mitten to cover the hand with the splint(the sole mitten the left since this year's crop only produced gloves). She even said to me it was ok because she could wear a glove on the other hand--like she would even have a choice? And then she promptly did,in fact, fortified by the power of her eaten omelet and bagel hurl herself out the door, bus-ward.
Child #4, Angel baby, did not want out of her lair in the bottom bunk, but finally was forced as nature called. However, once removed from bed she was beyond incredulous that I would even dare to suggest she had the skill set and capacity to make egg salad solo.
Then the Boss was 'awailing that she could not walk to the bus. She flat out refused, and her brother departed. Boy-man (like any good dog, sniffed which way the winds were blowing) accepted his omelet gracefully ate it and even put the dish in the dishwasher, reattached his BOZE headphones and headed out the door in plenty of time to make the bus. She continued to refuse, whine, wheedle and wail until I had to drive her rather than incur my own threatened punishment of leaving her to stay home all day. The latter being an option I could not live with. Remember Rule # 16: Never threaten if you, yourself, cannot live with the consequences.
There I was 6:59 'achopping and 'amixing the aforementioned hard boiled egg salad but I left the slathering on the bagel part for Angel Baby as I reluctantly but lividly chauffeured the Boss. As I drove incensed (not for once, reflected in my driving) I summarily informed her that since she was kind enough to wait, WWW (whine, wheedle, and wail for those of you unfamiliar to parenting prose) and to remake the morning coffee (she should not even be drinking at 14) there would be no future rides to the morning shuttle.
I returned home to hustle Number 4 out the door and then once Angel Baby was safely aboard the bus I dragged myself up stairs to to regroup and get ready to take the certification exam.
Hamilton has recently acquired a greater understanding of English. This morning, I said "You guys got to give me break" no less than 7 times. And upon my return the cat actually sat on my lap for extended petting and purring during an unprecedented quarter of an hour. Totally out of character for the normally fickle feline that she is.
In the interest of length, I wanted to leave out the part where this morning the famous fabulous hand surgeon's receptionist told me they don't take our insurance but how could I? I politely explain that despite that I need to make an appointment anyway. Then the she explained that she would have to call the insurance prior to booking the appointment. By then, I had pulled into the parking garage at the testing center. I asked her to call me back. I then turned the phone to mute and slowly approached the third floor testing office. Once there, I removed my watch (as if it could truly help me on the curriculum exam, it can barely tell time). I placed it in a locker with all my other worldly possessions. Taking this exam was like a vow of poverty for three hours. I won't mention that tech services had to be called because the test would not load on the computer properly...no I am almost at the point if you haven't stopped reading you won't believe me.

Good thing, I had that morning shower.
Today's math equation: Shower = power.

Written for RivkA

I first met Karin Zuckerman in 1984. We were at JFK Airport traveling to Israel on Nativ 4.
It was my first trip to Israel.
She was there many other times I came back, too.
I know that was year we both remember. It made us different people. She came from a yeshiva and was joining us, USY kids, for our our year in Israel. Already, she was the red headed Zionist with strong opinions many know her to be to this day. Unstoppable.

I admit I was scared of her, she was so "in your face" I found it abrasive and frightening. She was someone who she knew how she felt and didn't hesitate to say what she was thinking. I valued my own thoughts and was not hesitant to speak my mind but she was one over powering personality. She was that girl who wore skirts on our hikes. We wore shorts (shorter than I would like to admit today--I probably would not admit it to my own daughters). She was a challenger. She is a fighter. That gingi spirit wearing long maroon skirts in Uja Aqueduct. I am not sure if I hold a memory or a photographic image in my mind. I can see her then, just as I did every morning at Tefillot.

Then we returned from that fateful year of learning (we learned so much more that year, it would be unfair to call it study). We were all changed for sure, and all of us enhanced for sure.

Certainly Karin who was by then, I think Rivka (but perhaps still with less dagesh on the A at the end or maybe I just wasn't listening). There we were four more years at Barnard. She up and ready to daven at Netz (and I didn't get it) I was busy holding a on to the liberal party politics at Columbia's Progessive Zionist Caucaus. We didn't speak much during those years, I think. She was involved in one area of the Jewish Zionist collegiate activities spectrum and I in another. Yet, honestly we were not so different at all. In effect, we did not see eye to eye, but we were both using our eyes and our minds. I think the red hair might have got in our way.

We graduated Barnard and she left America with my friends and made aliyah.
I got married and moved to Canada. I made aliyah to the Great White North for four years.

My friends would keep my updated on what was happening in RivkA's life, but I didn't have contact with her despite my frequent trips to Jerusalem to see my family.
I made yeridah back to the states ( but it wasn't home).

Then, her daughter and my niece grew and suddenly (it seemed like that to me) went to school together. My niece went to school with RivkA's kid. And my kids are growing up in America.
And she would teach my nieces how to swim at the pool. And my sister would tell me about RivkA and she was an amazing swim teacher (which I never got to see for myself). Who would have guessed that I could have been swimming with RivkA all those all those early morning swims at Barnard before shachrit when instead I swam with my Progressive Zionist buddy?

Wow. This really is one tiny, tiny Jewish world, I thought, by the time our paths had been crossing for 20 years. It is closer to 25 right now. Amazing.

So I had my four children and she hers (three, I think--pardon me, I really know about the one who is my nieces' age and the one who is best friend's with Shaiya's son--Shaiya was among those that made aliyah when I didn't). Shaiya's son's best friend.
Now really isn't that something? He was in the Progressive Zionist Caucus.

She got cancer, Debbie told me, and I got divorced after 15 years of marriage.
I moved my family back to Philadelphia and finally returned two summers ago for a vacation on my own to Jerusalem.

I made plans to meet her. I wanted to see RivkA, the plans didn't work out. She was elsewhere. She was tired. It didn't happen. Fatefully we said we hoped we could do it next time I came back. Sad.

I did see all those people who had made aliyah when I didn't and many told me about RivkA. I saw Alexis, Lisa, Charlie, Debbie, Josh, Jessica, and even Shaiya. And most of them knew RivkA. Many many people knew RivkA. If you met her you couldn't forget her. Memorable.

And since my sister told me about her blog I have been reading that blog, everyday. religiously.
Just as I have her in prayers daily, I have been praying for her strength and a miracle. A real miracle.
I cheered when reached her milestone of being in Israel longer than in America.
I don't think I'll live to see that milestone. I 'm not there yet and this RivkA and I are 44 years old.

I also silently daily thank her for introducing me to the whole blog-o-sphere and many other blogs that I read. THis has added much to my life. Thank you.
I also started a this blog and she was very encouraging. Thank you.

I have known her for a long time. We shared much in parallel experiences. I am so sorry we never got together that summer.

I was hoping she would be there at the airport when I finally make aliyah.
My youngest (Angel Baby) has 8 more years until she finishes high school.
That is what I am planning to do after her graduation.
I hope she comes with me.
If I am lucky, maybe Nefesh B'Nefesh will still be around...

I think that RivkA might not meet me at the airport.
I will see her when I get there.
She is everywhere in Israel.
But right now, I hope she is not in pain.
She suffered a lot of pain. No pain, RivkA.
Strength and courage from all those strong heartfelt beliefs of yours.

And now I am saying Tehilim because that is what I can do.
RivkA bat Teirtzel, you are in my thoughts.

The end of summer exploits of Hamilton, the cat

On Sunday night as I typed (studied math actually) on the computer I heard "chirp". "How strange," I thought, "Now just how could I have a bird chirping in here and the air conditioning was on".

So I reluctantly removed my tuchus from the chair and went to see (what I could see--just like that famous bear who went over the mountain). No singing please.
Lo and behold mid math problem (mine, not the bird's) some forlorn small bird had come to roost, on of all places, my living room window sill (obviously not the one with the air conditioning unit below it (like some bird could really tolerate that farshtunkena noise).
Poised to explore and torment there was she was, the ever ferocious Hamilton, my (add your own adjective, here) cat attempting to paw the bird through the closed glass window and screen and so scaring the bird into a shutter. Hamilton sneezed and pawed and meowed and I called my mother and the wildlife rehabilitation people. The bird cowered in the corner of the sill and the window. I watched. In case you did not know, PA wildlife rehabilitators do not take or return after hours calls.
So after dark, when my mother tired of looking at the bird and it became too dark to see it I finally lowered the shade and protected the bird from Hamilton's gaze. Of course, that did not deter her from trying and prying to get through the blinds. She continued to jump up on the window sill and then off and then up again and sneeze, image what a nose full of bird smell could do to the unpracticed olfactory lobes of an indoor cat?

After some time (and viewing Mad Men) I called it a night.
Upon awaking in the morning, I checked the sill only to find bird poop (a metaphor for something, no doubt) Hamilton lay about the floor seemingly not having any recall of the prior evening's excitement.
When mother called I informed her that the bird had flown the sill -- you were expecting maybe, the coop?
She told me to be sure and check the area underneath the sill and I told her would later in day (more algebra awaited).
When I did check I only saw a feather on the grass beneath the ledge which I took as a good sign, at the time.
Alas, a day later as I walked the length of the driveway the flattened bird lay amidst the drive way parking spaces.

WORD OF CAUTION: Neither this ending nor the story yet to come should be taken as metaphors.

So today (THURSDAY) I began to clean the childrens' rooms, they have been away all summer and I have been pretending those rooms do not exist. It went pretty well until today. I began in the lair of eldest (my boy/man, soon to be off for the trimester in Israel)hoping it would be an easier clean and tidy than in the beauty saloon (that by the way is NOT a typo). He has inherited, unbeknownst -yet- to him a new book shelf and so I was eager to dedust (you cannot even begin to imagine) and load up those shelves with school work and papers for him to sort through and throw out. Right now, I am sending up a silent prayer: please Hashem, that must happen before he leaves for Israel. So I cleaned. I dusted, I hate to dust, and there was a powerful amount of dust there. And then I knew I would have to remove the linens and do a load of laundry and remake the bed (I am so loathe to tell you how much I paid a therapist this morning to tell me that I did not have to do this, I just will not--you can figure it out on your own).
Guess which of my favorite pets had used the bed for the litter box?

Do you think she is mad at me or him?
It is UNKNOWN to me how long this has been there.
It wasn't so fresh, if you get my drift.

You can just guess how eager I am to clean the beauty saloon now.
Did I mention that I have a LOAD of math to do?

Off I go...

Chiconteague, VA

Last Friday I drove down to Silver Spring, Md. to spend Shabbat with my dear friends. I had not seen them in a number of years. They are thoughtful people, I mean they have lots of thoughts and it is a pleasure to talk with them in addition to the fact that they are very kind. One is an academic, and the other is embarking on a new career direction having begun grad school this summer. She is a warm, funny, honest person and with whom I have always enjoyed spending time. She cooked up a storm. There was home made delicious chicken soup, home made challah, 2 kinds of delicious chicken, roasted broccoli and home made cake. I so enjoyed getting to see their children. It is amazing how children grow up so much when you do not see them.
She and I talked until bedtime Friday night and then through Shabbat morning (instead of shul). Then after lunch and my nap, we talked more through the end of Shabbat.
Sunday around noon I left and drove to the Island of Chiconteague in Virginia.
I was accompanied on the 3 + hour ride by a crime novel on cd. I never actually read these. When read to me on cd they make great traveling companions and do not interrupt or require rest stops, ever.
The scenery was beautiful. Who knew there was so much water and lush greenery in Maryland and Virginia?
Not I, that 's for sure...

I arrived in the later afternoon at Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast . There I unloaded my fresh produce into the communal fridge on the screened in veranda and made my way up the Victorian stair case to the Captain Jack Quarters (really a small room with a queen sized bed and feather pillow top and quite adequate for my needs). Unfortunately the room did not come with it's own Captain Jack. Such is the life of the single mom vacationer. My bathroom was in the hall (but all my own, again, no Jack). I unloaded, showered and contemplated my options. I decided it was best to get my lay of the land so I took a drive through Chiconteague making sure to remember where the main thoroughfares were and then over the Island of Assateague (where the ponies live). I followed the inn keepers instructions, my favorite left turn was onto Chicken City Road. That's some name, huh?
I saw no chickens but they did have some ponies in pens and they were lovely there (and tame, enough). So as I drove to the National Park on Assateague I saw the wild ponies grazing in the marsh and it was a sight, beautiful animals. I have to repeat, along side the road there were wild ponies grazing. I drove on to the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the Island. I sat on the beach for quite a while and caught a magnificent pink/orange sunset on the opposite side of the Atlantic's crashing waves. This is a mental picture. Splendid and fantastic are about the only words I can use to describe it. I returned to Chiconteague noting every single solitary tourist trap in which I might want to sell my soul before I left the Island. For dinner, I opted for tuna (cans I had brought with me) and my mixed greens salad for dinner with strawberries for dessert on the veranda, partaking of the B & B water cooler for an aperitif. I went up to my room and connected online to the world with my new lap top. After reading more of my book, South of Broad by Pat Conroy. I slept well on the feather down and awoke to my favorite morning smell, brewed coffee.

For my first day's mission I booked myself on a pontoon boat tour of the Island waterways to see the local water fowl and of course, the ponies (I was not alone, as the captain has a "six pack license and he tour with 6 passengers). Coated with mosquito repellent and sun screen, I spent two hours on the "Spider Explorer" and enjoyed the beautiful weather and saw many long necked snowy egrets, a majestic blue heron, and the iconic ponies. Captain Spider (as he known) gave a knowledgeable tour of geography, history, and industry (clamming, crabbing and oyster rearing, don'tcha know). Captain Spider even had lots of cold bottled water for us. Yearly, on the last Wednesday in July the town population doubles to watch the ponies swim across from Assateague to Chiconteague. Their arrival and subsequent sale benefit to the Chiconteague Fire Company which this year raised less than in the past since it has been difficult financially.
An exciting related tangent: Miss Molly's Inn does not raise their rates for the Pony Swim event booking but they and another local B & B have several celebratory additions at that time. Captain Spider books 2 years in advance to watch the ponies swim (leaving at 5 AM to get a good spot). This is a once in a life time event and I hope I can do it in the future...

After that fun filled adventure I went to the Post Office and mailed off post cards to my children--hoping they arrive before camp ends next week. Then I returned to my first love (the ocean). Equipped with the B & B beach towel, their beach chair /knap sack combo, cool water, the omnipresent Diet Coke and my novel I made a perfect afternoon of it. The sun was hot; the water was cold; the air was ocean breezy; I was in my own personal heaven. Did I say splendid and revelatory, yet? I stayed as long as I possibly could before dark. When I prepared to depart I walked along the Tom's Cove boardwalk through the marsh opposite the ocean beach. There I learned Assateague came from an Indian word and that the indigenous people of the area had a ritual of burying they dead's bones in ossuaries. I also learned a bit about how marsh grass roots go deep and hold in place to feed many organisms dependent upon it for life.
Reluctantly, I returned to the B & B, showered and removed the sand.
Then I made my way through the maze of retail duck decoys, bookstores, t-shirts, pony printed towels, lighthouse snow globe, nicknacks, and chachkas. I bought some useful souvenirs for my children such as a copy of Misty of Chiconteague 1947 Marguerite Henry novel which was written while she was staying at Miss Molly's. I also stocked up on 2 non PVC water bottles, 2 hot mugs emblazoned with Chiconteague and pony silhouette, and a spork for each of us (a rather adorable spoon knife, fork utensil so we do not have to take disposable ones to school anymore). After I enjoyed my dinner of a wrap with lettuce, tomato, avocado, humus, and sprouts and contemplated if I could encourage children (principally those who live with me) as an adequate meal for a school lunch maybe I will need to include hearts of palm, returned to the Captain Jack Quarters, my laptop and novel. I finished that book and am on to another...
On my final day I made it to the beach before the 11 AM B & B check out. I left vowing to return and headed home via a shorter route then I had when coming through Silver Spring, well it would have been shorter except I detoured to a favorite discount store in Delaware, since there was no tax and I am my mother's daughter.

Such is the tale of the 2010 Chiconteague vacation of this IMA -- sans les quatre enfants 24/7

Declaration of Internet Independence

My dear cousin queried me as to what I knew about a certain commentator assuming I would know (being that I am so up on the WORLD--meaning I rarely leave the chair located in front of my computer, no doubt). Now this was not some New York Times op ed person such as our beloved alumna, Anna Quindlen (Barnard '74), or your run of the mill Frank Rich. I had never before heard of this individual (who as it happens espouses hatred of Jews and denies the anti-semetism exists in inflammatory prose) a google search enlightened me to the above and confirmed that she has adequately proved herself to be a certifiable "wack job" (pardon my language). She can be found in good company on website which is home to other formidable "you-know-whats". That is not a term I really use and do not do so here lightly. So I advised my dear cousin who like me, is walking around without a lobotomy scar, that despite the beauty of that well thought out and UNDENIABLY VALUABLE free speech amendment (and here a mere day after the celebration of this usually great country's Independence) we would do well to invest our time in cyber space more wisely.
So I am declaring Independence from opening, reading and all round "hitting" these vocal vipers of the internet. My mother always taught us: "If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything". Or am I paraphrasing?
And me why have I got musing minutes to issue my own personal Declarations of Internet Independence?
It is the 5th of July, otherwise known as the hang over holiday to those who did not get enough warm beer and cold burgers yesterday ( I had none,thank you very much)and although I was gifted with a fax/copier earlier in the day (many thanks to Lovable Expert, spouse of my Biscuit), I am alone (not that I am ever really alone, thanks to the omnipresence of the furry, ferocious, feral feline (other more foul "F" adjectives omitted for polite company as I have already stepped over the line). Currently "Not Lynx" is currently believed to be lounging on the dining room table as I type.

Where are the other constant companions of my life, you ask? Go on, ask.
Ok, I'll tell you now...CAMP! Beautiful, in the woods for 7 weeks, over-night camp, all of my children are there! Glorious, wonderful, not always appropriate, usually dirty and rarely nutritionally wise, summer camp has provided me with respite from constant 24/7 parenting. I have recently honed the cherished ability to sleep when I want to, wake up when I want to, eat when and what I want. It is no wonder that same Lovable Expert remarked how rested I looked. On my behalf, please note that I did clean the kitchen and entry way today. From the minimal communication I receive, really that is an whole other post, I understand my children are doing their very best to enjoy the heck out of their summer. Hot as it was yesterday, Angel Baby was apparently felled a bit by the heat in combination with lack of sleep. It seems she was back to herself by evening. On the flip side of the ordinal spectrum, my Boy/Man was reported seen soaking unsuspecting passersby, campers or counselors on boys campus, using the "Super Soaker", a machine gun of water pistols, to relieve or alarm( that remains unknown to me). Certainly of no concern to that apple of my eye, the fact that said weapon might just be illegal (really?) in the camp (I bought it unknowingly, for him).


I haven't been able to write about what has been going on my life for quite some time. Call it blog-block (it is doubtful that I am the first person to come up with that term).

I have, however, just recently spent quite a bit of time compiling a play list of songs of strength and support for a dear friend of mine. I think perhaps, we can all probably benefit from this list list I thought I might share.
My top 10 songs (ok 15 if you include the Official Country Bonus tracks)in the HIZUK (Hebrew for strength) Department!
I am not providing link because I don't know the legalities here.
I must emphasize I do not endorse any foul language herein nor do I condone or recommend that you watch any inappropriate videos of these songs and PLEASE BE extra vigilant disregard ALL non pertinent lyrics!

I do recommend the the choruses!

Songs of strength and support

1. All American Rejects: Move along!
2. CHER: Strong Enough
3. Elton John: I'm still standing!
4. Animal Liberation Orchestra: BBQ
5. Green Day:Good Riddance:Time of your life.
6. Jim Croce: I've got a name.

Of course:
7. Gloria Gaynor: I will survive.

Somewhat more angry ones:
8. All American Rejects: Gives you hell!
9. Alanis Morissette: You oughta know

Just plain old:
10. Jonathon Edwards: Sunshine

11.Jaron and the Long Road: I pray for you!
12. Jo Dee Messina: My Give a Damn's Busted!
13. Keith Urban: You'll think of me!
14. Lee ann Womack: I hope you Dance!
15. Miley Cyrus:The Climb.

I hope you can feel the strength and support.