Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Getting The Shabbat Groove Back

I love the long, warm days of summer - it means I can work eight hours, come home, relax, catch up on my reading or viewing, and then leisurely take a shower before candle lighting.  Last Friday was no different.

Until we all sat down for dinner and the bowl on the top of all the other dishes drying on the drain board fell and flipped the switch starting the garbage disposal.  That's right, while we sat and tried to eat our herring and hummus, there was a horrible grinding sound coming from the kitchen sink.

California, once again, is in the middle of a terrible drought, so running water is pretty much out of the question.  So is burning out the motor of the garbage disposal.  So is any of us turning it off by hand.

So I got up from the table and went outside to find someone, anyone who is not a Jew to come into our home and turn off the garbage disposal.  I was rehearsing in my mind just what I'd say when a big, beat up SUV park across the street from my house.  I waited until the occupants got out, and then I approached them. Right in the middle of the street.  I wasn't playing any games.  This was serious.

Turns out, the young woman is my neighbor who I've never met in the two years I've lived on my street.  Not only that, but she plays the piano wonderfully and has serenaded us every Shabbat day.  When I explained to her what I needed ("the garbage disposal is on and as an observant Jew, I can't turn it off), this sweet, wonderful young lady jumped at the chance to turn it off.

This amazing, delightful young woman saved our Shabbat.  Strange, and a bit sad, I haven't seen her since that Friday night.  But it's a wonderful feeling living next door to a Shabbat Angel.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Best Kitty Ever

Today started out as a typical Shabbat - almost.  My husband and I forget to set the hot water urn before sundown Friday so Shabbat morning started out without the possibility of hot tea.  But we could survive that.  What is harder to survive is the death of our Kitty.

Less than one year ago we adopted a cat from the No Kill LA event held yearly.  Kitty was named Sultan when we took him home but that wasn't going to last.  We decided on the name"Kitty". Not very imaginative, but it worked.

He was a "outside" cat, meaning he liked to live life to the fullest.  All my prior cats were the indoor variety - so when Kitty made up his mind to live both outside and inside, well, it took some adjustment.  But it made him happier so we all went along with it.

All the neighbors knew him.  Kitty liked to follow people around, and he was friendly.  Whenever me or the kids went for a walk, Kitty went with us.  Once my dear friend Debbie and I walked to a Shabbat party a few streets away and Kitty came with us.  We stayed for an hour and when we left, walking home, Kitty jumped out of a bush where he was waiting for us and walked us home.

People would see Kitty and I on the street and stop to ask if he was my cat.  They would then tell about their adventures with him.  It's no exaggeration to say that he was loved by everyone.

So imagine my shock when I learned today, that while walking my children to shul, Kitty was chased into the street by a neighbor's dog and got hit by a car.  He died in front of my children, who brought his body home and then went to shul to join me.  They waited to tell me until it was time to go home.
We've had Kitty for less than a year, but he has had a tremendous impact on our lives.  We loved him, and we showed it.  Although he roamed the neighborhood, he came home to us.  Everyday.  Several times a day.

Rest in peace Kitty.  We will love you always.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Walking in LA

Well, I'm overweight (nee, obese) and I've can't take it anymore.  I do belong to a gym, just like my 300 millions fellow Americans.  But like 298 million of them, I can't find the time to get there.

So this morning I woke up to a beautiful day (that's right - 75 degree F) and decided to walk to the Farmer's Market, which is about 1.5 miles from my house.  I ate my blueberry waffle (that's a story for another post) and went for it.  Of course, I wasn't alone.  My husband promised to pick me up if it got tuckered out.

Twenty five minutes after I began I was there.  The place was jammed, so I had to suck in and dive between people to get my sprouts, which is all I came for.  I thought it would take forever, but 10 minutes later I was done (yes, I did want to buy those earrings, but what the heck - $14 for studs?  Not today!).  So I walked home.  The whole event took an hour.  And I feel great!!!!

Every Sunday I plan to go for a walk.  Every day I plan to make time for a walk.  Especially after eating.  Gotta lose weight, gotta get healthy.  Gotta take my own advice.  I'm not a Registered Dietitian for nothing!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Good Morning LA!

Sunrise in the City of Angels is 6:55 am and here I am driving on the Hollywood Freeway (101) just as the sun begins to show itself.  Despite the bumper to bumper traffic and the insanity of the attempt, I shot three photos with my I-phone.  You know G-d with with you when you can take your eyes off the road in such heavy traffic and survive in one piece.  Thank you, Holy One, for sharing such a wonderful morning.  You know, I love G-d and I love LA!!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Feeling the Love

My parents died one year and 4 days apart, so it isn't hard for me to know when their yahrzeits, or death anniversaries,  are.  It usually falls out on the same week.  It's interesting, as well, that my brother, sister and I all thought Mother would pass away first.  She was sick with terminal cancer, and Dad, while aging, still exercised regularly.  Strange that he would get pneumonia, have a sudden heart attack and pass away two weeks later.  Mother, on the other hand, stayed the course of the cancer and died just before entering hospice.  Now, so many years later, it's mother's yahrzeit that is first and Dad's that comes after.  Just weird how things work out.

On my Father's yahrzeit I met some dear friends for breakfast and then had to race across town to pick up my daughter.  I knew if I went to pick up my daughter, I would never get to the graves of my parents, which is between the two sites. Time would never permit, as our family spends the afternoon with my mother-in-law.  I made a quick decision and detoured to the cemetery.

As I entered the gates and headed towards their graves, I realized I didn't have the paper with their site numbers and couldn't remember it other than in general terms.  I spoke then to my parents, out loud, as I headed towards them.  I said, "Mom, Dad, I've got to pick up Devorah as soon as possible.  I don't have time to look for you.  Help me."

Vaguely aware of where they were, I stopped the car, got out and started walking among the headstones.  And there they were.  Not two minutes from the car.

I didn't stay long enough to start crying, but enough to tell them I love them, miss them, reveal the litany of problems I need help with.

But I felt them so clearly with me.  I have never found their grave sites so quickly, even with the exact coordinates.  They were there, guiding me along. After all these years, still feeling the love.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Nine Days

As I sit here fasting for Tisha B’Av, I’m looking back on one heck of week.  During the saddest 9 days of the Jewish calendar, commemorating the destruction of not one, but both Temples in Jerusalem, Iran gets a free pass to bomb the world, my daughter’s host in Boston has asked me to bring her home early, I had dental surgery, and found out my driver’s license is expired.  Oh dear.

What can we say about Iran?  The greatest hope is that these people extinguish themselves like the banned VW terrorist bomb ad.  We wake up one morning, and the leadership is gone.  Oh goody. Let’s go clothes shopping.

My daughter’s best friend moved to Boston last year and they’ve been skyping and texting and who knows what all year long.  Finally, here comes summer and the chance for the two to be together again.  I was hoping it would last a month, but instead it took about 2.5 weeks for them to start arguing.  For some reason, no one thought to plan any trips or activities.  The girls, both 13, were home together all that time.  Needless to say, the friendship suffered.  So when I got the call requesting I bring my daughter home early, I scrambled to make flight arrangements – but we don’t fly during the nine days.  Add to that aggravation the fact that my daughter is stuck in a place where she’s not wanted until after today’s fast.  I’ve been a wreck about it since Tuesday.

Ok, my teeth are bad.  Surgery-bad.  Had the right side done in April, right after Pesach, and now the left side.  My dentist only works on Tuesdays so I had to pick the first Tuesday where the healing process wouldn’t interfere with teaching at the university. That, unfortunately, was during the nine days.  My mouth hurts, but not enough to stop me from eating cake, which constitutes a soft food.  The struggle continues.

Just before the nine days I bought a new car.  My three year lease with the Ford Fiesta, a wonderful car but not the right one for me, ended and now I’m the proud owner of a Honda FIT.  However, I wanted a better detail job on both the interior and exterior, a driver’s manual (pushing buttons is scary when you don’t know what it will do) and the GPS tracking system which is listed with coming with the car but didn’t.  My appointment was Thursday, the 7th of the nine days.

A note about that dental surgery: the dentist used a “roofie”( Flunitrazepam) to put me out.  I woke up Wednesday morning at 2:50 am not knowing where I was or how I got my bra off.  Wednesday night, I couldn’t sleep a wink, and woke up Thursday morning in a daze, knowing I had a 7 am at the Honda dealership.  I got there at 7:15 am.  In one piece, thank G-d.

But the car would need to be there all day and a loaner was lined up.  All I needed to do was show proof of insurance and a driver’s license.  The driver’s license expired 4 days ago – surprise, when I turned 57 years old.  No renewal reminder, no renewal.  Complacency is a bitch – I just assumed Big Brother was watching me.  He is, but not sending out the notice to renew. 

I ran out of that dealership so fast and got to the closest DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) with one eye in the rear view mirror looking for the Highway Patrol.  In less than an hour (a miracle in Hollywood) I was good to go.  No GPS, no driver’s manual, no detailed car.  But safe from prison, which is kinda makes up for the loss.

G-d protect, grant us good health, long life, a new leadership in Iran, and remind me to floss more often.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Message From Above

I've been blessed to hold a Lecturer position in Nutritional Science at my Alma Mater this past year and I've met some wonderful people, including students.  But a year-long lecturer position requires a review for competency, and I am clueless, to say the least, as to how to go about preparing for it.

Since the Department's Management Services Officer (MSO) has transferred to another unit, I have no one to help me but the person responsible for all campus-wide faculty reviews, who kindly agreed to plug me into his busy schedule.  I was all set - his secretary gave me a date next week and I planned to prepare this weekend.

That is, until a dear friend, also up for review, sent me a text this morning asking if I knew how to put our review binders together.  No problem, I replied, join me when I visit the Administrative Dean to review my binder next week.  Next week, she asked - it's due next week.  Isn't that cutting it close?

Which was really a good question, and one that inspired me to call the Dean's office and inquire if the appointment date could be moved up.  But what did I find out?  That my appointment is for THIS Thursday, not next Thursday.  In other words, TOMORROW!

I wrote my friend, who's even dearer to me now than ever, and advised her to meet me tomorrow.  I also thanked her and told her the truth - she saved me from missing one the more important appointments of my teaching career.

But why did she contact me today?  Why not tomorrow, or even Friday?  Because the Holy One wanted us to make this appointment.  My dear, dear friend was His messenger.  Message received, loud and clear.