Wonders

As a rabbi, my husband often would teach children basic theology. He would talk to them about the things that we see that are beautiful and wonderful and talk about the feeling we get when we experience them. He would talk about the trees and flowers and mountains and waterfalls and how they are really special creations. He would talk about the stars and the planets and the wonder of their creation. He would talk about the miracle of the birth of a baby. Through the years, I think I appreciate all of these creations more and more. As we travel through the world and see magnificent sights and experience the wonders of the world- both natural and manmade, I am awed at the beauty of the world.

But in the last several days, I felt a wonder that I never knew before. Our group that traveled to China was made up of 19 people. Think of a descriptive term for a person (e.g., age, gender, religious affiliation, country of birth) and there was an enormous diversity in every description, yet these people became the most caring, kind, loving family group that one can imagine. Older and younger, they became each others’ family members. From caring for each other (holding me up when I almost fainted at the Great Wall) to bargaining together (a bargain basement price for massages) to buying dozens of items for the “best price,” to making sure that we had a proper birthday celebration for one of the group, to singing together as we rode in rickshaws through the hutong — they were the most amazing example of what goodness exists in the world- of how people can come together and care for each other and have a really good time together.

So to the group, I say “kol haKavod” (way to go!) and to the rest of you: here’s an example you should follow.

While my husband was away

What I tried to do:
Have the computer shelf we had bought at IKEA in March mounted on the dining room wall.
What happened:
SUCCESS!
What I tried to do:
Have a handyman fix bumps and crevices and chips and gouges in the walls and around outside corners of the room.
What happened:
A family matter has kept him at home for the last 9 days.
What I tried to do:
Have the upholsterer finally reupholster our very dingy looking recliner.
What happened:
Friendly Mr. N will call me sometime when he gets to Modi’in.
What I tried to do:
Have the garden planted and fertilized before the beginning of shmittah
What happened:
The gardener showed up one day too late to do any planting, chopped down by mistake a lemon tree, and caused the grapevine to lie in its death throes on the ground. Oh yes, he forgot to fertilize around the trees.
What I tried to do:
Just live a happy calm life
What happened:
While I was sitting in the living room one afternoon, the entire house lost electricity when the ground fault breaker got thrown. After carefully turning off all of the other breakers, It appeared that for some unknown reason the overhead light in my bedroom or the bathroom light, both of which were off, threw the entire house into a tizzy. After calls to two electricians, one arrived at 6:30 a.m. the next day and when flipping the suspect switch, found nothing amiss. Only later did he divine that the lights in the garden where the culprits (they were also off when the house shorted out!) So now we need to figure out how to remedy that… not easy because the cables are buried under both concrete and earth.
What I tried to do:
Keep things simple
What happened: I ended up going to the airport twice (to drop off and then pick up my daughter and granddaughter), to a Modi’in baseball game with the new olim (that was stopped halfway through the last inning because of darkness), and driving out to the local shopping center to pick up the said new olim that is about 15 minutes away and getting caught in the typical nightly traffic jam back for about 45 minutes.
What I tried to do:
Clean our glass roof, wash the car, do the laundry, touch up the walls.
What happened:
SUCCESS!

So, it wasn’t a disaster, but it certainly wasn’t the restful time I expected it to be.

Trivia

Question: How many of my children have I spoken with today?
Answer: Two daughters, two sons-in-law, one son.
Question: Where did they call from?
Answer: Trieste, Modi’in, Modi’in, Modi’n, Stockholm

Non-sequitur to follow (my husband likes to be warned and so maybe you prefer that too)

So in an attempt to fix up some of the less attractive aspects of my house while my husband is away in Beijing, I have been scouting out those pieces of molding that go around corners to mask the dents and gashes in a few corners in the house. So I walked into a hardware store down the block from me. There were two men behind the counter and they both appeared to be busy dealing with the one customer they had at the time. I continued into the store and looked around to see if I could find what I needed. When I realized I couldn’t find it, I went back to the counter where the two men were still busy with the first and only customer. I waited patiently. After a while, in walked a man. One of the people behind the counter asked him what he wanted. He said that he wanted some keys made and he handed the keys to one of the men behind the desk who began making them. I stood there- dumbfounded. What? Am I invisible?

So I turned to the man who had just walked in and I asked him if he could see me. He said “yes,” but he looked perplexed. Then I asked him if he was sure he could see me. All this time I was moving in front of him and to the side to see if the people behind the desk noticed that I was there. They didn’t. He said, yes, he was sure he could see me. I told him I wasn’t sure I was visible because the people behind the counter couldn’t see me. I knew that because they didn’t acknowledge me. He said, “They will.” I said, “Oh, no, they won’t” and left.

I don’t know why, but that felt good. I am, by no means a feminist, but I am a person who thinks that all people regardless of gender or color or perceived social value deserve some respect.

At least I left with a smile on my face.

Where are they now?

My family lives in Israel. But where are they now?
One daughter-in-law and 6 children are in Los Angeles visiting her parents and sisters and families.
Her husband is working with a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) on a cruise ship currently moored in St. Petersburg, Russia.
One daughter is in Croatia with her daughter on a mother/daughter trip, but may be in Venice for the day tomorrow.
And my husband is in Beijing.

When I was growing up would I ever have imagined this? I mean, we lived in Philadelphia and “going away” meant going to Atlantic City, an hour and a half away. When I was in 6th grade, my mother took me and my sister to New York for a couple of days (it was 2 hours away.) People didn’t used to travel like this for business or for pleasure unless they were very wealthy.

And now, I say to the gabbai (member in charge of logistics) at my shul, who emailed me to ask if my husband could read the Torah on shabbat: “He may be reading, but it will be in Beijing.”

Advice

OK, people. Listen up. I didn’t think I was going to have to get all drill sergeant on you, but it appears that I do.

What I am talking about has happened both here in Israel and in the US. I suspect this happens in other places as well. If what I am saying is not relevant to you, go on to the next post; I wrote two today.

People are forgetting their children. Now I don’t mean like you’re at the mall and you think you have all of them and then you look around and one has wandered off to see if he/she can find money under the candy machine which is ten feet away. I am talking about people who get out of their cars, lock them, go to shop or work or a repair shop, or the beach and they leave their children in the car. They leave them not for a minute and say. “Oh no, how could I have forgotten the baby!” They leave them for hours. They don’t notice the child is missing. They forgot the child was with them earlier in the day and thought he/she was home or with another caregiver. The children bake and die. This week, a father left the beach at the Dead Sea and didn’t realize his child wasn’t with him. This child, thankfully, was found floating alive and healthy hours later, but I find it hard to believe that the father didn’t say before he left the beach, “Where’s my son?”

Parents: check your car before you leave it. Look in the back. DON’T leave your little one there even for a minute. These little people are fragile and precious. Take them with you. Hold them and cuddle them and love them.

All of you who take care of children– when you are out, make sure they are with you. If they are swimming, keep look ing to see that they are safe. If you have a number of children, your job is keeping all of them safe. If more than one person is caring for your children, make sure you are clear about who has responsibility for which child. Keeping your children safe is more important than having fun, more important than feeling free, more important than talking with friends. Children need to be protected.

“I forgot” is no excuse.

Off to Beijing

No, not me. My husband is on an Uzbek Air flight that will stop in Tashkent and by tomorrow morning, his time, he will be in Beijing, leading his people through the wonders of China.

And you know, after 41 years…

I’ve grown accustomed to his face (the part of it that’s not covered by beard)
He almost makes the day begin (he brings me coffee every morning)
I’ve grown accustomed to the tune, he whistles night and noon (around this time of the year it’s often the nusach for the yamim noraim*)
—–
I do miss him.

So I came home and started organizing the house- washing the laundry, culling closets for clothing we no longer need, putting things in places where I can find them, and getting rid of things we no longer need. While ironing, I even made a discovery: for the close to 200 sheqels (a little under $50) I pay for cable each month, I get no television channel that is worth watching at 2:30 in the afternoon.
—–
So instead, I am thinking of what this trip will be like for him and feeling really happy that he is with a great group of people and he will be doing what he loves the most: teaching people something they want to learn.

Dear Spammers

1. I am not depressed

2. I am not so fat that I have to pump my body with unhealthy chemicals so that I can look like whoever the current hot chick that everyone worships is. I am a grandmother, for heaven’s sake. Get over it! Beauty contests are so over for me.

3. If I want to feel good, I go for a walk, read a good book, call up a friend or a family member, see a movie, write a letter, listen to music I love. I am lucky enough to be blessed with an optimistic mood and natural chemicals that keep me that way. I do not need your chemicals to do it for me.

4. That part of my anatomy you want to increase the size of– I don’t know how to break it to you, but I DON’T HAVE IT! I am a female and if you haven’t learned basic anatomy, why do you think you need to be teaching ME something!

5. On a recent trip to China I bought 16 replica luxury brand watches for about $2 a piece, most of which I have given as gifts. The one I’m wearing is working so I don’t need yours for $179.95.

6. Get a life! I don’t care what you do with yours, but stay out of mine.

Whew!! I feel better. May not even need that walk….

oh and if you want to go to China…