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Posts Tagged ‘Hannukah’

The demolition of our kitchen has begun.

We’ve ordered the appliances, and they should be delivered in January sometime. I’ve heard that cabinets are one of those things stuck in a supply chain somewhere, so we have a choice – bespoke (custom build), or DIY in-a-box (Ikea)? Only the nearest Ikea is in Atlanta. And I’ve been playing with Benjamin Moore paint colors on their website, it’s easy and incredibly intuitive! https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/personal-color-viewer/kitchen

My sister Kay told me to try “Kitten Whiskers” on walls because of the way the light reflects back on your room. I may have to paint a sample swath and watch it over time. She said it’s a very pale lavender, yet all I can see is beige. When did cottage kitchen design become my ballyhoo?

Ever since I read that all politics are local, I’ve experienced a sense of dread. GOP legislators have spent the last decade redrawing districts to their advantage, so that they can win more seats. Even if a state is divided equally between the two parties, like say Ohio, out of 99 seats in the House, Republicans hold 64! Ah, the power of gerrymandering.

I first heard about “sunshine laws” when I was elected to a NJ school board.

“Sunshine laws are regulations requiring transparency and disclosure in government or business. Sunshine laws make meetings, records, votes, deliberations, and other official actions available for public observation, participation, and/or inspection.”

There were 48 Million K-12 students in our country and we spent over 752 Billion in 2019. We deserve to know how that money is spent. The journalist in me knew about the Freedom of Information Act passed in the 70s, but I didn’t know how discretely it could shape both small and large institutions.

Unless of course you happen to be the former twice-impeached-president who rarely told the truth and made up his own rules as he went along. Will we ever see his taxes? Sunshine laws are an effort to replace the stereotypical dark-smoky-back room, with a light-infused, open and honest discourse.

We all thought electing Biden would fix everything. I wanted so much to relax, and feel like our government is back on an even keel. We were moving forward with vaccinations and treatments for Covid. The Grands got their second shot. Things were looking up! I am grateful we passed a semi-bi-partisan infrastructure bill, but our democracy could fall apart if we continue to ignore the many voter suppression bills being passed at local levels:

Our democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate and have their voices heard. Suppression efforts range from the seemingly unobstructive, like strict voter ID laws and cuts to early voting, to mass purges of voter rolls and systemic disenfranchisement. These measures disproportionately impact people of color, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities. And long before election cycles even begin, legislators redraw district lines that determine the weight of your vote.

https://www.aclu.org/news/civil-liberties/block-the-vote-voter-suppression-in-2020/

If you do nothing else this week, please call your senators and tell them they must reform the filibuster (which was never in the constitution btw) in order to pass John Lewis’ Voting Rights Advancement Act. The “For the People Act” that passed through the House, must NOW be signed into law.

I know I know. You’re busy planning for Christmas. You’re so over wearing face masks, and want to stop living in fear of a new variant micro organism in the air, something you can’t see. But please, look at the elephant in our collective room. if you are lighting a Hanukkah menorah this week, how hard can it be to make a phone call? If you are buying Christmas presents online today, give our country a gift and write an email to your senators. https://contactsenators.com/senator-phone-numbers

What kind of party wants to make it harder to vote? So much depends on this. We cannot let the minority party pull us back into the dark ages. Shine a light on overt gerrymandering and voter suppression. Start this holiday season off by demanding equal voting rights for all Americans. Choose light, and your children and grandchildren will thank you.

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Why is today “Black” Friday anyway? Red makes more sense – red means stop and think before you proceed, it could also denote a particular political party. But I won’t go there. In fact, I went absolutely nowhere today because I was so full from Thanksgiving dinner I could barely move. Bob tried out a different method for cooking the turkey and it was delicious drenched in herby butter. And the Bride outdid herself on vegetable sides.

My daughter has also lured me back to Facebook by tagging me in a neighborhood group she belongs to called, “Buy Nothing Project; Give Ask Gratitude.” I get the idea. We need to curb our rabid consumer addiction and reuse and repurpose what we have. But since we are doing a LOT of renovation work on our new/old Southern Cottage before we move in, I decided to post its old kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer on the site.

Starting this ‘season of giving’ off with a bang warmed my heart. Why ask Habitat to come pick up our old appliances when there may be someone right down the street who had a washer break last week?

Now, about our new house – it’s cute as the dickens.

ALL ONE LEVEL, south facing, with lots of windows and a cathedral ceiling family room addition in the back. Our eyes were open when we bought it, knowing how much work we would need to put in, including foundation work since nothing is plumb. There’s a larder in the kitchen and the backyard is huge. Most of these “Usonian” cottages are being bought up by Nashville developers who promptly tear them down and build three-level monstrosities. We are lucky to save this one.

My favorite architect is Frank Lloyd Wright, and this house was built during his prolific time period before and after WWII (1936-1959) when he wanted to design at a price point for everyman ($5,000). Even though Wright did not design our house, it feels Usonian in its nature.

“The word “Usonian” (United States of North America) is attributed to writer James Duff Law, who wrote in 1903, “We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title ‘Americans’ when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves.” … “Design elements for these single-story homes include: flat roofs with generous overhangs and cantilevered carports (Wright coined the term carport, and favored these over garages for efficiency), built-in furniture and shelving, tall windows that softened the boundary between interior and exterior, radiant heat embedded in a concrete slab gridded floor, skylights, a sense of flow from one room to the next, and a central hearth. Floor plans dispensed with basements, attics, and, in smaller models, formal dining rooms to maximize efficiency.” 

https://metropolismag.com/projects/seven-hidden-gems-from-frank-lloyd-wrights-usonian-period/

We do have a dining room, but it was opened to a formal living room in a previous renovation. We still have the original red oak floors, but the fireplaces have been covered up. Our kitchen is smack in the middle of the house, and though some would like to tear down the larder (pantry cabinets), thereby opening the kitchen to the dining room, and bringing in more natural light, I don’t agree.

Don’t get me wrong, I like an “open concept,” but I tend to be more old school. Actually, I love our tiny kitchen and plan on keeping it as a separate space.

I’ve skipped a day to Small Business Saturday. Now here’s a holiday shopping concept I CAN get behind! Bob and I will stroll the neighborhood on this sunny afternoon and maybe visit a food truck for lunch.

Today the Grands are getting their second Covid vaccine!!! But dang, now we’ve learned about another variant courtesy of South Africa, “Omicron.” There are already several cases of the new variant in Europe, and Dr Fauci has said it is already probably here in the US, which is disheartening. I asked Bob

“When would this go away?”

We talked about vectors (a virus usually doesn’t want to kill its host) and Polio. We’re going to have to immunize the whole world in order to make Covid manageable, like we did with Polio. That’s 7 Billion people. Even with that, we may just have to get a jab in the arm every year – maybe Moderna could figure out how to combine it with our yearly flu vaccine?

Meanwhile, if you’re celebrating Chanukah, spoiler alert, it starts tomorrow night!! HELP, latkes with a side of leftover turkey? And dressing, cause this year I made the cornbread dressing Southern style, outside of the bird. I wish you all love and light, and maybe more mindful gelt spending this year?

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CAUTION:

The following essay may not be suitable for younger or happier readers!

Christmas songs are now being censored, an Ohio radio station has pulled “Baby it’s cold outside” from its skew. This made me feel really old, since I know all the lyrics to this gem, and I thought to myself, “What is this world coming to???” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46413209

While I was riding back from yet another Target run, I pushed a button on the radio in my car to a station I rarely listen to – MSNBC. I can’t even watch Rachel at night, not if I want to sleep. But I’d rather listen to music while driving, even Christmas music is preferable. Yesterday however I guess I needed a jolt of news. Good news.

The sound was strangely eerie, at first I thought the station must be having technical difficulties. But within a millisecond I was afraid these sounds were muffled gunshots, and I was listening to an active shooter in a mall someplace with a “Go Pro” camera on his head!

Turns out, it was only the sounds of President George HW Bush being laid to rest. The sounds of a talk show on silent.

I agree, he was maybe the last of the great white Republican presidents, a true statesman and WWII vet; and he knew how to get us out of a war and not just into one. Plus, I always loved his wife Babs and her homage to big, cultured pearls. But I was not about to spend hours of my time listening or watching his casket travel to DC.

I dragged in my Target haul, including a pair of Chewy slippers for the L’il Pumpkin, and started making dinner.

Hannukah always sneaks up on me, still coming right on the heels of Thanksgiving is pretty early. Last night’s dinner was a hodge-podge of leftovers that included meatloaf, olives, zucchini and pasta but at some point over the next week I’ll be making latkes! Actually this is a truly Southern holiday because anything fried is appropriate for Hannukah, including donuts!

On our first night of Hannukah we celebrated with friends over bowls of delicious chili and toppings. Our gracious friend’s art-filled home was humming with music and the lilting melody of small children. And although the Great Grands have apparently caught our colds and missed the festivities, we managed to Facetime with Ada for the candle lighting. Her voice had gone down a few octaves, like mine.

Like my spirits. After spending most of the weekend trying to design a holiday card on Shutterfly – that website needs a complete makeover btw – I started thinking that Mr T can indeed shoot a person in cold daylight and get away with it. My first reaction upon hearing of the death of a president was that this will be good for our current president. The media spotlight will pivot to funeral caravans and away from the mounting evidence of T’s Russian connections, of his blatant lies to the American people. That he has been compromised, bought and paid for by Putin.

I know this is the happiest of seasons, so forgive me for being blue today. My head cold is hanging on, and the temps have dropped from near 70 to near 30. I hope you’ve got your cards done, tree up and cookies baked! I hope you will still listen to Frank Loesser’s song about seduction in 1944. “I really can’t stay,” today I’ve got to buy some potatoes for the latkes!

It’s rumored that Mr T will not be allowed to speak at Mr Bush’s funeral…how much are you willing to bet that the gears of justice may just catch up to the presidential puppet-in-chief after the holidays? Would you bet all of your gelt?

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Who is (or was) St Andrew? According to Wikipedia, “He is the patron saint of Cyprus, Scotland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople,San Andres Island (Colombia)Saint Andrew (Barbados) and Tenerife.” He was a disciple of Jesus Christ, a fisherman who preached Christianity in Greece, where he was crucified. Of course I think of golf when I hear his name and not my old Catechism.

Today, St Andrew’s Day, November 30, is a bank holiday in Scotland; with Brexit looming larger and Ukraine closing its border to Russian men, not women mind you, we may all want to light a candle to this saint!

Our family will start lighting Hannukah candles on Sunday night. Since we follow a lunar calendar, you never know when this holiday will pop up. The Amazon smile boxes have been piling up all week, and lucky for us there were no “porch pirates” in sight. I’ve always had mixed feelings about online shopping, wanting to patronize local businesses during this critical sales period. But when it comes to toys, Amazon always wins.

The Love Bug just asked the Bride if she believes in Santa Claus. I told her I hope she said “YES!” Because this was the one thing I could never give up for my children, the magical mystery of elves and reindeer. Santa always left a little present for Jewish children, a shining red and green package amidst the blue and white decorations. And since the Bug is about to lose her first tooth, I hope my daughter keeps the Tooth Fairy alive as well.

In fact, I believe the going rate for a tooth is astronomical!

Whether you believe in saints or santas, I believe the L’il Pumpkin will be delighted with his first Hannukah present. You see, he and the Rocker watched two Star Wars movies back to back over Thanksgiving, and as you probably already know, our Star Wars history runs deep. From creating stop-action films in our NJ garage with his toy action figures, to composing music for the new films, our son never ceases to delight and amaze me – just like his red headed nephew! And his new furry friend.

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What’s a girl to do? It seems the UN has spoken and Wonder Woman will not be the  “…honorary ambassador to promote messages about women’s empowerment and gender-based violence.” The campaign to sack the first female super hero in herstory was successful; a sexualized, Barbie-doll image combined with a sado-masochiostic costume were the deciding factors. Her detractors insisted the image she projected was “not culturally encompassing or sensitive!” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38300727

Well I don’t know about you, but I sure wish Hillary had that lasso of truth to wrangle some sense out of Mr T, particularly while he was stalking her during their debates. And let’s not forget Mr Comey and the FBI’s eleventh hour letter about her emails. What in the world was he thinking? Given the latest CIA intel about Russia’s interference by hacking our election and swinging more votes toward Mr T, I’m really really wishing Wonder Woman could swoop down and have a word with our Electoral College. Wishful thinking.

Still, if you’re out and about wishing and hoping to find the latest toy trend, shopping for Christmas, Hannukah and what-not, and you happen upon that Amazonian Princess from Themyscira, chances are she was made in China. Last night I stayed up until midnight watching a fascinating documentary on PBS, “Having Xmas Without China” http://www.pbs.org/program/xmas-without-china/

Imagine you have two small kids and this young Chinese American guy asks you to empty your house of everything that was made in China – the coffee maker, the Xbox, the computer, the toys – and for the whole month of December, until Christmas Day, you can’t buy anything that was made in China! I was hooked from the very beginning, and you will be too. It asks us to re-examine the true meaning of the holiday and Tom Xia, the film maker, shares his coming-of-age journey between two worlds in an intimate and tender way. http://www.pbs.org/program/xmas-without-china/

I tried doing this once. I was looking for a hostess gift for my brother Mike and his wife Jorja as we’d been invited to stay at Walter Place during their daughter’s wedding week. It had to be something beautiful, and classic to fit into their Antebellum home and I noticed a gorgeous silver picture frame. Perfect for a wedding picture! It was a Kate Spade, something that says this designer’s name on the box also presumes it is coming from NY. In fact it says, “Kate Spade of New York” on the box. But when I looked deeper into the packaging as I was wrapping it, it was designed in NY and made in China! I had been hoodwinked!!

What a great old word “hoodwink” – some synonyms are “dupe, cheat, swindle, gyp.” Kind of like this last election don’t you think? The one that saw Hillary win almost 3 Million popular votes!

I told Bob this year I want a Christmas Tree. We’ve never had one since we were raising Jewish children, even though I kept Santa Claus in the loop. But this year in particular, we all need a little Christmas, and Hannukah starts on Christmas Eve. The tree is simply an old pagan ritual, it shouldn’t be blue or white and try to resemble a Jewish idea of a tree. It doesn’t even have to be a real evergreen tree, dropping pine needles everywhere. It can be small and only needs to sparkle, and lift our spirits just a bit. We are currently in negotiation.

Is Super Girl the new Wonder Woman? Where have you gone Lynda Carter? Well I happen to know she lives in Nashville, the Bride may have run into her once or twice, at a coffee shop, and she is still fighting for social justice. This is what she told Joan Rivers on the Tonight Show in 1987:

I think that you’re probably familiar with a problem in Hollywood, and that is that they market you, and they use you. They did a mask of my face and put it on the doll, and they put my name on for the first run of it. And then they took my name off and said they didn’t have to pay me anymore. So it’s the kind of thing that you can be used so much in this industry. I make nothing. I don’t even make anything from the reruns. Don’t ever settle for net profits. It’s called creative accounting.

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Instead of a curse, let’s end our Yiddish journey today with a little blessing. Let’s honor the opening of Star Wars this week with an homage to another favorite sci-fi franchise of mine – the logical, side-kick, Star Trek character, Spock. Did you know his famous greeting, the Vulcan salute with the ring and middle finger separated, actually came from an ancient Orthodox Jewish blessing?  “Live long and prosper.”

This is the shape of the letter shin,” Nimoy said in the 2013 interview, making the famous “V” gesture. The Hebrew letter shin, he noted, is the first letter in several Hebrew words, including Shaddai (a name for God), Shalom (the word for hello, goodbye and peace) and Shekhinah, which he defined as “the feminine aspect of God who supposedly was created to live among humans.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/02/27/the-jewish-roots-of-leonard-nimoy-and-live-long-and-prosper/

Leonard Nimoy worked tirelessly to keep the Yiddish language alive. He said it was the only way he could communicate with his grandparents. He recorded many stories in Yiddish for the Oral History Project of The Yiddish Book Center. This is a valuable resource for anyone who would like to learn more about the language. And pssst, Ada, they even have a podcast! http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org

A leben ahf dein kop

A long life upon your head

This is usually said while praising someone like; “Well said! Well done!” Plus, who doesn’t want to live to be one hundred and beyond? Today, thanks to modern medicine, many of us will! But better it should be a long, healthy journey, which is often determined by the luck of our gene pool.

And imagine my surprise to find out the famous Hannukah game of chance, the dreidel, was actually derived from an Irish game! “…the dreidel was brought from Ireland to Germany during the late Roman period. Men would gamble with a top known as a “teetotum” in bars and inns. Originally the letters on the teetotum corresponded to the first letters of the Latin words for “nothing,” “half,” “everything” and “put in.” Read more: http://forward.com/culture/326379/the-true-history-of-the-dreidel/#ixzz3uIViitvK

I’m so happy the Bride sings the Yiddish lullaby that Great Aunt Mary taught me about raisins and almonds. Now when I start to sing “Rozhinkes min Mandln” to the Love Bug, her eyes start to flutter.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLrvZiU7slc

Happy Hannukah from our house to yours!  IMG_3538

 

 

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Good Morning Yiddish fans! And Happy second day of Hannukah. As a lapsed Catholic, I tried to compete with Christmas for my kids. I’d have Santa leave a present, I’d wrap up something big for the first and last night, and continue to wrap smaller presents for all the nights inbetween. We played the dreidel game with M&Ms. I fried latkes, potato pancakes, because there is always a special food item associated with each Jewish holiday. I really really tried…

Needless to say it was a mistake. There is no competing with Christmas as I learned after attending Rockefeller Center’s Holiday Extravaganza with the Bride when she was about 7 years old. Walking up Madison Avenue, tears streaming down her face, because Hannukah wasn’t even mentioned. They had a camel on stage, but no menorah. “It was ALL about Christmas!” she wailed. And I was stumped since I love the Rockettes and expected her to love it too. Which leads me to today’s expression:

Vos ahfen lung iz ahfen tsung

Which means, “What’s on his mind is on his tongue.” We all know someone like this. They are childlike in that every thought gains expression; on the Monopoly board of their mind, words tumble out, they do not pass Go at all, and sometimes this lands them in Jail.

As we age, this kind of short circuitry may happen more often. We forget social cues, our super ego steps aside and we say whatever pops into our head. Doctors call this a disinhibition, as if the filter in our brain is too full, so all our thoughts tumble out without mercy. Ada’s husband Great Grandpa Hudson is notorious for this. At 90 years of age, of course it’s allowed and amusing at times.

Like that Jim Carrey movie “Liar Liar” about a lawyer who can’t stop telling the truth, thinking aloud can be an affliction. Maybe this is part of Trump’s appeal. He is saying what his followers would like to say, only they know it would sound horribly fascist, except wait, Trump is saying stupid things so maybe their bigoted belief system has merit? This morning even Dick Cheney denounced Trump’s rhetoric. Will wonders ever cease?

I no longer try to compete or fight with Christmas. Here we are at the hospital “Holiday Party.” Note the beautiful red and green holiday wreath behind us!

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Es Vetzach Oispressen

Every morning for the next eight days of Hannukah I’m going to bring you one of the many instructive, sometimes funny and always calming Yiddish sayings my MIL Ada has peppered her language with over the years. A short vignette each day to share with your morning coffee. Enjoy!

Es Vetzach Oispressen Is one I’ve been hearing alot lately. It means “It will all iron out.” ie I tell her my worries, she does her best to listen and give me some advice, and then she’ll tell me it will all be ironed out like I used to iron my brother’s shirts. A little steam and voila!

Today I have an appointment with a retina specialist. It seems one retina is “wrinkled,” which explains the loss of vision in that eye. My “epi retinal membrane” may need surgery. But I’d prefer to think it will iron itself out without the help of a scalpel, or a laser, if you know what I mean.

The good news – no cataracts – for “someone my age” the first eye doctor told me. Yippee! This was me, wearing pink, going to a Planned Parenthood rally this past weekend. Wondering why I still have to march on the street across from people carrying lurid baby killer signs for my fundamental human rights. Will this press out too?   IMG_3586

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