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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

His Royal Majesty

His Royal Majesty Bagheera, sometimes known in the neighborhood as "Uncle Fred" (because he moves like an Uncle Fred) just came to honor us with a visit. Uncle Fred is a cat, half-ours and half Moshe Tov's, our neighbors...depending on where his majesty wishes to dine that day. We have, formally, three cats, though two spend a lot of time at Moshe Tov's (I'm sure that it's the food there) and the third, Miranda, has a bad habit of peeing around the house. Give me a good dog any day of the week...one who looks at you adoringly (have you ever seen a cat look at you adoringly?), rolls on its back to have its tummy scratched (ever seen a cat do that?) and basically knows that YOU are the mistress/master and IT is the creature. I have a problem with an animal who behaves as though you're lucky to be allowed to feed it.

Downloaded some recent pictures into my work computer (the disc that I get from the developer's won't let me save pictures into my computer, only send them via e-mail/Outlook, so I have to send the pictures to myself at work, because that's where I have Outlook, then download each one separately into the computer there, and THEN send them to myself at home, where I can send them on or post them. The camera isn't great so they're not really good pictures, but they do bear likenesses to the people that I photographed (my children) so I'll post some.

Time to put up the succa. Last year we bought a plastic tarp and roll-up schach, and life has been much easier since then -- no wooden boards, window, doors, branches, etc. It's definitely not as nice or warm, but it serves the purpose. I'm trying to simply keep the house from turning into a dump until the kids grow up and I can put some money into fixing things properly -- stop-gap actions in the meantime. Sigh. I pray every night that nothing serious breaks.

Pictures later.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Toot toot toot

This year, there was only one day of shofer-blowing, because the first day was on Shabbat -- no shofer then.

So I didn't push myself to get to shul on Saturday, but sat around and read, talked to the kids, and just relaxed. A bit of rationalization that strengthening my relationship with my offspring is a worthy project for Rosh Hashana, but hey, if you can't rationalize once in awhile, what's life all about?

Anyway, yesterday, Sunday, since I was able to get four out of five of my children out of the house to hear shofer-blowing in the morning, I felt a bit compelled to go myself, and landed at my neighbor's house, where they have a kind of Jewish-Renewal-type service. It's a bit risky for Tzfat, and sometimes a bit too New Age-y for me too, but most of the time, I like the atmosphere. The people are all very laid-back and accepting, and I figure that if I am looking for more traditional prayer, I can sit alone in my house (or go to any one of dozens of shuls in the area). This group, when they have a service, combine meditation, movement, drama, discussions, and various other ingredients to bring more meaning to the service and somehow it touches something in my search for a connection to Someone Above.

Before the shofer-blowing, someone had the idea of standing in a circle and making the sounds of blowing a shofer, as though each of us is trying to "bring out of our bodies" the things that are disturbing us, keeping us back, or interferring with our search for personal advancement. It was, to be honest, a bit weird -- kind of like what I've read about therapy through primal screaming (or whatever it's called). But it was also, after a certain point of feeling a bit foolish, neat, and cathartic, and I spent a few moments thinking about what I want to get out of my life this year and what I want to bring into my life.

One of the decisions that I made was that I want to come to a point where I stop trying to control my children's lives and find ways to GUIDE them. It's a fine line, and I have no doubt that I'll be making lots of mistakes, but I think that at least, I've identified where my own frustration lies in my relationship with them. And, I suspect, their frustration as well.

It doesn't mean that I'm going to be backing off on setting limits and guidelines in our lives. But just trying to grow together with them, and instead of always telling everyone what they should be doing, trying to step back and offer thoughts and guidance without giving them my recipie for how to live their lives.

We'll see where we stand next year.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dull. HA!

If there's one thing that my life isn't, it's dull. When I think about everything that we've gone through during the past month, since returning from the south, I find myself amazed that I'm still standing.

Work, of course, has been pretty interesting. Livnot is coordinating volunteers who are coming to work in Tzfat, rebuilding and renovating bomb shelters to be used as public spaces...no one says it out loud, but everyone is aware that ultimately, the possibility is that they will need to be used again.

So I am the first contact that most new volunteers have, both initially by phone or e-mail, and then when they come. Interesting people, and very nice. We have volunteers almost every week for Shabbat lunch, and that's fun...I feel as though they're my window to the outside world sometimes, giving me the opportunity to see what's "off the mountain".

I did my biopsy too...I guess that I should be pleased that it's over, though I don't have the results yet. But at least whatever the question is here is now on its way to resolution, one way or another, and I'll deal with it.

Then, there's Ariella's dog, Lucy. (see previous eye-rolling posts). I told Ariella that, before she headed down to Tel Aviv for her National Service, she had to do something about Lucy, since I was unwilling to take on the care and feeding of a cat-killing Alsatian/German Shepard/Rotweiller. Not that Lucy isn't a fairly nice dog...she is. But I have enough on my plate. Anyway, Ariella gave Lucy to an Arab worker who promised her faithfully that he'd bring Lucy for visits, etc., and drove away with her, only to tell her subsequently that Lucy had "flown the coop".

Ariella was furious, but instead of shrugging her shoulders and figuring that the dog would have to make her own luck, Ariella spent several afternoons wandering around Nazareth and Nazareth Ilit, posting signs and talking to people. I was sorry to see her putting out so much effort, only to fail, but....she didn't fail! Last week, she got a call that Lucy was at the pound in Nazareth Ilit, and she headed up there to spring the mutt. Wednesday night at 3:00a.m., the two of them arrived at our door, hungry and relieved to be back together.

Then, the story gets even stranger. For the first time ever, I saw an ad on the local Tzfat e-newsletter from a woman whose neighbor had lost a GERMAN SHEPARD and was LOOKING FOR ANOTHER ONE! Can you believe it? Ariella wasn't thrilled about another separation, but I stuck to my original statement...Lucy couldn't stay here....so Thursday afternoon, we took the dog to this lady who was enthralled with Lucy and took to her with all her heart.

Now I have to hope that she's not tied up (Ariella was worried that the woman was going to keep her tied because of her other experience with having a dog stolen out of her yard) because that will cancel the entire deal. But for now....as everyone who hears the story has noted, that dog must have some sort of special gilgul! (reincarnation).

I'm taking bets that Hagai will be doing home-schooling before the year is out. It would be good for him, I think...he's an independent learner, and he finds it hard to sit for so long in the classroom, especially 4 hours of Gemorah every day. WHY do they have to make the religious school system so rigid? They end up alienating so many kids...I suggested to the Rav that he let Hagai learn independently, but from what Hagai says, he's not willing to take him out of the "framework". So I let Hagai know that the option is open, and when he's ready, he can let me know.

Went to Yochi's school yesterday for a parents meeting. I had to leave the house at 7:45p.m., just after Margalit got home from playing at her friends' house, and didn't want to come home later than 9:00p.m. so that I could put her to sleep...otherwise, she'd be awake all night. It gets wearing, doing everything. But I've noticed that the kids have become very protective of me...they see that I'm doing everything, and they try to compensate in many ways. Still, I feel like Cinderella sometimes...don't get out much.

Yochi's teacher mentioned that they had a drill at the school last week where the girls were supposed to go into the shelter. They told the girls several times that there would be a drill, that a siren would be sounded, and they told them exactly when the drill would take place. But still and all, when the sirin sounded, several girls simply went to pieces. The trauma of the war is going to be with us for years to come.