Philly

It is a great gift to visit with an old friend for long enough for the layers of stories, from past to intensely present, to unfold.
Also a gift to rediscover the city of my origin anew:  both of us have changed.  A lot.
And a gift to pay a longer visit to the cousin with whom I have often stayed.  Staying there is not a possibility now:  the guest room hosts a full-time helper.  But we did have a lovely, long  and leisurely visit.
Later, I rediscovered the benefits of not having a smart phone with access to lyft or uber:  I walked all through downtown to get from my friend's house to the restaurant for dinner with my cousins; at least a mile and a half.
And then this evening exchanging deeper layers of stories, history, memories.
This is and is not the city I grew up in.
I am and am not the one who used to live here.

Good night.

After shabbos, in Philadelphia

It has been an unusually rich day---visiting with cousins:  seeing my wonderful cousin with whom I often stayed while in Philly, along with my cousin-the-lawyer and her son, my contemporary; and a cousin who now also lives downtown, and also worked as a psychologist.
The other rare treat is visiting with the friend with whom I am staying; we've known each other since i was twleve years old, and have seen each other through all sorts of things.  (Her:  marriages, divorces and kids; me, travels, living in different countries, and marriage relatively late.)
She lives on a short, winding and very narrow street.  In the short time I have been here, I have seen that this is truly a neighborhood.  It is richly varied, and people actually know and talk to one another.

It is taking me time to get used to City; and I am finding it interesting.
Navigating is not as easy as it once was:  the patterns of the city have changed, and I so have I.  
Still---I am liking the great variety.

We have stayed up talking until quite late, and I've used up all my words.
Good night; good week.

Lost


I opened email this morning to find that my entry from last night had disappeared entirely---I don't understand how that happened; it is a first time.

The delight of spending time with an old friend is the predominant flavor of yesterday.
That, and visiting with my very dear cousin the lawyer who is quite rightly determined that I should have my affairs in order.

I find, to my surprise, that I am less adventurous about wandering through the city into unknown parts.  As we now know, my Garmin is senile and cannot be depended upon.  This development unfortunately coincides with my eyes seriously needing ever-higher strengths of reading glasses.
I am reminded of Dr. Seuss's book for elders, with lines like
"I cannot see
I cannot pee..."
(Fortunately, I can; but not always when expected.)

I can still wander around quirky neighborhoods and appreciate the unique detail of unlikely gardens amidst the concrete, or creative adaptations of the cellar doors slanting up from the sidewalk, formerly meant for accepting deposits of coal.  When I talk to strangers here, they talk back.  As many folks walking their dogs among the  concrete as there are in the Open Space back home.

Strange:  after waking unusually early, I am now ready for fifteen minutes more of dozing.
Wishing us all a good day; and wondering what happened to last night's entry.

Philadelphia


...is many different geographies in one city.  Even the citi-est parts of the city may have parks, trees, woods, creeks, green, green, green.
Besides the pleasure of a friend's company, I got to explore more of Philly than I had intended.
I picked up the rental car, plugged in my Garmin, programmed it to direct me from a suburb of Philly to my friend's house in the south part of downtown...and followed its directions as it led me into further and further reaches of the suburbs.  I finally realized my Garmin had gone senile or psychotic; and where do you find paper maps any more?  
I struck out on my own as Garmin continued to give bad advice.
It took a long time, crawling through "bad" neighborhoods, (which to me looked lively and engaging,) entering at last into the downtown-bound maze of freeways during rush hour, while Garmin exhorted me to exit at the Philadelphia Zoo.  
A combination of luck and reflexes brought me across downtown to my friend's neighborhood, where I finally parked.  She met me and escorted me first to a legal parking spot, then back to her place, nestled into a row of narrow three-story houses on a very narrow short and crooked street.  
I am now perched in the guest bedroom on the third floor, happy to be here and very very tired.
I am still wondering why Garmin was mad at me, and for what neglect or abuse at my hand it was exacting revenge.
I hope by tomorrow it may have mended its ways; if I want to visit friends and family, I will have to venture forth.
Good night.

I'm back

-->at last.
I have been entirely off line from before the Shabbat until now, after the end of the holiday of Shavuot.  I have heard no news nor seen TV or newspapers.
On the one hand, it has been a great relief to not have to deal with much of the stuff that stuffs up my mail box and my mind, and steals my time.  
On the other, I am happy to resume the nightly report of the day.

Briefly:  
it has been a rich and fulfilling retreat.
I have enjoyed experiencing other people's leading of holiday services, the music, the classes.
It is beautiful here---the lush green of the East Coast's tree-covered hills, a lake with two goose families, a barn full of goats. Playing children.
I gave one of my favorite classes---teaching about the lower seven sephirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life through movement, to a selection of world music---in a large yurt by the lake.  I led several other classes using series of imaginal exercises, and did two afternoons of individual sessions.
I wakened again to the work I once used to do.
I had almost forgotten how much I love it, and how truly interested I am in the people who come.


I spent the last two hours catching up with the email of the past days.
Tomorrow, I drive back to Philly with a friend, rent a car, and visit family.
I feel both rested and nourished, and well-used.

Good night.

It's always like this

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 14 minutes ago

The day before travel is a mess.
No matter how I plan, prepare, organize:  a mess.
I am finally about to go upstairs and choose what clothing I will take for the Shavuot retreat and the days after, visiting family and friends in Philly; then pack it all.

I am looking forward to seeing the old friends, meeting the new, seeing the old mama turtle and the new baby goats.  I am looking forward to teaching, and to learning anew.  
It is the same Torah every year; and every year we receive somthing different.  

I  am curious...

Good night.

Oy

I looked all over the mess on the desk.
I looked on the floor.
I looked on the other part of the desk.
Then on the desk in the other office.
Then on the wooden island in the kitchen, then the dresser in the bedroom, then the master bath.
The credit card---THE one, that I put all the automatic monthly payments on, like utilities---was not to be found.
I was not above appealing to St. Anthony.

Finally, I went to McGuckin's for a replacement shower head/shpritzer for the guest bathroom.  And while I was at it, I might as well ask; I got something there yesterday.
Miracle of miracles, they had it!  Upstairs in the safe.  They asked me to confirm the number before handing it over. My signature on the back had faded, so they couldn't call me; just hoped I'd show up.
I hugged the employee who dug it out.  
I can't begin to describe how relieved...

My beloved would have looked at all the anxiety, all the worry, all the searching, and said "She-y'hi'yeh l'kapporeh"---may that be an atonement for any other karma that was coming due.
******
I had the joy of speaking with an old friend, from my days in Israel studying together with our teacher Mme. Colette.  We'd not spoken in ages, and catching up was satisfying.  We are both old enough now to engage in what my beloved used to call the "organ recital"...

Then later, a long phone call with my half-sister Brandie.  Ruth bat Avraham v'Sarah, the third wife of my late father, the woman who raised his children, is begining to seriously withdraw from this life, and may soon be gone. 
I remember the saying I learned from Zalman, z'l:  that for the soul to leave the body is as easy as drawing a hair from milk.
May it be so; she deserves an easy exit, and a royal welcome.

Good night.

FULL day


---everything from errands to brunch meeting to McGuckin's Hardware to telephone messages to hours spent with our favorite techie installing a printer that works...but works very differenty than the previous one that died.  It has a more intimate and interactive relationship with my laptop, and is more reluctant to do certain things.
And of course our dear techie, who knows how tech-phobic I am, patiently laid out why I will eventually really need to get a smart phone.  And/or an iPad.  (Now, an iPad I would consider in order to be able to travel carrying less weight and to be able to do and send cartoons...)

*******
Late in the afternoon I stopped at the graveyard on the way home, and sat quietly listening to the birds.  Praying.  Writing.  Crying.

The kind woman who works in the office came by, sat with me a bit, then mentioned that a bear had been reported wandering among the graves a little while ago.  
I remembered the remedy taught me by a young Athabascan woman in a small Alaskan village:  a woman is supposed to lift her shirt and say "Brother bear, I am your sister; I would not hurt you"; and supposedly the bear then goes peacefully away.  She surmised that bears can't stand so much naked skin wihout a normal amount of fur.
I am rather relieved that I did not have to try it out; the only ones we hear from are the ones for whom it worked.

Good night.