It has been a full, rich day.
I took a longer and hillier walk than I have in a while just before dusk; stopped to visit a neighbor family on the way home.

I can almost---almost---feel my beloved's presence as the sun sets and the scent rises from the grasses and the time comes for counting the Omer.  That practice sets a seal on the day, and anticipates the qualities of the day to come.  
We used to count together, sometime between sunset and bed.
When it was mild, like it is tonight, our last stop was the balcony of our bedroom, to look at the stars. There were nights when it felt like they were looking back at us as well.

Sweet dreams.


Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — a minute ago

Poof!  My report of today disappeared just as I was about to sign out for the night.  
Once more(-or-less):

It has been a quiet day of catching up.
I discovered I had completely confused dates for certain appointments on my calendar.
And now the second draft of this entry has disappeared as well.

I miss counting the Omer with my beloved:  observing how the quality of the day that is slipping away has played out; anticipating the flavor of the coming day. The seven weeks between breaking out for freedom and receiving instruction for how to live, individually and as a community---it is a very necessary and very powerful period, each day imbued with its own interpenetration of qualities.
Tonight through tomorrow night:  Tiferet sh-b'Chesed...A day imbued with the grace/beauty of generosity.


Today was the day to catch up in the world of 'Assiyah---the physical world.  Quite literally, the world of the body; the world of doing.
In the morning, the yearly dental cleaning and exam, with a new dentist.  (My dear old dentist had died, and I had gone back to his practice for the twice-yearly cleaning.  The young new dentist who had bought his practice cheerfully told me there was a small cavity in my upper back molar, and she would need to do comprehensive ex-rays, etc.)  I thought I should get a second opinion, and sure enough:  no cavity.
I had all my years of records from my dear deceased dentist sent to my new (as of today) dentist.

Then to the eye doc for the monthly injection into the eyeball.
She is delighted with the progress of the eye that received surgery.

On the way home, I visited a friend who was enjoying the company of her very little grandson.  I got to see his slightly bigger sister and mom.  And to delight in seeing how my friend The Bubbe so deeply enjoyed her grandkids---showing them new things, playing, giving her complete attention without any wish to be elsewhere.

Then, at last, home.
Where I am going to try the highly recommended but for me very difficult practice of closing down the laptop more-or-less early, and going upstairs to bed.
Blessings, blessings...

Late after second Seder

(Since living in Israel, with one Seder alone, and one day of most holidays where we outside Israel have two, I have felt free to do certain things that I do not feel as tasks on the second day---which is not the custom here.  But that is why I am writing on this site tonight.)

First seder was a gathering of dear friends here, lush and nourishing and kind and generous.
Stories, hopes.

People offered to stay and help clean up, and I declined.  The cleaning-up time  is my own debriefing, taking it all in, settling all the important moments in my heart.  Somewhere in the middle, I sat down in my beloved's recliner for a moment---and fell fast asleep.  I wakened hours later, went upstairs to bed, and came down just befored dawn to finish cleaning up.  The feeling reminded me of that period shortly after my dear had died, z'l, and I would fall asleep in his recliner.
It is a liminal time; periods conflate, and do not stay in proper order.

Tonight there were three of us at the Seder table, and we told stories of our present lives---the freedoms we have gained, the help we have received, the unikely events that catapulted us to our present freedoms.  The gifts of freedom, and the costs.
Much of this was couched in apparently casual telling of stories and events in our lives; but they were nevertheless The Real Story....Some deliverances were gifts, some hard-earned, some yet to come.
That is why we tell the story every year; and every year it is the same and different.

There are more days of Passover in which I pray that new insights will come.
We are all seeking a way in which what's best in our soul can be free to live in us and do its work in the world.


Plunk in the middle

I have been cleaning and arranging all day.
There remains much to do, but I have none of what it takes to do it now:  I will be waking early tomorrow, and plunging right in.
How can there still be so much to do?
And yet, there is.
How did our ancestors ever get their essentials together in time to drop everything and move when the command came?  How did they choose what was essential?  How do I?

I just fell asleep at the keyboard.

Sweet dreams, everybody!
I will meet you after shabbos, after the second Seder, on the other side of the Red Sea.

May we each gain the very freedom we are needing.

Plunk in the middle

Plunk in the middle 

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 25 minutes ago

I have been emptying cabinets, discovering ancient dust-bunnies, boiling, scrubbing, sorting, pitching.
Appreciating comfort, convenience, abundance, beauty.

I am suddenly remembering the one summer I spent au pair in the ealry '60's, on the island of Nantucket. I met an older Quaker couple who invited me back to their summer place:  a small wooden cabin near the shore, no electricity, lantern light, water hauled in, ice box for food.  It was so peaceful; they were so happy.
I remembered that couple and their cabin during the peaceful weeks between the loss of my cell phone and its replacement.
And now I am thinking:

Pesach commemorates a time our ancestors ran like hell in the middle of the night with just what was on their backs and what they could carry easily---like, ummm, bread dough?---not knowing where they would end up, how long it might take to arrive, nor what they would do when they got there.Now, here I am, spending days sterilizing everything in the kitchen and the whole house in preparation for honoring the miracle of our ancestors throwing themselves into the unknown with nothing but what they could carry.
What is wrong with this picture?I am experiencing a vertiginous feeling of cognitive dissonance...

To be, G-d willing, continued tomorrow.

Heading right into it

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 23 minutes ago

Everything happens at once.
Today, a neurological exam.
Tomorrow, an eye exam and probably an injection.
In between, the kosher nicely-treated chickens for the seder arrived and are duly relegated to the freezer.  
The kitchen is a mess.  The refrigerator needs serious culling.  Maybe I just lock up the pantry altogether and "sell" it; although that feels like cheating. 
And what about the Magical Mystery Pantry Beneath the Stairs? 
I know I have written before that the real chometz is between our ears---the recurring voices or whispers that distract, distort perspective, or diminish a sense of worth. I find some variant of those voices every year; they are faithful, they like the spot, they return.  Or perhaps they never leave.

Blessings, everybody, for a good and deep night's sleep, and enlightening dreams.

Not sure...

¿Is it always this chaotic the week before Pesach?
OMG.  And also VEY IZ MIR.

I found three very small whole wheat bumps of frozen dough.  Thawed and baked 'em; they'll be eaten either by people or by birds.  Or maybe that small mouse or the cute rat who lived under the deck last Spring are still there?  
Going through the refrigerator thoroughly now feels like tiptoeing through a haunted house.  I never know when something will leap out from a corner and surprise me.  (Not the mouse or the rat; they live outside.)  But I found some vegetables from when I did a canning class---was it two years ago?  three?  It's been in the refrigerator unopened.  What is the risk of ptomaine?

Passover has come to mean, functionally, an obsession with food: with the utensils and pots used to cook it; with the purity of crockery and cutlery; with expelling from the house every last crumb.  Or, at the very least, sequestering the forbidden foods, and fictionally selling them to a non-Jew only to buy it all back after the holiday.  
Do I buy back all my old bad habits too?  all the fermented and stinky stuff?
This year, I am thinking:  ¿what weighs me down?  ¿what impedes my freedom?  ¿what, if my life depended on it, should I leave behind, and what is worth taking?
I need to know, because when the time comes to run in the night, I cannot stop to deliberate or all will be lost.

This is a daunting thought for one who has only recently come to realize that those suitcases and shelves full of journals might contain precious clues to where I have come from and who I have been; and furthermore, might make good reading.

I'll take that to bed with me.