Strange Internet Stuff

We will see if this goes off; I can't seem to send email.

A full day: I have cooked, cleaned, played with Mishka, set out the fixings for tea for the Monday Morning Group, and been down to Denver for a rehearsal. ("Jews do Jews"---lots of composers of popular songs that I didn't know were Jewish!) It is such great fun to build layers of music together---listening, responding, supporting, inventing. It can be as good as good sex, if my memory serves me; also lots less dangerous and much more logistically manageable with larger numbers of people.

I think I will quit now before putting the other foot in my mouth.

Sweet dreams.

Nearly bedtime

Today, shabbos felt long and satisfying.

I had filled the crock pot, doing Sephardi eggs overnight, then replacing the pareve liner with the fleishig one to heat the cholent for lunch. Good use of a crock pot on a shabbos of wind and snow.

This afternoon there was a gathering at the Friends' Meetinghouse honoring a member of the wider community who had also been a faithful member of our Monday Morning Group---sometimes the only one to show up, on mornings now and then when I wondered if people came only out of a sense of duty. Even on those mornings, he sat and we spoke, and did prayer for healing for others, just as we did when the full complement of group members were present. He was one of those rare folk who related to people's personalities while simultaneously recognizing and relating to core essence.

We will miss him deeply.

Mishka is curled up next to the laptop, dozing and purring.

I will now go upstairs and do the same.

Blessings, blessings---



No, my 70th birthday is NOT a week from yesterday, but TWO weeks from yesterday.

Is inability to read a calendar a sign of aging?

There are signs abounding.

My auto registration is up for renewal---and requires an emission test.

The marauding squirrels have taken down the bird feeder again.

Mishka the Cat is ignoring me today.

I'd swear I saw the Malakh ha-Mavet waving on the way elsewhere---not planning a visit any time soon; just cultivating a friendly familiarity.

I am looking forward to resuming my regular 7 a.m. minyan tomorrow, followed perhaps by a visit to the goats, who now live across the street from the shul.

Then suddenly it's already time to prepare for shabbos.

It's a schedule that both wakes me up, and allows me to snuggle down into it.

Heading up to bed---very early for me. Maybe Mishka will visit.



my 70th birthday, a week from today.

I am remembering the wild celebration of Zalman's (z'l) 70th, at the Jewish Renewal retreat center in the old location in Accord NY...

Family and folks came from all over. It was a warm August. The family had commissioned me to make a cartoon, which they printed onto T-shirts, of Zalman as a Leo/lion, kippah and tallis katan and all.

We heard stories from folks who had come from all over to celebrate and honor him.

I saw one couple from Arizona whom I had met in Tucson, at a concert of Shlomo Carlbach. z'l. When the concert was over, Shlomo yelled from the back of the room, "You're all invited to a party at---!"

I saw the look on their faces: sheer shock, and possibly horror.

When we were telling our tribute stories about Zalman, I retold how I had met this couple, and how she had heard I had been invited to Alaska, and had gone quietly through the family's dresser drawers collecting warm clothes to lend me.

"Ah," she said; "but I remember when everyone was praising Shlomo, and you turned to me and said, 'Oh, but you should only hear Zalman!' " (I had no memory of this.)

If only I could hear him now.

A week before

-->my grandmother's birthday would be: Rivka bas Rochel.

I'm remembering the customs of our quirky family.

We might have taken her out to dinner. Or to a movie.

We certainly would have brought presents.

That's when we lived in Phildalphia, or right across the bridge in New Jersey. (She lived near the brigde.)

Then there were all those years I did not live in Philadelphia, when I used to hope I remembered to send a card that would get there in time. Or I would make a long-distance call, when that was costly, and a big deal on a student budget, and the call would be managed by a live operator, that ghostly nasal voice coming from the phone.

(I am suddenly remembering Lily Tomlin as The Operator: "Hello? Is the the party to whom I am speaking?")

My grandmother used to love plants. Not the inside kind; the outside kind. That meant that we could give those to her in late Spring for Mother's Day, when we could plant them. But not for her birthday.

She neither listened to music nor read books.

So a birthday gift usually involved some article of clothing or jewelry; or perhaps dinner out followed by a movie.

The choices she made in her life did not make her happy. I think we all knew that, and did our best, knowing it would never really be enough.

Soon it is her jahrzeit as well.

I will give some serious thought to what donation would have pleased her, if she were here today, and do it in her memory.

Good night.

Already the 20th

We are entering Aquarius.

My grandmother's birthday, z'l, was late in January, and my own is early in February. And I remember this period before the birthday always as a kind of deconstruction...Any unfinished business, any lousy habits that I have not managed to dismantle, transform or accept, come processing before me in a parade, saying: "Remember me? Here I am; I'm still here..."

(Hearing Elaine Stritch singing Sondheim: "Good times and bum times, I've seen them all; and my dear: I'm still here.")

Soon I will go out to see what the moon is doing tonight.

Surely the raccoons will be out there too, and perhaps the skunk.

We will stand there separately-together, on the deck or on the grass or in the bushes, looking up at the night sky

and thanking G-d

in our different ways

that we are lucky enough to be alive

to witness the fine quirks of Mother Nature

in this our only habitable world.



truly grateful

I am..."

(John Bucchino; check out his song "Grateful" on youtube)


I did not realize: that very funny and sweet "talent show" at the conference last night, with only a small portion of us present, was IT. That was the last official event of the conference.

I somehow expected that we would meet for a final shacharit (dawn) service.

In my mind I am already crafting a short and meaningful final ceremony for next year, if they will let me do it.

My oldest stepson (my contemporary) came back here after the Board meeting. Some of his father's books will go to him, and some to other of his siblings. I can feel my own reluctance to let them go---not because I would use them often; but because this body of books evokes the presence of the beloved of my heart, whom I still so deeply miss. Letting them leave the house is saying goodbye all over again.

Of course I will do it.

But I will need to start preparing my heart first, before ever touching a book or packing a box.

I have just returned from bringing him to the airport bus.

Mishka the cat is curled at my right arm by the computer, dozing and purring.

I will now go upstairs and do the same.

I wish us all a good shabbos.


Oh my, such a rich collection of people, music, davvenen, events.

This will nourish me for months to come.

And I needed it: I came to this year's conference at a deficit of energy and mental sharpness.

This is understandable: I had barely recovered from the eye surgery. In fact, without Shelley's remarkable post-op care I do not know if I would have regained enough strength and balance to attend this conference at all.

The last of the conference tomorrow---I can't really get enough sleep, and will have to catch up later in the week. I will miss some of those remarkable folks that I only get to see once a year.

Falling asleep between words: a sure sign I should go to bed.

Good night.