Close to Shabbos

I am settling back into the post-Pesach kitchen.  A chicken soup is almost ready for the friend who will join me for Shabbos lunch.  I will pick up challah tomorrow.

This beautiful day invited a double-walk around Viele Lake.  I have not seen any nests this Spring, so I don't know if we will see goslings.  It's about time...

And thinking of Time: we return to the yearly practice of counting the Omer, these days between Passover celebrating our liberation, and Shavuot, receiving the Instructions on how to live.
I miss Zalman, z'l. 
When we were together, our practice was to count together each evening.  When we were apart, we so missed counting together that we would call each other on the phone to count---to anticipate the quality of the day to come.

I'm also thinking of another flowing of time:  I have an appointment with our lawyer tomorrow to update the will/trust.  I am clearly much closer to the exit than to the entrance, and I want to leave affairs in order.  Which brings me to the obvious next thought:  affairs all over the house lean more towards disorder than order.  I wonder if I can actually do anything about that...(I am, as those who know me can attest, not naturally talented nor tilted towards order.)
It is the perfect permutation of qualities for such an appointment:  the day of Malchut sh'b-Gevurah---
Strength in its place of ruling.

I wish us all a good shabbos.

Yom haShoah 

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 17 minutes ago

I returned this evening in light rain from the fine program of speakers for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Several survivors who are members of our community spoke of help from others, of miracles, of tenacity.

I want to share the story I heard from my father's family:

They lived in Hamburg.
My grandfather Erich was about to undergo an operation when the Stormtroopers came to the hospital for him.
The doctors told the soldiers that he was already in the operating room under anaesthesia, and they would have to return the following day.  They left.
The docs rushed into the O.R., where my grandfather was not yet sedated, and told him to get his family out of town that very night; that no surgery was as important as escape.

My grandparents made it safely to the U.S. with my father Harry and his brother Ralph, where my great-aunt Ellen, already in the States for some years, had been camping on people's doorsteps until she found a family willing to "sponsor" them.
So the archetypal story of my family has been that there are some people not of our tribe who are willing to think quickly to save lives, even at serious risk to themselves.
The story has been an antidote to any tendency to imagine that "they are all against us";  it was an introduction, with gratitude, to members not of our tribe who were courageous, smart and good.

May we see more and more inteligent and courageous actions on the part of such people from all our tribes, on behalf of us all, and of the planet which supports our life.


The weather has not decided whether it is yet Spring or is still Winter:  the morning was still snow.  Now melted.

It has been a busy, confusing day:  a visit with a friend here for Pesach from Britain, going home today.  An appointment with a nutritionist.  The arrival of a box of new supplements aimed at helping general health and brain.  Contemplating the upcoming wedding of a grandchild in Israel this summer, 

It has been a full, rich day, and yet I am sitting here near tears:  I would wish my beloved here to see the wonderful photo of this grandson, in his Chassidishe hat, next to his bride-to-be:  both so very young, so hopeful.  I am horrified to think of myself that age, committing to a marriage.  (I waited till I was SURE to finally marry; I was 46.)  But who knows...?  My heart goes out to them, and my blessings.
On the other side of the coin is the upcoming day of remembrance of the Holocaust---right now, just as we are experiencing the re-emergence of "causeless hatred" and the murder of innocents, with no words of condemnation nor comfort from our tweeter-in-chief.  Rather:  tacit acceptance.

Falling asleep.  Good night.

Oh, pfffft

I am having both heartache and computer trouble.  I am not sure this will go out tonight.  My email is all screwed up.

My heart is so troubled by the  shooting at the synagogue in Poway.
As some of you know, my mother and adoptive father lived in San Diego, so near Poway.
Could this have been in their shul?  Surely.  
In any one of ours.  
And why now?


Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 21 minutes ago

Pesach is really over.
It has been like living in a somewhat altered state of consciousness for more than a week, counting the preparations.  What freedoms stand out as attainable, desirable or threatened, this year?
Collectively or personally?

Meanwhile, I have saved the last of the matzo of the second seder:  my beloved taught that the matzo of the first seder feeds faith; that of the second seder feeds healing.  So a small hand-thrown bowl on the living room table holds what remains of the matzo from the second seder; I have kept the custom of giving small bits of that second-seder-matzo as needed. There is often a little bit still left in the bowl as we return to Pesach the following year.
Twice I have chanted the beginning verses of Shir haShirim this Pesach.  I remembered Zalman, z'l, writing a holy verse on the drywall of each room before we painted:  a verse from Song of Songs on the wall above where we knew we would place our bed.
I drove home after that last gathering, after the last chanting; after havdalah separated us from shabbbat until next week and from Pesach until next year.  Now, inevitably, I feel the stark reality of the other separations.  I notice that I assume I will somehow see my beloved again when it is my turn to die.
But what if he is off on another assignment, in another world?  What if he is already a baby with a mission somewhere else?  

Is there a heavenly bulletin board where we can leave messages for those after whom our hearts yearn? 

I wish us well during this week, as we count the Omer, of Gevurah.

The eve of the Seventh Day of Pesach

Oh my---
A totally full day.
Shopping, baking, wrangling with the computer and printer, wrestling with the new nasty megabank that took over the old good personal small one.

Then baking my friend Alicia's mother Nika's (z'l) flourless hazelnut torte for potluck tonight...
Arrived too early: gave me a chance for a long walk in a beautiful neighborhood.
Wonderful food and great company; discussing, arguing, singing...
Whole and perfect.
Coming in towards the end of Pesach.

Every year it feels like I am just settling into Pesach when POOF!  It's over.
Only it's not over quickly, exactly...It reminds me of a song from the early '70's:
"The ending always comes to pass
Endings always come too fast
They come too fast, 
And they pass too slow..."

Good night.
Good shabbos.
May the last bits of Pesach be rich and rewarding.


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...