Blessed day

Blessed day 

Mishka is curled on the desk by my arm washing her paws.
I am uncharacteristically ready to go to bed very early.

I have been gifted with a beautiful day, a visit with a warm and interesting person in a beautiful spot---a few swoops of an osprey---a lake. A spot where my beloved and I had stayed once for a month while relocating, re-done into beauty, simplicity and ease of function.

The thoughts arising are more and more the ones that urge me toward the work of the season: what have I received in this life? what have I given? have I given into this world that which was uniquely mine to give? I suspect that to make real sense of the flow of my life, I could actually read some of the many journals I have written over the years. It is a daunting thought: there are shelves of them, and some suitcases. Writing is what I do to make sense of what is happening at the time; I rarely go back to read what I have written. But I suppose that to make sense of a whole life, it might be a worthwhile task.

To be continued, and continued, and continued...

Unusually early

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 41 minutes ago

It has been a day of grace.
(Mishka is curled up on the desk by my right arm, looking over her shoulder at something I cannot see outside the back door.)

I used the tomatoes from the Farmers' Market to make fresh shakshouka for brunch.
I never made it to the Jaipur Literary Festival, but did get to the street celebration on Mapleton Hill. Heard musicians, met people and dogs, visited a good friend, came home and cut up the (only slightly wormy) apples from our tree and baked them with lots of cinnamon. The house smells of early Autumn.

I have written the letters to my beloved and to my mother---my love, my regret, my appreciation, my wishes for forgiveness, my wishes for a letter back...
I have not taken them outside to burn yet, but will instead tuck them beneath my pillow tonight and see what (if) I dream.

I do not stop missing them.

Good night.


Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 1 hour ago

Yesterday, I went to the demonstration for the environment.
I was one of the first to arrive at the designated intersection. I was lent a sign. Gradually, a robust crowd gathered---the expected students; gratified to find lots of white-haired contemporaries. Many passing cars honked ironic. One of the rabbis arrived from quite a distance on his bicycle.

Today, after a restorative shabbos, I went to shul for a film preceding Selichot services---the restoration of Jewish gravestones in Poland that had been pulled out and desecrated by the Nazis. This film, thank G-d, showed all the Poles who had helped re-create a field of memorial, honoring those whose stones these were, hearing from many who had hidden Jews in their barns, attics.
I found that I wanted to come home and journal my Selichot alone.
Year after year, the regrets I carry have never found comfort or surcease from this service in shul---not since my beloved, z'l, stopped leading Selichot.
And of course my most profound regrets arise year after year, and do not seem to diminish in intensity of grief; they are the things that cannot be repaired in this lifetime. I may well have long been forgiven by the loved ones, gone now, that I believe I had hurt, or for whom I feel I had not done enough.
I still have not forgiven myself.
A voice in my head: ¿What would you tell a client who said this?

I would say:

  • write the feelings and regrets in a detailed letter to each one

  • take each letter outside in a metal or pyrex bowl, and burn it; watch the smoke rise (this is one way to send letters to the dead) [have water nearby just in case]

  • keep some ashes, labled, in a prayer space or altar

  • (can try some in a sealed envelope beneath the pillow to invite dreams)

  • spread the rest at the base of plants as fertilizer

  • give some tzedakah in memory of each of these loved ones

  • do this before Rosh Hashanah

I will take some time this week to follow my own advice.
I hear my mother's voice: "You can always write later; we're not going anywhere. Go to the Jaipur Literary Festival at the library tomorrow."
Good night.

Almost shabbos already 

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 9 minutes ago

I spent some of the afternoon doing right by the ripe produce in the fridge, those irresistables that come home with me from the Farmer's Market: now there is fresh tomato sauce, steamed brussels sprouts, sautéed fresh mushrooms. I will make guacamole for tomorrow evening, for the challah. I think I will peel, slice, slather with cinnamon and bake the apples from the honeycrisp tree in back.
(Must expel the earwigs, which are definitely not kosher.)

I am trying to decide which is more to the point in preparation for the High Holy Days: cleaning up the chaos on my desk, or journalling. I suspect that the former might lead to the latter.
MIshka may smell that something different is going on; she is hiding.

I am sorry that the Jaipur Literary Festival is happening just this weekend, when I fel impelled to do so many other things as we come closer to the High Holy Days. I smell how easily I can busy myself with ThingsToBeDone, when the real work of the season is internal. (What is my life? What have I given? What have I chickened out of? What needs repair? From whom must I ask forgiveness? Whom must I forgive?)
I see that there is so much less time before me than behind me.
My desk is still a mess.
And there are demonstrations all over the country tomorrow to bring attention to the pressing needs to save the environment before it becomes unbalanced beyond repair. (A neat desk can wait.)
Greta Thunberg, a young girl, put us all to shame: sailed here from Scandinavia rather then fly; then asks what we are doing to save our world for another generation to live on this planet.
Let us all bless her.
Let us each do our part.

Good shabbos; blessings.

"I once was lost, but now am found..."

This morning I took the bus to the University, and within a very few minutes found the lot, found my car, and found the kind warning note from the campus parking police on the windshield. LIGHT really helps...
Went for cafe au lait in celebration and relief.

This evening the large Unity Church was filled with Boulder folk to hear Salman Rushdie.
I am so glad I went.
What a complete delight---an unpretentious man of articulate imagination, breadth and depth of culture, originality, playfulness, humor, appreciation of other writers.

Finding the car, hearing Salman Rushdie in person, and a purring cat draped over my laptop...¿how lucky am I?

Good night.

Feels like---

Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 27 minutes ago

Sunday night. But it's not: it's Monday.

Mishka is lying on her side by the laptop, somewhere between dozing and serious contemplation.
I have returned from a klezmer concert at the university thanks to the kindness of semi-strangers. I had parked my car in one of the lots and wandered-lost until I finally found the concert. Then I could not find the lot at all on my way out. I tried all the mnemonics I thought were dependable: nope.
A very kind couple, contemporaries, first began to look with me; then convinced me that a lift home might be more to the point.
So here I am ending the day with Mishka purring on the desk and my car sleeping in a university parking lot.
I pray it stays safe, unopened and in the same spot.
I will take the bus in the morning to the university.
Searching its multiple lots will probably fulfill my morning walk.
Good night.

Next time I will consider taking the bus both ways.

Have you ever noticed...

...that the things you worked on for the High Holy Days last year are the same ones you're working on for this year? I don't generate new sins; I'm still working on the same old ones.
My desk is as much of a mess as it was this time last year.
I remember our old friend Jean Houston exhorting us: "Don't bore G-d!"
But tell me: ¿how could I be still spending half my life producing/receiving more irritating paper than I can ever handle? And it drags my mind down so that it cannot easliy work on the juicy stuff.

So I took myself out of the house to see the movie "Where'd you go, Bernadette?"
I recommend.
It brings me right back to the question: how do I ignore the nonsense and return to creativity?

Mishka just gave an audible sigh, as if she understood the issue.

I wish us all a juicy week.

Already Thursday night

Mishka is curled on the desk beside the laptop, purring. She knows I am about to close up for the night and go upstairs. The past few mornings I have discovered her at a polite distance on the bed when I waken, evidently having slept there.

Today I made the trip to the nursery at the edge of town, and got some plants for the pots on the back deck to cheer the sukkah (already planning) and the coming Autumn.
Tomorrow will be hectic, as most Fridays are. Even alone, I still mostly screech skidding into shabbos.

Blessings and yawns.

September 11

I spent the day dealing with details, then warming up to participate (singing) in an event at the JCC.
I had completely spaced out today's date.

Afterwards, a friend who also performed at this event mentioned that she was going to see the film "Come from Away", and I joined her and her group.
And that is when the date---the anniversary of the subsequent upheavals and changes in all our lives--finally hit me. I highly recommend the film for its presentation of the best of human behavior in response to the unexpected emergencies created by the worst.
See it if you can.

Falling asleep, and want to waken in time for 7 a.m. minyan---Good night.