At the end of the weekend

Today was the ninety-somethingth Rigberg Family Club Chanukah Party.

It was held in the social hall of a synagogue across the bridge in New Jersey. The food was kosher. The customs having to do with Chanukah gelt for the kids were maintained. Some people who were there last year were missing this year. New babies came to fill their places from the other end. It was very good to see some of my cousins whom I've not seen for years.

It was also good to visit with my cousin Barbara for a while after we got back to Philadelphia, and to have a light dinner with my friend and host. The last treat was a visit from one of my closest friends since high school; we've known each other since I was 12 years old. I've seen her through marriages and grown kids, changes of profession and location, several dear dogs, and the deteriorating state of her parents. She's seen me through years in California, Israel, Philadelphia and Colorado; through a late marriage, then widowhood.

I am falling asleep at the keyboard, and will close up before I accidentally erase everything.

More news tomorrow.

Blessings, this last night of Chanukah.

Oh my...

I find being in the city very strange---as if I had not grown up here, returned here, lived here, felt at home here---once upon a time.

I went where I intended by bus today; public transportation is free for elders with ID to show.

Many more panhandlers in the streets downtown.

But also many more conversations with strangers: in the street, on the bus, in grocery lines.

A racial mix that feels much more normal to me.

A greater variety of dress, of speech, of cultural differences, of race, of age.

Seeing so many older citizens on public transportation, I realized for the first time how rare that is in Boulder: elders are supposed to take Via, an arrangement for elder-bussing. Good idea...but it makes for an unintended segregation of the elder population, as if it were in bad taste to be old in public.

My cousin gifted me with a ticket to a performance of Handel's "Messiah"---quite a thing to be hearing on Chanukah. Tonight's rendition of the familiar music was simply stunning. The conductor practically danced his conducting; he was brilliant. The musicians, soloists and choir were all stunning.

It was a great treat, and a marvellous piece of art. I imagine a gratified Handel watching from another bardo.

And I remember, in contrast, a concert of The Messiah in San Francisco in the mid-'70's, where much of the audience chimed in to sing along here and there, in all sorts of different accents.

Oh dear..I just fell asleep between sentences.

I will take the hint and say good night, close up the laptop and go to bed.

I wish us a a good shabbos and the next two nghts of Chanukah candles. Back motz'ei shabbat.

What a Wednesday

I can barely remember back to this morning.

I got to meet with the kind and skilled man who has been our financial planner.

I got to walk through downtown, with all its great shops, and discover how non-acquisitive I feel these days.

I did manage to contact some of my friends; we might meet downtown.

I joined my cousin---the one more or less of my mother's generation---and her son and grandson to see the movie "The Green Book"---- I highly recommend.

And now I find I am falling asleep over the keyboard; imagine that.

Good night.



Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 24 minutes ago

I am SO ready to tumble into bed...

In a kindly loaned car, I travelled from downtown Philly up to the far northeast of the city, well past where I once lived in my grandmother's old duplex, and even past the cousin who is now ill.

I finally made it to the new residence of the woman I have called Aunt Rosie forever---my mother's best friend. Their birthdays are a week apart. She now lives in the ground-floor small apartment of her daughter. Actually, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren (!) live there too.

And a small beautiful grey CAT who likes her as well.

Then came the adventure of the day: driving back downtown at the end of most people's workdays after dark in a borrowed car with a weirdly behaving eye (mine, not the car's) and a new cell phone running out of juice and no car charger.

I did make it downtown, and took refuge with my cousin while calling my friend to meet me---and it is always an extra treat to be with my cousin, and her son.

My friend and I managed to catch up on a lot of things over dinner in a Chinese restaurant. Grateful.

We have known each other since I was twelve, and seen each other through the many different incarnations we have packed into one lifetime each.

I realize I may have to begin to re-think the extent to which I can drive in a less-known city in the dark, if my eye continues to see large halos around lights at night...the beginning of the slippery slope!

Some of Zalman's colleagues, in growing older, write of their growing lists of "diminishments".

Now it is my turn to discover how I deal with them when they are not theoretical or someone else's.

Of course my first impulse is "Fix it!"

That may work with some things, but not with others; and never forever.

I will keep you posted.

Good night.


Happy first night of Chanuka, everyone!

A friend very kindly picked me up at the airport, and we went straight to the old neighborhood and helped set up for the Chanukah celebration. It was a delight to see everyone.

Now, I am settling in and almost ready to sleep---another very kind friend has offered me hospitality.

Somehow my cell phone did not make it on this trip with me, and is not at home. I will have to find one of those temporary ones. I am grateful that I wrote some important numbers on a 3x5 card.

I am astonished to discover how almost-panicked I feel at having possibly lost this old flip phone, with numbers of friends, photographs, familiar simplicity. (Oy---will I be forced, at last, to consider a smart phone? Or will the old trusty workhorse have been found and turned in at the lost-and-found in the Denver airport?)

I am astonished and quite embarrasseed to discover how distressed I am over the apparent loss of a THING. I mean, here I am contemplating possible loss of the acuity of the vision of my left eye. And tonight i am worrying about a cell phone?

Meanwhile, friends and family have been so very generous and kind that I must figure out how to put all this in perspective: I still have friends and family. With the help of the ophtalmologist, I have improvement in the vision of my right eye.

Grateful all around.

Good night.

On the eve of travel

It has been a really restful shabbos.

A friend joined me for lunch. Mishka the cat kept me company on and off; she also watched the mouse-and-bird-TV, crouched near the sliding doors.

I am so very grateful for the hospitality and the generosity of friends and family;and I am looking forward to seeing them all. Going back to Philly is always some sort of time travel---parts of so many different phases of my life were spent there.

Now I go upstairs and choose what to pack---always a challenge to pick the right stuff, and not too much. I used to stay up all night before a trip in order to clear my desk, make sure all was taken care of, etc. Not any more: my desk is in a semi-permanent state of disarray. I will be happy to wash my hair, pack the small suitcase and get almost enough sleep.


Mishka draped over the corner of the laptop, dozing; an inspiration.

So near Shabbos

This year is entirely a surprise.

Philadelphia will not be like any prior visit.

An old friend might be moving back into her place if it has sufficiently decontaminated.

The cousin with whom I used to stay is seriously ill.

Another cousin is full up, hosting guests.

A kind friend has just offered me amazing hospitality while I'm in Philly.

A Chanukah party is happening right after I arrive---first night.

An appointment at Wills Eye Hospital is happening last day, just before I leave.

I bet my friend the astrologer would have something to say about the pervasive disarray.


A chicken soup is ready for a guest shabbos afternoon. It tastes slightly different, as if it had a mind of its own and has gone off on its own experiment.

An unexpected (veggie) dinner at the Chinese restaurant with kind friends nourished both body and spirit, with leftovers enough to add character to shabbos dinner or robustness to an omelette.

MIshka is curled up on the desk beside my right arm, purring very delicately in her sleep.

Inspiring: I will go upstairs now and see if I can do the same.

It is a harder state to enter without my beloved to spoon with, to say the bedtime prayers with.

But the bed itself has retained some of that quality of blessing; it apportions bits out to me when I most need it.

Good night, and good shabbos----

How can it already be Tuesday night?

I can barely remember back to this morning.

I visited with a younger friend over brunch, and with an older one over pre-dinner snack.

I began more serious arrangements re my trip to Philly.

Nothing is as it has been: the cousin with whom I usually stay will not have the room free this time; it might be needed to house live-in nursing staff. Will she want visitors at all? The friend downtown with whom I might otherwise stay is currently at a hotel because of fire in her house. The Chanukah party I would love to attend takes place only a few hours after I land.

I wonder if I can cram the clothes I'll need into a carry-on...and all the visits I hope to accomplish into the days I will have there.

I have made an appointment for a second opinion about my eyes at Wills Eye Hospital---which I find both reassuring and scary.

Meanwhile, Mishka the Cat is curled on her side beside my right arm and the laptop, fast asleep, as has become her custom. She does not do this during they day; only at night.

I wish us all deep sleep and remembered dreams.

Good night.