Bracha the cat is curled up beside me on the little salmon sofa, atop the blanket on the heating pad on low, asleep and gurgling.
Mazal is nearby, on the corner of the rug stretched out.
There is a general atmosphere of "Purr" pervading (purr-vading?) the evening.
I have done my daily duty of reading and signing and writing.
But mostly it has been a day of people:
- a young student and a friend of his who came to help me, at last, roll up the shadecloth that covers the skylights in the summer, and keeps heat from entering the house. We climb out the bedroom window onto the roof with bungee cords, and scroonch the shadecloth down to the bottom of the skylights. It is not hard; but it seemed a good idea that I not clamber out onto the roof alone, and it was much easier with three of us
- a friend came to visit and to collect the books she had written that we had hoped would sell at the conference; we got to visit over tea and snacks
- a couple, friends who know much more about houses, construction and remodelling than I do, generously came to look at the basement and discuss possibilities for accommodating renters, adding a kitchen, etc. This was a real kindness, and yielded design ideas that would never have occurred to me
- I look at all of Zalman's books still there, and some from my late adoptive father, also a rabbi. I still hold the feeling-memory of things that went on in that space---groups, classes, interviews, afternoons and evenings of reading and discussion, visitors, watching Bill Moyers and Star Trek reruns on TV. Yotam living down there. The flood, the amazing help from the entire community, the heroic rescue of precious items by our dear friend Norma (who was housesitting when the flood began.) Later, locating my late mother's bed in Yotam's room where Zalman often napped: with the press of a button, the foot of the bed would rise, a practice recommended by his doctors and made by the bed less cumbersome. I remember napping there with him sometimes, and occasionally seeing deer in the back yard from that window, and curious squirrels. Oh, and the beautiful skunk...
- I think of separating the passageway and the back two rooms, the storage room and the bath, for others to live in. I find that the large room with the library and the davvenen room still feel like essential parts of my house
I am remembering the months that Zalman took refuge down there, when my mother was living in the back bedroom, and a friend was camping out in the hut in the back yard. I marvel all over again at his deep kindness, his generosity and his patience. Both of these people had intense presences; they could not be ignored. It must have been so hard for him.
His davvenen room still holds the concentrated feel of a place of prayer/a place of peace. Every once in a while I sit there to absorb some of the deep quiet and palpable intensity that still lives in that room, even though it no longer houses the Torah scrolls that once lived there, nor the man who brought his spirit to the place.
I sigh and realize that, although I have begun to contemplate this more seriously, I am not yet ready to do anything very soon. Still, the possibilities and floor plans will now "nergle" in my head, as Zalman used to say, until they find their right shape.
It feels like all the generosity of others that we received here, all we gave out, all the love that has been given and received here has permeated the house completely.
Blessings. Good night