Archive for the ‘rogues gallery’ Category
I went on an unplanned stroll down memory lane. Yesterday I cleared out my paperwork! Big deal, you’ll think; well it is for me. I don’t open my post – only stuff that looks interesting – everything else waits in a quiet corner. So now I feel virtuous ‘cos four months of filing has been done, in real files as well as the wpb. Then I thought why not collate the notes and writings from my class – that shouldn’t take too long except I spent ages reading and admiring the rest of the group’s work – I was privileged to be with some serious talent. I also found reams of old poetry that brought back mixed memories – they need tidying and/or destroying.
As part of my crusade on paper, this morning I dug out from a deep old storage box, a pile of older battered crinkled notebooks. Between pages and pages of poetry and prose scribblings was so much else: Menus and recipes and related shopping lists. Plans for my children’s engagements and weddings, costs, guestlists, possible venues, flowers, music, more menus, music, etc. Recommended book lists and reviews. Doodles. Quotes from books and my own one-liners. Words I didn’t know their meanings, meaning to look them up. Numbers, lots of them – telephone numbers without names and what could the others be? Pictures of my babies… and Goren! Flight details, times, airports, costs, lists of hotels, itineraries. Home shopping lists and to-do lists and moving costs; not for this one but from spring 2004. (Yes this one is still gonna happen – the house will go on the market this week. Wish me luck)!
The next part of my journey shocked me (slightly). Those who have been around the block with me here will remember At Home With The Goren’s. That blog is long gone and the stories I first drafted in word – all deleted. In my hands I held chapters written, I think, in my lunchbreak, on a train or a plane or a cafe. What was I thinking then? Was I pleasing a particular audience? What was it with those two? I cringed as I read. Puerile and pathetic; the characters, the content and the quality of writing. I’m not sorry the blog is lost to posterity. However, thanks to dear Val she had the bright idea to invite anyone to contribute to her new blog After Major Case and in a moment of sentimentality I resurrected them. What was I thinking? Again! The couple have since matured (and the writer); they have a son Robert, Bobby is out of work and anything can happen.
As for all the notebooks – I kept the photos, pulled out the recipes, one-liners and a few poems – the rest, including mrsbg, are now languishing atop my recycling box awaiting an uncertain, but i’m sure a more useful future.
So wassup? My last post said I was going to Israel with mother and we did – it was a fabulous trip. Jamie joined us for a long weekend; he bunked at Jon and Bridgitte’s whilst ma and I stayed in an apartment in Herzliya two minutes from the Marina. There was a massive pool and the little ones had a lot of fun. It worked out brilliantly and friends were coincidentally staying in the same place and mother and I also met up with other friends who live there. Not sure when my next trip will be, the summer months are way too hot for this English rose, but hot off the press, they’re all coming to stay at the end of September for about ten days. Can’t wait to see my little ones again – I miss them so much – thank goodness for webcams and skype!
Rachel and I are still planning our trip to the big apple in October – flights are booked – wooo hooo. I am so excited. I’ve never been and it really is the only place on my wish list at the moment. I’ll never say no to other places, but right now I am fixated on going there. I’ve been researching accommodation – the choice is endless and I so want to get it right, but the prices are unbelievable. Coincidentally my boss is going in a few weeks and we were checking out the same hotels – they are half the price in August compared to the dates we’re going. I also checked to see if it was a public holiday or something, but no, and it’s not Chelsea’s wedding! Still searching – all recommendations welcome.
What else? Oh yes, Bon Jovi at the O2… cool. No, HOT!!!! He was fantastic, but boy I could hardly move the next day. It hurts to confess, this old hen is past being a rock chick. More on music… got blown away seeing (sadly only on tv) the awesome and talented Carole King and James Taylor at the Troubador’s 50th anniversary, although Jamie bought me the DVD & CD. They’ve been doing a sell-out tour in the States – it would be awesome if they brought it to London. Some music is timeless – Tapestry – 1971 – still listening.
I also got blown away by a television two-part drama written by Kay Mellor, based on her mother’s revelation that she’d had an affair when Kay was a baby. It’s called A Passionate Woman and received mixed reviews – I liked it. It also introduced us to a beautiful and talented young actor called Theo James. I shall be keeping an eye out for him and wish him a glittering career.
Trying to remember what books I’ve read since I last posted; I recall raving about Suite Francaise – since then I had the opportunity to hear her biographer, together with the Cambridge professor who translates Irene Nemirovsky’s writing, and Irene’s daughter (who is now 80). After the talk hoards of people queued for book signing; my friends and I had a coffee while we waited and then joined the end of the line – in my limited french we exchanged a few words and as I was the last one they signed the books to me personally, which was rather nice.
What have I been reading? I loved the first two of the Stieg Larssson Millenium books – the third sits teasingly on my bookshelf, but it is 700 pages long and I haven’t found time to dive in. They are such thumping good yarns; I’ve bought them for friends who also can’t put them down.
Am in the middle of Andrea Levy’s Small Island which is brilliantly well written – more of that when I finish it.
A quick read by the pool was Alexander McCall Smith’s latest in his No.1 Lady Detective Agency series of books set in Botswana – they never disappoint, but don’t expect too much – just easy reading filled with wisdom and insight.
What else? A return to Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I loved it first time round – loved it even more the second. The first outing I was totally raving about his surreal adventures at sea and the fact it was so original; the second time I found myself more absorbed by Pi’s fascination and search for religion. The ending is clever, very clever. There are some beautiful lines and descriptions. If you’ve not had the chance, this is one I heartily recommend.
Couldn’t put down Marcus Zusak’s Book Thief. Set in Munich during the war the story of a German family harbouring a young Jewish man – the story is narrated by Death yet it is not in the least morbid. It is written in an unusual format where the contents of each chapter are listed at the beginning so you know what to expect. Another one I recommend.
The Ghost by Robert Harris – a political genre loosely (or not so) based on Blair – it had some great reviews and I hear the film is good, but not seen it yet. I should ‘cos I believe it stars the cute Pierce Brosnan and cuter Ewan McGregor. The book is 400 pages long; I didn’t find much to excite me until p.300. The timing was good – I was on a flight. The last 100 pages were pageturners; at the very last line it dawned on me that we never knew the name of the ‘ghost’ – of course we were never meant to. Friends who enjoyed it more than I didn’t notice my observation – they all went “Oh yes!” – still worth giving it an airing.
I’ve tried to read other books by Marina Lewycka, but gave up not even halfway. I completed the task with A Short Story of Tractors in Ukranian. Not sure what to make of the book – think it may be a little like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. It has been labelled comedy, when in fact it isn’t at all and nor was that the author’s intention. There are a few smart one-liners and it was poignant in parts. It’s about two distant sisters (in more ways than one) whose recently widowed, 80+ year old father is about to marry a buxom blonde Ukrainian in her 30’s. The father is writing a book about, yes, tractors in the Ukraine; he is an intellectual man, when he’s not being stupid. Some skipped those sections, but I actually found them enlightening as you saw the progress (and not) of communism in Eastern Europe. You can imagine the rest about him and his trophy – or read the book.
Finally Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis I & II. She is a graphic novelist living in France and her cartoon book is autobiographical. The title is the old name for Tehran. It was different. I found the pages hard on my eyes. It has been made into a film and I caught it this week on the television. Having recently read the book, it was exactly the same but animated so I switched off. I think I was less enthusiastic than my friends – I did not like the format (think Maus) but she is a graphic novelist so obviously this would be the way she would tell her story. Her story encompasses her life from childhood in Tehran, to being a student in Austria, back to Tehran and more studies and marriage, then divorce all with the backdrop of the different regimes and rules and regulations and war. It left me cold – I forced myself to read it – the story is true and heartbreaking and I wanted so much to sympathise and empathise; I’m sure I would have done if it was conventionally told .
Sorry I’ve been gone so long – I may be back (don’t hold your breath) 🙂
One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things ~ John Burroughs
New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual ~ Mark Twain
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right ~ Oprah Winfrey
Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850
Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits ~ Author Unknown
A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other ~ Author Unknown
I know Christmas is not my festival, but it still ended up a very busy time indeed as my home turned into Hotel Chez Raven – again – bless my darling dearest and nearest – and I love it. Anyway although it’s not my holiday I want to thank all of you who included me at this time, for your thoughtfulness in sending me beautiful snail mail and email cards and good wishes; all gratefully and graciously appreciated – your friendship means a lot to me – thank you.
I’ve not been in the right frame of mind to write – my creative juices are just not flowing – the way I’m feeling right now I could simply regurgitate some of the old stuff – boring boring boring. Maybe it is all written in the stars and the waning moon and the flow of the tides. I remember much debate about the effects of a new millenium and boy did my life change then.
New Years Eve ten years ago, 1999, strolling along Fort Lauderdale promenade, my husband puffing on a cigar having just bought ‘us’ an apartment – little did I know what was in store. The last ten years saw many losses; my marriage, my home, my job, my father and many friends who passed far too young, but despite the sadness, I am still blessed and for that I am eternally thankful. I can’t say my cup is brimming over with happiness, but I’m not unhappy either – rather a sense of contentment and fulfilment. The joy for a mother to see her children happily married to loving, caring and respectful partners and the wonderful gift of a loving family and friends and the highlight of grandchildren cannot be underestimated or adequately measured and as long as they are all well and happy, what more can I ask for?
So what’s new for 2010? It’s probably just as well we don’t know what tomorrow brings, but for me I feel the time is right for a change of scene – they did it in Israel!
I really do fancy a new start – a blank canvas – gutting out rooms and remodelling, redecorating and refurnishing whilst I still have the energy and strength, but not this house – I do love it now and it has served me well – if I could lift it and move it I would. It is so true what they say – location location location is everything and living on an uninspiring characterless development is not where I wish to end my days. I’ve had my HIP done (no not that kind – a Home Information Pack) and in the new year I shall get the ball rolling.
As for other resolutions – humbug – nonsense – we don’t need a date to change or reflect or think of what was, what is, what might have been. We can look into our hearts and souls any day of the year; it’s never too late to change. As they say, out with the old (and the bad) – in with the new (and the good)!
It has been an amazing few weeks – for the last four weekends house-guests and dinner-guests have graced my home and table; I loved every minute but the last ten days was the greatest pleasure of them all. I was on cloud nine, but now I am brought back to earth – they have gone home boo hoo 😦 and I miss them already.
Admitting I’m exhausted is an understatement, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. While the children were here my ma celebrated her birthday; lots of fuss sharing it with her greatgrandchildren turned it into a very special day and one to remember.
Sadly, at the same time we were commemorating the anniversary of my father’s passing four years ago yesterday. I was at jojo’s blog recently and read how she wanted to contact a facebook friend and was shocked to learn she had died. Just as shocked to see in the news yesterday the death of Stephen Gately… a waste of a wonderful talent. Death, the one thing we have in common – it will happen to us all one day. I think about it a lot, but not in a morbid way. I believe our physical lives here is a testing ground for our eternal spiritual life; we learn here, we learn there and so life goes on. What lives for ever is the impact we make on other people; hoping to leave a good name and good memories, a lasting legacy and that when we go our lives will be something to celebrate.
Having said that, we also suffered another loss. Some of you may recall my stories of ‘the Ferrari driving lech’ – he died – what a shock that was. He lived his life to the full and I imagine he has found a great golf course up there with an excellent nineteenth watering hole. Of course his passing meant I conveyed my condolences to his cousin, my ex, as they were very close like brothers and good friends. You’d think after all this time hearing his voice wouldn’t affect me; it did. I am still confused, still don’t understand how we are where we are, especially when he still calls me ‘doll’. This one’s for him!
We’re apart – for now
You’re doing your ‘thing’
But, when day is done
We’ll likely be together
In the world to come
You’ll think you’ve gone to hell
In heaven, I shall be
That, my love, is destiny
The v-vixens have also been suffering a shock and loss and reactions around blogdom can be likened to a bereavement. I’m surprised Kleenex sales haven’t boomed.
Detective Robert Goren is leaving lo:ci! Detective Robert Goren a fictional character, the creation of the brilliantly talented Vincent D’Onofrio and the most fantastic fantasy fodder ever. Vincent you naughty boy, you knew what buttons to push and that women would be swooning over gorgeous multi-talented sex on legs Goren. However, thank goodness Vincent D’Onofrio is real and lives on. Our detective is leaving the show and mercifully not in a bag or wooden box, which means the door is still open, but I won’t hold my breath!
I asked elsewhere, did he jump or was he pushed? I don’t think it would have taken much of a shove for Vincent to exit stage left and I am excitedly looking forward to his new projects, maybe much bigger parts for us to savour on the big screen (take that comment how you wish). Sure Bobby Bobby will be sorely missed; I’ve been watching the show again from the very beginning on Quest, not that I needed that to see the enormous changes in him, the storylines, the intros, etc. and not all necessarily to the improvement of the show. I don’t belittle Vincent’s acting talent; he had to do his best with lousy writing and no amount of decent direction could rescue that – I’m sorry, but to discover he was the illegitimate son of a convicted serial killer and his ‘on the verge of dementia’ aged puny mentor bumped off his nemesis and we didn’t actually get to see the happy event, were two threads too far off the radar. I always believe it’s better to leave on a high, so hopefully the powers that be will pull out all the stops so that the two hour special series opener will be Vincent, Katherine and Eric’s high notes. Imho, ITWSH was brilliant – it can be done again!
… guess this is how the vixens feel!
As you know I spend a lot of time travelling to and from Israel. I have just returned from a trip that was exceptionally interesting, inspiring, rewarding, meaningful and even more superlatives I don’t even know. It filled me with excitement and energy – and exhaustion – and I can’t keep this to myself, I have to share.
A little background.
I was brought up in a fairly observant Jewish household with my parents and my twin brother and often houseguests. My upbringing and learning imbued me with not only a love of my religion but also a love of my heritage, a love of Israel and the unwavering belief that it is the homeland of the Jewish people. With no desire to be political or provocative, but with pride I make no apologies for calling myself a Zionist. The love affair with this little piece of land that is no larger than Wales (for the Brits) or New Jersey (for the Yanks) and whose size can be likened to a pinhead on the map of the Arab world, lay beneath the surface until its full passion was unleashed when I took my first steps on its blessed soil in 1968. Today, as in those days, thousands of young Jewish school leavers go on ‘tour’ every summer. My tour year should have been in 1967 but a war, albeit a short one of six days, was raging that changed everything both for the country and for me.
I won’t dig into my memory so deeply to extract the minutiae of that trip other than to say it made an obvious impact on me on many levels. There is a story attached, there always is, but again not boring you with the finer details, two years later post-college, I found myself travelling alone on a bus to a kibbutz betwen Haifa and Afula where I was about to attend ulpan. An ulpan is a school for intensive Hebrew study. On kibbutz this involves an 8 hour day of alternately one week 5 hours study in the morning and working in the afternoon, or 5 hours morning work and 3 hours afternoon classes, oh and it was a six day week, Shabbat being the only day off. After my initial homesickness wore off, the planned six months became a year as I raised my game and gained entry into the highest class, voraciously learning the language and falling in love. My language skills blossomed, the romance withered.
On a rare and welcome free weekend whilst waiting for a bus to take me to some well earned rest and fun and sun in Tel Aviv, I was talking to an old man who commended me on my perfect Ivrit; I felt so proud until he told me no one spoke like that anymore. My teacher was a German university professor, aka a Yekki. If you don’t know, a Yekki is a German Jew who is very very proper and everything has to be methodical and organised and done to perfection, so for him colloquialisms were out; I had to start learning all over again.
The year was over, money all gone, so needs must I had to return home and earn a living. During that time a tragic circumstance threw a childhood acquaintance and me together and one thing leading to another our wedding was booked for December 1973. A couple of months before said wedding fell apart the same time that another war was blazing on all fronts in Israel. All soldiers were called up and volunteers desperately needed to fill their shoes in the workplace. It was the perfect time to leave behind a broken heart and go do my bit. This time I headed further North, not too far from Lebanon, where my newfound language skills would come in handy and I could be of use to my country and my people.
Young and with no responsibility other than yourself, you believe you can do anything.
It was frightening; it was challenging; it was exciting. The survivors slowly returned home to their loved ones and their jobs and the country tried to return to some sort of normalcy after horrendously heavy losses and casualties. I had done ‘my bit’ so tramped down to Tel Aviv to find accommodation and employment and a good time. All three happened in varying degrees of success but nothing lasts forever and not long after I returned home to spend Passover with my family and then… I met my husband. I spoke not another word of Ivrit nor visited my beloved Israel for another 21 years.
In 1995 our eldest son went there to study in Yeshiva in a portacabin on a hillside in Efrat and I was jolly well gonna go and visit him, with or without his daddy. We both went. We went together. We were all in Jerusalem for Chanukah and it felt wonderful and I promised myself faithfully that there could not and would not be another 21-year hiatus. Son came home after one year; his heart and soul were in Israel and unsurprisingly after university and a graduate training programme he returned there to study in another Yeshiva and we accepted he wouldn’t be coming back to London.
Since our initial trip together we went again several times and around the time my husband and I parted our son made aliyah got married and had a family; my obvious impetus for all those trips over the past five years as well as wedding planning since surprise surprise all my children chose to marry in Israel.
So – I hadn’t done any proper sightseeing with a tour guide since my initial trip in 1968; 41 years later that was about to change. This time I was going on an official trip with my synagogue; its purpose twofold. On the one hand to learn more of our history and on the other, more significantly, to meet and help people. Inside I felt giddy like the teenager I once was and very excited.
Often I tread the cobbled streets of Jerusalem and the Old City, but usually just to mooch and shop and people watch and have a coffee and meet friends – kinda the same old, same old! This trip was poles apart, absolutely brilliant. Oh, that’s not to say that every trip isn’t brilliant, seeing my grandchildren is always something special, but this was something else altogether.
We were a small group of only nine souls and we spent our first long day together in the Old City with a wonderful tour guide, visiting David’s City, The Southern Excavations, The Tunnels and the Jewish Quarter. It would be cool if you did click on the links to share where I’ve been and perhaps share my emotion and feelings and to understand where I come from.
Throughout its history Jerusalem has been under the rule of many dynasties and their religions. Between the First Temple Period of 1000 – 586 BCE and the Second Temple Period 538 BCE – 70 CE it was the Babylonians. After the destruction of the Second Temple followed the Persian & Hellenistic, Roman (Pagan), Byzantine (Christian), Early Arab (Muslim), Crusader (Christian), Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman (Muslim), British Mandate (Western) and Jordanian (Muslim) periods until 1967 when once again we had access to Jerusalem (Jewish). The archaeology informs us of our history and the empires that have sought to destroy us; they are long gone, no more; we are still here, small in number, but still here.
Exhausted, yet enthused, we were to spend the following morning at Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum. I have to go back again, it’s a must. It is absolutely impossible to see it all or absorb the enormity of it in the short space of time we were allocated. I had been there many many years ago and knew the power of it – I had felt its effect even as a teenager, but more information and stories are still coming to light . We were told of the story of an old woman searching its archives for the fate of her brother only to find that in old age he had done the same. For sixty years each had believed the other had perished. Needless to say this is one of the few stories with a relatively happy ending.
Words are inadequate to express the emotions these places evoke.
Sadly there is a link connecting what I had seen and what I was about to see.
From the outset of the intifada my community has been raising thousands and thousands of pounds to support the victims of terror and groups have gone to Israel to meet them and their families to show that someone cares; that they are not alone. The victims are not just the individuals whose lives have been torn apart physically and who are psychologically scarred, but their entire families are affected in great measure. It was an honour and a privilege to meet many of these people and the wonderful volunteers of Keren Klita who give them hope, support and opportunity to rebuild their lives.
I won’t go into too much depth about the individual victims I met. Many were horrifically injured by suicide bombers, although personally I prefer the term homicide bomber; suicide is killing oneself not others! I met elderly grandparents caring for little ones who were orphaned. A woman who has undergone 22 operations in Israel and overseas and needs more reconstructive surgery after an Arab woman walked into the shoe shop where she was working and threw acid in her face. A whole family injured and burnt by a bomber on a bus after celebrating their anniversary and a family innocently enjoying a few precious moments eating pizza together – the list goes on. Their warmth and friendship and unnecessary appreciation overwhelmed me.
We also visited the city of Hebron via Kever Rachel, Rachel’s Tomb. This is in Bethlehem, which is now forbidden to Jews. Walls had been erected that allowed us direct access; time enough was allowed for us to savour the moment of being in this holy place, to pray at her tomb, get out and then head off to Hebron.
Hebron is the home of the Cave of Machpelah, the burial place of our patriarchs and their families; a holy site for us, yet Jews are only allowed access ten days in the year.
My feelings were in a turmoil – I cannot make up my mind whether to respect and laud the few residents who live in Hebron for their tenacity, their ideology or their altruism. It is unsafe – a dangerous place – yet these people believe their presence is not for themselves but for the Jews of the future and for the future of Israel. We have given up land for appeasement before, yet it backfires on us. The people of Gush Katif were forced from their homes; they had established a thriving multi-million dollar agricultural industry there. These displaced and dispersed people are still living in tin cans where they swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter. Their families have been fractured; they cannot find work, they are psychologically scarred. Their beautiful homes, their synagogues, their cemeteries, their schools, their fields were razed to the ground and concreted over to become rocket launch pads; rockets that are still being fired day in day out on Israel. That is where conciliatory action got us. Part of me says the residents of Hebron are crazy, they should get out – another part of me admires their selflessness , their sacrifice, their drive.
If my emotions were not stirred enough already, more was to come.
No one can praise highly enough the dedication and hard work of the founders and volunteers of Keren Klita. They are an amazing group of people who I hope to have the opportunity to meet and work with again, yet they are not the only ones. (Coincidentally I discovered that one of the ladies is related to my husband’s family, which means my son has found family in Israel he knew nothing about).
The next day I had the privilege to meet and work alongside an angel, a guardian angel to over four hundred desperate and needy families. She herself was a victim of terror; she was pregnant at the time. Her humility is awe-inspiring. When she recovered from her wounds, she knew she had been saved for a purpose; she had to do something. This beautiful woman gives so much yet thanks the people for letting her. Here is a moving video of Liora and what she has done and what she is doing and I am so touched to have met her.
I have been involved in voluntary work and chaired committees and been on boards, etc in some form or other since my teenage years, winding down somewhat over the past few but now embracing new areas. I thought I had worked hard and gave of myself, but nothing compares to the sheer dedication devotion and enthusiasm of Liora. She is modest and self-effacing and her humility is truly inspirational.
The link I spoke of earlier sadly is hatred. For thousands of years my people have been the victims of anti-Semitism, persecution, crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, the holocaust and today nothing has changed; we are still hated and the right of the existence of the State of Israel for the Jewish people is challenged. Even my own capital is hosting an anti-semitic rally. In Dresden a couple of weeks ago, there was a neo-Nazi rally on the anniversary of the Dresden bombing during the war. Why a neo-Nazi rally? Why not a gathering of people to reflect and to remember and to say it must never happen again. I did not hear a single word of hate on the lips of these victims; they were not even all Israeli born. Some fled Iran; some fled Russia; some from Latvia. Let’s hope their prayers are answered that one day they will live in a country without fear and in peace and safety and security.
I could conclude on an even more political note, but I don’t want this post to be a forum on who’s right and who’s wrong. Let me conclude with a different thought.
Bad things happen to good people.
No one has the answer to that question, only Hashem knows. We are made in His image, but He gave us freewill, freewill to choose, to choose to be good or to choose to be bad. It helps to believe that to everything there is a purpose, but sometimes you have to search deep within your soul to find it. One possible theory is the good that comes from bad. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to be the stimulus and incentive for positive action. Bereavement, incurable illness, hardship, trauma, violence, etc; these are the catalysts that motivate people to dedicate themselves to research, scholarships, foundations, charities, whatever it takes. Victims and survivors who reach out to help one another, mourners who keep the memory of their loved ones alive, people who don’t want what they’ve been through to happen to others. People whose lives are so hard yet they count their blessings and give of themselves to help others. For some suffering can be the defining point in their life when they feel there is nothing to live for. For others it is a turning point in their lives to rise above their suffering and make something good of it.
In a few weeks I shall be back in Jerusalem for a wedding; with so much hardship around us, we have to take every opportunity to celebrate whenever we can. I have extended my stay to allow me the privilege of working with Angels again.
A dear friend has suggested the reason I’ve not blogged for a while is because I don’t have a life – I think she may be right, especially when the highlight of my life this week was my excitement at filling my tank up for just under £40.00 – albeit with the benefit of 5p off a litre from a Tesco coupon – reducing the price to under 90p… wow! At first I was so excited to see petrol go below £1.00 a litre and am always comparing prices in my neck of the wood to those of North London where my car seems to go on autopilot round the North Circular, but it’s still an extortionate price so, excuse the pun when I say, they still have us over a barrel.
I’m still doing book club and last month’s read was my choice. I’ve always loved the writing style of Isabel Allende and hoping my friends would share my taste, I resurrected an old fav of mine, The House of the Spirits. Allende’s writing is so colourful and this book moved at a fast pace through four generations. One character who plays no great part, but is alluded to, is called the Poet and he was probably based on Pablo Neruda whose work moves me so much. When I had my London~Love~Vincent blog I felt his following poems perfectly mirrored Robert E Howard’s highs and lows in his relationship with Novalynne. As many of you know, I love poetry and I love Vincent D’Onofrio and I love TWWW; I shall never waiver from my belief that Vincent’s portrayal of REH was his absolute uber-best performance.
Write, for example, “The night is starry and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.”
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms. I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too. How could one not have loved her great still eyes?
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her. And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her. The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer. My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees. We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her. My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses. Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.
I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
I do not love you except because I love you; I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it’s you the one I love; I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you
Because I love you,
Love, in fire and blood.
Guess where I’ll be this time next week…
– Baal Shem Tov
I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted… I guess I should call it a semi-sabbatical, but I haven’t exactly been resting on my laurels and I have done a little lurking and a little commenting here and there, although on many occasion I really haven’t had anything to say for myself that was any different or any more original than what had already been said.
More or less as soon as we were back from Israel I was preparing for all the Jewish Festivals, lots and lots of them, four weeks in a row. As usual, good ol’ Ann had assorted houseguests and dinner guests. Then, because I was off work for all of them (actually the office was closed) I’m now working more days and longer hours to play catchup. I am also undergoing a course of weekly medical treatments (nothing sinister) which I hope will do me a lot of good healthwise, but I have to schlep to Notting Hill for them. Sadly the reason I am free this afternoon to post is because some poor soul caused the Central Line to be suspended and I couldn’t get there today. When I heard this news, my initial thought went to the people at Rachel’s work; seems today is redundancy day and I had horrendous thoughts of someone losing their job and hurling themselves under a train… echoes of the Great Depression.
I am reading voraciously. Amongst other good reads, someone recommended Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale… well it was different and compelling and evoked much discussion, which I would love to share with anyone who has read it. I seem to have been suffering from movie-mania lately too and chilling out in front of the box. I saw an ab brill film called The Illusionist; loved it loved it loved it. Also got to see the latest James Bond offering… boring boring boring.
Are you my friends across the Pond still debating the Presidency? I’m knackered… I found it all so fascinating I was up till 2.30 a.m. until exhaustion and a little common sense (yes I do have some sometimes) forced me to my bed. I’m wondering if the words on Obama’s lips is: “That’s another fine mess you got me into Stanley George!” Excuse me if I am being somewhat naive and okay, so he’s the first black American president, but have I lost the plot? Surely his colour is not an issue. Did he not win because he was 1) the better man for the job and 2) after 8 years of Bush/Republican rule… say no more! Good luck Obama… you will need tons of it and tons of support and I hope the honeymoon lasts for ever.
The wedding, and planning it, took on a life of its own and overtook mine. It was worth it; the whole trip was amazing, awesome, wicked, wonderful and many many more words I cannot begin to think of to describe it all. From the moment we arrived, not counting various meetings with the wedding planner, the venue, the band, the designer, etc, the rest was fun fun fun. Lots of cocktails and dinners out and parties as everyone arrived, then the Friday night saw 46 of us together for Shabbat dinner. The next morning was Daniel’s aufruf held at his late grandfather’s synagogue (near the British Embassy) followed by a beautiful meal in a hotel nearby. After Shabbat a girlfriend of Rachel’s took us to the mikveh; it was like a spa and enhanced this particular mitzvah. Sunday we were meant to chill out… yeah, some hope because the next day… drum roll, was THE DAY!
Okay, now the pics above are not the official ones and I’m sorry they are out of sequence; it’s the way I downloaded them. These were taken by my ex, Rachel’s daddy, so of course there’s none of yours truly 🙂 shame!!!
The first three pictures of Rachel are in the yichud room where she is waiting for Daniel to come and perform the bedeken ceremony following the tish (all explained in blue print below if you’re at all interested). The room was beautiful and these photos don’t do it justice. The official photos, when I do get hold of the disk from the young couple and download them on to this decrepit machine (or a new one if I ever get my act together) – has anyone got any suggestions for a good lightweight efficient effective laptop – not an apple? Where was I, oh yes, those pics will be much better but I’d better not hold my breath waiting for them.
Bedeken and Tish
The bedeken, which translates as “veiling,” is the groom’s veiling of his bride immediately before the ceremony. The custom is said to be based upon the Biblical story in which Jacob, intending to marry Rachel, accidentally marries her older sister Leah, who wore a veil. In addition to having the groom verify that he is marrying the right woman, the bedeken is often preceded by singing and dancing around the bride, who sits on a thronelike chair. Traditionally, the men gather around the groom for the tish, or groom’s “table.” At the tish, the nervous groom traditionally attempts to deliver some words about the Torah portion while his friends and family take the pressure off by constantly interrupting him with jokes, toasts, singing, and dancing. At the end of the tish, family and friends carry the groom into the bedeken for veiling and continue singing and dancing around the bride. Even if there are aspects of these customs that seem to be based on anachronistic values, such as the separation of men and women and the contrast of the bride sitting to be admired for her beauty, while the groom tries to teach, it is recommend that thinking about ways to incorporate the traditions that are comfortable and consistent with their values. They offer a way to start the celebration early and to get everyone in the right, festive frame of mind. If the gender separation is not something one feels comfortable with, the two ceremonies can be combined in one place. Some brides also try to teach something, an update that is quite popular. Finally, even if one doesn’t want a public bedeken, some couples do the veiling in a more private location, such as the rabbi’s study at the synagogue or in the yichud room.
The next photo is one of the first of the couple officially married after the chuppah… as I said when I get the official ones… blah blah blah, yeah yeah yeah
UNDER THE CHUPPAH
The “chuppah” is the most universally recognized symbol of a Jewish wedding, the structure under which the ceremony takes place, generally consisting of a cloth canopy, sometimes a tallit, beneath which the bride and groom stand. The wedding ceremony itself is sometimes referred to as the “chuppah,” often on invitations announcing the time for the ceremony. The ceremony itself is a conglomeration of legal recitations and customs. The wedding ceremony consists of two parts, erusin (also called kiddushin), which is the legal agreement by which the bride and groom are betrothed to each other, and nissuin, the nuptials and the active beginning of the new union between the bride and groom.
Circling is a great example of a custom with multiple variations that is attributed to different sources. The numbers of circuits is usually either seven or three. According to one variation, the bride circles the groom alone, while in another, she is escorted on either side by a bridesmaid with a candle. Sometimes, the bride is accompanied by the singing of a traditional hymn or with nigun, a wordless melody. The custom of circling is attributed to multiple sources and given multiple explanations. One source cited for the custom is a verse from Jeremiah: “for the Lord hath created a new thing in the Earth, a woman shall compass a man.” (Jeremiah 31: 21). One source for three circles is a verse from Hosea with three descriptions of God’s betrothal to Israel: “Thus says the Lord, I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you with righteousness, with justice, with love, and with compassion. I will betroth you to Me with faithfulness, and you shall love the Lord.” (Hosea 2:21-22) The number seven is generally considered a number of good fortune in Judaism, and is attributed to various sources. One Kabbalistic explanation for the number seven is that it symbolizes the removal of seven shells of solitude encrusting the groom’s soul, so that it can be encompassed by the luminescence of his bride. As we mention above, many couples opt to update the custom by having the bride and groom walk around each other, or by having both walk around the chuppah together. No matter what variation feels most comfortable to the couple, they are encouraged to think about incorporating the custom of circling. It has endured as a custom for good reason; it can have a powerful effect on the bride and groom and everyone present.
The ceremony traditionally begins with greetings, customarily taken from Psalms (118:26), both to all present and to the bride and groom. The erusin ceremony then begins with the kiddush, the blessing over wine, followed by the birkat erusin, the betrothal blessings, after which the couple drinks the wine.
The Ring Ceremony
According to tradition, the central act of erusin is the groom’s giving and the bride’s acceptance of the ring, coupled with the recitation of the Hebrew formula known as haray aht, which translates as, “By this ring you are consecrated to me as my wife in accordance with the traditions of Moses and Israel.” The groom then completes the erusin ceremony by placing the ring on the bride’s hand, traditionally on her right index finger, which stems from the ancient belief that the index finger was directly connected to the heart. Today, many couples make the ring ceremony reciprocal by including the bride’s placement of a ring on the groom’s finger, accompanied by the bride’s recitation of either the same formula as the groom (haray atah) or with the recitation of another verse, such as the Hebrew verse that translates as, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Some Orthodox couples prefer to separate the bride’s placement of a ring on her groom’s finger by doing it later in the day, such as during yichud. Traditionally, in order to separate the erusin ceremony from the nissuin that follows, the ketubah (the written marriage contract) is read aloud and then handed by the groom to the bride. At some weddings, the groom hands the ketubah to the bride at the time of the bedeken.
Nissuin begins with a second kiddush, followed by the sheva berachot (the seven blessings) and yichud. The sheva berachot begin with the blessing over wine, then praise God for creation, for human life, for the bride and groom separately, for fertility and children, and finally in the sixth and seventh blessings, for the companionship and joy of the bride and groom together. The ceremony concluded, the groom then breaks a glass, and the bride and groom traditionally retreat to yichud, a moment of seclusion in which the bride and groom can share their first meal as newlyweds.
Breaking the Glass
Few Jewish wedding traditions are as well known as the groom’s smashing of the glass at the conclusion of the ceremony. Different explanations for the act of breaking the glass abound: that it reminds us of the fragility of personal relationships so that the bride and groom take care to their intact; that it ushers in the outbreak of celebration that should immediately follow, that the breaking recalls the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, so that we remember sadness at the height of personal joy. Two older explanations are that the shattering scares off any demons attracted by the event; or that it symbolizes the consummation of the marriage.
Yichud is a time for the bride and groom to be alone together immediately after the ceremony. It is actually the final legal requirement of the wedding. (According to Jewish law, the requirements for a wedding are the birkat erusin, the recitation of the haray aht formula coupled with the groom’s placement of a ring on the bride’s finger, the sheva berachot, and yichud.)
AFTER THE WEDDING
With the ceremony completed, it is a mitzvah — a religious obligation — of the guests present to bring joy to the heart of a new bride and her new husband. You have to love that , a religious commandment to party. Sheva Berachot Dinners Sheva Berachot dinners are a way to keep the wedding celebration going even after the wedding day. In the Orthodox world, these dinners are held for seven nights after the wedding, after which blessings for the bride and groom are recited by someone present who was not at the wedding.
The next two pics are Daniel’s after dinner speech and Rachel lovingly lapping up every loving flattering word… aaaaaaaaaah! Then there’s a line up of my lot with their spouses and my two ab fab fav little people. The next five shots are of the venue, which was absolutely breathtaking and dazzling in the sunshine, but even more spectacular lit up at night… official photos will paint a truer picture, when I get them etc etc etc.
Totally out of order are Boaz and Moriah enjoying the pool and then there they are scrubbed up for the big event. They had an absolute ball. Following on are pics of the night after the day before. The first of the sheva brachot (see above in blue if you like). This particular one was hosted by Daniel’s parents and siblings and was lotsa fun and yummy. The next evening we were invited to another given by Daniel’s uncle and aunt and his many cousins. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and hospitable. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much… all absolutely scrumptious and delish. Well that was until the chagim (festivals) and I’m still struggling to lose weight; the story of my life. I had fewer trick or treaters this year and bought so much stuff just in case, so have been dipping into that naughty bag of goodies… too too many treats… all chocolate! I should’ve bought things I don’t like, but there’s not much; I’m not that discerning.
Talking of Halloween, I learnt something interesting recently. Here trick or treat means if you don’t give whoever comes-a-calling a treat, they can give you a nasty mean trick, e.g. throwing eggs at your door or windows or car, or putting something ghastly thru’ the letter box, which makes Halloween here pretty scary and threatening. However it seems that in America, trick or treat is much more family and friends orientated and a jolly affair and trick or treat means whoever comes-a-calling can be given either a treat (i.e. confectionary) or a trick (i.e. magic). Why does this country get it all so wrong?
Okay, back to the rogues gallery. The last two shots are Rachel’s bridesmaids and bestest friends since they were babies.
Believe it or not, I am actually here for the whole of November, but it’s gonna be a busy one. I’m on another learning course again this month (gotta use the grey cells) and I’m also learning Israeli dancing every week this month to raise money for a particular cause in memory of a dear late friend of mine. Then… I’m away in December… twice. In four weeks I’m going for a long weekend to Israel to see the little ones and then I’m going back to Florida to chill out and have some fun with Brian and Diane over Christmas and the New Year. I have another trip to Israel booked for February – something slightly different, more of which nearer the time – but after that, the way the economy, and my economy, is going I think I shall have to review my wanderlust. I got a tax rebate. I should be happy. I’m not. It was my money. It also meant a drop in income, a big drop. Before this awful business, I was doing my sums and thinking about an early retirement, now I hope the boss wants me even more days in the new year.
I shall finish with a few words that came to me one night after I returned from Israel and walked into my house alone and realised that was it, they were all gone and building their own homes and families
each one takes
that little piece
of you they need
then they’re gone
no more to you
now they belong
to someone new
no more whole
a hollow soul
of an empty nest
These pics were just taken today and it looks like a lovely hot day in Israel. This is Boaz, the true love of my life, and he is now ten months old. I will be staying with him for his 1st birthday and I am counting the weeks …… only 7 to go.
Have a lovely weekend everyone and Shabbat Shalom.
lotsa luv ann xxxxxxx