at home with ann

Brrrrrrr…  need I say more????

I’m having a Nigella moment – so what’s on the menu to combat the freeze —

I’ve got a shissel of heart and soul warming barley soup on the simmer (takes about three/four hours and it’s so worth the wait eaten with great chunks of bread) and one of my favourite veg dishes, courgettes in a tomato and herb sauce.   I’m gonna make a a massive potato kugel too – one that sticks like glue to your ribs.  I’m not in the frame of mind to bake, but I may knock up a few biscuits – there’s nothing quite like the satisfying feeling of kneading pastry.   All I can say is I’m glad, for once, I had a little foresight and did the supermarket and the garage after work last night – even at 6.00 the shelves were almost empty – hardly any fresh fruit and veg – actually now I wish I’d bought some frozen  – ironic eh! LOL

mmmm... yummy

Since everyone seems to be in the same boat, this is a great day to play catch up with calling friends and watching films I’ve recorded but not yet had the time or opportunity to watch.   Just put on Twilight, but my sky is so unpredictable it didn’t record, in fact most of them didn’t record – now trying Sherlock Holmes… no, vixens not our ab fab fav man steamily playing the dastardly Moriarty, but one with the drop dead gorgeous, but unfortunate and sorry waste to womanhood, Rupert Everett.      

  

I haven’t recommended any books here  lately; my latest three good reads were:  

The Joy Luck Club was Amy Tan’s debut novel – unlike many writers this was not a one-book/one-hit wonder and she has gone on to prove herself over and over again.    It was turned into an excellent film which, coincidentally, was being aired on tv at the time I was reading the book.   I watched it once I’d finished and on the whole it was well done and almost, not quite, true to the story.

It’s about four immigrant Chinese/American women living in Chinatown, San Francisco (thanks jojo) who set up a club called ‘The Joy Luck Club’ where they meet in each other’s homes; they talk, worry, cook, eat together and play  Mahjong.  Just as the game is structured with four parts divided into another four parts, so is the book.   Three of the mothers and their daughters share stories about their lives (one of the mothers has already passed).   The stories are moving and mystical.  The mothers worry about their daughters lives in America, and the daughters cannot understand their mothers and know little of their history.   As the book unfolds and their stories unravel, the daughters begin to understand the mystery of their mother’s dramatic and traumatic lives.   The fragile bonds between mother and daughter tighten and they learn what it is to change and to hope.  The discovery of family legacy and individual identity, clashes and reconciliation, love and loss is no stranger to most of us, particularly for those of us whose ancestors were immigrants.

———-

The Help is Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel and in many ways reflects her own life.   It took her years and determination to get this novel published and I hope it won’t be a one hit wonder.   The story is set in early sixties Jackson Mississippi at the onset of the civil rights movement.   The narrator is Aibileen, a black maid whose remit was not only chief cook and bottlewasher, but also to raise the white woman’s children.  The other main protagonist is Miss Skeeter, a young white woman with ambitions to be a writer and Minnie, Aibileen’s neighbour and a maid with a loud mouth that lands her in all sorts of trouble.   I found it a true page turner, stomach churning and emotionally gripping.  Here’s the synopsis from Kathryn Stockett’s website:

“Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”

———-

It was over sixty years from its original conception before  Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Française came to be published.   The story cannot be read in isolation – the appendices have to be read to give the book full meaning and emotion for it’s the facts that surround the discovery of this book that make it all the more remarkable.   For all that it’s a bestseller, the finished writing of the book is not polished or edited.  

The book is in two parts, although her intention was to write five modelled on the rhythm and tone of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  She wrote meticulous notes on the work in progress and on every character.  Storm in June, the first part, were her observations of the Parisians as they fled their city and the second section, Dolce, is about the residents of a rural community during the occupation.  Her writing concentrated on the raw nature of the French people; she denounced them for fear, cowardice, acceptance of humiliation, persecution and massacre.  If anyone has romantic notions of France and the French people, this book would surely make you think twice. 

Ironically she didn’t focus on the fate of the Jews.  She was  a Ukrainian Jew who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution and settled in France and, despite positively disliking the Jews and converting herself and her two young daughters to Catholicism, was murdered in Auschwitz  for being Jewish. 

———-

Not sure what to read next — I have a pile of unread books by my bedside and on my bookshelves; a couple of Michael Chabon, more Amy Tan, some from the Kellerman family,  but not sure what I’m in the mood for – does anyone here have any recommendations?

It has stopped snowing  for a while – my road is like an ice rink, but I shall be getting to work tomorrow.  I am actually more concerned about getting home at the end of the day!   Wish me luck and good luck to everyone else who has to brave these Siberian weather conditions – we are just so not geared up to it – oy vay!

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

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man  ~ Benjamin Franklin
 
I made no resolutions for the New Year.  The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me  ~ Anaïs Nin
 
 

 

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)!

with every best wish for a blessed 2010 to all my blogging family and friends

TAKEN FROM MY FRONT DOOR

 

Many many many many years ago on a beautiful sunny autumn day I impulsively bought myself a pair of fur lined (well – fluffy) snowboots that lived safe and dry and warm in the boot (trunk) of my car.  They stayed pristine white and virginal for over seven years – they were like my own little insurance policy against that little dirty four letter word.    If anyone is gonna slip and slide and fall on their face, or their tail, it’s sure to be yours truly.   Snow is no friend of mine! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

I was upset yesterday – I couldn’t believe the weather.  I frantically searched my shoe cupboards – I have a lot of them – for my now very mucky stained, well used and abused and trusted and very much loved  boots.   I don’t care what they look like, or how I look.  If there’s one itsy bitsy snowflake on the path, I will not leave the house without them.   

I don’t remember the last time it snowed in London in December and now tonight (Thursday) it’s really coming down.      I’m still recovering from last February.   Actually I’m not sure I ever shared this story with anyone in the blogosphere, but my friends and community dined out on it for months and people stopped me in the street and the supermarket and the butcher and the baker and told me they’d heard what happened.  

Do you remember  ten months ago when this country ground to a halt?   Even I watched the weather channel that day which is quite something seeing I tell certain weather obsessed people (you know who you are) if you want to know what the weather’s like, turn off the tv and put your head out the front door.     I was going to Israel again expecting to be almost snowed-in there like the previous February (2008) when I had to get out the Gush for meetings in Tel Aviv in time for my taxi driver to get me there and for him to get home before he got snowed-out!    

Thankfully on the day of my departure the snow in my area was practically gone so, minus snowboots, we – that is me and Gary (a good friend and my trusty driver)  left the house at 6.00 a.m.    We had barely gone 5 minutes when the traffic report came on to say Luton Airport was closed.    We’d heard the north of the country would be snowbound, but I guess when they talked north they meant north of London.    I tried to call the airport but only got pre-recorded messages so we battled on.    The motorways were chock-a-block and gridlocked because of jack-knifed lorries so Gary assured me he knew another way – huh – a route that had not been gritted.  Not totally unsurprising since the big news was the country had run out of salt and grit!!!     

We got stuck so many times and slid all over the place. Hours later we neared Luton only to be waved down and told not to go on a particular road since nothing had moved in almost two hours.    Grateful for the information, Gary reassured me again that he knew yet another way, so we unstuck ourselves in reverse and miraculously got out of there.   The next road, an alternative route to the airport,  had also not been gritted and was a sheet of ice.    All the cars were sliding all over the place and nothing was making progress.   We looked at each other and I said I felt sick, not bad traveller’s kinda sick, but scary sick and Gary had visibly paled and confessed he felt the same.    He was not his usual chippy chirpy self.  We had no choice – we had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way.   Gary, bless him, said the arrangement was for him to get me to the airport and so he did. 

It was freezing – the snow was almost up to our knees – okay I exaggerate a little – my knees, his calves!   What a gentleman – my hero – he schlepped my case and 45 minutes and a mile-and-a-half walk later two very wet and bedraggled souls entered the airport.   My first port of call, the ladies, to get out of soaking wet socks, trainers and jeans.     Many airlines had actually cancelled all flights; mine hadn’t and eventually, hours late,  we took off – the atmosphere and camaraderie at the airport and on the flight was fantastic, but please please please, I would not want to experience that again.    I came home two weeks later and everyone knew – Gary, my super-uber-hero had told everyone.   I did reward him well – he was worth it.

So, back to today – that is if I get this posted, since my lights are flickering and I’m watching Grumpy Old Women at Christmas – they are so funny and it’s funny watching Maureen Lipman and Leslie Joseph, two prominent Jewish personalities, moaning about their Christmas preparations.   Sorry, got distracted.     

A good friend’s daughter, Sarah, is getting married this Sunday – oh and Rachel is bridesmaid again – just thought I’d mention it.    Well they have been friends since nursery school.   Rachel and Sarah were Gemma’s bridesmaids.   Sarah and Gemma were Rachel’s.   So Rachel and Gemma are Sarah’s.    Aaaaah!     A lot of Sarah’s family live in Israel and are flying in today and I’m putting two of her cousins and spouses up for Shabbat – that is, if they get here.      The wind is howling and it is snowing – horrid – ghastly – freezing – wet – cold – settling on the ground – my road is an ice rink – that kinda  snow, not the pretty pretend stuff on this page.  

I’m praying they get here safely.   I’m praying everyone gets to the wedding safely – especially the bride and groom.   I’m wondering how my snowboots will look with my evening gown…

… and I’ve just booked to go to Israel again this February – with my snowboots!

 

SNOW IN ISRAEL

******

 

 

 

and let’s all say ‘amen’ to a world

of peace and freedom

 

******

 

 

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chanukah 2007 - serious do'nut time

 

 

chag chanukah seme’ach

shabbat shalom

lotsa luv   ann   x0x0x0x

Today was an amazing day – I had the opportunity to attend five brilliant lectures and I didn’t want any of them to end.   We only got a taste, an hour each,  enough for everyone to hunger for more, on subjects ranging from Polish Jewry; the Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet; the Enigma of Jewish History – Random or Design; the Proof for the Existence of G-d; and the keynote speaker on the Paradox of Freewill, a personal favourite.   Each was a gem.   

Language fascinates me.   Many languages use the same words for modern inventions like radio, television, telephone etc.   I thought the Hebrew for computer would be just that, but the word is machshev, the root of which is lachshov – to think – the one thing a computer cannot do for itself – interesting eh!   Every letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the alephbet,  is a word of its own and it’s formation is made up of component letters that represent  words.   For example the first letter aleph has several meanings from the number 1000, to teach and prince.   The letter vav looks like a hook and means just that, so it is also the connecting word ‘and’ hooking words together.   Also every Hebrew letter has a numerical value so that words have even deeper meaning.

Still as my body needs nourishment so does my soul.   Many of you who know me well know that I live mostly in a state of perpetual confusion and uncertainty – everyday I struggle with my conscience and my morals.  There is no deed or spoken word that I don’t analyse and agonise over, thinking I shouldn’t have done that or said this and why didn’t I do it differently – particularly why didn’t I do more or give more of myself.     So I think I’ll do better next time.   But that next time never seems to come; it’s like a never-ending circle.   Yes, even my entertainment and relaxation choices bother me.  Believe it or not  I do prefer to read books or watch programmes that make an impact, deliver a message, teach a lesson.   Yeah you’re thinking sure and all this coming from a Bon Jovi fan, but his lyrics aren’t all soppy love songs, he embraces war and politics and humanity and human nature.  And the cop shows I watch – they send a message too – that good will triumph over evil.   

Then of course there’s that eternal problem of temptation.    The devil dancing on one shoulder urging you on saying go on, you know you want to,  and the angel on the other reminding you that you really really shouldn’t.   Then the regrets either way.   Giving in and kicking yourself in the process, or not giving in and still kicking yourself when you should be feeling virtuous… oh the complexities of the conscience mind.  And all the time I know I can’t hide away, that Hashem knows the truth of my every action, my every thought and that I do care what others think, but more so what He thinks and that it’s not His will but my will, the freewill He has given us all.

So I go to these talks and I go to synagogue.  Sometimes when I go to pray I can’t  focus, my head filled with a stream of abstract thoughts.  On those days  the sound of the familiar tunes helps and I hope the sermon will provide the spiritual lift my soul needs.    It’s good to have my conscience pricked.    Life is a constant learning curve; I sure don’t know it all; I have to ask questions even knowing that those questions cannot fully or necessarily be answered rationally, but faith and a willingness to hear what those wiser and learned have to impart does make a difference – it’s stimulating and food for thought.  

We have been given freewill, we can perpetuate or break the mould, we can do good or bad, but at the end of the day it’s our lives.  It’s not my place to judge anyone or yours to judge me;  heaven forbid I try so hard not to do that and I know I am my worst critic.  We cannot possibly know the circumstances of others’ lives, we can only know what’s in our own heart and soul and mind,  but there is one conclusion I have come to and I do truly believe – we are judged on how we deal with our circumstances and not on the circumstances we are dealt.  

 

Yesterday I was at a beautiful wedding – not large by Jewish standards – around 170 guests.   I used to live across the road from these friends and knew the bride 32 of her 33 years.   I didn’t know at the time who lived in the house opposite because I used to work in the City, leave home early, get home then collapse in a heap.  However, my neighbour obviously knew my movements, because as soon as I stopped working to have my first baby, there was a knock on the door and that was the start of a new friendship and the start of becoming part of a community and an amazing circle of friends.    Being so close in every possible way, we obviously got to know each other’s extended families, so I knew all the Hull side that came down to London and the American branch too — it was lovely to reunite and catch up with so many people on such a joyous occasion.   Sadly I had to go up to Hull a couple of times recently as my friend lost first her brother and then a few weeks later her father also died – so to be celebrating  a simcha  together was especially beautiful, one that the Rabbi said in shul on Shabbat was long time coming – and no one took offense.   Good for the bride – she waited until it felt right and her new husband is a truly wonderful guy – long may they be blessed .

The chupah took place in a beautiful West End synagogue; the ladies and men seated separately.   Everyone is aware of my single status so a good friend jokingly remarked, “Look at that lot over there,” referring of course to the men, “which one would you take home?”   The truth is that the men across the aisle while most certainly losing their youthful glow (and their hair) and most now in retirement mode were great guys.    I knew them as good and honest and respectable, decent people, all I’m delighted to add still happily married to their long term spouses.    I just smiled, but the thought did cross my mind that I didn’t think any one of them would actually want to take me home.

I did have a wonderful time; the bride was  s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g… she is very very tall and very very slim and she wore a gown I had never seen the likes of before and I don’t think I could do it justice trying to describe it, but when I told her that I thought it was very Carrie, of SATC fame, she said that was the best possible compliment.    As I said, I did have a wonderful time, but!!!!   I don’t brood on it, but something was definitely missing.   The bride and groom were not so young, in fact someone told me the groom was about 38 and it made me think back because at that age we were celebrating No.1 son’s  Bar Mitzvah.   And then it really hit me; this was my old crowd, my good friends.  We’d shared simachot and sad times and children and grandchildren and the ups and downs of life together for over thirty years, yet one was missing and he should have been there; we should have been there together, dancing like we all had done together twenty years earlier, still the same, but now  just a little worn in the joints.    

So, I look around at all my friends and wonder.   Can I leave you now?   Is it time to up sticks and move away from them?   I am blessed to be part of a lovely community, to walk into synagogue and not feel a stranger, to know I have such a wide circle of friends locally.  Yet — I don’t live near a single member of my family.   I moved to this area where my husband and his family lived when we  got married 34 years ago.  My mother, my brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins and now my son and daughter all live in North London.  

The days of spending afternoons with friends and children are long gone; the days of entertaining each other, making dates ahead of time so we could get babysitters are long gone.   Some are retired and globetrot, many owning second homes abroad.  Some are grandparents and Saturday night is likely spent babysitting.    On days off, ‘ladies who lunched’ has now become ‘retired couples who lunch’ – which is all lovely, but where does that leave me?   Oh, I’m not moaning, just noting that the whole dynamic has changed.   I hardly see them any more.  Sure we still talk, but you can chat to anyone, anywhere at the end of a phone.   

Apparently Jamie who, bless ‘im, is an open book, told a friend of mine he had seen a house he liked.   She told me this across the dinner table last night.    Jamie sees all my friends.    He commutes back to Chigwell to work and near his office are hairdressers and beauty salons that they frequent, so he sees ’em all and they all love him —- he’s such a shmoozer.    When I mentioned that maybe I’d buy his apartment there was a stunned silence around the table.  Another friend asked me to repeat myself and then the first friend said, “What about book club?”    Well that was exactly why I had formed it – for selfish reasons.   As I just commented, I wasn’t seeing anyone, but I wasn’t losing friendships, everyone’s lives are so full and different now.   This way I was seeing around 12 girlfriends every month, every one of them avid readers.    I would never give up my baby, my book club –  I’d still come back every month and see the girls, which is moreorless as much as I see them now…  and at engagements and weddings and funerals.

So now I’m off to Jamie’s neck of the woods to take a look at the run-down house he wants to buy and renovate and take a closer look at his place which is literally down the same road.   Maybe it really is time to move on, as they say!   But don’t tell mother – I haven’t told her yet – much easier for her health and mine to wait until it is a fait accompli.

 

 

 

Don’t Come In

 

must get myself together
put on my face

brace myself against the weather
got this day free

well not so much
it’s still costing me

we’re not that busy
work’s slow

can’t spend it shopping
a day off and I’m broke

 

© ann raven 2009

 

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You’d think I’d be pleased to be told to take the day off, but I feel at a bit of a loss.   It wouldn’t seem so bad if I was really given a day off, but I will have to make it up or lose the pay.   It’s circumstances and the fact that my colleague and I are too darn efficient.   I often tell her to exercise Parkinson’s Law, but she works like speedy gonzales.  Mind, I don’t really like to be in my office with nothing to do and my boss likes even less paying me to do nothing, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve found lotsa little extras to do that we don’t normally have time for and done myself out of working today.    Ironically you would think this means I may soon be unemployed (and at my age unemployable) but I actually think my job is fairly safe – for now!

So, you’d think a whole day to do as I please (well half-day now – I’ve just finished my book – more of that another time) would be a bonus.  The truth is I work and operate best under pressure.   Today I am so not in the right frame of mind to be creative, although I quickly threw out the verse above, and I don’t feel like cooking or cleaning.     However, I did surf the net for properties.  

I viewed a ground floor apartment the other day – about ten/fifteen minute walk from Jamie and Lucy.  It had a nice kitchen, two nice bathrooms, two good sized bedrooms that needed ripping out, so far so good, until the living room – it wasn’t big enough.    I told the agent out right, not wanting to waste anyone’s time.    I do fancy an apartment, at least I think I do.    A fairly modern block would be okay, but I like the idea of a Victorian or Edwardian conversion.   Those houses are full of character, the rooms are bigger and airier (is there such a word) and it will be worlds away from the square box I live in now, although this house has served me well.  

If I do find something, or if J & L find something and I end up buying their gorgeous garden flat, I won’t sell this house.    I’ll probably let it,  get an income to cover costs plus some, and if I’m not happy with moving away from here, I could still come back.  

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Jedward are out – halleluyah.   At last they performed with no tricks, just them and a microphone and yes, what we all thought was confirmed, they can’t sing.   I still wish them well and think there’s a glittering future in store for them.    Shock horror Olly was down there with them, when it should have been Lloyd, who also cannot sing… maybe not as bad as the twins, but nowhere near as good as the others.   Thank goodness Danni didn’t chicken out and go for the public vote – she stuck with her guns that it is a singing competition and that is how she has judged it every week.  

So – who to win?   Joe and Stacey have the best vocals.   Olly knows how to wow the audience and Danyl… not sure what to make of him; I think he’s gorgeous, I love his performances, but what’s with the judges and the media always putting him down.   He’s luvverly.

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I don’t think I’m going to Israel for Channukah… it’s a shame, I really wanted to see the children and give them presies, but I’ll best say no more – guess I’ll have to wait till February!

Rachel and I are planning a trip to the big apple next year – just the two of us – mother and daughter, so that should be fun.   She wants to book it sooner than later, which is rather odd since we never like to plan our lives so far ahead.   Can anyone recommend a good hotel?

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I love NCIS – and now I love NCIS Los Angeles.   Recently Rach and I caught the first episode and she kept saying isn’t that Chris O’Donnell, you know Robin.    Chris O’Donnell, who he?   Me not looking at Mr O’Donnell – me looking at the super-uber-cool LL Cool J – Ladies Love Cool James – oh boy!    Yeah, this is how I spent some of my day off, surfing youtube.  

Injustice

Posted on: 20 November 2009

I am incensed and I owe a good good friend an apology – I lost my rag, not with him, but with the system.     We have discussed it a million times and last night was no exception – he wanted to drop the subject, but I wouldn’t let it go because I find it so outrageous and I’m sorry that I give him a hard time and I’m sorry he has to put up with this – and I know he’s not alone, so this is for everyone.  

I thought slavery had been abolished, but when an employee has no rights, no contract, is paid peanuts and can be let go at a moment’s notice, it does make me wonder.      This friend worked for over eight years, full time for a company and was made redundant at the outset of the recession over a year ago.   The company is still in business and he was given zilch, no redundancy pay, not one single cent – why, because where he lives the employee has no contract and no rights.    My country is not perfect  but unless a company goes under and the employee becomes a creditor, there are statutory payments they have to make when letting someone go.    Since losing that job  and being unemployed for a while, he is now working for a supermarket under the same conditions, no contract, no rights.

I am sure that every supermarket employee in this country has a signed contract, proper annual leave entitlement, even in their first year, sick pay and an element of security as long as they fulfil their contractual obligations and the company is still trading.   I would like to name and shame the American supermarket chain my friend busts a gut for, but I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardise him.   Instead I shall rant here and hope I express it better in verse. 

Injustice

this is the promised land
the golden medina
where the grass is greener

in this ‘new’ land
its declaration vows
the pursuit of happiness for every man
life and liberty and equality

if you’re the employer
not the employee!
what hypocrisy!

“In G-d We Trust”
the motto of this State
that’s not enough when
the ethos means

no business ethics
no rights
no contracts
no leave

they can dismiss you as they please
no such thing as loyalty
no pat on the back, a job well done
you’re an asset to the company

instead – you’re a liability
dispensable, expendable
to hell with security
if you don’t like it, tough

there’s always another
to take your place
in the land of the free
the United States

It’s odd the moral dilemma I find  myself in when driving to work.  I know it’s just a  silly little thing and hardly requires deep meaning or philosophy, but still it bothers me.   Obviously it’s the rush hour, the roads are horrendously busy, traffic jams, road works, broken lights, accidents, sirens, the usual.    I don’t mind letting people out ‘cos I would like someone to do the same for me – and I try not to block sideroads when stuck in a line that ain’t moving.  The thing is doing this the whole journey means it takes longer and then I could be late for work and I do have an obligation to my boss – he  does pay me to be there.   So, if I don’t let someone out and I’m given the evil eye I feel terrible, and even if I’m not given the eye, I feel terrible – they don’t know I’ve already been “gentleman jim” umpteen times and the clock is nearly clocking on time.     Strangely it makes no difference what time I leave the house, traffic is traffic.   I don’t have this problem going home – I let ’em all out!   Funny, the silly thoughts that go round my head!

Here’s some exciting news – the Israeli branch of my tribe have moved home.   They’ve left the big house in Neve Daniel (where the wind whipped round the hillside, it was cold cold cold, but the views were breathtakingly stunning – and I shall miss all their neighbours who over the years have hosted me many a Shabbat lunch).  They’re now in a much smaller apartment in Raanana, an area I have only  passed through once and that was for a quick falafel and hummus; hopefully I shall visit them real soon,  although not sure there’s enough room at the inn for mother.    It’s funny how things work out.  Jon was made redundant almost a year ago, his old boss got him an interview for another job that he did not get.   That company then recommended him to another company and he got that job then – they poached him back.   Well the new job’s in Herzliya which meant a commute of 2 hrs morn and night, hence the move.   Yeah, think I’ll definitely go online and check those flights for Chanukah and I need some new pics 🙂

I rarely check this bog’s blog’s stats, I don’t need to go there to know I don’t get many visitors – aaaaaah!   Well, the point is I did see my stats and the one post that consistently attracts a steady stream of interest is Privileged to Walk with Angels, the one I wrote after my trip to Israel earlier this year.   The good news is, I’ll be repeating the experience and I’m really excited – it was such an honour to meet such amazing people, heroes and heroines, the victims of terror and the people who help them – and baby No.3 is due around the same time.   Kill two birds with one stone – what a ghastly expression when you think about it – better not think about it!

I haven’t posted any poetry here in a while; I’m now putting it directly on My Poetry Page.  If anyone’s even remotely interested, there’s some new stuff and some old that I’ve played around with and tweaked here and there.    I’m in the process of putting it here too.  

Currently re-reading Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Michael Chabon’s Final Solution and Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.   Also treated myself to some poetry by real poets which is a joy to dip into when I can’t sleep.  Have now happily got my copy of The Narrows – just need to find time to sit and watch it in peace and quiet – not because anyone else lives here, but because of the  darn phone and don’t suggest I unplug it or switch off my mobile, they’ll then worry and it’s so not worth the aggravation – still it’s nice to know they care.

Other news – I thought I was gonna move.     I walked into my house the other day, looked around and decided it needed a makeover of some sort.  It was redecorated and recarpeted not so long ago, but the curtains and light fittings were already here when I bought the place and they’re pleasant enough but they and my furniture are all looking a tad tired.   It hit me that I’m now ready to move on and out and start over.   Coincidentally Jamie said he’d found a house near him he thought I would like, and I hadn’t even told him my idea.   I said I’d rather move to a flat (apartment) so he said he’d buy the house and I could buy his place, which I love love love, and I was so excited except the house he was gonna buy has fallen through… and there was I  wading my way through the John Lewis catalogue.   Guess it wasn’t meant to be, but watch this space. 

 

 

 

“Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen.”

prodigal summer

 

I allowed myself  the luxury of spending the morning in bed;  the sun was pouring through my bedroom window and I felt like a cat on a hot spot, every pore of my skin soaking up the warmth… purr!     Also the purrfect spot to finish my book.   It was last month’s book club choice, but this was not a book to rush, it was one to savour every well written page.   Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.       I had to agree with some that the connection of characters is somewhat contrived and the women predictably the strong characters, the men put in their place… but that didn’t matter.  The whole package took my breath away.   I was making notes, taking pleasure in the language, her style, her creative use of metaphor and I learnt so much.   It could have been preachy, but I found it a font of  beautifully presented knowledge.  I don’t think I can give it justice in my limited use of words… it’s one I would recommend you try for yourself.

I rationed myself.   Everyone loves a page-turner and I could easily have read it in a couple of days, but for me it was something special like an expensive treat  from Hotel Chocolat;  a little piece to nibble every day and I didn’t want it to finish.   Her prose was like pure poetry to my eyes and my senses.  

The story is set one humid summer in the lushness of Southern Appalachia, the true star of the book.   The book is redolent with sex:   ”Here and now spring heaved in its randy moment. Everywhere you looked, something was fighting for time, for light, the kiss of pollen, a connection of sperm and egg and another chance.”   Barbara Kingsolver is a biologist, she knows her subject  and she cleverly weaves her knowledge between her characters in chapters headed Predator, Moth Love and Old Chestnuts. 

Predator centres on Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive 40-something divorced wildlife biologist who works out of a solitary log cabin maintaining the trails and observing and protecting the wildlife, her particular interest being the preservation of coyotes.   Her solitude and peace is disturbed when she encounters Eddie Bondo, a guy many years her junior, a hunter who does not share her view of coyotes; they fight, they make love.   Further down the mountain we meet the subject of Moth Love, Lusa Maluf Landowski daughter of a Jewish/Polish father and a Palestinian mother, an entomologist, a young farmer’s wife soon to become a young farmer’s widow who inherits the family farm and problems with her many in-laws.   Old Chestnuts wonderfully describes elderly feuding neighbours, widower Garnett Walker and his obsession with the American chestnut tree and Nannie Rawley and her organic orchards.   Both knowledgeable and both fiercely defending their views.   By far the most entertaining and endearing characters.    

I learnt so much about the natural world; relevant debate about coyotes and predator/prey relationships,  as well as insects and a whole host of other living creatures; arguments about the use of pesticides and the harm that they do; the whole eco-system.  The story is not purely about coyotes and moths and  trees, it’s about human interaction.    Prodigal Summer is a beautifully written testament to nature and human nature.   Unlike most books, I found the ending did not disappoint –  it was surprising though.   I would love Barbara Kingsolver to write a sequel… there is a lot more to tell.   I want to know what happened next and like nature and the environment, it is a never ending story.

I will read it again, but next time in the summer, in the sunshine, in the park, within the sound of chirruping birds, buzzing bees, butterflies and breezes… and Val, I think you may like it.

the loves of my life

at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet ~~~ plato

thank you…

... to everyone whose pictures and videos I have borrowed; if anyone would like theirs to be removed, please tell me and I shall be happy to do so

all words here are mine ~ I’ll tell you when they’re not!

from long ago

in case I forget what day of the week it is

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