to Bridgitte and Jonathan Raven
a beautiful son
born in Israel
a baby brother for Boaz and Moriah
(and a third grandbaby for moi)
this little one has been playing games with his aba and ima since last wednesday, when bridgitte went in for a c-section because he was breach (not like when I had his breach father and c-section was not an option in the old days) — then she was sent home because he righted himself — then it was meant to be a c-section yesterday because he had flipped the wrong way again — then the doctors turned him the right way so they decided to slowly induce but nothing happened all day yesterday, so they started again today and sof, sof, he arrived safely around 5.00 p.m. israel time and mummy and baby raven are doing well
hopefully a photo will follow – it’s on jon’s blackberry, but he’s not home yet — been told he has boaz’s shape face and moriah’s nose and favours bridgitte’s father’s side of the family — can’t wait to meet him — oh and he weighed in at 3.5 kilo
Monday I dragged my feet like a reluctant and recalcitrant schoolgirl back to my writing class – a new term, a new class, a new teacher. I was trying to justify every good reason for a no show – the course had been paid for, the money long gone, but the bottom line was that I simply could not be bothered. Shopping lists, christmas cards, cheques, sporadic posts here and an odd (in every sense) comment there, just about sums up the extent of my writing since breaking up last November. You’d think with the number of vegetative days since the snows began I would have taken the opportunity to knuckle down and be creative – huh – it don’t work like that!
The fact is I felt I’d lost my mojo and couldn’t face sitting in a class of talented wannabes, my pen frozen in the air above the snowy white virgin sheet of paper and everyone else keen eager beavers. Still I did make it ; the new teacher is a darling, it was great to see friends from last term and some newbies. It was rather amusing seeing their young and enthusiastic faces enter the room – you could tell there was an element of shock when they saw the number of wrinklies and thought they were in the wrong place. However as for not writing, I was not alone – no one else had and we all felt the same!
You see I blame the weather. It’s odd how it changes one’s psyche. We’ve all heard of SAD, seasonal affective disorder – not that it particularly affects me apart from my usual moan that it goes against nature to get up from a warm cosy bed when it’s still dark out there. It’s the psychological affect of snow; the feeling of being cut off and isolated that equates with hibernation; the desire to hole up and hide away and basically do nothing. Now I live a fairly solitary life in any event, but somehow this is different.
Last Wednesday was horrendous and my plans were scuppered so I chilled indoors, cooked and wrote a post. By the time I got home from work last night, my road was ice free – the garden still pretty as a winter wonderland and the underlying perils gone.
Today is another Wednesday – another non-working day – another night of snow and we’re back to square 1!
As I’m typing, I’m watching it coming down from the warmth of my bed, the sky the same colour as the housetops and the road an ice rink again, but today I will not give in so easily. Wisdom dictates I don’t do the North Circular, so sorry mother, another day not taking you to Brent X – it wasn’t so much the getting there, but the getting home. Still this vegetating has to stop. Life has to go on.
Tonight I have a meeting about my next official trip to Israel – driving on icy roads is one thing, doing it at night and I’m a real wimp, but it’s important. Many of you will remember last year’s trip well I’m doing it again. I’m looking forward to finding out this year’s itinerary and meeting my fellow travellers. I should like to revisit Rachel’s Tomb and pray harder this time – I’ll leave it at that for now. I heard we’ll be visiting Sderot, rocket attacks permitting. I know this time round it will be a larger group, so I expect we shall have an armed escort and travel on a bullet-proof bus and I know we shall be seeing Liore again – I am very excited. If you have time, please see the video on her link – Liore shines with inner beauty, she is modest, she is brave, she is an angel.
No trip to Israel goes without seeing my family, so of course I shall be staying on. Actually most trips are only about seeing them and weddings, talking of which, Jon and Bridgitte celebrate their 6th anniversary tomorrow, the baby is due very very soon – like around Boaz’s birthday and he’s gonna be 5 next week – I can’t wait to see them all – so many wonderful blessings. Coincidentally Jamie was due on Jon’s birthday, a long long time ago, except he came early – my husband wanted me to hang in there so he would then be born on his birthday the following day – yeah right! As it was I ended up living in a household with three typical Aries men!
Now I really am gonna move myself – the chores and errands won’t go away and they don’t do themselves!
HOT OFF THE PRESS — just heard that probate has been granted on the home jamie and lucy want to buy – guess it looks like I really will be moving – heeeeeeelp!!!!!
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
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
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)!
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!