Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sign of the times

Mountain Lion Warning

A few weeks ago we got an email from the principal of our son's elementary school to let the parents know that the kids would be having a lock down drill the next day.

Lock down. Really?

And I thought, man we live in a crappy time. You know? Our kids have to have drills in case there's a SHOOTER on a suburban elementary school campus? I was whining about this with my grandmother the other day. She had asked if we were still thinking about moving back to Israel. She's not super fond of the idea. She thinks it's too dangerous. So I mentioned the lock down in Mountain View. And how the world sucks everywhere nowadays. And how much simpler life must have been when she was young. And she said, yes. True. Well, except for the war. And the holocaust.

Sometimes it's hard to have faith in humanity. That's when I have to open my heart wide and follow the sage words offered by the mountain lion warning sign at the Fremont Older Open Space Reserve in Saratoga.
  1. Face (metaphoric) lion.
  2. Back away slowly (or)
  3. Be large.
  4. Shout.
  5. Keep children close. 
  6. Pick up children without bending (at the waist - your back will thank you).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A little peace

Uncle Martin wearing Berkeley tee. Photo credit: three year old daughter

I am on hour 8 of about 28 hours to myself in my own home. The last time this occurred was 49 years ago. It was only six years ago actually.  My husband went to Rome for "work" while I was six months pregnant with our son. We had just moved into our house and I was frantically unpacking and putting together furniture and lifting heavy objects against my better judgement. It was hugely enjoyable.

And here we are again six years later. Somehow it just never works out that I am alone in the house. I have certainly taken trips with friends and gotten away from the kids for short periods. But they've never left me behind. Until now. And I can't tell you how much I miss them. And how happy I am to be in my home by myself.

Especially now because I am way behind on a lot of things. I've been contracting the last two weeks at Shutterfly and while I certainly enjoy the change of pace and seeing old friends and getting free coffee and cereal in the morning, there is very little time leftover to manage the other parts of my life. And in two weeks I'm doing my first big festival which means I need inventory! And price tags! And displays! Plus we're on our third Jewish holiday out of five for September and our preschool is closed more often than it's open. All of this together is just not super conducive to me getting much done.

So this short period of peace and quiet is exactly what I need to get ready for the festival, purge some emails, make some food for the week, go to the farmer's market (alone), exercise and run a few errands. And figure out how to make this happen again before another six years has passed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicken swinging is way better than confessional


It was Yom Kipur, the Day of Atonement, on Saturday and I repented. Not really. I fasted and that sucked. And I wished I'd had some time while I was fasting to examine my life and talk to God. Or at least take a nap. But parenting duties continue on Yom Kipur so my guess is the next 8-10 Yom Kipurs are going to suck the big winkie. 

Leading up to Yom Kipur I tried to read a few stories and get the kids to understand this whole idea about repentance and forgiveness which I boiled down to feel bad and say sorry.  A little of that might have sunk in. Or not. My daughter was unusually bristly it turns out. She told each member of her family that she didn't like us and that she wasn't our friend anymore. But since she couldn't say Yom Kipur and instead called it Yom Kipod which means Porcupine Day it seemed to make perfect sense.

We did start a new family tradition this year to try and give the kids something to remember for next year. There's custom called Kapparot which literally means atonements. And traditionally you swing a live chicken over your head three times (I'm not making this up), recite a blessing to transfer your transgressions to the dizzy chicken and then you kill the chicken thereby eliminating your sins. You can read all about it here. Apparently only ultra religious communities still do this and under strong opposition by animal rights groups.

We didn't slaughter a live chicken for the obvious reasons. We did take stuffed animal chickens, whispered our sins and secrets to them, tied a shoelace around one wing and flung them around for a while. And then I took my daughter, dressed her up like a chicken, told her I was sorry for all of the yelling and mean things I've said and swung her around too! Meanwhile my husband was making a delicious lentil salad, chocolate banana bread and fresh lemonade to bring to my brother's house where we broke our fast in the most gluttonous way possible. We can atone for that next year.


Swinging live chicken

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bead Therapy


I have a favorite necklace that kind of looks like this one except it's very, very long and the glass beads are smaller. I bought it for a dollar in Manikaran, India, a small town in the Parvati Valley (far north), well known for it's geothermal activity and a sacred spot for the Sikh population. We were there in 2001 and my clearest memory is going to the public bathhouse where I stood out like, well, a naked white girl in an Indian bathhouse. So when I left the bathhouse I went to the marketplace and found a few things to help me fit in better - about thirty glass bangles and the necklace. It might have worked if I could have stacked the glass bangles all the way up my arms, around my neck and up both legs, so that no one could see my casper white skin. Alas, I still received many stares. And I sounded like a wind chime.

In Santa Fe, at my favorite store, they had a bin with glass beads for $3 a scoop. I got three scoops with the idea that I would maybe make a similar necklace or several (three scoops is a lot), even though I'd never done any bead or wire work in my life. Except for once when I was 16.  I feel a tangent coming on...

Friendship pins (safety pins with beads on them) were big back in 1989 and my friend Andrea and I made a lot of them. So many that we started stringing them through elastic and making them into bracelets. And then we started selling them at the children's bookstore where I worked part time. And one day a lady came in and wanted to buy thirty of them for her daughter's birthday party! So we made thirty and it took forever and our fingers bled and she only paid us $120 which, at the time, we thought was a TON of money even though it was essentially about $2 an hour but then we didn't talk to each other for like two months and it was kind of a disaster. Soon after, Macy's started selling similar items for about $40 each. Let this be a lesson to you readers. ALWAYS PATENT YOUR IDEAS. Our company was called Cheesy Beads. I promise this will tie together in a second...

Lately I have been in a creative rut, feeling a little strangled by my watercolors.  So today, I went to the bead store two blocks from my house with my India necklace and my pile of Santa Fe glass beads and high hopes that a little wire and bead work might kickstart my creativity. The guy at the store sold me a round nose pliers, a bunch of eye wires and a clasp and sent me home to look at You Tube for instructions. Which is what I did. And here is my necklace which, on me, is more of a choker, ironically, but in the bigger picture, might just be what I needed to open up the flood gates.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Goodbye to summer


A few pictures from our trip to Santa Fe. It was another great trip, with some interesting twists. Namely that my sister-in-law was put on bed rest at 32 weeks with her third child. In Albuquerque. Which is 60 miles away from her home Santa Fe. Not ideal. But we all rallied. My other sister-in-law and brother-in-law cooked delicious vegetarian cuisine all week. The kids spent a lot of time exploring the arroyos, finding treasures, and rigging ways to haul their treasures home. We went to a dia del nino festival one morning and dressed up like senoritas and conquistadores and built adobe houses. We celebrated my niece's fourth birthday with unicorn cake. The kids gave themselves many many tattoos and painted several hundred coats of nail polish on their hands and feet and legs and everywhere else. There were also many water fights between siblings of all ages. And a few family visits to the hospital. It was a great end to a great summer.

But now I'm ready to hunker down for a little quiet and reflection. Hopefully autumn weather and spirit are around the corner.

Desert Flowers

La Familia

Adobe House

Unicorn Cake


Water Fight

Bed Rest

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Having my cake and sharing it too

I woke up this morning to a beautiful and tasty breakfast of fried eggs on toast, chopped salad and chocolate. Because today is no ordinary day friends. Today is MY BIRTHDAY. And, since I lowered my expectations for my birthday by several orders of magnitude based on last year's fiasco, SO FAR SO GOOD. 

And coincidentally this year my birthday is also the birthday of the WORLD. It's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starting this evening. Some of you may know that I have a thing about sharing my birthday. I don't like to share. Thank god I'm not a twin. But then I had to go and marry someone whose birthday is five days after mine and he has a brother with a birthday a week after that and now suddenly all of my birthdays are shared occasions. Which I hate have come to accept. But this year is especially communal because this year I have to share my birthday with the WORLD. And that's also why I shared my birthday with son's kindergarten class. 

I went in after recess to do a little Rosh Hashanah presentation for the kids and it was a AWESOME. I am now Miss Susie, loved and revered by 26 five-year-olds. Most importantly, I even managed to blow the ceremonial shofar which is like blowing a trumpet except it's the horn of a ram. Seriously. And we all had apples dipped in honey to signify a sweet new year but only after I made the kids sing happy birthday to me. And then I asked if any one had any questions and several kids raised their hands to tell me when their birthdays would be and one kid told me his grandma was 87. Love kindergartners.

On tap for the rest of this wonderful day:
1. Make dinner for mine and my brother's family.
2. Drink latte.
3. Revel in my facebook birthday wishes. 
4. Go to post office.
5. Buy heavy cream so my husband can make me a cake tonight.

ALSO, in the spirit of sharing my birthday, I'm offering BUY ONE GET ONE FREE (of equal or lesser value) through the end of the day tomorrow midnight (pacific time) on all items in my ETSY shop (except ketubahs - why would you need more than one ketubah?) Write BIRTHDAY in the message to seller and I'll reimburse you via paypal for the second item.

Happy Day everyone!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Merry Go Round

Creepy Carousel

Regards from Santa Fe. We're here again for a family rendez-vous. Since my brother-in-law and his family moved here about two years ago we've managed to come out several times to visit, both in the late summer and the winter. There was a time when I would scoff at the idea of going to the same place again and again for vacation, though plenty of people do just that. I just always want to go somewhere new. And I still do. I go straight to the travel section of the Times on Sunday. But these days somewhere new also means more planning, more money, and more whining. If our trips to Israel are any indication, my kids mostly want to go to parks and pools. And while a tour of "pools around the globe" does sounds fascinating, I think we'll wait until they're a little older so they can roll their eyes instead of whine. So we come here and we enjoy being with family and we let the kids explore the arroyos around the house and the rest of the world will wait.

The day after we arrived I took my daughter to my favorite store on earth which I wrote about here. That's where I snapped this picture of the creepy, rusty, old carousel with the ringmaster/genie on the top. I don't know what it is about paint-chipped clowns and creaky carnival relics that is so intriguing. My daughter and niece set up shop on the mermaid with her boobs chipped off and the sad giraffe and had themselves a tea party while I had a talk with the genie about a few wishes I need granting...