Yips&Howls's Blog

It’s hard to believe, but yesterday was the last class of the last day of the last semester of the last year of my MA program. All my papers are in and I have “just” my thesis left to do (in progress, due mid-September).

It was an amazing journey into a realm that was somewhat foreign to me, not being of the “Arts” persuasion. One thing I learned is how much I don’t know. I hope I will have the persistence, motivation and determination to continue my journey. One thing I want to do is to work my way through one of these “Best 100 Works of Literature of All Time” lists, going from earliest to latest. Paradise Lost and Heart of Darkness can already be checked off (amongst others, of course). Is Ulyssus somewhere in my reading future?

I met some amazing people (hope we continue to stay in touch!) and am totally in awe of the instructors who imparted to me some of their wisdom. To name them: Prof. William Kohlbrener (Intro to Literature, Milton, Shakespeare), Professor Susan Handelman (Contemporary Literary Criticism), Professor Evan Fallenberg (Literary Translation, Creative Writing), Professor Marcella Sulak (Translating Poetry), Professor Roston (Literature and Visual Arts), Dr. Kinnereth Meyer (American Drama), Dr. Baruch Alistair (5 megillot). And of course, Prof. Yael Shapira (thesis mentor). The only course that I am dissing is the Jewish-studies self-study course I took, but I ended up with 90, so never mind.

I have to give a thumbs-up to the amazing atmosphere at Bar Ilan. Being of the atheist persuasion in an orthodox Jewish learning establishment presented absolutely no problem whatsoever. The student (and academic) body ran the gamut: side-locks, tzitzit (fringed garments that Orthodox Jewish males wear), sheitels (head covering for Orthodox Jewish women),  and hijab  (head covering for Arabic women) were sported alongside  tattoos, piercings, spaghetti strapped tops, tights and  short shorts. Everyone in a wonderful spirit of live-and-let live and mutual appreciation. I don’t know if it’s just the English department of the whole university, but no complaints in that area.

Apartheid indeed!

I spent hours and hours reading, researching and writing. I have a couple of pieces that I wrote that I’m particularly proud of, and might actually look to getting them published: to wit, a creative writing piece connected to Sherlock Holmes, and the translations I just finished of the Israeli Hebrew poet, Alexander Penn (I will post them to my English with Linda site one of these days. I’ll let you know!) .

So now it’s time to  stop ignoring —  my house, my garden, my dogs, my cooking, too many of my friends, and my art.

First the good stuff. Most of the music was good, some was GREAT.

Most of the food was good, some was GREAT. The Potluck and the Cake Room surpassed expectations.

It was such fun having my kids with me (at least 2/3 of them).

Now the bad stuff…can’t say I was overjoyed at the place I chose to stay at…should have gone back to the one from last time which seemed so luxurious.

Here’s the letter I just sent off to the proprietor. I will point out that this is someone’s house that is just not occupied at the moment and that they let out, and not really a business venture/official zimmer. (Sorry for the wacko directionality…i.e. punctuation at the wrong end, but no time to fix it now).

 

*****

Dear R,
I hope you found the place satisfactory after we left.
I am sorry to say that we were a bit disappointed in the house.
There were two main flaws that, in our opinion, disqualified it from being a “5-star” place:
1) There was NO suitable way to heat water for coffee. There was no electric kettle and the blue kettle on the stove was FULL of rust and absolutely unusable (see photos. The black powder on the counter is the rust that fell off the lid as I placed it on the counter!) We couldn’t find a saucepan, and I ended up having to heat some water in a small stainless steel bowl with no handle. Even had we wanted to fill the “Meham” with water for just a few cups of coffee and wait for it to  heat up, the inside was dirty. This was quite an inconvenience, as I think the availability of a kettle is the minimum requirement (especially with such a great collection of teas)!
2) The clip on the shower to hold up the shower head was broken, meaning that we had to do a “hand-held” shower. Also, not “fun.” (See photo.)
There were another of other small things that, on their own might be trivial, but seemed to add up. Perhaps you would like to take them into consideration before your next guests:
  1. There was no toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom and we had to run around looking for some (finally found some upstairs) before we could use it. I think that making sure there is a supply of TP in every bathroom is something that should be on the “list.”
  2. The kitchen counter was dirty and needed wiping.
  3. The bunk beds were “strewn” with blankets and looked like someone had just dumped them (or had just got out of the bed). They should have been folded neatly.
  4. There are a number of things that need the care of a handyman: e.g. the dismantled cupboard  in the master bedroom, making sure both reading lamps have bulbs (master bedroom), that the trissim all open and close smoothly (master bedroom, one tris I couldn’t budge, living room it is very sticky), loose hinges (kitchen pantry cupboard), etc.
  5. The faucet in the shower needs a good dose of CILIT. Ugh!
  6. There was no Turkish coffee. I believe that many people enjoy Turkish coffee, especially in the morning, and it should be standard supply along with ‘nes’ and teas.
  7. The tree near the entrance needs a good trim so people don’t have to duck down when coming into the property (my son forgot to duck one time).
  8. The “driveway” is not conducive to parking.
  9. The gate is very sticky. I thought at first that we needed a key, until my daughter gave it a good kick. We weren’t able to close it afterward.
  10. I don’t know if the chairs outside on the patio were supposed to be part of the “deal” but they were certainly unusable and looked awful. If you would just stack them and tidy that area, it would just LOOK so much better.
  11. Paying guests really  shouldn’t be asked to “work” (even if it is “just” watering the plants). That’s for the couch surfers.
I admit these are small things, but they add to the atmosphere and feeling of caring and respect (or not) the owner has for their home and their guests.
On the other hand, we appreciated the little treats you left for us, especially the almond chocolate (homemade?). (But Bamba can’t be left out for any length of time, it gets “chewy.” Just saying.) And although you told us that the Miso was “out of bounds” I wasn’t sure about the wine, blueberries and other stuff in the fridge, so we didn’t touch them (except the fruit, but we had brought our own, and the milk). And my kids happily took advantage of a game they found.
Sincerely,
Linda and family

Who will wrap it up in a ribbon and put it in a box for me? 

So I can see at my leisure… 

 

Well, those are the words from Oliver! and I want to just say what a great weekend I had with my brood. I have to keep it short and sweet because I have a busy day, but just so I won’t forget and I can come back and remind myself.

Present were: Son and fiancee, younger daughter and bf, and older daughter. The first four reside here (well, the bf doesn’t really, but he’s here so often he’s already one of the family!), and older dd slept over Fri night.

I made lasagna, tomato soup (my fake Campbell’s recipe!), coleslaw and grilled vegies. Ydd and bf made a zillion potato latkes. That was Fri night dinner.

After dinner we made three teams for pictionary, and did two rounds. (Who won doesn’t matter, what matters is that we had FUN!)

Then we watched The Man Who Sued God, all bundled up on the sofa!

 

In the morning Sister and her DH joined us for breakfast: Jahnun and store-bought Cobanah, oven baked eggs, yogurt, tomato puree, schug, and latkes, with just enough that there was 1/2 of a Jahnun and 1 T of tomato puree  left.

It was a lazy day: reading in bed and stuff. Older dd left around 4 to get back to her kitties. Everyone else hung around till Sunday morning.

 

OK…well, I know it doesn’t SOUND like an earth-shattering weekend, but it was sooooo homey! Loved it.

 

First some basics: I need to present a “revision portfolio”…this means not handing in ‘finished work’ but presenting original work and then the piece after it has gone through revision to better work out plot, characters, etc. I don’t feel that I got enough CRITICAL FEEDBACK from the workshopping we did. Most were minor cosmetic changes (typos, word use, and the like). I need to know where things DON’T WORK for the reader.

Now I don’t want to toot my own horn, but  I do a lot of thinking, rewriting etc, before I hand in my piece to start with, so thinking about major revision is TOUGH. It’s also an EGO thing. It’s hard to judge one’s own work. So if anyone is taking the time to give me GOOD MAJOR CRITIQUE I thank you now in advance. If you prefer to copy-paste to word document and write answers on that, and email them to me…that’s good too.

I did 10 assignments altogether in this class. Here are 4 (the other I would like you to comment on is “The Wind” in a separate post).That gives me five pieces and I have to choose 3 out of the five.

A SCENT MEMORY: The Blue Sweater

I stood before the mirror and studied my reflection. The black dress fit okay, but it needed something to liven it up. A nice chain, perhaps. Or a scarf. I remembered a fine silk turquoise scarf that I had packed up  in a box some years ago, and fetched the ladder so that I might get it down from the shelf at the top of the cupboard.

I placed the box on the bed and pulled back the flaps. Immediately a warm, musky scent floated out of the box. I closed my eyes and let the smell envelop me completely. It was a scent of wool mixed with perfume and the soft,  fine scent of baby powder.

I let my hands dig down deep into the box, pushing aside carefully folded shirts and dresses until I could feel the coarse wooly texture of the blue tweed sweater I knew was at the bottom. I grabbed it out and gathered it to me, burying my face deep into its cushiony softness. My mother’s sweater, one of the few articles of clothing I had refused to part with after she had died. She had knit that sweater many years before and worn it often. Holding it close, my head resting on the thick cowl collar, I remembered her now with a jolt, shocked with a sharp, clear vision that I thought had been lost in the murkiness of time.

Again I breathed in deeply, trying to isolate the fusion of molecules that made it so unique: her earthy scent, invoking slightly stale perspiration mixed with her favorite, somewhat cloying, Evening in Paris, augmented by a hint of her special latkes, and tinged with the sharp tang of Lipton’s tea. I sank down onto the bed and succumbed to her embrace.

A BATHROOM

The exercise was to write about a bathroom that would instill fear in the reader.

One approached down two flights of dark, crumbling stairs and then round a corner to an evening gloomier portion of the basement where the silence aggressively overtook the throb of the music from above. Two doors stood side by side, their signs long ago chipped, faded or defaced enough so as to make them ambiguous as to the gender served within. Although a peek within the door on the left revealed no urinals, the overpowering smell was usually the trademark of the men’s. Only the lipstick stains on the mirror seemed to attest that this was the bathroom meant for the finer sex. A single working bulb in the ceiling was bravely—but not very successfully— trying to do the work of three, as the second was burnt out, and the socket of the third gaped empty. The on-again-off-again neon flashing from the strip joint sign across the street spasmodically colored the walls a sanguine red. Emerging from the gloom were a row of sinks to the left and a row of stalls to the right. Spider webs of cracks covered the chipped sinks and dripping faucets had eroded and left rusty, irregular stains around the drain. A slurry of cockroaches scurried along the edge of one of the sinks and up the wall, disappearing into the electrical socket. The silvering on the dirty mirror above the sinks had flaked off in places, leaving a sad, abstract filigree of black around its perimeter . On the very left side of the mirror, a muddy (one hoped it was mud) handprint started at shoulder height and dragged itself down to the level of the counter. To the left of the sinks hung a useless hot-air dryer: it’s electrical cord had been ripped from the back and lay coiled on the floor, still plugged in, its terminal wires a silent threat to the unwary. Graffiti covered almost every square centimeter of the room, wallpapering the stall doors, the walls, the bowls of the sink and even slipped over onto the mirror: names and phone numbers, vulgar suggestions, nebulous philosophic sayings.

A KITCHEN

 The exercise was to write about a kitchen in a humorous way that would instill fear in the reader. The person whose kitchen helped flesh out my ideas knows about it! 

The kitchen is a feast for the eyes—if you’re one of those people who like to haunt gadget or craft shops. You know, those crazy, ingenious contraptions that seem like a good idea at the time and worthy of the money or effort, yet end up on the top shelves or evicted to the garage after a month or two. Or in the trash. But here, not all had been purchased: some had the definite aroma of that home-made, creative endeavor that sounded good on paper, or seemed intriguing in that YouTube tutorial, but looked, quite frankly, like so much recycled garbage. Obviously, this was the kitchen of a dyed-in-the-wool, true-blue, do-it-yourself junkie.

First of all were the cabinets. Why anyone needs to take perfectly good ones and paint them atrocious colors, I have no idea. But there they were: puce green, sunset yellow, tangerine. How do people keep their appetites in such a place? Not to mention the wall next to the fridge that had been painted with blackboard paint (a black wall!) and was now festooned with stick figures and triangular suns on the bottom, and a menu-in-the-making nearer the top. A neat idea if you like black walls. (Black walls!)

On the other end of the kitchen, a couple of wooden pallets had been turned on their edges and stacked one on top of the other to form a set of—umm, shelves—that looked like something found in the garbage. Oh. It was something found in the garbage. Got to give credit were credit was due, though. It did make a nice home for a collection of pot holders and oven mitts (on hooks), pot lids, handing frying pans, bundles of dried lavender, plaits of garlic, a row of mugs.

The mistress of this kitchen obviously went through the vino at a good pace—or maybe her friends did—because she’d done a lot with corks. A corkboard, pun intended, had been constructed and was hanging on part of the splashboard. Some jars were filled with corks and arranged along a shelf. This, I imagine was supposed to look decorative. To me it looked like jars full of garbage. OK. Whatever. A whole bunch of corks had been glued in multiple shapes to serve as trivets. Actually another good idea. These were also hanging on the pallet shelves.

Lined up at the back of the counter were gadgets, some of them probably sounded ingenious at the time. But really, how hard is it to separate an egg? There was this rubber ducky plastic thing to suck up the yolk. Standing in a neat little row were special containers to store halves of things: a half a tomato, a half a lemon, a half an onion. Cling film, anyone? Then there was a banana slicer. Yeah. A banana slicer. Now who needs a gadget to slice up a fruit that is soft enough to slice with a spoon. Well, it’s kind of cute, you have to admit. There were other items that defied explanation.

But there was one gadget that was missing. A lighter. I could have put that to good use!

A Dialogue

The exercise was for a pair of students to each come up with a character and then match them together into a dialog. Mine was a math teacher, hers was a sloppy grocery-store owner. It was to include no ‘narrative’..

(Mr. Cutler is standing in front of a counter in a small grocery store. The proprietress is behind the counter.)

Mr. Cutler:     Good Lord! I do believe I’ve seen enough. And I have no more time to wait. How much for this bottle of juice, please?

Marge:            Can’t you read? It’s listed up there on the board!

Mr. Cutler:     Yes, there are some (pause) hieroglyphics observable up there. But my expertise lies more in Greek letters, not Egyptian pictograms, or, as the case is here, chicken-scratch gibberish.

Marge:            What…? You some kinda high-class professor?

Mr. Cutler:     Not quite a professor. I teach math at that high school across the street.

Marge:            Hmpph. Phhhphhh (Sucking noise with teeth.)

Mr. Cutler:     Was that your answer? I, uh, didn’t quite catch it.

Marge:            Just read the writing, fer god’s sakes?

Mr. Cutler:     Just tell me the answer, if you don’t mind.

Marge:            You people! Don’t you have anything better to do than bother me all the time with stupid questions! “How much is this? How much is that?” Yah think running a grocery store is a piece of cake? Jeez, it’s a bucktwendysev. Satisfied?

Mr. Cutler:     Hmm. Your enunciation leaves a bit to be desired, but I may have actually deciphered your mumbling. Here you go. (Counts out some change.) One dollar and ten … twenty … ah, here we are, … thirty cents. Thank you. Keep the change.

Marge:            Hey, you! Where do you think you’re goin? Ya also owe me another four dollars and seventy five cents for the sanwish.

Mr. Cutler:     My dear lady. If you will observe carefully, you will see that I am holding in my hand one bottle of apple juice, which, if I understand your mumbling correctly, costs a dollar twenty-seven. There is my payment, between that bit of cigarette ash and that (pause, disdainful look) smear of grape jelly, if I’m not mistaken. Your “sandwish,” as you call it, is right there where you left it. I have no intention of purchasing it.

Marge:            Listen, mistah. You owe me for da sandwish too! I made ya your sandwish, and now it’s yours. So ante up!

Mr. Cutler:     If you recall, my good woman, I specifically pointed out that you had not washed your hands, nor did you put on disposable gloves while preparing my food, and I asked you to remedy the situation. You chose to ignore my request and I choose to reject that sandwich which is probably a hotbed of germs. I owe you … exactly … nothing.

Marge:            You arsehole. You think you can come in here and lord it over me! Woo hoo hoo… with your fancy schmancy clothes. All dressed up like that with a tie and a jacket and that woollie vest—

Mr. Cutler:     My “woollie” vest, my dear madam, is of the finest cashmere. I beg you afford it the respect it deserves! Not that I imagine, seeing your vestments, that you have any understanding of such matters.  And, let the record show that  I take offence at your use of sobriquet.

Marge:            Are you accusing me of being drunk? Cuz I know my rights and I’ll sue your arse off for definition of character, you jerk.

Mr. Cutler:     Definition …  hah! I should take you  to the authorities for corruption of the English language.  Well, I think there is nothing constructive I can add to this conversation. Good day.

Marge:            Ya still didn’t pay me for the sandwish. One pastrami on rye with mayo, mustard, and a pickle. I wanna see six bucks twenty on the counter or thell be trouble!

Mr. Cutler:     I repeat. The hygiene situation in here is abominable and I refuse to take that sandwich. I feel no moral obligation to have to pay you for it. I am sorry I even stepped in this place. Say. Why don’t you eat that “sand wish” yourself! Though it seems that you might have already had pickles for your breakfast if my olfactory sense serves me correct. And furthermore — and this in no way suggests that I will pay — how in the world did you arrive at the amount of six twenty? Not only are you corrupting the language, you are corrupting the purest of sciences.

Marge:            I’m not stupid, ya know. Here, you can see my figuring right here: one twenty seven and four seventy five gives six two oh.

Mr. Cutler:     Six oh two, you silly goose. Maybe you should attend classes across the street. Considering your line of work and in lieu of your, shall I say, somewhat deficient mathematical talents, I suggest you invest in a modern calculator!

Marge:            Listen Mister Shmister Professor. (phht phht) I’ve been adding up figures with a pencil and paper for the last thirty years and I isn’t gonna get any of those new-fangled machines now.

Mr. Cutler:     No. I suppose not. Look like a fossil, act like a fossil. Why should I suppose otherwise?

Marge:            My money, Mister!

Mr. Cutler:     I believe I have already expressed my opinion on this matter. Feel free to dial 911 for the police if you wish.

Marge:            I just might do that!

Mr. Cutler:     Yes. And while you’re doing that, I’ll be dialing the Board of Health. Tell me, has the Board of Health ever actually inspected your premises, because, I dare say, they really should.

Marge:            Don’t you go threatening me …

Mr. Cutler:     Threatening? No, my dear, no. Merely inquiring.

Marge:            Yes, well. OK. Don’t get that moustache of yours in a twist. Forget the sandwich. … Hey, mista … you with the green overalls, would ya’ like a nice fresh pastrami sandwich? Only for bucks ninety!

Mr. Cutler:     (To himself) Jubilation! At the end she found a solution for her faulty equation! (He leaves.)

THE END

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Write about an accident in four different “levels.”

Level 3 – Scene

Alicia turned off the buzz of the alarm and turned over in bed. Today was the day she’d been working toward for so long: her first day at one of the most prestigious law offices in the country. She’d worked hard for this moment: seven years of law school, summa cum laude, Dean’s list, volunteer work with underprivileged children and one Saturday a month at the dog shelter. Her CV had gone out to no less than thirty companies, and she’d had at least ten offers, but when the envelope from Blake, Turner and Rubens arrived, she knew she had to look no further.

She snuggled into the blankets for a count of five and then jumped out of the bed and headed for the bathroom. Her brand new, politically correct, charcoal-gray pinstripe suit hung on the hook behind the door alongside her crisp, white linen tailored shirt. Neatly waiting on the chair were 15-denier panty hose, not too sheer, not too thick, nude and without any pattern; and an elegant pair of black stacked pumps. She had hesitated about those shoes, wondering if they weren’t a little bit too high. But she thought her 158 centimeters needed a little help. The aroma of fine leather filled the room from the expensive briefcase she had splurged on. She glanced at the clock; she had plenty of time. She stood under the warm, comforting spray of the water.

“Weather warnings are in effect,” the weatherman on the radio declared. “Strong winds with gusts of up to 80 km per hour are expected. We haven’t seen weather like this since at least 2004, when we got the tail end of Hurricane Ivan. Citizens are advised to stay indoors. Please make sure that signs, awnings, and other objects are either removed or well tied down. Already we’ve seen some heavy damage in the downtown area. Some trees have been uprooted, branches have fallen. On Spenser Street, a planter blew off a balcony, injuring a pedestrian walking below. He has been transferred to the hospital. We’ll be back with updates soon, but now back to our morning music program.”

Alicia stepped out of the shower. Wanting to concentrate on her preparations, she turned off the distraction of the radio.

Alicia put on her camel hair coat, grabbed her briefcase and stepped out the door. The wind was blowing strongly. She glanced at the dark sky and went back to get her umbrella. Shivering, she quickly walked the fifty meters to the subway entrance, went down the stairs and got on the downtown-bound train.

Twenty minutes later she emerged at Hogarth Station. The offices of Blake, Turner and Rubens were located just a few minutes’ walk from the south exit, and she clickity-clacked her way along the platform and up the stairs. At the landing, she could see that rain was falling, and she got her umbrella ready to open as soon as she emerged. She had spent so much time smoothing her hair, she was hoping it wouldn’t get wet and frizz up.

She exited the station. The wind was terrific. It took her breath away. The rain was blowing almost horizontally. Alicia opened her umbrella to protect her from the frigid water and it immediately was blown inside out. She held her briefcase close to her, and started to navigate across the road to the opposite sidewalk. Leaves and small branches whirled around her and wayward newspapers molded themselves to her legs as she walked along. Water coursed along the road and soaked her feet. She stubbed her toe on the edge of the sidewalk and almost lost her balance. She took one step forward and was blown two steps to the side. Hunching down against the wind, she pushed herself forward, the inside-out umbrella tugging her hand backwards.

A gust of wind grabbed at her coat and blew it up and over her head. Alicia turned into the wind, trying to move her hand with the briefcase to push down her coat. The pull on her umbrella was relentless. She hunched down even more, when she felt herself being swept off her feet. Like a giant hand, the wind grabbed her and tossed her to the ground.

Her pantyhose were ruined.

Level 1 – Sentence: A young woman, coming to her first day at a prestigious job, is swept off her feet by the powerful wind of one of the worst storms of the decade.

Level 2 – Paragraph: Alicia is on her way to her first day of work at a prestigious law firm, and has taken special pains to look great for this auspicious occasion. Busy getting ready, she doesn’t hear the weather warnings on the radio urging everyone to stay home because a storm accompanied by violent winds has hit the city. Even though she notices the strong wind when she steps out the door, she heads for the subway. As she makes her way from the subway stop to the office building, she is overwhelmed by the wind that literally sweeps her off her feet.

Level 4 – CLOSE-UP:

My stomach is in knots as I sat in the close, stuffy air of the subway car, resting my head on the window as I imagined the day that lay ahead. I’d been lucky to find an empty seat, and I sat squashed between the window and a husky teenager submerged in whatever was coming through the earphones from his iPod. The steady, rhythmic hum of the wheels on the track, something that I usually found soothing, seemed to increase my nervousness. I don’t know why I was so nervous. I knew I was qualified and I knew that I’d do a good job, but I wanted to make a great first impression and fit in with the rest of the staff. I held my briefcase closely on my lap. There really wasn’t much in it. My laptop and some pens. My collapsible umbrella. And a peanut-butter-and-apple sandwich, although I had heard they gave lunch cards for the food concourse. I closed my eyes and listened to the squeal of the subway. My stop was next.

I took my Knirps out of my briefcase and removed the cover, ready to fend off the rain that I suspected was falling steadily outside. I stood up, tied the belt of my coat tightly around my waist and stepped out onto the platform at Hogarth station. The light was dim and the floor slippery and wet in patches. I turned left, towards the south exit, making my way carefully in my heels, picking my way between the little puddles.

I could feel the wind tumbling down the stairs to the street, catching at the corners of my coat and ruffling my hair as I started up the stairs. I could see the curtain of falling rain on the stairs outside, and I popped open the umbrella before my hair would get ruined. But as I emerged from the station, the force of the wind was almost overwhelming. It tugged at my coat and reached in under the hem and blew up and around my thighs. The clouds were iron gray, roiling and ominous. Rain pelted my face and I the drops stung my eyes and dripped off the tip of my nose. I hadn’t taken two steps when a sudden gust snatched at my umbrella, almost wrenching it from my arm, and turning it inside out. It blew it so strongly behind me that I could feel a pain in my shoulder as I struggled to hang on to it.

I crossed the street between the station and the office tower. The street was lined with tall, glass-faced buildings that reflected the black clouds over and over. Water raced along the street and overflowed the sewers. My shoes squelched with water and my legs were soaked. I stepped up onto the sidewalk, almost losing my balance. Pages from today’s newspapers flew at me, wrapping themselves around my legs: “Storm Warning! Stay Home!” screamed the headlines. No kidding!

With only a few meters to go, I lowered my head and tried to push forward, but the force of the wind was daunting. It was like walking through treacle. The roar of the wind drowned out the sounds of traffic. The day was as dark as evening.  I pushed forward one step but got blown sideward. I turned again toward the building.

As I hunched further into the wind, the wind grabbed the hem of my coat and flipped it up and over my head. I flailed my arms to push it back down, still holding on, for some reason to that ruined umbrella. All of a sudden I felt myself being lifted up into the air. Fear clutched at my heart as visions of The Wizard of Oz flashed through my mind. I dropped my briefcase and let go of my umbrella which swirled up and away into the sky. But luckily, I didn’t follow the umbrella. I fell back down onto the wet ground, shaken, wet and upset.

Arms stretched out to help me up.

Inspiration came from here:

My blogging had stopped for all intensive purposes for a while. I felt no need to communicate. Emotions that ran high and scared and intense during that war (that is so all-but-forgotten, until an ambulance of police car or motorcycle makes just that exact sound that started us running for shelter) have trickled down to a feeling of permanent doldrums. Despondent over massacres and murders and people running over other people standing at bus stops, or throwing rocks or acid at people driving along a road, or taking hatchets to praying men. What’s to say, really? A small circle of friends, my family. That’s about it. Who else really cares. It just all becomes more blah blah in a vast sea of blah blah. Some aches and pains that used to be something that I figured would get better, are infiltrating, in their insidious way into my life and making realize that they be aches and pains that I will have to deal with more and more as the years go by. Especially the pain in my hip joint, that came to its first head when I was so freezing cold in Poland, and rears up again at least weekly, and keeps me from doing certain exercises in Pilates. X-rays have shown nothing wrong; next step is a “SCINT” test on Thursday. It’s a test to check for bone abnormalities. It didn’t make me feel better to see (Googled) that it’s often used to find metastasis that have spread to the bone. Gulp. That “it’ll never happen to me” attitude has slowly changed its tune to “It happens to so many …. .” The bit of creative writing that may want to seep out of the cracks of my mind and make its way to paper is taken up by my studies, especially this semester’s Creative Writing 450. And here despondency hits anew as I find my enthusiasm for trying to get as much as I can  out of the course is mine and mine alone. It’s a large class (25 participants) for a “workshop/seminar-type” course, and  I tried to set up a forum for the class to share their work, to which exactly ZERO people signed up (even though they expressed interest in class), or answered my email asking “did you get the email about signing up for the forum?”  Even worse, the professor ignored my efforts (I had volunteered to set up the forum, and then had asked him to give a thumbs up in class, which he said he would, but then forgot). Reading between the lines, if he really wanted this to go forward, he wouldn’t have “forgotten.” No matter. I don’t give a shit. I thought that it would have been cool to read what others come up with for the same exercise. The class is OK, but it could have been better, I think, with more sharing. Too much time talking about writing and not enough time doing. On the other hand, maybe I should be thankful that I can expend minimal efforts and still get glowing comments. And while my course load seems light to the point of extreme, I am still so BUSY! Lots of reading for Visual Arts and Literature (which reminds me, I need to finish this post and go read up on the Baroque) and a semester paper due BEFORE the end of the semester (usually semester papers are due AFTER the mid-semester break). That’s like in three weeks. About how the characteristics of Romanticism affected the works of Blake. If you have any good ideas, please let me know. And Creative Writing. The former is 90 minutes on Monday, the latter 3.5 hours on Wednesday. Next year I will be taking a Poetry translation course. And that’s it, along with a thesis to complete my course requirements… except a home-self-study course on Jewish holidays that entails reading 300 pages of closely spaced Hebrew text. I figured I need to read “only” 3 pages a day to be ready for the first meeting on Jan 20 (there are two meeting with the professor before the exam). But I’m not keeping up. I’m, yet again, in a quandary about my hair color, encouraged and torn on all sides to leave it gray and to color it again. I’m sorry I embarked on this experiment. Because now I regret it, but feel that coloring again would waste that year I spent growing out the color. On the one hand, some of the people I trust say it looks good (it does look good if you like that sort of stuff, I guess), and some people whom I barely know say they wish they had my courage. Others say I look better colored Those whose opinion I really want are either being polite, or really will love me (naturally) no matter what I do, but I can’t get them to fucking commit themselves to an opinion. But I hate who I am when I look in the mirror, and can’t decide if it is JUST because of the hair color, or the jowls that are sagging and the eyelids that have disappeared. What if I’m not happy with the colored results later? I’ll be stuck in to another year of growing it out. When I walk around now, I imagine people whispering, “What did she DO to herself for god’s sake? She looks ancient.” I feel ancient. But will coloring change me back to who I was a year ago, or five years ago or ten years ago. This is the me that I used to be, a passport photo taken a number of years back (but still with sagging brows!): passport This is the me that I see now: FixedUp Or, even worse, 2014-Nov-Dec 331 I seem to have skipped from 50 years to 75. Phhht….off to study …  after I walk the dogs.

Today was the 50th day of the operation “Protective Shield.”

I imagine that it is inevitable, in this tiny country, and with the number of rockets volleyed over into the thousands (I believe it has passed the 4500 mark since the beginning of July!) that luck runs out and someone you know is adversely affected or hurt. The past few days has just been unimaginable with the onslaught of rockets.

At the beginning of the month we had, finally three days of “peace” when a 72-hour ceasefire was called, later extended for another 24. Yet Hamas couldn’t control its trigger finger for another day, and the onslaught started anew. This time it seemed that very few minutes another volley and another and another and even if we, in Rishon only got an alarm every other day or so, my little phone widget kept me updated of the number of launchings. Most of them, of course were aimed around what is called the Gaza “apron” and Ashkelon. Yet all of the country was always on edge…when would the next siren sound?

Last night there was talk of a (nother) ceasefire, but bright and early this morning… wake up call… again!

Aug25-0630am

August 25 2014, 6:30 am. This is the “alarm clock” that the people of Israel get from our “dear” neighbors. Rockets all over. Ashkelon is just between the two lowest points. Rishon is just above the lowest point of the top half of the “points.”

 

This is the little map that you get when you have the program “Tzevaadom.com” running. When there’s a siren, you see where they are sounding. The above is the map from 6:30 this morning. During this salvo, there were some direct hits. One hit the kibbutz of Nirim close to Gaza. Another one hit a house in Ashkelon. I have a good friend who lives in Ashkelon, but they live in an apartment so I wasn’t overly concerned.  But, this afternoon, when I called to see how they were managing with the seemingly non-stop sirens  I found out that the house that was hit was exactly across the street from them. Their windows were blown out, and the wife was taken to hospital with some sort of PTSD. She has lost her memory from the night before. I told them that when she was released they should head up here to my relative peace and quiet. But now there is this new ceasefire. Who knows. Maybe it will hold.

Another friend is really just a Facebook acquaintance, but she runs a page about living just on the other side of the Gaza strip and posted often and we had some communication. She lives in Nirim, and her house also suffered much damage from a mortar this morning. Remember, mortars are “instant”…there is no time to run for shelter. The little four-year-old boy who was killed a few days ago was killed by a mortar. Unfortunately, at 6 pm, another round of attacks killed 2 and injured 4. One of the injured is fighting for his life. She had gone to Tel Aviv today for some respite, and now has to head back for funerals.

I checked back and can’t believe that my last post was July 31. I guess I just felt that there was not much more to say. People who are close to me are in contact, and others seem to be “out there” in a cloud of unreality that I simply can’t relate too. Like I said, I feel abandoned my some, and I just don’t have the strength or inclination to pull my weight in the relationship. Hopefully, once some semblance of normalcy returns, we  can take up where we left off.

In them meantime, I am/have

  • finished up my “Milton” exam
  • working (halfheartedly, I must admit) on the accompanying paper (my topic is concerned with Milton’s influence on popular culture, but I have gotten somewhat distracted reading one of those “populars” called His Dark Materials. And maybe I’ll read Frankenstein  too (both seem to be influenced by Paradise Lost.
  • working on three or four pet portraits (one mailed out yesterday morning)
  • spent a day helping my Spay Israel friend (the one I do the portraits for donations for) organize her ante-room or whatever it’s called
  • rearranged my office (still some reorganizing and purging I need to do…maybe I’ll post pictures after I paint the walls)
  • doggy-sat the cutest little Cavalier King Charles dog for ten days
  • did a super urgent “reduction”  of a 13-page article to only 6 pages (and I believe it reads better than the original, since I cut out all the stupid tables that were, to my mind, extraneous)
  • played a lot of guitar and joined “Ultimate-Guitar.com for a month
  • stopped going to Studio-C but have signed up to an exercise class that is much closer to me (starting Sept 1)
  • going to physical therapy to deal with the incessant pain in my shoulder (especially when driving). Doesn’t seem to be helping much. Considering swimming, but I need to buy a  bathing suit.
  • spending too much time vegging out and playing spider solitaire (although I managed 21 days without, I’m off the wagon. Grrr.
  • spending NOT enough time cooking, and just enough cleaning
  • spending NOT enough time playing with my dogs. :(

And that’s it for now. I can’t say I’m in an optimistic mood, even with this new ceasefire (the Gazans are at this moment celebrating their “victory” and have managed to shoot two of their own while doing that!) The antisemitism in the world seems to be climbing exponentially, and even worse, a fear that  fanatic Islam is increasing in leaps and bounds. The West, the “Liberals,” the free people in their free countries are too worried with “democracy” and political correctness, not to mention too short-sighted and unable to comprehend life philosophies different to their own, to realize that without action, they will be overcome by Islam.

So depressing, and that’s how I end this post.

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good oven mitts for lefties;
a silicone mat with measurements for rolling out pie dough;

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