Sunday, April 24, 2011

Post Holes

So there I was, minding my own business on my one real day off during this past week while I was on holiday for the holiday. I took her nibs out for her morning pish and constitutional over to the mailbox to get the morning paper.

“Oh!” says I when I espy said Stribune on the driveway. “I wonder why the newspaper lady tossed the paper here,” I continued as I cast an eye in the direction of the mailbox.

What mailbox? 

Instead of the cedar post holding four tidy black boxes, there was nothing. Looking a little further past the place where the post was supposed to be, there was an explosion of wood, boxes, and mail scattered all over my neighbor’s lawn along with assorted car shards.  I called the cops.

you can see the remains of the post at the far right
When the very nice cop came, he started picking up pieces of car, and quickly pronounced, “Ford,” as he handed over perfectly centered little logo. “Teenager,” Officer Patrick said with absolute confidence. “I’ll check the school parking lots when they get back from Easter break.”

I dutifully informed the other three mailbox owners of the demise of said post, and we agreed to split the cost of a new one, since the odds of the culprit coming forward were slim to none. 

Or so I thought.

Late in the afternoon, the doorbell rang, and there was one of other box owners, along with a note taped to my front door.  The culprit had come forward, and knowing this lady, he called her first. He admitted he had been texting.  The neighbor assured me the kid was in very deep weeds with his folks over this. I said I would call him at the number he provided. 

He was coaching a soccer game when I called, and asked if he could call me back. I said OK.

When he called me back,  the conversation had that peculiar tin-can sound. “Are you driving?” I asked. 

“Uh, yeah," the kid admitted.

I think steam came outta my ears. “Are you some sort of moron? Pull over! Haven’t you learned anything from last night?”   

Apparently not.

I don't know what pissed me off broken mailbox post or knowing that less than a day later, he's out there doing the same thing. What part of "you just had a really expensive accident due to distracted driving" isn't he getting?

I did meet the dad and he confirmed that the kid was financially responsible for the repairs to both the car and the mail post. I strongly suggested that the kid needed to sing the Hang Up pledge, and promised to call off the police investigation, which I have done. 

When the officer called to make sure this is what I really wanted, I explained that since the kid was making appropriate restitution, I was satisfied that the matter was closed. Officer Patrick assured me, in turn, this was a most rare event and I should be thankful.

Behold, the new mailbox post. (Please note the ONLY newspaper box is mine. how sad is that...and this isn't even Michele Bachmann's district!) They even seeded the disturbed area. It's actually quite nice.

Before I sign off for the last two days of yom tov (holy days) I find I must close on a sad note. Back in October, I wrote an post called Burning Candles. Sadly, I must report that fine lady has lost her battle with ALS. May her memory forever be a blessing for her family and her friends. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
While putting away the Pesadick, be sure to write yourself a note 
listing what needs to replaced for next year.
Then, stick it to the top of a Rubbermaid where you'll be sure to see it right away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

D'or L' D'or: From One Generation To The Next

The house is Pesadick.  Yesterday, the junior son came over to shlep stuff up from the basement. The giant Rubbermaid tubs are unpacked, the dishes are in the cabinets, and and the groceries put in their odd Passover places.  The soup is simmering on the stove. I have no idea how I did this, but I did. I made it to the other side in one piece.

So I am sitting for a moment, thinking about trying to look forward here, trying to imagine Passovers to come, when there’s more joy than wistful sadness, and more laughter than surreptitious tears.

Passover is one of those uniquely Jewish things that has linked one generation of Jewish women to the next. Our mothers did this changeover thing, their mothers did it, their grandmothers did it, back and back and back probably to the mothers living in the first settlements in the land of Israel after the Exodus itself....although I’m pretty sure they didn’t sit around wondering if it was worth it to invest in a stand mixer for Pesach. (It is. Definitely.) In all likelihood, they took their stuff down to the local mikvah for a good toiveling.(immersion in the water.) And there are women who still take things over to the local mikvah for toiveling.

I think it’s the act of cleaning and preparing that binds us to our foremothers. There is comfort in knowing that generations of Jewish women have done this in one way or another. To be sure the methodology has changed over the centuries, but not the intent and in the end, it’s the intent that’s important. It’s through the intent that we urge our children to be part of the next committed generation. 

But here’s the really interesting part: ALL mothers teach their children the rituals and rites of the family, the community, the faith group. It’s what we do. Mother ducks teach their ducklings how to survive in a harsh world, and we pretty much do the same, using rituals and rites to bring the comfort of familiarity into the next generation. We do this so our kids aren’t re-inventing the wheel every twenty years or so.

If you don’t have kids, you may not grok this concept in the same way as someone who has patiently taught his/her own toddler “OPEN, SHUT THEM” or theme and variation thereof because there’s a memory of playing that game with his/her own parents. This is, quite simply, the very beginning of the transmission of values.

The Sages got this one really right when they instructed us to tell the story as if we had been there, saying, “it’s because of what the Eternal did for me when I came out of the land of Mitzrayim.” Think of it as giving the kids a URL to their communal past. It a long history, one with good times and bad times, terrible tragedies and unbelievable joys, but it’s our hisotry, and a rather remarkable one at that.

You see, we survived intact....and we’re the ones who get to tell this story. How cool is that?

Chag kasher v’same'ach!

The Wifely Person's Tip o' the Week
A secret to seriously great chicken soup is throwing in a thumb-size piece of peeled fresh ginger.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What Every Jewish Woman Knows

This is part of what the God really said to the woman in the Garden of Eden:

"…And as if that is not enough, I shall give those women who come from you a holiday cycle that will remind them I am the Lord God and your actions have caused them to spend endless time in their kitchens. They will also have a holy week when their entire household will be dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled, only to be disassembled and reassembled at the end of the week. The men shall call this Pesach, for it will commemorate a great event, but the women shall call it God's Revenge for your transgression."


Every Jewish woman knows that the joy of Purim quickly gives way to the knee-knocking, knuckle-biting, insomnia-producing experience known as Passover. You don’t even have to be overly observant to get stressed out at the mere mention of the word.

Beginning with the day after Purim, you start thinking about what you’re not going to buy at the grocery store, quietly cutting the food budget in preparation for the BIG GOUGE when you have to buy your Passover groceries. You surreptitiously start really putting things away after they come out of the dishwasher. You start concocting strange recipes to use up the stuff you have in the pantry and the freezer.

Sleep is not something on which you can waste time the week before Passover. If you’re not at work, you’re cleaning. If you’re not cleaning, you’re throwing out stuff. If you’re not throwing out stuff, you’re in a corner rocking back and forth and sobbing. 

Kosher Pickles à la Chinese Walmart-
O-U, but definitely not pesadik
Often, I think kosher manufactures subscribe to the idea that we control untold treasure. I believe this based on the prices charged for anything labeled “Kosher L’Pesach.” If Breakstone's cottage cheese is regularly $3.49 for a container, count on the exact same container being $4.99 once its labeled for Passover….and that’s a modest increase. Five pounds (as in 5 boxes wrapped together in plastic) of Manischewitz matzah is currently on sale for  $13.99. A single box of egg matzah isn’t even a pound anymore, it’s only 12 ounces and it’s a whopping $3.99!

If you’re a meat-eater, keeping kosher is not exactly a frugal way of life in the first place; I won’t even begin to bore you with tales of obtaining the second mortgage necessary to buy a whole brisket or a decent size turkey.

By the time the seder rolls around, we’re really too tired to do much more than sit there for the retelling of the Exodus from Egypt, but after two cups of wine, up we pop like weebles, shlepping platters of gefilte fish and horseradish followed by bowls of soup (one matzah ball or two?), followed by more platters... sliced turkey and/or brisket, steaming bowls of potatoes, compote, and that perennial fave, Peshe's carrot ring, once the story telling pauses for the festive meal. And after meal, it's two more cups of wine, lots more singing, and then dishes until dawn...when the preparations start all over again!

Face it, you just haven’t lived until you’ve had a glass tea and pesadick chocolate nut bars, and Tante's sponge cake for dessert! (And no, you may not have my recipe for Idiot-Proof Passover Mousse so don’t ask.)

Despite all the kvetching, I will tell you the truth about Passover, if you want to hear it. The most magical of moments happens when we gather around the seder table. All over the world, Jews are sitting down together to retell the story of the departure from Egypt. We are commanded to remember that we were once slaves in Egypt. We are required to teach this to our children and our children's children. And it pays off. When we talk about childhood, we don't talk about Rosh HaShannah or Chanukah we talk about the seders: the food, the songs, the length.....but we tell the story of the departure from Egypt d'or l' dor....from one generation to the next. 

And that is why we have survived as an intact people for over 3000 years.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
As it is written: Let those who are hungry come and eat.


Monday, April 4, 2011


Well,  now that I have your attention...

The media would have a field day if this had actually happened. I am certain our Republican and Tea-Bagging constituency would be handing out coupons for NRA supplied firearms and bus tickets to the border. Even the Democrats would be hard pressed to stand and do nothing about a direct missile attack on McAllen, Texas from the south.

I am certain borders would be sealed and the National Guard sent to make sure whoever launched those missiles would be dust before another round could to lobbed into the United States...even though the Mexicans actually used to own that territory and still may have valid claims to it. Before it was a state, Texas was its own country, and before that, it was part of Mexico.

There isn’t a country on the map today that wasn’t born of conflict. No border exists that hasn’t had blood shed on it for one reason or another. It’s the nature of humans to assign boundaries. Just look at Alsace-Lorraine. I mean, who exactly does it belong to? France or Germany…or maybe it should be its own country…which it was for 11 days back in 1918.

No foreign government would dare tell the U.S. to back off and not fire into Mexico. It wouldn’t happen. The world would just sorta stand back and wait to see how far into Mexico we would go. But no sovereign state would tell another sovereign state that they did not have the obligation to return fire…unless we’re talking about Israel.

Justice Richard Goldstone’s retraction of his report to the United Nations is too little too late. A Jew branding Israel as a terrorist state that disregards international law was a victory for terrorists and anti-Semites worldwide. The spin on that report did enormous damage and while Justice Goldstone says that despite his errors in judgment there were positive steps taken as a result of the report, it’s not enough to justify his callous disregard for the truth when it was presented to him.

And as if that is not enough, his retraction does not adequately address the lack of response from Hamas, not to mention their inability to understand the heinous nature of their crimes against their own people.

Bradley Burston of Ha’Artez, Israel's oldest daily newspaper, admonishes his readers thusly:

Personally, I’m having a little trouble with this. Part of me thinks it is too little too late, and that the damage cannot be undone. Yet, another part wants to see Israel step up to the plate, continue its changes in policy, and strive to be a better role model in the humanitarian aspect of military operations. Not that it would matter to the rest of the world, but we would know. And we would care.

In this month of Adar, as we get ready to retell the story of the Exodus, we are commanded again and again to remember that we were once strangers in the land of Egypt, and that experience must never be far from our communal collective conscience.

Wifely Person's Tip o’the Week
Now is the time to stop buying flour and start using up the chametz in your pantry!