Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mom's BDay

It was my Mom's birthday a few days ago, and boy is she just too cute. I called to apologize profusely for not getting a gift to her on time (I can't seem to remember what date it is lately), and she was very non-pulsed. Then again, maybe she was appeased by my singing Happy Birthday to her 3 times. (She claims I still have a good octave, LOL.)

After the singing, she did some of her own. Turns out she composed a little ditty to help her remember her age. I was like, Mom can we mint you? She is just hilarious. When the Rabbi asked her what she'll do next year after she told him about the ditty, she nonchalantly replied that she would think up something else. You go Mommy!

Here's wishing her a happy, healthy, peaceful, contented year, bli ayin hara!!!

News on the Job Front

From nowhere Monday morning, I get an email informing me that my project is going on hiatus and as of today or Friday (I have yet to learn which), I will find myself unemployed. Since my contract was supposedly running until July, to say this came as a surprise would be putting it mildly. To add insult to injury, they aren't providing enough work to bill full days. So my final week of employment will on wind up being a partial week, despite waiting for hours at a time for documents and then being whipped through in an hour by the managers. SIGH.

What is most disconcerting about the news is the nefarious way they handled notifying us. Or rather, NOT. I am quite positive that they have known of this reality for at least several weeks, and deliberately gave us short notice in order to retain our services until the end. Especially in light of this week's workload. As for the project manager, it took her until after 5 PM today to respond to my email/phone call asking for clarification on the situation. Do you think the email she sent illuminated anything? That's a negative, Roger.

I know these are the times we live in, but it's all quite disgraceful, imho. Here's to hoping that I'll be able to procure alternate employment speedily, bli ayin hara and bezrat Hashem. To quote my friend Limor, 1 door closes and 10 opens (you see Limor, I got it right this time!)...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Emotions and Illness Connection

I was once at the Shabbos table when the hostess quipped that every woman she knows who developed breast cancer had an unhappy marriage. While I acknowledged that there is definitely an emotional component to developing cancer in any form, I don't know if I would go so far to say that an unhappy marriage was the sole reason for developing the disease. Given that Ashkenazi women are particularly prone to that type of cancer, it would be a disservice to label all those women as unhappily married.

Now a study was just released that demonstrates that undergoing even a couple years of stress increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer by sixty-two percent! That's an incredible amount if you ask me, not to mention pretty shocking when you consider how many women undergo extended periods of "unhappiness" in their lives.

You can read the article here.

Adventures in Brooklyn

My lousy day yesterday took a most interesting twist come evening. After enduring a day that tested my already frayed-beyond-repair nerves and approximately 4 hours of travel due to MTA construction, I managed to exit the station at my connection instead of locate the tunnel to the G train. I'm telling you, if you're looking for a sign that a Yekki is wiped, that there's a biggie.

Anyhow I called a friend, who kindly hop-stopped my location and gave me directions to the appropriate station entrance (why are station entrances hidden blocks away from each other?). So I thankfully managed to get to the right spot only to hit another snafu, namely that the MTA booth operator was a total and utter B. While I can certainly understand her being incredulous that I took the exit instead of the tunnel, and while I can even more certainly empathize with her stance that I had to pay to re-enter, what got to me was the openly abusive tone she dealt out. It was the final straw.

I exited the station and called up the said friend again. While I originally called to get a bit of sage advice akin to don't have a nervous breakdown in the middle of the sidewalk, I realized that deep breathing and visualization wasn't going to cut it. Generally, when my frustration level hits that high on the pole (which very thankfully is not too frequently), I need to do something physical. Clean the apartment. Go for a run/walk. Work out. Bake cookies (dough is therapy people!).

So when my friend said that I was really close to home, just 8 stops away, so suck it up, put my ego aside and get back on the metro, I decided that I should just walk home. I figured I can easily walk 4 miles in an hour, and this was only 4.5, so no biggie. Plus, after being cooped up on the trains and in the accountant's overheated apartment, "fresh air" was in order. I received confirmation that the identified route home was safe, and so off I went.

Problem was, the area turned out to be pretty scuzzy. In fact, as someone who has had the dubious honour of living in some of the worst areas in Canada, I kind of pride myself on my ability to 1) spot unsafe areas, and 2) "walk" smart aka safe. So I got a little nervous and called up for confirmation that the route was correct, because there was no way anyone would consider a woman walking at night in a primarily deserted industrial area safe.

Some of the encounters with the locals, infrequent as they were, were harmless enough. Take the group of 8 or so teenage boys who crowded me on the sidewalk, acting all cute ("Girl, stop checking me out!"). Yet other stuff was less cute, like the Cadillac. At first, I was laughing. I mean, how cliche! But when I turned around to go back down the block to the car wash (was I glad it was open) because I noticed the caddy inching along next to me for a block, and the caddy made a sudden U-turn and come back towards me- that was less cute. I did make it home in one piece though, so I guess I can state that I had my first official Brooklyn adventure.

A few blocks later, I came across a woman and a man on his bike talking in the lady's little garden. I decided to confirm that I was on course, and found them to be very pleasant. The guy even winked at me and made a joke. After Ms. MTA, I was glad to see that a few of my fellow Brooklynites were willing to be neighbourly. Once I made it to Fort Hamilton Pkwy, I was in familiar territory, and the people watching was particularly good. Overall, the walk wound up being a positive experience. I felt a gazillion times better by the time I reached home.

The walk got my wondering about who displayed the true Brooklyn attitude, neighbourly guy/girl or Ms. MTA. And I suppose it's all relative to which part of Brooklyn you find yourself in. Take Ms. MTA. Since the first half of my jaunt was through Scuzzville, I came to see that the lady probably operates more as security than booth operator. Hence her nasty, over-the-top reaction to me becomes understandable. But when when it comes right down to it, I'd like to think that the real Brooklyn spirit was evidenced by those people in the little garden. Call me a Pollyanna, but I like to think the best of my borough, if I dare.

Little Turtle

So, to put it plainly, today was a pretty stressful, frustrating day. Yet thanks to the help of some friends, I managed to get through it not only intact, but even feeling better than when the day started. The said friends all know who they are. :)

Anyway, I always say that Hashem sends us assistance to remember that really, our lives are never bad. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to recognize how very fortunate we are.

Now some of you may disagree with the following choice of example, and want to cite instead my being sat on by a homeless person in the metro this afternoon (Why do they always choose to sit next to/on me, btw? Maybe I have a sign visible only to them labelled Sit Here, LOL.). However, I find the story of the little turtle that overcame the odds and survived a good reminder that Hashem determines all- even the fate of a single sea turtle.

And if Hashem minds even the small and meek creatures, how more so does He love and cherish us all. Leaving basically no room for complaining on my part. :p

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Such a beautiful day outside earlier, and even now, deep into the evening, you can still stroll outside minus a coat. It was even borderline too hot for my Shabbos walk, but not quite. :) I just slowed down, which gave me an opportunity to marvel at the trees in full bloom and the insane amount of people out on Ocean Parkway. I even saw a hint of what my single friend calls the single crowd; I had thought it was a bit of a myth, but no- there they all were clustered on the benches between L & M, basking in the sunshine and enjoying their socializing.

Of course, once I got home this evening, my little bubble burst slightly. My Israeli neighbours typically have 2 dozen people over for Shabbos, which is, to use their favourite adjective, "beautiful". What's a bit less beautiful is how the said crowd uses our hallway like their private veranda. That custom coupled with the neighbours' habit of their leaving the door open for hours so the cigarette smoke and natural screaming volume wafts into my apartment is typically enough to peeve me off a bit. I mean since when did the entire building become their territory? But now, with the fantastic weather, they have added a new, seasonal custom to the mix- opening up the skylight to go up onto the roof.

Now I can tolerate the noise, cigarette smoke, and overcrowding by reminding myself that they're young and Israeli, so pushiness and space-hogging is in their DNA. But the sunbathing comes with a real hassle, namely that they neglect to close the skylight when done. As a result, bugs, birds, and all kinds of other lovelies get into the building, and then our apartments. I stopped leaving my shoes outside last year upon finding pigeon feathers by them. Enough said.

So when I returned this evening to find the skylight open, after having discussed the situation with one of the neighbours and she had agreed to close it after they were done, I was a bit disappointed. It was a royal pain last year with the additional "nature" in the apartment, and I'm not revelling a repeat, chasve shalom.

I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm officially too old for in this apartment, and may have to seek out a dwelling better suited for an old bird like myself soon, LOL.

Gut voch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I informed someone this afternoon that I would be unavailable this evening because unfortunately I had to make a shiva call. However, I offered an alternate time frame for the given activity. The response email I received? That due my "time limitations", the given individual would complete the activity toute seule.

Now, you'll excuse me, but refering to a shiva call as a "time limitation"???? That's. Just. COLD.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thanks Very Much

I remember learning at age 16, courtesy of one of my nursing friends, that it takes 4 days to develop a cold/virus and another 4 days to get over it. Since I began to feel lousy mid-evening yesterday, that would make Thursday the day when I got "infected".

Given the combination in Brooklyn congregations of a lack soap with a proclivity for wiping noses on hands (if at all), I'm not terribly surprised that Thursday happened to be the same day as Yizkor, aka the day that I made it to shul. In fact, I recall distinctly that the woman who came and dropped herself into the seat right next to me (there was, astonishingly, a few empty seats) coughed/sneezed on at least one very loud occasion. And I also recall wondering if that would translate into my falling ill.

Guess that mystery is solved. Isn't there some way that we can implement in the local shuls the same shtick that they have at Maimonides Medical Center: Ask Me If I've Washed My Hands? Because, my fellow Brooklynites, I sure as heck have the unshakable feeling that the answer is a most heartfelt NO...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Little She-Zam!

I don't what came over me today, but I proceeded to devote the whole day to beauty risk-taking.

First, I woke up and decided that I could and should wash my sheitel myself. Now, despite having previously coiffed a synthetic sheitel- they're practically indestructible, after all- I must admit that to venture into the human hair arena was equal parts stupidity and bravery. But the end result was surprisingly fabulous, thank you very much! In fact, while I'm sure that my friends in the sheitel business would be horrified by the un-poufy nature of the styling, I am very proud to state that I achieved what no sheitmacher had yet achieved in my attempts to have the sheitel styled: I managed to get the darn bangs out of my eyes! And, I must admit that I like the more natural look overall. I'm not Miss "every strand must be perfectly in place" anyway, so I'm pretty thrilled, to say the least. Especially in light of the fact that I was half expecting to ruin the thing. :)

Then, since I did my annual purge of cosmetics post-Pesach (I tend to be very conservative in my expiry estimates; why risk contamination/infection, chasve shalom, if you can just treat yourself to new stock?), I decided to stock up on a couple of eyeshadows. Now you would think, given all the sales on at the various pharmacies, that I would have had zero problem finding a few flattering shades. But alas, I spent more than 4 hours going from shop to shop trying to find a palette that would be neither garish nor blah. Finally, I managed to talk myself into buying 2 trios, and barely got through the door before I ripped open the packages and tried them out. Given that I have unusual colouring (read: dark hair, pale yet warm toned skin, ever-changing eyes), that I had bought green eyeshadow was definitely pushing the envelope. Indeed, I had purchased one of the cheaper brands so that I would only be throwing away $5 or so in case the palette struck out. Yet Hashem decided to let mazel win again (B'H'), and I was shocked by how fabulous all the greens looked on me. Who would've thunk it?

So there you have it. While I don't know what spawned this frenzy of beauty activity, I'm happy to report that all's well that ends well. Sometimes, it really is the small things that count.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Made It!

Phew. I don't know about you, but just making it through to this Shabbos seems like a major victory. Like the rest of you, I was up most of the night turning the house back to its chometzdik glory, baking challah, and prepping salads for Shabbos. After finishing the work day and cleaning the house, things seem to be ready to slide back into their regular routine- except for this nagging feeling that it's still Pesach and I shouldn't be getting cookie crumbs all over the place! :p

But it occurred to me that perhaps that's precisely why Hashem gives an "extra" payoff, so to speak, for baking challah this week. Pesach is Pesach and the rest of the year is the rest of the year. Right now, when we're all promising ourselves that this year we'll be disciplined and keep the house contained to its designated chometz zones so that next year's cleanup will be a snap, Hashem wants to give us a bit of a push in the right direction, i.e., Hashem wants us to recognize that Pesach is over and done with for the year, and we need to give the proper kavod to Shabbos by having challah and all the accompanying chometzdik foods. We did our job for this year in terms of Pesach, and cleaning for Pesach wouldn't be cleaning for Pesach if there's nothing to clean. So go ahead. Make that separation between Pesach and the rest of the year by eating that challah tonight and tomorrow. After all, that's exactly as Hashem wants it to be!

Good Shabbos!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sooo Coooool

My dear mother used to do needlepoint; my guess is that it functioned as a much needed point of relaxation in her life- given who her children were. :p Needlepoint pieces were consequently featured throughout the house, including my favourite, one of a Shabbos table in the "dining room".
She even taught me a few stitches, although I don't think I ever quite finished a piece. Hmmm. Kind of like all of those rolls of film I took in the '70s/'80s that sat in my camera until they expired.

Anyhow, my good friend Silka sent out an email that included some amazing knitted items for Pesach. You've got to check these out. To borrow one of her catch phrases, "Very amazing".

Here's wishing everyone a chag sameach for the last days of Pesach.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chol Hamoed Snippets

Hope everyone had a wonderful time the first days. And got some much deserved rest! So far, chol hamoed has proven a bit eventful. Below are the current highlights:
  • Spent yesterday, which happened to be the one day my husband and I have both had off since forever, schlepping deep into Queens to the finish our tax return at the accountant's. However, we discovered, after wasting two hours there, that the accountant wouldn't have the return ready for us after all. We could've been at the zoo instead! SIGH. Although it was nice to have a reason to, oh, LEAVE THE HOUSE. Hashem only knows that I'm becoming more and more of a hermit each day, LOL.
  • Had a chocolate attack, and having already consumed 6 squares of chocolate and two chocolate chip macaroons, I decided to resort to a 50 calorie Morning Select chocolate pudding. Imagine my surprise to discover that not only had the pudding gone sour despite boasting an expiry date of May 24, but it wasn't kosher l'Pesach- and I had bought it two days before the chag at a "Pesach Superstore". I was less surprised to find the second pudding, which B'H' was kosher l'Pesach, similarly spoiled.
  • Had to buy scotch tape, because it has been raining masking tape all chag. I've consequently gone through almost the whole roll in less than a day reinforcing the useless masking tape. I figure from this point on, if things fall, they fall.
I wonder what the rest of chol hamoed will bring...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bircat Hachamah

So I managed to dash downstairs in time to say Bircat Hachamah at 9:43 precisely. Like a true Yekki. B'H', the sun was perfectly framed between the tree across the street, so saying the beracha wasn't a problem. I knew it would be anti-climatic, along the lines of "That's it???", but the symbolism is truly enthralling regardless.

FYI, Bircat Hachamah has hit the secular media. Now that's pretty cool, especially given that it *almost* portrays yiddin in a positive light. Feel free to pass along your Pesach/Bircat Hachamah stories...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chag Kasher V'Sameach

Here's wishing everyone a most joyous, festive chag!

I don't know about you, but I am totally psyched that we're saying Bircat Hachamah tomorrow, erev Pesach. Such an auspicious omen, if history serves as any indication. So I'm casting my vote with all those who feel that this coalescence suggests something truly auspicious. May it be the Coming of Mosiach! AMEN!

Chag Kasher V'Sameach everyone! Geulah! Wooooo-hooooo!

Monday, April 6, 2009


I tell you, science has the answer for anything otherwise left unexplained. They explained this photo as follows:

Red represents low-energy X-rays, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are colored blue. The blue hand-like structure was created by energy emanating from the nebula around they dying star PSR B1509-58. The red areas are from a neighboring gas cloud called RCW 89. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.


Phone Home

I finally got a hold of my Mom. Thank Goodness! We caught up and I sang Ma Nishtanah for her- with her coaxing me, because darned if I remembered the words. Either time, LOL.

She in turn told me the following joke:

A snake wasn't feeling well, so he slithered into the doctor's office. After a thorough examination, the doctor exited the room and came back with two small white pills. The snake asked him, "Do you know what's wrong with me"? The doctor said he didn't. So the snake asked "What are those?". The doctor replied "Viagra. You have a reptile dysfunction".

I couldn't stop laughing.

On a less funny note, we commiserated about how hard Pesach is without my Dad and my grandfather. I told her that I've been leaving the sedorim before I hear the songs because I don't want to forget how my Dad sang them. She said that of course I did.

After we swapped stories of our respective Pesach purchases, I let her go to attend to her nightly schedule. Given how I felt when I hung up, I think I'm already overdue for another visit home.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Flatbush Gone Mad

It was insanity everywhere this afternoon when I exited the apartment in search of tape. After three long hours of going around the local shops and avoiding all but two because of the sardine-like conditions, I scored two rolls (Thank You Hashem for Bargain Hunters!). Which have since been used up, naturally. I decided that I should be smart and also popped in to Mountain Fruit to score a few yogurts. They were only moderately busy, so I would suggest that if you're around there, you might want to check out their Pesach offerings. FYI, people were parking way up past Ocean Parkway to go shopping at Moisha's Discount.

On a positive note, I finished off the entire house, save doing bedikah chometz and unpacking my Pesach essentials. I even cleaned the bathroom/floors, because I had to put my cleaning supplies away and seal up the closet. It's down to the wire here, and I'm counting the hours until I can plug in my new water urn and have myself a well-deserved cup of tea.

In other news (yes, something besides Pesach. Shocking!), I just got a phone call from BB. He may be coming down the weekend after Pesach. He actually wanted to come down for the Shabbos after Pesach, i.e. the day after the chag, but I told him that between switching back the house and working Friday, I didn't think I could handle a house guest. So instead it's looking like he'll be coming in on the Sunday and staying a few days. WOO-HOO.

Of course, after the disappointment last time, I'm not going to plan anything until he gets on that bus. But it's a nice surprise, which I'm sure I'll enjoy more when I wake up in the morning after getting some sleep, LOL. Here's wishing everyone mazel with their remaining preparations.

Friday, April 3, 2009



Mi mi mi mi mi mi!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Yankel
Happy birthday to you!

And maaaaannnnny more!!!

Love you!
Your Crazy Little Sister

Bueller? Bueller?

I was in line this evening trying to buy a few yogurts (I've been starving all day long, but between working and cleaning, who has time to eat?) when Hashem threw me a bone. I found myself in the checkout line at Moisha's by the nice store manager. I figured I should seize the opportunity and asked when they're expecting to receive more boxes of machine spelt matzah. To which he replied, "There is no more to be had". As in, all the Pesach producers are sold out of product. For all products!

So, if you go to the shop and they don't have what you want, don't expect to find it during chol hamoed. It would seem that because of the economy, producers were frugal with their numbers. As for me, Pesach is going to be very interesting indeed this year without my spelt matzah stash.

Please pass along any sightings you may have of those golden spelt boxes in your travels. I'm going to start calling around (Pomegranate anyone?) come morning.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Treasure Hunt

I decided that since I basically subsist on tea/coffee, it would be ridiculous for me to boil water yet again this Pesach using a small pot on the stove. As I'm sure you can imagine, on Yom Tov when the fire is set on a low flame, you wind up waiting a looooonnnng time for that pre-shul cup of joe.

This year, I told myself, I'm going to give myself a treat: I'll buy an urn! My very first year here I went nuts at Moisha's since I had just moved into the neighbourhood and bought one of their lovely urns come Pesach. But of course that baby got converted into my Shabbos urn year-round pronto. Leaving me with my present situation.

Anyhow, I tried psyching myself up the last week to lay out the required $55, but what with the economy and a big ? hanging over my current employer, I figured splurging like that was just too extravagant. I told myself that instead I would buy a new blech (my husband has one, but it's all bendy/wavy, which becomes a problem when you're trying to balance a full kettle on it) and a tea kettle. Of course, since the last time I got a blech was several years ago, I forgot that my stove is an irregular size and that I would have to measure it in order to procure anything. Needless to say, this realization only came to mind once I had dragged myself all the way up Avenue M to the variety shop at Ocean Avenue. They do have a great selection though, if anyone's looking.

Today I decided to call my friend M (very James Bond, I know), who is one of my two bastions of knowledge for all things Flatbush. She informed me that she got an urn recently for bubkas at The Buzz. So despite my general aversion to The Buzz (crowded, noisy, etc. etc.), I went there earlier this evening. It was jam-packed, as expected, but the merchandise did not disappoint. Turns out they had two smaller urns to choose between: a pump pot for $29.99 and an old-fashioned urn for $19.99. I was originally going to go with the pump pot, but decided by the time the cashier called next and it was my turn that I should go with the old-fashioned urn (it was difficult to push down the dispenser on the model for the pump pot, so I imagined I would wind up breaking it by the end of the chag).

So I happily carried the urn home and it's now sitting in my closet along with the other miscellaneous Pesach items I'm waiting to put out once the entire kitchen is Pesadik. But here's the interesting part of this whole saga. When I spoke to M, she told me that according to Reb Dovid Cohen, shlita, you don't have to toivel an urn. Instead, all you have to do is take a screwdriver, remove one screw from the urn, and then screw the one screw back in. No water necessary. Rather, because you have participated in assembling the urn, it is now a "Jewish" urn, thereby circumventing the need for insertion in the mikveh. Isn't that just the most ingenious thinking ever? I was so excited by how brilliant and original the logic is...

Those are my current tips for anyone doing Pesach shoppping. Speaking of which, if anyone knows where I can find some machine-made spelt matzah, please let me know...