Friday, July 31, 2009


Call me ignorant, but this strikes me as just...bizarre. How about stressing halachic facts versus "See your Rabbi does it, so it's kosher!". Is it me, or this a bit misguided, albeit well-intended?

On Tisha B'Av and Elul

On Tisha B'Av, the yetzer hara is very strong. I don't know about any of you, but I find myself sleeping a lot through the day- especially at the moments when I begin to concentrate on the Beit Hamigdash. During one point yesterday of attempting to persevere in maintaining the appropriate focus, I happened upon the following realization.

Tisha B'Av is the culmination of the Three Weeks. During that time frame, with each passing day, we increase our awareness of the tragedy inherent in this period of the Jewish calendar. The period consequently works to prepare us for Tisha B'Av, to plug us into the state of mourning we should be feeling by considering how our sins produced the calamities that befell yiddin throughout the centuries on Tisha B'Av. More to the point, on Tisha B'Av, we refrain from all activity in order to ponder how our personal failings have kept the klal from meriting Moshiach that year, and to mourn that we must wait until the next year to potential see his coming.

The three weeks following Tisha B'Av end with Rosh Chodesh Elul. During Elul we begin sounding the shofar, and otherwise prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashanah and being judged. We consequently use the month of Elul to overcome our shortcomings up until that point and begin to do better. That the period between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Chodesh Elul is precisely three weeks suggests that just like the Three Weeks prepare us for Tisha B'Av, the three weeks following Tisha B'Av should help us lay the foundation for change in Elul. Thus the days between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Elul should be spent using the awareness of our shortcomings garnered during the official Three Weeks to start affecting the spiritual changes necessary to improve ourselves, and hopefully merit Moshiach in the coming year.

Good Shabbos!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cutting In

The local dollar store is notoriously slow. They tend to have only one checkout open, and every trip one finds oneself behind someone needing the manager, which delays the line for several minutes at a time. When you shop there, you just need to have the adequate time and patience to wait it out. That's why things are only a dollar!

When I went there earlier today, they were out of carts and baskets. So I had to carry my numerous heavy items throughout the store and then hold them during my wait in the checkout line. As I'm there waiting along with the other patrons, a young woman who was in her late teens comes behind me with a Coke and chocolate bar. She asks me if she can cut in line ahead of me, because she's on her way to class and she only has three items (I didn't happen to see item #3).

Normally I would say yes. However, due to the heavy load I was balancing, not to mention her young age and excuse, I pondered whether my not letting her cut ahead would constitute a chillul Hashem. And I said to myself (or maybe it was my yetzer hara, chasve shalom) that this girl could allow herself adequate time to get to class and procure her chocolate bar. More to the point, she could choose to either buy her items elsewhere, where service was suitably expeditious, or suffer through the line like the rest of us. To be honest, given my obvious juggling act at the time of her enquiry, I felt the request was downright rude.

So I chose in the end to ignore her. Guess how long her additional wait time was without cutting ahead? Under a minute. Here's to hoping that my stand for us older folk was simultaneously not a chillul Hashem, and a mussar lesson to boot.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Queen of the Morons

Yesterday, I decided to be proactive and end my suffering. I saw online that the pollen forecast for today was high and so I determined I had reached the point of being sick and tired of feeling sick and tired during allergy season. (Admittedly my suffering is self-inflicted, as it's due to my refusing to take my meds; I hate all pills, and typically refrain from taking even Tylenol).

But yesterday, enough was enough. So I took a Zyrtec, and enjoyed a wonderful day today free from all sinus-related problems. After humbly crowning myself Queen of the Morons, I just took another Zyrtec now.

It's a revolution.


Dear Readers,

When I started this blog back in 2007, I was looking for an outlet during a difficult phase in my life. More specifically, I was looking not only for a venue to keep myself mentally positive and update. When you say things in public, you need to think them through first. That was a process that I felt would help me focus on the spiritual side of things as they happened.

However I've noticed that recently, my blogging has taken a particularly negative bent. As much as that proclivity runs counter to the objective of this blog, I am contemplating taking a hiatus of undetermined length from blogging. Feel free to check the Twitter Updates panel occasionally in the interim.

And thanks for reading!
La Poutine Cachere

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Poor Guy

Tonight, the moment I hit the outside stairs, the skies opened up and the deluge began. I couldn't believe my mazel with the timing. :)

It wound up being more fortuitous than I had expected. Within a few minutes of my entering the apartment, I heard the sound of water rushing. The "little" room (aka where this laptop and my brand new printer sit) was flooding, courtesy of water pouring through the window frame. I spent a frantic 30 minutes moving everything around (most things got soaked, but B'H' I managed to spare the electronics and their cables) and mopping/sponging up the water.

I also placed a few calls to my landlord. He dutifully came over, and I heard him climbing up the ladder en route to the roof. By that point, the water had stopped coming in so fast, and things were in hopes of beginning to dry out shortly. I met him on the outside stairs when I was returning from throwing out the schmattas I used for the cleanup. He told me that people had been on the roof, and that a cup the exact size of the drainpipe had gotten caught in the pipe, causing backup. I joked that I suppose Hashem wanted me to be holier, because the little room now qualified as a mikvah. But I felt sorry for him, because you could tell it was really eating him up that people had been up on the roof. I gather nobody save him is permitted up there, given that the roof isn't fenced off, etc.

Things finally dried up a little while ago, and I shoved everything back to their respective places (mental note: in future try to avoid obtaining more heavy stuff). All in all, quite an eventful evening, and hopefully one that will not be repeated, for everyone's sake.


As mentioned in my previous post, I gather that the mother of the Rosemary's Baby two-some on the block behind is probably overwhelmed by their personalities, and consequently unable to teach them appropriate behaviour. My assumption was based on the general traileresque screaming that is occasionally heard from her or her partner (a man with a penchant for the "F" word)- but mainly from the latter.

This morning, after a relatively subdued level of play, the woman finally lost it. I can only imagine that the level of "quiet" was in direct relation to level of horror they were unleashing. Suffice it to say that when she finally exited the house late morning to let them have it, people, it was quite something to hear. She reamed at them for well over half an hour, and managed to curtail any of their protests while simultaneously squelching any wailing from them.

I took solace in the fact that both she and I reached the limit in the same week. Is it quiet right now? Of course not, since other neighbours have taken the opportunity to fill the "silence" with some noise of their own. Still, in comparison the usual state of affairs, the day is still almost bearable.

TODAH HASHEM. And here's to hoping it'll last through the afternoon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Buzzer, Buzzer, Toil and Trouble

My buzzer rings just now. It is of course not for me, and the guy won't accept he's ringing the wrong buzzer.

Several months ago, fed up with the friends of the front apartment tenants ringing my buzzer at all hours of the day and night, I put my name and apartment number on the buzzer. Granted, I didn't really believe it would helps matters much, but what else could I do? Faced with 99% of the rings being for other apartments in the building, I figured the taped information would help a tiny bit.

Nope. It looks like in Brooklyn, nobody bothers to read before buzzing. And because my buzzer is the one closest to the door, everyone and anyone who comes to the building buzzes it. I had to tell one woman who came late at night last week to please stop buzzing and accept that she would have to try the other buzzers to reach whomever she was seeking.

It occurred to me just now one more thing I could try: put a sign over the complete buzzer warning the visitor to only press if they were looking for the party whose name matches mine. This way the piece of paper obscures the button, and out of laziness (since isn't that the culprit, not illiteracy?) they might ring another buzzer first.

Any other suggestions?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sad Tail

You may recall from my previous posts the saga of the outdoor cats. Since the high turnover in the building back in June, the kitties moved to quieter pasture. Can't say that I blame them. Aside from one brief spotting of The Sheriff's sister (aka B&W 2) the other week, it's as if they simply vanished. (See here for background/pic). Until this past motzei Shabbos.

I was making my way home after hearing havdalah at my friend S's, when I happened upon The Sheriff. What actually caught my attention was the fact that he was dragging the back half of his body when he walked. Apparently he had been clipped by a car, and despite pulling himself along very quickly by his front paws while standing erect, he was obviously in pain and in bad shape.

I just didn't know what to do for a full minute. So I spoke to him in my "talking to animals/babies" voice, which he didn't seem to mind. That's what made me really decide he was in a bad way; normally he's more skittish than that. Yet I couldn't figure out how to help him. If I called the city, they'd euthanize him 1-2-3, and maybe there was a way to save him. He just needed his back legs taken care of.

I decided I should go back to S, since she knows a lot of "cat" people, including one of her neighbours who takes care of the neighbourhood cats when they pass by for a visit, aka food. I went and fetched her, and in that short period of time (less than 3 minutes), The Sheriff had dragged himself across the street to the next block and was sitting by the feet of a guy talking on the cell phone. S took a look at The Sheriff and said she would go fetch the Cat Lady, since CL would probably recognize him. In the meantime I decided to chat up Cell Phone Guy, because I had a feeling he was calling Animal Control. Sure enough, he had called his girlfriend who had called the city. I told him we knew the cat, and could he please cancel the call? So he did, much to my relief.

S came back with CL's daughter, who immediately recognized The Sheriff. After quite a few tense moments of hissing and so forth, CLD managed to get him by the back of the neck and off she and S went to put him in a "cage" to hold him for the time being. On my way back home, I happened to see Sheriff's sister crossing the road, going towards the way I had come from, and I wondered if she knew what was going on. But then I realized I was just giving her a lot more credit than she was due.

S called me later in the evening to tell me that the vet bill would be in the thousands, and none of her Cat friends could foot the bill. But the city apparently runs a drop-off clinic daily, so the next morning she and her husband would drop off The Sheriff. While he would probably wind up being euthanized, at least his suffering would end. I thought it was the best we could do, and at least he was in a nice bed with a full stomach.

The next morning I got a surprise call from S. Seems that "somehow" The Sheriff escaped his cage in the middle of the night, and during the breakout, CLD noticed his friend, who quote "was obviously with him". Looks like Sheriff's sis found him after all!!! And as much as I think that he's probably gone to kittie heaven, there was a part of me that was thrilled with his sister's breaking him out. It seemed more fitting that, no matter what the outcome, it came on his terms and while he was with his sister.

Now maybe this whole post just confirms that I'm a bonafide cat lady. But I'm telling you, seeing Hashem' s creature act with such personality and emotion makes me appreciate Him that much more.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups!

In an effort to rid my fridge of the pseudo-PB I erroneously purchased this week, I decided to try making homemade peanut butter cups. All I can say is SCORE. Positively delish. Here's the recipe so I can share the joy.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
12 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
14 tbsp sugar (or more to taste)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

Combine cocoa and sugar in a deep bowl. Add peanut butter and mix. Add oil and vanilla. Spoon into muffin wrappers. Freeze for approximately 1 hour. Makes 12 cups.

Enjoy, and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I think not.

Last Shabbos lunch, for some reason that I missed, the conversation turned to all things peanut butter flavoured. To my shock and horror, many people around the table are not fans. True, I go through phases with the stuff, and it wasn't exactly a staple in my diet growing up, but still- how can anyone have a problem with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup? That just blows my mind.

Anyhoo, it got me thinking about my recent slew of truffle experiments (last week's was throwing in Starbuck's liqueur for good measure), and I thought I might try adding peanut butter to the mix. I used to make chocolate peanut butter balls for a snack on Shabbos, and figured why not fiddle with my truffle recipe to produce homemade peanut butter cups? So while I was at ShopRite this week, I picked up a whipped peanut butter that was on sale (Peter Pan, if anyone hasn't finished their shopping yet). I assumed whipped would add a nice texture to the dessert; I'm generally more of an old-fashioned lover.

People, stay away from this whipped nonsense! Lousy texture. Barely existent peanut butter flavour. I would never buy it again, no matter what the sale price. So here's to hoping that I devise a recipe that well get rid of the whole jar, pronto. Consider yourselves forewarned!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alcohol and Cancer Risk in Women

GREAT. Just when I had convinced myself that a beer or two a week was okay (since I basically was a zero drinker for ions), the UK publishes a study that kills my buzz. Literally.

New Fruit

I seem to have one very un-Yekkish pattern: to eat fruit for the first time in a given season only during one of the time frames when you don't say shechiyanu. What gives??? It's like there's a chink in my Yekki armour. My Dad, olev hashalom, would so not approve.

On the plus side, those cherries and plums I had for brekkie were darn delicious. So I can take solace in the fact that while I lost out on the beracha, at least I finally garnered some fruit that wasn't mealy and tasteless. Makes my day, 'cause there's nothing that says summer like some good stone fruit!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Do As I Say, Do As I Do- Parsha Pinchas

It becomes apparent upon contemplating what the episode of Pinchas, the census, Zelophedad's daughters, Yoshua ben Nun's appointment as successor, and the enumeration of the festival sacrifices have in common that all instances underscore how appropriate behaviour is rewarded.

In the case of Pinchas, he acted for the sake of the community despite knowing that the probable reaction of the klal would be detrimental to his well-being. It is because he rose above this knowledge to do Hashem's will and save the klal irregardless of the personal consequences for himself that Hashem rewards Pinchas and his offspring with the kehuna. By acting out of love for his people, Pinchas demonstrated his worthiness as a conduit for Hashem's blessings and forgiveness for the klal.

Similarly, each of the other individuals identified above demonstrated an acute awareness of the appropriate action to take, one that would benefit the entire klal, not only themselves. It was this ability to remain true to Hashem's commandments, to sublimate their personal needs for those of the nation- be it as a conduit for the giving over of new commandments, as was the case of Zelophedad's daughters, or due to faultlessly demonstrating time and again the correct emphasis, as was the case of Yoshua ben Nun- that justified their reward. Therefore:
  • Pinchas's action resulted in halting the plague/immorality, which resulted in the census being taken. Hashem, in turn, remembered those who had remained pure-hearted, in the merit of Pinchas, in addition to elevating Pinchas due to his great action.
  • Zelophedad's daughters acted out of respect for their father's memory, and were rewarded with the giving of the commandments regarding inheritance by women in their name. The repeated reference to their being the daughters of Zelophedad underscores not only the purpose of the commandments, i.e., what to do when a father begets only daughters, but also echoes their emphasis on their father's memory.
  • Yoshua ben Nun's dedication to his teacher Moshe was rewarded by his appointment as his Rebbe's successor. Hashem, in turn, instructed Moshe in the laws about the mussaf offerings, which would be an integral part of spiritual life once the klal entered the land under Yoshua.
Hopefully by their example, we can become adequately inspired to ourselves always follow the correct path in our thoughts, actions, and deeds.


Back in the day (ok, waaaaay back in the day), I used to watch the Sunday matinee feature on fuzzy PBS from Plattsburgh. It was kind of a tradition I had with my Dad- cram ourselves into "the den", angle the rabbit ears for optimal reception on the 13" b&w (our only tv), and settle in for the two back-to-back features.

The matinees invariably consisted of film classics, and it was on those Sunday afternoons that I fell in love with film. Music, literature- those I lived and breathed already, courtesy of my Mom the Musician, and my proclivity for writing. But film? That I attribute to good ol' PBS. Without them, I would've never found myself switching my major to Film Studies in university.

It was on those Sundays afternoons that I fell head over heels for Film Noir. Something about the moral ambiguity of the characters, the drama, the vague cheesiness, and most of all the light that our little set captured so marvellously- I was just hooked. To this day, I rank Sunset Boulevard as my favourite William Holden film, and Touch of Evil as just plain epic. Forget Psycho- Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil is AWESOME.

So imagine my surprise when MSN, not exactly a bastion of information typically relevant to my life, posts a Film Noir quiz? Sweet! You can take the quiz here. Thanks MSN, for a quick trip down memory lane.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wafergate? :p

Despite Canadians being on the liberal side, religion often plays a key role in Canadian life. Taken in that vein, you can appreciate the humour in this article.

I can *so* hear Peter Mansbridge's voice reading this one, LOL. Priceless.

Marble Cookies

I'm pretty certain I've previously cited that baking is my first "go to" stress relief activity. It used to be exercise, but I'm getting old, so that now ranks as #2 (although I do pace a lot...).

Anyhow, I had made chocolate centre cookies (you know, with hard chocolate in the middle of the top of the cookie) a few weeks ago, and boy, did they wind up taking more energy than I was expecting. So I tried to figure out ways to reduce the time/expenditure factor. I was mainly angling towards a bar cookie approach when inspiration struck: if you drizzle in the marble when creating marble cake, why not do the same for cookie dough?

People, I must have eaten at least ten of them today. So simple, healthy, and darn it, way too delish. I thought I would share the glory. :) Here's all you do:

  1. Take your favourite basic cookie dough recipe.
  2. Melt chocolate chips or use (like I do) a cocoa substitute.
  3. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie dough.
  4. Marble the chocolate evenly into the dough. Avoid over-mixing.
  5. Shape into cookies.
  6. Bake.
YUM. These would be a perfect way to break the fast tomorrow evening, imho.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dear John

As so aptly put by my co-worker, we got update emails from my previous employer late yesterday afternoon. It would seem that due to the economic meltdown, our multi-national client drastically cut scope, with predictable result being that most of us contractors are ix-nay for "the next phase".

While I am generally worried about where my next job is coming from at this point (it's been a month already of the sending off the applications, cold-calling, and following up routine), I can honestly say "Good riddance" to that project. Not that I let more than a 2% of my brain retain hope that I might get rehired come August, mind you, but there was some solace in the potential.

At least I can finally delete a few GBs from my cantankerous, outdated laptop, and get the required technological closure. I'm still waiting to hear whether the Content Manager will be providing me with a letter of reference. Let's hope she has enough class to do so, although the odds in that department aren't good. Anyhow, wish me luck in the job search!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Am I Dreaming?

Am I in California? Because the apartment keeps shaking...

Ah, no! It's the Department of Transportation continuing their "repairs" of my street, which they ripped up several weeks ago and then left mainly unfinished until today. I'm sure, given they wrapped things up at 3 PM and the given workers are union, that the street remains unfinished and a repeat visit is in order.

That said, an amusing start to the day...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Canuck's Take on the 4th of July

This year of all years, I was hoping to make it to the fireworks. In my part of Canada, the summer is filled with weeks of fireworks displays set to music, and the whole city converges at the waterfront to get the full effect. Feeling homesick or nostalgic (or both), I was hoping to finally get to see New York's version of a fireworks display.

Alas, predictably, the show started around motzei Shabbos. So, no fireworks for LPC. Plus, because they moved the venue to the west side this year, I didn't even see a glimmer of lights in the sky. I had to take solace in witnessing the umpteen firecrackers set off by the neighbours. They were in fine form, having started barbecuing Friday night. :p So I mentally tipped the remainder of my beer to them, enjoyed what spectacle I could scrounge, and took the Citizenship test on MSN. Astonishingly, in my 10 years in this country, I seem to have absorbed all kinds of American history/civic tidbits without realizing it; I scored over 80%! How'd you like them apples...Not bad for a makeshift American, eh?

I'm thinking today's a good day to be broiling some veggies and skewering some veggie dogs. Here's hoping that this time next year I'll either be back in Canada or at least able to eat meat and properly join the festivities.

Irregardless, here's wishing everyone a fabulous 4th of July weekend!

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Morning Twin!

As much as I used to be a morning person, this really is me as of late...

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I'm telling you, it's not a good sign when my first thought upon arising and seeing clouds through the window is "Joy! Rain!"...followed by the inevitable disappointment when the sun peeks out.

SIGH. Can't a girl catch a break and get one day of summer camp rained out. P-uhhh-leeeeeeeease?

(Would it be wrong of me to say Geshem? I'm thinking yes, but the desperation is palpable.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

I was kind of hoping Canada Day wouldn't be so stressful for me as it has turned out to be. But hey, that's what my 6-pack of beer in the fridge is for, right? I even managed to procure some Labatt Blue, a working-class beer at best, but one that brings back much nostalgia for my youth, circa 1988. Is it too early to start drinking yet? On second thought, WHO CARES???