The Wedding Dress Part II

Dear Mom:

First, I never thought I would get married.  Second, I never thought that if I ever did get married, it would be without you.  I will be 48 (52 if you’ve read my other blog entries) at the wedding, so what did I expect? You ask.  You’re right.  But I am your last born, the baby of the family.  I expected that you would live until, I don’t know, forever.

I know you are hovering in Heaven, but, right now, that is not good enough.  And I am a conscientious objector when it comes to G-d but, because your soul cannot have dissipated into nothingness and because POB (partner of blogger) and I found each other, I hold out some specter of belief in some divinity in a world that is otherwise in decline.  So, it is big that I believe, and this belief thing is, how they say these days, “on you”.

As an aside, does this Jewish guilt work on the other side?  Am I wasting my time here?  Drop a lightening bolt if guilt doesn’t matter in the hereafter.  I won’t tell anyone.  I promise.

So, I couldn’t call you when POB and I found the dresses.  (Did you register any guilt feeling? Ok, I drop the question.)  You would have been so excited about it (and relieved that we didn’t make you schlep to SoHo).  You would ask about the wedding plans and then let your preferences be known in a velvet fist way that sounded soothing yet non-negotiable.  Confrontational and gentle all at the same time.  You should have been Secretary of State.

Thank G-d DOB (Dad of blogger)is healthy (for a 91 year-old) and seems like he will be there, G-d willing.  (There I go again, with the G-d thing.  I might lose my objector status, if this keeps up, so really let me know if guilt works up there.)

Speaking of DOB, I spent Sunday morning trying, in vain, to reconnect him to his email and the internet.  SOS (our son, source of sanity) came with me on this mission of uselessness.  I got DOB all reconnected and did a learning-by-doing tutorial that I custom-tailored for him.  I did that tutorial more times than I can to tell.  Nothing.  NADA.  He can play Free Cell and access his list of  of charitable contributions without assistance.  But, when it comes to the Internet, he can’t really type, he can’t really see the screen and he can’t really understand how to read and send emails.  Still, he is righteously indignant that he doesn’t have much personal email in his inbox.  SOS tried really hard to understand why DOB didn’t really understand computers, the internet or, quite frankly, the 21st century.  Imagine if I listened to BOB (brother of blogger) and tried to get DOB on Facebook.  Neither DOB or I would have survived the attempt.

But I digress.  Back to me. I mean you.  I really mean you and me.

It is crazy how something as anti-feminist as parents walking their child down the aisle seems so quaint and wonderful now.  If only we could hold hands as you walked me down the aisle.  Yes, life has dulled some of my sharp edges and quieted my doctrinaire ways.  Because life, love and loss are complicated and our responses to them are idiosyncratic.

But what is simple is that I wish you were here to celebrate with us.

Really, come visit in my dreams and tell me about guilt in Heaven.  It is the least you could do after having left us almost 9 years ago.  (Did that rate on the Heavenly Guilt-o-Meter? Just asking.  No offense intended.)



Time Again for the Stupid, Stinking, Painted Ponies (with apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Dear Mom:

SOB (sister of blogger) and I had dinner tonight.  FILSOB’s (father-in-law of SOB’s) death has startled us anew about the fragility of life and the incomprehensible temporal divide between life and death.

FILSOB’s death also made us think of you, even though it is a week early for the “dark days” — the time, 9 years ago, when you started your month-long goodbye — December 13 to January 10.  In truth, the “dark days” of 2002-2003 were not all sad; some, in fact, were the most honest, most hilarious and most screwball-comedic of our lives.  The others were, well, depth-defying in their crushing pain.

You died before your peers.  They were there to mourn you and comfort us. What will happen when Dad, MILSOB (mother-in-law of SOB) or FOPOB (father of partner of blogger) — each should live to 120 like Moses — dies?  Who will still be alive, other than us (G-d willing), to mourn them?

Marty Hertz from the synagogue died and his funeral was today.  SOB saw it in the paper and told Dad.  He was grateful to SOB for telling him and glad he went to pay his respects.  He heard that most people get these announcements on email and so he wants us to fix his email so he can have access.  But we have tried dozens of times, and then we get calls from Dad saying, “somehow I can’t get on”, as if it has nothing to do with his pressing buttons in an arbitrary and explosive fashion.  The definition of crazy is to keep trying day after day, month after month, to teach Dad how to use the Internet.  So, since you’ve been gone, your daughters have become certifiable lunatics.

(As an aside, BOB (brother of blogger) wanted us to sign Dad on to Facebook.  What a nightmare that would be.  I told BOB not to have a thought about Dad unless he cleared it with SOB or me first.  Talking Dad down from the Facebook ledge took some serious cajoling.  “Are you telling me I CAN’T be on Facebook?” Dad asked defiantly.  “Yes, yes, I am, Dad — not because we don’t want you to be on Facebook, but because you can’t master email yet.”)

What to do about the email Bulletin of Death from the synagogue?  SOB and I decided that we will ask the synagogue to put us on the recipient list.  Then we can call Dad every day for his Day in Death minute and recap the day’s sad events.  That way, he’ll get the news and we will keep what is left of our sanity.

SOB and I can’t linger on the negatives for more than an hour or so.  We also talked about all of the fabulous life experiences you and Dad gave us.  You had no role models for parenting.  You both grew up poor and in dysfunctional homes.  And yet, you gave us things you never had and were loving and wonderful parents.  And your loving relationship has been a model for your children.

We, your children, are the culmination of generations of strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, stubbornness, love and combativeness.  Who will remember you, your parents and grandparents when SOB, BOB and I are gone?

Maybe, by remembering us, our children will remember the part of you that is in us.  Because your time on this earth cannot be forgotten.

I love you, Mom.

~ Blogger



Siren’s Song

Dear SOS (our son, source of sanity) is a hyper-heterosexual (after all, what would two lesbians create?) at age 9 years-old.

POB’s (partner of blogger’s) sister has taken a young, very pretty, girl under her wing.  This young girl joined us tonight at pre-Thanksgiving dinner with POB’s family.  She will be at Thanksgiving Dinner.  She is about 13 years old and is quite beautiful (for a little girl).  She is from South America and, throughout dinner, SOS was trying to show off his knowledge about her home country.  When we got home, SOS started throwing himself around his room muttering her name in a way reminiscent of Shakespearean star-crossed lovers.  Dramatique, vraiment, especially since she did not notice him in that way.

I kept thinking, “is this what you do when SOS’s Bethrothed (the one to whom he proposed at age 7 and still considers his wife-to-be) is not around?”

All I had to say is:  “Remember your bethrothed!!”  Besides the young girl you are mooning over is in eighth grade!!

Then SOS said something in such a self-assured way that stopped me in my tracks.  “That’s just one obstacle, E-Mom.”

Well, okay, buddy.  But, remember, you have commitments, especially to SOS’s Bethrothed and her parents.

And I know you are only 9 years old.  So, I am fastening my seat belt for one helluva roller coaster adolescence.

Sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop

Our son, our source of sanity (SOS) is not a candy freak.  He prefers ice cream (vanilla, only) and french fries.

He still has Halloween candy left over.  Every few days he asks to have a piece of that candy as a treat.  Everything in moderation is our mantra.

DOB (father of blogger) is a retired dentist.  Growing up, we were not allowed to have candy at all.  Imagine what it is like to have to hand over your Halloween candy in exchange for raisins.  No wonder I hate Halloween.

Tonight was family dinner.  DOB came over at his usual 4:30pm and he and SOS watched Life of Birds, while SOS explained some of the finer points of the species they were viewing.  DOB was amazed at his grandson’s knowledge.  POB (partner of blogger) made a fabulous meal.  SOS was engaged and engaging at dinner and DOB was again amazed at his grandchild.  DOB was surrounded by family.  A great night for all of us, especially DOB. 

That is, UNTIL . . .

SOS asked for a piece of Halloween candy and picked a Tootsie Pop.  Then he came back to the dinner table with it.  I glimpse DOB:


followed by


followed by the deep breath that means impending


“This is very bad.  You are introducing a corrosive agent into [SOS’s] mouth.  If a child has one of these every day, there will be damage to the gums, enamel, the placement of the teeth in the mouth . . .”

I stopped listening but I imagine that soon the fact that my son is sucking on a lollipop will inevitably lead — through perfectly reasoned logic — to nuclear confrontation with Iran.  So, I wanted to ratchet back the hysteria a little.

“It’s only a lollipop, Dad.”

SOS (sister of blogger) gave me a look that said, whaaaat were you thinking saying that?  How long have you been alive?  Will you never be able to converse with Dad without me as referee?”

Only a lollipop?  [said in a slightly outraged toned] Well, as you remember, you did not have any candy when you were young and aren’t you glad?”

SOS is right; I need her always as referee.  I could have ended the conversation right there by agreeing.  But no, no, no, I had to dig in deeper . . .

“Well, actually, no.  For years, I couldn’t stuff enough Snickers Bars in my mouth because, because, because  —- ” “the Forbidden Fruit?” (Cousin Birder offered helpfully) — “yes, EXACTLY.”

I saw my father’s face and I immediately promised him that SOS would always have very little amounts candy, drink copious amounts of fluoridated water, and hold hands crossing the street, and . . . ., all the while knowing that DOB will be re-hashing this episode with SOB over the coming days fearful for SOS’s future and our parenting skills.

I start chanting in my head: “Sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop, Dad.” Sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop, Dad.”Sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop, Dad.”

Sigmund Freud said something similar about a cigar; that sometimes, a cigar is just cigar.  Sigmund added a caveat: “, but rarely.

A Winter White Wedding . . . in October

Our G-d-daughters had their wedding this weekend.  At a retreat in the Catskills. POB (partner of blogger) and I were leading the ceremony.  SOS (our son, source of sanity) was the usher.

The weekend was fabulous.   The brides were beautiful.  It was such a happy occasion.

Ok, enough of that.  Now, my take on some key events in the weekend:

The rehearsal was called for 4 pm on Friday, so we set out on Friday morning.  The place was about 3 hours north of New York City.  Not quite above the tree line, but north of most measures of civilization.  It is in area hard hit by the economy and by the summer’s hurricane.

And no cell coverage.  Imagine being without access for 48 hours.  Nearly irreconcilable co-existence of serenity and extreme agitation.

We were told that the turn-off to the dirt road that would take us to the inn/camp site, would have a “road closed” sign and we were just supposed to ignore it.  Pause.  WHAAAAAT?

“Oh, yeah, and it would be good if your car had all wheel drive.”  (This is a picture of the road AFTER we arrived and the work men had graded the road.)  The pot holes in some places could swallow up a Mini Cooper.

We drove along the road in our sissy four door sedan, while the work men were trying to guide us toward to more “packed” dirt.  How NICE FOR US.

And, it was so sad to see the damage sustained by this community from the hurricane (let alone what the nor-easter was about to bring this weekend).

A house had slid off its foundation, almost into the road, as a result of the August hurricane.  It was a tragic sight.  But, at least, the owners found some morbid humor in it all (the sign reads, “For Sale. Flexible Price”).

We arrived at the Inn and extended grounds.  Note to brides:  When Jews say we don’t camp, we mean it:  Still, because we love you, we camped (ok, it was a cabin with a working kitchen):


Good thing, it was so picturesque.

The inn doesn’t really serve food on the fly, so when we were hungry for lunch, the concierge directed us to the Norman Bates (as in “Psycho”) deli, all the way back down the dirt road.

There was very little food there and there was a for sale sign on the building.  We decided that we would rather find a diner than eat anything in this place, so we asked the slightly crazed looking woman who was chopping meat behind the counter in the dark about a restaurant.  “We don’t have much in the way of food around here.  But if you go up the road a ways, there’ll be something.”  Well, all right-y then.

At 4 pm, the wedding party and the officiants (us) proceeded to the lower fields.  When I asked for directions, someone pointed in a direction and said, “down yonder, a ways.”  (It may have been one of the brides.)  It was beautiful place and there was a babbling brook.  If it were, say, 20 degrees warmer, it would have been chilly and lovely.  At that moment, however, it was bone-chilling cold.

The brides also had us practice in a tent in case there was snow.

No decision on the venue until the morning.  We had a barbeque rehearsal dinner (in a slightly heated tent, no fire) and a campfire (outdoors, with fire).

At the barbeque, the bartender had the gauged-out ears (the rings that make a hole you can drive a truck through and that make middle-age women a little sick) and was heavily tattooed.  I saw the FEAR spelled out on the four fingers of one hand.  I had to ask, “what does the other hand say?”  It said HOPE, which I thought was a good sign.  As it turned out, this guy was the sweetest, most helpful guy the whole weekend.  So, yes, I did learn something.

SOS wanted to get back to the cabin because he was afraid that the Yeti would do a home invasion.  One of the brides assured me that one of her aunts probably had the “technology” necessary to protect us if necessary.  I kept that information confidential (until now) because I thought that would freak out our sissy family.

I went over the ceremony I had planned and X-ed out anything superfluous.  When everyone is freezing, an extra few words can mean pneumonia.

The compromise was that we would have the ceremony in the tent but the back flap (the one behind the bridal parties and me) would be open so we could see nature’s beauty.  And it was indeed a winter wonderland.  It was magnificent.  The tent was not heated.  There was already 5 inches on the ground and it was 30 degrees in the tent.  One bride and her attendants were wearing strapless gowns.  I had six layers, and heavy storm boots and thermal socks.  I was still dancing around to stay warm.  People were shivering.   POB read her part and I truncated a fair amount of my prepared remarks.  It was the LEAST I could do.

When the brides were “recessing”, the attendants looked to me for the proper order of recessional.  My answer, “RUN!”

The wedding reception and dinner were fabulous.  First, it was warm.  The food looked really great, especially the local grass-fed beef.  That is, until one of the waitstaff said, “I raised that cow myself”.  Showing immense restraint (because I have that way of picking at a scab), I did not ask the cow’s name.  It was hard eating some animal you kind of/sort of know in a post-mortem, creepy way.

So, there were some crazy moments, AND it was fabulous.  POB and I are still over the moon about the weekend.  The people who trekked to this remote place are a hardy bunch.  Everyone there wanted to be part of this event.  A little cold wasn’t going to scare them.  That love and joy carried through from Friday to Sunday and warmed an otherwise frigid weekend.

Love and family made us warm.  The weather be damned.


Typical Sunday

Another typical day on the road to Utopia . . . .

SOS (our son, source of sanity) has grown into a teenager (notwithstanding that he is only 9 years old) and his idea of Sunday cuddling is watching TV on the same bed as me, seemingly miles apart.  As a Jewish mother in the true sense of the tradition, I am not happy unless I am holding a finger, a toe or a hair of my child.  In truth, I am only happy when I have an iron grip about his mid-section to keep him close and away from the dangers in . . .  um . . . er. . . our safe home.  WhatEVER.  There are wilds out there SOMEwhere.

He would really rather play that be smothered by his mother (hey, I put the “mother” in smother, I thank you to remember).  Ok, that is healthy.  To a point.  Ok, it is healthy, but hard on a mother.

Still, I crave time with him.  So, in preparation for family dinner where wine must be served, I say, “Dude, come with me to the wine store?” Because it is Sunday, the only open (and good) wine store is a half-mile away.  “Can I take my scooter?” “Sure”.  I put on my running shoes.  He is going to scooter and even though he knows to stop at crosswalks, I must sprint after him.  Yes, I am a prisoner of my tradition.  Actually, I accept and revel in my tradition of over-protection.  So, sue me.  Or, rather, just know that I have provided for a therapy fund for SOS in our wills.

So, I am sprinting after my son as we go to the wine shop. THANK G-D for the crosswalks and red lights.

Thereafter, a lazy Sunday afternoon commences (not really: I am reading work-related documents and POB (partner of blogger) is cooking her guts out).

For dinner, the usual suspects come over plus POB’s father (FOPOB) who was enticed by the apple pie POB made (from the apples of the apple-picking extravaganza).  You mean, FOPOB, you wouldn’t come otherwise?  And you wonder why I wouldn’t let you have more than two helpings of the pie.  No, no, no, no.  Nothing is going home with you, bud, until you come here just for the sake of being with family.

DOB (Dad of blogger), SOB (sister of blogger), and HOSOB (husband of SOB) round out the dinner group.  We talk about Occupy Wall Street, the GOP, Obama, Libya, Syria and whether Rick Perry “swings both ways”.  As to the latter, if he weren’t so virulently right-wing (at least now) we would not even raise the issue of how he likes to have his fun.  But, you do it, you live with it.

So, 3.5 wine drinkers, two bottles.  Before dinner.

Thank G-d for food.  And the apple pie.  Food hath charms to soothe the socialist drunk.  (No, HOSOB, I am not ONLY talking about you.  I include DOB and me in that group.)  Mostly because SOB kept lubricating the conversation with the Merlot.)

OH, Cousin Gentle!! OH, Cousin Birder?? We needed you.

And, there is a mess in the kitchen that I must clean.  I love and hate POB’s cooking.

Apple Picking

POB is SOS’s school class parent.  Which means I have to show up to events.   Not so terrible if these events are in the city.

But today, oy, today, we had to schlep to Warwick, New York to pick apples. We could have just gone to the supermarket and got apples.  No, we had to go where THEY live and then kill them ourselves by picking them off the trees that are their life blood.  Just what I wanted to do on a Sunday — go apple-killing with my son.

More to the point, going apple-killing meant that we had to drive (read, get lost) through the great, yet incomprehensible, state of New Jersey.  The Neverlost Lady didn’t even try.  We crossed the George Washington Bridge and she just rebooted and said, “Destination?”  Really, Never-Lost Lady, can’t you even feel bad about leaving us to figure out how to get to Route 4 while we are driving at 60 mph?  No hesitation or guilt in your voice?  Even a “recalculating route” would have been gentler.

So, almost immediately inside the border of New Jersey, we were not only abandoned by Never-Lost Lady, but we were left with POB’s directions-from-hell coupled with her fierce determination to be right.  SOS kept asking, “are we lost?” or sighing, “we should have never rented a car; we should have asked someone from the class to take us.”  SOS was becoming the source of my INsanity.  I say to SOS, “we are a team, Buddy!! And a team member never abandons the team when things don’t go as planned!” The smart-aleck that he is, he says, “what if you didn’t get to choose your team?”  OK, KILL ME NOW.  IT IS NOT EVEN 10:30AM.

We actually arrive on time.  And then I am SOS’s hero.  Almost everyone is late because of traffic or getting lost in New Jersey.  (Really, I didn’t know New Jersey driving was so tricky?)

After everyone gathers, we go to pick Fujis and Macouns (which I kept calling Acuna Matata, from the Lion King).  SOS is in charge of yelling and screaming and running around.  POB is in charge of chit chat.  I am in charge of picking the apples.  Oh, cruel life.

AND, I have to carry that sack of apples all over the orchard.  Just sayin’.

After the kids had screamed (I would like to think it was a joyful noise, but the ringing in my head thinks otherwise), we sat at picnic tables for lunch.  One father, the uber-WASP who heretofore had shown no emotion, said in a relieved tone, “It is so good to see that other kids are just like mine!”  Oh, dear man (with names that, but for the absence of “Cabot” or “Lodge”, are OLD LINE and formidable in that one can forget the order of the names, since no one name stands out as a first name), you can emote with us.  We’re Jews.  We emote over anything or at least tell you to stop complaining.  But I digress.

I was soooooooo finished with the day that at 2:30pm.  When POB said we could finally leave the picnic table where non-driving spouses were sucking down whatever fermented liquids were available, I ran to the car.  “Hold it in!! We can find a restroom on the highway!!!!”  I yelled helpfully.  We were taking back one of SOS’s classmates and her mother.  The only traffic?  When we passed our house to drive to theirs.  Of course.  But it was sort of a captive play date.  I learned about the appeal of Zac Efron to young girls.  I learned that SOS is quite gallant; he told his friend to look away from the signs for the Hustler Club on 12th Avenue in the 40s.

When we got home, I remembered what one of the mothers whispered in my ear, knowing it was my first time at an apple picking outing, “make sure you have a full bottle of wine at home.  At least.”



Serenity and Renewal

My professional coach (not CAFOB) had sent me a New Year’s greeting card which I finally got around to opening at a computer (as opposed to a blackberry).  It was warm and wonderful and direct.  Wishing me the usual for the new year, but also renewal and serenity.

Eureka!!!  (My coach is awesome, but not as awesome as CAFOB who is my friend for 30 years.  If you need a coach, I can give you two people who are amazing.)

Renewal.  Not a theme of the Jewish new year (which has more of a return to G-d and atone theme).  More a Passover theme (spring time, rebirth and renewal of the covenant with G-d).  Nevertheless, I have been feeling the weight of creating business generating opportunities in a terrible economy.

I was so exhausted in August that when it came time for our family week in Montauk, I told the COB (colleague of blogger) that I would not be checking my blackberry and that all calls had to go through POB (partner of blogger).  Originally, POB told me there was no wifi where we were staying and only POB’s phone would work.  As it turned out, there was wifi and my blackberry worked.  If POB lied to me, well, then I love her more for realizing that I needed a blackberry-free zone.  Only twice did work intrude on the week.

When the world is in chaos, it is still navigable but it takes so much more energy that I often feel — well — spent.

My family re-charges me.  POB and SOS (our son, source of sanity) are my mainstays, but SOB (sister of blogger) and HOSOB (husband of SOB) and Cousin Gentle help hold me up.  They are daily miracles in my life.  Even DOB (father of blogger) with all his eccentricities grounds me.  And CB (Cousin Birder) links me to my mother’s family and he is such a wonderful guy. (I wish that CB only realized how awesome he is.  I lectured him about this on Rosh Ha-Shanah — of course I did.)

And there are my goddaughters.  They don’t have to love me because of family connection.  We created that connection together.  These relationships are among the most important in my life.

By their presence in my life, all of these people feed my soul, lessen my burden and give meaning to life.  They are my agents of emotional and psychological renewal.  I hope that I provide for them even a fraction of what they provide for me.

Serenity. Acceptance.  Roll-with-it.  What will be, will be.  Take it as it comes.  Don’t worry forward.  Be in the moment.

Discussion:  compare and contrast blogger’s personality with the above themes.  (Hint: no common ground, as in blogger is the antonym of each of these themes.  Don’t believe me?  Read Wikipedia (right after I send in my comments).)

Ok, clap your hands if you’ve heard this before:  someone has business in this economy, someone is figuring it out, someone is benefiting from all the problems!

Ok, if you have heard this, clap if you heard:  “An A minus?  What’s wrong with an A?  Did someone get an A?”

Whoa, I hear a round of applause throughout the blogo-sphere.

This serenity thing is a hard one.  But I did laugh these last two days when I looked at the wild ride of the stock market and how our retirement is now effectively pushed out to age 113.  I will be the dead, yet-propped up greeter at Walmart’s.  The company will love me because it won’t have to pay overtime (how will I know? I’ll be dead), and I won’t mind being in the freezer section.

At least I laughed.  Ok, gallows humor, but, hey, it IS a start.  I am trying to focus on the things that renew me because they also provide the building blocks of serenity — love, constancy and laughter.

*     *    *    *    *   *    *   *   *   *   *    *   *  *   *

But renewal and serenity are sooooooo much easier in a bull market and a roaring economy.  Just sayin’.

My coach knows me well.  This is the start of a journey for me — to allow time for renewal and to allow a sense of serenity in a chaotic world.

Really, email me if you want a lifeline (or two).

Erev Rosh Ha-Shanah 5772

SOS (our son, source of sanity) decided that he preferred his former blog “handle”, TLP (the little prince).  I am worried.

But I was immediately distracted by how adorable he was in his blue blazer, tan slacks, penny loafers, and bow-tie and my heart melted.  Just FYI: I keep suggesting “regular” ties, but SOS (or TLP) demurs.  I think because he knows the bow-tie makes him irresistible to many women (not only his moms).  He doesn’t want to chance missing out on the “boob crush” hugs he gets from all the lesbians in the synagogue (hey, breasts are breasts).  When he gets taller and there is no boob bonus in the hugs, he’ll probably switch to regular ties. Just a guess.

SOS lasted nearly the whole service, which is quite extraordinary for an adult, let alone a child.  “E-Mom, does every word end in “echa” in Hebrew?”  Almost, buddy.

The service was a mixture of celebration, remembrance, solemnity and a little irreverence (we are after all, a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex congregation).

The Torah portion we read tomorrow the binding of Isaac by his father Abraham.  I have always hated this story.  A crazy father, a submissive son, and a psychopathic deity.  With a heritage like this, we should start therapy in utero.

What do we learn from that Biblical story, other than we shouldn’t read the Bible to our children, especially before bedtime?


I still don’t get why Abraham was so willing to kill Isaac that the angel twice had to tell Abraham to stop before Abraham put down the knife.

I don’t understand why it is part of our liturgy except for us to be horrified by it.  Our rabbi noted that the story seems to defy the requirements elsewhere in Torah for us, as a community, to teach, love and shelter all of our children.  Abraham, the parent generation, is so invested in his belief that he is willing to kill Isaac, the child generation, regardless of whether Isaac has the same commitment.

I never thought of it quite that way — we say we love our children but we send them to battle the wars we decide to wage.  It is as true then and it is today in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in countless other places where wars have been waged so long that no one remembers peace.  We are horrified at the ghastly stories of child abuse here and yet we barely remember that we have sent thousands of other people’s children to war this year alone.


Love your children.

Protect your children.

Teach your children.

Remember peace.


Sunday Dinner

FOPOB (father of POB (partner of blogger)) is a hard guy to pin down.  He doesn’t like to “commit” to coming over for Sunday night dinner when he is in the City (and not at his beach house).  This weekend was no exception: he wasn’t able to say yes or no when asked again yesterday. He’d let us know.  Ok.

In fact, he let us know by coming over at 3:15pm, unannounced.  That’s so early even for MY dad who would come at 9am, if we let him.  That’s ok.  I couldn’t even emerge from the bedroom until 3:45pm.  Then I felt guilty and let POB escape to the kitchen.  At 4:15pm, FOPOB was itching to watch the Giants game.  And in a slightly-passive-but-really-overly-aggressive move, I told SOS (our son, source of sanity) to keep FOPOB company, believing full well that SOS would get bored within 5 minutes and start trying to convince FOPOB to change to either Nature or Discovery channels.  And it would drive FOPOB nuts.

You think that wow I can be awfully mean sometimes.  Yes, yes, I can.

Somehow, despite my best-laid plans, SOS started to get into the game.  (My son:  the child who went from worrying about the euro crisis to watching people gratuitously concuss each other in 48 hours.  I am having whiplash and I will remind him of this indignity until the day I die or the guilt kills him — whatever.)  The Giants versus the Redskins.  The Redskins?  Really?  Do we still have teams with humans (in this case, Native Americans) as mascots?  Haven’t we progressed as a civilization?  Oh, wait, that is my way left-of-center whine.  I am a centrist now.  I digress.

FOPOB was impatient at cocktail hour (6pm) because the Redskins (pause, take a deep breath) were beating the Giants.  And, because HOSOB (husband of SOB (sister of blogger)) and CB (cousin birder) were talking about bird nerd things that even a loving and adoring  sister-in-law and cousin could not possibly abide.  SOB was seeking shelter in the kitchen with POB, leaving me to referee the “boys”.

So I threw out random things, like the blue inner feathers of a mallard and the way hummingbirds make their calls with their feathers, to bring the conversation within normal nerd parameters.  Nothing doing.  DOB (Dad of blogger) rather adeptly tried to steer the conversation away from what could have been mortal boredom (did I mention how much I adore HOSOB and CB?) by musing about the difference in conversations he had when he was our age 20 years ago.  OK, DOB, that was 40 years ago when you were our age, but who is counting.  Yes, it was just after the 60s and you were wearing mustard colored bell bottoms and Mom was wearing floral halter tops, “hostess” pants and Elvira the Vampiress make-up, but I am sure your politics had sound bases. Still, he had a good point.

FOPOB, who had a moment to shine, instead said flatly that the conversation was boring, he’d rather watch his team lose and did anyone realize that Casablanca was on TV tonight?  I poured everyone more wine.  DOB mentioned he liked it and I told him it was NOT Trader Joe’s $3.50 special Merlot.  “Really?”  DOB was genuinely surprised.  I excused myself to the kitchen where POB was hiding out.  I asked POB to kill me before SOS ever had to have this conversation with me.

Thank G-d Cousin Gentle arrived.  And time to eat.  FOPOB wanted to take dinner-to-go but we locked the door.  SOB had to take a call from the hospital.  SOS wanted to run back and forth from the dinner table to the TV in our room to watch the football game.  I considered Crazy Glue to keep him in his chair but I settled on the Evil Eye of Doom and Despair that I inherited from my mother that kept us in line.  It is amazing how a few moves of the facial muscles can subdue a child.  It worked. Luckily, I also still have the brute strength in my arsenal, if necessary.  But only for a little time more.

At the beginning of the meal, we toasted the many sides of the family that were present.  We toasted our good fortune in being together.  We remembered the victims of the attack on our Nation 10 years ago.

At some point in the conversation, we started talking about the different sources of the Bible and how women may have been writers.  HOSOB asked what I knew about this.  So, of course, I held forth, but with a caveat.  I started with, “Unencumbered as I am with fact or knowledge about the subject matter . . . .”  Cousin Gentle was impressed that I said this.  I was shocked.  I thought this was an implied caveat in any conversation in our family history because clearly Uncle Loud, Cousin Gentle’s father and DOB, would have otherwise been mute for most of their lives.

After that, someone complained that the chicken was salty.  Someone wondered about having added marjoram (a spice I still don’t understand) to the quinoa dish.  FOPOB wanted to take dessert to go (keep trying, dude) in order to watch Casablanca at home on his ginormous TV.

So, we were deep, we were shallow, we were loving, we were honest. .  .and in so doing, we gave meaning to the statement:


I love you all.