The truths about roller coaster rides.

The first truth about roller coaster rides is that it can be scary, exhilarating, fun and vomit-inducing, but, at its end, it delivers you to its starting point and you wobble out onto terra firma.

The second truth is that you don’t need to go to an amusement park to ride one.

Thursday began like any other day.  I was late getting to the office for a call with opposing counsel. I didn’t even try to blame the trains.  I emailed him on my subway ride to push back the call 15 minutes.

When I get out of the subway, I receive a text from Dad’s home health aide (HHA).

“Have your sister call me immediately.”

My sister, SOB (sister of blogger] is a doctor.  This is not good.  I call SOB immediately.

SOB, it’s [Blogger], call HHA immediately.  She just texted that she needs to speak with you.  Call me after you speak to her.”

I am shaking.  Is this the day?  I don’t exactly remember the walk to my office.  But as I start to turn on my computer, my ringing cell phone snaps me back.

“It’s [SOB], HHA had to call 911 because Dad is basically non-responsive.”

Is this the day that Dad dies?

SOB and I know that we have to run to Dad’s house before anyone takes him to a hospital, so we can evaluate the situation.  He is almost 94 years old and has told us, again and again, that he wants to die in his bed.  And, unless there was acute pain or discomfort to relieve, being in a hospital is only torture for a person his age.  Old age is old age.  This is not a curable condition.  It is a fact of life.

I run part of the way there.  SOB is still in traffic.   I look at Dad.  He is now alert and comfortable on the gurney.  He knows me and seems relieved I am there.  He has no pain but looks so tired.  He smiles as he does when family walks into the room.  Our embrace is awkward because he is on a gurney.

“Dad, [SOB] is coming any minute and we will figure out whether you need to go to the hospital.”

“Yes, darling.  Let’s wait for [SOB].”

The EMTs tell me all his vitals are good.  Apparently, Dad slumped over at breakfast and HHA couldn’t rouse him.  She literally lifted him and had him lean on her while she got him to his bed in his bedroom.  The EMTs said he was non-responsive when they got there but with a little rubbing on his sternum, he started to wake up.

Dad hovered between life and death and came back to life.

So, TODAY IS DEFINITELY NOT THE DAY.  Still, the crisis isn’t over until the EMTs unstrap Dad from the gurney and they leave his house.

And Dad had mentioned heart disease, so the EMTs want to take him to the hospital.

“Dad is in mild heart failure.  Who isn’t at almost 94?  There is heart disease in his family, but he takes no medications, except an evening scotch.”

And then Dad says:

“They might not get paid if they came all this way and don’t come back with a patient.”

The EMTs smile.  They understand that my father wants to do the honorable thing.  They are also a little confused by his seeming clarity in one moment and his dementia in another. The EMTs wait for SOB to arrive (G-d bless professional courtesy).

Then Dad said:

“Before we go anywhere, I have to say goodbye to my wife.” 

The EMTs look at me and look at HHA, who is 50 years his junior.

“NO, NO, NO,” I say.  “Look at the wall.  See the painting?  That is Mom in 1967.  He needs to say good-bye to HER.”

341279902308_0_ALBOMG OMG OMG.  This still could be the day.  Oh, SHIT.

The EMTs were fabulous.  One was a little circumspect, probing about my knowledge of Dad’s medical and mental state.  I appreciated his concern and we walked a little away from Dad.

“Look, my father has been exceptionally healthy his whole life.  He is at the end of his life.  If he is not in pain or gasping, why would I want newly minted doctors (it IS July, after all) poking and prodding him?  But, let’s wait for the real doctor, my sister.”

Then that EMT starts to test my knowledge of Jewish culture and Yiddishkeit. The Blogger family name is stereotypically Jewish.  And he was testing me to figure out if I understood the Commandment to honor my father and my mother.

SOB walks in and consults with the EMTs.  Then she says to both of them:

“Last time he was in a hospital, it was for a brain bleed resulting from tripping on the sidewalk.  Although he was in neuro ICU and was watched by a private nurse, he got out of bed twice and fell both times.  Since then he wanders.  A hospital is not a safe place for him.  He has terrific 24 hour care at home.  And my sister and I are each a cab ride away.”

Both EMTs understood.  The circumspect EMT (who turned out to be an observant Jew) was more comfortable when we knew some Yiddish and when we told him that we had been through this drill before and we had tended to our mother in her dying days.

He said, “We have to call the supervisor.  I fear Hashem [G-d], my wife, gobblins and my supervisor, and your dad said he wanted to go to the hospital before you both arrived.

“I get that.  Make yourselves to home.  Can we give you something to drink or eat?”

The observant Jew demurred.  The other EMT said, his wife packs food.  So I asked, “you fear both your wife and Ha-Shem on this score.”  He nodded.

The EMTs and Dad start to talk.  They ask how he feels.

“It is the end.”

“End of what, sir?”

“The end of my life.”

Those words hang in the air, until interrupted by the arrival of the supervisor.  The supervisor calls the doctor on duty.  Everyone groans.

“What’s wrong with this doctor?” I ask, thinking the nightmare has just begun.

“He’s been sued a lot.  He will want to enforce transport to the hospital.”

WAIT. WAIT. I have power of attorney.  My sister has health proxy.  We, and our 24/7 nursing care, take excellent care of Dad.  We see him all of the time.  We know his wishes, his medical history and, hell, what he eats in the diner and what he hates in a museum.  We speak to him everyday and see him every weekend.  Dad has told us what he wants and he trusts us.  And we love him.


Well, he did.  SOB and I would not stand for it.  Dad was sitting in a chair talking and feeling comfortable.  He didn’t need to go to the hospital.

“Call the doctor back. NOW!”

At this point the EMTs are rooting for keeping Dad home.  And I was ready to name Dr. [Blank] in a lawsuit.  After the doctor spoke to Dad, he asked to speak to the daughter who is the lawyer. NOT THE DAUGHTER WHO IS THE DOCTOR.  This is some paranoid dude.

“Yes, Dr. [Blank}.”

“Ms. [Blogger], BLAH BLAH BLAH. BLAH BLAH BLAH. BLAH BLAH BLAH” – I made the universal hari kari sign so everyone in the room could feel my pain — “Your father could have any number of issues.”

“Dr. [Blank], he is almost 94 years old.  Can any of those potential issues be prevented by a hospital visit today? We can agree that the answer is no.  And you have our family’s thanks for not compelling transport to a hospital.  I appreciate your advice on guardianship.  Thank you, doctor.”

The EMTs cheer the outcome.  We hugged one EMT and I said to the observant Jew, “I won’t hug you or shake your hand, but I would if you weren’t observant.”

“Thank you.  In this case, I fear my wife first.  Hashem, second.”


All non-essential personnel left.  I went out to get pizza for everyone.  To celebrate success after the two hours that felt like ten.  We ate.  We all sacked out for an hour.

SOB went into Dad’s bedroom to check on him.  He was glad that he stayed at home.  He was glad to have his children around and he felt loved and supported by all of his children, even though our brother lives far away.  He told SOB what a lucky man he is and what a good life he has had.  The drift toward the inevitable is beginning.

We all got up a kibbitzed.  Soon it was cocktail hour.

“Dad,” SOB started, “there needs to be a new rule in the usual [Blogger family] protocol in these circumstances:  If ambulance comes, no scotch at cocktail hour.”

Dad wasn’t so ok with it.  So I had to draw it from him.  The new addition to our protocol:



58128Dad fought it tooth and nail and enjoyed the tussle with his kids.  He was present in a way he is not usually.  His mind was more clear (but still out there).  He was a little pale, but he survived.

The day turned out to be a great day, because:

We met wonderful people — the EMTs — who care about the people they help.

And, Death took a holiday of sorts for our family.

SOB and I stagger off the roller coaster.  The ride was rough but everyone survived. 


One month ago, when I invited the “family” to Seder, there was some trepidation.

Why trepidation at just another annual ritual?  Well, here is a partial list of the invitees:

  • Dad (who is not the man he was prior to his brain injury), accompanied by his Guyanese home attendant who had never been to a Seder;
  • Shelly who is not romantically involved with Dad, regardless of what Uncle L thinks (we will get to THAT later);
  • Our g-ddaughters, who are not Jewish and one of whom has never cracked open the Bible (but she makes amazing Kosher for Passover desserts, so go figure);
  • My Uncle L, who having recently lost Aunt R just a few months ago, wanted bring his paramour of 25 years (will someone PLEASE shoot me);
  • My Aunt R’s blood nephew and his wife, who may not be so psyched to know that Uncle L had a side gig (a shonda — embarrassment — for the neighbors);
  • FOPOB who is not always emotionally or mentally “present” and SOPOB who is not always physically present;
  • Cousin Gentle, CB, SOB and HOSOB — thank G-d; and
  • my personal trainer who gave me good arms for my wedding dress.

So, bottom line:  lesbians, their baker g-ddaughter, an uncle, his lover, a Greek Chorus and a brisket.  La follie. Madness.

Ok, by the grace of G-d, my aunt’s nephew and his wife couldn’t come so we didn’t have to create even more lies about the state of affairs (pardon the pun) of the family.

Because Uncle L keeps white wine in his refrigerator for his paramour, I bought very good bottles of various white grapes. Only to find out that she likes red wine, but Uncle L won’t buy red because he thinks it doesn’t keep for long.

Sidebar:  Really, Uncle?  Dirt has thrived in your home since 1954.  New life forms and strains of antibiotics could be discovered in your slums-of-Calcutta-apartment and you are worried about whether red wine will go bad?  I know people draw lines in the sand but, but, whoa, that is really strange.

A second sidebar:  I asked S, Uncle Larry’s paramour (and our new relative), whether she had been to a Seder before, and she said she had been to four, to which SOS exclaimed, “wow, she has more Jewish connections than we thought!!”  Oy. Oy. Oy. Out of the mouths of babes, indeed, but, sometimes, a muzzle would work just fine.

Even another sidebar:  When will I stop calling her, “the paramour”?  Check back with me in 25 years.  A generation is a biblical time period and quite possibly after 25 years we will not remember that there was an “overlap” when Uncle L was with Aunt R.

I told S she was welcome in our home as long as she could handle loving references to Aunt R.  Wow, now that was a tense moment.

And I haven’t even talked about the preparation for the Seder or the Seder itself.  More anon.  Stay tuned (with pictures from SOB).



Seder — a chance to mourn, a chance to laugh, and yes, a chance to sleep, perhaps to dream . . . .

Passover looms large in POB’s and my life.

For Jewish women, Passover is very complicated.  And writing about it is complicated, so this blog is complicated.   So sit back and pretend it is a Fellini script.

In our house, Passover is all about MOPOB.  Why?

Passover was MOPOB’s self-designated proving ground as a Jew by choice.  I remember the Seder I attended at MOPOB’s house.  MOPOB was stressed, as if the bubbes (grandmothers) of 100 generations of Jews were looking down at her wondering if she was using the right amount of chicken fat in the matzo balls.  That kitchen was way too crowded with all those mavens; a lesser person than MOPOB would have made a run for it.

In 2006, POB and I started having Seder for both of our families.  POB was desperate to have those matzo balls float (MOPOB’s receipe; and they did).  We had a rigorous discussion (MOPOB’s form of exercise) about an aspect of the Exodus story.  Then we all ate POB’s delicious meal together with family and friends.  MOPOB pronounced herself satisfied with POB’s and my hard work and how we melded two families’ traditions.  And shortly thereafter, she died.

Sidebar:  So, really, really, MOPOB, with that as a backdrop, how could Seder NOT be about you?

MOB didn’t really like all the prayers and stuff, but she loved having people around her table eating and talking and eating and having meaningful interaction (no idle chit chat at the Seder table).  And anything that tripped off MOB’s children’s tongues were quite possibly the most brilliant ideas theretofore uttered in the history of humanity.  So, it was all good.  For MOB, the most important thing was that, regardless of how everyone came to the table, everyone left that table as family, hugging and kissing (and there were no outrageous failures of tradition that would be shondahs for (i.e., embarrass us in front of) the neighbors).

Over the years, POB and I have gotten comfortable with our mothers’ looming large on this holiday.  The kitchen, though, gets crowded, especially when POB is making the traditional foods.  Her mother’s spirit hovers and my mother’s takes a magazine and sits at the counter and reads, ready to pitch in, but not really ever knowing her way around even her own kitchen (this for another blog).

And, as the years spin by, the elders have gotten, well, even older and a little more forgetful and a little more eccentric in their actions.

Sidebar:  If truth be told, age earns our quirkiness or idiosyncrazies (no misspelling here) the more refined term, “eccentric”.

I had arranged to pick up an extra table from DOB’s house. on Friday  He also bought some wine for us.

Sidebar:  Dad buys wine that is, well, barely usable for cooking.  But it was such a good price that he couldn’t resist.  “And who can tell the difference?” he asks rhetorically.  Dad, I am no connoisseur(se), but you buy rot gut wine.

Sidebar on sidebar:  FOPOB is no better.  He goes for the cheapest Kosher wine he can find.  One year, he told us not to buy wine because he was bringing wine.  He brought ONE bottle and he knew we were having nearly 20 people.  Are you kidding me?  Good thing I always buy non-kosher GOOD wine.  Clearly, we only serve DOB’s and FOPOB’s wine to someone on his or her fourth glass, because that person is too shiker (Yiddish, meaning drunk) to know the difference.

I arrived at DOB’s house around 1pm.  He decided that he will just come over early and hang out with us, while we are trying to put together a sit down dinner for 16.  Oh, goody.  But DOB is such a lovely guy and very lonely, so how could I not bring him along?  I called POB, who primed SOS to read books with Grandpa DOB.  Ok, they went through a survey of American history, and the origins of the Silk Road and it was only 2:30pm.  Time for reinforcements.  I called HOSOB, who is busy working on commissioned pieces of art.  But I know SOB was working hard at the hospital, so she couldn’t stop my asking HOSOB to drop the paint brush, shower and run over to our house to entertain the “boys.”  SOB might have stern words for me later for my having taken HOSOB away from his work, but that day it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

HOSOB, a fabulous member of the clan, came over and took over, leaving POB and me to our preparations.  At one point, DOB was tired and SOS needed a little more exercise so HOSOB took SOS for a walk.  (Some days, I think we really should have a treadmill . . . .)

Meanwhile GDJOB arrived with Kosher for Passover cakes (which were indeed FABULOUS).  As she walked in, she said, “I know you thought I was probably [DOB] . . . Ummmm [as she saw DOB seated]  Oh, hi, [DOB]!!”  Ah, yes, GDJOB, careful when you walk into our house, because as DOB gets older, his sense of appropriate arrival time can make you wonder whether he thought Passover was a lunch or dinner affair.  OOOOOOOOhhhh.  The first of many, many, uncomfortable moments chez nous.  Luckily, GDJOB had to park the car and run some errands.  She exited stage left, post-haste.  And we have a memory for the ages.

Fast forward . . . .   Seder time.

Sidebar:  Elders, children and the sandwich generation. Believers in one thing or another, non-believers and people just having a power nap before dinner.  There was one moment when I looked at my assembled family and remembered when they were the giants of my youth, when they were young and strong and idolized by my sister, my brother and me.  Wasn’t that yesterday?

We all sat to fulfill a commandment that binds the past with the present and the present with the future:

We will go, young and old; we will go, bored and snoozing; we will go, Jew, non-Jew and Atheists; we will go all together to observe the Passover ritual for we shall tell our children, on that day, G-d freed us from slavery, from the house of bondage.” 

Pretty profound stuff.  That is until I noticed my 80+ year-old uncle was already napping and drooling, and FOPOB had taken the whole bowl of haroset and started eating out of it with his spoon. . . .

Also, there is a personal corollary theme: 

We were not delivered from slavery to eat turkey and drink gross kosher wine.  We were liberated to eat a lovely marbled brisket cooked to perfection and delicious Cabernet that can stand up to a Yiddisha brisket.

We don’t follow the Haggadah religiously (as it were).  I like to make the Exodus story relevant to the modern day.  I pick the passages and copy the relevant pages so we can all read together and discuss.  I find portions of the story disturbing and don’t shy away from that.  There is a reason why Jews “tremble” before G-d.  The G-d of the Hebrew Bible is pretty violent and mercurial.  But we must observe the traditions, from generation to generation, even if one year, my theme was:  Saddam Hussein and G-d, compare and contrast.”  Yep, step away from the computer, lest a lightening bolt destroy you and your family.

Because of Arab Spring, SOS has become very interested in revolution and civil wars that inevitably follow.  So, in my preparation for the Seder, I read the Exodus story to find elements that spoke to heady days of freedom and the subsequent factionalism once the common enemy is vanquished.  There is a lot of turmoil following the Red Sea crossing.  The fluidity of the story is both a strength and a weakness — anyone can find something to support his or her thesis, whether for good or malevolence.

And of course, in addition to the usual “emblems of festive rejoicing,” we have our own:  (i) the Moses action figure (with detachable commandments for easy throwing); (ii) a watch symbolizing that we only have one hour before my sister takes the Haggadahs away and declares the ceremony at an end, and (iii) a bottle of the two-buck chuck my Dad will always bring and we will never, ever, drink.

We will fill in this second Seder plate as our tradition continues….

But for now, the matzo balls floated and that is indeed a blessing.


A zissin Pesach to all.

Bedroom Farce, Rated G

On weekend mornings, SOS and I often rough-house on POB’s and my bed — we wrestle, tussle, the usual.  (At other times, even POB and I can fit in a little tussle, but I digress).

The bed held up as best it could, for 12 years.  So, last night when SOS jumped on the bed to reach me for a kiss good-night, we heard a ◊craaaack◊ followed by a creeeeeak!!!!! followed by a THUUUUNK of a falling “decorative” wood brace in the headboard.

After assuring SOS that it was not his fault, I set about trying to repair the bed before it sloped into total collapse.  Mind you, this is no IKEA-born-to-break-in-three-months bed; this is — or should have been — a stand-up-to-kids, Odysseus-built-around-a-tree-trunk type of bed, notwithstanding its modern aesthetic.

After getting the mattress off, I saw that the hinges and the connectors were bent.  Ok, so this is not a bed deserving of any analogy to that in the Homeric epic.

POB just thought we should dismantle the whole thing, set it aside and put the mattress on the floor.  “I am too old to sleep on some kind of a FUTON!!” I exclaim, shocking even me.  “We are sleeping on a proper bed because we are going to fix it.  All I need is a hammer and screw driver!!”

POB dutifully brought a hammer and screw driver.  She is always doing sweet things like that, like the time she gave me enough rope to hang myself.

It is a heavy bed, as in more than our combined body weight.  We took turns heaving the pieces into the correct position while the other tried to hammer the pieces into the correct grooves.  Let’s just say I would be in traction if I hadn’t been working on my abs.

At one point, when POB was doing the heavy lifting job, I tried to get at the mangled joint.  That required that I slither between her legs — just below the knees — with a hammer, all the while sweating and panting from all of the lifting I had just been doing.

What are you doing?” POB screeeeeched in horror, as she was now in charge of holding up a really heavy bed frame. 

As if I needed to say this, but I did:  “Sweetie, this is not a novel attempt at seduction.  Right now I don’t care where I am relative to your anatomy.  I care that I am close to the mangled joint that I need to fix!!”  At that point, I realized I needed a pliers.  “Don’t move,” I told POB.

Since this is rated G (General Audiences), I will not repeat her response.

After I hit my fingers with the hammer and squeezed part of my finger in the pliers, I made the damage to the bed parts (they were then officially “parts” not a “bed frame”) even worse.  But the decisive factor is, well, I suck at home improvement.  Another lesbian myth blown sky-high.

The long and short of it is that we slept futon-style with the mattress on the floor.  And the bed frame company is sending someone up from its SoHo store to fix the mangled mess on Thursday.  If a gay man show up and puts the frame back together without anyone’s help, then I will give up my lesbian boot camp standard issue: hammer, pliers, screw driver  and variable speed drill (both with various size bits).

But I am keeping the toaster oven.

Absolutely Flabulous

I am working on my abdominal muscles.  But the leaner I get in front, the flabbier I get in the back.  What is with back flab?

I asked POB who is my oracle on things like this.  She said that back flab is, in fact, a topic of articles in those self-help/keep-it-real magazines.

Essentially, it is an aging thing.

It’s a little like the hint of Hadassah arms (fleshy upper arms prevalent among members of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America) that appeared one day four years ago.  No amount of tri-cep exercises can change it.  Hadassah arms are a real advantage when entertaining young children — they make excellent flapping noises when one is trying to mimic a bird in flight (what, you mean, you don’t often, and spontaneously, do avian impressions?)

Despite my best efforts at the gym and POB’s best efforts at feeding us healthy, lean foods, I have a vision of turning into Grandma Dora, with the house-dress, the Hadassah arms, the corset pushing her sagging breasts up to her clavicle, and the bra-strap hanging half-way down her arm.  And those old people shoes that were gentle on the bunions.  And wait, the stockings knotted at her knees.  Just the vision could trigger a fatal seizure.

I know, I know.  I started with back flab and ended up with corrective shoes.  From the Upper West Side, Manhattan, 2012, to Pelham Parkway, Bronx, circa 1969 in three paragraphs.  But maybe I am just overreacting.

But the back flab is seriously unappealing.


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.”



And the Best Daughter Award Goes to . . .

SOB (sister of blogger)!!!!!!!!!

Yes, SOB wins for endurance beyond the mortal realm.

[POB (partner of blogger), SOS (our son, source of sanity) and I were in various states of contagion and nursing various infections and maladies, so we really couldn’t risk getting DOB (dad of blogger and SOB) sick.]

Yesterday, SOB sat with DOB in synagogue for the last 3 hours of Yom Kippur, enduring his endless commentary while trying to shoosh him because he no longer whispers and has old-person-yell-in-quiet-places syndrome.

SOB even sat with DOB through Yizkor (the service remembering dead loved ones) as DOB flipped through the prayer book and pronounced the service (using his old-person-yell-in-quiet-places voice) “a bunch of crap”.  (In truth, he mourns my mother every day and says Kaddish for his parents and brothers, so he doesn’t really need a special service to remember.)

I get DOB’s point.  I can’t sit through Yizkor because it doesn’t reach my abiding pain.  I am a little like DOB that way. Except I don’t go to the service and whisper at the top of my lungs.

After three hours of DOB containment, SOB, together with HOSOB (husband of SOB), took DOB out for Japanese food.  He complained about the food and the service.  In his later years, he has become even more impatient about service, and his previously polite manner has become rude when trying to get the attention of the waitstaff.  SOB is the picture of calm in these moments, as I have witnessed in the past.  I am not.

I know, I know, he is 91.  But this is not his last glass of wine or piece of sushi.  I have faith that he will be at SOS’s Bar Mitzvah in 4 years.  And at the very least he will hang around for POB’s and my wedding in 2012.

How do I know all that happened yesterday?  Because SOB and I spill our guts to each other and give each excruciating play-by-plays so that we have a collective memory.

But the real reason that SOB gets the Best Daughter Award?  Even though she was pushed to the limit of sanity, she did not yell, “Ok, Dad, if you don’t like dinner or the service AT THE RESTAURANT YOU PICKED, either be quiet or stick a crow bar in your wallet and pay for it!”

And SOB had lunch with him today, too.

Yes, she is a saint.


Rosh Ha-Shanah, 5772, Day One and Two

Too much contemplation Wednesday night left me with a pounding headache Thursday morning.  Since I am an adult, no one can force me to go to synagogue services.  And this, THIS, is the only advantage of adulthood.  The rest of the time I am desperately trying to reverse time and go back to my days at Camp Wingate.  But, being able to skip out on synagogue is a BIG advantage of adulthood and may even be worth having to earn a living.  I think that says more about my feeling about going to synagogue than anything else.

I stayed back as POB (partner of blogger) and SOS (our son, source of sanity) went off for morning services and prepared the house for our traditional family luncheon.  Attendees: FOPOB (father of POB), SOPOB (sister of POB), NOPOB (our nephew), DOB (Dad of Blogger), SOB (sister of blogger), HOSOB (husband of SOB), Cousin Gentle, CB (Cousin Birder), and Uncle Larry and Aunt Roz.

I knew that the world was different that day because Uncle Larry and Aunt Roz came early and DOB came late.  Assuming that therefore DOB was dying in front of an ER somewhere in the city, I made SOB call DOB on his cell phone to make sure he was alive.  SOB reminded me that if DOB didn’t answer, it could just be that he didn’t hear it.  DOB has perfect hearing, he asserts, because his doctor hasn’t told him otherwise.  I posit that DOB just doesn’t HEAR the doctor telling him he is deaf.  You can see how this conversation continues in one of those endless loops that runs through every family gathering.

DOB arrived as SOB and I were having this crazy conversation, a sort of anxiety induced cocktail with a garnish of dark humor.  So, we established that he was alive but we could not have a verdict on his deafness.  Nevertheless, all were accounted for and we toasted each other and the world in all its wonder and goodness and hoped that these would triumph over the evil and despoliation. DOB liked the wine even though it was way more expensive than he would ever buy.  He won’t admit it, but I know he does like our wine more than the $3.50 Trader Joe’s rot gut that he thinks is suchabargain (Jews say that phrase like it is one word).

We ate, we drank, we opined, we nodded off, we relaxed.  NOPOB stayed over and I fell fast asleep in my clothes.  POB had to deal with two rambunctious boys.  The take-away is that the new year is one day old, I am already soooo in debt to POB.

Today we went to the Museum of Natural History because it was clear that our two young charges could not sit through a second day of services at synagogue.  Ok, I couldn’t either.  POB is strong, strong, and could do it.  Really, she can.  She could also crawl across a desert if necessary. But we have learned to decline certain invitations, including both Survivor: Sahara and Survivor: Synagogue.

I did feel guilty passing all the Yamikazes (pronounced like Kamikazes, the Japanese suicide pilots, except they are Jews who wear skull caps) — with their families on their way to synagogue, but I figured there were enough suffering Jews in the world and I didn’t need to be one of them, at least not today.

Still, the museum was no picnic.  We needed to stay interested when all we wanted to do was nap during a movie at the Planetarium.  But, nooooo, the boys wanted to see the permanent exhibits of the Planetarium, the Hall of Bio-Diversity, the Hall of the Ocean Life (with the ginormous whale), and the Gift Shop.  At any point, I could have lied on the floor and created the “snoozing mammal” exhibit.  They do need some modern soft sculpture there.  Did you ever notice that there is never enough space given to the sloths and their species?  Ok, sloths are boring, but they do nap in the craziest of places.

I nap in the craziest of places.  I do the least I can do.  And I move slowly (for a New Yorker).  Aha!! I am the missing link between human and sloth.  Rosh Ha-Shanah brings such break-throughs in personal growth and self-knowledge.

Wishing everyone a Yom Tov and — why not? — a Good Shabbas. . . .

~ Blogger


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.