Archive for December, 2008

Out of Comfort Zone

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Sometimes one just has to leave the comfort zone and do something else.  My comfort zone is definitely home, my room, my computer activities.  I’ve been working to get it down to a fine art, balancing productive chesed, family and writing activities with the entertainment I enjoy, making it all into a point game with a chart so I can see exactly what I’m accomplishing by the day.  Some might find it a bit obsessive/compulsive in nature but for me it works well in making sure I don’t neglect any particular detail important to me.  So my life became comfortable and somewhat regimented but I like it, it works for me.

Moshe found his aliyah a most challenging task for him personally due to a slight speech impediment and a natural sensitivity to any kind of public speaking, which both his parents share!  One of our rabbis had advised not pushing him and was trying to find the smallest, least threatening minyan.  At first the plan had been to take the aliyah in the school but some boys are unnecessarily cruel and Moshe was expecting the worst.  I was torn. On the one hand I totally understood his reticence and heard that rabbi’s advice not to push him. On the other hand I felt strongly that for his own personal development and self esteem he must be encouraged to face his fears and just go ahead and do it anyway.  I have had this struggle with public speaking myself and know how good I’ve felt when I managed to present anything.  So I pushed for this course of action and finally we found ourselves outside Lev Aryeh on Shabbos with growing crowds including boys filing in,  a son who was almost freaking out and an encouraging father.  We gave every possible pep talk but I think what helped a lot, apart from Akiva’s words, was a bargain.  I agreed I’d go with him go karting, even though the outing was something that was really not up my alley at all.. but just to make him happy because it meant so much to him for me to go along.  In other words, we’d step outside our comfort zone for each other.

Well, Moshe stepped out of the shul not long after, exultant, having shaken many hands, and clearly very happy for having received his aliyah in honour of his Bar mitzvah.  It really did make him feel so much more confident and accomplished, to have faced his terror and overcome it and I, of course, was very proud and happy for him.  He was now saying it really wasn’t anywhere near as bad as he’d expected, noone had made fun of him, on the contrary, everyone treated him with far more respect than he’d anticipated.

Well, today I had to fulfil my part of the bargain, sharing his pleasure with him.  This did not really require a great deal from me, just seven hours away from the P.C. in the freezing cold rain and for me, rather boring surroundings.  Malls, bowling alleys and noisy amusement arcades in Talpiot are generally just not my ‘scene’.  At all. Even so,  I managed to make the most of it,  noticing which plants were in flower along the way, including a stand of castor oil plants of which I just had to stop and get a photo, and finding urban birds. I also mentally dropped gears into my most easy going low intensity mode which simply kicks back and experiences life.   We enjoyed nachos with salsa,  I watched the boys play some exciting bike race video games, took a walk around the block with Akiva and watched the bowling while we waited for our turn on the go karts. I’ve been watching a series about Charlie Boorman on the Dakar rally as well as his travel adventures with Ewan McGreggor on motorbikes around the world so watching motorcycle video games was not entirely without appreciation.

All the time I was sincerely with the boys in their pleasure since I wanted them to have a memorable and enjoyable day, and  used my relaxed mood to help this along.  We were quite impressed with the efficiency of the go karting place.. they started not much later than their anticipated time for their turn and both had two good sessions round the tracks on gas powered go karts that look like mini race cars.  Helmets of course, as well as a brief orientation session on the meaning of the flags and the “dos and don’ts”.  Moshe crashed and scratched his neck up a bit due to some moronic driver who thought it was bumper cars but not seriously, and his enjoyment made that insignificant. He wore it like a medal of honour!  My eyes have been acting up lately, I suspect a bit of dry eye, eye strain and possibly a bit of aggravation from the air spray I’d been using. That plus my diplopia made me reluctant to drive myself but that had not been part of the bargain, fortunately, and I’d made it clear  I wasn’t committing myself to that.  Still, Akiva drove a session and Moshe was just happy I came. He likes my presence on family outings a lot, which also warms my heart that he wants me there.

Moshe of course, was not my only concern on the trip. It was Avremi’s ‘Hanukah outing too and important for me that he enjoyed it just as much. He is much more introverted than Moshe in his nature, less expressive, though he IS expressive in his own way.   I wanted him to feel fully included and cared about in all these respects and I really hope I succeeded in this.   He did seem to enjoy it all.

The other good point was my health.  On wednesday I was feeling slightly under the weather when I got up and it really looked like I was finally starting to come down with the flu that had hit most of the family.  My immune system is, thank God, excellent and I seldom get ill but I had resolved that I’d go today anyway even if I did have the flu, just to keep my promise.  Well, apart from a minor bit of phlegm I felt no significant malaise, seemed a false alarm and I wasn’t going to suffer that way. Thank God! Now I’m just keeping warm and taking care of myself.. back in my comfort zone!

Moshe’s Bar Mitzvah

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

I haven’t written anything here for ages !  Most write-ups go in my nature blog, other aspects of life are pretty much too low key to be worth a write- up here or too private for the net.  Came in today and found 79 unmoderated messages!  Most of them if not all of them were people spamming themselves.. ugh! most went straight to the bin.  At least no trees were turned into paper for all that junk mail.

We decided to do Moshe’s bar mitzvah in the house which proved to be a great idea and a good example to others who feel socially pressured to get a hall. I think it was great to demonstrate that a hall is totally not necessary for a good, lively well catered party and seemed to me a lot appreciated it.  Very cozy.

Moshe invited a few close friends and they all watched a very innocent and well made animation, projected onto the entire wall over the sofa, while eating pizza.  The Chinese crane tapestry had to be put aside for the duration and I cleaned that wall extra at Moshe’s request so that the showing would be unblemished. His bar mitzva and he wanted to order pizza- and of course, show off his beautiful new pet, a very pretty iguana named Randall (after the lizard monster in Monsters Inc. of course )

They started about five p.m. At shortly after 8 p.m. the adult guests arrived:  some slightly complaining at the very short notice (Erev Shabbat!) but all very happy and all commenting on how cute Moshe is, which I have to agree.  The Labovich’s came first,  our resident G.P. , and his wife Meira.  I wanted to give her decent time since at our last bar mitvah, in a hall (Lamett), I inadvertantly neglected her.  Soon we were joined by the Goldwassers, Papermasters, Penny Krinsky and some of the girls,  the Ceders, the ladies from the office, (including my old Shalhevet friend Ita, and Gittel Kaplan who came bearing the most awesome squishy chocolatey caramely crunchy guilt inducing cake,  Dina nee Dombey,  Sarah Chava Mizrahi, the Kaganoff’s daughter and later the Kaganoffs themselves.  That led to a pleasant chat with Rabbi Kaganoff about birds in halacha, the definition of a dores and why and whether parrots should or should not be kosher.  Before that I had been drifting between Amy Ceder,  Yael Goldwasser and Simone Alexander for the most part while trying to give adequate attention to everyone else.  This of course meant I hardly got a bite. Fortunately there was enough good stuff left later. The Alexanders gave Moshe a kidush cup, very nice!  This had been our gift from the Rapoports for the other boys but I didn’t see them tonight, sadly.  Simone and I talked about the local owls..  anyone who will discuss the local nature with me is always guaranteed a fair chunk of my time and attention!

The catering was a totally joint effort. Elisheva put out plates with pepper and carrot sticks as well as humus, I made tomato and cucumber salad, we bought crackers and Akiva baked a couple of cakes. I felt the salads should go with some kind of protein and suggested salmon so Akiva baked salmon loaf which was very much appreciated by the guests.  We had various soft drinks, the first of which I ‘fortified’ with a bit of vodka but pretty soon my social mood was just fine, no wish for more alcohol than that.  After reading about Sesame seeds on wikipedia I very much liked the sound of home made halva and shared my enthusiasm with Akiva.  He prepared a nice batch.. great energy food for walks.  I tried some, totally delicious, wonderful!  Simply sesame paste and honey with flower to thicken. It was still a little soft, had to really be rolled into squishy balls to eat but I spread some on sesame crackers.  They disappeared pretty quickly on the men’s table but the women were probably at the limits of their diet allowances by the time they came out..  apart from Chava Dumas, who, health food loving person she is, immediately recognized it for what it was and took some home, which pleased me greatly.

I hadn’t seen Amy properly in a long time and one thing led to another in conversation, from Moshe’s trip to Switzerland to photos taken from the air  till we were pulling out photo albums of my brother’s wedding simply because I wanted to show her the pics I’d taken from the air of the Austrian Alps, Venice and the white cliffs of Dover.  I particularly love my Venice shot, very special.  That of course led to other pics of Cardiff castle, squirrels, cousins and other details of that trip.

Sarah came along later looking beautiful and announcing her upcoming trip to Norway in two weeks.  In winter, brrr! This is just like her, she likes to pop around. I usually find out from her facebook status that suddenly she’s sunbathing by the Gulf of Aqaba,  or hiking in north or something else that sounds a lot of fun.  I love that about facebook, being able to see what people are up to like that.

What else?  Dovid’s still home though shooting for his ‘chayal boded’ status  (on the grounds of his radically different (i.e. absence of ) religious beliefs but really because he wants his own place)  Meanwhile he gets along with us all pretty well and I, or rather, our machines, wash his stuff. Not fatigues any more, he’s done with the heavy cloth and border guard duty- he’s now working with computers at a base here in Jerusalem, which means he comes home every night and can spend as much non sack time as his body will stand on his computer.

Shira seems to be getting something out of Sudbury,  putting her head into biology and her hands into ceramics lately.  She has always been an excellent, solid student but understandably rebelled at the rather arbitrary clothing gezeras of the religious school system.  Elisheva is at home,  restlessly figuring out the direction of her own artistic expression.  The passion and sensitivity are clearly there and she reaches for her path in art and in life in general.  She has been wonderful today, totally on the ball in terms of preparing the house for the bar mitzva though we all played a part I think she was ring leader.   So different a physical type from Shira..  Eli is a tall birch tree to Shira’s pistaccio..  elf and milkmaid, that is the briefest possible description and of course does not do justice to the entire worlds they are.  What kind of tree would Sarah be? Really hard to say, perhaps an orange tree.