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Priss

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Pho and Candle [Jun. 7th, 2016|04:09 pm]
Priss

The 7-day memorial candle that I lit for my dad is still burning. Also, I made some pho.

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Tomato Story [Jun. 7th, 2016|12:36 pm]
Priss
When I was around six years old, Mom learned how to can produce. She got a pressure cooker, and those one-pint jars with the two-part lids, and she got the pickling seasoning which said on the label, "crab boil". Since we never ate crabs, even having the mention of them was a disturbing element to have in the kitchen. There was only one food from the garden that ever went into the jars: green cherry tomatoes. Fully ripe tomatoes don't can well, but the tart, firm, underripe ones make an amazing pickle.

The reason that we had a bumper crop, was that the dirt came pre-seeded.

The photo below is from my sister's facebook page. She got published in a local magazine! (So proud of her.):

tomato story

And here's what I added in the comments:

The cow manure story was invented and repeated by Mom, because the image of a pasture on a farm was more palatable than where the soil really came from. The straight poop is that our local sewer department offered fully composted solid waste to home gardeners. This humanure had been aged to the point where the health department considered it to be completely safe, although as my sister, said, it was still quite organic. The tomato seeds had passed through public utility customers, and had survived the filtering, and sewage treatment process. These survival-of-the-fittest seeds kept us in an overabundant supply of cherry tomatoes for 7 years.


..........................
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Immediacy [Jun. 5th, 2016|12:44 pm]
Priss

A little bit of down time on a Sunday
afternoon before an event starts. Who could I call for a moment of company? Dad's phone number is still in the favorite numbers list.

I called my daughter.

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The Miracle of 42 Chickpeas [Jun. 4th, 2016|12:27 am]
Priss
My Wednesday night guests ate all of the hummus, but I still had plenty of bagels and crudités left. Shopping didn't feel appropriate, so I decided to substitute homemade guacamole for the Thursday night Shivah gathering. After we said Kaddish, I started setting out the snacks, and there was a whole tub of exactly the same hummus I'd gotten earlier in the week. It could have been brought by a guest, but just for a second it felt providentially provided.

And there are more memories streaming in today. Recalling the trip around 1982 that Dad and I took to New York. We stayed at Uncle Fred's house, where my grandmother was also living at the time. Fred the youngest of dad's brothers and sisters was a US postal worker. Then we drove to Westchester to see Uncle Herb, the oldest of the four boys. He was a structural engineer who loved to talk about the stock market. There was snow on the ground, and since I'd learned to drive in San Diego, my dad did all of the driving. I knew from experience that these family trips were mostly about seeing the inside of living rooms and sitting around kitchen tables, so I'd made a deal with my dad that if I went on this trip, we would do one genuine sight-seeing activity. The sight-seeing activity that I wanted was a real Broadway show. Alas, not alas at all, David Copperfield was sold out, and I got tickets to a revival of 42nd Street. My dad tried to talk me out of going at the last minute, but he didn't want to reimburse me for the tickets, and nor did he want to put me on a subway to navigate NYC alone in the icy February weather. We went to Nathan's Famous -funny how that name keeps popping up in this story- where I ordered raw clams. Then on to the show, which was every bit as good as I'd dreamed. Dad had a great time too, and he was singing bits of the songs for the rest of the trip. All of the songs that is, except for "Shuffle Off to Buffalo". He had fallen asleep and missed that number. In fact, he didn't believe me that it had been included. After the show, I met my maternal grandfather "under the clock in Times Square". I had dinner with my Bayside Queens grandparents, and then they drove me back to Uncle Fred's in Long Island. When we got there, Nana Ruth (Dad and Fred's mom) rushed around to open a new giant tin of Stella Doro cookies and and to make tea. Even though my parents weren't together any more, the grandparents from both sides were able to be sociable.
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Remembering [Jun. 3rd, 2016|04:27 am]
Priss

In all of the reminiscing with friends, and public speaking at small memorial gatherings over the last few days, I  didn't mention that Dad taught me to roller skate. I imagine that more recollections will come filtering in as time goes by.

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Sketch [Jun. 2nd, 2016|02:31 pm]
Priss

I drew this quick portrait of Dad in September 1999.

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My Dad's Name [Jun. 2nd, 2016|01:00 pm]
Priss
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So these posts are going to be all out of order because it is best to start with talking about the things that are still fresh in my mind. After a three year process of gradually taking responsibility for my dad, which included becoming his guardian and arranging his funeral, I came home from visiting with relatives to have a Shivah Minyan in my home last night. People from my traditional congregation and people from my deconstructed do it yourself chavurah shared some prayers and encouraged me to tell stories about my dad. I was stunned at how much I had to say.

First there was the question of his name. Jewish people have a ritual name, in addition to the legal one on our birth certificates. When I was was growing up, my dad told me that his family hadn't been very observant, and that when he married my mom, he told the rabbi that he couldn't remember his Hebrew name. So my mom's rabbi chose to call him Naftali, and this is what he was know as (spiritually, whatever that is,) for over a decade. I was the oldest of three girls, and when my brother came along and my parents telephoned their own parents to announce his birth, some hidden history was revealed. My dad's father Jake, had wanted his children to be practical and productive as opposed to filling their lives with ritual. So he had never mentioned to his sons that his family were Cohanim, which is an ancestral tradition that is passed down from father to son. There hadn't been any male grandchildren before, so Jake hadn't seen any pressing need to share the information. This was mildly interesting to most people in the family, but to my mom's older brother it was a really big deal. For my brother's naming ceremony, Uncle E showed up with ten black hat Lubovitchers, and they ran the show. He gave my brother a silver kiddish cup inscribed with his name including "HaCohain" as a title. After that, my not really observant dad could be called first when Torah honors were given in synagogue. My dad's name story took another turn when years later, after my family had moved to California, and my parents had divorced. The same Lubavitch uncle talked my parents into getting a religious divorce too. My folks drove from San Diego to Los Angeles, to a rabbinic court that was more orthodox than most. Since this was such a male/bro environment, it was actually fun for my dad. After hearing the story so far, the presiding rabbi declared that Naftali, being the name of a different part of the twelve tribes, was "Not suitable for a Cohain!" I remember my dad telling me about this. I was flabbergasted, "So another rabbi changed your name again?" Amazingly, dad felt perfectly OK about this. The next line had been, "We'll call you Hersh." Which is a great name that works well as a substitute for his first name, and is almost identical to his middle name which is Herchel. A quick digression here, I never knew how to spell his middle name assuming that it was Hershal, until I found it recently on his military discharge paperwork.

No, the name story isn't even finished yet. Moving forward another twelve years, On a visit with my dad I told him that the -couldn't remember his original name- story had always sounded odd to me. More of the story emerged. He did remember his name, it had been the Hebrew version of Nathan. My mom's rabbi had said that since she had a brother named Nathan, it would be inappropriate for her to marry someone with the same name. This really doesn't reflect standard practice at all, but some people be power trippin'. I never thought about it before, but clearly, it was substituting anther name that starts with the letter N.


When I woke up this morning, I realized that my dad had been originally named for his grandfather, who was known as "Mr Nathan", because many people didn't want to try to pronounce his last name.
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Rise Up - Custom Passover Song 2016 [Apr. 22nd, 2016|11:14 pm]
Priss
Oh don't you dare look back
Just walk across the sea
So shake your tambourine
Come on and dance with me
This journey is my destiny
Ooh ooh ooh
Rise up and make yourselves free

Oh we were drifting on a stream
Caught up in the slave mileiu of Mitzrayim
Yearning for escape that was just a dream
Oh we were bound to get together
Bound to get together

Then it was time for action
With prayer and inspiration
New leadership to decree

Oh don't you dare look back
Just walk across the sea
So shake your tambourine
Come on and dance with me
This journey is my destiny
Ooh ooh ooh
Rise up and make yourselves free

Mysterious plagues and a rod that transforms
A fire that burns but does not consume
Placing signals on the doors of our homes
Oh we were bound to get together
Bound to get together

Then it was time for action
With prayer and inspiration
New leadership to decree

Oh don't you dare look back
Just walk across the sea
So shake your tambourine
Come on and dance with me
This journey is my destiny
Ooh ooh ooh
Rise up and make yourselves free

I realize
We will create a future
From desert to Promised Land

Then it was time for action
With prayer and inspiration
New leadership to decree


Oh don't you dare look back
Just walk across the sea
So shake your tambourine
Come on and dance with me
This journey is my destiny
Ooh ooh ooh
Rise up and make yourselves free

Oh don't you dare look back
Just walk across the sea
So shake your tambourine
Come on and dance with me
This journey is my destiny
Ooh ooh ooh
Rise up and make yourselves free

Oh oh oh rise up and make yourselves free
Oh oh oh rise up and make yourselves free
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Hats. What are they good for? [Jul. 21st, 2015|09:11 pm]
Priss
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Absolutely everything! I wear hats to keep the sun off of my face. I wear hats so that my hair will stay dry in the rain. Hats can be used to express a mood, or simply to match an outfit. Hats can definitely be a fashion statement. A felt hat is warm on a cold day, and a straw hat shades without insulating on a warm day. But more and more as I read about flying camera drones that snoop on news events, or deliver medical supplies, or photograph weddings, I keep focusing in on the idea that a hat can reduce the severity of head wounds from drones falling out of the sky.

I wonder how soon the phenomenon of unscheduled landings will become a scourge that plagues the land...
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Wizardess of Oz [Dec. 12th, 2014|11:38 pm]
Priss
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I just commented on a fb post that an argument that the imperfect shouldn't ever criticize, was clearly a Straw Person. And then I thought, why be gender neutral? Why not just rewrite the Wizard of Oz for an all female cast? There would be a straw woman and an awkwardly lioness who later becomes graceful. The witches could remain as they were, and the flying monkees would become flying vixens. Of course there would be a wizardess, and Dorothy need not change a bit. The best part would be the MARE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR.
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