I am a writer and a Mommy. I am a devout Jew. These are the most important books I have read: The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell translation. Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Living Inspired by Akiva Tatz. My kitchen would suggest I'm a closet carny, as would my love of Branson.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jack O'lantern Rosenberg

My clothes smell a little bit like my dead cat but I don't want to stop smelling it yet.  

When my cat Nutty died I was in Japan and I remember how much it hurt and how I thought I would never get another cat and if I did I would never, ever love him as much as I loved Nutty.

When I got Jack I thought the same thing.  I wanted a cat and I liked Jack but I thought - I'll never love you like I loved my Nutty cat - the cat I had from age 7 to 22.

But sure enough I loved Jack like crazy.  

He was a very smart, loving and funny cat.  He was really big and a pretty tannish pale orange color with big yellow-green eyes.  We lived together in Lawrence, KS, on the Plaza in KC, in the city of Chicago, in Evanston, in Shawnee, Olathe, Overland Park, and finally Half Moon Bay.  

He was with me for 18 years of living life.  He was 6 when Noah was born and I had to put a tent over Noah's crib to keep Jack from jumping in to it.  He grew to love Noah over time and eventually became Noah's cat.  He used to sleep snuggled up to him most nights.  

Jack was a very vocal cat and I spent many years feeling that the biggest mystery of my life would be wondering what Jack was trying to say.  He used to copy the kids and meow, "Mom! Mom!" - I often thought a child was yelling for me when it was Jack.

As he got older he cried a lot.  But he always purred.  He always wanted to be held and snuggled and it made him purr loud.

He always came when you called him.  

A couple of years ago one night when I was putting Noah to bed he asked me an interesting question. Putting Noah to bed has always been a time to talk and sometimes philosophize.  He must have been reading something interesting because he said, "Mom if we had a potion that would make you live forever but only one person could take it,  who would you want to have it?"  I couldn't even begin to fathom the idea of his question when he told me, "I'd want Jack to take it."

I loved that idea.  I promptly told Noah that it would make a wonderful story but he was thinking in earnest about his impossibly old cat whom he loved and whom he held in higher esteem, rightfully so, than anyone he had ever known.  Jack deserved to live forever.

I don't think I will ever have another cat because I had the best cat.  He was good and kind.  He never hurt others, never behaved in a mean way.  He was friendly to everyone and always good natured. He was clean and neat and even in the past couple of days when his world was going very dark, he tried to have composure.  

I have never had to do anything as painful as what I did today.  Jack has been declining for some time.  He has not played for a very long time.  He was sleeping almost constantly.  He ate, drank, went to the bathroom and slept.  Sometimes he would wander around a bit.  Sometimes he would ask to be held or snuggled.  Mostly he just slept.  The past two days he has not been able to eat or drink or go to his litter box.  He was just trying to find a hole to crawl into.  And no holding or petting or loving could elicit a purr of any kind.

I've never put an animal to sleep before - I asked if it would hurt him and they said it would not. They said he would go to sleep but that's just not what happened.  He was cuddled in my arms, half asleep already and barely moving and when she gave him the injection he opened his eyes big and wide and then that was it.  It didn't feel peaceful or comforting.  It feels like I killed my cat.

I could not let him go for a long time after that.  I brought him home with me and held him in my lap for an hour knowing that he was gone and that he wouldn't wake up but not believing it somehow. And either way, not being able to let him go.  I never wanted to let go of the feeling of holding my Jackie cat.  His soft fur and sweet paws and the feel of his long body - it's was too hard to bury him.  

But I did.

A lot of people met Jack and anybody who liked cats at all just loved him - he was the best cat.  He had a wonderful personality and I really, honestly can't believe he is gone.

I told Marshal that I wanted to find a taxidermist and he told me no.  I would do this if I had the option.  I don't want to let go of the feel of Jack, my irreplaceable, long-time friend.  

He was my first baby, no doubt about it.  And he let all my human babies drag him around, carry him like a baby, pull his hair, ears, tail and squeeze him - he never hurt any of them.  Jacob won't remember him.  I'll never forget him.




Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur

When I went to Israel in 2011 they gave us a small orange bracelet to wear on the first day.  On it was written: Don't Blame, Don't Complain.  They told us to move it from one wrist to the other every time we blamed or complained to see if we could stop doing those things.  Lori, our incredible leader, told us that we should see if we could manage to stop doing those two things - even for just one week.

Do you know what I did?  I put it in my purse.  It's not that I didn't like the idea.  But I didn't want to have to be moving this rubber bracelet back and forth between my wrists every time I opened my mouth so I figured why bother.

I never put the thing on.  I brought it home and threw it out.

I was so into that trip; my heart was open to every single thing they taught us and showed us about Judaism and observance but for some reason not complaining and not blaming seemed insurmountable to me.

If you ask me to take you through the details of what I learned about on that trip I can tell you vaguely about some of the classes.  Much of it did stay with me but that bracelet really got to me.  I have thought of it on and off ever since and recently I finally got myself one.

It's a big ugly red version of what I was first given three years ago. And, it may seem like a joke but I would love to have a small thin bracelet that was fashionable, maybe a white gold, with these words inscribed on it.

What I have discovered after wearing this bracelet is that I almost never think about what comes out of my mouth before I speak.

Maybe I always knew this but it's really hitting home now.  Every single day, especially right now - during the ten days of repentance when you are literally trying to impress upon The Almighty that whatever he wrote in the Book of Life should be favorable, when you have your one chance to show G-d that if what he wrote on Rosh Hashanah for you was not great, there is a reason to change it before it is sealed on Yom Kippur - every day I ask myself if I can go a day without complaining or blaming.

It seems, just as it did before, an insurmountable task.  But the reason is because I have not learned to think before I speak.  I've been hearing all my life that this is something I should learn to do and I get it.

If only I could manage to go one hour, let alone one day without complaining or blaming.

The bracelet is doing its job. I'm thinking about this.  I'm trying.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Transcendence

What do you think of when you hear the word transcendence?  Does it mean something larger, something above it all?

I always thought of transcendence as a meditative state where you feel at one with the universe having attained a profound sense of understanding and peace.

It turns out this word is really tricky.  It has a lot of different meanings like go beyond the limit, or exist above and apart from the world.  But it can just mean to go beyond something in quality like this cake transcends all other cakes.

I saw Johnny Depp's Transcendence the other day and it was quite an interesting sci-fi flick.  Just like I, Robot, the idea is that a really, really smart computer is going to seem menacing to us stupid humans as it goes about trying to help us.

I really like this idea.  It's what I loved about the movie Her as well. 

There are a couple of neat ideas in these sci-fi movies.  First, unlimited intelligence is going to want to keep learning and expanding and thinking and being creative.  That is a beautiful concept.

Second, a computer that is programmed to help people or has the will to help people as is the case in Transcendence, will quickly figure out that people need to be protected, managed, cleaned up after or in the case of Her, left alone a little bit.

I know someday we will have little computer chips implanted in our brains and although this idea upsets most people, I kind of look forward to it.  I assume I could program myself to eat the right foods every day and to stay calm at all times, to say the right things to the people I care about and to do what's best for my health.

There are two things that I find really impossible to make myself do on a regular basis that I believe with all my heart I should do and that I want to do.  One is exercise and the other is meditate.

I'm trying to figure out how to force both of these things into my life.  I keep thinking about it - there are so many things we do on a daily basis without fail and without exception and many of these things are not any fun to do but we would never dream of not doing them and for the same reason I want to figure out how to add exercise and meditation to that daily list.

So I am asking the world to please give me ideas and suggestions on how to "make" myself do these things.  For exercise, how do I best make getting my heart rate up a part of my daily life?

For meditation, I don't think it's too hard to find the time to sit quietly but someone please explain to me what I'm supposed to be doing while I'm sitting quietly.  Just sit there and listen to my thoughts? Repeat a word?  Count? 

I read one man's account of how meditation changed his life and he said that he did it twice a day for twenty minutes to get in touch with his Divine Self or something like that.  He said one of the most important things is to have a meditation guide.  What? 

Does anyone have a meditation guide?  Can you find one on Yelp? 

I guess my Buddhist monk holds regular meditation web casts.  Maybe I better start attending his Google hangouts.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hubby Cooked

He made me a very special Saturday night date night dinner!  A light delicious French chicken parmigiana with mushroom ravioli.  It was delicious!

Thank you for being my partner.  You are amazing.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ima's Famous

Remember the days when I used to make all kinds of pizzas?  I used to make a lot of things but I guess I haven't made gnocchi from scratch or my Mom's sauce or lasagna or chicken parmigiana or a whole host of things in the last few years.

That's what I hear.  

In any case there is a very fun grocery store in my town called New Leaf.  I can buy Lamonicas pizza dough there and it's the best.

Tonight I made feta and shiitake mushroom pizza.  It was good. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Do you ever blog anymore?

Someone asked me recently if I write anymore.  I write a lot but I don't share a lot.  Here are some things I write about and then don't post.  Or things I want to talk about but feel I should not.

Gaza and Israel...
Depression...
Sex...
Divorce...
Racism...

None of those topics are related to each other for me.  The first is a problem I puzzle over daily until I have to tell myself to stop thinking about it.

The second is something I want to write about because I think it's a topic that needs to be exposed completely.

The third is just interesting to me - I could write about that every day, but it seems so unacceptable.

The fourth topic is something I want to write about out of frustration and pain but there are too many people involved.  That will never be my story alone to tell.

The fifth is something that infuriates me beyond words.  I have unpopular views. I don't want people categorized by skin color.  I want to protect people against those who think it's ok to do that.

There are other things that I need to write about that I can't even list here.  I daydream about being able to blog about whatever I want.  I daydream about talking to people about the things I'm thinking about day in and day out.

Something I can write about...

Ever since I moved to my small town into my house with a big front porch I feel like this is where I want to stay.

I always wanted to live in a small town in a house with a big front porch.  I always wanted to live within easy driving distance to an ocean.  Walking distance to an ocean I never even imagined.

Every day when I come home I smile when I see my house and I feel happy that I live here, in this house in this town.

It even smells good.  The flowers planted in my yard and probably my neighbors yard are blooming all year round and it always smells pretty where I live.

But there are things missing in my town.  I think a lot about being a part of building things in Half Moon Bay.  I think about getting a loan to build a movie theater.  I have a lot of ideas about that. Japanese vending machines are involved.

I want to build a Jewish community here too.  I'd like to have a small space to worship and meet and I'd like us to have a mikvah.  Some of the kids think I should open a cafe or restaurant.  One of my kids says she will do this with me when she grows up and nothing would make me happier.

Really, I'm not much of a daydreamer.  When I want to do something I figure out how to do it.  The things I'm thinking about doing are bigger things than I ever thought about before so I realize I'm going to have to think for a while to figure out how to do them.

Maybe writing more authentically will be a part of it.  I went to a luncheon on Monday and met the most extraordinary teenagers.  I won't go into details about that just now, but I happened to ask one young man for advice on raising my son and he told me to teach Noah to be an open book and to share every part of himself, not to hide any part.  I keep thinking about that.  

Is this a luxury only a child could have?  I have a feeling it is not.  I'll keep thinking on it.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Burrata

Today I woke up in a tent in Pescadero.  It was three of the kids' first time camping and they did great.  I love sleeping outside in the fresh air on the ground.

We got home to piles of laundry which I started at noon and will be finishing tonight but in the mean time I made burrata!

I haven't tasted it yet so who knows whether it's good or just looks good.  Either way, it was easy to make and I had fun.  I also did it without a couple of the ingredients I usually have to use so I'm betting it tastes better than my past forays into mozzarella making.  Less chemicals!

I so love cooking and I really want to start trying cheeses.  It's just so incredibly intimidating because it's all science and chemistry.  This is beyond baking even. 

I can't decide what cheese to start with.  I think it will be cheddar.  But how funny to make something and not know for six months if it worked.  I'll get back to you.