Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Leaf Blowing

The last time I visited home, I visited so many people that I neglected to visit places I loved.

This morning I got up very early and, among other things, went to my favorite park in Portland. I took my yoga mat (which is now muddy), found a sort of secluded but also pretty spot by the river, and did yoga. (I'm quite proud that I was not terribly self-conscious.)

There were hardly even a dozen people in the park, not counting some people doing early fishing on the water. But this guy with a leaf blower was able to fill the whole park with his leaf blowing noises. I guess I'm grateful to have clear paths, but how did they do that in the old days? I bet the early pioneers used whatdoyoucallthem "brooms" to clear the paths when they went to the park to do yoga.

There was also broken glass near my special secluded and pretty spot.

It's never a good idea to romanticize a place to much or you can get disappointed.

I had fun anyway. No regrets.

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The Blog # 7: Parallel Play

As I write this I am visiting my parents for Pesach, contemplating a possible move in the immediate future and reflecting on what it means to keep in touch with people that you can't see on a daily basis.

When I first began this blog, I thought I would write out all my extremely important thoughts for the world to see. But lately I'm not as interested in doing so. I find I don't particularly enjoy reading other people's extremely important thoughts unless I am interested in the person who is writing them (or am already thinking about the subject the person is discussing anyway).

At the same time, I'm struggling with how to keep in touch with the countless people in my life who I enjoy... people I miss eating with when I was in a co-op in college, people I miss chatting with at shuls, people I once lived my life with. When you see people in those ways you don't sit down across a table and say, "So, how are things? What are you doing these days?" Emails too start to sound like this. We have the ability to send emails instantly and quickly that say, "What's going on?" and it gets boring and stressful. I don't want to retell again and again.

When I visit old friends and those questions come up, I become uncomfortable. What's to tell? And besides, if I see a dozen friends, what's the point of telling all those details again and again? The truth is, I don't really care that much what job a friend is doing unless that's really what is on their mind.

But I DO want to be in touch. I what to know what they noticed yesterday when they were commuting home, or what sorts of feelings have been haunting them.

In short, I want to do parallel play. I want to live my life as others live theirs, and be able to sort of look over and notice what is happening for them. A blog can provide this. Instead of writing directly to people and trying to figure out what I want to say, I want to check into their blogs while I'm eating breakfast or taking a break at work, and feel their closeness, without the pressure of making conversation. I want to connect without inventing.

Let's try that here.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Pesach

For the last three years at Pesach my life has been about starting new journeys to the unknown.

Two years ago I had just been diagnosed with cancer.
One year ago I was preparing to move to Vancouver.
This year my husband and I are deciding where to move next (or if we should stay).

What's your journey?

Chag Sameach!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Good kitty mantra

My cat has terrible dental problems and she hates it when I come after her nightly with a cat toothbrush. That's when I say the:

Mantra for Brushing Aloe's Teeth

Good girl good
girl she's
such a good girl isn't
she a good girl?
Good girl




(I of course had in mind the famous William Carlos Williams poem:)

To a Poor Old Woman

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

Comforted
a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

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Friday, April 08, 2005

National Ant Day: Some history

I write this quickly as Shabbat is on its way in and the apartment is still in shambles.

I've celebrated NAD in different ways over the years. A delightful memory that just came to me is of a fellow Kosher co-op member (a dining co-op at Oberlin College) making a cake in honor of the occassion.

But the most exciting NAD of all is like this...

I was on March of the Living, a huge program that involves taking thousands of Jewish youth to visit former concentration camps in Poland and then go to Israel.

It so happened that I was in Warsaw on NAD and it was also Shabbat. The afore-mentioned Boaz Frankel has a sister named Bat-Ami who is a very good friend of mine. She, too, was on the March of the Living trip, but from the Israel contingent, so we hadn't seen each other at all among the other 5,998 participants. Well, in Warsaw there was a little shul that had several minyanim back to back. We participants packed that shul so there was no breathing room. They even had more than one minyan. Bat-Ami and I passed each other unexpectandly as she left and I entered the shul. "Happy National Ant Day" we called. I was so excited to see her I forgot to tell her that I had just been accepted to Oberlin College and would be going there with her in the fall.

Later that day I was just lounging around in the sun with other people from my U.S. Northwest contingent. We were exhausted. Visiting Auschwitz, Birkenau etc. on 3-4 hours of sleep per night can take a lot out of you. A group of Hare Krishnas came up to us and started playing music. So a couple of people from my group starting dancing with them. A counselor called, "They're trying to get you to worship their god!" So we got up to go, and began to dance away singing, "Am Yisrael Chai." The Hare Krishnas chased after us until we were all running and laughing and singing about survival.

Way to turn a secular day into a moment of Jewish triumph.

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NAD

Tomorrow is National Ant Day...


OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH
Ant day ant day ant day
the holiday good for everyday.

Celebrate ant day
shout about ant day
ant day ant day ant day.

Step on no ants.
Squish out no ants.
Ant day ant day ant day.

(This is a holiday I began spontaneously on April 9, 1991, my freshman year in high school. Bringing plastic ants to school and giving them to everybody was a great way to express teenage angst. It's a universal holiday. Good for everyone... except people who are too busy preparing for Pesach and tax day. It should really be International Ant Day as it quickly travelled with me and with friends to Israel, Poland and beyond when anyone I knew happened to be there on April 9. A groupie of the holiday, Boaz Frankel, has done amazing things for it. While I began by only making t-shirts and giving out of useless presents, he went on to make buttons and even try to get something going for NAD at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Alas, my involvement as founder has dwindled to a yearly song and general jubilation on the day.)

May next year's National Ant Day be solidified enough to show up on a google search. Bashanah Haba'ah B'Google.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Egg activism #2: Disappointment

Threw out two eggs from Country Golden Yolks today. They had the tiniest little spots, but they were spots nonetheless. Don't know whether they were "blood spots" or "meat spots."

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Egg Activism #1: At last

OK. I've been promising this entry for ages.

Please read the entry below as my personal log entry for a long-term research project. Do not take the information I present here as fact (yet). I am telling you what I have heard. I have not yet verified all of the information. Anyone who wishes to help me with this research is most welcome to do so.

Months and months and months ago I drafted a letter that I intended to send to free-range egg companies. The letter basically said that observant eco-Jews face a problem with buying eggs. Many of us want cruelty-free free range eggs. However, when buying these eggs, we face a higher number of eggs with blood spots. Since we can't eat blood, we have to throw the things out.

I asked what causes blood spots and if there is any way to prevent them. (I was hinting, of course, that the farms I wrote to should try to prevent them so that we can eat their product. I even offered to write an article in the local Jewish newspaper about whose eggs they should buy and why.)

I finally sent a draft of the letter to a farm after a frustrating day when I had to throw out my last egg and, as a result, had a protein-less breakfast. I got a call from the farmer of this place only two days later! We talked on the phone for a bit and he told me some things that really surprised me.

1. The spots I was referring to are technically referred to as meat spots, not blood spots.

Now, this doesn't change the halakhic problem of us eating them, but it was interesting that in all these time I never realized there was a distinction made in the egg industry.

2. The farmer I spoke to claims that meat spots are caused, not by blood, but by a genetic condition found in brown chickens. Brown chickens, he told me, are meant to live free-range. White chickens, by contrast, are always caged, but do not have the same genetic condition.

Again, this doesn't answer the question of whether or not we can eat those eggs, but it is different than anything I've heard before about fertilization and whether or not you are actually eating blood or, in fact, an unkosher chicken when you have an egg with a spot on it.

3. The point that most surprised me about the conversation is actually as follows. After I was told that "meat spots" are a genetic condition, I asked what the farmer recommended I do to avoid getting them. He encouraged me to buy caged eggs. I was surprised. I assumed that a free-range egg farmer would discourage me from buying eggs from a caged hen. However, he claims that the conditions for these chickens are not quite as bad as I've heard. There was a time, for example, when chickens' beaks were amputated in caged egg farms. Now, they are trimmed because they are very very sharp beaks. There are better standards now. Maybe things really aren't as bad as I've heard reported in standard chicken farms.

I asked who supervises farms such as these to ensure that animals are treated appropriately. The farmer I spoke to didn't know.



So all this has got me wondering... have I been on an unnecessary mission? Are regular cheap eggs really ok for my conscience?

Well...

4. This past week I got a carton of "Country Golden Yolks" at Safeway (of all places) anyway. I'm not giving up yet on free-range eggs. I'm halfway through the carton and haven't found a single spot. Were these eggs candled first to eliminate eggs with spots? Was the information I received before inaccurate? I don't know. The next step will be, I think, to write a new letter to Country Golden Yolks and try to find out more information.

I probably won't get around to this for awhile... but stay tuned.

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