Friday, October 31, 2014

Unexpected Joy

Hodu la'Adonai ki tov, ki l' olam chasdo.
Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good. His mercy forever endures.

Every year for about. Decade, we go to a family retreat. This year, we knew there was no way we could possibly afford it. We did not even consider it.
Yesterday we got a phone call, paid rooms, come join us.
The kids' faces lit up! 
Waiting to hear about Jaden's surgery, all the stress of college and car bills, things have been hectic!
Although we had a chance to go away as adults last week, this is the whole family.
The kids get to go away and relax!
They get to see their friends. 

This is going to be great for Jaden because being post op next year, he won't be able to do camp. He can see his friends, get a little Santa Cruz time, and have fun!

They did not ask to go, they didn't complain about missing out this year. And an extra special blessing just shows up! 

Gratitude and Abundance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Psalm 23

Each summer the kids go off to camp. They make new friends, deepen old friendships, learn more Hebrew and come home singing. Like all the way home, 5 hrs of driving, they sing. Their voices harmonize that familial way and they sing. The radio is off. They have their own music in their souls, waiting to burst forth.

One of their favourites is a rendition of Psalm 23. One of their camp directors even sang it at Zemy's Bat Mitzvah.

It became one of my songs as I traveled through Poland to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Jedwabne, Krakow, and Warsaw. Through Germany: Nuremburg, Dachau, Munich, Berlin... Through Austria: Vienna, Linz, Mauthausen. 
In places that felt dark, I would sing. Whenever fear, irrational old, past generational fear, came sneaking up, making my pulse quicken and my breathing slow, I would sing Psalm 23.

There is a line in both the scripture and the song: "You prepare a table in the presence of my foes." 

I admit it, I have thought about that table. A large stretched out table in a lush green field, covered with a feast that puts Thanksgiving banquets to shame. 
I thought about that table in a prideful and almost arrogant manner. "You, my enemy, you will see me lifted up and feasting at that table."

But, in those trips to death camps, with the voices of my children echoing in my heart, the meaning changed. The table stopped being a place to gloat. 

You, my G-d, prepare the table. It is Your bounty not mine.
You make this in the presence of those who are called my enemies, those who would hate and kill me. 
You do this because WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE ENEMIES ANY LONGER! in You we can find peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. We can stop seeing ourselves and our own hurt and see each other.
We can sit at the table together!

There is something about eating together.  Not formal banquets. Family meals. I told a room full of how many? 100, 200? German Christians this year, in Munich, that I was not very good at banquets, but we were very good at family meals, and invited them to feast with us at that Passover Seder meal. It was amazing. As we ate together and prayed together, we SAW each other. Walls crumbled. There were tears, they begged us to forgive what their families, their nation had done. Those in the room who were Jewish asked for forgiveness for only seeing he Jewish pain of the Holocaust, and we were able to sing with eachother in English, in German and in Hebrew. 

He prepared a table. Enemies were made friends and my cup overflowed, over flowed! There is no place for pride when love fills up the room.  

He prepares a table, in the presence if my foes, he anoints my head, and my cup it overflows, and surely I will dwell in the house of the L-rd, forever.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

“Abundance is grasped by infusing our souls with 

the intoxicatingly liberating fact that life is a privilege, not a right.” 

There are many things that are scarce around here, but love is not one of them.
My oldest is away at college so we are all on a tighter budget. I was blessed to hear her say "Growing up with out a big house and a lot of money has taught me that there are things I can live with out." I worry about if she has warm socks, enough tea, if she is eating....well, i worry about a lot of things. But I no longer worry about if she has "enough".
My 16 yr old son wrote to his "dear sister" about how much he loves and misses her. Her 12 yr old sister created images with Tirzah's favourite things to show that she misses and thinks of her. All of them love each other. This is the greatest blessing, to have children who love each other and do not see each other as competition.
This is our abundance. We get to be a family, we get to be in each other's lives.

What more do we need?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Centering Thoughts

Teshuvah (Return), Tefila (prayer), Tzedaka (charity).
All month these words have been in our conversation, in our community and are a part of the centering that comes with the new year.

Teshuvah is a type of  repentance, it is an act of returning to, going back to, and rediscovering.
I love this word. It is actually my son's middle name. When he was born, he ushered into our lives a time of returning and renewal, both spiritually and between my husband and I. We contemplated ending our marriage that year. We were sooo off kilter. We needed to be recentered, like pottery on a wheel. If the clay is off center, it spins wildly out of control.
My parents have a friend, Mike Rozell, he is a potter, he does this performance art thing with clay and wheels, while his wife sings. It is pretty cool. (many youtube videos). My favourite part of his routine is when the clay gets of center. It starts smal, and soon is wildly out of control, flailing about, can cause injury.

That was how we felt. We needed teshuvah, returning and repentance. 

How we got there? Tefillah, prayer and fasting. Tefillah is more than just prayer as well, it is attaching or clinging to. I hate fasting. But there is something holy and like a deeper giving, a sacred act of letting go, changing focus, that comes with fasting. I TRY to Fast 1 day a week. I did this more faithfully when we were praying for Sean and Sarah as they battled his cancer. Since his death, I feel a little lost in it. Sean's death did shake certain aspects of my faith. Were those days of fasting wasted? Nope, not one. So I am trying to recommit to fasting, because those days I pray with more focus and less distraction. Less focused on ME.

Tzedaka- Giving back, like the other hebrew words layers of meaning. Righteousness, Justice... So giving and also not focusing on...ME! 
This year we are not planting trees in Israel or doing some of the regular things, but as a family we try to give back, and I need to do more giving of myself. Not just the easy giving of things I don't want anymore. I read this article : America, stop giving your crap to the poor! Ok, it is funny and true! We do give the out of style, worn out and down right ugly stuff away to the "poor".
I want to give the good stuff away. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Shawl for October

Each of our girls, so far, have had a hand knit shawl for their Bat Mitzvahs.
I did not post Zemeira's as I sold the design. This week Tje Unique Sheep's Inspired by Art club shipped, and it is no longer secret.

Zem's version is smaller and heavily beaded. 100% silk from Tactile Fiber Arts in more of a fingering weight.

This is the amazing 100% silk lace weight version that is at SAFF this weekend. I did not have beads on this as it became an overwhelming amount of beads by the end. 

The yarn for this club shipment is gorgeous!

The subtle shifts in gradients really look rose like.

I had some amazing testers for this! Sharp eyes! So this should be one of the cleanest and have the fewest typos ever. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Days divisible by 4

About once a year, we drive up to Quincy and it just happens to be on a day divisible by 4.
This means, I get to go to The Wool Room.

 Medrith Glover's shop is more than a place to grab an extra skein of yarn. It is a legacy and knitter's historical landmark.

Medrith's mother, Emily Ocker, created a cast on you may have used. Sadly Miss Emily has been gone for 2 yrs now, may her memory be a blessing.
Emily and Elizabeth Zimmerman were contemporaries and friends. Medrith grew up with yarn and knitting camp. 

This is a serious yarn shop, I'm telling you. Which is why, every chance I get, Shmuli knows that I will bat my eyes and beg to go in. I long for a day I can just lounge there.

If you get a chance to go to Quincy, Ca, you have to visit The Wool Room.

BTW- I picked up a couple mini Jameisons 1oz skeins and some gorgeous Malabrigo. ;)

Monday, October 20, 2014

20 years

This week we celebrated our 20 Wedding Anniversary. Sometimes it seems to have gone by so quickly, other times it has felt longer.

under the chuppah with the Rebbe

Time is a funny thing. C S Lewis writes about time passing and how although we live IN time and are surrounded by it, we are always surprised by its passing. It is like a fish being constantly surprised by the wetness of water. 
Ha! I love that! It is true and we are ridiculous creatures.

We were blessed with 3 nights away, beautiful autumn leaves and even a rain storm, which we desperately need in our drought.

Over a decade, we have visited Antelope Lake, each year checking out the new life and recovery of the area from a devestating fire. It feels like "us". We have gone through some devestating things, but there are these glorious moments.

The golden aspen leaves against the burned out canyons, painted incredible colours.

This was just before the evening rain.

Shmuli was able to fish, I knit and got the body finished on my Jojiknits Fading Lines sweater. 

It needs sleeves and blocking! But it is a yummy alpaca yarn and SOOOO soft.

It was 3 days with out cell phones buzzing like crazy.

Now, back to normal life.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Heart of Flesh

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

Every Shabbat this is recited. It is actually the center of 3 verses we say. "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."

Dealing today with heart issues and watching my little boy ( who now towers over me) go through tests. My Jaden, my laughter.

As we stood there, listening to his heart, I remembered the first time I heard his heart beat. It was after we had lost his sister, Lily. Hearing that beat was so reassuring. He was strong and alive and we had a fight for this kid! I was insanely sick with morning sickness and had a IV back pack and eventually bed rest before and after his birth. When he finally made his appearance, the umbilical cord was wrapped 3 times around his neck, unable to loosen it, they flipped him over and over to get it off and get him breathing. He was a patient at Johns Hopkins in the first month.
The rabbi did his bris on day 9, not 8, because none of the other Jewish families in the DC/Baltimore area would have a Bris on Christmas Eve.
We weren't so picky. We were just glad he was with us. 
After the Brit Milah, I picked him up out of the bassinet and as I turned, ambient candles shattered, scorching his blankets with flaming glass.
Seriously! It has been a fight for this boy!

I used to complain about his broken noses. Was it 9 or 11? Until we found out if he hit his chest, it could damage his heart. Thank G-d, the kid falls on his face!

Now we find ourselves in a season if rest and waiting. How much we are needing it! A sabbatical year to catch eachother up and just be a family together.

(Tests are off to specialists. So literally more waiting.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


"There's no better place than a paper notebook to pour out your blood, sweat, and tears. It helps you to slow down and be more thoughtful about what you write, whether it's deep, dark secrets or lyrics to the song you're writing. ...We feel a little bit like Lord Voldemort when we say this, but it's like the notebook contains a part of our soul after we've written in it. " - JetPens 

I picked up several notebooks from the paper store. The sketching pencils are sharpened. I have been creating a basket of reading, sketching, notebooking and even charged up the cameras...for our mountain get away next week. 
Oh, I got these Lihit bags from Japan as well for keeping things organized:

We discovered that going away for a nite, really does not help us. We never get to an I rushed and relaxed state. With 200 people attached to the Rabstor's cell phone, it is rarely quiet.
Our solution? No cells, no wifi, remote location. A friend loans us his RV and parks it by a river, off season quiet camping. 

One of the hard things is getting rid of the feeling of guilt over just sitting.
Oh, when he returns to the office, some one will inevitably lay a guilt trip on him for not being there 24/7...but that isn't guilt we put on ourselves. Thus guilt is the "go and do" kind. The get up early, press forward and be constantly productive guilt.
The guilt that keeps us from rest, from Shabbat.

So 3 quiet days. Even if it rains. With notebooks.

I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


My child is 19.
She is not longer that 18 year old baby, trying to be an adult. Now she is an adult.
5 months and she was home only 1 week.
This is the new trend, "visits" home. 2 months and 1 week until the next visit.
She has traveled to Chicago, New York, Israel....and back to Chicago. That is now home base.

She is so happy!
Living in the big city, going to college, and working so hard.
I am so proud of our sweet Tirzah. And I miss her horribly!

Look at that cute face!

Getting used to skype dates and waiting DAYS between phone calls. 

Cell phones are amazing.
One- mobile to mobile means we can talk for free. At 19, my phone calls home cost $300-500 a month!
Two- I can skype from my phone so I dont miss a call.
Three- PICTURES! seriously, just being able to see that she is ok, alive, doing saves a lot of time that could be wasted, wondering if she is safe in the big scary city instead of home in the quiet mountains of California.

So. There she is, in Chicago, surrounded by friends, who all took really good care of her for her birthday. I wish she was home, but so glad Tirzah is discovering who she is, and who she wants to be.

Happy Birthday, Tirzah.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sukkah time

In the last couple of days the temperature has dropped from Summer temps to....54 degrees! that is about a 40 degree drop!
BUT it brought RAIN! Just a tiny bit before the temperatures soared back up to 90.

Being in a drought stricken area... (our resivour made National Geographic as it is soooo low), water has been an obsession.
Our county cut water consumption by 61%! Our tap water has a slight algae taste as we are so low, that is what we are left with.
Our lawn is now a mulched tan space. Water is saved for food, which we barely had a garden this year, no water equals tiny fruits and veg. A friend has a little etrog/citron tree and gave the kids these rather pitiful tiny etrog fruits. Our real one was shipped from HaEretz Yisrael, the land of Israel.

Sukkot is being celebrated. Feast of Tabernacles. One part of the ancient observance of Sukkot was a Water Offering, Simchat Beit Hashoeivah. The priest would pour water out over the altar, not like a few buckets, but water would pour out the temple grounds and through the streets.

"Every morning of Sukkot at daybreak, a group of Levites and priests went down to the Shiloach (Pool of Siloam) stream, which ran south of the Temple Mount, and drew three log(a Talmudic liquid measurement) of fresh water to be poured on the altar after the daily morning sacrifice. Their arrival at the Temple with the water was accompanied by trumpet blasts.1 (For Shabbat, the water was collected before the onset of Shabbat and stored in a golden vessel in the Temple.)" - Chabad

As the Water was poured the people would rejoice, wave leafy branches in the air and sing out Psalm 118:25-26, "Ana Adonai Hoshiana, Ana Adonai hatzlichah na, Baruch haba B'Shem Adonai, Baruch nuchem mi Beit Adonai." This part should be familiar to Christians, "Hoshiana! (Hosana!) Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the L-rd."  Leafy branches being waved. Sounds a bit like what is called "Palm Sunday", right?
There are other places this "theme" pops up, "But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. " Philipians 2:17
and all the living water references... And as both water and wine were poured out in the offering, some have linked that to "his side being pierced and blood and water flowed."
According to the Talmud, "one who had never witnessed the Rejoicing at the Place of the Water Drawing had never seen true joy in his life."

Sukkot is also linked to the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. A one week celebration to give thanks for the Harvest. The pilgrims are kinda like the "first century" church movement, or like the Neocatechumenal of the Catholic church. Sola Scriptura and a return to the origins of the faith, is not a new thing. It is PURITANICAL even. haha. :)

Anyway back to the water... It was poured out lavishly. The seasons over in Israel are very similar to our here in California. The feat of Sukkot falls when we are begging and hoping for rain. The rainy season SHOULD last from October to May here. Some years we get 90-100 inches of rain. The last few years, this has not happened. Man has tried to tackle these issues. We have a national water diverting system. Colorado sends Water to San Diego for example.
No matter how we try to offer a solution, it still is not the same as real rain. Our farmers planted 1/3 of their crops this year. (Guess how that will effect food prices). So 'wasting' the water in a ceremony seems a bit crazy. It was an act of faith and trust, believing in G-d's provision, that rain would come.
In Zechariah 14:16-17, it talks about all the nations gathering in Jerusalem for Sukkot, and that those who do not participate, would not receive rain on their lands. So the water offering and rain are obviously linked.

"With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation" Isaiah12:3

So we are praying for Rain. 
I need rain, not just on the land but on my soul. Times of refreshing. Shmitah Shabbat. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

daily routines

I totally fail at daily writing.
I need to make it a requirement.

This season has been difficult. All kinds of crazy health issues. This week seems over whelming.
Currently we are doing some tests and looking at options available for our son. I think we are looking at surgery, maybe several.
This boy, the man-child, my sweet baby who is taller than me, he is the one who makes my laugh hard every single day. I am fiercely protective of him. He was born with the umbilical cord around his small throat, 3 wraps. He is the dare devil, the adventurer. The one who senses tears will fall before you know your eyes are even watering.

For years we had rules againt contact sports, advised that it could cause severe injury for him.
After sitting at the doctor office, I can not even express how thankful I am that he always falls on his face! I lost count after his ninth broken nose. There may be as many as 11. Thank You, for not letting him hit his chest, injure his heart. Thank You, G-d, for broken noses.

Pulling back and seeking rest seems even more necessary now.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

What weekends?

The weekends are totally not time off.
I try to shut down social media and we unplug the roku and any techie devices for Shabbat but there is still a rush and set up for services, Sat am, Sun am, Sun pm. This is his chosen profession, so I am along for the ride. 2 congregations are not easy. 20 yrs ago I would have been at every thing. I can't do that any more.

What I do need is spiritual renewal. I have been slack in my daily morning routines.
In the Miracle of Morning Pages (by the author of a book my editor is making me read. haha recommended ) it talks about the daily metal benefit of writing routines.
"If you work on your creativity, you will grow spiritually. If you work n your spirituality, you will grow creatively. Creativity and Spirituality are so close they are intertwined. We call G-d the Creator without realizing it is another word for "artist". The Creator is the consummate artist. As we explore and express our artistry, we are imitating G-d. Is it any wonder we begin to find spiritual support?
Morning Pages can become a potent form of prayer, As we become more truthful, we become more truly ourselves."

If Reading reduces stress levels by 68% and writing also has its benefits, than how much more does the practice of "daily devotional time" benefit us? How much more will reading a GOOD book benefit?

My friend Jennifer practices a daily bible reading plan that goes through the entire Bible. Each week there is a Torah Parsha to read, along with haf Torah and for some Brit Hadasha. I don't read thru the Torah portions as they circle round. My daughter is away at college and for one of their classes, if they had not read through the Torah (5 books of Moses, Pentateuch) then they had to read through them all at once before the next week's class. That was when we discussed how we have skimmed them, read a synopsis but had not read the weekly portions themselves.
Simchat Torah is approaching. The scrolls are rolled back to the beginning, there is a celebration of the gift of the Word of G-d.
I am going to make an effort in this year to read through each Parsha.

Robert Murray M'Cheyene, who was apretty groovy guy, had a plan he ceated for his Scottish Parrish had a dual plan, one to reading to be done in private, one to be done as a family. It is here, Not the best pdf. But I cant find the good one.

Jennifer uses Professor Horner's plan HERE

Torah Reading list HERE

Saturday, October 04, 2014

I could certainly use a release

Shmita literally means a year of release.
This reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. Not that I am running around in empathetic beatnik joints. :)

What is release?

1. allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free. Liberate
2.allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.
remove restrictions or obligations from (someone or something) so that they become available for other activity.
remove (part of a machine or appliance) from a fixed position, allowing something else to move or function.
allow (something) to return to its resting position by ceasing to put pressure on it.
3. allow (information) to be generally available.
antonyms:          suppress, withhold
4. LAW remit or discharge (a debt).
synonyms:excuse, exempt, discharge, deliver, absolve; informal let off
"she released Stephen from his promise"
surrender (a right). make over (property or money) to another person or entity.

At this time of year all vows and promises are released. That is why there are so many vow renewals following Yom Kippur. There could be a lot more healthy relationships if we did this more, especially grudge holding against those who may have broke a promise or a commitment....the release of both parties... So right now, I am sizing up personal and business commitments, seeing what I need to renew and keep doing and what I need to RELEASE and let go of.

There are a lot of things i WANT to do, but what things are beneficial for me to do?
Especially with the weird health issues right now. Tachycardia, Pneumothorax.... 
I am giving myself permission to say no to things. 

Friday, October 03, 2014


Tonight Yom Kippur will begin at sundown, the last day of the Days of Awe.
A new year has begun, and I am so ready for it. 5775 and all that it will hold.

It has been difficult to write or be engaged really. I don't think that I realized how much mourning was going on inside of me, until last week.

Our family was rocked with Sean's death this year. Tears flowing down my cheeks was one thing, but watching my children sobbing was an entirely different level of sorrow. There is nothing you can do to "fix" things when death is involved. You just mourn. Things don't get "better", they just get "different".

Last week, I realized how angry I was that the world has lost such a brilliant young man as Sean.
Last week 5775 was ushered in with honey and shofar blasts.
Last week Shmitah began,.
Last week I wound up at the ER... TWICE! (I learned what pneumothorax meant and got a cardiologist.)

I have been pushing ahead, doing things, running and failing to rest, not even taking shabbat as I need. -Need vs Should- there is a big difference. I need to take shabbat, I need to unplug, I need to be present. I have been doing too much, and not doing enough of what I need. My emotional, mental and spiritual life needs renewing.

For a few weeks Shmitah has been on my heart. I know there is a big media hype and sudden "shemitah" fad. This is NOT that.

What is Shmitah? The sabbath year (shmita Hebrew: שמיטה‎, literally "release") also called the sabbatical year or sheviit (Hebrew: שביעית‎, literally "seventh") is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel,and still observed in contemporary Judaism.-Wikipedia

Ah! Release!A year of RELEASE.

There are a lot of laws of shmitah, most pertain to the actual ground of Israel. You can purchase plots to lay fallow and be a part of fulfilling that command.
" One of the roots of the mitzva is to instill the concept of the renewal of the world in our hearts and to draw a strong picture of this concept in our minds."-Shiivt 
“The entire mitzva of shmita is saturated with compassion and clemency for all people, as it is written, “And the destitute of your nation shall eat, and the animal of the field shall eat the remainder”. Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (chelek 3 39) 

“Shmita tells you to stop running - not for a day, but for a year - so that you could flourish.” 
I am not buying a plot, but I also will not be planting on my own patch of soil here in California.
This year, I will be tending other things. These are things, I will be focusing on topically for now (with a lil knitting thrown in).

  • Learning Boundaries
  • Practicing Sustainability 
  • Release
  • Personal Renewal
  • Rethinking my consumer/consuming ways
  • Social Justice
  • Creating Sacred Space
  • Rest, Restore, Reset, Reboot
  • Bring Balance
  • Forgive Debts
  • Conserve water, pray for rain
  • Land Conservation (Educate myself)
  • Look for ways to set things right- I don't like this one at the moment. (pride swallowing!)
  • Help with feeding the needy *, Buying a lil extra for food donations
  • Make things "ownerless" (giveaway and donate stuff!)
  • More ART!
  • Appreciate others more

These are just what I can think of. I also want to get back to wogging (walking-jogging) with the Dr's okay, and taking time to fast Thursdays.

“It’s a year when you have time to listen to your soul, to yourself, when you can be attached with your family — to be with them, to have time with them. A year to listen to nature, a year to understand the holiness of Eretz Yisrael,” said Rabbi Yosef ZviRimon.

So in a time of rest and release, what would you do? How would you observe a shmitah? Even if it is a few days, weeks or month. What would you do with a whole year?

*An otzar (storehouse) beit din is an ancient storehouse, mentioned in the Tosefta (Sheviit 8, 1). Under an otzar beit din, a community rabbinical court supervises harvesting by hiring workers to harvest, store, and distribute food to the community. 
Blog Design byApril Showers