Tag Archives: Thoughts

Life Lesson Learned: Laundry Edition

So here I am, hanging out on my porch, well in the carport, hanging up my laundry.  See, I’d normally be on the porch, but it’s a touch windy today and the last thing I need is to have the laundry topple over (again!) onto the landlord’s daughters new flower bed.  Not good.  So instead, I’m going to take advantage of the carport’s wind-tunnel nature and put the laundry to hang in there, relying upon the not-quite gale force winds to dry my clothing.  Sure, they don’t get sunshine this way, but I also don’t spend most of my afternoon going out to pick them up off the deck and pick dried leaves and dirt from what were clean clothes.  And yeah, I could tuck them in the little space where E’s motorbike is parked, we get some sunlight there in the afternoons.  But the last time I did that and a big gust of wind came through, I was chasing the laundry down the driveway as the towels acted as sails for the Good Ship Clothing Drive that was careening towards the road.   Not a particularly fun way to spend twenty minutes.

 

So there I was, in the carport, hanging up the clothes when I came to this one shirt of mine in particular.  Now this shirt I’ve had for several years and it has seen it’s fair share of ups and downs.  It’s a gray shirt with an orange collar and orange sleeves and I got it from Old Navy, who knows how long ago.  It’s a comfortable shirt, well worn and well loved.  I use it mainly for around the house now and lazy weekends with nothing to do but relax with my man.  But today, something about this shirt made me stop as I was hanging it up.

 

I’m not sure if it was the voluminous amounts of fabric that were just not agreeing with me or the hangers.  Or if it was the somewhat stubborn seeming insistence that it would quite simply not stay on the hanger at all, thank you kindly.  But once I finally hung it up, I paused in my usual chore doing and looked at it.  Really stopped and looked at it.

 

“This shirt is huge!” I thought to myself, and half said aloud.  I turned it this way and that and then this way again, looking it over.  Now true, it was wet and it had just gone through a bit of a battle with me and the washer and a pair of pants that decided it was a great time to turn into an octopus, so it was slightly stretched out.  But no. Even accounting for that, the shirt was huge. Enormous. And that thought, of course, got me thinking other thoughts.

 

The shirt was a 3XL.  I bought it because it was comfortable to fit in.  It was nice and light, gave me room to breathe, but also room to hide. I never quite filled it all the way out, and I’m very glad for that, but I fit into it comfortably.  It was a nice second skin for me. The shirt allowed me to get service in almost every establishment I went into without really letting on just how fat I was. We were secret companions in an ongoing battle with reality.  And dammit, we were winning, my shirt and I.

 

But now, here and now, on this day, I am hanging up this shirt and it is huge. Giant. I could swallow a small child and not even notice it had eaten.  I remembered thinking the other night when I was wearing it, that it was almost like a nightgown, only a little shorter.  I looked down at the shirt that I was wearing today.  A black t-shirt. Nothing special, nothing amazing. Just one that came from those three packs of t-shirts from the Men’s department at WalMart.  it’s comfortable, not too snug, but also not too loose.  I could do my workout in this shirt if I needed to.  I can also do my dishes and still feel comfortable.  Just to make sure, I turned the shirt sideways slightly and I peeked a look at the tag.

 

XL.

 

Talk about your mind being blown.  It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re so close to everything happening, to really see the progress being made.  But I was standing there, obsessively staring at this old shirt of mine, not quite realizing that I was looking at the progress I had made.  I used to fit into that. Now, I fit into this.

 

I used to hide behind that fabric, now I’m starting to own this fabric. I used to wrap myself in security in that shirt, now I’m becoming more outgoing in this one. I did that. I beat that. I beat that old shirt.  And I’m starting to beat this new shirt as well.

 

I have a size large t-shirt hanging up in my bedroom.  It’s my Nanowrimo shirt that I bought last year.  It was way too small for me then, it’s still slightly too small for me now.  Next year, next year, It will be too big for me.  I have come so far, but I have still further to go.  But for the moment, I’m going to finish my laundry, and then have a cuppa tea.

 

Thank you, Grey and Orange shirt. Thank you.

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Browns Bay

photo found here:  http://widescreenstuff.vndv.com/new_zealand/default.html

A view from the grass at Browns Bay

 

Today I spent a lovely day in Browns Bay.  The reason for my trip was quite mundane.  I had to get my fingerprints done in order to send in my FBI request for my background check for my next round of Visa applications!  Hooray! It’s that time again!  We are all so joyous, can’t you feel it?

 

Anyway.

 

After getting my prints done up I had the afternoon to wander around and enjoy the town.  And while I did not get into the residential areas of town, it’s still lovely.  It’s actually what I think of now when I think of small towns on the coast in New Zealand.

 

There’s a main street that has all of the shops and cafes, the little bakeries and chemists.  There’s the housewares store and the book store.  The camera shop and the pet shop.  And there’s the jewelry store and the cafes.  About half dozen cafes in all, not including the obligatory Starbucks.   There are offshoot roads that lead to more shops, including a wool shop with very friendly staff!

 

But just behind the row of shops is exactly what I think of when my brain ponders the East Coast of New Zealand.  An expanse of green grass, not too long, and a smattering of trees that leads right to a small drop of and poof, you’re in sand. And just there, a ways from the green grass, is the water.

 

The tide was out while I was there, sitting on the grassy knoll and looking out across the bay.  The sand stretches quite a ways when the tide is out, you could probably easily walk thirty or forty, or even fifty feet, out from ‘shore’ and still not be in too deep of water that you could not get back.  Since this was the first sustained ‘nice’ day in a while, everybody was out along the water with their kids and their dogs.  And tourists and visitors as well.   You could watch the dogs race along the beach, happily chasing one another, or a ball, or a stick three times their own size.  Or squawking unhappy seagulls.  Or you could lift your eyes a bit and marvel at how the light hitting the water changed the color so dramatically.

 

For most of the bay the water seemed to be that typical dark blue that most people associate with a large body of water.  Blue, not brown.  This is so far from the Atlantic Ocean and the East Coast of the US that the two are not even comparable. the only place that I’ve seen a coastline similar is Maine, and the water there is dark blue and brown and bitterly cold.  The sand in Maine is more like fresh rocks, and not quite sand.  Although the Beaches that I’ve visited so far here have been  full of their own rocks as well, and seashells too.  not the fragments of shells that we see in Delaware, but full shells, and gorgeous.

 

But I’m digressing.

 

The water changed to a brilliant cyan, almost aqua color as the light hit and played on it.  I think some of that also had to do with depth, because there were some areas within the turquoise beauty that held onto the deep blue of the wider water.  You could almost look and see just how far you could walk out, simply by the colors in front of you.  A bit further out, was the bright orange and red and yellow of somebody’s sailboat, enjoying this weather and the water.

 

And then further east still there is more land, you could look across and see the homes of those that lived high on the cliffs, and the shiny walls of a big business.  And ever present in the slightly southerly distance is Rangitoto.  That large volcanic island’s presence ever looming over the East Coast Bays Region (Kiwis are so awesome at naming things. Seriously), with a mix of magnanimous permanency and that subtle reminder that it’s still a volcano, and capable of just about anything.

 

But those are thoughts for the back of your mind, not the forefront.  No in the foremost part of your mind you’re sitting there, enjoying your tea or coffee, and the shade of the large pine tree, watching a small pit bull drag a stick three times his weight after his owners.  You’re looking out over the sand and the rocks and the waves and not thinking much at all.   Other than just how beautiful this place is.  And just how New Zealand this place is.

 

And how so very lucky I am to live here.

Getting Back Up

Hi!

 

Have you missed me?

 

Well life has been a series of busy lately, and while all of it has been fantastic, none of it really lends itself to being ‘blog-worthy’.  Or at least, not in a way that I can think of just yet.  So what has been happening in life down here in kiwiland?  Well, let me tell you.

 

A couple weekends ago two of our really close friends got married.  It was an absolutely fantastic day, the ceremony went off just as was planned and the Bride and Groom had a great time.  I was so very happy to be not only invited but to also be a part in helping them plan and get ready for their day.  Having only known them for a few months, it’s truly amazing just how close we’ve become.  I can’t express enough or in the proper words just how humbled and grateful I am to the pair of them for allowing me to spend time with them and share in their joy on that day.  Love you both R&K!

 

This past weekend, another pair of our friends moved into their new house! And we, of course, helped them move!  Now, I know that does not necessarily sound like a barrel of laughs, and it was some hard work, but it was also absolutely great.  We got to spend time with friends, help them move onto their next big step, and generally just enjoy everybody’s company.  And while helping them move, unpack, and settle into their new place, I had time to look back, reflect, and focus on just how far this life that I’m living now is to the ones that I’ve lived before.  Doing physical labor, but laughing and joking at the same time. Everybody coming together collectively to help out, and then sitting around a table (which is gorgeous!) for a well deserved dinner.  I am struggling to figure out if life gets better than that.   The house is gorgeous, the couple fantastic, and our time spent together equally precious.  Congrats R&E!

 

What else, what else.

 

The job hunt is not so much a hunt as it is shooting arrows wildly into the forest in every direction, only to have them shot back at you with no points and no fletching. Not helpful.  But! perseverance will prevail!  Employment will be gained! Somehow.

 

Now, the biggest new thing happening to me personally is that I’ve committed to a Personal Trainer. Tom is going to be kicking my butt left, right, and sideways twice a week for 45 minutes.  After 7 months at the gym, and a significant amount of body tightening up, It was time to get even more serious.  I’ve got weight I want to, must, lose and it’s not going to come off on it’s own.  And while I’ve stuck with going to the gym at least twice a week for 7 months, I need something more. I need to keep pushing myself even more, harder than before.  I must lose this weight.  The rest of my life depends upon hitting that healthy moment and then keeping going.  And that’s not an exaggeration.

 

Today was my second session with Tom and everything went well.  Really well, actually.  But it was the last ‘exercise’ that got me into a contemplative mood.  Essentially all I had to do was lay down on the ground on my chest and then stand back up again five times, and then lay on my back and get up again five times.  Sounds simple, right? Wrong.  It was definitely not easy.  There was so much involved, just so much energy and movement and muscles.  It was by far the hardest exercise that I did.

 

Just like life.  It’s fairly easy to get knocked down time and time again.  It’s the getting back up that’s the hardest part.  And all of this, the man who is supporting me, the friends that I’ve found and love, and the gym, this is all part of me getting back up off the ground.

 

And this time, I’m going to remain standing. And then, start running.

Round the Bays 2012

What an absolute crap day.

 

Oh the race itself was great, the company a blast, and being able to cross something off my list highly fantastic!  But I was just not quite in the mood. I woke up grumpy and it stayed with me pretty much all through the day.

 

I went to bed early the night before, but having been awake for far too long by that point I was not able to make up my sleep quota in just 7 hours, so I woke up at 7am on sunday morning, and I was grumpy. Cranky, and a few other words that end in -y and are not pleasant things to be.  But i was awake and there was no way I was going to back out of this now.  I made myself some oatmeal, had a mug of tea, and then our friends arrived for the carpool caravan!

 

We drove with them towards the end of the race track (because you see, you walk the 8.4km and then you have to get back to your car, which is likely at the start of the course.  So really, if you’re unlucky, it’s actually 16.8km walk. but only half of it counts!  But we were smart this year!  We carpooled with some friends and we each parked our cars at one end of the course!  Huzzah!  So after dropping their car off at the finish line, we drove back towards the start of the race and parked ours.

 

And here is where my day started to go bad.  I had to use the bathroom.  I know I probably could have held it a bit longer, but that seemed to be utterly foolish.  So while scouting for a place I finally gave up and went into a petrol station with a line.  I was still standing in line when the race officially started, with cannon blast and everything.  I didn’t actually get to the starting line of the race until about 20 minutes after the race started.  Which was actually not too bad since we were still with a bunch of people at that time.  There were over 70,000 participants in this event.  That’s a lot of humanity.

 

 

So you see, we started in central Aucklan, right along the waterfront.  Walked up past the Port of Auckland, where the Portworker’s Union were standing out with signs about keeping the Port public.  And then all along the walkway that’s just been finished .  Up and around all of the bays. Mission bay, where I’ve spent some time, and others that I haven’t yet.  The views were quite pretty, but I did not bring my camera.  My big cannon just would not have worked well.

 

So, now that you know the route, let’s get back to me and my bad day.  Somehow I started off putting my left foot down wrong. Or at least that’s how it felt.  I tried to adjust my gait over the course of the day, but it just was not working well for me.  My big toe was hurting and I was getting cramps down the outside of my leg, along my knee.  I stopped a few time to try and stretch the offending muscle, but to no real avail.  It was just not a good day.My pace was not consistent as a result and by the last kilometer of the race I was barely moving.  I was running on absolute dregs of the dregs of fumes.  My tiredness from the day/night before plus the exertion of the race seemed to have caught up with me and I was just plain wasted.

 

I made it to the finish line though, and the official times haven’t been posted yet online, but shortly after I crossed the line, they announced it had been 2 hours and 28 minutes since the start.  So a little over 2 hours if we want to be technical and not count my being in line for the toilet.

 

Now there were some fun things along the route.  One radio station was apparently handing out sausages, and another was giving out/selling slushies.  They had packed up by the time we reached their trucks, but we were told that they had been awesome.  Cadbury chocolates had set up a giant water sprinkler at just about the halfway point for people to run under and cool off a bit.  Luckily, or not I guess, the weather was actually overcast and cool so there was no real need for the sprinkler, but it was really cool either way. And there were some folks from the Ice bar company (a new icy pop business) giving out samples of their lemonade icy bar.  Which was really welcome at that point in the race.

 

Overall, the race was good, and had I been in a better mood, less tired, and better prepared mentally I probably would have enjoyed myself even more.  But my mind was just not in it, and my body certainly was not quite ready for it.  Next year, I will be more prepared, and I will conquer it again.

 

had a good time with walking the race with E though, he decided to not run it, but instead hang back with me and our friends and do the course at a leisurely pace.  Which was greatly appreciated.

 

There were some good bits, like the sprinkler and the icy bar, and the army guys and their perfect jogging technique. Oh, and the firetruck that got stuck on the Start banner. And it did feel good to finish the race, walk to the bbq that his work put on and have some post race food.

 

But It was just not my best day, and not my best race.  It’s left a tiny bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but i’ll get over that soon.

 

Soon up!  Crochet projects galore!

Knotty Knotty

I’m a tangled up Puppet…

 

I’ve been humming that song for a few days now, while sitting on my couch, surrounded by my new stash of yarns, while my Finished Projects pile up more and more on a shelf in the bookcase.

 

I’ve taken up Crochet again, and this time, it feels serious. I’ve learned new stitches, I’m finding it a bit easier to read patterns, and I’ve finished probably as many projects in two weeks time than I think I’ve started in three times as many years.  It’s finally all making sense in my head!  It is seriously quite exciting!

 

So if anybody was wondering just where I have been, and why I have not been posting as much as I was, it’s probably due to the fact that I’m on the couch, West Wing playing in the background (or Mad Men), buried under a pile of wool and acrylic yarn twisting and knotting my way to new and exciting objects.

 

I’ve been working on hats, I’ve finished up a small bowl, I’ve even got a trivet!  two shawls, a scarf, 4 headbands (two with flowers), and an evening bag!  A baby blanket and a baby hat, and an adorable stuffed snake!  I’ve got one more hat underway at the moment, and a new shawl in the making.  And after this, who knows?

 

I am getting good at this!  And I am enjoying it so much!

 

Oh and on top of the crochet, I’ve got a garden underway on my porch! Mainly herbs, but I’m also growing lettuce and spinach as well!  But that is a post for a later time.

 

I have to get back to my crochet! There’s a deadline for the shawl that I’m working on right now! I want it to be done in time for a wedding that’s in 2 weeks! Yikes! So it needs to be finished soon.  So that if I don’t like it, I have enough time to find another pattern!  I’ve done this once already.

 

This is possibly turning into a serious obsession for me.  Which is dangerous!  But oh so much fun!

I Can Almost Reach….

The sky.

 

One of the first things that I fell in love with down here in New Zealand, other than E, was the sky.  It’s one of those visceral feelings that you get when you first get off the plane and look up, especially on a mostly clear but still fluffy cloudy day.  There is just so much sky up there.  And the color of the sky is so amazingly crisp.  And the clouds are so very close.  So very close.  At times it really does feel like you can reach up and touch them.

 

Now true, there are trees everywhere, and the land itself is so very green it could probably give Ireland a run for the money.  There are mountains and valleys, and parklands as far as you can see, with old stately trees reaching to the sun, their trunks thin and twisty.  But you look at them, even with the moss growing on the branches, and the multitude of wildlife and birds that you’re not used to and once again your eyes are drawn up and up and up to the sky.

 

It goes on for seemingly ever.  particularly if you’re standing at the top of a hill.  You can see everything on a clear day.  Sure, there are trees and hills and houses all around you, and the occasional tall office building, but all around that, there is sky.  And on some days, the color of the sky is unreal, unimaginable. You sit and you look at it and somewhere in the back of your internet filled mind you think to yourself, “This has to be photoshopped”.  But it’s not!  The sky really is that brilliant azure blue that you only usually see in children’s drawings and tourism guides.  And the clouds.

 

The white fluffy cumulus clouds that we learned about in high school.  The ones that mean fair weather, but could turn to storm clouds as well.  They are huge.  Fluffy and white and they go on forever.  They feel so very low, but they are still the same clouds that you know are not the lowest point (nimbus clouds hover lower if I remember correctly.  And of course Fog).  But they are just so very close.  And so very dramatic.

 

That’s right, fluffy bunny clouds are dramatic.  The way the light hits them, the way the curvature of the moisture has formed.  There is always a new way for the light to play against the clouds, and it does.  The air is cleaner down here, and the sky brighter, and the clouds more impressive.

 

I was driving over the Harbor Bridge the other day, well ok I was riding on the bus, and I looked out my window over the harbor and towards the city.  The skyline for downtown Auckland still causes me to catch my breath at times.  Something about it is just so very breathtakingly beautiful.  I don’t know if it’s just the SkyTower, or if it’s because the city practically rises up straight from the water, or because of the magnificent vast stretches of sky behind it.  Or if it’s some combination of the above.  But there it is again, the sky.  Any direction you look, it goes on forever.  I’ve heard people make these comments about Montana or Wyoming, but having never been there, I can’t make my own judgements there.

 

I can tell you that on a sunny spring or early summer day, when the weather is just right and the clouds oh so perfectly fluffy white and the sky is that cerulean blue that is considered to be almost perfect, on those days, it really does feel like nothing else in the world could compare to this place at that time.

 

Of course then the storm clouds move in and it begins raining buckets on your head, but that is going to happen anyway because we live on an island.

 

But rain! What about the rain?  Yes, we should talk about the rainclouds, the way they sweep in across the land and how if you know what direction you are facing, you can watch the storm systems moving towards you.  You can see the clouds forming and building and racing across the atmosphere, and even on a cloudy day where everything is overcast, there is still drama in the sky. The clouds build in layers upon themselves, and there are still shapes and forms amongst them.  And every now and then you get a spot in the clouds where the sun has broken through and there is glorious light cast upon everything.  And you can see the storm above your head and to your east, but to the west, there is sunny skies, and that beautiful blue sky.  Even as the clouds are racing overhead and you can feel the rain seeping into your skin, you know, there are sunny days still to come.

 

So while I love this county, and I do love this country, and I love the trees and the wildlife and the  people.  But the one thing that never fails to amaze me is the sky.  Photos don’t do it the true justice, since they only capture that moment.  To truly appreciate the New Zealand sky, you have to live it, watch it, be drenched by it, and then be dried by it.

 

One more thing that I love about New Zealand.

Liberated Woman… Or Not

“I am liberated enough to know that I like to stay at home.”

 

I said that to myself, and maybe other people, a few months back. I think I might have even put it up on facebook as a status, who can remember.  But I’ve been thinking about it recently.

 

Do I want a job?  Yes.  Can I get one at this exact moment in time? No, because my visa status is currently nebulous and ‘wonky’.  Have I worked for my living before? Yes. Have I worked and cleaned and cared for another person? Yes.  Did I enjoy it? Not in the slightest.  I have been in the workforce and I have been a stay-at-home-something.  And to be honest, I think I know myself enough to realize that I like a balance of both.

 

I do enjoy having a job, going to work and being with coworkers that are not completely crazy.  That is enjoyable.  But I also like a lazy rainy afternoon at home, cleaning the kitchen so that I can attempt a new recipe.

 

For my 30th Birthday this year, E and I went halves on some brand new kitchen goodies. A dutch oven, pie dish, quiche pan, etc.  I was ecstatic!  We’ve bought a new set of dishes, new silverware, and just recently I was gifted n electric hand mixer for hannukah.  I can’t even tell you how super excited I was! I giggled like a little girl when we got into the car with my new present!  And then today, I decided to bust it out of it’s confining box and whip up something delicious!

 

So today I was in my kitchen, barefoot, complete with an awesome apron that I bought from Andrea’s  OpenSky shop about a year ago.  I was not in a skirt or a dress, and there was not a string of pearls around my neck either.  But I was humming and happy and boiling up sweet potatoes and sifting together flour and baking soda, all to make a delicious (I hope!) sweet potato bread.  It’s in the oven now so I can’t quite give you guys a verdict, but I can say that the apartment smells fantastic!

 

After a weekend of cleaning the apartment top to bottom, rearranging furniture, and having friends over for boardgames, a nice relaxing day today spent in the kitchen is just how I wanted my day to go.

 

I read some forums online and I see all these people, mostly men, talking about how a woman needs to be treated equal to a man in all ways.  And I like the sentiment, but sometimes things can get a bit overzealous.  Of course, there are others who say that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.  And while I like my kitchen, I prefer to think that I can be other places as well.

 

I think, and this is probably going to get me some crazy thoughts, but I think that in most “Western” societies a woman’s place is wherever she damn well wants it to be.

 

For me?  I like being home. I like being in the kitchen. I like cooking up meals and watching E eat them and enjoy them.  I actually like cleaning the house, some times. And yes, I like going out and earning my own money.  The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. I can be a strong liberated woman while baking a cake.

 

Those are just my thoughts of the day so far.  Now I’m going to go curl up with a hot mug of tea and play some violent video games while waiting for my baking project to come out of the oven.

Maccabee

So, I was thinking the other day that I haven’t done a blog post about Judaism in a while.  And this seemed a bit of a shame to me.  I should have at least tried to cover Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.  And Simchas Torah.  But I just didn’t get around to writing those articles up.  But now, it’s December!  And that means Hannukah!  And everybody at least knows about the existence of Hannukah, and a vague idea of the story.  But it’s always nice to share with those that don’t, nu?

 

So I started thinking about how to tell the Hannukah story on my blog.  How to write it up so that the idea and feeling of hannukah comes through the words and into my reader’s heart.  Which is a difficult thing to achieve, I know.  But in thinking about Hannukah and the Maccabees, A strange correlation came over me. Please, indulge me and hear me out, because I am sure that you will not believe me if I tell you what I think right out, and I’m sure that I will get dismissed almost completely by the end.  And so I give you a Hannukah Story: Occupy Jerusalem.

 

 

The Greeks were in power.  They ruled everything that the eye could see and far beyond.  They had come to Jerusalem years ago, but in peace.  Alexander himself had entered the city, so fascinated was he with the Jews.  We were allowed to worship our G-d and keep our Traditions and Law, so long as we also obeyed the Laws of Greece on top of it.  We were not forced under Alexander to pay heed to the Pantheon, we were not completely ostracized, although we were also not necessarily welcome.  But it was, for the most part, a peaceful life of coexistence.  But then, Alexander died.  Things remained roughly the same for us for a few years, but restrictions became tighter and our freedoms grew less.

 

Finally, one day, it seemed to all have happened at once, we were no longer allowed to teach our children the language of our Fathers and Mothers.  We were told that they needed to be taught Greek and only Greek.  We were no longer allowed free worship of our G-d, but had to hide our devotions to him.  These were not the same enlightened Greeks that had been in charge of our land before, these were brutish Greeks, and the world was their toy and all would bow to them.  They controlled everything that they saw, and they did so with an Iron Fist, and with money.  Local lawmakers bowed to them, did their bidding, obeyed their will for fear of what retribution was possible if they did not.  We were kept from our Temple, and eventually we were kept from our Homes.   We were evicted from the homes that we had lived in for centuries and moved into new areas, smaller, poorer, and unable to sustain us and our families. 

 

We looked around and saw that this was bad.  It was a bad place and a bad situation, but we were not warriors.  We were scholars, students, families, farmers.  We worked for our living and struggled daily to ensure that there was food on the tables.  We cared for our own, our children and our old, Our brothers and cousins.  Yes, life was harder now, but it was always hard for us, The Chosen People.  But we had made it through tougher times before, we can make it through this again.  We had made it out of Egypt, after all.  We just needed to bide our time and G-d would make things right. 

 

This did not sit well with the younger men.  They were anxious, angry, and caught.  The Temple was being defiled, used for unholy worship of Idols of Gold.  They were watching their parents waste away, and their younger siblings and for some their children as well forced into poverty.  They were watching everything that they had been told to work for in life, being taken away.  And they felt powerless.  They had done what the Greeks had wanted, they had obeyed the Laws, they had been good subjects, and now this is how they were repaid?  With their lives being wasted, and their families put into peril?  And while we tried to tell them to settle down, that this is obviously how the world was meant to be for us, the young men could not let this pass.

 

They began to slip away from our new smaller settlement, from the protections of home and family.  They were going to make a point, they said.  They were going to make their voices heard.  They were citizens of Greece, as well as Jews, and they had rights.  Sadly, we watched them go.  They were our children, our nephews, and we could not stop them.  We were trying to keep the rest of our family together, to feed and teach our children, we could not stop those who wanted to make a difference, we needed to focus on the youngest and the eldest.

 

And so the young men went out among the hills around Jerusalem.  They hid in caves and pitched their tents.  They were small in number but then grew, and grew, and grew as more found out about their ideas.  And they stopped being just young men.  Older men joined, and women too.  They were all of us together, the same as always.  They fought back against the Greeks.  Sadly, it was physical fighting, and not just words of war and protest.  But the Greeks had given us no choice.  We had tried to voice our grievances before, but to no avail.  We were told that this is just the way it was, and to be happy.  But who can be happy when you have no food to eat and no roof over your head, and you cannot be that which you have always been? 

 

So the young men and women of Israel fought.  And while we knew in our hearts that the war, the battles, the attacks were going to be for nothing, we watched on as our youth defended us, protected us.  They battles went on, here and there throughout the hills, throughout the land.  One clash here and another there, our youth recalling the days of old when we first came to this land, Jewish Warriors strong and bold.  But that was a time when G-d was on our side, and this is a time, this time, we are not quite so blessed.  Or so we thought. 

 

But slowly, slowly the times changed, the tides shifted, and the Youth, the Maccabees as they had called themselves, they began to win. They gained ground, little by little by little.  They moved forward, they pressed their rights, their agenda, their beliefs, and they fought for what they knew to be right.  And they won.  They won.  Through their determination, their drive, their loyalty to one another and to their ideals, they won us back our homes.  They won us back our cities, and our Temple.   By working together, towards one common goal, the Maccabees proved that even the smallest people can make a big change in the world.

 

Yes, yes, I know.  It’s not perfect.  And it’s not the complete story of Hannukah either.  The story of Hannukah, and why it is 8 days and nights comes later, after the Jews have returned to Jerusalem.  They clean out the Temple of the idols of the Greeks, they clean and purify the temple, and they go to light the Menorah, to welcome G-d back into His home.  But they did not have enough oil.  They only had enough oil for one night, and that was not enough.  They sent a runner to the nearest town, but that was days away, and they needed to rededicate the Temple.  So, with a heavy heart that this could not be done completely properly, the Priests of the Temple rededicated the Holy Ground and relit the Menorah on the 25th day of Kislev.  They knew that they would not have enough oil, and that they would need to redo the ceremony again, but it was Shabbat, and the Temple was theirs.  And then, the Miracle happened.  The oil, which should not have burned for even one full day, burned for eight days and nights, until the runner returned with a new supply of oil.

 

It’s a fanciful story, and one mostly told to children, to explain why Hannukah is eight days, and to show the Blessings of our G-d, and the miracles that He can perform.  But there is a deeper message, that I’ve only just started to work out for myself.  Once again, the Jewish people were in trouble, and being persecuted.  And once again, it is the Jewish People who got themselves out of the mess.  G-d brought down the plagues on Egypt, but only after Moses started the process of freedom.  Esther saved her entire people from the wicked man Haman in Babylon, and the name of G-d is not even mentioned in her story.  So while we are Children and the Chosen of G-d, most of our greatest stories, come from ourselves.

 

So what is another over-reaching moral?  A group of determined people, no matter how small and no matter the daunting size of the task before them, a group of determined people can do anything.  Now, some of you might be reading this and asking if I’m talking about Occupy Wall Street.  Yes, yes I am.  I am not advocating that they take up arms like the Maccabee, I do not feel that they need to.  They have already made a difference.  A change.  The physical Occupations might be coming to an end, but the movement, the sentiment is not over.

 

A small but determined group of people can do anything.  And even the smallest thing, the smallest changes in life, are Miracles.

 

Happy Hannukah.

Insomnia

So here I am. 1am on tuesday morning.  And I’m still awake.

 

What could possibly be bothering me?

 

My Nanowrimo is done (unofficially and more about that later), my FBI paperwork came back clean and healthy (like there was really any doubt), I have a game plan for where and when and how to go through and finish up this visa application (ugh tediousness).  There really is nothing overly heavy weighing on my mind.

 

Except.

 

Well, I’m still unemployed. Which granted at this point is planned until after I get my new visa and then I can look for things that are not ‘temporary’ or ‘contract’ but I can actually get full time work.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am ok with being unemployed.    And I still have no idea what it is I would like to do.  Call centers, retail, go back to school?  Maybe a bit of this and a bit of that?  But all of that requires some soul searching.  And I just am not good at soul searching.  Especially if it involves any form of meditation.  My brain just refuses to slow down.

 

Also, I am thinking about the whole ‘what next’ part of my writing.  I have no done my 6th Nanowrimo. I have now hit my 6th mark of 50,000 words in so many years.  My world and my plot are coming together better now than they ever have before.  So what next?  Do I move on? do I try to finish up? Do I gather all of my previous writing and notes and details on this subject and scour them for details, information, bits and pieces and then put that all into notes on Scrivener (awesome program btw), and actually honestly attempt to write this book?  Or books?  Do I have the willpower to sit through, sift through, all of my writing over the years, trash what is crap and keep what is good, build on the rest and actually come out ahead with a story that maybe somebody somewhere will want to read?   Do I have this willpower?

 

Do I have the willpower to keep up with the weight loss?  I can tell that I’m losing weight because my pants are slowly starting to come off around my waist.  But my hips are still the same size they were, so no real loss there.  Also means no new pants.  Just have to keep fiddling with the old pants.  Can I really keep up with this? Can I lose enough weight so that when I head back to the States next year to visit, mom and I can go shopping for new clothes for me and I can actually maybe not wear the ‘fat girl clothes’?  How much willpower do I really have stored up?

 

And is it even willpower that I need? Perhaps what I really need is ambition.  I don’t really seem to have any of that.  Ambition.  It’s a funny word.  In some cases it is a strong, positive, encouraging term. In others it’s dirty, nasty, unkind.  And it seems to be difficult to balance the two levels perfectly.  What is a good level of ambition? And how do I get there?  Now that I think about it, Ambition seems to be the core of most of my problems.  Yeah, I know, First world problems and all that.

 

But really.  I never had many ambitions as a kid, or even as a young adult.  To be happy and to be loved for who I was were about the only things I was ever determined to secure for myself.  And, well, now I have those.  And I’m lost.  I have no real ambitions.  Dreams, sure I have those aplenty, but ambitions?  To be a writer who can tell her stories and have people want to read them.  That could be one.  That’s about as close to an ambition as I have.  But I am still very unsure of how to necessarily achieve that goal.

 

I’ll have to do some more thinking on this.  I’ll get back to you.

 

But for now, It’s almost 130.  My mint tea is just warm enough to drink while still being hot enough to be soothing to the rather unhappy stomach that I have now (i think it doesn’t like peanut butter anymore), and I’m hoping that a few minutes of window shopping for a new menorah is going to be enough to settle my brain and calm my whatever it is that’s keeping me awake.

 

So good night, good morning, and have a pleasant day.

Canon in D

Nearly every little girl that I know, or have known, has had some idea or fantasy about their wedding.  And most have got it planned out long before they even meet the man that they want to marry.

 

Lord knows that I did.  At least twenty times.

 

I can’t even begin to think about how many times my mother bought me bridal magazines so that I could look through the pictures and gaze lovingly and longingly at the dresses, and the cakes, and the rings.  I watched hours upon hours of the shows on TLC about women and their weddings.  And weddings on a budget.  Somewhere at the house in the states my mom has a folder of ideas that I started saving for my wedding.  Lord knows how many years ago.

 

And for the most part, my dream wedding didn’t change from about the age of 18 until around about… now.  It would be a small family and friends gathering, and the colors (as everybody who plans a wedding knows, having the right colors is important) were going to be white, dark blue, dark green, and silver.  But mostly white.  Everything white. White on white on white with accents of blue and green and silver.   My dress was going to be white and silver, my flowers were going to be mostly white with little blue flowers or gems here and there and a cascade of ivy over my arms and hands.  My bridesmaid were going to be in white with blue satin sashes, and my husband was going to be in a kilt. Yes a kilt.  I am attached to my family’s scottish heritage.

 

The dream reception is in a room covered in white fabric, the tables are covered in white linen, and everywhere there are white trees, pure white with silver, blue and green metallic shimmery things in them, and candles everywhere.  The cake would be a white cake, flavored so craftily with vanilla, and an earl grey mousse inside, and covered with a white thick frosting, that is not sweet at all.  The music would be everything I could think of that would make me happy, make people dance and smile, and make my mother cry.  And the last song of the night would be Stairway to Heaven, because that’s just the way it goes.

 

The honeymoon was ideally imagined about being spent in Australia, when that was on the other side of the world. And in my head, all of this could be done for less than two thousand dollars. Well, except for the honeymoon.

 

But now?  What would the dream wedding look like now?  A small gathering of friends, in a park or field or backyard, with a handful of flowers, in a sensible dress that can be worn again in theory.  Dinner would be almost like a potluck, with dessert being tea treats and sweets baked the day before.  And the honeymoon?  Wherever the dream took me.

 

What got me thinking about all this today?  Has something in my life changed? Is there a secret that nobody knows about yet?

 

No.  I just get crazy ideas in my head and have to put them on paper.  Also, one of the songs on the ‘bedtime’ cd that we’ve been listening to at night now (a requirement for me to sleep easily is some form of noise, or pure exhaustion) has the Canon in D on it.  You know that song.  It’s everywhere.  All around you.  In nearly everything romantic or wedding related, you’ve heard that song.

 

I hate that song.

 

If I am planning my wedding and anybody ever wants to suggest help with the music or anything, please rest assured that your help will be greatly appreciated.  So long as you leave that song completely and totally out of any suggestions.

 

So, while reviewing my music that I have in my head, I got stuck on the Canon in D.  And that spurred this post.

 

And now for something completely different, a question for my reader, whoever you may be.

 

Do you/did you have your dream wedding planned long before it was a reality?