Thanks Giving

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada. Here in Los Angeles, we’re celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day, a new holiday which I can only guess is what it sounds like – honoring the indigenous people who the settlers of this land mistreated, misplaced, and otherwise treated horribly over the last several centuries. I hope that in schools, they are teaching students about the histories of people who are native to their particular geographies – goodness knows we learned very little about that when I was in school.

At most public gatherings I attended in Vancouver, regardless of the topic, the hosts began by acknowledging that the event was taking place on the unceded lands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh people. Granted, I don’t get out to as many events here as I did in Vancouver (one of the benefits of a living in a smaller city is that everything’s so much easier to access), but I don’t recall ever having heard anyone acknowledge the First People of Los Angeles at any gathering.

That may be changing, though (and maybe I just need to get out more).  Continue reading

Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing

I love these candles.

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These candles that are almost all burnt, off to the side of me on the kitchen table, on this first Friday night since we moved the clocks forward. It’s 7:47 and almost dark, three stars in the sky, if ya know what I mean. And the Sabbath lights are lit in my kitchen window.

I lit ‘em, yep, I did.

And I said a little prayer. And then it was Shabbat. The Sabbath. Or Shabbos if you prefer. As in Good Shabbos.

The two candles are sitting in ceramic holders I bought in Jerusalem during my junior year of college at Hebrew University over thirty years ago. (Geez, that’s crazy. OVER thirty years.) Candlestick holders were a relatively easy relic for a naïve American 19-year-old girl with limited Hebrew skills to purchase from vendors in the Old City. Continue reading

Gratitude 2015

Thanksgiving almost didn’t happen this year. Even though, since moving to Canada, I have two annual opportunities to celebrate, it felt like the holiday might pass me by entirely. Still, there’s always time to be thankful. And right now, I’m blasting with gratitude.

Alas, my honey and I were both sick in the days leading up to “Canadian Thanksgiving” weekend in mid-October. The week before, we had invited a small group of friends over for dinner that Sunday night. Even though we were still sneezing and coughing Saturday morning, we were optimistic that the tide would turn, so we  did a big grocery shop — a big chicken and all the fixings. [Gratitude blast: I’m thankful for Thanksgiving!] Continue reading

Thanks again

IMG_4983It’s nearing the end of American Thanksgiving, as we call it here in Canada (at home, of course, it’s just Thanksgiving, but that day happened here over a month ago… let’s leave it at that). Rather than making my usual trek to Southern California, I’m in Vancouver this year for what’s decidedly a non-holiday day. I spent it as I might spend any other Thursday, with a bit of work, a couple of meetings, you know, the usual stuff of everyday life. And yet, at about 4:30 this afternoon, I felt compelled to stopped by Hamburger Mary’s on Davie Street with my American pal Leslie for a hot turkey dinner, complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and a double helping of cranberry sauce. It was an extraordinary feast. You can take the girl out of America… Continue reading

Obrigado

6e9a9_ipanema-rio-brazilWalking on the path next to the beach the other day, I passed by three people sitting on a bench – a man and two women, all in their 20’s, good looking, speaking to each other animatedly, all talking at the same time. I slowed as I passed them to see if I could identify the language they spoke, a game I often play with myself. As soon as the sounds came into focus, the lush, round vowels and the soft “shhhh” of Portuguese washed right over me, and I was instantly transported to a beach in Rio de Janeiro. Delicious.

Without thinking, I spun around and walked right up to them, smiling, standing, watching and waiting for them to stop speaking. When they did, I apologized for interrupting, and said I just wanted to know which language they spoke. The man said Portuguese, and I smiled and said I’d thought so. I told them I’ve been listening to a lot of Samba music lately (though really more Bossa Nova if truth be told), and the sounds of their voices made me feel like I was inside one of those songs. As I spoke, I swayed back and forth, and they laughed, which made me happy. I told them I think Portuguese is one of the most beautiful languages in the world, and they all smiled broadly.

The two girls said “Obrigado” — thanks. I asked them to repeat the word, said it back to them with another smile, turned and continued along on my walk.

My, that felt good. To just show up and be in the world, to interact with strangers and share a moment. Let’s have more of that.

Insta-Seder

photoIt all started so innocently.  Yesterday, I casually mentioned to My Beloved, who is not Jewish, that tonight was the start to Passover, which meant that we’d have a good use for the chicken stock she’d made the other night… we could eat it with matzah balls!  You see, last year, for the first time in the 2-1/2 years we’ve lived together, we hosted a seder for some friends, and among other Jewish delicacies, MB made the most delicious matzah balls — a total hit, especially considering she’d never done it before!  (“Chicken soup and dumplings,” she said tonight. “No biggie.”)

We’ve been invited to a large seder tomorrow night, so I wasn’t planning on doing anything special at home tonight, besides eating matzah ball soup.  I’d said I’d bring charoset to tomorrow night’s gathering, but haven’t seen kosher wine anywhere (no booze in supermarkets here, and the nearby liquor stores wouldn’t carry much), so figured I’d deal with making it tomorrow. At least this weekend I’d had enough forethought to pick up a box of matzah when I was at the only nearby supermarket that I know carries Jewish food, but that was as far as I’d gotten.

Continue reading

Happy Cat

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Laila – pronounced like the Hebrew word for “night,” not the Eric Clapton song.

I’ve written about the changing seasons before, and how profoundly they affect my mood. Of course, that’s a profoundly unoriginal observation – we’re just part of the world, we humans, we animals, we plants, we living beings, and so we’re affected by shifts in light and dark and cold and warmth around us.

Rather than restate the obvious, then, let me just say this. I’m happy that spring is almost here. I can feel it in my bones, this readiness for a new season.

2014 is a big year for me, already, and bound to be so for the coming months. I’ve got one of those milestone birthdays coming up, the kind that ends in a 0 or a 5 (not that I’m trying to be coy, but a good friend told me that a lady never reveals her age, and just for this minute, I want to see what it’s like to be a lady). These birthdays seem to bring with them a certain reflective urge, or so it is for me. But lucky you, you won’t hear all of my reflections here – not just yet, at least.

For now, the only reflection I have to share — and this is a huge one — is that I am happy. Here. Now. Happy with every part of my life. Thankful, as I have written recently, for my family relationships. Thankful for my health, and that of my beloved community. Thankful for my home, my work, and yes, even my cat.

Change is in the air, and that feels great. And being almost 50 never felt better.  (Damn, that was a fast turn at being a lady!)

Checking My Balance

checkbookMy father taught me how to manage my money.  For this, I am grateful.  I’m the first to admit, I probably could have paid more attention to the lessons once we got past (1) How to Balance Your Checking Account Using a Pencil and the Grid on the Back of the Statement and (2) The Non-Negotiable Task of Paying Off Your Credit Card Bill Monthly.  Though I may not have turned out to be a finance whiz, at least Dad helped me nail down a few basic prerequisites for responsible money management.

Beyond tracking my checkbook balance, my dad has taught me a lot of useful things through the years.  Like every father, he has offered lots of advice — in many cases, even good advice.  (I’d like to meet the parent who has always given perfect advice to their child – if you have their number, could you send it to me, please?)

Mostly, I’m thankful to my dad – and my mom too – for teaching me how to take care of myself, and for passing on their values, combined and individual, particularly the ones I’ve assimilated into my own. Continue reading

First Thanksgiving

DSC_0104It’s my first Thanksgiving of the year.  I’m always thankful that I get to celebrate this holiday twice every year! Tonight, we celebrated with a homemade meal of delicious baked chicken (poultry is poultry, right?), applesauce, cranberry sauce, kale salad with Hollyhock’s yeast dressing, and mashed potatoes drizzled with oil made from basil from our garden.  When I’m done writing this, there’ll be a piece of freshly baked pumpkin pie and whipped cream waiting for me.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Continue reading

It’s In You to Give

BloodI must say, this is one of the best taglines I’ve ever seen (and now that I work with a company that creates brands, I’ve seen my fair share). I spotted it last Saturday morning at Canadian Blood Services, where I donated blood.

I love giving blood. It’s something I look forward to doing every 56 days, which is as soon they let you give again. I love that they tell me that I “only” have to wait 56 days – which actually sounds much longer than eight weeks – and could they possibly sign me up for my next appointment while I’m here? Why not, I say, and just like that, I’m a regular donor. Continue reading