Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: October 2011

 

Do you remember what they smell like? Remember how neet it was to open a new box and just smell them? And the points were still pointy? Remember looking at the names of all the colors and trying to decide which one was your favorite? Remember wanting them to stay new forever, and at the same time you just couldn’t wait to start coloring? And having to tear the paper back as the crayon got shorter and shorter? Remember breaking them in two so you and your best friend could share the same color at the same time?  What fun! I remember in first grade taking a box of 8 crayons to school with me. Crayons were a staple school supply for years. It must have been my fourth or fifth grade that Mom actually bought me a box of 16 crayons to take to school and I felt so very rich. Even in adulthood I keep a box of crayons in the house. With this last move, my crayon “tin” with hundreds of used crayons was put in a box~who knows what box~and put into storage; an oversight I assure you! I must have been in this city all of five days when at the local grocery story, in the aisle with all the school supplies and knicky-knacky stuff, I spied a box of 64 crayons! Eureka! That box went home with me. And just like when I was a kid, when I got home I opened the box, took a whiff, smiled and started taking them out and looking at the names of new colors, all vibrant, all with the points still pointy, and began to color! I am grateful for crayons. 🙂

 

I do not like cold feet. No, not at all. So on cold Autumn or Winter nights, when my toes feel like ice and I’m feeling miserable, there is nothing so wonderful as thick socks to warm the cold tootsies. That is all I need to say! I am grateful for warm socks on a cold night. 🙂

 

It is so simple. It is economical. It is healthy. It taste delicious. So what if there are a few added calories thanks to the “pb,” they are less than most other processed foods, easier to digest, full of protein and other nutrients. I absolutely love apples and peanut butter (and bananas and peanut butter run a close second!) I am grateful for my favorite snack food, simply an apple with a dollop of peanut butter! Mmmmmmmm . . . delicious 🙂

 

The Festival of Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Booths, is explained in Leviticus 23.  The festival falls at the end of the harvest season and is a time of festivity, good eating, refraining from working at our occupations . . . and living in a flimsy booth or sukkah. The roof is not attached to the walls, is made of once-living material [bamboo, tree branches, etc.], and generally one can see through the roof to the sky above. Sukkahs do not protect its inhabitants from the elements! Four species of plants are taken and waved before G-d each day of the celebration. While the general population may be unaware of this festival, orthodox Jews still observe Sukkot. In fact, we are told to observe this festival on its given days “as a law for all time, throughout the ages” (Vayikra/Leviticus 23.33-44). Some Christian groups, too, have taken up a modified observance of Sukkot.  One reason given for observing this festival comes straight from the Torah. You could say that the Festival of Sukkot is an object lesson for the children of each generation; the sukkah is a reminder of the booths we lived in when G-d led us out of Egypt to our freedom and into the desert for 40 years. G-d was our guide and our provider then as now. As one who loves to be out in nature, Sukkot is one of my favorite festivals. In large Jewish communities one can hear hammers and shouts as each family erects their sukkah in the days leading up to the festival. During the festival, sukkah hops take place where people visit one sukkah after another and enjoy refreshment at each stop along the way. We live in an apartment this year and were unable to build our sukkah, however there were those who placed sukkahs around the apartment complex for those of us who observe this festival. The sukkah pictured above is the largest one in our complex.

 In addition to living in booths, we wave four species of plants before G-d. If you have never seen this, it is quite breath-taking to see groups of people, draped with tallisim (prayer shawls) circling the Torah and waving the lulav (3 species of plants) and the etrog (one species, a fruit similar to a large lemon and very aromatic). After the festival I will keep the etrog around just to enjoy its fragrance.

I am grateful for the Festival of Sukkot!

 

I suppose this gratitude deserves some explanation. After all, how can one be grateful for creepy crawly spiders and centipedes and bugs, etc. Just look at them! They are frightful looking creatures despite their generally small size. But because of their bizarre appearance (to us humans anyway), these critters are often unfairly maligned. Before I go any further, let me be clear in stating that I don’t particularly like the little critters in an up-close-and-personal way. They have their places and I have mine. Having said that though, I got to thinking about their purpose in this world. I have read about the ecological balance within nature, the importance of each organism in maintaining that balance, and the oftentimes overlooked value of each creature in the chain of life. This spider looks pretty large and pretty close. Don’t fear because neither is true. It is about the size of a nickel, and this shot was taken with a telephoto lens. When I was growing up I remember my grandmother admonishing me to leave the house spiders alone. The only time we would destroy one is when it interfered with our health or well-being (as in dropping down into our food). Even then, if it was possible to scoop the little thing up and release it outside then that was the better thing to do. Within Judaism, many will ignore spiders much as Grandmamma did, remembering when King David hid from his foes in a cave. A spider built a large web covering the opening to the cave so that when King David’s enemies came looking for him, they bypassed the cave because the spider-web gave the impression that no one was hiding within. Out of respect to the spider that saved King David’s life, we leave spiders to their own devices when possible. Spiders offer services beyond protecting Israel’s king, too; they capture small, irritating varmints in their webs which in time become delicacies for spiders to feast upon, thus keeping the “creepy crawly” population to a manageable size. Spider webs are used to spin fine silks to create exquisite garments for our enjoyment. Whether I know how they function in the world or not, all critters have their purpose for being. It all sounds yucky, yes, but the entire process works to support a dynamic life balance on our planet earth. Keeping ALL of this in mind, yes, I am grateful for creepy crawlies!

 

 

Late yesterday afternoon Richard suggested that we drive to the lake to watch the sunset. I’ve mentioned several times since moving here that Cleveland is located at a point on the lake where we would be able to watch both sunrises and sunsets ~ if we made the effort, a not-too-veiled hint. We left the apartment while still broad daylight so I had no clue if we would catch a pretty sunset or not. Regardless, Richard and I would enjoy the lake for a few minutes together this evening. When we first arrived I was taken with the beautiful pastel colors and the almost impressionistic scene before me (for another blog.) Hand-in-hand, we strolled down a quay where a few fishermen lingered, took deep breaths and watched the sky become increasingly brilliant. After a while we drove to another point a mile or two further west where we witnessed even more profuse reds, yellows and oranges as the sun continued to sink in the sky . Both places offered up stunningly beautiful sights even as clouds obscured the sun. Yet. not to be deterred, the sun’s rays still lighted the sky in  a dazzling display of color. This photo is straight out of the camera ~ no editing, no enhancement. We watched. We breathed deeply. We stayed until almost dark, yet as we walked back to our car, the profusion of color continued to impress. I am grateful for the opportunity of watching the sun set over Lake Erie.

 

My old Pentax Spotmatic, a classic!

Richard knows how much I enjoy photography. He smiles (most of the time) when I unexpectedly blurt out “Pull over,” as we drive down the highway because he knows I see something that is photo-worthy in my eyes. Richard, the dear man that he is, accommodates my obsession. I don’t think many men would do that. Photography was a hobby of mine years ago when the kids were still “ankle biters.”  Back then I shot almost exclusively in black and white. “In the olden days,” as my grandchildren might say, cameras used film and film was expensive. I had a darkroom in the basement, but with the cost of chemicals and equipment, not to mention exorbitant amounts of time (it never failed that as soon as I was at some crucial point of the film development/printing process in the dark room, one of the kids had an emergency that only “Mom” [moi] could address), created a dilemma. I reached a point where I had to choose: Mary’s orthodontia, Mica’s running shoes and chiropractic visits, Tim’s art supplies, children’s school expenses, etc., or photographic expenses for my hobby? The choice was clear, so I put away my camera and in time forgot about artistic endeavors. The kids grew up and moved away. I met and married Richard. Then, when Richard and I were planning a trip, my twin brother from Colorado sent me a point-and-shoot camera ~ a loaner ~ so that I could record our trip. Once I held a camera in my hand, then shot that first frame, I was flooded with memories, and the “bug bit” once again. That was four or five years ago, and now in addition to that “loaner” (which Steve finally told me to keep) I have a DSLR and never leave home without one or both of the cameras.

The thing about this particular hobby is that I get to share the wonderful sights and happenings that I experience with anyone who is interested. The world is a marvelous place in many ways, despite the ugliness we see every day and are bombarded with through every medium imaginable. It is easy to forget the beauty in life. Through this hobby I not only see the beauty, I am privileged to share it. In fact, I feel compelled to share not only the beauty, but the emotions evoked by that beauty with all who care to see and to feel. Although I continue to consider photography an enjoyable hobby, it is also a piece of my life’s calling, or purpose if you prefer. I am preparing to become a psychotherapist, and art therapy  and photography will be a part of what I do from here on out. Each of us has something that inspires, motivates, brings satisfaction or joy, and can be shared with others. Our hobbies are often expressions of our inner strengths and creativity. I am grateful for the many wonderful hobbies each of us delves into, and how those hobbies express our joys and contentment, our creativity and giving spirit. 🙂

 

After many rainy days we finally see the sunshine! While walking this morning it seemed that everyone I met had a smile on their face and a bounce in their step. Rain is good, but too much of a good thing is simply too much! Today the sun is shining and spirits are bright. Rather than sit at my computer all day, I’m going outside to enjoy this glorious light. I am grateful for sunny days! 🙂

 

This may sound strange to many people, but I am grateful for tears. Tears represent the release of different emotions and show the outside world what is going on in our inside world. Tears express joy, sadness, anger, grief, confusion, hormones, you name it. There have been times in my life when I felt the need for a good cry but could not find that release.  There is nothing wrong with tears despite society’s aversion to seeing them. Yes, there are times when it probably is not the appropriate response to a particular situation, but eventually we need to express and release our emotions, albeit in safe ways. Tears help us do that. When each of my three children were born I cried tears of joy. When each of my grandparents died I cried tears of sorrow. When verbally attacked, I would eventually have to cry to release the tension and fear I felt in my body. Tears have often been abused which is why I presume we are afraid of them. For instance, tears may be used to manipulate someone to get what we want. Think of a toddler’s temper tantrum and how often the parent capitulates to the two-year old in order to stop the child from crying. Or think of the adult who uses tears to garner sympathy and support for a cause. Even so, by-in-large tears are a healthy expression of an inner emotion. I have shed a lot of tears lately, tears of grief, tears of fear, and tears of joy. I am grateful for the gift of tears.

 

It is that time of year again: Rosh Hoshannah and the beginning of the Jewish year.  In addition to the usual celebrations that seem ubiquitous of all people as they celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another, the Jewish people have entered into a time of reflection, a time to consider past actions, a time of repentance as we seek to clear our slates and start the new year fresh. Having just celebrated Rosh Hoshannah, we are now in the Days of Awe which culminates with Yom Kippur, a day of repentance and celebration. The Days of Awe are sweet even though this is a time of deep soul-searching. Our prayers are for forgiveness of the wrongs we have committed as well as forgiving those who have wronged us. Before we can approach Hashem/G-d on Yom Kippur and ask forgiveness, we must first approach those whom we have wronged and ask forgiveness. If one comes to us seeking forgiveness, we must be aware of the courage it takes to right the wrong what ever it may be, and forgive if we possibly can. We recognize our humanness and seek to be better and do better during the coming year. Many of us take this time to consider and address one issue or part of our lives that we would like to improve. We consider what steps to take, what books to read that will shed light on the issue, what wise person to learn with who can help us in our daily efforts to lead a more holy life. Why apples and honey? Because our prayers and our hopes are for a sweet year. From now through Simchas Torah, the day we celebrate receiving the Torah (falls approximately three weeks after Rosh Hoshannah), we will feast on sweet delicacies, especially apples and honey, in hopes that we and the world will experience a sweet year. For this reason, I am grateful for apples and honey!

%d bloggers like this: