A perfect sea urchin

My Evil Thoughts

Welcome to where I air my evil views, proud, uncowed, unbowed, and absolutely evil, superficial, and ignorant. Get used to it. To return to the main blog page, just click here.

The River in the Mist

I'm not sure where or how to begin this post. I've been away with good reason. My mother came and went for Thanksgiving. The apartment still feels pristine. What I didn't do for my mother, I did for me. I put the plug-in air freshener to work. I remade the bed. I didn't get to clean the sheets, but at least they are not all torn to pieces. The cooking went off without a single embarassing hitch, except that Lysistrata, my beautiful classic, brown tabby and white, queen cat, knocked over a glass of ice tea with her tail. Who knew a cat's tail could be so strong?

My mother grabbed the bread which was on the table to lose its fridge-chill, and broke the big, braided loaf of tomato herb bread. In a way this was good because the big, braided bread was too large for any of my plates. My mom got to watch me make the celery root remoulade which turned out way better than I expected and the boniato bake, which was a stroke of inspiration. Getting out of your food rut pays. Mom liked the food. We ate a lot at home, due to reasons I don't want to discuss. We got along, and Mom went back to New York on Friday.

I ate with friends for Shabbos. I got to go shopping on Black Friday and finally bought the shoes, hat, and gloves, I needed. I'll shop for more knee socks later. They are finally coming back in style.

Of course after mom left, and I got back from shopping, and Shabbos started, the real fun happened. I woke up in the middle of the night Friday, and the apartment was frigid. My furnace had died. It stayed dead all weekend. I dressed in a frigid bedroom Monday morning...and got my period on top of everything else. If you want to ask how I feel, the one word is "CLUNK!" It all lands at once: "CLUNK!" It all lands on me, "CLUNK!" What do I do now? "CLUNK!"

This is very much like a hot flash. It is just there. It's undeniable. I'm sitting there with my face flushing and sometimes I'm breaking out in a big sweat. "CLUNK!" Then the switch flips back and it's over. Stress brings it on. Impending menstruation brings it on. It's pretty basic. I don't fan myself because I know that makes it worse. As I told my Mom, a hot flash lasts as long as it pleases. It can stay for a couple of hours. It can be gone in ten minutes. There are much worse things, really bad menstrual cramps for example. I'd also say a sore throat or really itchy eczema are far worse. Even moderatley itchy eczema is worse. Hot flashes are NOT at all painful.

Well, my landlord fixed my heat. Yes, it was blissful waking up in a warm apartment and not wearing longjohns to bed. Gratitude is a strange and fleeting emotion, but I felt a mixture of gratitude and relief this morning. I was also grateful it did not pour. My new shoes got wet in the rain last night. Tonight we'll probably have ice. I need to sneak over to Publix and replenish the pantry. I need to make moqua squash salad for Open Door. Life goes on. I still look up the river toward the Ship of Misery, but it is lost in the mist. I have to figure that it is gone forever.

I felt I deserved a turn walking its decks. I somtimes feel that way as the Thanksgiving food disappears. Where did it all go? It went because I was home a lot, and Thanksgiving break is longer than we think it is. Now it's behind me. It's winter, but the river does not freeze. And yes, I'm walking along the shore wishing I were afloat again. Go figure.

Eileen H. Kramer -- 11/30/2010

Dazed and Exhausted

I'm too tired to be miserable. Sunday I ran three errands and learned why I usually don't run three errands. I hang out on the net, go shopping, go out and have fun if I'm not too tired. Usually I am too tired. This Sunday though was different. MY MOTHER IS COMING! That should be 'Nuff said' but it's not. Saturday night after carting six bags of unwanted and useless clutter from my apartment to the dumpster and cleaning the bathroom, I realized I was in no shape to stay in the laundromat until four am. If I did stay in the laundromat until 4am (It takes about three hours to do laundry and it was close to midnight and the laundromat is two miles away.) I would sleep until ten in the morning, and the Farmer's Market would be picked over. That it would be crowded would go without saying. Crowded was fine. Picked over wasn't. They move people in and out of the cashier's area quickly, and you just have to watch your step. Smash ups are surprizingly common.

So, I woke up at six-thirty Sunday morning and was out of the house before 8am and had laundry in before 8:30am. I still got to use the big drier. You DO NOT want to do laundry on Sunday afternoon or evening even though the laundromat is open then because everyone else has the same idea. It's a mob scene, and you may not get a drier, even in a laundromat as large as the Spin Cycle. I was able to get the big drier and used one big, five load washer, to do everything.

Then it was off to the Farmer's Market. It only cost me $33.00 for all the comestibles. I even found celery root, cranberry beans, boniatos, and cranberries. I got home tired. I checked to see when Party City closed. I needed to go to Party City at North Lake plaza to get a plastic table cloth and I wanted to pick up a few cans of sardines at Publix right next door. There isn't a wide variety of sardines in Atlanta. I'm not sure why. Publix has the best selection, and Beech Cliff fish stakes in Louisianna Hot Sauce are the best, because they are spicey with a good, firm texture.

This last errand was tricky because Party City closes at six on Sunday and I needed to catch the 4:15pm Number 125 bus from the Kensington MARTA station. I walked down to Decature and managed after about ten minutes to pick up an eastbound train. I got off at Kensington and waited five minutes for the bus. I slept the whole way up to Northlake. I kept waking up at different places along a long, complex route. Finally, I dragged myself off the bus, stiff and sore. I got across Henderson Mill Road and bought three table cloths at Party City which is a lovely store. I bought several cans of sardines as well as some toothpaste at Publix and then I drifted over to the AM -PM minimart to reward myself with a cup of High Octane Mocha.

I let the mocha cool as I walked across the parking lots in the rapidly cooling night. The moon was not yet up yet. It is a full moon. Aroooooo! The early night though, was black as pitch, lit up by a weird variety of stores along LaVista which include a GoodWill, a Hearing Aide place, cell phone stores, and more. I visited the Kroger to see what kind of sardines they had, and walked away disappointed. The best place to buy sardines is Publix though I will try Farmer's Market. The best Publix for sardines is Toco Hills. I guess we Jews are real sardine lovers. Well, I got to sit in the lighted kiosk just below Kacey's Gross Food Emporium with several other riders and wait for the Number 125.

I talked with my Mom on the way home. I sat and talked with her outside the Kensington Station. After a time, one gets good at finding good spots for cell phone calls.

When I got home, of course, the fun did not stop. I swept out the living room, and then I mopped it. This meant I had to hide in the back part of the apartment for an hour since it blocked my way to the kitchen. I did not mind. The living room, bedrooms, and bathroom of my apartment are now unrecognizabely clean. I'm sore all over. I have to clean part of the kitchen tonight, since I'm not ready to cook. I tell myself to keep up the good time management and discipline. Yeah....

Eileen H. Kramer -- November 22, 2010

Start Jumping Up and Down for Joy

Even my little avie in Second Life does not jump up and down for joy. She jumps up and down to get over obstacles or when she is bored or even angry. Her jump is a stomp. She is one step ahead of me, because I don't even leave the ground.

I found an email from Dov today. He pleaded technical difficulties, and he has a job. He is learning medical clowning. I'm not sure how I feel about medical clowns. I'm not one of those people who fears clowns, but I think if I were sick, a clown would be the last person I'd want to see.

He mentions nothing of his wife and son in the letter, nor does he mention any pets. He may not have any yet, but he had a lot of animals the last time he lived in Israel. I am feeling the left out parts now. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. Come to think of it, I did not write about my cats either.

I am relieved that Dov has a job. I need to write him again. I'd like him to join Zanmi. This is a fun way to use Facebook and will help him get more computer literate. If, however, he is really working twelve hour days and then restricted due to Shabbos and religious holidays, let's just say there isn't much hope. I think about Dov every time I go to the Farmer's Market. At least now I can think about him now and smile, even if I don't jump for joy.

Today is the day of watchful waiting to see if the storm has passed. My guess is the addition of sardines to my diet and the fish oil are actually bringing some of my perimenopausal symptoms to heel. The other food I need to eat is soybeans, but there are still fresh field peas and/or cranberry beans available, and fresh beans are better than dried ones. It is very good to have modern doctors at Kaiser who believe in nutrition and are knowledgeable about it.

Of course a dietary regimen lasts only so long as my nerves let me eat well. This week has been an utter bust. Between my body's out of whack hormones and the storm, my IBS went off the charts and I had an upset stomach due to Celexa. One night I ate fruit for supper. I've been skipping lunch or able only to eat the fruit. There was a lot of kidney bean, cabbage, and orange salad leftover from Shabbos. You can guess what I never got around to eating.

I've still got more baking to do and an apartment to clean. This is not as bad as I am making it sound. I have the calabazza pureed and the game plan is to make bread Saturday night, if (big IF) I don't get sick over the weekend. I had a horrendous attack of IBS cramps most of Saturday night and Sunday. The thought of handling dough made me ill when I should have been baking. I finally was able to bake bread late Sunday afternoon. There is no point attacking the kitchen until all the baking is done, but I'll try to start cleaning bedroom, computer room, and living room. I can also give the bathroom a real thorough once over, wash sheets etc... Oh this all sounds so fun doesn't it. I wish I could just jump up and down in disgust!

Eileen H. Kramer -- November 12, 2010

Standard Time Did not Deliver

I wish I could get over the fact that I believe in external rescues. Standard time arrived on Sunday. I rejoiced in the twenty-five hour day, and Monday, I overslept. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. I don't wake up cursing the day, and I'm not really depressed, though I've had some ugly, minor health issues. I'm more worn down and exhausted than anything else, even when I'm not physically or mentally tired. That doesn't mean I can't or don't get moving. I move. I get stuff done. It doesn't feel like I get stuff done, but if I look back I can see I got stuff done. I still make plans, and mostly make good on those plans. I feel like throwing up my hands and saying: "Go figure!" I also really wish I felt better.

I hate my hands. Eczema ravaged them over the weekend. This is my own fault, since I went off of my Claritin. I get sick of the stuff. I run out, and that is a great excuse not to buy more since even the generic drug store brand is expensive, but Claritin works. In its absence, I wake up clawing at my fingers. Before I know it my hands are covered with tiny, bloody sores and there is dead skin under my finger nails. On top of it all, eczema this bad hurts and and itches. That is an understatement. Itching is severe pain! Scratching brings short term relief, but the effects are disgusting. If you want to feel rotten, really itch so badly you wake up scratching every morning and then look at the damage. It's the self loathing from the disfiguring that makes it even worse than it is. I am back on Claritin as of Monday night. It will take at least a week for my hands to heal though. Meanwhile, I wish my hands belonged to somebody else. Hands can be such things of beauty. I students with lovely nails. I know if I got my nails done like that I would defile them in a matter of twenty-four hours. Blech!!!!!!!

Then my IBS ran away. Some of this was due to my period, but I was crampy, bloated, gassy. You can guess the rest. I didn't hurt that badly, but was never entirely comfortable. Between my hands and my intestines, I've been worn down like a rock in the rain. I wish it weren't that way, but it is that way.

When I get like this, I try to think one step ahead. One step ahead is a lot of cooking which is fun and cleaning up the apartment which is nasty. The apartment is nasty, and cleaning it is worse. Cooking is better. I've all ready baked tomato bread for Thanksgiving. It is a huge braided loaf, only slightly torn from having to flip it over to cool. It is in the freezer awaiting the holiday. I want to make pumpkin (squash) bread with fresh calabazza puree. The calabazza is cooked and ready to puree this evening. I have found a recipe for persimmon cake/bread. My blender is going to get a workout.

I'm not sure what would make me feel better. I dread nasty chores and enjoy the thought of cooking or making clothes for my Second Life avie. The thought of going to sleep somewhere nice and warm for fifteen hours straight would please me. I figure I'd wake up in a better mood, but you know, I would miss a lot. I wish I were still on the ship of misery. I wish Dov would write me back. I wish I didn't have all those pesky sociology of religion questions running through my head. I wish that people who spoke from the pulpit in my synagogue were more honest about how much we are a part of ordinary, US culture, though we also have a culture of our own too. I wish my religion sunk in deeply enough into young people to make them idealistic, but I guess we produce our share of materialistic twits and spoiled brats just like secular Jews and nonJews do.

I wish my discontent really had a reason because I might be able to deal with that reason and feel better, but I know if I find the reason and fix the reason another one will replace the first one, and so on. The reasons wait in a long line.

Eileen H. Kramer -- November 10, 2010

A Storm from the Shore

I've been waiting all week for the clouds to burst. I've watched them roll over the river through the trees. I've felt my IBS go off the charts. The back of my legs hurt. My stomach was upset. I looked at the calendar and knew what was coming. I knew I could get doubled over. Usually, that is short-lived but EXTREMELY PAINFUL. Nonprescription medication (Naproxen) controls the pain. One takes the medication BEFORE the pain gets bad. If the pain is violent enough and moves fast enough, it can get away from you and still hit, but most of the time, I know to outrace it and once I've swallowed the meds, even pain that's gained a foothold goes down to defeat. This time I got to the meds just in time on Monday night, but the storm didn't break. False starts with periods are fairly common for me, and now that my body is forgetting how to menstruate, they are routine.

Hertzel and Lysistrata still slept with me which meant I gave off no bad vibes in bed. I decided my body was just not ready, and that this was a good thing. A longer cycle (twenty-eight days or more!) actually means my body is making a decent amount of estrogen and maybe even still ovulating. This morning I felt what could have been IBS accompanied by mild drawing pains in the backs of my legs and also in my shoulders. My stomach was and still is a bit upset. I thought: "Maybe." Around 10:30am, the storm finally broke. This cycle ran thirty-three days. I'll blame good nutrition (sardines work wonders!) for giving my body back a bit of its youth. As for the pain, I've taken Naproxen and it could be a lot worse.

What I really want to do is sleep. What I need to do is start working on cleaning the apartment and researching recipes and baking for Thanksgiving. MY MOTHER IS COMING! Enough said. My apartment makes the Augean Stables looks as if they were owned and managed by Mr. Clean. I've learned that Lysistrata likes to kick big piles of litter out of the pans. She also is famous for upending a pan that is not sufficiently full. All she has to do is sit on the edge. She weighs more than the litter and up the pan goes. It's kind of fun, and she does her business in the resulting pile. I have to sweep everything up and put it back in the pan. Fortunately, it is all dry. I don't care if the cats have floor dirt mixed with their litter. Lysistrata has not upended a pan in a few months. I just know it's in her repetoire of things to do when she's in a mood to do them.

I let Hertzel in the hall last night. The landlady has the hall light set to come on at 10pm. It gets dark at 7pm. If one comes in between seven and ten pm, one comes home to a dark hall. The mailboxes are in the hall, and I can't open my mailbox in the dark. I've had my box overflow twice and had to retrieve my mail at the post office. That expletive deleteds big time. Last night I decided to try and get my mail out. I opened the apartment door and turned on the living room light so I could light up the hall. Now my two escape artist cats were going to come out of the apartment. Lysistrata knows she has been carried bodily back inside and has heard me say "no" endlessly. Last night she did not come out, but Hertzel made his way into the hall while I was retrieving what was mostly junk mail from a fifty year old mail box not designed to handle the load.

I smiled at Lysistrata. I said to her: "Let's lock Hertzel out of the aparmtent." I closed the door, and left Hertzel in the hall. I sorted the mail and did a few odd jobs, and then remembering who was outside, opened the door. Hertzel was waiting to be let in. He came right in. I think at least one set of neighbors has mistreated him, not seriously, but the Afghanis when they lived in my building did not like a white cat who nuzzled their shoes. I think someone yelled at Hertzel, though no one bothered him last night. He came right in and seemed glad to be back. It will be a while before my mailbox overflows. With Standard Time finally starting on Sunday, the hallway will light up a bit sooner and it will be lighter in the morning. Hooray for Standard Time.

Last but not least, I wrote to Dov yesterday. It was a pretty conventional letter, four or five paragraphs, mainly small talk. I did ask how he, Karen, and Adiel were. I asked if he had found work. I asked how Karen liked her job. I told him about my latest kitchen projects. I told him what was going on at what was once our synagogue. I doubt I'll hear from him. I've held up my end of the bargain. I'll write him again if I feel like it.

Eileen H. Kramer -- November 5, 2010

"And You All May be Rulers of the Queen's Navy

I guess I really am off the Ship of Misery for good. I spent the weekend and even part of today in an insufferably good mood. I even woke up free of IBS cramps. I had no invite for a free lunch on Saturday. I did chores and errands for all of the weekend that wasn't Shabbos. I even cleaned the cats' litter pans and did laundry at the sink. I spent five hours phone banking at Democratic headquarters. It got cold. It got hot.

Through it all, I was quite happy. I was happy even though I had nightmares at night. One dream was particularly troubling. I was talking to a frum young woman who was in the Navy and who served onboard a submarine. I asked her what she ate. She said she kept kosher and usually lived on prepackaged crackers and cheese and peanut butter. I thought that was sad. I asked her what she would do if the ship's cook made spaghetti wtih marinara sauce. She asked what marinara sauce was. I told her. She said she could not eat it because a nonJewish chef made it and the sub's galley was not kosher. I pointed out that the ship's cook reached out to meet her half way. She let me know that half was was not good enough. The frum sailor's kashrus seemed very self defeating.

Of course, my light of day answer to this dream is that I don't serve onboard a submarine. I have my own apartment and can eat what I like, and the world doesn't give a you know what. If I were confined within a place where I did not have a choice and someone met me half way, I would eat the food and be grateful, but that is not my current situation. By the way, Kashrus is well known to be a social barrier, so the dream really didn't say anything that is new.

I learned in synagogue this weekend that Rebecca and Isaac were married over a broomstick if they had broomsticks back in the day. Read the story in Genesis for yourself if you don't believe me. There is no mention of a wedding feast, wedding vows, being welcomed by Isaac's family...Nope, Rebecca arrives. She and Isaac take a liking to one another and then it's off into the tent for some nookie. I guess there must have been a broomstick in there somewhere, but for Rebecca to marry without a big to-do of a wedding, seems somewhat of a raw deal to me. Maybe if Sarah were still alive, the story would have been different.

Next week we move on to the birth of Jacob and Easau. The stories move so fast in Genesis and so much happens. In Leviticus and Numbers you have to seek out the story amid the laws. The story is slow, graceful, and yes painful. Genesis too though has a dark side. Young women are bought as brides with gold bangles. Concubines and their sons and daughters are sent away. Handmaids and their sons are sent into the desert to die. Isaac is passive and ruined. The go-between and deal maker, Eliezer, gets a scant reward, or at least none that is mentioned.

Jacob and Leah interestingly enough do not marry over a broomstick. I think Rachel and his other wives, however, pretty much marry without much ceremony. Laban just makes Jacob work his butt off for both women.

I think some of my joy is due to the fact that I forced myself to be engaged at services. That meant that I did not always read the liturgy. I instead prayed and gave thanks. Yes, a lot of it was food and cat centered, and that they had real mocha, butter pretzels, Tricuits, and cherry soda did help, but I was present in services, in a way I wasn't the week before. I prayed for the lost cat on Willow Lane, a very sweet half Siamese boy. I prayed for my cats, especially Hertzel who sleeps in my arms like a baby. I prayed for good ideas for Shabbos meals. I guess the lesson of last week's praise report really hit home.

Sooner or later the spell will break and I'll return to my usual bad mood, and yes, I haven't written to Dov yet. Maybe that will restore my usual pall of gloom.

Eileen H. Kramer -- 11/1/10