Friday, September 28, 2007


Her Ladyship and Missy go symmetrical again. I love it when they do this.

Her Ladyship and Missy, symmetrical again

The Friday Ark.

The Carnival of the Cats.

Sukkot 5768

This year’s arba minim.

Sukkot 5768

Happy Sukkot!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Open Your Gates

Open the gates for us
at the time of their closing.
The day is fading,
the sun westering and waning;
let us pass through Your gates.
(from the closing prayer of Yom Kippur)

As I was running errands downtown this morning, something drew me into the doorway of a building, where I saw this:

Padlock on open door

An open door with a padlock on it, engraved with the word “Eden”—evidently just the name of the company that made it, but pretty symbolic.

May this year see the gates open for all of us. Gemar hatima tova.

Pre-Yom Kippur Catblogging

No, I haven’t grown a tail...

Her Ladyship’s tail underneath my skirt

Either Her Ladyship wants to share hers, or she likes to be in her tent, otherwise known as my skirt.

Her Ladyship’s tail underneath my skirt

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Gemar hatima tova.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ahoy! It’s September 19th—which means that it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Pirates would enjoy my neighborhood, actually. It has lots of large, green parakeets flying wild—maybe they could convince a couple of them to try out a life at sea.

But I wanted to recommend a book in honor of the day. It’s called The Ring Bear, written by David Michael Slater and illustrated by S.G. Brooks. Check it out here.

It has pirates in it, together with a pirate ship that is in danger of being scuttled until a new pirate, complete with eye patch, makes friends with the captain, joins the crew and saves the day.

(Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for Orson Scott Card’s review, too!)

Arrr, mateys! Ye’ll want to be gettin’ yer hands on this book, I’m thinkin’, if ye or yer little ones wants a good read.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Who remembers the All-of-a-Kind Family series? If you do—and even if you have never read it— you may want to take a look at the following essay, Family Affair:

It is December 1912, and in the front room of a tenement flat on the Lower East Side of Manhattan an eight-year-old girl named Sarah is dusting the piano keys and the lace doilies, the intricately carved heavy wooden table legs and knicknacks from the “old country,” with the greatest of care and even a little bit of enthusiasm. She's playing “find the buttons,” a kind of work-as-treasure-hunt game devised by her clever Mama. The mother of five girls ranging in age from four to twelve, Mama is a master of making life simultaneously instructive and fun in spite of her large family's rather precarious financial situation amid the pickle barrels and clothing vendors of New York’s crowded immigrant enclave. As usual, this particular diversion—one of many in Mama’s arsenal for getting her girls to complete their daily chores without grumbling—proves to be a winner. “I found them! I found them all, every single one of them!” Sarah cries out joyfully as she bursts back into the family kitchen, her dreaded task complete. Dusting will never be the same again.

I knew Sydney Taylor only very briefly, during the last summer she spent at my summer camp, where she had been the dance and dramatics director for many years. At the time, I had no idea that she was the author of a well-known series of children’s books, and she was too modest to say anything about it. It was my bunkmate who told me, asking with incredulity: “What? You mean you never heard of All-of-a-Kind Family?!”

I hadn’t, but I soon fixed the situation by reading all of Sydney Taylor’s books.

The link to the above essay arrived in my in-box only a few hours ago, as I was in the middle of preparing for Rosh ha-Shana—a quick look backward as we prepare to move forward into the new year.

Shana tova to all my readers and friends. May you inscribed for a good and sweet year filled with all blessings.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Out of the Woods, Finally

I had delayed writing this post because I wanted to be sure, but I now have it on very good authority that after approximately half a year of frequent vet visits, oral surgeries, a brief bout with diabetes, medications, injections and more suffering than any cat should ever have to experience, the Lady in Red is finally out of the woods.

Since the vet put her on a prescription cat food (Royal Canin hypoallergenic variety, for those who are interested), Lady has been doing extremely well. Although she is missing most of her teeth—multiple extractions are just about the only thing that help in severe cases of chronic gum inflammation in cats—she is eating and grooming normally, things that she couldn’t do at all when she was so terribly ill. I was very happy to hear that lately she has had a few hairballs—not that I want her to suffer in any way, but hairballs are a “healthy” problem and she’s dealing with them just fine. I’m also told that for the first time in weeks, she has even started playing again. And this is without painkillers or medications of any kind!

I’d like to thank everyone who helped with advice, encouragement and funds. I’m still climbing out of the hole that Lady’s expenses dug beneath me—thanks to your help it shouldn’t take much longer—and I will start sending out the thank-you gifts as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here is a picture from a recent visit to the Lady in Red, showing her well and happy and demanding her due of worship bellyrubs:

Lady sez: Worship me with a bellyrub!

Thank you all so much for helping us get through this challenging time, and for helping my old friend get well.

Not Again!

Earlier this week I got a call from a musician from Europe who is currently in Israel. He is going to be producing a CD in several months and was looking for a woman singer to provide harmonies for some of the songs, and he got my telephone number from a mutual acquaintance. When I asked him what kinds of songs he wanted to record, he told me: Religious, spiritual, with Biblical texts. He said that they had been written by a particular songwriter, someone with an Israeli-sounding name whom I’d never heard of.

We made a date to meet earlier this morning, and soon after we began speaking together a tendril of suspicion wound its way into my mind. I had no overt reason for it, since I had never heard of the songwriter he named, but after only a few minutes I found myself asking: “Is this songwriter a member of the Messianic community?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Oh, no,” I said. “I think we have a problem.”

And I told him what I had told the previous two musicians from that community who asked me to work with them: as a professional singer, I do not work with Messianics. Maybe I should rephrase that, actually, since after all there is a difference between working on a project where a Messianic may happen to be a co-worker but not the one in charge, and working on a project where a Messianic is the leader or sponsor. So let me be more specific: I will not record or perform any religious songs that I know to have been written by Messianics, and I will not be involved in any musical project, particularly one of a religious character, in which they have an influential role.

Why not? Because the so-called Messianic movement is actually a missionary group whose goal is to convert Jews to Christianity. In order to do this they use lies, deception, deliberate mistranslation of Biblical texts and fear tactics. (Yes, I said “fear tactics.” If you tell me, even with all the politeness and compassion in the world, that I am going to burn forever in the fires of Hell unless I believe and worship the way you do, you are using a fear tactic to get me to change my religion.) In short, they are trying to make my people disappear off the face of the earth, even if by non-violent means. If I were to lend my voice to such an effort, I would be putting the gift that God gave me to the worst possible use—treason against my own people.

The musician himself does not belong to the Messianic community nor, to the best of my knowledge, is he Jewish by birth. As we spoke, I felt that despite my best attempts to explain why I cannot become involved with his project, I don’t think he really got it. In fact, I got the feeling that he thought I ought to be more inclusive, especially when he said: “But doesn’t God say in the Bible that His House will be called a house of prayer for all nations?”

I said: “Yes, absolutely. Jews do not believe that God will punish people who do not believe and worship as we do. It’s the Messianics who believe that. Ask them. They may be very polite about it at first, but if you insist on the truth, they will tell you eventually.”

I apologized for not having asked the question sooner, which would have saved him the trip to my place. I truly hadn’t meant to inconvenience him. Maybe one day we will work together after all.

But it won’t be on a project of Messianic music.

Salad Days

This past week, the Strauss company recalled a batch of their packaged salads due to contamination.

I confess: I am a salad fiend, and I buy packaged salads. I succumbed to temptation several years ago, figuring that I’d earned a break after several decades of standing over a cutting board.

When I telephoned Strauss’s customer-service hotline, the woman I spoke to asked me to read her the date on the package. When I did, she replied: “Zeh lo be-seder”—that’s not OK. The package of salad I had bought a day or so before (and, thank goodness, hadn’t opened yet) was one of the tainted ones, and she told me to discard it immediately.

She took down my name and address and told me that within two weeks I will be receiving a voucher for a free package of salad. Well, that’s nice, I guess.

But it does make me wish I could grow my own vegetables.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Her Ladyship: In Your Face

Her Ladyship under my skirt. I held the camera toward myself for this one.

Her Ladyship under my skirt

This week’s Carnival of the Cats is at Lair’s.

The View from Hebrew U

Last week I went with a friend of mine on a walking tour of Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. The tour ended at the amphitheater, from which one can see the beginning of the Judean Desert, and on a very clear day even part of the Dead Sea. Here are two photographs I took there. (Click to enlarge.)

View from Hebrew University amphitheater

Another view from Hebrew U

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How to Lose Me as a Client

Last night I found an invitation to join a social network called Quechup in my in-box. Since the invitation came from someone I trusted, I thought, “Why not?” and joined.

I soon found out why not. To my dismay, this network started sending e-mails that were purportedly from me to contacts of mine, inviting them to join their network.

As soon as I found out what was going on, I deleted my account with them. I do not appreciate a hard sell. I appreciate even less any network that sends e-mails to my contacts in my name without my full knowledge and consent.

Yes, I realize that they might be able to argue that they had my consent. Didn’t I read the fine print when I signed up? It says right here in Paragraph 397.2 that they have the right to blah, blah, blah. Nope, doesn’t wash with me. Nothing—but nothing—gives any organization the right to send out automatic e-mails in my name to my contacts or to anyone else. Do that and I’m gone, and I’ll never come back.

So much for Quechup. Goodbye and good riddance.