Monday, July 31, 2006

When Speech Leaves Me Speechless (in a good way)

Thanks to Harassed Mommy for this link:

This is a part of a larger discussion (?) featuring Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan, who is impressive to watch (and listen to). I'm not sure that I agree with all of it, but I love the her statement, "Brother, you can believe in stones as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern."

She identifies herself as a secular human being, not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. But she has some awesome things to say about Jews, and some common sense things to say about terrorism in the name of Islam.

In these last few days before Tisha b'Av, I ponder again why we Jews can't also believe in our own stones [interpretations of Halacha] without throwing them at each other?

Hey! A Writing-Related Post!

Interested in reading some short stories from brave contributors who are willing to share their fiction with the blogosphere? Hop on over to Storytellers and check it out.

Lest you think this is a shameless self-promotion, none of my work is there. But I have enjoyed what is posted, and it's a fun site for the reader and writer in all of us.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Few Hours of Human Kindness

Background fact you need to know: it's about 96 degrees Fahrenheit here with humidity above 70%. This results in a heat index (how hot it feels) of somewhere around 105 degrees F.

And now for what happened.

We were driving home in the early afternoon when I spotted a small dog under a tree by the side of the road, just a block away from our house. The way the dog was sitting, something just seemed "off." And in this heat, no dog could survive for long without water. I encouraged Husby to go back and stop.

The dog turned out to be a puppy, about 3 months old, and obviously dehydrated. No collar, no tags. He wouldn't put weight on his hind legs, but there were no obvious signs of injury or other distress. We thought perhaps he was simply too weak.

We brought him home and helped him to cool off gradually, so as to avoid shock. We gave him water, which he drank thirstily. Husby ran off to the store to pick up a bag of puppy food. Our two cats and two boys were very curious about this newcomer who lay in a tired heap on our kitchen floor.

We called the vet but the office was closed, and we figured we'd watch the pup to see if his symptoms changed at all. He fell asleep for about half an hour, then woke and seemed curious. Husby picked him up and the puppy curled up and snuggled in his arms. Husby and I wondered sadly if the puppy had been abandoned.

I took the opportunity to shoot a few photos while the puppy slept. Here's my favorite:

Not long after this, we noticed a swelling on the puppy's abdomen, in front of his hind legs, which he still wasn't using. Husby carted the puppy off to the emergency pet hospital, where they gave the puppy an exam and a series of x-rays.

And then confirmed our worst fears.

The puppy had apparently been hit by a car, badly enough to rupture his abdominal wall. There was no way the puppy could use his hind legs, so the driver of the vehicle must have stopped long enough to move the puppy to the side of the road where the driver left him to die in the heat.

According to the vet, surgery on a ruptured abdominal wall, after the intestines have started spilling into the abdominal cavity, is risky at best with a very poor prognosis for recovery. There was no solution except to have the puppy put to sleep.

The puppy was only in our lives for a few hours, but I can't stop thinking about him and wondering if there was a reason he was in our lives beyond his need for humane treatment. I'm saddened by the loss, thinking about what might have been if the puppy had survived, and thinking about death and loss and grief in general.

Meanwhile, the boys are asking if we can get a dog, Husby's all for it, and for the first time, I'm thinking about not saying no.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Send the IDF a Hug

Since we can't all hop on a plane and go to Israel to help fight (and the IDF probably doesn't want that, anyway, I'm just guessing), you can send an electronic "hug" and chocolate to the Israeli soldiers courageously defending Israel for all of us. The URL is here:

You write the message of support. The sponsoring organization will send the chocolate.

And, G-d willing, may this war end soon with no more loss of innocent life.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Is It Burnout or Sleep Deprivation? On Books and Babies

Shabbat has ended and the house is quiet.

The boys are asleep. Husby has left to meet with some coworkers for drinks (not all alcholic beverages) at the local Applebees and explore this thing called a Social Life.

I was thinking all day that I wanted to spend this post-Shabbat alone time working on As in Days of Old. I'd picked it up again Friday morning and made some progress, and I thought this would be a perfect time to continue.

But I'm so tired I can barely think.

Tomorrow is full of previous commitments. I'm signing over Treasurer duties for our local MOMS Club at the bank in the morning (thankfully this bank has Sunday hours). The boys have swimming lessons at the local JCC. And then we're attending a friend's 4th birthday party.

I don't think there'll be much time for writing. Now's the time. Now!


I've been spending my working time this past week on Yaldah Publishing work, getting Like a Maccabee out to book reviewers. I still want to start a series on the Yaldah blog on how Maccabee went from manuscript to book. But if there's any hope at all of As in Days of Old being released in 2007, I have to actually finish the thing and get it to beta readers by or before the end of the calendar year so I can start the publishing process all over again next year.

Oh, and I haven't mentioned it yet, but we're trying for another baby, G-d willing (not while I'm typing this, though). And I worry about trying to maintain work hours, even though I work from home - or maybe especially because I work from home, with a newborn around.

Destined to Choose went through its final round of editing when I was 9 months pregnant with Youngest Son and I had visions of promoting it and arranging book signings around his (frequent) naps and drawing on unending energy fueled by maternal bliss.

Yeah. Right. Uh huh.

As you can guess, it didn't happen that way. I've half-joked that I'm not sure if I should try to plan a baby around a book release or plan a book release around a baby. Clearly, I have more control over one than the other.

But there are some time restrictions on the book release. As in Days of Old takes place against the backdrop of Chanukah and an unusually cold Minnesota winter (taken directly from the weather archives of Wunderground for the year in which I'm basing this novel). So the release should be in time for Chanukah and the holiday buying season.

We'll see. It took four years to conceive Oldest Son (long, painful story that I don't want to get into tonight - dark, lonely house and all that), yet only a month to conceive Youngest Son. This time, we've been trying for four months, and I'm reminding myself that Husby and I are partners with G-d on this, and it's not on our (human) timeline when or if this should happen. But I hope it does, G-d willing. I feel this inexplicable gnawing that our family is not yet complete. I'm not getting any younger and I don't want to go through life regretting not trying.

Meanwhile, the book remains unfinished and I sit here rambling on my blog and feeling incredibly tired and waiting until Husby gets home before I can sleep peacefully.

Maybe I'll throw myself a pity party instead. With lots of chocolate. Must have chocolate for a good pity party. But that means I would have to get up. I don't want to get up. Maybe I'll just sit here and write instead...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Postville, The Forward, and Action - Part IV

Kashrut = Politics.

I've come to that quick and definitive conclusion, especially after reading the latest in the saga concerning AgriProcessors. And this time, the problem has nothing to do with the internal workings of AgriProcessors, and everything to do with the internal workings of the Twin Cities, MN kosher meat organization.

There are Jews here who are in a financial situation where glatt kosher meat is simply cost prohibitive, yet they could afford non-glatt meat - were it available here. And the fact that getting non-glatt meat for those here who will eat it is proving to be more difficult than cleaning for Passover in under 24 hours has meant that there are Jews who are having to make the difficult decision to simply not keep kosher anymore.

To me, it seems perfectly clear: non-glatt meat is still kosher. And isn't it better that Jews (no matter what movement they affiliate with) eat kosher non-glatt meat than non-kosher meat?

I'm concerned that this situation, should it turn out that the Twin Cities distributor has actively prevented the sale of non-glatt meat in St. Paul, will create an environment of anger and distrust between the St. Paul Conservative and Orthodox communities. We have an unusual community, that up until now, has seen wonderful joint actions between the Conservative and Orthodox, and I would hate to see that end because a handful of people thought they had the right to impose their interpretation of kashrut on everyone else.

No matter what the cause for the inability to order non-glatt kosher meat, this all is making it even harder for most of us - who are not rich by any means - to continue to keep kosher.

Lately, our family has taken to eating a lot of vegetarian meals, but that's not always a choice for all families, especially when allergies are involved. And when non-glatt kosher meat is there for the ordering, we shouldn't be forced to choose between glatt meat that we can't afford and no meat at all.

Legit Poll on Israel/Lebanon War or Creating a New War?

I received an e-mail today asking me to participate in a poll CNN is conducting about whether or not Israel's actions against Lebanon are justified.

My first thought is that whoever is asking the question (and remember, this is CNN) is looking for another opportunity to create controversy and divisiveness. It seems to be working.

At the same time, I dislike seeing a poll that shows an ever-increasing majority of poll-takers (not to be confused with an accurate representation of the public) consider Israel's actions not justified. I dislike that this poll will likely be used to fan anti-Israel, and eventually probably anti-Jewish rhetoric. I dislike that some people will consider this poll "scientific" and quote it as such (it's not, by the way, and CNN acknowledges it in fine print).

So I voted.

Here's the text of the e-mail:

CNN is holding a vote online to determine if people believe that Israel's actions are just or unjust. Last night, the vote was strongly in Israel's favor...this morning, the gap was closing. Tonight, the vote is swinging against Israel. Some of us share political views, some of us have different points ofview. But regarding Israel, from the comfort of our homes, who are we to say that Israel was unjustified in her response? Israel, our homeland, needs our solidarity and support in this time ofstruggle.......not our second guessing and judgment of her motives. How important is the CNN vote? Critics of Israel are always lookingfor any "validation" that shows Israel in a negative light. Please....take a minute and vote and stand with Israel in this struggle for her security. Please pass this along to everyone on your list.

Thank you.........................
1. The web address is here.
2. It takes 2 seconds for vote that Israel's actions ARE justified
3. Do the right thing. vote YES.


***end e-mail***

Monday, July 17, 2006

War Updates

I'm supposed to be working, but all I can think about is the war. If you're in the same boat, and if you haven't already visited this link, you can check out multiple bloggers in Israel who are live-blogging the war:

Meanwhile, I continue to wear my kippah (see post below) and pray for safety and peace in Israel and for all innocent civilians.

And I probably should get back to work.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Shadowed by Bad Timing

I've been thinking a lot lately about blogging, about what my blog could be, what I want it to be.

I've been thinking about those posts that are in various stages of completion:

  • Part 2 of Toward a Jewish Identity (in which I decide to cover my hair), and Part 3 (in which I stop, still grateful for that profound experience);
  • On my experience as a kippah-wearing woman in a mid-sized American city, the questions that result from curious strangers, and the one inquiry that left me speechless;
  • Religiosity as a fire: getting burned (out) when it flares and keeping it going when it's barely smoldering - and why do I have to bounce between the two extremes?
  • And in the book world, I've decided it would be fun and interesting for readers (and hopefully for me) to start a series on my Yaldah Publishing blog detailing (but not too much) the process of taking a book from manuscript to published book - the inside story on how Like a Maccabee came to be.

But then there was war.

I'm shocked and scared and angry and feeling more than a little helpless. Everything in my life pales in comparison (as it probably should). Yet I also am driven to finish As in Days of Old, to pursue what may otherwise seem mundane, and to keep my concern from carrying over to my children.

I wonder if Oldest Son (5), who loves to wear a kippah all day, and Youngest Son, who likes to emulate Oldest Son, and Husby and I, also kippah-topped, are now in any greater danger locally from anyone anti-Israel or otherwise prone to violence against visible Jews.

I wonder if it is better to be safe and remove the kippot for now (please G-d, shelter Israel in safety and make it possible for peace to flourish soon, in our day), or wear them especially now as a show of solildarity.

At any rate, I think I will wait a bit on the blog posts in progress, and perhaps launch the inside story of the birth of a book in a few days to a week.

Meanwhile, I work and wait and pray.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Strange Searches

I was a little surprised to see so many people found there way here from Google, so I dug around a bit to find out what they were searching for, that they should wind up on my blog.

Here are the most interesting search terms:

hadassah magazine
Okay, this makes sense, as I did post about my book being in the magazine.

morris allen agriprocessors
All I can say is "Yay! People are paying attention! People want to know! Keep it going!"

Me too.

percocet stay awake
Definitely not me.

kosher taco bell
I'm guessing they found my entry on the Taco Bell Bigot. I wonder what they thought, or if it answered any of their questions. (Probably not.)

haman the evil pm of persia

4 beliefs of the lavan
No clue.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Postville, The Forward, and Action - Part IIA - An Update

There's an annoying registration box JTA wants you to fill out to continue the story, but if you click on the printer icon, it'll open a new window with the complete story and you can ignore the annoying registration if you wish.

So... Are we paying attention to this?

If we claim that kashrut is so important to being Jewish (at least in Conservative and Orthodox circles), shouldn't we be paying more attention?

Are politics really more important than kashrut?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fifteen Years and Going Strong

Tomorrow, Husby and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We've been together as a couple for 20 years now, and no, we're not that old!

We met in the last months of high school; in fact, we met because I went to the Senior Prom with Husby's best friend. We started dating soon after, dated for a year before getting engaged, and then had a 4-year-long engagement.

I highly recommend this, by the way. We wanted to make a commitment to each other, to know that marriage was our goal, but neither of us were really emotionally or financially ready for marriage. We figured that it's far easier to break an engagement than get a divorce should the relationship, G-d forbid, not work out. In the interim, we both finished college, lived on our own, and got full-time jobs.

Now it's 15 years later and we're still going strong. Still acting like newlyweds in some ways, yet with the maturity and experience of the dreaded "old married couple." It's a very nice mix.

And most importantly, I recognize how incredily blessed I am to have Husby in my life. Not only does he put the toilet seat down and help around the house, he's great with the kids, he cooks (he's awesome in the kitchen!) and cleans and does laundry, he rubs my feet and likes to paint my toenails, and in just so many ways is my best friend. I couldn't have asked for better.

And now back to work...