Tuesday, 28 December 2010

We came home to the welcome scent of lilies. (Mark)


I woke up yesterday to the embrace of my Beloved.  Slowly opening my eyes, I looked into the beautiful face of Laini and wished I could stay there all day.  Alas, I knew I had to arise and start my day, so I got up, took a shower, and said my prayers.  Before we went downstairs, we looked outside to see how it looked after the snow finally stopped.

  We were greeted to a holiday greeting card picture.  The snow covered the trees and laid on the ground and buildings in an unspoiled blanket of white.  After taking in the beauty, I started moving the luggage down to the car…it’s amazing: we only left for three days, and yet our luggage filled up the back seat of Princess (our car)!  Where did we get all of this baggage?  Did it reproduce?  Did we have luggage babies?  After we had breakfast of home fries, mixed fruit, and coffee, we began our trip back to Norfolk.  It was a nice drive – the highway was clear until we reached the exit for Norfolk, and that is when we hit the ice and snow that had not been cleared yet. 

Driving through Norfolk was treacherous as there were huge patches of ice – talk about nerve racking.  We headed to Starbuck’s for our usual drink: Peppermint Mocha Latte made with whole milk and an extra shot of espresso and an extra pump of Peppermint.  We also got a treat and sat in the seating area, drinking our drinks and munching on our Gingerbread Loaf.  We chitchatted for a little while about the weekend and generally enjoyed each other’s company before we headed home to what we envisioned was a cold apartment.  We then headed home, driving through snow and ice until we finally made it to our driveway and parked in our parking area.  After parking we headed up the stairs to our apartment.  We touched the mezuzah and turned the key.  I was greeted to a sweet, heavy smell that filled my nostrils and enticed my senses…  It was the lilies I had bought for my Beloved before we left.  The apartment was surprisingly warm, and I felt a sense of "I'm home."  I loved the weekend in Williamsburg, but now it's so good to be back home with my
Beloved.  

A Jew With A View: Snow Days

A Jew With A View: Snow Days
More pictures from Williamsburg.

Snow Days

Boker Tov;
It is our first  morning back home since the snow came. But if I had to get struck in a snowstorm, I can't think of a better place than a lovely hotel with my beloved.
To our surprise and delight, the roads were pretty clear from Williamsburg to Norfolk. As you can see, the road felt like we were driving through a Winter WonderLand. I kept expecting little snow fairies to popout at any moment.
Reaching Norfolk, we found the roads patchy with ice and snow, so we had to take care as drove. The few folks out and about were also careful.
We were back home in about two and a half hours, which wasn't too bad.
We made a stop at Starbucks (Marty, I have a picture for you) for Peppermint mochas. I was telling Mark this new snowstorm reminded me of the one I flew back into last Januray from Montana. 
If you remember, I spend almost a month in Montana and two nights before I returned home, Virginia was hit with snow. Interesting that we began the year and now end it with snow.
After making friends with two black greyhounds, a brother and sister named Roger and FeeFee,  we headed home and found to our delight that the heat had been on and the apartment was comfortable. It stayed that way most of the day and into the night.
Ah to be home again! Mark had brought me flowers a few days before we went away and when we came back, I found the liles had opened and the house was scented with the heavenly scent of lilies.
The scent of love.
I worked on my hebrew and after finishing the leftover chicken soup, Mark finished reading A Christmas Carol.
He had never read the book before and this was a treat. We had many long talks about the novel.
Now, this morning, we are enjoying a cup of coffee and listening to Fox News. So many people are still in airports, trying to get home. Cites like Boston and New York closed because of the snowstorms. How bless we are to be in our home. While the heat isn't the best, there is some. We have the comfort of our own bed.
O the things we take for granted.

Monday, 27 December 2010

We're On Our Way Home

So after one more wonderful night in Williamsburg, we are on our way home.
It usually takes about an hour to get home, but in this weather, it might take all day. It shall be a slow going, but that's ok. We have the Torah and Psalms of CD to play.
And of course we can talk.
I enjoy talking with Mark. He is such an interesting man. A hebrew sholar who is also a soldier and science teacher. Makes for some interesting discussions.
Our snowball yesterday was brief, for we found Laini needed longjohns. We weren't thinking snow, so we didn't pack for it. 
Good we did wear boots, however.
 So off to Wal-Mart we went. I found two pairs to go with the three I have at home. The store, of course was packed.
After x-mas shopping you know.
After a wonderful supper of streak and baked pototoe, we headed upstairs, to settle in for the evening. The snow was still falling, so soft and whie, so peaceful. Everything looked so fresh, clean and renewed.
We stood at our hotel window, each with a cup of hot coco and watched the snowfall.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Jew With A View: Pictures From Williamsburg

A Jew With A View: Pictures From Williamsburg

Shalom:
Mark and I decided to spend the holidays in Williamsburg. It is one of the traditions we have created; holidays in Williamsburg.
It has been a wonderful time.
We visited a Snygague in Richmond, the sky showing signs of snow caming. Later that afternoon like most Jews, we had chinese food, since it is the only thing open. And then after a supper of roast chicken and dressing, we came upstairs where we are still reading A Christmas Carol.
When we arrived to our room, we saw that a lovely blanket of snow was covering the ground. The news said it would snow all night.
So this morning, we found that six inches of snow had falled and it was still snowing.
Outside our window laid a breathtaking scene. So I picked up my cameria and took several pictures. They came out so nice that we plan to use them for holiday cards next year.
So now, having enjoyed a cup of hot coco, Mark and I are going out to build a snowman.
Another memory in the making.
And yes, I have my cameria.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Just Plain Cold.

Boker Tov:
This has to be one of the coldest Demember's in Virginia. I know it is mostly like the second or third since I'd lived here. We awake to find the windows frozen over and hurrying to make coffee.
It's just plain cold.
Adding to the problem is the apartment itself is cold.
We have a small heater in the bedroom we use at night. In the morning, we have to close the bedroom door, and turn on the heaters in the dinningroom and the livingroom to warm up these rooms that we use during the day. We have to let the water run about ten minutes for the water to heat up and wear longjohns under our clothing.
You would think we were living in a low income apartment or Windsor Castle. At least Windsor has fireplaces in evey room.
Sadly, we live in a building where there is an ongoing fight of the landlord complaining about the heating bills and tenates who are copmlaining about their cats having to heat up their Little Friskies before they eat it.
We live in a wonderful old building that has been allow to become rundown. Better to sell the building to people who would truly take care of it.
I know that it is a novel concept, but how you care for what you have been given, even the people in your life, is a reflection of the person you are, the condition of your soul.
If you treat every one and every thing like a precious gift, then you have a soul of gold.
But if you threat your belonings, the people about you like crap...do I need to say more?
So as we look for a new home, we are looking for a house where the owner put in much love and care into it. Where the precious memories of those who lived here linger long after the family moves out and blends in with yours.
That no matter how cold it is outside, it is as warm as toast inside.
And that frankly is the only good thing about this apartment being cold.
More cuddle time with my beloved.
Back to househunting.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The First Snow

video
Boker Tov:
We are enjoying the first snow of  December 2010.
I am enjoying it because i don't have to go out into it.
Yet.
I am sticking to going for walks and unless the weather is really nasty, I am going for a brief walk this morning.
The crisp, semi-clean air shall do me good.
It is the different of the snow in Montanta. There the snow is clean and stays white for days.
And of course you can enjoy snow if you have to deal with it for a few weeks.
But Mark is happy. He loves snow.
And right now, anything that makes Mark happy, makes me happy.
I am looking out my study window, the snow still falling softly.
It is pretty.

In the livingroom I hear Mark practicing the Shabbat prayers. How I love to hear the chant of the prayers of our forefathers. I love to hear Mark chant the prayers, filling the morning air with the Holy Words. I sometimes stop typing just to listen. Why don't I join him? Because this is his time with the Holy One.
What really makes me smile is when I hear Mark say my name, bringing me to the Throne of G-d. There is nother like knowing, hearing your husband pray for you.
And while do we do pray with each other, it is important to pray for each other.
It was what got me through that time of hell was praying to G-d for my husband, asking for not only the strenght, but the wisdom to help my beloved.
Like snow, prayer is pure and clean, cleasing the air of that which is impure.
Ever notice how people stop what their doing, gather at the window and look outside when snow falls. They draw closer, visions of snowball fights and hot coco fill their heads. That people look up into the sky to see where the snowflakes is coming from.
Prayer is like that.
You know, I hope the snow does stick. I rather like the idea of having a snowball fight with Mark.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

It feels So Good to Smile Again!

I have to say that I enjoyed the quiet this morning.  It felt good to sleep in; I must have really been tired!  When I woke up, I felt refreshed and ready to take on the day.  I chanted, “Modeh Aini,” Hebrew prayer said first thing in the morning.  It translates:
I thank You, O living and enduring King of life.  For You watched over my soul with compassion and returned it to me in faithfulness.  Great is Your faithfulness.
I could feel my attitude changing from what I had been experiencing only two weeks ago for I suffered from depression.  No, I had allowed depression to overcome me.  Depression is such a cruel, enslaving disease.  It oppresses; it dominates; it causes people to not think, but to turn inward and focus on themselves.  Instead of focusing on those we love, we focus on ourselves.  We only see the world through our lens; we have trouble seeing ourselves as others see us.  Finally, with the help of my Beloved, I had decided and had started to turn away from depression and to turn towards thinking about life.  I have to say I am so glad that my Beloved never gave up on me and always found a way to fuss over me and encourage me.
Yesterday, I really enjoyed getting to meet with other like-minded believers.  It really uplifted my Beloved and me.  We finally felt like we are part of a group that accepts us as we are.
Again and again, my Beloved told me that others had been praying for us.  To them, I say, “Thank you.”  Please continue to pray for us that our G-d will give us the strength to endure and the wisdom to know the right way to walk.  And know that it feels so good to just smile again!

My Mark's Smile

Boker Tov:
It is a quiet morning in the Reel house.
Mark is sleeping in while I work on the blog.
I really try not to write when Mark is home. Not that he doesn't approve, but it takes time away from him. From us.
As wonderful as comptures are, they can take away from personal contact. Though we do like to flirt with each other on facebook.
We went to torah service yesterday and came back home to a cold house. So turning on the space heater, we took a long nap.
That evening we had leftover chicken soup and enjoyed just talking.
Hmmm, seems rather dull. But then, right now this is our life.
Quiet. Peaceful. Dull.
While eating, Mark spoke of how much he loved Shabbat, how much he loved being with me. Just being in my company.
I can see it in his eyes. That sense of peace is back.
Mark came home with a mild form of PTSD. We had been dealing with it since Mark returned, but the stresses of our life and knowing another deployment hangs over our heads, pushed him over the edge. At first I couldn't understand why we were fussying so much.
Then I realize the depression had coiled itself around my beloved and was slowly squeezing him to death.
The judgement of others didn't help and caused Mark to pull away from others even more.
It is hard to live with someone battling with depression. The feeling of helpness, of not knowing what to say or do, how much space to give, when to push and when just cry with them.
So many times I wanted to shake him, slap him, scream at him. At other times I just wanted to hold him and take away the pain.

Thankfully, going away to Williamsburg and now getting the help he needs was the breakthrough. That we needed. There were a few times I thought the disease would take my Mark.  But there was enough of a G-d sparkle in my beloved to keep him fighting for freedom of the depression.
So, my friends, this is what Mark and I have really gone through these past four months. We are so thankful for all of you who prayed for us all these months. For those who dare to sit and judge that which they did not know, I leave you in G-d's hand.
Just don't call our house.
Today, Mark and I plan to go see the Dawn Treader and  then see the new train display at our local mall. Chocolate is in order as well.
But most of all, I am looking forward to just seeing my beloved's smile.

It's a Reel Thing: A Christmas Carol Revisited

It's a Reel Thing: A Christmas Carol Revisited
From time to time I like to reread past post of my blogs, to seeing is I am truly growing and becoming what rabbi Mark Gulon calls a lovely human being. This is one of my flavorite.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pictures From Hanukkah

A plate of latkes, golden brown and yummy.
 The table is set with latkes (pototoe pancakes if your goy) beer-battered fish, sour cream and wine.
 Our little buddies enjoy the eight nights with us.
My first attend at making a Hanukkah villiage. I think it came out pretty good.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Ok, Where is The Snow?

Shalom:
It is late afternoon. Mark is running a few errands while I catch up on blogging.
As he walked out the door, a gust of cold air blew in.
It has been cold the past several days. I keep looking for snow.
Not because i want snow, but because it is cold enough.
Cold enough for hot cuddling underneath the blanket, slipping on hot coco, popcorn and watching back to back verisons of A Christmas Carol.

I rather like the way things have settled down in our lives. Mark is feeling so much better. I see improvements every day. It took some time for him to admit he suffered from PTSD, but once he admitted it and now getting the help he needs, there is calm in the house.
So now this last night of Hanukkah, we begin to look foward to the future. Of finding a home, starting a family and beginning to plan for the day Mark retires, which is a few years away.
In the meantime, I am keeping my eye out for the snow.
Maybe it will be enough for a snowball fight with my beloved.

Hanukkah, O Hanukkah

Boker Tov:
Tonight is the eight and last night of Hanukkah. Because of all Mark and I have gone through the past several months, we decided to keep it lowkey.
But it was needed. For this was a time of rest and shalom for my beloved and I.

I have been hearing the Hanukkah was early this year.
No. It came right on time. Hanukkah begins on the 25th of the hebrew month Kislev every year and this year was no different. It just didn't come around the same time as Christmas.
The reason.  Jewish festivals and commemoration begin on different Gregorian dates each year because they're set by a lunar-based Hebrew calendar adjusted to ensure certain ones fall during certain seasons.
For which I,  for one am glad. Often Hanukkah is seen as Christmas-Lite, or mini Christmas.
And it isn't. Frankly, camparing the two holidays cheapens them both.
Hanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because it often falls the same week of Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of the Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.

And while I love to decorate and the gift giving, the parties and of course the food, I sometimes think the true meaning of Hanukkah, along with Christmas, gets lost in the piles of white and blue gift wrapping.



The Story of Hanukkah.
It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and Israel, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.

More than a century later, a successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. Two groups opposed Antiochus: a basically nationalistic group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, and a religious traditionalist group known as the Chasidim, the forerunners of the Pharisees. They joined forces in a revolt against both the assimilation of the Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Seleucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.
According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.
Now if you notice, this holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory: Jews do not glorify war.

So on 25th Kislev and the next seven nights that follow, we reenact the miracle of the oil, by lighting a candle each night. It is traditional to eat fried foods on Hanukkah because of and, the significance of oil to the holiday. Among Ashkenazic Jews, this usually includes latkes (pronounced "lot-kuhs" or "lot-keys". Pronounced "potato pancakes" if you are a goy. In our house, this is fried fish, sweet pototoe latkes (a Sepherdic tradition) and cheese cake. Friends who are really family, and of course stories of hanukkah, both of past and our own.

This year, Mark and I have had our own battles. Mark battling PTSD, helping a sick friend and family drama. We have fought the assault of those who still cannot and/or will not accept who we are as Jews, the pressure to assimilate and be like everyone else. To take off the kippoh and the snood, letting the hair down and forgetting Who we belong to.
Hanukkah is not only known as the festival of lights and the festival of rededication, but the celebration of religious freedom. That a people was almost wiped out, not only by war, but by assimilation. That a small band rose up to to fight both and in doing so, saved not only the Jewish people, the faith we hold dear, but the whole world, then and now from total darkness.
This Hanukkah told on a whole new meaning for Mark and I. A cleaning out of our home, our souls, our marriage. A rededicating of ourselves to the G-d we love and worship, to each other, to our marriage. Of resetting the cornerstone of our faith, of our marriage. Cleaning, polishing the menorh so that our light would burn brighter.
And thrus the lights of Hankkah. Those eight little lights that pieace the darkness of this world.
 May they ever burn brightly in our home and in our hearts.