Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday, gloomy Sunday

Things to do on a Sunday afternoon when your mood matches the gray November weather:

  • Wrap yourself in a wool shawl.
  • Turn football on, then turn it off because you don't care about the teams. Repeat every 10 minutes.
  • Drink a cup of tea.
  • Read design magazines.
  • Pay bills.
  • Eat half a bag of chocolate chips. Whoops, they are white chocolate, which means they don't contain whatever in chocolate is supposed to be good for your mood.
  • Go online to check the temperature outdoors in case it's actually sunny and warm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Student takeover of Wheeler Hall

I just saw on the news that, continuing the university's long tradition of protest, UC Berkeley students have taken over Wheeler Hall.

The news reports that their demands are that the laid-off custodial staff be rehired and that the protestors receive amnesty for taking over Wheeler Hall. Whew -- if it hadn't been for the janitors, these students would be just protesting to demand amnesty for their protest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blue hand group

I read somewhere that to get paint off your hands you should use vegetable oil. I think it is just a way to reduce the pain as you try to scrape the paint-infused top layer of skin off your hands with your fingernails.

I just finished my bathroom painting project! All that is left is hammering the top of the can and taking off the tape. I'm taking a brief break because now that my hands are only spattered, rather than covered, with blue, I want to feel clean for a few minutes before I walk into the bathroom and find paint all over myself again.

What is it with this color: Benjamin Moore's Slate Teal? It's a magnificent color, the color I dreamed of painting this bathroom even before I bought this place. I finally found it. And it caused me to lose my mind or something. I am pretty experienced at painting my walls now: I've painted 24, by my count, since I moved in (some of those are the same walls twice). Seven of those are other bathrooms' walls. I always use crazy saturated colors, so one in the blue realm should not have been a stretch for me.

But this color is somehow out of control. On this project, which has taken me a surprising three days (no other room has taken more than one), I have been klutzier than usual. It's like this paint has put me off balance. I've kicked over the can, tripped over the roller, whacked the brush against a door. At the same time, I spent a lot of time standing balanced on the sink painting behind the light fixture (which was swathed in plastic wrap) -- with the voice of my grandmother in my head screaming that I was going to fall and kill myself.

I didn't even paint the room in a methodical way, which is one reason it took extra days. I would get irritated at how the paint was not covering a wall well (two coats required), so I'd move to a different part of the room; I'd get tired of standing on a stepladder so move to a different section.... It was so haphazard, I am pretty sure I have ended up doing three coats.

Oh, look, teal paint on my forearm. I am sure it will transfer to this white MacBook any second.

The bathroom is breathtaking.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Three hands

With lots of kids around me, I'm always holding someone's little hand. Crossing the street is a treat for me, and I keep wondering how long my niece is going to let me take her hand to do it. Sadly, we grow out of holding hands.

Which means that the weekend has been particularly special, as my hands seem to have become activated, turned on, ignited. In one short day I had three different handholding experiences not with children but with three different adults.

- Hands held in affection
- Hands held to say, "Don't leave, I'll be right with you"
- Hands held to warm another's up.

Right before the last, I was holding R's knitting, showing her how to cast off, and even while showing her just two stitches my hands felt so alive. It's hard to describe -- it's a heart chakra thing -- but when I am living through my hands I am often living at my fullest.

Later in the day, I was sitting on the floor with a happy one-year-old, and she looked at me like she wanted to take my plate. I said to her, "You can't take my plate, but you can take my hand, and I'll help you stand up," and she gave me a look that said, "OK." I put out my hand; she grabbed it and popped up and merrily toddled away.

There is so much caring and connection that comes through the hands.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Torah study: VaYera

My favorite moment from Torah study this morning occurred when we were hanging out afterward drinking coffee. D. was really annoyed at the God in this week's portion, who does things like enabling the exile and almost death of Ishmael, telling Abraham to kill Isaac, and destroying Sodom and Gemorrah even though there were probably good people there. "Isn't God supposed to be about forgiveness?" D. asked. Together, 70-year-old M. and I looked at him and, in a tone that implied "you're crazy," said, "No."

I gently suggested to yeshiva-trained D. that his ideas about forgiveness and turn-the-other-cheek stuff come from a different religion. Sure, we have Yom Kippur, when we atone for our sins, but that's about ourselves, not others. While I'm certain there is something somewhere about forgiveness in the Torah, it's not one of the ten commandments, it's not a mitzvah, and it's not part of the endless dietary and cleanliness laws. To have God be forgiving, to have God say that we have to be forgiving of others, and then for us to obey is too easy. To me, it is better that this petulant, vindictive, error-prone, laws-obsessed God is leaving room for us to choose how we all behave toward each other. Forgiving is something we do out of our own free will, not because we have been told to do so.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mmmm ... cured meat.....

I'm on another cured meat kick. A while ago, it was prosciutto: I ate it with my fingers, I cooked with it, I couldn't get enough of it. Kind of an expensive habit. Now I'm on to salumi, which I think sounds pretentious, so I say, "salami-like things."

For lunch today, I had my Fra' Mani sopressata and Vermont cheddar sandwich. I eat this almost every day. I don't like sandwiches, generally, so when I find one I like that I can make at home and save myself some lunchtime angst and bucks, I do. This is an awesome sandwich. I don't know what sopressata is (I don't know if I want to know), but it's good. The Market Hall people sure know how to recommend salami-like things.

This evening I went to a friend's surprise birthday party at Adesso on Piedmont Avenue. Delightful to be returning to my old neighborhood, particularly to visit an eatery that I hadn't been to before. Adesso is new, in the new Il Piemonte building, a building I longed to live in because of its Piedmont location and palazzo exterior, but I didn't like it enough.

I did not know this until I got there: Adesso is a salumi bar. I opened the menu and saw more salumi-like things listed than I could count (the reviews say that there are more than 30). And I was there with a great group of people who like salumi as much as I do. We were pleasantly overwhelmed at the selection. So we ordered a chef's salumi platter, some cheeses -- and the cheeses were superb and a superb mix (and I am a cheesie) -- and then some panini, which also involved cured meats. The sausage panino was to die for. We were in heaven. And then they brought out the Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip birthday cake, and we all got quiet as we ate it, focusing intently on the exquisiteness of our individual nostalgia trips.

As Joey would say, here come the meat sweats.