Sunday, 17 October 2021

Soggy Sundays

    Every Sunday I sit down and write a letter to my 100 year old mother.  There isn’t always a lot to write  about because there isn’t a lot going on around here, so I often end up with a paragraph mentioning what our weather is doing somewhere in the letter.  Strangely, for weeks and weeks now it seems like every time I mention the weather, I have to report that it is either raining or showering.  Well that is not the case today, because today it is neither showering or raining--instead it is snowing.  (It did rain hard all night however, then slowly turned into snow around 6:30 AM.)

    I find it strange how often precipitation does seem to always occur on the same day of the week.  In the summer of 2020, when we began to have our music jam outside on the McBride Train Station porch, it seemed to rain or shower every Tuesday, the night of our Jam.  Fortunately, his summer on our outside Jam, it seemed to be sunny and warm every Tuesday, which was a welcome change.

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Friday, 15 October 2021

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman


Deborah Feldman grew up in a closed Hasidic community in New York, and was basically raised by her Jewish Orthodox grandparents after her mother left the marriage.   Deborah’s father came from a wealthy Jewish family, but he had a very low IQ and developmental problems.   His family was under great traditional pressure to marry him off, because as the oldest, he had to marry before his younger siblings could.  

Her mother grew up in Great Britain, in a poor Jewish family and didn’t have any prospects for a “good” marriage until they were approached by Deborah’s father’s family.  They married and had Deborah, but after the marriage her mother felt trapped in a loveless marriage and resentment from her in-laws, who had been so kind before the wedding, She left the marriage and had to leave Deborah behind.

Deborah was never comfortable, or felt like she was a part of the strict rigid confines of the cloistered Hasidic community where she grew up.  There were strict rules about everything, especially for females.  Her curiosity made her a secret rebel who would sneak into public libraries to get and and read English novels, something forbidden by her sect.  She had to hide the library books in her room.  

       She bought an English version of the Talmud, something women were forbidden to read, and after reading how King David, was actually a hypocrite and murderer and not the hero honored by her Hasidic sect, she began to privately question all the indoctrination and dogma she had experienced throughout all of her young life.  She recognized that the whole religion was basically set up for men; a women’s role was designed just to serve men and manufacture babies.

Her disillusionment increased when she turned 17 and was forced into an arranged marriage.  She was only able to meet her intended husband for only 30 minutes beforehand and then had to keep her head down.  The marriage thrust her into all kind of bizarre customs and traditions.  There were rules about everything.  Women had to cut off all of their hair, then wear wigs.  During their menstrual cycle they had to avoid touching their husbands and had go to a religious bathhouse to bathe and be deemed “clean” when it ended.  It seemed that every aspect of her life was closely observed.  Husbands, like her husband who studied the Talmud and were considered scholars, had sex on Fridays.

Her marriage was a disaster beginning on their Honeymoon night.  Neither she or her husband really knew what to do and she seemed to have some kind of anatomical problem, which meant weeks of doctor consultations.  After months spent correcting the problem, which was caused by stress and extreme anxiety, her first real “consummation” of the marriage resulted in her getting pregnant, which meant more doctor appointments and a frustrated husband.

She quickly got fed up with her husbands’s attitude and lost any love she had started to develop for him, especially after he put off taking her to the hospital because of a  Jewish religious day, even though she was experiencing a medical emergency.  Upon finally getting to the hospital, she was immediately given drugs to prompt the birth because of the danger she was in.  

Deborah at this point a new mother, had had enough of her religion and her marriage.  She didn’t want to accept a woman’s role as a baby machine.  She secretly took some writing classes at Sarah Lawrence College, escaped with her infant son and divorced her husband.  It was a complete break from her previous life.  She had to abandon her family and the Hasidic community where she had spent her whole life. She dumped her long dresses and wigs, and began a new life, wearing jeans, sporting her own hair, listening to music, and at the age of 22 wrote this novel.

I, like most others who have read Unorthodox, found it to be a fascinating glimpse into the fundamentalist Jewish Cult where Deborah suffered under all kinds of ridiculous and strict rules.  I have great respect for people like her who have had courage enough to think independently, and are willing to sacrifice their whole past, for their principles.

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Thursday, 14 October 2021

Reflections on Still Water

    We had an unexpected beautiful day yesterday.  The the weather was mild, the sun was shining, and there was no wind.  When we walked the path around the pond, I was struck by the mirror like surface of the water.  It intensified the blue of the sky and there were still enough colored leaves to make some interesting photos.

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Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Slim Pickin's

    Our crab apple tree has small “apples,” about the size of grapes.  They are very hard and bitter so we don’t use them at all, but the birds sure do.  Already this year robins and grouse have already had their way with the crab apples and have eaten the bulk of them, but there are still a few scattered around on the ground.  

    That was good news for this Varied Thrush, a robin-looking bird, that wears fancier dress.  It has been out in the yard picking up the crab apples are left.  Although the Varied Thrush live around here during the summer, they seem content to spend their time deeper in the forests so I rarely see them except for in the Spring and Fall.

    I always thought their call resembled the ringing of a distant telephone, and when we first moved to McBride, I would often be working outside and hear the thrush and think it was the phone ringing in the house, so I would stop what I would I was working on and go in the house to answer the phone.  It took a while for me to figure out what was going on.

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Tuesday, 12 October 2021

A Memorable Thanksgiving

    Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving, and we had a memorable one.  The day started out with 2 inches of snow on the ground, but by noon that had melted away and the clouds opened up. (I took this photo at the McBride airfield, where we walked Kona). 

    The big event of the day was a Thanksgiving gathering and feast with friends, something we hadn’t been able to do for over a year and a half, because of the Covid restrictions.  It was so nice to once again gather around a big table covered with food, and to be able to engage with friends as we ate the bounty they produced in their garden.  It was a wonderful return to the socializing we had been so long without. 

    The food was almost entirely locally produced, most of which, by the serious gardeners who sat with us around the table.  I was amazed by the size and quality of the tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cabbages the were devoured.  The chicken was the size of a small turkey, and delicious.  The feast was topped off with a tasty almond tart (below) created my talented wife had made.  The leisurely meal was accompanied by the conversation of friends who had too long been apart.

    On our drive home we discovered an aurora in the sky, something else we had not experienced for a really long time (probably decades).  It was not the most spectacular one I have ever seen, it was faint and broad rather than bright and defined, but still it was nice to see again.  We saw a STEVE, a long linear, newly discovered, visual object that sometimes accompanies an aurora, it was something we have never seen before.  I tried to take some photos, but unfortunately, they were all miserable failures. 

    Seeing the aurora was a nice end to a really wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Monday, 11 October 2021

Overnight Snow

    They say a change is as good as a vacation, but last night we had a big change in how everything outside looked after a 2 inch (5 cm) snowfall, and it sure doesn’t feel like a vacation.  There are still so many things that need to be done outside before winter moves in.

    I took this photo of the front of our house this morning and I thought it showed an interesting contrast:  The Nasturtiums are still blooming in the window boxes, while the Honeysuckle bush is covered with snow.

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

White Stuff Falling From The Sky

    I’m not sure how well this is showing up on the photo, but we are getting some snow.  It really can’t decide if it wants to rain or snow, so it keeps switching back and forth.  I don’t think there is any danger in any of the snow sticking to the ground, but I am still going to consider this our first snowfall of the year.  

    In the photo you can see about half of the firewood I have stacked.  It should be more than enough to get us through winter, although I always get nervous if we get a severe cold spell and start going through the wood rapidly.  

    As I write this, the snow has now stopped and there is just a few raindrops falling.  It’s pretty changeable out there today.

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