November 19, 2007


My gorgeous amazing Chilean-born friend and former neighbor in Atlanta is a five-year survivor of ovarian cancer. Today, at age 72, she updates me (from across town) in her signature Spanglish, which I adore —
I have been worry about my healt. My last test show somethink that could be serious, so I will have to get another one (Pet CT) in a few weeks more, until then I am not going to be sure if I have metastasis and probably a new treatment. I am very concern and nervous. I miss you, I love you. HAPPY THANKSGIVEN.

Curiously, my friend's misspelled valediction bears a profound message: THANKSGIVEN. Or, giving thanks for what has already been given.

Just days before this most glorious of American holiday traditions — giving thanks in a national, coordinated way across the ridiculous artificial divides we humans create, I celebrate my friend and her attitude of gratitude. And, I celebrate all life by giving thanks for all that has been given. (Celebrating this all business, admittedly, can be mighty challenging, often requiring a perspective informed by a few dozen millennia...).

So, what are you THANKSGIVEN for?

I am humbly thanksgiven for security guards... who save lives (while often sacrificing their own). Here's why.

On Thanksgiving Day, we fourteen celebrants around Janet's and Brian's table took turns sharing memories of Thanksgivings past. My memory was of last year, in Tel Aviv, where, days before Thanksgiving, our hostess rode the train (choo-choo, not subway) to a farm where she purchased a freshly killed turkey. She then boarded the train back to Tel Aviv, though not before security guards (not only at airports in Israel...) demanded to know, why the bird?

It is not beyond imagination that a twisted mind would seek to detonate a bomb-stuffed turkey, blowing up self, bird, train passengers, and more. A non-cheery thought, especially on Thanksgiving, though we guests found the security check report entertaining. Where death, really annihilation, is a constant threat, you develop a taste for gallows humor and find laughter value in turkeys questioned at the border between a railroad station and just steps before entering it.

November 11, 2007

My grandmother's amber pin. Snow in Vienna and Jerusalem. (Yes, the subjects connect.)

Wearing my grandmother's amber pin
while embracing fabulous cousin Anat
at her family home in Jerusalem's Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood

In his recent email, Vienna-based world traveler Stefan wrote, "We are on the way to Denmark on Sunday," to which I replied, "I have a magnificent amber pin (photo attached) that my maternal grandfather gave my grandmother when they lived in Copenhagen."

On Nov 11, 2007, at 1:57 PM, Stefan Schaden wrote:
Great amber pin! :)) Go and see Copenhagen (if you did not)! Wonderful city, modern, progressive. I can easily imagine living there! So interesting your cosmopolitan family [SNIP].

First snow in Vienna this morning, by now everything is gone, but you have pics attached.

shavua tov!

Stefan (who guest-blogged an Urgent Message on Austria's "sick people") wrote, "interesting your cosmopolitan family!" Yet I consider him family, too. While bloodline is one way to be family, and marriage confers family status, we also have family of choice: the one we populate with people we claim and who claim us.

On Nov 11, 2007, at 5:39 PM, Tamar Orvell wrote:
After I visit you in Vienna (this year?) and when you move to Copenhagen, I will visit you there, too. Your snow report reminds me of snows we trudged through together in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem snows
Stefan and I trudged through Hulda Hanevi-ah Street
and others in Jerusalem's Musrara neighborhood

Snow formed down quilts
blanketing roofs, balconies, and wrought-iron work

In the central-heat-free stone residence, I wondered,
"What about Stefan's pate? Will it freeze?"