Jan. 6th, 2017 06:52 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So this year chanukah started on Christmas Eve. babble )
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
So I have ended up with a bit of extra leave for the end of the academic year, so I took a couple of days at the beginning of the week to extend the bank holiday weekend.

diary )

So anyway, that did me a lot of good, and required very little planning beyond putting in a request at work for a couple of days off.


Jun. 2nd, 2016 12:55 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
There's a midrash on the Mishnah which lists the deeds whose principal reward is in the world to come: ... visiting the sick, celebrating the bride, attending the dead, which says that if someone you love is seriously ill you should perform the mitzvah of celebrating a bride, as that is listed between sick and dead, so you kind of symbolically make more space between the two states. Two weeks ago roughly my grandmother moved on from being terminally ill to actively dying, and of course it was impossible for anyone to really predict just how urgently I needed to rush home.

During the week I had lots of responsibilities in the medical school it would have been really annoying to duck out of, though I'm sure I would have got permission if I'd asked. And at the weekend I had planned to go to a wedding with [personal profile] jack, so in the end I decided that I would go ahead with what I had intended to do anyway, and hope the timing would work out if I returned to my parents' place Sunday afternoon. So I travelled to Hastings late on Friday night (really annoying connection across London from Euston to Charing Cross, such that I ended up missing an hourly train by 30 seconds), and finally reached [personal profile] jack in a very quaint little B&B shaped like a brick castle. And in the morning we woke up and could hear and smell and see the sea, and that went a long way towards helping with being stressed and scared.

And the wedding itself was awesome, it involved an afternoon of folk dancing, mostly Morris dancing and related styles, at several locations along the sea front. It was really nice to be able to mingle with the other guests and watch the dancing and buy icecreams and chips and beer and it generally really chilled. In the evening we went indoors to a former church, St Mary in the Castle, a rather amazing venue set into the hillside. And there was more dancing, a mix of demonstrations and more participatory ceilidh dancing, and a pot-luck buffet, and some really touching speeches, and it was very much what a wedding should be, a gathering of friends and family who genuinely wanted to celebrate the couple.

some religious and some medical discussion about death )

Anyway, I feel a bit emotionally numb in some ways, I haven't really taken in the idea that Granny will continue not to be there in the coming weeks and months. But I do feel very confident that all my people will be here to take care of me and eachother.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
Well, today's LJ cross-post made it into the top 25 LJ posts. Which these days is hardly an achievement; according to the rather crude site stats LJ offers, that amounts to approximately 70 visitors. But anyway, while I have the attention of the last few dozen people still clinging to LJ, some publicity:

My amazing brother [ profile] angrysampoet has achieved a minor life ambition: he's playing The Junction in Cambridge. Headlining a Hammer & Tongue poetry slam on Friday 6th November. I really want to go, but I can't because there's no way I can get to a Friday evening gig five hours' travel away from where I'm teaching on Friday afternoon. So I'm telling you lot about it instead, I think a fair proportion of my circles live in or near Cambridge.

And my equally amazing baby sister, [ profile] berksonbakes, has set up a website for her bespoke gluten-free baking business. At least some of her cakes can be sent by post, so anyone in mainland Britain can order from her. And she really is doing bespoke stuff, she'll make four or six individual slices of cake, or she'll cater a whole event. She's pretty good at other dietary restrictions too, eg vegan, nut-free etc.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
My brother the poet has been involved in activism for and outreach work visiting the occupied territory of Western Sahara for some years now. His latest big project was bringing poems from the Saharawi bardic tradition to an English audience; he worked with interpreters who provided him with literal translations, which he then interpreted as poetry. And he's made them into a book alongside expert commentary and beautiful Arabic calligraphy illustrations by the senior translator and some original poetry.

I'm an academic, so I find it a bit strange that the first ever Saharawi poetry in English is coming out from a tiny little indie publisher and funded by a Kickstarter campaign, rather than being a scholarly work. But also admirable in the sense of trying to bypass the master's tools approach, it's somewhat less than it might be another incident of privileged people from former colonial powers continuing to profit from studying colonized peoples.

Anyway, it's a bit late to tell you about this, but in case anyone is free in London tonight, Sam is launching the book at a music and slam night this evening.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I was doing so well, managed to post every day up to Boxing Day, and then I fell off the wagon. It's for a good reason, though, cos I've been having the most amazing weekend celebrating my 36th birthday.

Saturday we had a party and lots of people I really like showed up, in spite of really horrendous transport doom in London. My sister (who wasn't present) made me 36 square pieces of gingerbread to mark being a square number of years, and we had fun eating them in ways to keep them arranged in squares for as long as possible. We got to meet [personal profile] morwen's brother and [personal profile] kaberett's boything. However one friend had not quite registered that it was supposed to be an afternoon party rather than an evening party, and showed up at 11 pm. I was so pleased to see her and have a chance to catch up that I ended up talking to her instead of writing my post for that day.

Then Sunday we celebrated the second half of Granny's 95th birthday. The first half had been on the day itself, Boxing Day, when we travelled up to Brighton for a roast dinner hosted by my brother Screwy. Whereas yesterday we had a tea-party at my parents', with my other brother, Thuggish Poet, present plus a few of Granny's local friends. It was especially nice to see both my brothers, albeit consecutively! [personal profile] cjwatson and [ profile] ghoti came over to ours for the evening, and I wanted to spend time with them more than I wanted to catch up with DW posts, so. It definitely felt like the whole weekend was my birthday this year!

Anyway, on 27th if I hadn't been busy turning 36, I was going to write about owls, as requested by [personal profile] jack, and this is fairly short so I can squeeze it in now. owls )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[ profile] ghoti requested: I'm talking about family traditions, could you do that too?

So one thing my family do, more rarely nowadays, but on occasions when we're all together for Friday night meals, is we do a full sung grace after meals. Which is to say, about six pages, some chanted but mostly singing, with call-and-response and multi-part harmony and gestures and sound-effects and drumming on the table. We learned this initially at Hengrave and expanded on it at youth camp. And you understand that absolutely nobody in my family of origin can carry a tune, don't imagine some cute pious tableau of everybody sitting round the table singing religious songs, it's much more about raucous cacophony.

And there's puns and sarcastic asides and arguments about some of the theology and gender politics, which have themselves almost become part of the ritual. Like, everybody points at me at a tower of salvation to God's own king because malco is similar to the playground insult mal-co[ordinated]. We argue whether in the sight of God and mankind is sexist, or rather, whether adam means 'human being' or the personal name Adam, which should then according to egal traditions be replaced with 'Adam and Eve'. (I'm on the side of the argument that is actually grammatically correct, if anyone feels tempted to chip in at this point.) Or whether we should include the traditional quote from the Psalm I have been a youth and now I am old, and I have never seen the righteous in want, nor their offspring begging for bread, or whether R' Gryn (of blessed memory)'s replacement prayer is ableist because of May we not be blind to the needs of others, nor deaf to their cry for food.

Another thing we do that's special to my family is, at the Passover seder meal, we always tell my great uncle's joke, it's almost become part of the ritual. The joke is that a Jewish man is going to be knighted for his achievements, and he is taught a Latin tag that he's supposed to recite when he's presented to the Queen. But at the crucial moment, his mind goes blank, so he says the first foreign thing that comes into his head, the opening to the Four Questions traditionally recited by the youngest child at a Passover seder: Mah nishtanah halayla hazeh mikol haleylot. And the Queen turns to Prince Philip and says, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?" (a homophone for the ritual question, why is this night [of Passover] different from all other nights?) I knew [personal profile] jack was going to fit in to my family when he took on telling this joke one year. [personal profile] jack tells it really well, actually, he makes the experience of the confused Jewish knight-to-be really vivid.

It's strange to tackle this prompt, actually. I'm not sure there's a lot we do that isn't fairly typical for English Reform Jews, but equally that's a fairly small and not well known culture, so maybe I should talk about things that I think of as 'normal' but would seem surprising to other people. But anyway, here's a couple of examples to be going on with.

[December Days masterpost]
liv: methane on Mars, labelled "squeeee!!!" (squee)
My excellent father is 70 today. P'tite Soeur organized a very fun birthday party for him, by means of contacting all his extended family by any means she could and inviting them all to show up at the weekend. Ended up about 60 people, the descendants of about half of the 10 siblings of my grandparents' generation.

It was a little bit like a reprise of my wedding reception, with a marquee in the garden of my parents' place, and the same caterers, the ever-wonderful Shelford Deli, provided a selection of really tasty salads, an excellent cheese board, and strawberries and cream. Much better weather, though, it was gloriously sunny all day.

My sister who has only improved her baking skill since the wedding made a birthday cake, many different kinds of biscuits, profiteroles, macarons, absolutely amazing. (By the way, she's doing a pop-up restaurant event with a dinner purely made out of desserts, which I am shamelessly plugging because more people should taste my sister's amazing cakes.)

In general it was an absolutely brilliant family reunion, cousins I'm fond of but see too rarely, cousins I've never met before, eating and chatting and catching up on decades worth of family gossip. Lots of people commented that it's really nice to get the family together when it's not a funeral, and I am almost thinking I want to tell you how great my Dad is while he's still here. But he's also really modest and would probably be embarrassed at lots of public praise.

Anyway, many happy returns of the day to Dad, here's to many more decades of happiness and compassion and good food and family.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Sometime after midnight on Friday, my husband met from the train and swept me up and took me home and fed me tea and it was so very nice to see him after too many weeks apart. I suppose we're going through the typical phase of a year-old marriage, that we have let ourselves get too busy to spend time together regularly, but when we do manage to plan an actual date it's still a big excitement. With the long distance thing, we don't even get the minimal habitual contact that couples can fall into, the sitting in the same house spodding or having trivial conversations about domestic practicalities.

yay weekend, only minimally coupley )

Talking of siblings, my brother the poet has a nice rant about the current political classes' attacks on the poor and disabled. And my brother the philosopher is at that stage of writing up a PhD where it's hard for him to have much brain space or time for anything else, but he occasionally phones me and asks me complicated science questions like "where do the recommended daily amounts of calories come from?"
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Author: Jonathan Freedland

Details: (c) Jonathan Freedland 2005; Pub Penguin Books 2006; ISBN 0-141-01491-1

Verdict: Jacob's gift is a readable, effective account of some aspects of Anglo-Jewish history.

Reasons for reading it: [personal profile] khalinche recommended it very highly. I wasn't quite sure if I'm quite the right audience for it; it's basically trying to explain people like me to nice middle class British people who generically approve of multiculturalism but don't necessarily know much about any specific minority cultures. But still, if [personal profile] khalinche thinks it's a good book, that's a pretty strong reason to read it.

How it came into my hands: I've been looking out for a copy in a cursory fashion since [personal profile] khalinche mentioned it. Then I was in my parents' house and a bit short of reading material, so I went poking in their recent acquisitions pile, and discovered they'd "done" this at their Jewish book club, so I borrowed it.

detailed review )

Today I had to attend a funeral of a cousin of Dad's whose wife died suddenly last week. His grandmother, for whom I'm named (in a complicated fashion), was a Yiddish-speaking immigrant from Eastern Europe, one of eleven children who reached England as a refugee family some time at the end of the last century. His father (my grandmother's older brother) was bilingual in Yiddish and English, trained and worked as a doctor, and socialized in mainly Jewish circles and in some ways always felt like a despised foreigner / outsider, though he too was involved in leftist internationalist politics. And after two generations: a funeral held in a big CofE church in the most postcard pretty English village, a eulogy that mentioned how the deceased was active in all kinds of community affairs, school governor, charitable works, every bit the country doctor's wife. While we Jewish relatives sort of huddled in a corner and made wry remarks about the quality of the catering and weren't quite sure of the etiquette for how to dress or behave for church or whether to use the traditional Jewish formulas for condolences. That's a story Freedland would almost certainly recognize, and if you want to understand some of it you could do worse than to read his book.


Jan. 6th, 2012 04:05 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
It appears to be Epiphany already and I haven't got round to writing about Chanukah. So a quick summary:

joy )

So that was the last week of 2011. Mostly summed up by time with families. It's really getting to the point where it feels as if I'm part of [personal profile] jack's small, close-knit, quiet family, and he is part of my large, noisy, argumentative family. I feel very good about this.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
What was supposed to happen over Pesach was that I'd get 10 consecutive days off work, but they were going to be extremely hectic including a very rushed trip to Sweden. What actually happened was I ended up working over part of the holiday, not going to Sweden, and actually getting a chance to relax in between some of the rushing around. But it's still been very, very intense!

Pesach )

Then I went to Eastercon, and talked to lots of shiny people and my brain is full of all kinds of thoughts about who I am and where I fit into communities and liberation and social justice stuff. It was surprisingly apropos for the final weekend of Passover, anyway. I will try to get my thoughts together to discuss it properly before the impressions fade, but not while I'm too tired and too hyper to write coherently.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Friday dinner: shabbat chez AF, to say farewell to him before he heads off for Israel. It was very like the Friday nights of my childhood, with out-of-tune singing and enthusiastic liturgical geeking and a bit of sibling bickering. I really appreciate the way AF's family include me!

Saturday breakfast: Very rushed slice of toast and cup of tea, so I could catch a train to Brighton earlier than I normally get up on a Saturday.

well fed up and agreeably drunk )

My life is so incredibly wonderful!
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Happy New Year, peeps. I have had a month with a lot of intense activity and very little internet access. Now I'm at my parents so I'll make a start on catching up.

late, even for white rabbits )

We came back to Cambridge for NYE which we spent at a very convivial party at Relativity. Then [personal profile] jack drove me to the parents' for a belated celebration of my grandmother's 90th. This was only partly successful because although we did get all the sibs together in one place, there was only about a three hour overlap. Now I'm having a nice relaxing weekend hanging out, chatting to parents and catching up a bit on the internet.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
That was a much more partyish weekend than I usually manage, and besides, I managed to see all three of my siblings (though more consecutively than together). Yay for being unemployed and in the same country as lots of cool people!

party girl )

I took the first step on the way to looking grown-up and respectable today, when I acquired new glasses. My first new ones in 10 years, and I decided to be radical and go for a change of style rather than trying to find the closest match to what I'm used to. The next step probably ought to be a haircut, but I really hate doing that. We'll see.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
I haven't updated for a couple of weeks, because I have barely had time to breathe during that time. It involved two international moves and catching up with months worth of family time and quite a lot of headless chicken imitations!

Anyway, the culmination of all this was that I arrived in New York yesterday evening. I am here until the end of July, mostly studying at Drisha but I'm likely to be free to meet up evenings or weekends if anyone feels like it. Next weekend I am going to Montreal to see [ profile] rysmiel. And the first week in August (after the course finishes) I might go on a long diversion to California, but that has to be finalized. Anyway if you are somewhere within a reasonable day trip of New York, let me know if you want to make plans.

why I've not been online much recently )

So, if you were in New York for a month with fairly limited free time, what would be your priority?
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
So, apart from the job interview craziness, I managed to cram in quite a bit of socializing.

social diary )
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
My P'tite Soeur decided to have a NYE party a day early, since she was working on New Year's Day and didn't want to be drinking and partying the night before. My sister does good parties. And then I went to a party with some friends of [ profile] cartesiandaemon's for the real NYE. Amazingly, the two days just managed to fit into a gap when I was feeling well, so I had a great time.

a good end and a good beginning )

Then I was ill again on New Year's Day, not in the way that people expect to be ill, but with a really nasty cough and some more minor coldy symptoms. [ profile] cartesiandaemon looked after me yet again, and we watched Wimbledon and played some Wii Sports and spodded a bit. It's the first time we've had long enough together to be comfortable just hanging out and not necessarily paying attention to eachother directly, and that worked well too.

I got in a muddle with dates and ended up with Mum expecting me home Friday evening when I'd intended to go home Saturday afternoon. [ profile] cartesiandaemon was really nice about arranging a compromise, persuading all his friends to meet up a little earlier than planned so I could join them for a drink before I had to head home while they went out for curry. He didn't complain about being deprived of my company either, but that's possibly because my company was not actually very enjoyable due to lurgy. So I had a nice quiet weekend with parents, and some good conversations, and we killed a couple of Times Jumbo crosswords and Mum fed me lots of tasty and restorative food. We went to shul on Saturday, which was pleasant and homey as ever, and lots of people were touchingly glad to see me.

Finally the parents took me and [ profile] cartesiandaemon out to lunch at Alimentum. I was very impressed with the place; it's doing the grand restaurant thing well, with stylish decor, attentive waiters and a decidedly classy atmosphere, but it manages to avoid being pretentious. And the food is actually markedly tasty as well as being artfully arranged on the plate; they don't have a vast choice for veggies but what they do have is good. I had some very interesting carrot soup (with strange confections of raisins rolled up in carrot slices in it), and some pleasant risotto, and the most intensely chocolatey profiteroles for dessert. It cost about £30 a head, which felt like good value for food that was easily twice as good as affordable restaurant food, and three courses plus some very nice wine and tea and coffee. Mum also helped me pack so that I was able to fit my vast pile of Christmas presents into my suitcase. My parents are great, really.


Apr. 22nd, 2008 10:29 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Hope everyone that's celebrating is enjoying Pesach at the moment.

my pesach )

I made it back to Stockholm without incident Sunday evening. The very curtailed visit was necessary because I ended up with teaching commitments Monday afternoon as well as Thursday. The teaching is great fun, and I should make a separate post about it.

I must admit, I feel somewhat deflated at the moment. Partly it's that I don't quite have the emotional balance of seeing [ profile] cartesiandaemon very briefly and intensely and then being away from him for several weeks; I'm sure I'll settle into it, but just now I'm crashing hard after each visit. I've never been like this in long distance relationships in the past, and we have plenty of communication in spite of geography, so I'm not sure why I'm reacting like this. I think in this case it's partly plain tiredness; I haven't really had a proper break this Pesach, or even time to recover from last week being manic. Partly it's all my skin and membranes being irritated because of spending time in horrible allergenic Cambridge (though my breathing settled down within a few hours of leaving). And I think partly it's Pesach itself. I don't really like being on my own during the festival, even though I have at least managed a seder en famille and exactly as it should be. There's plenty that I can eat, of course, but all of it requires preparation and forward planning, and I can't snack on toast or biscuits or even buy junk food.

Oh well, this is a very minor complaint. Communication would be appreciated, even if it's just LJ comments, and it's much more likely that I'll be happy to hear from you than whiny.

My hero!

Mar. 17th, 2008 09:26 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
[ profile] cartesiandaemon was amazingly impressive this weekend. Not for doing anything silly like rescuing me from dragons, but because he agreed to come with me to Screwy's birthday party and meet my entire family at once. This in fact went brilliantly, and he even made a good impression on Granny.

In fact, everything we planned went as well as it possibly could, and it added up to an absolutely perfect weekend. There was loads of the best kind of socializing, and a good but not excessive amount of coupliness. *bounce*

minimally nauseating, I assure you )

Now I fall over. But yay for lots and lots of geography-defying fun with lots of cool people. By the way, apologies to the people to whom I failed to make it clear that I had decided to make the trip this weekend instead of going to Eastercon next weekend. I think the decision was right, but I still regret that it meant missing out on another potentially fun thing. And I'm particularly sorry that I don't get to see [ profile] lethargic_man, [ profile] friend_of_tofu and other Eastercon people.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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