Monday, May 21, 2018

Lord, Prepare Me

Don't Fear - Bloom!

Cheryl Strayed, in her memoir Wild, decides go on a months-long backpacking trip.  In order to prepare, does she load her pack and go on practice hikes?  Does she limber up with stretching and strengthening exercises?  Does she study the map and learn the trail lingo?  Mostly nope.  I felt so superior to her when I was reading that part of the book – anybody knows that you have to prepare for months for a trip like that.  Instead, she buys a truckload of random hiking stuff, goes to a hotel room, and finds out the night before she is to start her hike that her stuff won’t all fit in her backpack, and she can hardly lift what does fit.

Well, cut me down to size.  After we managed to arrange our upcoming trip, did I take a daily walk to limber up?  Slim down and muscle up?    Study up on conversational Hebrew?  Read all the parts of the Bible that take place in Israel?  Mostly nope.

Packing consisted of procrastinating, until finally last week I set up a staging area in Oldest Daughter’s bedroom (currently unoccupied).  If I came across something I thought I should take, I threw it in a huge pile in her room.  Every time I saw a small bottle of sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, I bought it.  It is not possible for someone like me to be overstocked on sunscreen.  I bought several hats, but can now only find two of them.

Staging area

Never have I felt more unprepared for a trip.  I did manage to memorize one Hebrew phrase from the little Berlitz book I picked up when my mother’s Old Folks’ Home was giving away books:

.אני רוצה בקבוק יין לבן
Ani rotze bakbuk yayin lavan.
“I would like a bottle of white wine.”

I figured that would get me through most difficult situations.  But if I’m going to ask for a whole bottle, I guess I’d better learn how to ask where the lavatory is.

I also know how to say “Eyfo et ha iparon?”, a very useful phrase meaning “Where is the pencil?” It’s all that is left in my memory from about fifteen years ago, when my husband tried to give us all Hebrew lessons.

The only other Hebrew words I know are lovely Biblical ones:

               רוּחַ (ru-akh) means “spirit” or “wind”.  Say that “kh” in the back of your throat.  See Genesis 1:2.

               חסד (hesed), a meaty word often translated as “loving kindness,” but also with an element of loyalty.

                לא (lo) means “no”, which appears frequently in the Bible.   Check out the Ten Commandments.  This word might actually be useful for us tourists.

Will we find signs of White Jesus there?

Or maybe Plush Jesus?
When we have told people we are going to Israel, they often express concern for our safety.  I appreciate that.  But 28 years ago, we cancelled our honeymoon trip to Israel because Saddam Hussein was lobbing missiles in Israel’s direction (no worries – we had a wonderful honeymoon in London).  Nothing will stop us this time.  We will just have to trust our local guide.  I also have to say that, other than the usual dangers associated with travel anywhere, we may end up feeling and being safer in Israel than here in concealed-carry country.  We are packed for the heat, but we are not packing heat.

The thing is, I can’t find that little Hebrew phrase book.  I told my husband, “I’m going to have to unpack everything, so I can find it.”  He said, “I’m not surprised.  Anytime we go anywhere you have to pack and unpack three times.”  My husband has no need of a little book: he has downloaded an app.

Ultimately, no matter where we are, we place our lives in the care of God Almighty.  We’ll just keep repeating the words from the end of the hymn Adon Olam:   “Adonai li, v’lo ira.”

Into [God’s] hand I commend my spirit,
when I sleep and when I wake;
And with my spirit, my body also:
the Lord is with me, and I will not fear.

See you back at the playground soon!

Friday, May 18, 2018

And it doesn't have pockets, either

Me: frantically hauling clothes out of the closet, in an attempt to find a dress that fits my stress-laden ever-expanding “mortal coil,” to wear to a wedding we are leaving for, in an hour;


Further frantically raking through existing clothes to find a suitable sweater to wear on top of aforementioned fancy dress (which is never long-sleeved, or even any-sleeved because fashion designers) because is it the end of Apriluary, and the temp is a frigid 44 degrees in the sunlight, except there isn’t any sunlight because Pittsburgh.

Husband: flopping down on the bed, wearing his jeans and sweatshirt.

Me, turning to husband in a fury: “Why are you just lying there like that? We’re leaving in less than an hour!”

Husband:  “I’m here to watch the floor show.”


“What about that piece of fabric you bought for our trip to Israel?  You could wear that draped over your shoulders.”

Me, with contempt, “I’m not wearing a piece of fabric.  I’m wearing sleeves.”

Having found my “little black dress,” I wrathfully depart the bedroom to look for a safety pin.  Why?  Again, because fashion designers.   People who make little black dresses think that cleavage is a desirable thing, and by the time I get the size that fits my petite and yet carb-influenced rotundity, the amount of frontage revealed is ridiculous.  Nobody wants to see my wrinkled chest skin.

Banging on Younger Daughter’s door, I shout:  “Emergency!”  She opens the door, wide-eyed.  “I need a safety pin!” She used to have quite a stash of them, for the donning of her toga for Latin Club.  But no more.  I march off to find one in the kitchen junk drawer and apply it to the appropriate spot on my dress.   Finally, my mortal coil is ready for the event.

My husband took five minutes to get dressed.

The wedding was wonderful.