It takes an introvert to know an introvert, or does it?

Guy lying on floor says: "I have an Introvert Hangover. I'm totally exhausted from too much human interaction.

During our PALS visits at the university last week, Jelly became quite tired early on, as she often does. Despite the chaos all around her–other dogs, exam-fearing students–she lay down and fell asleep. I apologized to the student petting her at the time, telling her that Jelly often finds the visits exhausting. The student responded, “Maybe she’s an introvert.” Kids these days. They’re so smart.

I’d never really thought of Jelly as an introvert before, which is odd because I am one myself. Introverts like their alone time. They may also enjoy being with others, but they can find social interaction draining. Extraverts, on the other hand, are energized by spending time with others. They leave the party wound up rather than needing a nap. Most of us are ambiverts, falling somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes I compare myself to my extraverted friend, Ms. Bubbly (it’s Dr. Bubbly to you, but Ms. has a nicer ring to it), who is at the other end of the spectrum from me. She’s constantly running from one social event to another. I don’t know how she does it.

Ms. B always invites me to the frequent large social gatherings she holds at her home. She understands when I politely decline each and every time. She knows I’ve always found such get togethers overwhelming.

Later this month, Ms. B will be hosting her annual Hanukah party, which I have already declined. I need to save my limited social energy for two engagements we’d previously scheduled for the nights following. This means I will not get to eat any of the 12 dozen latkes she has ordered for the occasion. (You read that right: 12 dozen. She has a lot of friends.) The authentic latkes alone spur my motivation to go, but my introversion still won out. That and the potential for bruising from having to battle the crowds to get to the latkes.

Ms. B and I often go for coffee after Sunday yoga, a sign that introverts do not avoid all social interaction. They may prefer more intimate gatherings, and they enjoy solo time to regroup occasionally. When we go out, Ms. B and I have lovely visits during which we catch up on each other’s lives. I relish this one-on-one time.

I can manage small groups, so long as I don’t overdo it. Two major social engagements last weekend necessitated a day on the couch. My introversion long predated my leukemia, so I can’t blame my health. If I hang out with you, whether alone or with others, and my eyes start glossing over after a time, please trust it’s not you, it’s me.

Now that I think about it, I realize that Jelly hasn’t fallen far from this introverted tree. She prefers small groups of dogs, cowering in the bushes when larger packs approach. She, like me, assesses any situation fully before jumping in with four paws. And just as I enjoy my alone time, she is fine to amble the off-leash park on her own, stopping to greet only the most fragrant of dogs. When she is overwhelmed by a group, she does exactly what I do: she avoids the situation altogether, or she lies down and takes a nap. Like mother, like daughter.

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A poor facsimile of a latke

Hanukah poster with menorah, latkes flying out of frying pan, dreidl and bottle of oil

I am pleased to report that J. is thoroughly enjoying her beer Advent calendar. J. is not drinking her beers daily–I may indulge my addiction to chocolate almost every day but she does not drink daily–because sometimes the day’s beer does not go with what we are having for dinner. Turns out that just as wine is matched with food, so is beer. We teetotallers are so ignorant.

The Advent calendar was such a success that our friends bought one too, although finding a second was not easy. It turns out beer Advent calendars are hot this year, and calling around revealed that almost all were purchased within days of being displayed in the liquor stores. Here’s my super-shopper tip for the day: find out the date for release of the Advent calendar, and buy it that day. For your efforts, 24 days of praise will ensue.

My pleas for a chocolate Advent calendar unfortunately fell on deaf ears, so I ended up buying one for myself. Maybe J. didn’t buy me one because she was trying to respect my Jewish faith. Or maybe I didn’t earn one since I don’t really understand what Advent is. This leads to my second seasonal super-shopper tip: chocolate Advent calendars are a dime a dozen, even after the start of the Advent season. Buy your chocolate advent calendar after the start of Advent. Stores never seem to run out of these calendars, the chocolate won’t yet be stale, and the price will be a steal. If you end up having to open more than one little chocolate door per day, you’ll manage to choke down the extra little chocolate, I’m sure.

Enough about Advent; Hanukah is quickly approaching. Tomorrow at sundown, we will light our menorah to mark the first night of the holiday. I will face away from our nondenominational, dog-ornamented Christmas tree to light the Hanukah candles as I sing the prayers and J. hums along. Thus will start my 8-day reprieve from Christmas. We will celebrate our version of this holiday of dreidls, chocolate coins, and of course latkes and other deep-fried foods. Where is a good Hanukah jelly donut when I need one? Oh that we were still in Israel, where I’d be able to find those donuts hot on every street corner.

Unfortunately we are not fryers, either of us. We do not heat large vats of oil and cook food in them. We do not fill our frying pans half way up for shallow frying. According to the story of Hanukah, not enough oil lasted 8 long days, and so that is the guideline I follow.

I will make my grandmother’s latke recipe as she recited it to me, almost. I’ll grate the potatoes into cold water, drain and wring them dry, mix with grated onions, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and assemble little patties. Then I will put them on a greased baking sheet, brush them with oil, and bake them. Consider my method a cooking compromise. With enough sour cream and applesauce on the side, I’ll hardly be able to tell the difference.

That’s not really true. Even if I fry them, they won’t hold a candle to Bubi’s. Nothing will.

 

 

 

Obsessives everywhere are making mountains out of molehills

First a few brief updates:

  1. The three wise men may need to consult a wise woman for directions if that errant package is to arrive before Christmas.
  2. Dr. Blood Lite tells me my platelets are continuing to improve. This means that any excessive bruising I am experiencing is all of my own doing.

Now that we’ve cleared those matters up, I’ve a new focus for my fretting: Advent. I don’t know what Advent is. I’m Jewish, after all. My research revealed that Advent lasts for four Sundays each year, ending on the last Sunday before Christmas. This means that the length of Advent varies each year depending on when Christmas Day falls. This year, Advent starts December 3 and ends December 24.

2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar boxThis information begs another more important quandary: when to give J. her 24-day Craft Beer Advent Calendar if Advent is only 22 days this year? Do I give it to her on December 3, knowing she’ll still be opening little cardboard doors well past Christmas Day, or do I give it to her today, December 1, so we can recycle the empty box with all the other Christmas refuse?

Am I the only one who sees the problem with a 24-day Advent Calendar irrespective of the length of the actual Advent period? Probably. A normal person would be excited that they’ve scored two extra beers. Also, I’m imagining daily beers does not quite capture the meaning of Advent. Daily chocolates maybe, but not beers.

I made an executive decision, based primarily on my excitement and inability to delay J.’s gratification–this is truly the perfect gift–that I would give J. the calendar today. While she was showering, I dragged all 15.4 kilograms of beer (it would have been lighter with only 22 beers) to the living room, where I placed it underneath our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Then Jelly and I left for our walk.

Why did I vacate the premises? Normally I’d want to be there to witness J.’s glee at finding a gift, but this morning, I assumed the role of secret Advent Santa. As expected, I received a text not long after I left: Thanks Santa [insert Santa emoji here].

When Jelly and I arrived home soon thereafter, I was glad to see that J. had opened the first cardboard door and her first beer was cooling in the fridge. Had I given the calendar to her this evening, the beer would not have been chilled for her to imbibe tonight.

This time-of-day issue sound easy but it was not. My internet search revealed considerable debate over whether people start at Door 24 or Door 1, but I don’t care about that. Trust me that J. will find every single beer–she is not by nature a wasteful person–in whatever order she chooses. I found nothing about what time of day one normally opens each door. So I let the chilling factor guide me.

J., if you are reading this, please be aware that you have two more days to buy me my chocolate Advent calendar–we all have our vices–if you can tear yourself away from the beer. Purdy’s has one this year, although you may need to buy two since theirs lasts only 12 days. Thanks sweetie.

Can you keep a secret?

Oy to the world countdown to Hannukah calendar

I admit it, I missed Giving Tuesday this year. I volunteered Monday at Canadian Blood Services, and tomorrow I’ll go to a PALS visit at the retirement residence, but today I did not much of anything at all. I did make J. dinner for the first time in forever, but that doesn’t really count.

All this sleeping has been cutting into my holiday shopping time. It’s beginning to look a lot like Hanukah–okay, maybe not, there’s no escaping the Christmas music–but Jews can dream. It’s 14 sleeps until Hanukah, which has me obsessing about what to get the woman who has everything. (She has me. What more could she want?) Here are but a few of my quandaries:

  1. Why did I insist we exchange gifts for each of the eight nights of Hannukah? I can’t be creative for 8 nights in a row. Plus, if I stop at eight gifts, there’ll be nothing for under the Christmas tree.
  2. Is this the year I secure a secret Visa, so everything I buy J. does not end up on our joint credit card? How else can I keep my purchases from J.? Last year I used cash, but those young sales clerks did not know what it was. This year, I’ve tried to debit, but mastering this new skill set has been a challenge.
  3. Am I the only person under 80 who’d rather go to a real live store than do my shopping on line? I want to see what I’m buying and walk out with the goods. Is that a sin?
Stuffed singing matzo ball in a bowl of soup, says Happy Hannukah

A stuffed toy: singing matzo ball

 

After a recent experience on Buy Nothing Day (which happens to coincide with Black Friday), I may have to rethink my gifting strategy altogether. I went shopping at the mall with all the old people. Where was everyone else? Home shopping on line, I imagine. I immediately found The Gift, but in the wrong size. (Yes, J., I was seeking an article of clothing, but that’s all I’m saying.) I approached a bored clerk.

According to the store’s computer, The Gift was somewhere in the store, but it was MIA during a physical search. The sales clerk checked another location on her computer and found The Gift there. Another extensive ground search at that store revealed that this item too was nowhere to be found. I then learned that “the computers are sometimes not up to date (???)”, and was informed that The Gift was available for on-line ordering. The clerk suggested I take a photo of her computer screen to facilitate my ordering.

Was I was being punished for shopping on Buy Nothing Day? Or for deigning to shop in person?

Hannukah stuffed dog with menorah on its backI made the purchase reluctantly on line, using our joint credit card. Then I reminded J. of our strict no-checking-the-Visa rule in December. The Gift is now in transit but it has headed east province by province before being redirected west. Hopefully three wise men will drop it off on their way to Bethlehem.

In the end, my efforts to ensure those store clerks were not replaced by computers were all for naught. All roads led to my need for a secret Visa. Of course J. has had one for years. Search me what I’ll find under the Hanukkah bush.

 

 

 

A true Israeli breakfast of champions

Israeli breakfast buffet, eggs, olives, etc.

Lest I leave you with the impression that if you go to Israel, you’ll come back with a high bilirubin count, let’s talk about the food. It’s incredible, every single morsel.

Because Israel is surrounded by countries that are, at best, ambivalent about her existence, Israeli food is largely produced within its borders. In our travels we passed olive trees, date trees, banana trees, grape vines, and pomegranate trees dripping with fruit. The bananas were so tasty, J. refuses to eat another Chiquita.

(By the way, I don’t recommend eating an olive straight from the tree–it’s not a pleasant experience. Squeeze it and watch the oil ooze out, but cure your olives before you take a bite. I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Then there are the milk products, the yogurt and labneh and white cheese, which is a loose facsimile for our cream cheese but smoother and much tastier. Because so many restaurants and hotels in Israel have kosher kitchens to accommodate the religious Israeli residents and the tourists, many kitchens exclude meat from their menus. There isn’t enough space in this small country to produce a lot of meat. Rather, there is a very large sea known as the Mediterranean that is bursting with fish, and since fish can go either way–it can be eaten with milk products or with meat–the fish is aplenty.

Now imagine that all of this food finds its way into the buffets of the typical Israeli breakfast at hotels. This meal is often included in the cost of the hotel. We call it “Israeli breakfast” while Israelis call it “breakfast”. Whatever you call it, it is a perpetual exercise in self-restraint.

Imagine a variety of yogurt and cheeses, granola, dried fruits, and preserves. There’s smoked fish and tuna salad alongside a variety of breads and rolls. Add in eggs in various preparations, perhaps in spicy tomato sauce, or as an omelette to order. Of course there are sliced tomatoes, olives, and a mishmash of salads, including Israeli salad (which Israelis call “salad”). It’s finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Then there’s the stuffed pastry with savoury fillings like mushrooms or cheese.

Finally, there’s dessert breakfast, usually consisting of babka, i.e., chocolate- or cinnamon-swirled heaven, and halvah. Halvah is tahini and sugar, with added flavourings like cocoa powder or pistachios or whatever you can imagine, pressed it into a block. For immediate sugar shock, shave some halvah onto your babka.

If Israelis ate breakfast like this every day, they’d all be morbidly obese. The full Israeli breakfast is purely a tourist phenomenon, not that I’m complaining.

You won’t be surprised to learn I gained 10 lbs over the course of 14 days. But you may be surprised when I tell you that J. gained 0 lbs eating as much or more than me. Then we came home, and within one week on my strict low-sodium diet, I was back to my fighting weight.

I’ll admit it feels crummy to gain 10 lbs in 14 days, but losing 10 lbs in a week more than makes up for it. Best diet ever. You’ll come back with your bilirubin level intact, but if you gain weight, it’s all on you.

 

My limited knowledge of the language of our people

Shalom in Hebrew and English on Aramaic pottery tile

Have I ever told you that I studied Hebrew for years, even during university? I even lived in Jerusalem for a year. You might think the year of language immersion would have helped me hone my spoken Hebrew, but you’d be wrong. Back then, I was too timid to speak the language much. Often when I sheepishly tried to use my Hebrew, Israelis responded in English. They wanted to practice their second language as much as I wanted to practice mine.

It’s been thirty years since my Hebrew language learning stopped, but during our trip to Israel, more Hebrew came back to me than I expected. Most of the time, I think people understood the phrases and sentences I’d first carefully scripted in my head. Being able to speak the language helped when we needed directions, or the price of something in the market, or where to find the nearest bathroom/babka/baklava. I found I could read many store signs, understand the odd menu, and eavesdrop on the occasional conversation. The eavesdropping was the most fun.

Fully fluent I am not, however. Generally, I understood every third word or so. The Israelis that I understood easily, however, were those like me whose first language was English. They spoke with an accent like mine and at a moderate pace. At one of our first lunch stops on our trip, I realised I easily understood our server’s Hebrew. Then I overheard him speaking to the person at the table next to us in fluent English. Turns out he was born in the U.S. but emigrated to Israel with his parents a few years ago. I thanked him for allowing me to speak my slow, broken Hebrew, knowing full well we could communicate more easily in English, during the lunchtime rush.

Stuffed Grover standing by raisin challah that's been cutI may have understood what was being said around me, but I often forgot that J.’s Hebrew was limited to “shalom” and “challah”. Once we were in an elevator when a fellow asked her to push the 14th floor. J. was facing away from him, and had no idea this man had asked her for help. I, in my ignorance, impatiently repeated the floor number to her in Hebrew. Thankfully we sorted the miscommunication out before he’d missed his floor.

Over the course of the trip, my question-asking skills improved, but my ability to understand Israelis’ responses, spoken in rapid-fire Hebrew, didn’t. On our second last day, I asked a restaurant server for the washroom, but I didn’t understand his response at all. After standing there momentarily with no idea where to go, I repeated the same question to another server. Thankfully she pointed me in the right direction while repeating the same incomprehensible response.

There are several morals of this story. If you’re going to speak with the locals in their language, remember that you’ll also have to understand their responses. If you don’t understand, keep trying, and don’t worry if you sound like a toddler. At least you’ve made the effort. Oh, and don’t forget that your travel partner may have no idea what you, or anybody else, is saying. Trust me, she’ll remind you if you do forget.

 

 

What I learned on vacation (other than what Grover taught me)

J. and I were reviewing our trip over our last dinner in Israel. For the first time that we could both remember, we were glad we’d stayed as long as we did. In the past, we’ve often been antsy to get home as a trip nears its end.

As we were chatting, J. asked me what my favourite part of the trip was. I could not think of one moment because there were so many. Over our two weeks, we saw so many fascinating sights, experienced so many different cultures, and met so many kind people.

On our last day in Jerusalem, I insisted we walk above the city on the Old City walls so we could see the hubbub from a different vantage point. Off we went, up and down stairs, along meandering pathways of uneven stone, past one exit and onto the second, at which point we’d have to return to solid ground. It wasn’t an easy stroll but I was up to the challenge.

Shortly after the first gate, we were greeted by two Israeli police officers watching over the area below, ensuring everyone’s safety. Although we were walking in what is normally a safe zone, there had been some unrest in the Middle East since our arrival in Israel and security was high in Jerusalem. The sight of the officers made me wonder whether we should proceed, but the officers were fairly relaxed. One was busy texting while the other was using a kerosene stove to boil water for coffee. “Oh, you have coffee!” we said, and Mr. Barista immediately offered us some. We declined with thanks, and off we traipsed.

Within a few minutes, I tanked (that happens sometimes) so we turned back to the previous exit, again passing by the officers. By now their water had boiled, Mr. Barista had finished brewing his coffee, and he was holding his cup in hand. So I said, “We were just coming back for coffee.” (They didn’t need to know that I am a coffee teetotaller.) The officer held his freshly brewed cup out to me and encouraged me to take it. He was serious.

I declined Mr. Barista’s kind offer, thanked him, and off we went. The overture was genuine. In retrospect, I now wish we’d stopped and chatted with these fellows for a few minutes. They were obviously grateful for the company in their isolated post.

We witnessed kind gestures like this every day we were in Israel. Soldiers not only protect the country; they help elderly people cross busy streets and interact warmly with children. People were patient and helpful when I tried to communicate in my broken Hebrew. On a crowded bus, younger people stand to make way for the elderly or others in need. And if a police officer happens to have freshly brewed coffee while he stands watch above the Old City, he’ll offer it to you, expecting nothing in return. Perhaps that pervasive attitude of caring for others was the highlight of my trip.

Making turkish coffee over a kerosene stove

Grover does the Negev

Today was a comedy of errors on the vacation front. It’s possible that God was punishing us for doing something on the Sabbath, our day of rest. In retrospect, we should have gone with the flow and taken it easy in Jerusalem. So what if the city shuts down altogether every Friday evening to Saturday evening? No buses, no restaurants, nothing but people spending time with families and resting after their busy weeks. It’s a wonderful notion, yet I couldn’t fathom our day of rest becoming a day of waste. Our time here is so precious that we decided to leave town to visit the desert with forty other restless people.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been largely tasked with the vacation planning for this trip? As J. has reminded me repeatedly, these are my people, so I should intuitively know what to do here. I’ve tried to make this holiday perfect from beginning to end, but certain events today were beyond my control. Everything that could have gone wrong did, and I mean everything. Our tour started late, our tour guide was awful, and we spent more time travelling and waiting for other heretics like us than experiencing the sights.

We had trouble containing our disappointment, but Grover was having none of our negativity. That guy’s smile is always plastered on his face. He was going to have a good time no matter what. Sure it was hot on Masada, as we were told it would be, but our little monster didn’t break a sweat. That’s because he was wearing a desert-appropriate outfit with minimal coverage and excellent ventilation.

While we were waiting for the others in the Masada gift shop, Grover jumped on the back of a camel for a ride. He was determined to have the time of his life. I’ve never seen a happier little monster.

Mini stuffed Grover riding on a stuffed camel

Once we arrived at the Dead Sea, first J. and I floated in the salty water. Since J. is a sinker, her floating was a miracle. Maybe God wasn’t so mad at us after all. Then we did what all must do at the Dead Sea: we slathered ourselves with Dead Sea mud, allowing it to dry before rinsing it off in the water. Today, for the first time in many, many years, my skin feels as soft as a baby’s bottom.

Grover jumped in after us wearing his desert-appropriate attire, which handily doubled as a bathing suit. Despite his lack of swimming prowess–his blue fur takes ages to dry–Grover floated in the salty water with ease. He may look a little dismayed in this shot, but he’s merely clenching his lips so as not to swallow any of the salty water. I was not so smart. I can still taste that disgusting water.

Grover on the Dead Sea

In the end, we had a good, if long, day. I’m glad Grover was there to remind us that negativity is not wanted on the voyage. Who’d think a little monster would be so full of life lessons?

To be a Jew who sees a Jew

Necklace with Hebrew word Chai on itI grew up amongst Jews, and I don’t mean only my family. The students in my elementary school were predominantly Jewish, and I hung out with fellow Jews in the neighbourhood and at the Jewish grocery stores and bakeries where we shopped. I even went to synagogue for many years, and I studied all things Jewish right through university. I was immersed in Judaism way back when.

I’m still Jewish, as evidenced by my excellent challah-baking skills (FYI: brioche ≠ challah), but, besides my few local Jewish friends, there aren’t many of us in town. I am largely to blame for my isolation from the small Jewish community here. I do not attend synagogue or visit the local Jewish community centre. I once caught a film at the Jewish Film Festival. There is an annual Jewish film festival here.

I miss being part of a Jewish community sometimes, just like I miss smoked sablefish and blintzes for brunch and my grandmother’s chicken soup at Friday night dinner. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I spotted a member of my tribe entering the grocery store as I was exiting. I spied, with my little eye, a Jew.

How did I know the lass was Jewish? She was wearing a big Chai (pronounce this not like the tea but with a guttural ch) around her neck. This necklace screamed, “I am Jewish.” There aren’t a lot of Chais or Stars of Davids or other Jewish symbols to be found around necks in this city, so I was surprised by the unexpected sighting.

This young woman had her earplugs in and music blaring so she could see my look of surprise, followed by my lips moving, but she had no idea what I said. No, I did not caution her on the permanent damage she was causing her hearing. That was my inside voice. Rather, I said, “Chai!” which kind of sounds like “Hi!” if you, like me, can’t pronouce the guttural ch properly. Chai is not a greeting. It means “life” and is an important symbol amongst our type. Remember Fiddler on the Roof singing “To Life, to life, l’chaim!”? L’chaim commonly precedes a toast (not the kind with bread, but the kind with alcohol).

This young woman, who wondered why a stranger was speaking to her, stopped, took out an earplug, and said, “Excuse me?” I pointed to her necklace and said, “Chai!” (which again probably sounded more like “Hi!”) Then I said, in case she thought I’d said “Hi!” while pointing to her chest, “You have a Chai!” This was code for “You’re Jewish too!”

She smiled with understanding and wished me a Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday), which is how we Jews greet one another this time of year. The day we met, Sukkot, our holiday celebrating the bounty of the harvest, was ending, and another less familiar but no less important festival was soon to begin. We Jews are in full throttle holidaying this time of year.

That woman must have thought I was crazy. I am a little meshuga, as we say. But you already knew that. Meshuga + poor impulse control = Annie. I make no apologies for who I am, even though some days maybe I should.

Saved by the neighbour

two apples with a bowl of honey and honey dipper

All is not lost. My whining and complaining about having no fresh apples for Rosh Hashanah did not fall on deaf ears. My dear neighbour, a virtual fount of knowledge, the information hub in the community, directed me to three fully loaded apple trees at a home in the ‘hood. Because the home is undergoing a renovation, the apples are free for the taking so take I did. I parked slyly in the alley, lurked over to the trees, and filled an empty poop bag with fruit of the tree. What is better than farmers market apples and honey? Fresh-picked apples with honey, of course. We now have what we need to have a happy and sweet year.

Except for the brisket. Brisket is the centrepiece of the Rosh Hashanah meal, at least in my family. Sure, chicken is a reasonable alternative, but chicken is so everyday. Our festive meal calls for something grand, like a big hunk of beef slow roasted in the oven with onions and garlic and a can of cola. The New Year’s meal I remember from my youth always had brisket and carrots tzimmes (that’s cooked carrots doused with yet more honey) and some sort of baked noodles or potatoes and, of course, fresh-baked challah. I also vaguely recall a salad, left largely uneaten, intended to cut through all that fat.

Don’t even talk about dessert. My friend grew up with honey cake, and swears by her recipe, but I’m firmly in the apple-cake camp. If honey cake were made with maple syrup, maybe I’d consider it, but just the thought of honey in a cake makes me. My mom tried to pass a few bakery honey cakes by me as a child but they were boring. A cake baked with nice tart fresh apples, that’s a festive dessert, and the leftovers make a fine breakfast or lunch or snack the next day.

We may have some traditional foods on hand but there will be no brisket tonight since we’re eating alone tonight. Making a brisket for two flexitarians would leave a lot of leftovers. So no brisket but I thought it would be nice to acknowledge the holiday in some way, apples in honey notwithstanding.

J. and I headed off to the supermarket this morning in search of a protein to welcome the New Year, except I hadn’t fully explained the mission to J. We went our separate ways briefly in search of items at opposite ends of the store, and when I returned, there was a package of an indeterminate meat product in our cart. I strained to see what it was. Of course, it was pork chops. J. said, “They’ll taste great with those nice tart apples sautéed on top!”

I may be a mediocre Jew at best but I nixed the pork chops for tonight. If we have any leftover apples, maybe I’ll reconsider tomorrow. I like well-cooked pork, bone in preferred, as much as the next gal. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that today of all days. Perhaps one of you synagogue goers could pray for me tonight.

Wishing you a good and sweet year.