A South African, married to an American, finally adapting to my adopted country. I love life, laughter, good friends and the warmth that my two kids have filled me with. I glory in the colors of my life and am grateful for the gray days as they allow me to appreciate the rainbows.

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Location: New York, United States

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

L'Shana Tova

This year has been a very different year, I have truly taken stock of my life and allowed myself to glory in the imperfections. I no longer notice what is missing but what is there. After so many years of longing for so much that was not there it feels good to appreciate what is.

In doing so Ihave let go of the notion of the huge celebrations, where my entire family would appear to devour the delectable treats my mom served us for the holidays, there would be 70 people a day and no-one left hungry, in fact most were done eating for the week by the time my mom got through with them. My sisters were unable to be here and my cousins decided not to join us for the first night as they usually do. I opened up the invitation to my new neighbour who is recently divorced but comes equipped with a South African sister-in-law, how bad could she be?? We get on really well, her daughter is in Ry's class and her son is in Nikki's class. Jake, her son has a crush on Ryan unlike anything I have every seen, Ry is loving every second of it, I will tell you all the scoop on that later. Anyway the New Year was brought in by Josh, the kids, his dad, step-mom, my parents, his friend Bob and Georgian, Jackie, her two kids, her sister-in-law (Andi), brother and there 3 kids. Its was a noisy fabulous affair. The kids had a blast and the parents did to. Andi enmeshed herself in my family and lapped up all the south african-isms. Andi is a staunch vegetarian but smiled at the perogen and kichel, danish herring and array of home-made treats, she recounted stories of her family and seeing a similar table laden with similar fare and we felt them all around us even thoughthey all live dispersed around the world. Everyone got on so well, the laughter flowed with a few bottles of KWV and the stories we swapped. It felt like home. We all left smiling, floating despite the full bellies, happy to be surrounded by laughter, love and the tastes of home.

Ryan sat on my dad's lap after dinner recounting her Jake tales. "He has a crush on me she says to him", really my dad asks. "Do you like him??" "No" she rolls her head back in her head, "he is so annoying". "What does he do for a living" My dad asks, "he's a lawyer" she says without skipping a beat. he is 6. Where did that come from? Jake just adores Ry and I have to say if last year was the start of the year of Ryan well it was the year that gave her wings because this year she is soaring, she has taken off to heights that I had only dreamed of for her. Jake's adoration has certainly helped as has her friendship with Arianna (his sister), her time in South Africa was pure gold. She just blossomed and grew and came into her own. I love who she has become and am so proud of her. Jake is here every afternoon and the other day I felt quite bad, I had a whole brood of people here, 8 kids and three moms (plus my two and me), he knocked on the door, I told him it was not a great time and asked him to come back another time. he said ok. I did not realize it but he sat on my front step and waited - it was only when I sent everyone on their merry way that I realized he was waiting there. Devotion like that does not come along everyday.

L'Shana Tova

My table all set out for the night - meant to take pics when everyone was there but unfortunately forgot!!

The girls in front of my buffet table - they chose their own outfits - did not realize they matched the decor :)

My Yom Tov table - note my hand made kichel - a moment of silence please.

The girls and moi

Ryan on our deck

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Black Dahlia and then some ............

The worst movie of the year is undoubtably Black Dahlia. My sister and I made the mistake of seeing it this weekend. A friend of mine could not be saved and saw it yesterday, she regretted it too. Save the money, seriously. Slow, boring and pointless really.

The weekend was great though, amazing for Joey the chew toy kid ( you can read about the dog bite incident in Friday's post) and the girls really got to hang out and play. He is completely edible (as the dog already demonstrated), what a cutie pie. Wish they lived closer so the kids could spend more time together.

My mom watched the kids Saturday Nigt so that Heid and I could waste money on the Black Dahlia and do some last minute shopping.

Sunday they left early, we woke up late, the kids ate freshly baked bagels which Josh ran out to get for them, and they spent the whole day in their PJ's playing downstairs in their playroom. Except for a few minor spats they were so good and had an amazing time. I spent the day baking cakes and kichel for the upcoming Jewish New year, our New Year is going to be so sweet it will send everyone into a diabetic coma!!

At around 4pm we started getting ready to go to a BBQ that started at 4pm. Now if you know anything about Josh and I we are the most punctual people you will ever meet. 15 minutes early is considered on time for us. I called Loren to tell her that we have been slugs and will be late. No problem she said, I am still at the store, lol, guess its just as well we were late. She had a huge crowd and we had a great time, it was an awesome BBQ/Braai, although I must say the never ending appetizers killed the main course for me, I was stuffed. Yum!!!

Monday I spent the day with my folks, running some errands they needed to do and we went for an amazing lunch at a Deli with the slowest service and best hot beef on Rye. Cooked some more for Friday, hope no-one is eating this week. We'll have 24 people here - and I want them all to come hungry and leave so full.

Tuesday Deb called me to play Hookie, so I did. We bought awesome stuff to decorate our tables, cornicopia's (sp?) flowers, etc. It was a blast followed by our favourite PF Changs for lunch, we are addicted to their lettuce wraps and salt and pepper calamari. Afterwards I paid a Shiva call to a friend who is 48 and just lost her Grandmother. How amazing is that? Followed by an evening of Mah Jongg. Busy day, lots of time being a social butterfly. Love that. Of course had to do homework and carpool between it all, and the kids did a great job helping me set out the table.

It's the first time I am having Rosh Hashanah in my home. I'ts always been the exclusive domain off my mom, who does a spectacular job of creating unbelievable meals, never making the same dish twice. Her cooking is legendary and she is a tough act to follow. This year is the first time that neither Heid, stephen and the boys or Nin will be able to attend. My mom's heart was not in it. Her nephew, my uncle and their families could not make it either, so when we looked at the guest list it turned out to be all my family, my friends and my mom doing all the catering did not make sense. So I am trying to keep the baton going.

L'Shana Tova everyone! Happy New Year!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Plastic Soceity ............

I could not put my finger on what pissed me off about buying plastic bags in South Africa. Besides being incredibly inconvenient it is just down right stupid. Here's the story for those who are not in the know, when one goes to the supermarket in South Africa one is expected to either bring their own bags to take their goods home or to buy bags. The whole point being environmental, save our universe, yada yada and all that. I think it is bullshit. If they are so friggin' concerned with the environment, spend real money on recycling plants, stop throwing out stuff that can be used again. The bags our supermarkets give us are gratis. Free. No charge. But at the entrance to the store is a machine where one can put in cans used for recycling and they pay you for bringing them. Recyclable goods get picked up outside my house and get reused for plastic, paper, bottle, so many different ways to make out garbage whole again.

Personally I think big South African business lobbied (sp??) government and found another way to fleece the consumer. Give them plastic bags and give incentives to companies to not dump waste, do garbage pick up at reasonable rates instead of humping companies and people. Oh yeah and recycle!

Friday, September 15, 2006


My dad is a tough act to follow, he is an unbelievable man and father. He was always cooking up surprises when we were kids, whether it was telling us to pack for warm weather and then whisking us away to Mauritius or Durban or one of the many adventures he has given us throughout our lives. The theatre has always been a big part of that too, I remember going as a kid, he would take his three girls, sometimes my mom would joing us and others it would just be him and the three of us. We would dress up in our shiny black shoes with the gold buckles, our knee high white socks and hats and gloves, always dressed to the hilt. At intermission he would buy us each our own bog of black magic chocolates. We felt so grown up and special. Last night was one of those nights.

One of the wonders of living in NY is going to Broadway. I love the theatre and wish it weren't so dang expensive. Last night my dad took his girls, my mom, my sister and I to see Hairspray. Wow! It was so great, the music was fab the cast and crew gave their all and we all had a big smile pasted on our faces!! Dinner was at Foley's Fish House, it is on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel, right in the heart of Time Square our view was spectacular and as always it was so special spending time with my folks and my sister, Heidi. I feel so lucky to have them be a part of my life.

Unfortunately it was another late night. I swear since I got back to NY I have hit the ground running. I have really given myself permission to play. I have been working long hours and the nights have been meeting friends after the kids are asleep, unfortunately my work hours have been so nutty that I have barely seen the kids, not finishing closings until 8pm and then meeting friends for dinner or going out for coffee with them. I am looking forward to a no plans weekend where we have plenty of stuff to do but with the kids. I have really missed them, the flipside has been connecting with the side of me that is silly and fun and does not take life so seriously, ahhh to finally have people around me who know how to laugh!!

I am playing hookie today to go hang out with my sister and my nephew, Jo Jo the dog bite kid. I swear Jo Jo is the funniest cute, adorable as all hell bot trouble with a capital T. He has spent so much time in the emergency room that Heid is nervous that the Dr's might start an investigation. She was doing some last minute shopping on her whirlwind trip to South Africa, got a call to rush back to the house as Jo Jo had been bitten by a dog, no scrap the house meet Stephen (her hubby) at the hospital. Let me tell you this Joseph is one lucky kid, the dog did a great chomp job and if he had chomped his eye a bit harder, well Little Joseph would have ... well you know. Anyway, covered in stitches, they grabbed the kids and ran for the airport. There's nothing like a sedatives to knock a kid out for a long flight! Poor Heid, payback is a tough thing!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Monday, September 11, 2006


September 11th strikes a chord in so many people's hearts. Today I was intent on not getting caught up in all the sadness that goes with remembering that awful day, trying to logically tell myself that its time to move forward.

I found myself caught up in the broadcasts, brought back to that day, seeing the suffering on so many people's faces as raw as the day it happened. How could I even think that this day could be a side note in history - its as raw and relative today as it was 5 years ago. Such an evil plan, brilliantly planned and executed, I have seen the face of evil and he still roams free. How is it with all their resources, with all their technology the American Government can't find and kill Osama? He is riding camels and eluding one of the most powerful armies in the world. He will fall. I know he will but how many more innocent victims need to be laid in his wake???

Its funny driving on the Long Island Expressway (LIE) today, bumper to bumper with cars, I was brought back to the sparkling blue day when the twin towers fell, the LIE was silent, I was the only car on the road save for the occassional emergency vehicle driving on the opposite side of the highway. Wild when you consider that the LIE is the busiest road in the States.

To all those who died that day we remember you, CNN has an impressive memorial here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Speaking for the unheard.

What we put out in the world is what we receive. Its strange I was brought up in a very priviledged environment, my parents both successful. What put them apart from many of the self-made people I knew is that to this day they will start chatting with anyone anywhere, they have never forgotten where they came from and how quick a trip back it would be.

It was always funny watching people in my dad's office quiver with fear at the mention of his name, always Mr. E, never called by his first name, Jack. I remember once before school (when I was at Damelin for Matric, Damelin was across from the railway station in Jo'burg central), my dad drove me in at the ung-dly hour of 6:00am, we went to have breakfast at his regular coffee shop. His favourite cup of coffee magically appeared without him uttering a word, along with two slices of toast. All around us were handshakes and greetings to Jack. How are you doing Jack, Whats Happening, Jack, Missed you last week Thursday Jack. Jack was smiling and chatting to his buddies, the truck drivers, the mailmen, and his all time hero the train drivers. Jack was just one of the crew.

I guess some of that has rubbed off on me, having been gone from NY for 6 weeks and then even longer from some of my favourite haunts. I experienced the Pavlovian effect of my upbringing, I walk into my favourite take out Sushi place, Hi the owner greets me, I say hi back, walk over to the ready made sushi counter, as I do so he shouts to the back asking them to make me my favourite soft-shell crab roll. I smile, we chat, his broken English, a sweet Japanese man, with a smile and oozing self respect. I walk into my favourite 7-11 after a late closing, its 8pm, the man behind the counter beams at me, I'll make you a fresh pot of coffee as he runs to clean the pot out of my decaf crumb cake coffee pot. Hi I say and we chat about our summers. Its funny when the invisible people around us are made visible, they treat those of us who notice with such respect and are so kind to us. I am grateful to have parents who noticed everyone.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Ugly Truth ................

Dawn's response to My Africa post (directly below this one), got me thinking how right she was (don't let it go to your head chines :))

Her comment was: What I find strange about it all is that the 'new south africa' brought out the truth of the 'old south africa' - that which has been going on in the townships for ever, certainly while we were all living our idyllic lives, is now widespread and has become the way of life. Township crime and the good old-bad old days suburban bliss collided. Ironically, I suspect it is the same most everywhere. How long would us priviliged folk hang out in those areas of America's big cities that are no-go-zones for us? I expect not very long. For those who haven't seen 'TSOTSI' yet - it's a great movie about South Africa and its human spirit.

We certainly did live Idyllic lives. We still do. The harsh reality of the life so many live is one that just gnaws away at my soul. Its funny though because many of the old school black South Africans I spoke to thought things were better under apartheid, they said that there were more jobs, things were less expensive and there was less crime. I guess when one is fighting for ones basic civil rights your priorities are different. So many people expected that when Apartheid ended they would move into nice homes and live better lives. Some did but the majority struggle. I suspect you are right Dee in that many big cities in the USA must face the same issues. Its a shame.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Africa......................

The most common question I get asked is my impressions of South Africa, it's a hard question to answer honestly without offending people and it is not something I can be objective about. You see South Africa for me was not just a place, it was the very essence of who I was and how I defined myself. It was a magical place that gave me the values and ideals that I live my life by. The essence of South Africa is more then the breathtaking beauty, of which there is so much, but more of the intrinsic values of the people who inhabit her. Those who go out of their way to be kind to strangers, to help each other. To get off their arse and be nice just because they can. To open their homes and hearts to people that they barely know and may never see again. There is so much good and special within the borders.

I felt trapped while I was there, not just by the burden of travelling with two small kids but by exposing them to the inherit dangers, the crime, the rapes, the muggings, the murders. Thankfully we were spared any of those ghastly experiences and my kids did not see that side which was plastered over the television and newspapers. Corruption is rife. The jewel of Africa is being stripped down and I felt helpless as I watched her slowly being raped. People are starving, they desperately line the streets begging for food. Everywhere I turned someone wanted something from me where it was money or food or to hock me their wares, it was always something.

Growing up in South Africa I was always amazed by the strength and dignity of the black population, stripped of so many of their rights under apartheid they still carried themselves with a grace and dignity that I have never seen replicated anywhere else in the world. The people made me sad, so very sad, living on Long Island in NY I am isolated from crime and poverty and I rarely encounter people who are in financial trouble unless they are unable to make their BMW payment, not the desperation of every morsel of food counting, I live far from that.

I don't look over my shoulder, we have no bars on our windows and the front door is not always locked. We certainly lock up at night and if I am home alone the alarm goes on, but I can drive at night by myself without the knot in my stomach, without the fear and I know that I live a safe life provided I am not careless or stupid. My kids can walk to school and ride their bikes outside, I meet friends for dinner or coffee without a worry.

There was a lot to get used to in South Africa, besides the places I knew no longer being there, besides the food being so unbelievably rich my kids got sick. It was weird having doorhandles be higher and toilets are higher too. Its weird driving a manual car on the "wrong" side of the street. Its weird having people at every intersection selling goodies.

I am awed by the talent of the craftsmen, there is such a glut of artists selling their beaded wire crafts, breathtaking and I was saddened by how the housekeepers are worked for so long and so hard. Old ladies working late into the night cleaning up so we could sit and relax. Women who should be retiring but instead have to work and they do so with a smile. I met so many ousies who made me sad, my white guilt kicked in big time. Its a burden I don't carry anymore.

It was so hard going to try foods that I had salivated for, for so long and the memory out weighed the reality. The one thing that could not be touched was the human connection and the laughter with friends. The real talks and the igniting of our souls as we discussed memories and events often ones we are unable to share with others. I was sadned by how few are left. So few people. Places. Things. Its not my Africa anymore. Maybe it never was.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


This takes real Talent

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New beginings.........

Having a rather surreal experience being back in NY after my South Africa jaunt. I have to say it is weird being so peaceful. Work exploded, the end of the month is really a busy time for me and I just floated along the wave. Its not like that zone out, stoned peace but its just an inner feeling that has eluded me for the longest time. How great a gift to leave the burden of my beautiful past behind and start living in the moment, creating memories for this chapter in the book of my life.

In the begining of the year I had let my friendship with L go, it was hard to do, she was not in a space where we could be friends, it was too hard for her to bear. I know my stand in your truth attitude is hard for some to bear and when you reach that level of intimacy as friends where you get to delve into one anothers souls, its hard to step back and just scratch the surface. L needed to go through so much and I could not help her and did not really want to, I had too much on my plate before I left for South Africa. Her last tearful call to me before I left about how much she did not want to lose my friendship was hard for me because I had been so hurt by her and I also had to hold myself from jumping right in to apply a bandaid, she needed to bottom out and make her life whole. I told her that I would call her when I returned from SA. Which I did and it was great to chat with her. We ended up going to a mutual friends house on the Sunday and I must say I was so relieved to see her, to see her back from where she was and back to who she is. It is hard to watch someone you care about be in pain but yet instinctively you know its what will make them whole and that is all that you can wish for them.

We spent the entire day absorbed in one another, chatting furiously, catching up on the time we have lost and reconnecting, it was great to both be on the same page, to be on the same path again. Friends, next to family are the mainstay of what keeps me whole. I need that intense human connection, that ability to delve into what makes us who we are and to enjoy the journey with people on similar path. I feel so lucky to have a network of like minded souls, many on the blog, e-mails, phone and some in person. Those are my diamonds, my pearls, the jewels of my life.

Deb and I snuck out of our house on Tuesday night, we went to borders for Cappucino's, chat and chuckles. We had a great night, bought a few books and then called it a night.

Wednesday was Josh's birthday, his mom came over for dinner and we had the yummiest carvel cake for dessert. He is feeling older, I guess its hard to be creeping closer to 50 when you feel 20.

Thursday night I played cards with some friends in the neighbourhood. It was a nice impromptu game and we had a great time. Friday my sister Heid, and my nephews, Gary and Joey arrived. We had a great Shabbat dinner at my folks. Gary came for a sleepover. Saturday my mom juggled all 4 kids while Heid and I went out for a day of shopping, she is heading to South Africa and needed a lot of last minute things.

Gary had another sleepover and our short visit comes to an end, the kids are downstairs with their cuzzie enjoying their last few minutes together before we head on out.

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