July 19th, 2002

Mama Deb

Catching up P1: Readercon

Thursday night, at about 9PM, having rented car and picked up laundry and packed and gone out for fish, we started on the drive to Massachusetts. We found a decent route out of the city,and stopped in Milford, CT at about 11:30, at a Comfort Inn. Quite pleasant, and decent complimentary breakfast with Food We Could Eat - cereal, milk, bread, butter.

We got to Boston at about 1PM Friday, and had lunch in a new pizza place (very new, just opened), went shopping in The Butcherie, which is one of the best kosher markets we know, and then went on to the Israel Bookshop for a half hour (all the time we had until it closed.) J. picked up $116 worth of books there - books we can't get in the Jewish bookstores at home.

We got to the hotel at about 4PM, fighting traffic most of the way. It's amazing how much easier it is to unload a car when all you have is food for a few days, some extra bags and a wheelie suitcase. We checked in, happy that we were on the sixth floor in a hotel where all the function space was on the third (ground) level. Three flights of stairs? Easy. Con suite on our floor? Better still.

Then we met with the other religious members. And. First, there was the shock that one guy printed out my essay Cons for Frummies for others to read. Second...the hotel was undergoing renovation. The current construction meant that all access to and from stairs on the third floor was blocked or otherwise not permitted because of insurance. As the third floor was ground level, and the fire exits from the stairs were on the second or first level, this was not a fire hazard. However, it meant they would *not* allow us to use the stairs, no matter what. (They also didn't want to know about us not locking our doors so we wouldn't have to use the electronic keys.)

We managed. We managed because we *were* on the con suite level. This meant that there was always someone using the elevator to go down to the con level, so we could ride along with them - and there were always people going to their rooms or the con suite from the con level, so we could ride along with them.

We had time before Shabbat to buy books. And books. And books. And to organize things for Shabbat dinner, and to see a panel, even. We had dinner with the frum crowd, saw some more panels and went to sleep at 11:30 like good old fans.

I like Readercon. It's purely literary. All the panels are literary in nature, having to do with SF or writing or reading or political trends or whatever. The members were 1/5 professional writers. There are aren't many parties and no official filking. This makes it the one con we can actually attend during the Nine Days. It was fun.

We bought more books on Sunday morning, when we could, and saw more panels and said good bye to friends and then had dinner with a couple of friends we saw during the con, but not just the four of us. Timing being everything, Sunday night was Mikveh night. My friend gave me phone numbers in advance and driving directions then, and Jonathan waited in a local bookstore and then an ice cream shop until I came to pick him up.

We got home on Monday in time to drop off the car and to have dinner and then go to a shul board meeting. And to collapse in exhaustion afterwards.
Mama Deb

Catching up P2: Tisha B'Av

I hate Tisha B'Av. Everyone does, especially since the weather around here tends to be really, really bad on that day - hot and humid and designed to make us all miserable.

I got back from work on Wednesday, having not have consumed enough water, at about 6. The fast would begin in two hours. I needed to shop for dinner and for the next night's break fast. I also needed to drink water. And cook and eat and drink water. So. I went to the bank and deposited my paychecks and got some cash. And then I bought some water. And then I saw that the supermarket was closed. There was no reason for it to be closed so early, but it was. And so was the other one.

Time to panic.

Time to see that smaller stores were open. Dinner was supposed to be "Sarah's Pasta", a concoction of spiral noodles, canned salmon, frozen peas and fresh garlic. I had the garlic in the house. I had pasta of different shapes. I had tuna fish. I was going to improvise when I saw that the fish store was open. This is not my favorite fish store - the other one smells better - but it was open. I bought a half pound of fresh salmon fillet. With the skin. I should have had him remove it. I found pasta spirals in another store. The bagel store sold me bagels, cream cheese, lox and eggs. I was good to go.

Got home. Changed kitchen to dairy. Put up pots of water for pasta and eggs (hardboiled eggs. Necessity.) Skinned (badly) and chopped up salmon, Did the same for garlic. Poured olive oil in pan, added fish and then garlic and cooked until garlic was brown. Added a glug of cider vinegar. I used to use wine, and I prefer balsamic vinegar at this point, but there's a thing about grape products that may or may not extend to grape vinegar, so why push it? The cider vinegar was fine. I put in the eggs and lowered te flame and covered the pot. It would cook for 21 minutes. By this time, the fish/garlic was done, so I shut off the pot. The pasta water boiled I tossed in a half box of spirals. Ten minutes or so later, I tasted the pasta and found it needed a few more minutes.

Normally, I'd use frozen peas. You put the peas in the colander and drain the pasta over the peas. This time, I had frozen broccoli. I tossed them into the pasta pot to cook along with the pasta. When the pasta was done, I drained it and returned it, broccoli and all, to the pot and added the salmon/garlic/oil mixture. I then took the eggs out and refrigerated them.

And then I waited and waited and waited. And drank water. At 7:30, I ate some pasta. Was good. Jonathan came home fifteen minutes later, saying we had 24 more minutes than I'd thought. I joined him for a second plate of pasta, and we finished the meal with a banana, and said the short grace after meals. Then he burned a piece of paper to make ashes. We washed and said the blessing over bread over half a bagel, and ate it and an egg dipped in the ashes as a final meal of mourning. Also, we drank more water. We then said the full grace after meals, as we'd had bread and we were done eating and drinking.

At about 9PM, we walked to synagogue, where we did our best not to greet people. These things are forbidden during Tisha B'Av - eating, drinking, sex, washing, anointing, leather shoes, clean clothes,greeting friends and Torah study, except as regards the Destruction of the Temple. Also music and sitting in anything but very low chairs. Anything that brings pleasure. We're in pain. We're in mourning. We don't want pleasure. We sat on the floor or low chairs or soda crates and listened to the rather haunting rendition of Eichah, Lamentations, and said the first four kinnos (dirges?) and went home, stopping to chat with a friend, and wishing everyone an "easy fast."

There not being much else to do, other than watch tv, we watched tv, enjoying seeing Jon Stewart get the better of Anne Coulter, who is pretty, blonde and uberconservative, and went to sleep. Jon went to synagogue. I spent the day in bed, watching bad television, reading and sleeping. And I finished my cross stitch.

I will now shower and get dressed and look for a meat restaurant that might be open on a Friday after being closed for a week. I want beef, and I'll be able to eat it in about a half hour, after the Temple stops burning.
Mama Deb

(no subject)

Stolen from jorit.

1. Where were you born?
Brooklyn, New York.

2. If you still live there, where would you rather move to? If you don't live there, do you want to move back? Why or why not?

When I married, I moved back to Brooklyn. I love it here, especially where I live now. It's very much home. If I could live anywhere else, I'd choose Israel, where I also felt very much at home.

3. Where in the world do you feel the safest?

In my own home.

4. Do you feel you are well-traveled?

Not really. I've been as far south as Florida, as far North as Montreal, as far west as Albuquerque in the south and Michigan in the North, plus to Bermuda and Israel. That sounds well traveled, but most of my traveling has been to conventions, which means basically the same hotel rooms and similar people. I'd like to see Europe, more of the US and more of Israel, of which I've basically seen Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

5. Where is the most interesting place you've been?

Israel. History, religion, home, all bound up in one.