June 27, 2007

Harry Potter and the Unfortunate Delay

Last year, I started a post called HARRY POTTER AND THE WISDOM OF TORAH. I decided to wait until the final book came out to rework the entry before posting it. My intent was to offer a rebuttal to any of the religious carping about the Harry Potter books. Those of you who know me know that no one insults Harry in my presence and gets away with it!

Well, someone beat me to the punch . . . there is a new book out called HARRY POTTER AND TORAH. (I think my title is better though.)

I have to read HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS first, then read Dov Krulwich's book to see if he has additional ideas I can "borrow."

It now appears that this is hardly an original idea. (Great minds . . . ?) Here's another article on the same idea.

Thanks to Dov Krulwich's book, I learned that "AbraCadabra" means "I create as I speak" in Hebrew. We all know that the Avada Kedavra curse is J.K. Rowling's play on AbraCadabra . . . . however, I didn't know that Avada Kedavra is Hebrew, too. It means, "I destroy as I speak."

Nifty, huh?

June 23, 2007

We Miss Inky! (photo)

J. Inky is going to come to us again this winter.
L: I don't know. It depends if her owners travel.
J: They have to. They have to hibernate.

June 17, 2007

The Fairy and the Pixies

nce upon a time, there lived a kind fairy. As generous as she was beautiful, the fairy invited two orphan pixies to come and live with her. True to their nature, the pixies were mischievous, disrespectful, and a general nuisance to the good fairy-folk of the glen.

The kind fairy endured all manner of mischief with great patience and forbearance, because she truly believed that with love, discipline and a noble example, the pixies would eventually grow up and take their places among the fine fairy-folk.

Except for one thing: The pixies would not stay in their beds at night. The fairy provided cozy milkweed pod beds, counterpanes of finest fairy silk, and fluffy, down pillows. But as soon as the lights were out in the fairy glen, the pixies would rise for a gay romp.

One day the fairy summoned the naughty pixies. She showed them an ornate oaken casket, which when opened, was revealed to be full of gold. The pixies' eyes widened, for they were as greedy as they were mischievous. "This is fairy gold," she told them. "Whosoever has a piece of this gold has the power to purchase his hearts' delight. If you both will stay in bed once a week, until the last star leaves the sky and the sun peeps over the eastern hill, I shall give each of you a piece of this enchanted gold."

Sadly, the gold remained untouched. The wise fairy understood: as much as the pixies loved the promise of the magic gold, they loved their nightly capers more. The fairy was true to her word, though. Once a week, she would present the ornate chest and repeat her promise. The next morning when the last star had left the sky and the sun peeped over the eastern hill, the fairy would rise and gather the pixies. (They had been cavorting about for hours). With graceful wave of her hand, the chest would disappear
. . . until the next week.

June 14, 2007


Three sheepish eighth grade graduates were honored, and the additional ten or so Yeshiva students in Hart's program each were recognized for their accomplishments this year. This will be the last such ceremony for us here. Hart's therapists, teachers and I have been preparing him for his transfer to a new school this fall. (Of course, Hart is unaware that we adults have been working on the transfer for months.)

But, five years in one school with the same group of classmates and teachers is a long time in the life of a 13-year-old. As I looked around the gym at the usual gathering of staff, pupils, and parents, I realized that five years has been a long time for me, too. Over the years, I have attended weekly meetings, formal staffings, numerous assemblies, a number of Bar Mitzvahs, social events and holiday programs, with this same cadre. I have grown to know these kids and their parents, and to appreciate the tireless staff beyond measure.

The principal made a short speech. The graduates got diplomas, handshakes, and made their remarks. Classroom teachers handed out certificates for "improvement in reading," "love of mathematics," "excellence in science." For Hart, an award for "art and creativity."

Hart's academic growth these past few years has been minimal, despite everyone's Herculean efforts. This has been a subject of endless frustration. I can only wish that he will make greater progress in the new school.

Rabbi, who teaches religious studies to these young scholars, also distributed awards. Each was accompanied by a short d'var.* "Lamp of learning." Not Hart. "Listening attentively." No way. "Asking insightful questions." Hardly. "Excellence in Hebrew." Hah. And on through the alphabet. Until, "Lev Tov*--Being Good-Natured." [You are] sensitive to the well-being of God's creatures, you are friendly and good-hearted. You are willing to help out with a minyan* and fair in play.

I feel much despair over Hart's academic limitations of course, but suddenly I realized that a lev tov is an extraordinary achievement. It cannot be taught.

* Religious explanation.
* Literally, a good heart
* Having become Bar Mitzvah, Hart can be counted in a prayer quorum, which requires ten people.

June 12, 2007


Adult: Jeff, I haven't seen you in a while. What grade did you just finish?
J: 7th
A: So you are 13 and going into 8th grade?
J: Next year I'll be 14.
A: Next year? Your birthday is in August, right? That's in two months.
J: Wow. I'm not ready for that.

June 5, 2007

Summer visitor (photo)

There's a mess of cottontails out here. ______________________ Jeff

(or what is left of them)

Now I can add a gray fox to the list of wildlife visitors to my house. This beauty has been lounging around in the backyard (in broad daylight) for a few hours daily this past week. We have grown quite fond of "Foxy-Loxy" in the week since he moved in. His first visit, I thought, was an anomaly, but he seems to like our backyard with its supply of fresh, ripe bunny babies, and the next door neighbor's koi pond. I suspect he is not a stranger to our neighborhood, since he appears to be wearing a handsome tracking collar.

June 4, 2007

Pet Peeves

Y'know the little things that get ya down?
______________ Cell Block Tango, CHICAGO

My mother has so many pet peeves that she could fill a blog of her own with nothing else. A few:
sportswear worn outside of the gym, such as track suits,
sweatpants, football jerseys
two-piece bathing suits on girls younger than 14
long hair on women older than 50
weird, unpronounceable first names and the parents who give them
car commercials
It was bewildering keeping track of the endless list.

Today at the pool, a women gave me an earful about her pet peeve--people who swim wearing street clothes. She has a point, I guess. I never really thought about it before. What it made me think of is my own pet peeves. I have a few, but none so earth-shaking that I would corner a stranger to tell her about it. (Hence an optional-reading blog entry.)
two-liter pop bottles on the dinner table

the trend of WASP-y names of archaic occupations for boys--Hunter, Carter, Porter, Mason. I haven't yet met a Cobbler or Wheelwright, but maybe it's only a matter of
However, is there a word for the nuisances above "pet peeves" on the Richter scale? I have tons of those, and Hart and Jeff keep inventing new ones and persisting in the old ones.

farting is not funny to me multiple times a day

someone in the room trying to carry on a conversation with me while I am on the phone with someone else. (To be fair to Hart and Jeff, there are scores of adults who do this, too.)

being woken up at strange hours of the night

being summoned to hear someone fart, belch or tell an unfunny joke for the 27th time.

I could live without the constant odd indoor noises made by humans, chirps, buzzing, humming, teeth-sucking, squealing, growling.

I would like other humans to turn and answer if they hear me speak their names.

Everyone over the age of ten should change clothes or dance naked in the privacy of their own bedroom or the bathroom.

June 1, 2007

Rabbitting on Redux

H: Look, the baby bunny is out. I want to adore him.

Cryptic XII

H: I have to wash my hands, I stepped in mud.