Wednesday, January 31

The Fashion Police

When I was younger, I would always bristle at what I considered to be fashion faux pas.
I took them as a personal affront to me and my good taste.

Here a few cardinal regulations that I felt were inexcusable to break:

*You all know how I feel about fur- I love it.
I always think of the happy animal souls floating upon high, secure in the knowledge that their sacrifice is keeping a Mitzvah loving Jew warm. It’s a win/win situation except, and here comes the Kasamba policy:
A fur coat should never be larger than the animal it was ripped off of.

*Then there are two things I never wanted to see on men, unless they are channelling Carmen Miranda and going to sing any song by Judy Garland. These two things are jewellery and long hair. I’m afraid that men with hoops in their ears always forced me to resist the compulsion to tug and see what happens. To me, rings, bracelets and necklaces make a man look like a pirate at a dress up party. And about the long hair- the problem is, men with hair past their shoulders, require them to follow strict hygiene rituals, which I really think is an unmasculine pursuit. And what’s with the pony tail? Eww, gross. All that does is make me want to find an inkwell to dip it in.
Why can’t a man be a man and get a normal fuss free haircut?

*Now here’s a fashion no-no that would be simple to correct, had the perpetrator invested in another mirror. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about -people who look fine from the front but from the back they look like they are sausages bursting out of their wrappers- in other words, their poor overworked clothes are busting at the seams. Most of the time this offence is committed by pregnant women who are so enthralled by the shape of their bumps that they wear poured on clothes (do I really want to know if they have ‘innie’ or ‘outie’ belly buttons?) not realizing that they also regale the viewer with every ounce of freshly acquired cellulite visible from the rear.
Yup, way too much information.

I would walk along my merry way thinking:
(This is interactive- you have to fill in the blanks)
“Hey ___________ called, they want their ___________ back”
Sonny & Cher .............................fuzzy vest
Seventies ....................................Afro
Eighties ......................................shoulderpads
Tevye ...........................................tatty hat
Ringling Bros. ...........................clown makeup
Diana Ross ................................sequined monstrosity

Then it came to a point where I appointed myself, self proclaimed ‘Fashion Police’. I don't think there would've been enough forests in the world to produce the paper necessary for all the tickets I would've been handing out, because every fashion offence would deserve its own penalty and punishment.

Small offences like dressing for summer in the height of winter or dressing thirty years too old or too young for your age would get a £20 fine.

Larger offences such as wearing more than six designer obvious prints at once, or overaccessorising would be punishable by a £100 fine.

Heinous offences such as ill fitting suits with sleeves up to the wrist and pants to the ankles would be a felony requiring clamping.
This would entail immobilising said perpetrator, until someone else can bring him suitable clothes.

Of course, any Tznius crime would require enforcing the felon to take a one way trip to the care of the Mullahs in Saudi Arabia where they put immodest people in burlap sacks and beat them round the head with dried salamis.

I think I would have run out of citations.

Then one day, I saw the most interesting woman in a department store. She was wearing a purple and orange ensemble, with co-ordinating purple and orange accessories.
Her blouse was a bright tangerine orange, offset by her choker and earrings of purple plastic. Her deep purple slacks (they were definitely ‘slacks’ as in ‘leisure suit’ slacks) had an orange belt, and a matching purse.
Even her lipstick was orange.
I was riveted.
She was a vision.
I had never seen anything quite like it before and I doubt that I ever will again. “My goodness”, I thought, “What was she thinking when she got dressed this morning? Or was she thinking at all? Ha! Snort!”
Then something strange happened top me, I noticed the obvious care and attention this woman had put into her outfit. All that effort just to find exactly the right shades of purples and oranges.
Why, she thought she looked great!
I then took notice of her evident pride in her demeanour and I felt duly chastened.

Um, exactly who had made me the Fashion police?
Why did I have the urge to point out what I perceive to be other people’s fashion failures?
Looking deep in myself, I realised that in order for my way to be right, someone else’s must be wrong.

Like playing see-saw, I would have put her down so that I could have felt up.
We all do the same thing in one way or another.
We condescend to other people because they don’t share our vision of the way we think things should be.

Relaxing standards can be very frightening because we are taught at an early age that life is black and white. Something is either ‘good’ or it is ‘bad’, someone is either ‘right’ or he is ‘wrong’.
It’s only as we mature that we recognise the shades of grey.

As Jews, not only do we have to learn not to condemn differences, we must actually learn to embrace them, because to do otherwise is to exclude other Jews and we cannot afford to that, even those shades of grey don’t match what they’re wearing.

Tuesday, January 23

The Tell Tale Tart

Every year when my birthday rolls around, I always think fondly of Edgar Allen Poe.

We have many things in common, me and old Edgar;
1-We both have a warped sense of humour.
2- We both hate photos.
3- We share the same birthday together with Dolly Parton and General Robert E Lee.

The only difference being that he is dead and I am, well… not.
So with mucho apologios to the Poe estate, I have taken Ed’s (do you think I can call him Ed?) famous short story the Tell Tale Heart and tweaked it a tiny, eensy, weeny, bit. (I'm winking at you TOWIK)

The Tell Tale Tart

nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am meshuggah? The hunger had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the kitchen and in the fridge. I heard many things in the basement.

How then am I meshuggah? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved that puff pastry apple tart. It had never wronged me. It had never given me indigestion. However for its calories and fat content I had no desire. I think it was the dough! Yes, it was this! The dough was as flaky as dried autumnal leaves. Whenever it’s smell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to put the apple tart away, and thus rid myself of the temptation for ever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me meshuggah. Meshugganas know gurnisht. I say gurnisht!!!
But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work!

I was never more carelful to an apple tart than during the whole week before I hid it. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of the fridge door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark flashlight all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the condiments on the side compartment.

It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see the apple tart with its vanilla icing drizzling down the sides.
Ha! would a mehugganah have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the fridge, I undid the flashlight cautiously—oh, so cautiously—cautiously, I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the pastry. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight. And now have I not told you that what you mistake for being meshuggah is but over-acuteness of the senses?

now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a chocolate wrapper makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the puff pastry apple tart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the flashlight motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the dough. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the tart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! -- do you mark me well?

I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the tart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me—the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The pastry’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the flashlight and leaped into the sub zero refrigerator and placed a ziplock baggie over the pastry.

I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But for many minutes the tart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the aluminium wall. At length it ceased. I placed my hand upon the tart and held it there many minutes. The dough would trouble me no more.

If still you think me meshuggah, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the tart. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.

I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly, that no human eye—could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out—no stain of any kind—no crumbs whatever. I had been too wary for that.

When I had made an end of these labours, it was four o’clock—still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, -- for what had I now to fear? There entered my offspring returning from school.

A pastry had been smelled by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of hidden pastries had been aroused; and they (the children) had been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, -- for what had I to fear? I bade the children welcome.
The smell, I said, was my own. I took my inquisitors all over the house. I bade them search—search well. I led them, at length. I showed them all my treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the puff pastry tart.

The children were satisfied.
My MANNER had convinced them.
I was singularly at ease.
They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, my stomach rumbled, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct : I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness—until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.

No doubt I now grew VERY pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased—and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND—MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A CHOCOLATE WRAPPER MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON.

I gasped for breath, and yet the youngsters heard it not.
I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles and other desserts, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased.
Why WOULD they not be gone?

I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the children, but the noise steadily increased.
Oy vey! what COULD I do? I foamed—I raved!
I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased.
It grew louder—louder—louder! And still the children chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not?
Uch und vey! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision!
I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now—again—hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --

“Rasho’im!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of this luscious apple tart !”


Friday, January 19

It’s My Party!

When I was young, I thought that anyone over the age of 20 was old. Every year since then, I have raised the bar accordingly.
Now I think 80 is old, but I know that I won’t think that way in twenty years time. Then it will be the new ‘middle age’ because I will never believe that I am getting on. I am just way too young and way too immature for that.
I want to grow old disgracefully.

Today I am turning the big four-oh. (Gasp!)
I don’t like that term ‘turning’; it feels like I should be metamorphosising into something else. I don't even want to think about what it is that I am turning into.

It is with some trepidation that I approach this milestone in my life. I am appreciative that I made it thus far and have done so much, but it still doesn’t alter the fact that I am terrified of getting old. I don’t want to look like it and I definitely don’t want to act like it, but it sure beats the alternative.

In my circles it has become the ‘in’ thing to make surprise parties for those of us lucky enough to make it to this landmark number.
But alas and alack, I am a control freak and there are certain elements of my life that I am loathe relinquishing, namely my big bash.

And so, I have sent out invitations to those whom I adore, to invite them to my surprise party.
Yes, you heard correctly, (IYH everyone should be healthy spit, spit spit)
I am making myself a surprise party.
It will be a women’s only Karaoke party, all in the best of taste, I assure you. (wink)
The invitation, which is black swirly writing on silver card, reads as follows:

You are cordially invited to my 40th Surprise Party
Bo Bayom
(it’s on my Hebrew birthday)
Motzai Shabbos, January 27, 2007
8:30pm prompt - Don’t ruin the surprise
(well, I will be making an entrance!)
My House
Shhhhh… Please park down the road so I don’t see your car
PS If I knew about this, I’d look forward to seeing you!

You see, I have been planning this shin-dig for years, there is no way I’d let someone else do it for me.

Like I told you, my birthday is actually today, but I wanted my party to be on my Hebrew birthday which just happened to be on a Motzai Shabbos. How abba-solutely convenient.
I call the days in between my English birthday and my Hebrew birthday;
Chol Hamoed.

At first, I thought I would walk into my surprise party, fresh from a massive Botox injection. I thought I could walk into my living room with all my guests assembled to surprise me and I would react by …
not reacting.

I thought I would be resplendent in my ageless, preternaturally still face. I would just be a model of sophistication by not being my usual self and squishing up my facial muscles, with excitement and hyperactivity.

But then, I went to a Botox luncheon held by Emunah, in some fancy hotel in town. They had a famous Doctor who specialises in Botox, ,talk about the drug. He gave a talk about the benefits of injecting botulism into one's face and then dropped the bombshell;
He, himself, has regular Botox injections.
No duh.

The guy looked like a Madame Tussaud wax figure, save for the blue vein running down the length of his forehead. And when he smiled, his nose crinkled up and parts that shouldn’t crease, creased. His nose looked more ruffled than a potato chip. He didn’t look young, he just look shiny and odd, like someone had taken varnish to his face.
I have since decided that every laugh line I have is because I have laughed for forty years.
Every age line I have is because I have lived for forty years.

So that was the end of my Botox dream, instead I have deemed that chocolate shall be my poison of choice.
Bring on the wrinkles.

Back at the ranch, I am still planning my surprise party sans facial immobilisers. I am of course creating my own cake, in three tiers and it will have all the candles I deserve standing proudly like a regiment of soldiers, each one attesting to a year spent, well, in insanity.
I will also have a fire extinguisher on hand, just in case.

I will only serve food I like; such as sushi and…more sushi. I will also have a cappuccino machine paying homage to those caffeine addicts like me. My friends are making a ‘Who Knows Kasamba best?’ quiz which will afford the people who really paid attention to me to be acknowledged and rewarded accordingly.

I am planning my entrance by blowing up a baby photo of myself and putting it on a great big piece of white paper. When the pre-recorded drumroll finishes with a great big BOOM;
I will rip through the paper and step forward; symbolically giving birth to myself as a forty year old woman.

I have one friend who is a real Tzadekes. She never wants anyone to spend money on her as she’d rather the money go to Tzedakah. She gives out ‘money has been donated in your name to charity’ cards instead of gifts.
She is a good person.
I, on the other hand would like a good gift and feel very guilty hoping that I don’t get one of her cards.
One friend already told me that she is buying me a goat in Uzbekistan and I will get a certificate and photos in the post. I can’t imagine anyone beating that.

The way I figure it is that I’m at the stage in my life where I can do what I like and I like parties. I have already purchased a brand new tiara just for this occasion.

As the great Bill Cosby once said,
"If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it."

Shehchianu Vekiamanu Vehigiyanu Lazmaan Hezeh!
Party on!

Boruch Hashem my party was better than I could have ever hoped!!!

After my grand entrance, I was presented with a giant box and told that it's a kitchen appliance and out burst.... my mother! It was the very same woman who told me not to make her feel guilty for not coming to my big bash because she wasn't well!

She had spent the entire Shabbos cooped up in my mother in law's house, together with my sister in law who surprised me by coming in from Vienna!

And the surprises kept on coming!
Asparagus sang me the most FABULOUS song, written by TOWIK (the handout coppies were decorated by Sarah-thank you!)
My best friend (and neighbour) and my daughter made me a fantastic video (edited by Kishmech- thank you!) and another friend said a speech and my two sister in laws sang gramen. If that wasn't enough, another close friend and neighbour, made me a giant signing board using the only photo of myself that I ever liked!

Then another amazingly close friend of mine dedicated 'wind beneath my wings' to me and we all swayed with tealights in our hands! Another group of friends dedicated a song to Mr Kasamba (who was not there naturally, because it was a woman only event!) which was ' hey big

My three teired birthday cake was a big hit and was more of an engeneering project to accomplish. We finally closed up shop at 2:30 am when Mr Kasamba decided he wanted a go on the Kareoke machine!!!

I know I made my own party, but I never felt so loved in my life!
I adored every minute!!!

Tuesday, January 16

The More the Merrier

It’s getting late Kasamboys and Kasambettes!
So, make yourself a hot cup of cocoa, curl up under a warm duvet; it’s time for a bedtime story!
(clear throat)

The More the Merrier

I had too many things to do, too much was on my head,
And then I heard a strange voice, a strange voice that said:

‘Kasamba, one of you is not enough, so I’ll make my offer now,
Just say the word and they’re yours, one word and than ‘kapow’!’

Just what is it that you offer?’ I asked that strange, strange voice,
It said, ‘I’ll tell you what they are, and then you make the choice’,
Okay, fine!’ I said ‘but hurry up! I can’t stand here all day!
But I leaned forward to hear just what that voice would say.

The voice said it fast, the voice said it clear,
And said the things a frum woman wants to hear;
‘Too much is on your head, you have so much to do,
So I propose to help you out and make a few of you!

'Is this a joke?' I screamed out loud,
But I must admit that I was wowed,
The wonderful idea of more of me,
Was something I would die to see!
(Well, not actually die, it must be said,
You can’t see anything, when you’re dead)

The voice started to explain that they were loans,
Why would I complain when it meant clones?
More of me?’ I thought, how great, how grand!
Instead of one, I will have a triple helping hand!

And then there they were; me but yet not quite me,
I could not, I would not, have dreamed this could be!

But then they smiled, my ever so charming smile,
I was so glad to see that they had such great style.

And so it was that I got thrice as much done,
Three Kasambas! Three times as much fun!
Fairly soon I managed to finish my never-ending list ,
We were the speedy Kasambas- well, you get the gist!

My expedience left all of my peers in the dust,
They didn’t know I had clones? Ha, they must!

But we would never be at the same place at one time,
To show my husband I had it easy would be a crime,
Hey, let me at least get credit where the credit is due,
All those things my clones did, means I did them too!

Purim was done by Chanukah, Pesach was done by Jan,
And kids’ homework needed more than just one wo-man!
We cooked five course meals on every single night,
Between us there was never one spec of dust in sight.
We did four different carpools, with nary a complaint,
My friends and family started to think I was a saint!

Then of course, the voice returned to me, one night late,
This time, to hear what it would say I knew I could wait.
It said, ‘Kasamba, listen, I have something to say',
‘Oh no’ I thought, ‘it can’t take my ‘me’s away!’
Yes,’ it said, ‘I’m afraid your clones must go back,
And you’ll just have to try to get your life on track.

And then with a puff of the prettiest pink smoke,
My clones were gone as quick as my Diet Coke.

Now I’m alone to do, so I do what I must,
I do what I can without getting too fussed.

So every now and again if you catch me standing still,
Know that I’m simply listening out to hear what I will.

For far too much is on my head
And I have too many things to do,
I just want my beautiful clones back
Because I am better as a few.

Saturday, January 13

Of Cleanliness and Kabbalists

Before y’all start jumping to conclusions I just want to pre-empt your natural assumptions by saying that my house is clean.
It’s really very clean.
I just don’t do it myself, that’s all.
In fact, every time I see something requiring elbow grease, I hear a voice shrieking,
“Kasamba! Step away from the filth! NOW”
I do my best to listen to that voice.

The way I look at it, is that I am definitely overqualified to wash, scrub and scour.
When I first got married, I thought nothing of dumping my handbag and coat on the kitchen counter in case I would need it later, or the next day. Mr Kasamba took this lack of tidiness as a personal affront to him and his entire bloodline. Therefore, I did train myself to pander to his peculiar need, but as far as the rest, well it didn’t mean that much to me.
The way I explained it to him was,
Hey, ya want it clean, but I ain’t gonna do it so I guess you is gonna have to hire someone, huh?”
I know, I know I am just so…refined.

I love my cleaning help.
I have them in mind every time I light Shabbos candles.
I love how I can cook like Hurricane Katrina and the kitchen will be spotless before you can say, 'damaged drinking water'.
So you could say I’m relaxed in the cleaning area.

Now for the Kabbalist part.
As you already know, I am a Rebbe follower and I love the idea of going to get Brochos from people who are many steps closer to Hashem than I am. So, when I saw an ad in the local paper about a Rav who specialised in the Kabalistic art of Chachmas Hayad, (reading hands) I thought,
“Oh, yeeeeeaaaah! Gotto go to him!”
I immediately called up and booked an appointment. Then, I forced poor Mr Kasamba after a long day at work to take me to North London, where this Kabbalah guy was temporarily based.

Knowing that Kabbalists see you more as a spiritual entity rather than a physical one, I tried to cleanse myself of bad thoughts and busied myself saying Tehillim before I met him. Now, Mr Kasamba doesn’t go in for all of this stuff. He believes, as my father does, that we can approach the Almighty when and wherever we want, but he indulges my meshugassim. So we shlepped into the bowels of North London where we were ushered into a decrepit tiny room with a bed and a sink.
“Ooooh,” I thought (See? I'm always thinking!),
“An Anav! You don’t see many of those these days!”
Then I met him, the man who with his gift of special sight, would look into my hand and tell me what I need to know.
I was gurgling with anticipation.
Well, not actually gurgling, but I just like that word. Gurgling.
Gur-ga- ling.
The Rav then instructed me to sit across from him and asked to see my hand. He looked at my hand for a long time. I looked over at my better half who had his arms folded in incredulity and I gave him a look that said, “You see? This guy is the real deal!”

Just then the Rav looked up at me and started to regale me about secrets of my life.
He told me that my quiet kids were loud and that my easy kids were difficult.

But what cinched it was when he said that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that manifests itself in cleanliness.
He said that I am so extremely spotless that my family and kids suffer and especially my husband.

He said that having a spic and span house is not the true measure of an Eishes Chayil.
He said that I must learn how to relax my standards in order for me to have Sholom Bayis.
By this time Mr Kasamba was physically holding his sides in pain from withholding gales of laughter.

My first thought was that maybe my hands were dirty and that’s why the Rav misread my signals and thought I was somebody else.

But then he went on to ask me if I knew of any rich people in Golders Green who would be interested in his expertise.
Ah, huh. Yeah right.
Beam me up Scottie.

Boruch Hashem, I have had the zchus of meeting amazing Rebbeim who beyond doubt have Sight and true clarity of vision.
This guy was obviously not one of them.
Or maybe…. I was meant to be a neat freak.

Tuesday, January 9

Wait a Minute Mr Postman

If I had to think of the most stressful jobs, I wouldn’t put Postmen at the top of the list.
Instead, these are the professions I think would be the most stress inducing:
1- Doctors-
they are never off duty.
As soon as someone asks what they do, they know that they are in for a ‘why does it hurts me right here when I cough?’ question.

2- Telemarketers- you know, the people who call you and ask you who handles your insurance; just when you have one kid in the bath, something that needs to be taken out of the oven and someone ringing on the doorbell.
The abuse those poor, innocent people get! Nebech.

3- Staff at Walmart- for heaven’s sake, you know the higher ups were just begging for trouble when they put ‘How can I help you?’ on the back of the staff t-shirts.
Well, how would you feel if you couldn’t speak any English and people are constantly bombarding you with queries like ‘where are the 12 gauge shotguns’?

4- Waiters at any Jewish establishment- we Jews don’t go in for ambience. We don’t go out to eat for the company.
We already talked in the car.
When we go out to eat, we want our food and we want it… fast.

But when I look at my Postman (or mailman to you on the other side of the puddle) I see someone who does things in their own time at their own pace in their own style.
And yet these are people who live this close (my forefinger and thumb are very close together- trust me) to the proverbial edge of reason.
For some odd reason, when a Postman loses it, he goes all out.

So, I have dedicated an entire post to figure out;
Why do Postmen go insane?

Could it be their uniforms?
Why is it that postal services all over the world dress their employees like Uumpa Loompas? With their cute shorts and knee socks, they look more like Munchkins than they do civil servants.
I know life is not a catwalk but it ain’t a walk in a lunatic asylum either. (And it can’t help that their vans resemble the vehicles used by Barnum and Bailey to stuff all those clowns in.)

Could it be the animals?
I would think the Postman’s worst enemy is a householder’s dog.
A dog is supposed to protect and guard his master’s abode.
If you think of it from his point of view, he sees a strangely garbed human walking with a sheaf of envelopes. Now poor doggy doesn’t know if he is going to set them alight and torch the place. Or this strange stranger could be using that bunch of envelopes to whack his master over the head leaving doggy with no Purina Dog Chow which is great tasting and tailored to his specific dietary needs.
I know I’d be upset.
And so the dog reacts, the way any of us would really, and tries to chomp the heck out of our Postman.
Text Colour
Could it be the catalogues?
Darn, those things are heavy.
I don’t think they would mind delivering them that much if they were appreciated. But don’t think Mr Postman doesn’t see piles of the ghastly things sitting in your recycling bin! He sees every single one, knows that they are recent and knows that his back breaking labour was for nought. He knows there are hardly any forests left and the whole ozone is falling down as a result and yet you can’t be bothered to read the catalogues.
Shame on you.

In the US could it be because of the extra four digit zip codes?
In the UK could it be because the numbers of the houses don’t follow up normally?

Do you think they cram all the mail into the post box, until they resemble Oliver North’s documents, on purpose?
Could it be because of braving the elements?
Too much exposure to sunlight or car fumes?

Is the pressure just too much?
Is that why they end up at the top of a watchtower shooting up all and sundry?

Here in the UK, a person making a simcha doesn’t even have to send out invitations. All they have to do is call up people a week before the shin-dig and ask them if they received the invitation. People will assume that the invites got lost in the post, which happens here all the time. In fact, last year the Hendon and Finchley Times reported that most of the mail from my area ended up in a nearby lake because the mail carrier couldn’t be bothered to deliver it. Okay, so that guy was prosecuted but in his wake we got a guy who gives my post to other people and gives me their stuff.
Growing up in the States also afforded me plenty of opportunities to sing the requiem that is ‘missing mail’.

They don’t say, “Your check is in the post” for nothing, ya know: Because it’s a 50/50 chance whether it will ever arrive or not.
Most likely, your check is not in the post, but rather ;
your post is in the Czech’.

I couldn’t tell you why Postmen go insane.
I can only tell you that they don’t contribute an awful lot to the mental health of society.
Well, at least not to mine.

Sunday, January 7

The Right Shoes

I am an extremist.
Whatever I do, I end up doing to the nth degree.
So nine years ago, when Mr Kasamba bought me a treadmill, I couldn’t stop running. Thank goodness it was stationary, because with the amount I ran, I would have ended up on another continent. I’d start out by saying that I’d run for a half an hour and two hours later I’d still be on it. After a few months, I started noticing that I had pain in my shins, so what would a normal person do?
I couldn’t tell you, I can only tell you what I did.
I would take painkillers before I ran so the pain was bearable. BTW, I have a very high pain threshold, so things have to break down before I see to them. Soon enough, the pain crossed the threshold of normality and I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I couldn’t even stand anymore.
So I shlepped myself to the doctor who x-rayed my legs and told me with an awed expression that I had shin splints. He was awed, because you can only get shin splints if you are an athlete and over do it. Mine were so bad that both of my shinbones were covered with minute fractures and it hurt just to stand on them. The doc also said that it was really important to wear the right shoes. I thought, (ding!)
" He is sooo right! I must go shopping!"

Part of my treatment was to have physiotherapy, to stretch the stranglehold my calf muscles had around my shin bones to alleviate the pain and the pressure from them.

One fine day, I walked into LA Fitness on Golders Green Road, to go to see my physiotherapist. She wasn’t there but the front desk told me that her stand in was excellent. I sure hoped so.

I walked into the treatment room and was face to face with a stunning blonde girl with a friendly smile. As she was beating me up, we started talking. Somehow the conversation shifted to the Jewish Learning Exchange, which is a division of Or Sameach that happens to share the same building as LA Fitness. I told her what an amazing place it is and she asked me what association I had with them. So I informed her that I tutored there every Tuesday evening. She got all excited and asked if I would tutor her as well.

Now, there was no way I would have ever known this girl was Jewish, so I got quite a shock. I told her that as I had the same learning partner for years that would be impossible for me to learn with her on Tuesday nights at the JLE, but that she should call the JLE and arrange to have another tutor learn with her. She was adamant that I was the only person that she would want to learn with. I asked her why she felt that strongly about me when I could easily be the most rubbish teacher ever.

I will never forget what she said. With confidence as she pointed to my things in the corner of that little room, she said
“Anyone who wears shoes like that, has got to know what they are talking about!”

Impressed (and flattered!) with her tenacity, I agreed to start learning with her on Monday afternoons at my home.
She always showed up on time and soaked up whatever I taught her. Her enthusiasm was infectious and she became a greater source of chizuk to me than I’m sure I was to her. I remember that I t was right before Purim and she was overjoyed to learn about Esther and her plight. At the end of our session, she told me that was going to Israel the next week and would call me to continue upon her return.
She never called.
Pesach came and went that year and I hadn’t heard from her, so I just assumed that she had had enough. I thought,
“You win some, you lose some.”

Years flew by with no word from her.
In the interim, I had had another child and married off my regular learning partner. Soon after the birth of Cucumber, I found myself once more in the JLE on Tuesday nights.
I was standing at reception schmoozing with the secretary waiting for my new learning partner to arrive when I saw her.

At first I didn’t recognise her because whereas before, I couldn’t tell whether or not this girl was Jewish at all, now there was no mistaking that aidelkeit and the refined deportment that said ‘I’m frum’.

She looked as magnificent as ever. She rushed over to me, her gusto as evident as always, and embraced me in a huge hug. She said in her animated way, “Kasamba! I’m so excited to see you! I wanted to call you so much but I had lost your number! When I left you to go to Israel all those years ago, I enrolled myself in a seminary and I’ve been there ever since! Don’t you see? You inspired me so much, I wanted to learn everything!” Tears stung at my eyes as she continued, “And now I’m here visiting and I’m teaching someone myself!” Hearing this, I knew in my heart that she had surpassed her teacher.
Her existence now would be an undiluted, pure life of Torah.

I knew that I was just the tiny spark that ignited her ‘Pintele Yid’ and caused it to burst into flames.
And THAT’s why it’s so important to wear the right shoes.

Wednesday, January 3

My Favourite Fruits

When I was single and went out on a date, I would whip out a photo of three gorgeous smiling little girls and say,
“I just want you to know, I come with kids.”
I can’t say it was a terrific marketing ploy, but it didn’t really scare Mr Kasamba away because he knew that I had not bore them, rather I just felt that they were mine.

I first arrived into the lives of my three girls not more than a child myself at the tender age of sixteen. I was in Israel at the time and my mother sent a suitcase with the Seeded Fruit family for me (by the way, never tell my mother you are going anywhere, she is sure to know someone she needs to send something to wherever you’re going). I waited for this family, strangers to me except for my mother’s constant raving about how cute the kids were. Finally, they came out; two parents, one babysitter and eight adorable children. And the luggage! From far the luggage looked like a mountain as all the cases were piled sky high. Of course, my case was on the tippy top. They fell on the drinks I had bought for them, famished from their long trip from New York.

That summer on hiatus from seminary, I worked as their babysitter. It was then that I fell in love with my girls. At the grand old age of three, the oldest Guava, was the leader of the bunch. She would tell me that she wanted ‘checkup on her pasghetti’. The second in line Kiwi, would pick up her dimpled little two year old hands and say ‘huggame’. But it was the littlest one that I lost my heart to.

Blueberry was just a little baby with soft round cheeks and a little pink tongue that would stick out whenever she smiled. She had the biggest, bluest eyes I had ever seen, and she smelled like baby lotion. I wanted to eat her. I couldn’t bear to away from her and I would have Blueberry attacks, where I felt that would just die if I couldn’t smush her immediately, so I would have to go to her toot sweet.

The dynamics shifted shortly after I came back after my second year of Sem and I needed my girls. I would pick them up and shlep them everywhere. They were always dressed identically, in the most amazing outfits, like little dolls. I would take them food shopping and put all three in the trolley and they would chant together whatever it was that I was supposed to buy. I still can’t buy apple juice without hearing them chant, ‘app-le juice, app-le juice, app-le juice’. Then I would take them clothing shopping and all three would sit on the floor of the changing room and give me their verdict of what outfit worked or not.
They had very good taste.

Soon enough, I forged a friendship with their mother Mango that has strengthened and deepened over the years so much that I can’t even remember my life before she was a part of it.
She is the sister I should have had.

Subsequently, when the girls were in school and I was in college, I would find myself keeping neat freak Mango company while she colour coordinated her daughters' Barbies' (massive) wardrobes. She has always been my best audience, and she used to crack up when I would whine that Barbie’s life was so much better than mine at the time; Barbie had great clothes, a fantastic car and such a good looking (albeit effeminate) boyfriend.

Then Mango and I would take Mama Kasamba and shlep out to the far reaches of New York State. We called these trips Road Trips. As the years wore on, whenever I come in from London, Mango’s oldest daughter Apple joins us as well as Guava, Kiwi and Blueberry. Soon, I expect my very own Asparagus to be included in this right of passage.

There are rules for the Road Trip.
The first being that as soon as you enter the car, you have to say whether or not you ate or not and whether or not you want to be on a diet. This is so when we stop at the last gas station before the George Washington Bridge, we will know what nosh to buy all assembled.

The next thing one must do is decide where to eat when we arrive at whatever Borough (usually Boro Park) or city that is our destination. Most of the time the Road Trip will try and defer eating until later, but this usually proves fruitless and we give in.

The Road Trip also requires laughing so hard that everyone must then yell at Mango to retain control of the wheel.

You might be inclined to ask, ‘why now, Kasamba? Why mention the family of the Seeded Fruits NOW?’
Well, I’ll tell you.

My youngest, my ittle, wittle, cutie, patootie, Blueberry has gotten engaged.

She has grown up to be every bit as wonderful as her babyhood promised. She has a heart of solid gold, a smile to melt glaciers and a sense of humor to rival mine. In other words, she’s perfect (spit all over her and wrap her in red string).

I still haven’t gotten used to the fact that Guava and Kiwi have two kids each.
And now Blueberry is getting married and I shall have a new son-in-law of sorts.
My baby is growing up.

Monday, January 1

Six Special Things about Me

As you know, I don’t take instruction well.
Even if I get a recipe, I always do my own thing. So when Sara with no H tagged me for this meme, I thought, why not? But, Sara forgive me, I’m not going to follow the rules stipulated in your lovely post. If someone wants the rules then they can click on your link on the side of my blog because I don’t know how to link in the post. Plus, I don’t like the word weird, I like the word special, especially with a Spanish accent so it sounds so ‘thepthial’.

Six special things about me:
1- I am Bentchaphobic.
I adore eating bread and the like, but if it means that I have to bentch… well, you get the idea. I will pass over every sandwich or other type of food that has to made Hamotzei over. So, I only eat Challah on Shabbos and then hope that it’s not Shabbos Rosh Chodesh and have to say Yaalei Veyavo. The worst is when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos Chanukah and then I feel like I’ve been bentching for years. It’s funny because I don’t usually mind davening, it’s just I like to eat and run, which you can’t do when you have to bentch. Anyways phobias are supposed to be irrational.

2- I am Fleishaphobic.
I can’t stand being fleishig.
I love eating chicken and other cute fuzzy animals once their souls are properly dispatched to the Afterlife, but I feel nauseous knowing that I won’t be able to have milchigs for another five hours and 1 minute. I was so excited to marry Mr Kasamba because he only waited three hours between meat and milk. But then, he decided to take on five hours and one minute so that he would be waiting within the sixth hour. How frum. How inconsiderate to me. My minhag from home was to wait six hours so you have to trust me that his three hours waiting time was a big selling point. Well, at least I got to reduce the wait for 59 minutes. So, I will only eat meat on Shabbos or if it’s already too late for me to visit my favourite therapists; Ben & Jerrys.

3- I am Magiphobic.
I hate magic and the people that call themselves magicians.
I break out in a cold sweat and start to shake when anyone asks me to choose a card, any card. Grrrrr. It all started when I was but a mere child and I only witnessed the first half of a program on the tumah box in my friends home. It was an episode of the Brady Bunch that dealt with one of the children trying their hand at magic and making someone disappear and then getting freaked out because they never reappeared. Because I had to leave in the middle and I didn’t have a TV at home, I never got to see what happened at the end and have had this irrational fear as a result. I guess that’s why my grandfather called TV a ‘Time Vaster’.

4- I am Directionally Challenged
I have absolutely no sense of direction.
I can’t find my way out of a paper bag. With this challenge, comes a gift; the gift of obstinacy. So, I go the wrong way, 100% sure that I am going the right way, that is, until I reach another county or another country. Knowing this Mr Kasamba, bought me a satellite navigational device. But that doesn’t work either. I just don’t trust her.
She tells me to go right, I take a left. I also don’t remember landmarks and places I’ve visited a thousand times. And I have no memory for names of roads either. One of Mr Kasamba’s party tricks is asking me to tell him where a certain road is.
Of course I can not and it causes much mirth and hilarity because the street he named is usually two blocks away.
Oh, ha, ha, ha. I’m killing myself laughing. Not.
It’s okay, I get my retribution whenever I get lost and I call my Husband for directions. He asks me, “Where are you?” and I say,
I’m next to a tree and a lamppost”.

I am an Embarrassing Mother
My kids never realised how embarrassing I was until they noticed that other mothers don’t behave like I do.
Other mothers don’t:
A- Bring pom-poms to cheer at their kids’ school sports events.
B- Leave lipstick kisses all over their kids’ schoolwork.
C- Cook wearing a tiara.
D- Hang eight foot American flags outside their windows.
E- Make everything into a song.
F- Speak really loudly in public so the kids will stop asking things.
G- Dress their kids in the wackiest clothing until they’re able to complain.
H- Show photos of their kids as babies cavorting with the opposite sex.
In the bath.

6- My Brain has no Off Button
I can’t turn my brain off. It’s running the entire time.
I am so petrified to lose a thought that I keep a notebook with me all the time. If I don’t get all my ideas out I’m scared I might self combust and there would be pieces of brain matter everywhere. Shabbos is always very difficult for me because then I’m always afraid I won’t recall whatever brilliant idea I come up with on Shabbos after Shabbos ends. I even keep a notebook next to my bed so I can wake up and jot down whatever comes to me. Because of this, I can’t fall asleep so rapidly, instead I am always running on ‘high speed’. I actually have to wait until my brain has been purged and ‘downloaded’ of all its notions and only then can I ‘hybernate’.
But it seems I can never ‘log off’.

As far as tagging, Kasamba runs after no one-
unless they holding bars of chocolate.

But you're all ‘thpethial’ to me!

My blog is worth $12,419.88.
How much is your blog worth?

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