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All posts for the month October, 2010

BRUSHSTROKES

Published October 28, 2010 by jean cohen

No time to even pause and take a breath this week.  Thankfully, I’ve discovered the joys of Tesco’s grocery shopping on line and delivered right to your door.

Since I haven’t done anything especially Jeano-ish lately, (read: really stupid), I’ll share one. 

I had a dentist’s appointment, but just for a cleaning; fortunately, no nasty infections or anything.  It was positively humiliating, however, to have to have a lesson in Teethbrushing 101 with some Hygienist who’s, like, 20 years old. 

I pulled out the tried and true ‘But I’m handicapped’ excuse, but she brushed that aside.  (Hey!  I made a toothbrush joke.)  I had to practice with my Oral B Dual Action Five Speed in front of a mirror while she critiqued my technique.

A few days later, I was digging around in my pocketbook, probably for one of my phones which always end up on the bottom under the Mack Truck or the microwave.  At least it’s congested enough in there to be toting one of the two.

Anyway, I yanked my hand out quickly when my fingers walked through some white goo.  “Eew!” I thought.  “Did somebody barf or much worse in my Louis?”

Not very likely, I  reassured myself, since I took an ex-friend’s advice and started socializing with a better class of people.  I mean I never go to revolting pubs anymore or hang with people who get sloshed as a hobby.

Nope, the chirpy hygienist had given me some sample mini tubes of toothpaste as a reward for learning how to brush my teeth.  I tossed them in my purse and, naturally, forgot all about them.  I guess the Mack Truck ran over one of them; it split open.  At least both mobiles (and the Mack Truck) are clean, shiny and minty fresh now.

Otherwise, it was just stuff- the usual stuff.  I arranged, with the shul’s Caring Team, for the senior centres in Elmbridge to have a ‘school tour’ of the synagogue, modified for a slightly more ‘mature’ audience, followed by a lavish tea.  I didn’t actually bake anything; I was put in charge of beverages.

Jackie gave a fantastic talk on Judaism and it’s history.  As an illustration, she talked about the tribes, explaining ‘Cohenims’ as the priests and their role.

My seniors from Weybridge were suitably impressed.  One of them commented to me the next morning during my Tea Lady duty, “I didn’t realize you were a High Priestess, Jeano.  I should be making you tea.“

Weybridge Centre hosted a Link Meeting for all the Social Committees, there was a Gauguin lecture in aid of Sam Beare to coincide with an exhibit opening in London this week, and Film Club.  The movie was ‘A Serious Man’, the Coen Brothers’ hysterically funny but poignant homage to growing up Jewish in the Midwest in the ‘60s.  And, of course, meetings, meetings, meetings.

Carol, my Buy Design partner and I, have formed a collaboration with the relative of a friend from shul in Hampshire.  It may prove very lucrative.  I have a new client, too; again, someone from shul whom I’m going to be working with on marketing.  So you’ll probably start reading about KPeter, in addition to JDavid.

There was an Editorial Board meeting for Haderech, the syn newsletter, and I’ve been given my own column, but it probably won’t start until after the Thanksgiving Dinner, which is rapidly approaching.  Somehow I’d been assigned three articles to write for this month’s issue, which I’d forgotten about.  That wasn’t fun.

If all that sounded too philanthropic, there was also Tom Tuesday, and lunches, dinners, and coffees in a strictly social capacity too.  And shopping.  I’m still decorating the Lounge.  Tanya, my cleaning lady, was blown away when she came to clean on Friday.  She rang to tell me; I was at JDavid’s working.

Saturday, 30 October is Jerry’s yartzeit.  I have a double aliyah!  I’m reading the Study Passage and doing the Haftorah.  This anniversary is particularly meaningful to me, so I want it to be absolutely perfect: meaning chanting the Haftorah blessings in Hebrew. I downloaded them to my mp3 player and I’m reciting them whenever I have a spare minute.  I got very nostalgic remembering Boo and me searching for the synagogue the first time I was in England so I could buy yartzeit candles.  I’ve come a long way, baby!

I did have one of those pesky 3:00 AM visits from himself; something about was it really necessary to buy new clothes for the occasion.  “You bought a new outfit?  For my yartzeit? Did you really need it?  How much did it cost?”  Personally, I thought he over-reacted, and I will look absolutely stunning on the bimah.

Which reminds me.  Some other news.  I’m going to Israel for Christmas this year.  Well, I’m actually leaving on Boxing Day, as I’m doing my usual thing on Christmas Day volunteering at the Salvation Army in Addlestone followed by dinner at American friends’.

I’ll be staying with friends on the beach in Tel Aviv, and there are several parties and New Year’s Dos already planned.  I work really hard.  I think I deserve a vacation.  I’ll let you know what Jerry thinks.

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NIGHTMARE ON REDE COURT

Published October 21, 2010 by jean cohen

No dark clouds on the horizon here, and nothing else had to move in reality or cyberality, so everything is, as always, fab.

Another busy week of the usual- social and charity commitments,  although I did have a teensy adventure on the Dark Side.  Naturally, I prevailed.

Living in England is generally fine, as long as one never, ever has to deal with a bank, a utility company or the government.  Then it’s just a frustrating exercise in futility.  I’ve certainly blogged some of my experiences, particularly when I was moving. 

This trip to the Dark Side was with the Garden Waste Disposal Department.  Yeah, that’s what it’s really called.  Sorely missing the cheerful efficiency of John and His Band of Merry Mexicans in King of Prussia, this year I had Daniel Son of BooBoo as my Lawn Guy.  The house did come equipped with a lawn mower, but I don’t do lawns.  Or dispose of the stuff the mower produces.  Daniel was stubbornly unwillingly to sneak the green stuff- I believe they call it the aforementioned ‘Garden Waste’ – over and stick it in the neighbors’ bins when they weren’t home.  So it kind of piled up.

The damned stuff kept scarily reproducing, like the Blob, only in a flattering shade of dark green instead of pink and I finally consulted PPeter on what to do.  Elmbridge charges – money – to come and take it away.  Seriously.  It rains 390 days a year, the shit grows, you cut it, and then you pay to have it schlepped away.  Is that fair?

We bickered, but PPeter finally agreed to foot the bill.  Hey.  It’s not my garden; I don’t encourage it to grow.  I just happen to live here.  The jokers from Garden Waste Disposal dropped off the special, custom garden waste disposal containers and Daniel came over to fill them.  Then he placed them in the front garden for pick-up whenever they passed by Rede Court.

I admit that I get confused about which Monday is Trash Day and which is Recycling.  They don’t take anything if I put the wrong bin out.   Which is most weeks.  But they didn’t pick up the Garden Waste for, like, six weeks. 

Big sigh.  Obviously, I had to ring them and actually try to communicate with somebody in that department.

Me:  ‘Yo!  Garden Waste Person.  You are not picking up my Garden Waste.  Whassup?”

Recipient of My Council Tax Dollars:  “Duh?  What Garden Waste?”

And I meant to say Council Tax Pounds and a Bloody Lot of Them.

Me: ‘The big green sacks saying ‘Garden Waste’ that I put on top of the lilies every week ‘closest to the fence but inside’ just like your instructions say to be picked up.’

Clueless Elmbridge Employee:  ‘Are they hidden by your bins?  They won’t take them if they can’t see them from the truck as they speed by at 160 MPH.  They obviously didn’t see them.’

Me:  Getting a bit American – ‘Do you have blind people on the Garden Waste truck?  They’re huge green sacks, with brown  and a darling shade of heather green stuff sticking out of them.  They say ‘Garden Waste Refuse Only’ on them in yellow.  They’re kind of hard to miss.’

Stubborn silence on both sides. 

Clueless:  ‘Well they obviously can’t see them where you’re putting them.  Are they outside your fence?”

Me:  ‘Of course not!  The instructions say ‘do not place outside fenced area or on sidewalk..”

Clueless:  ‘Really?  It says that?  No wonder they didn’t empty them.  They didn’t see the bright green sacks or yellow lettering through your slatted fence right at the gate which is very low.”

Okay.  She didn’t say that last bit, but she said the ‘really; it says that’ part.

She is probably one of the many reasons England is no longer a Super Power.

Me, getting tired of the whole subject:  “I am placing the Garden Waste Sacks outside the fence as we speak, dead center on the sidewalk.  I sure hope nobody trips over them before the truck makes a special trip back to Rede Court and empties them.”

Sometimes you just have to be firm with these people.

I’M MOVIN’ OUT!

Published October 11, 2010 by jean cohen

I guess everybody knows by now that I’ve moved.  And I am not a happy camper.  I want my old blog space back.  I wanna go home to Windows Live.

The rift has been boiling for months.  Windows got bored or tired of hosting the site and they started the war by ceasing to capture statistics from our blogs with no warning.  The Message Boards were inundated with vociferous complaints about that and then other widgets on the site  ‘mysteriously’ stopped functioning.

Then came the Eviction Notice: Move to Word Press subito or you’ll lose your entire site.  Gee.  What ever happened to negotiating a new lease?  So I relocated under extreme duress.

I guess it could just be me, but Word Press is complicated.  I haven’t figured out how to ‘decorate’ my new home.  BooBoo actually said “Gee, your new space is pretty boring … looking.”  She added that ‘looking’ part when I got pissed off at her. 

“I know” I had to agree.  “I can’t figure out how to use any of the bloody widgets and my lists and pictures have disappeared into the Black Hole.  Windows Live lied; moving wasn’t ‘One-Two-Three’.  It was more like X-X-X.”

And get this.  They charge for some stuff if you want to have it on your page.  Money.  People should be paying me to get a glimpse of my deeper, most meaningful thoughts. 

It makes me think of Facebook and the rumors that sweep it from time to time that FB is going to start charging a subscription fee for the dubious privilege  of reading ‘So and so is having a large glass of wine’ or, even worse ‘International Clearasil Day! Cut and paste this if you know and desperately miss someone who died from acute acne even if they were rather unattractive’.  

You can bet I am surfing for another, more convivial home.  And trying to figure out how the hell to get the widgets to work in the meantime.

Speaking of moving, my sofa moved too.  Right to the Dump-  courtesy of JDavid and PPeter, whom I charmed into schlepping it over to Chertsey for a Viking funeral.  I finally got a new one. 

I bought that sofa – sofa bed, actually – 2-1/2 years ago.  For 20 quid.  It was meant to be ‘temporary’, sort of like my sojourn in Blighty.  ‘Temporary’ is a very elastic measurement of time.  Although I sure got my 20 quid’s worth.

The new sofa is stunning, but then, of course, everything else in my lounge looked tatty.  Whoopee! Time to redecorate.  Lots of consultations with my Interior Decorator (Carol) and lots of search and seize missions shopping for fabrics, cushions and drapes. (I really, really needed those navy blue drop dead gorgeous suede boots.  I swear.)

I spray painted the wicker chair acquired from my late friend Pat to coordinate with the sofa. (Yes, I did it.) If I ever find the perfect fabric, I’ve got someone who’s going to make custom cushions for it.  Five fabric stores and counting…

When my lounge is utter perfection, and I figure out how to use the damned Word Press widgets, I’ll post some pictures.

This part’s a little embarrassing.  I’d told Tom about the new sofa.  What I actually said was “I got a new ‘playpen’ … Wanna help me Christen it after Il Ponte Tuesday night?”  Tom thought that was a mighty fine idea.

The reality was quite different.

I am absolutely certain that in my wild youth I’ve done the deed on sofas before, not to mention in cars- at the Tacony-Palmira Drive-in.  (Oh, stop tut-tutting!  With Jerry.  And we were married.  I guess he just liked doing it in uncomfortable places and munching popcorn post-coital.)

The dialogue in my lounge kinda went like “This arm is too high; I’m getting a crink in my neck” and “Sorry, Sweetie, but my knees haven’t bent like that since approximately 1975.”  And lots of giggles.  I’ll stop there.

The weather here again has been frighteningly gorgeous, real Indian Summer.  (Not a reference to the fact that every second person in England is from Bombay or wherever.)  Blue skies and sun, with pleasant temperatures.  JDavid and I were scheduled for a serious work session.  We took everything into the garden but mostly basked in the sunshine and just nattered.

Another frantic week of commitments and appointments is on tap, including an Israel Panel Discussion at Kingston Synagogue, a Link Meeting with Elmbridge Council, and a Turkey Meeting with the famous Max Clifford.  But there’s also Tom Tuesday and a ultra posh private art show with JDavid on Friday night.  I really needed those navy blue boots.

YOU SHOULD SEE THE OTHER GUY

Published October 4, 2010 by jean cohen

Fortunately the Eagles-Skins game is the late game on Clueless NFL tonight (I’m watching the Steelers-Ravens game now) so I have a few hours with no other commitments, so voila … a blog.

 

So.  What have I been up to?  The usual.  Sorry, but even I’m bored with reporting on this or that meeting or the various  ladies who lunch lunches or dinners, and so on.  But that’s what I’ve been doing.

 

In my weekly convo with Toots last week, she advised “Just stop!  You’re doing way too much and you’re going to burn yourself out.”  She may have a point.  So I said “No!” to two separate requests this week.  No, I can’t teach a class at Chedar at synagogue.  That one was actually funny; I am so not patient enough to teach anything and I hate children.  And “No!” again to my Womens Institute chapter’s offer to be Secretary.  (It was more like abject pleading.)

 

My picture was in the local paper last week (that would be the Surrey Herald).  It was a flattering shot working at the Sam Beare booth at the Thames Riverfest.  I was gobsmacked at the number of emails and calls saying “I saw your picture in the Herald, Jeano!”

 

I did hostess a dinner for my Turkey Committee last week.  Maybe I’m being unrealistic but I’m not even frantic about this year’s dinner.  I probably will be, when it gets closer.  But everybody knows what they’re meant to be doing and it’s all getting done.  I’m booked to appear on three radio programs already and the Surrey Herald is going to do a feature on it. 

 

I also had a really remarkable experience.  As a member of Christ Prince of Peace’s Holocaust Memorial committee, one of my charges was to try and book a First Person survivor as the main speaker that evening, not an easy task.  Initially, I was invited to join to make sure the rabbi would be able to eat — no sausage rolls and paper plates!

 

Anyway, I’d heard a survivor speak at NWSS who was one of the Kindertransport children.  She’s featured in the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum and in a documentary called ‘The Children Who Cheated the Nazis’.  I rang the member from shul who knew her for her number and called her.

 

She is amazing.  We talked for ages on the phone about all sorts of things, she agreed to do the talk, and invited me to come for lunch to discuss it. 

 

So, intrepid traveler that I am, I hopped a train to Barnes to have lunch with Bea.  Sadly, what with the Travel Warning just issued by the Americans about being on alert for terrorist attacks in European capitals on public transportation and tourist infrastructures (do you think that includes Marks & Sparks?), I will probably be limiting my trekking to the 457 bus to Woking for a while.

 

Moving on to other exciting news, my old friend Tombstones is crossing the Pond!  In December.  He’s attending some posh thingy at Sandhurst, the UK’s equivalent to West Point.  He sent me an email saying that he was personally invited by ‘HRH’ and ‘PP’.

I wrote back inquiring ‘Who dat?”

 

“Prince Charles and Prince Philip, you twit” he replied.  “Don’t you know anything that doesn’t relate to football?”  I had taken the opportunity to rant for several pages in an earlier email about the Dog Murderer and Rapist Guy, and my disappointment in JoPa and the Nittany Lion’s disappointing ranking of 22nd place.  Okay.  You’re not interested either.  Too bad.  I made some salient points.

 

It will be fun to entertain Tombstones on this side of the Pond.  I wonder if there’s a deli that serves Ruebens and cabbage soup in Golders Green?

 

Finally, I have been a bit under the weather.  Sort of.  Actually, I should have been under the open garage door instead of walking into the sharp corner face first.  Wow!  What a mess.  I bled all over that really stunning black and grey sweater I bought at the Church of St. Annie Sez.

 

It wouldn’t stop bleeding and I got a little concerned.  I had no desire to queue for a few days at the Emergency Room in a British hospital.  So I braved it out.  I also felt extremely sorry for myself; all alone and injured in a strange country.  It is a strange country.  Trust me.

 

I also rang BooBoo who dashed over with some first aid equipment, including some miracle Thai remedy to stop blood gushing out of one’s forehead every time one moved and dripping onto one’s favorite Brian Westbrook jersey.   (It was on Sunday; I always wear my Westbrook on Sundays, even if I’m injured.)

 

I had a Hederach meeting at shul on Monday morning, but I was so banged up I rang Cousin Bernie and begged off.  I looked awful.  Big mistake.

 

Small towns.  Small communities.  JDavid showed up.  Jenny showed up.  Carol popped in.  The rabbi rang.  And on and on.  When I showed up on Tuesday morning for Tea Lady duty, Sanjay said “I heard about your accident. Are you okay?”  He lives in Walton, for Christ’s sake and he’s Indian.  Jenny had sent out an email to the world, well at least the Surrey world.

 

I was basically just embarrassed.  It was a clumsy, stupid mishap.  When I talked to Jackie, I told her I’d prefer that she spread the rumor that it happened in a bar brawl and I got whacked by a beer bottle.  That sounded a lot more exciting than walking into the garage door.

 

So people brought goodies and flowers, and food parcels so ‘you don’t have to cook’.  As if.

 

I am truly blessed with devoted loyal friends. 

 

Another full week is on tap with meetings, social engagements and yummy Geordie Guy Tom.  But I will try to eke out more blog time.  Promise.