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All posts for the month April, 2013

QU’EST-CE QUE C’EST

Published April 28, 2013 by jean cohen

I know that the last blog wasn’t up to standard.  I guess my muse was otherwise engaged.

 

This week was a bit more of my usual doing stuff.

 

I did my gigs as Tea Lady and Bookstore Clerk without any weird stuff happening, like undercover cops turning up.  (Boy, did Kim and I catch hell for that.)

 

Incidentally, Mike, my favourite partner at the Book Shop, passed away this week.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it’s still sad.  The funeral is in about three weeks.  I will never get used to the custom here (unless you’re Jewish) of waiting so damned long to bury a loved one.  I sort of picture the bereaved family just carrying on with their day to day lives while the deceased is on ice somewhere.  Yuck.

 

Mike’s son, Brian, is my Computer Guy now and I’ve recommended him to all my friends, so positively everybody pushes ‘hold’ and rings Brian.

 

Anyway, Mike’s being cremated.  The funeral is at Randall’s in Leatherhead, and it won’t be my first visit to Randall’s nor my first cremation.  My friend Hester’s was my first and it scarred me for life.  (No jokes, please, about being too old to be scarred for life.)  When the mechanism came on to swoosh Hester’s coffin into the oven behind the curtain, I thought I was going to puke.

 

Moving on to happier topics, I went to Richmond on Wednesday night with Ray and Adriana to the cinema.  We saw ‘Dans la Maison’ at the Odean.  For Americans, that means ‘In the House’.  It was in French, probably because it was a French film.  Fortunately for me, they wrote what the characters were saying underneath.  Otherwise, I would have had to guess.

I really liked the film.

 

A very ‘Jeano-ish’ thing happened before we got to the cinema.  We were going to the 5:30 show, so we decided we’d have dinner in Richmond afterwards.  As we walked to the theatre, we checked out the restaurants we passed as possibilities.  We stopped outside this charming little Italian restaurant called ‘Al Boccon Di Vino’ to check out the menu, and the owner called from inside for us to come in.  He said it was one of his employee’s birthdays and that they wanted us to celebrate with them.  He presented us with a bottle of wine (pretty nice, too) and slices of birthday cake.  However, they couldn’t seat us for dinner after the film as they were fully booked.  It’s a small place, and they have one seating as it’s a seven course meal.

 

I kept waiting for there to be a catch, like getting a bill for the wine and cake, but there wasn’t any.  Ray kept shaking his head all the way to the cinema, muttering ‘That doesn’t happen in England.’  Of course it doesn’t.  The guy was Italian.  And he was extremely hot, by the way.  I certainly want to go back there to eat.

 

There was a Bat Mitzvah at shul this week.  JAP score on the outfits and food:  Mother of the B|M girl – 5; B/M girl – 7; Oneg – 6.5.   

 

Cheeseboy is in Sharm el Sheikh (of all places) this week soaking up some Vitamin D so Boo and I had a proper girls’ night on Saturday. 

 

Finally, keep watching this space.  There is Trouble here in River City, or Weybridge, if you insist on being pedantic.  It involves someone I used to be friends with, and it is truly horrific.

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Nowhere to Run

Published April 23, 2013 by jean cohen

I’m not sure I can be funny in this blog, given the events that occurred in Boston last week.

I guess we have to add Chechens now as folks who want to kill us. Sadly, like most Americans, I probably couldn’t have pinpointed Chechnya on a map- until Thursday or Friday, when I was glued to my TV watching the events in Boston unfold live. It was surreal, especially as step-grandson Zachary is at uni in Beantown.

Of course, it’s not all Chechens, like it’s not ‘all’ of any other ethnic group. It’s the you-know-what bloody Islamic fundamentalists. Why do liberals and do-gooders like the ‘Multi-Faith Forum’ not get this? These people are conquering our world, one crazed fanatic at a time.

I was sort of glad I live in England and not the USA. Maybe it’s safer here. Wait a second! They’re worse here. They expect the UK to cater to their beliefs and customs, instead of the other way around. I think maybe nowhere is really safe from terrorists.

This is a subject best left to pundits to expound on.

I hadn’t mentioned in last week’s blog the death of Margaret Thatcher. I guess it was note-worthy. I skipped the coverage of the funeral on TV, but I was amazed at the extent of negative posts about her on Facebook.

Oddly enough, Annette Funicello of Mouseketeer fame died on the same day. The posts on Facebook were plentiful and the Youtube clips were nostalgic and fun to watch. Anybody remember ‘Spin and Marty’?

Ordinary life goes on, and I did my usual stuff – Tea Lady and Bookshop – plus lots of meetings on the Spring Fayre which is coming awfully soon. As with anything in England, the big issue, the only issue to worry about really is the weather. The Fayre is on May 11; will it be typical English weather: freezing cold and pouring rain?

I did have a weird thing happen on Thursday at the Bookshop. A guy came in right after our shift started and flashed a ‘warrant card’ at Kim and me. He asked if we had a room on the first floor (in England the second floor is the first floor. I have no idea why) which looked out over the High Street. I said that we did and he asked if he could ‘take a look’.

Our upstairs consists of a unused office, a room that the Sam Beare counsellor does Bereavement counselling in a couple days a week, and the loo.

So, this guy goes upstairs… and never comes down.

Kim and I were sort of freaking out and whispering to each other “You go see what he’s doing.” “No, you should go.”

We didn’t hear any noise or anything, and we were busy, so we let it go. Finally, I sent Kim next door to the other shop to ask the Manager what to do. In true managerial style, she said she’d call the Big Boss.

The Big Boss called the shop and I explained that the proported police officer had gone upstairs, never to return. She demanded to speak to him, so I took the phone and went upstairs.

Sure enough, he was in the front office. He’d made himself comfortable and he really was just watching the entrance to the pub across the street—maybe for a drug deal or whatever to go down.

This Isn’t Grandma’s House

Published April 14, 2013 by jean cohen

I forgot to mention during all that ‘what I did on my vacation’ blogging that one of my relatives actually complained that I’m only blogging once a week.

Give me a break. I would probably have to make stuff up to be interesting and funny more than once a week. Obviously, I would never do that. ‘Truth in reporting’ is my byword. (Yeah, right.)

Before I report on my exciting first week back in freezing, wet, cold England, something kinda creepy did happen. I was in the kitchen baking some muffins (absolutely the truth; they sell these wonderful things called ‘mixes’ at Target; you don’t have to do anything except mix the stuff all together and bake it at 325°, unless you’re in the aforementioned England in which case you would end up with molten ashes if you tried using 325°).

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The creepy thing. Anyway, I heard this knocking on the French doors in my lounge. I went to investigate since there is no way to get to my garden except through the front door, unless you climb over the 12’ Historically Listed Henry VIII stone wall.

Holy shit! It was a fox! Trying to get into my lounge. And it was big and had a lean and hungry look. What did I do, you ask? Well of course I screamed my tush off, but the damned fox just stared at me. So I tried “Shoo!”, “Scat!”, “Beat it!” and “Yo, I have a Fox Hound called Jon Stewart for a pet; I’m gonna call him”, none of which worked.

It crossed my mind that maybe one of those scary chipmunks from Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania had read the blog and texted Mr. Fox to drop in and scare the crap out of me. It was just a hypothesis.

Then I thought maybe it’s the muffins. Maybe he thinks I’m going to schlep the muffins to Grandmother’s house and he’s waiting to ambush me. Wait a minute. I was confused (again). Wasn’t that a wolf? Sorry, wrong fairy tale.

Anyway, we had an Italian or some nationality stand-off.

Finally, Mr. Fox got bored or realized I wasn’t about to let him in and jumped over the fence into my neighbour’s garden. (That should be ‘neighbor’s’, but Word keeps changing it.) So it was no longer my problem and the muffins were excellent.

My calendar was already chock-a-block with commitments upon my return, and even though I’m the world’s worst traveller and felt like a zombie for a few days, duty called.

Sunday night was the Syn’s annual Yom Hashoah (Holocaust) Commemoration. I’d promised to go to take pictures in my role as synagogue Press Officer, and write the article for Haderech because I can’t ever seem to say the word ‘No’. The speaker was a local man who had been hidden as a small child by two sisters in Paris during the Nazi occupation. It was an amazing story. I tried really hard to stay awake for the whole thing since I have to come up with a dynamite article about it.

Tuesday was Tea Lady duty and shopping with Carol in Addlestone. Due to severe Jet Lag, I was too tired to hit more than three charity shops, Iceland, Tesco’s, and the Pound Shop.

Wednesday I worked at a Sam Beare event, a Bridge Tea. This was combat duty. Apologies in advance to Bridge playing readers, but Bridge Players suck. We had to make up the trays of cake and sandwiches, and after their first rubber (I think that’s what it’s called), we had to serve them and tea. The players demanded absolute quiet and got most annoyed if we make noise like clinking the dishes or dropping stuff. (No, I didn’t drop anything.) And their tea… This one wanted more milk, or less milk, or no milk, or a bloody particular colour tea. If we weren’t fast enough, they snarled at us. I was going to tell one particular player that I have a friend who is a fox and would like to meet her up close and real personal. The event did raise £1400 for the hospice.

Wednesday evening was an Israel Group meeting at shul. Ray didn’t come, so I just volunteered him for every job at our upcoming Shabbat Atzma’ut, celebrating Israel’s 65th birthday on April 20 for spite. I’m doing a reading, and me and Mr. Waitrose have to make something for the luncheon.

Thursday night was back to shul again for Book Club. I read the book, ‘The Liar’s Gospel’, on my Kindle while I was home. By what I am sure is pure coincidence, it was Easter time and the book was about Jesus, Judas, Barrabas, and the High Priest. I really enjoyed the book, and, as usual, half of the group liked it and half didn’t.

Our next book is a murder mystery set in Dublin in the 1930’s.

Speaking of murder and mayhem, I saw an advertisement on TV. Sky is going to be showing ‘Banshee’ starting sometime soon. In the States, BooBoo and I watched all ten episodes On Demand in one day, on Janet and Abe’s recommendation. Wow! It’s about this town in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There’s this Sheriff who isn’t really a Sheriff, this jewel thief, this Russian mob guy, this weird Amish guy with Jesus on a crucifix tattooed on his back for starters. It’s very violent, there’s a lot of hot sex and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Boo and I swear we are going to fly to Philly to watch Season Two as soon as Stuart’s cable company is showing it

Take me where the cement grows

Published April 7, 2013 by jean cohen

It was sad to see BooBoo go back to England, but, being truthful, it gave me a bit of a rest. All that translating. “Um…what did she say?” people kept asking me. She said ‘Hello, how are you?’ I would patiently (at least at first) explain. Eventually, it was more like ‘for Fuck’s sake, she speaking English, not Swahili! Concentrate.” And vice versa. BooBoo: ‘Why did Stuart say he’s wearing a vest over his shirt? What does he wear under his shirt?’ Me: ‘That would be his undershirt’. BooBoo: ‘Really? There’s a word undershirt?’

Anyway, I haven’t slowed down a bit during this blitzkrieg of Philly, even though I haven’t actually gone into Center City even once. But I’ve been to a lot of other places.

No trip home is complete without a visit to cousin GerryP’s house in the Greater. I was there for Easter weekend so there was a lot going on.

On Friday we had lunch at License to Injure and Blood Relative’s cool new McMansion in the boonies. I’m not making this up. I saw Indians (the American kind, not the Post Office kind) up on the ridge on horses waiting to attack Seth Bond and the wagon train on the way. Okay. I made that up, but they really do live in the wilderness. You have to drive twenty minutes to get to a mall.

I politely offered my condolences to License on the demise of the Explorers in the Sweet Sixteen round of March Madness. He’s a LaSalle alum. (My bracket imploded even earlier than the Sweet Sixteen, and I sure didn’t pick the Explorers to go anywhere.)

A visit to GerryP always includes lots of shopping and trips to the casino. I think she is the bestest cousin ever. And eating. We had the most delicious pizza I’ve ever tasted and, yes, I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning – cold; the only way to eat leftover pizza.

On Saturday we drove to Delaware to great nephew Cason’s first birthday party. We didn’t see any Indians; Wilmington is quite civilized. We did see about a hundred screaming toddlers. I’m not sure children should be welcome at birthday parties.

Saturday night GerryP and I went out for a fancy dinner to Johnny’s, this fabulous Italian restaurant. What else would we eat besides Italian? On Sunday after breakfast in a diner, it was a leisurely stop at the Casino again, and then on to Colonel Mickey’s sister, Donna’s, house for Easter dinner. That was actually a bit tricky since it was still Passover.

Don’t bother emailing; I know I ate pizza during Passover. But it was very flat pizza. And I was home. And British pizza sucks. And I won’t have real pizza again for, like, a whole year.

Donna lives sort of near Blood Relative in the wilds of rural Pennsylvania. I’m not making this up. We saw some Pilgrims hunting wild turkey for Easter dinner. Okay, I made that up too, but I really did think GerryP and me were going to fall off Pennsylvania and land in, like, Idaho or whatever. I was navigating, which is never, ever a good idea.

Dinner was awesome. Being Italian, Colonel Mickey’s family realizes that Italian Wedding Soup and gnocchi are intrinsic components of all holiday meals. And it was wonderful to see Donna and all the other sixty or so Dell’Aquila’s who were at dinner. Donna and I go way back- to high school – and a certain trip to Italy where we were not very good girls. That’s all I’m saying about that.

Then it was back to Stuart’s for one night, before going off on a road trip with Toots.

Yes, I’m tired just blogging about it all.

Toots and I have some major history. We figured out that we have been friends for forty years. Honestly. Lots of stuff happened during all those years, including a severing of our friendship, which we rectified, an ill-advised plot to fix up Stuart with Toots’ daughter, and many, many vacations together with Ron, Toots’ husband, and DeadJerry, who were great friends.

She is also my favorite Scrabble opponent.

So when I was planning my visit home, I was quite chuffed with her plan to drive to Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania to see the house on a lake Ron and Toots are practically rebuilding as their retirement home.

To get to Tunkhannock, one drives up the Pennsylvania Turnpike all the way past Wilkes Barre, the last outpost of civilization before Ohio. Geez. It’s so rural. I’m not making this up, but I saw some wild animals, like squirrels or chipmunks something, eyeing us up as potential dinner ingredients. And the nearest mall is 45 minutes away!

We stopped in the actual town part of the boonies and had a fab lunch in a restaurant called ‘Twigs’, which was so cool it could have been anywhere in the Anti-boonies. And stopped in some quaint little ‘small town rural America’ shops. And the bakery for pastries. And the supermarket for noshes. And the big mother liquor store for wine. I assume a big mother liquor store is quite a necessity in the boonies. We got some awesome pinot grigio called ‘Middle Sister’. I highly recommend it.

Toots’ house is charming; or at least it will be when she finishes re-arranging the walls, floors, windows, doors, etc. In 40 years, I have seen Toots ‘re-arrange’ many houses, including some that were mine.

We opened the Middle Sister and settled down to several serious games of Scrabble and catching up. It sure gets dark and quiet in the wilderness at night. I took a spare bottle of Middle Sister up to bed with me—not to drink. I already had plenty. I figured I’d whack the first chipmunk who tried to make me an hors d’oeuvre on his furry little tete.

Our road trip went all too quickly and it was back down the Turnpike to traffic jams and strip malls (Thank God!).

I had just enough time to shower and change after Toots dropped me off at Stuart’s. I was having dinner with my attorney, the one and only ‘grown-up, serious’ engagement of my trip.

Bennett has been my attorney forever, and I am quite fond of him. In fact, he helped me get my Italian citizenship. Well, he went to court for me to get some misspelled vital records corrected that were standing in the way of my citizenship. The first thing he said to me (after ‘hello) was ‘Let me see it!” and I proudly proffered the Magical Passaporto Rosso.

Bennett really floored me by telling me that I am amazing and a legend in my own time because I decided I wanted to live in England and then made it happen. I just assume that most people think I am crazy. I never thought I did anything extraordinary. I guess maybe I did.

HOME

Published April 1, 2013 by jean cohen

Wow, it’s great to be in Philly.

Boo arrived at my house wearing her Eagles jersey. I am ashamed to admit that I’d forgotten our pact to always wear Eagles jerseys when traveling to and from Philly. She made me go change.

The flight from London was fine and, naturally, the US of A welcomed me home enthusiastically. And they let BooBoo in, so our vacation was off to a good start.

Sadly, the weather did not cooperate, or we brought it with us; it was cold. But at least there was sunshine.

And we had wheels! Zachary is away at Uni, so the huge Beemer SUV was ours to load, and unload, stuff. We purchased much stuff.

The first night included eating the absolutely essential cheese steak wit’ extra fried onions. I dreamed about that for weeks.

Boo and I visited Dead Jerry and Matt. I wanted to do that early in the trip, before I did too much shopping. Yes, it was sad.

Scary Fairy drove down from North Jersey which was awesome as three of us could buy three times as much, and be three times as silly.

Of course, Pesach started on Monday night. It was really nice to be home and with family for the holiday. Somehow- it might have been the bottles of Zinfy we polished off- I got volunteered to make the Haroset. No problemo. We piled into the Beemer and hit the Judaica Store for Passover Wine and then the supermarket for the other ingredients.

A smart manager delegates. I set BooBoo to work dicing apples and Scary to chopping walnuts. I had coffee and a fag. I had looked up recipes on line that had a lot of funky ingredients, but opted for a traditional Haroset. Mix the apples and walnuts with sweet wine and brown sugar, let it chill in the Frig overnight and Voila! It was absolutely delicious.

It was certainly different than observing Pesach in England. I know I’ve blogged about going shopping for Pesach supplies in England and duking it out for the one box of Matzo Waitrose had (for the outrageous price of £3.99). We walked in the door of the Giant and almost tripped over the twenty pallets of boxes of Matzo- which cost, like, a dollar. And you can go out to breakfast or lunch every day and order Fried Matzo. (Of course, I’m not recommending this as you would then not poop until the Fourth of July.)

BooBoo’s week went way too fast, and almost before we knew it, we were driving her and my cigarettes, Hershey bars, Beefaroni, chocolate covered pretzels, Tanya’s pressie, Hazel’s pressie, my brand new Coach bag, etc, etc, etc to the airport. I cried, but it’s all good. I’ll see my stuff, and Boo, on the 5th.