Monday, February 27, 2006

Last day on the Island: Swimming with dogs and Snorkeling

Sunday afternoon JL and I took his dogs Billy (basset hound) and Julian (white with brown spots mutt) to a state park on the water called "Salt River." Billy has had minimal swimming experience in a freshwater river, but neither of them had done any real swimming in the ocean.

At first, they test the water:

Billy jumps right in!

(only later on when JL and I were in the water as well did both of them swim all the way out to us, stop for a break by leaning on us, and swim back to shore. absolutely adorable!)

here's the view of salt river.

this was a gorgeous rock made up of a rainbow of colored rocks all stuck together with sandstone.

snorkeling shamir! we only had to swim out a short distance to see beautiful coral with hundreds of fish swimming by right under our noses. it was so relaxing to just float on the surface with my mask on watching the scene below. really, who needs TV?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

night out on an island...take two!

Last night, JL and I went out to a fabulous outdoor bistro called "Savant." Though we didn't have ocean views this time (terrible, I know; how do i put up with it?), we did have a full clear sky of stars. I had a fabulous grilled mahi-mahi and a very tropical coconut/pinapple drink.

Coconut Saga: A story in pictures

You have to imagine that I have never, ever seen a coconut on a tree, let alone a fresh one on the ground, let alone eating a freseh coconut that came from a tree that I met myself! I was overjoyed to hold it in my arms and eventually take bite after bit of its sweet goodness. Pictured below are AB and her mom RB who hosted me during my stay on the island. Coconuts forever!

Meeting the tree and taking one of her babies. (I can't seem to get it to rotate; I'll fix it later)

Giving some love to the baby. So beautiful...I want to take her home. But I don't want to get arrested. Time to eat fresh coconut!

I stand there terrified...what are you doing? Smashing baby's head??!??!?

Throwing her on the ground! Ouch!

CRACK! Smashing her open! But she is leaking something wet...

Umm, this coconut is delicious...

...perhaps Wendy wants a bite?

After peeling away all the skin and hairs, I make it into a coconut-cone. My dad would love this!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

a woman's gotta kayak...

the ocean through a palm tree

my first jump in the pool

so we forgot to take a photo while i was still in the water...looks real, no?


Thursday, February 23, 2006

a night out on the island

if i wasn't ironic enough last december when i used a disney princess special dvd to practice my princess voice for the kodesh kingdom shabbat storytelling, then coming to an island called "St. Croix" which literally means "Saint Cross," surely counts.

the island is 80 square miles, has 60,000 residents, 200 churches, 1 mosque and 1 synagogue (and one black hebrews congregation that meets on saturdays at their restaurant).

going to see JL tonight was just what i needed. after i found parking on the side of one of many tiny streets in the former dutch fortress neighborhood turned funky downtown area, i began searching for 'the mix.' the guy who gave me directions said: "walk down until you reach the water, and take a left on the boardwalk, you'll see it straight ahead." it was just gorgeous - imagine, a restaurant right on the water that you need to walk down the boardwalk to get to! also amazing on an island that has no sidewalks in rural areas has copius boardwalks by the shore.

Here's JL and his buddy S jamming out. They played a mix of jazz standards and originals. I drank overpriced lemonade and flipped through tourist info guides while sitting on the couch:

JL and I got to chill out a bit afterward and catch up. we are standing in front of something that looks like a silo but was once used for sugar, which used to be a major export from St. Croix.

arrival to the island

what to expect when you land on this tropical island...
-complimentary ice cold punch at the airport
-sunny skies
-the ocean in every direction
-palm trees palm trees palm trees (and sea grape...and a bunch of others)
-the best reggae music station "in the world"
-82 during the day and "cool" (70) at night
-close to normal cell phone service (if you have sprint or cingular)

-everyone drives on the left
-gas is inexpensive (thanks to 6th largest oil refinery in the world located on the island, hevensa which gets all its oil from south america)
-the place i'm staying has wireless internet, a pool, two cats, two dogs, three birds...and i'm sure i'll run into some more pets somewhere

so now i'm...
-drinking cranberry juice
-about to take a nap
-psyched to go see JR play tonight at "The Mix," a semi-upscale restaurant on the pier (read: ocean views)

dawn and dusk lounge on the patio:

wendy the dog who looks like a cat (and that's why i love her):

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

singing to yourself

there are two kinds of singing to yourself:

1. you are singing to yourself but you don't know it. when you realize it, it hits you that you are in a super positive, excited, perhaps even giddy mood. ask: what song are you singing? why this song? do you even know the words? what memories are associated with this song/tune?

2. you are having a rough day, or you are frustrated while standing in line. you decide to sing to yourself to pass the time or calm yourself down. do you have a regular song for this?


-brought to you by random thought from shamir's head

Monday, February 20, 2006

boston visit and countdown to st. croix

i took advantage of cancelled class this monday to come home to see my family for a few days. today we had an 88th birthday party for my grandma (photos forthcoming; my camera battery is dying). was psyched to see some of the cousins and spend more time playing around with rafael.

on thursday morning (7am, in fact) i will be heading back to my student pulpit in st. croix. this, as most of you know, is a misnomer, since even though i am playing a student rabbi, i am not a rabbinical student. i will be leading services on friday night and teaching two classes. perhaps one would say i am their 'spiritual leader' since i am going to lead them in worship; but the rest of the year they have lay-led services, so it's quite clear to them they don't need something of that sort in order to be in communication with God. thus, i continue to be freelance jewish educator extraordinaire, traveling the world spreading the good word. and, most importantly, enjoying the weather. (see new st. croix weather tracker to the right)


Me and a banana tree:

oh and how could i forget - i hope to see the donkey again that lives around the corner from the shul (right behind one of the churches in the neighborhood):

maybe she will speak to me and tell me what she sees...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Jethro the Shaman?

In honor of this week's parsha, Rabbi Jill Hammer brings us a teaching that suggests that Moses' father in law is the shamanic mentor of our people.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

a visit from my sister and nephew

for those who have been around me this week, you know how giddy i am that my sister lily (who hasn't been able to visit nyc since tu bishvat last year) and my new nephew rafael came to visit for the week. though they have been here since monday, lily wanted to make it to the big park slope seder at ND's place, so she spent a few days with friends there at CR and KK's place. today she arrived on the UWS!
here is a photo from this afternoon when we were playing around in my room. seriously, this baby is such a pleasure to be around. i know it's normal for his age, but i just love it! he's always looking around, grabbing, smiling, giggling. most of all he loves his mommy. it is a new thing to see my younger sister as a mother, but she's just so fantastic at it that i enjoy it. it is really a blessing to see someone (rafael) who loves his mother so much. pure love!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

today's roundup

  •  The Christian Science Monitor reports on global warming becoming a "Hotter Issue in Red States"
  • Tel Shemesh is adopting a salt marsh in Jamaica Bay, Queens to help in its restoration, which protects the New York shoreline and hosts many kinds of animals and plants. The salty marsh has been damaged in recent years and a large-scale effort is underway to repair it. Our task will be to remove the marsh straw that has collected in a fence placed to protect plant growth, so that the new plants can grow. We will also be learning about the salt marsh, sharing lunch, and singing. Our intention will be to heal the earth in our community and to welcome the rebirth of spring.
  • BZ reports on ridiculous English spellings of Tu Bishvat.
  • BJ announces their annual women's retreat which will be at by second home, the beautiful Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT (which has a lake, 400 acres of beautiful hiking AND a hot tub).
  • Read here and here about my friend JR's ridiculous way of celebrating V-day: beautifying Toronto's Queen Street with "love, love, love in the form of pink painted hearts all over the sidewalks."
  • Monday, February 13, 2006

    beautiful snow angel

    for a photograph of a snow angel in nyc, check out dareius's latest post.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Tu Bishvat post on Jewschool

    Check out my latest post on Jewschool all about Tu Bishvat.

    should the non-Jewish partner of an interfaith couple convert?

    an important question; posted on recently discovered by my apparent neighbor Akira.
    i really enjoy his copious use of photos on his blog, much like enjoy the regular use of quotations over at dc's blog.
    okay, seriously sc - it's mid-afternoon and you haven't gone out to play in the snow yet. get off your butt!

    new old blog

    i just rediscoverd Velveteen Rabbi via a 2 year old post about a zalman retreat at Elat Chayyim.
    some of my favorite quotations she writes from zalman:

  • If I could hear all of the vibrations in this room -- cell phones, broadband, wifi, radio waves, microwaves -- I'd hear a jumble. If I can tune in to a particular frequency, I might hear something I could understand. God broadcasts on all frequencies; we need to adjust our radios to attune to God.

  • Philosophers don't dig it because they want a single definition, an object. I'm talking about God as a verb. People who have triumphalist notions that God only speaks to the Jews are not correct. Different people attune to different frequencies; God speaks on all frequencies; we receive based on where we're open.

  • In Aramaic, the word for window is kavan, related to the term kavvanah [focus or intent, esp. in prayer]. In davvening, we need to open a window.

  • When we first saw earth from space, there was a paradigm shift. We can conceive of earth as a single being now. Earth is a being who maybe has emphysema now, has blood poisoning. And people who care only for themselves and their own expansion are like cancer cells. But every religion is a vital organ of the planet: all are needed, all are interdependent.

  • So then people ask, "If you're so universal, why be Jewish?" And my answer is, because the Jewish organ needs to be healthy, and if we're truly who we are, that helps the other organs be who they are.

  • Some people drive using only the rearview mirror. "Is this what we used to do? Then we'll do it this way."
  • jews in oregon

    i just stumbled upon the website for a havurah in ashland, oregon. they have a really fabulous website! it is times like this when i think 'well maybe i could live outside nyc.' i particularly enjoyed reading their "our two cents" page which includes links to Opinions, Articles, Letters, Ideas as well as "the Gallery of Jewish Jokes". i love the idea that a havurah took the time to make that part of their site. finally, and perhaps most importantly, was the rabbi's article Confessions of a New York Jew.
    they also have an impressive list of links to members websites as well as a links page. i know you shouldn't judge a havurah by it's website...but this just looks like a really chill place!
    i wonder if i lived somewhere where there was only one liberal jewish congregation if i would join it and help make it [or help sustain it to be] fabulous. in nyc there are pockets of fabulous-ity - (kz, bj, a few others) - but somehow the existence of so much choice makes it so i never have to choose. is the heretical imperative operative? it may not apply to me, since i'm destined to choose whether or not there are many options. at the same time, i would be terrified to move somewhere that didn't already have something established.
    okay enough about moving.
    back to enjoying beautiful snow outside my window!!

    p.s. this photo is from washington, d.c. last winter - but i figured it could be approprite now!

    mini update

    so i know i haven't posted about much lately. and i know i still need to blog the rest of my israel photos plus stuff about limmudny. but i figured since i had a few minutes i should write a few thoughts cause that's the point of a blog, right?

    just a minute can change everything. sounds cliche right? but it's just totally true. it all began last week on tuesday afternoon (a week ago tuesday, so that was actually on jan 31). i woke up not feeling great; i thought i was getting over a cold but in fact the cold was just getting ready to do me in. first i had a stuffy nose. then a sore throat. then as i was taking a relaxing bus ride home from jts, it happened. i was blowing my nose and my left ear just started to hurt. and i mean really really hurt. it was clogged from all the pressure of blowing i think; like when you fly in an airplane? that sort of feeling. except extremely painful. i went home and rested before hebrew school that afternoon. after class i wasn't feeling much better. my ear hurt so much! i was in serious pain. on wednesday i slept in, didn't go to class, and went to the doctor as soon as i could. he took one look inside my ear and told me i had an ear infection.

    ear infection! !דלקת באוזן

    yikes. i used to get them all the time when i was a kid. this is not like how i remember. i am telling you my ear was in serious pain from that tuesday afternoon until this past tuesday when i finally went back to school and work, but only because i really had to; my ear still hurt until later that day. oy! for a week i barely left the house. luckily i had antibiotics and tylenol with coedine drugging me up. but once tuesday happened, i was psyched to get back into the game.

    what a game it was!!! tuesday i had an impromptu lunch with some of my all time favorite jts people. DA, JF, AP, JG and L?. and if that wasn't cool enough, we ate OUTSIDE in the courtyard. can you imagine? outside in feb? it wasn't like 70 degrees or anything, but it was warm enough to be out with jackets and without hats. score!

    tue night i staffed the homeless shelter at jts with BS. so great. she totally was there for me when i needed her. slubmer party baby! we talked about our new dream which is to hike the AT for a week in june. wahoo! i hope it works out.

    wed i had a leisurely lunch with yg, followed be delicious 2 hour nap. i deserved it! wed. night was not as productive as it could have been, but i had some chill visitors such as YZ and JM who rock, so no worries there. why go out when fun people arrive at your door expecdting nothing besides your company?

    thu brought more good news - quite a productive day doing my own "real nyc freelancer" thing most of the day. then at hebrew school a few of my kids admitted to one another during snack that they have been saying blessings over their food at public school snack! how freakin cool is that? i mean just really freakin cool i am telling you.

    then i ran back to the upper right [east] side for storytelling workshop with master Jewish storyteller Peninah Schram. it was fabulous!

    on friday i had three great hevruta [partner study] sessions in the beit midrash, just in time to make fabulous shabbat plans, including breakfast and lunch with my parents on sat and the compnay of MV, ES, and WC at the Michael Lerner event fri night.

    then today i spend a bunch of time with the parents who left nyc early to avoid the beautiful snow that is now falling all around us. lucky for me this meant i got to check out the bj havdallah event which gave me a chance to catch up with a million people including BS (again), DI, AC, AB, AFR, LT, LF and finally meet KM. ridiculous! (in a good way)

    just got back from quality time at the city diner with DI, AC, AB, AFR and KM - half a veggie burger and a cup of red wine later, i am ready to go to sleep at an hour reasonable enough for me to get up in the morning for an eco-zionism program i am leading downtown at town and village synagogue in the morning. wish me luck!

    shavua tov.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    bling bling blingo!

    so just a couple of days after Mobius invited me to join Blingo, I won a $10 iTunes gift certificate. So freakin cool!
    Basically it means instead of using to search the web, your first ten searches a day that you do with Blingo get you entered to win one of many prizes. But you have to be registered! The coolest part is that if you win, the person who invited you also wins. Blin-go!
    So now all of you have a chance to try Blingo as well. You can either click on any of the occurances of Blingo in this post, or click on the blingo icon on the right hand side bar of my blog.