be careful what you wish for

May 27, 2009


i have been trying to not be a superstitious person.  it’s not the easiest task.  fallen salt here; knock on wood there.  it’s written into our upbringings – a kenahara, feh, spit, pooh-pooh – all things to keep bad luck at bay.  mostly, i haven’t wanted to think about the longer line attached to these gestures which eventually translate into the idea that the path can be changed or thwarted.  that you either fall into the camp that thinks that life events are fated or that there are mystical and mysterious breezes that carry left turns and new unexpected paths.  if you believe the 2nd, then all the bowing and spitting upon the ground and salt over your shoulder should provide a very interesting ride.  i think, though, that if i truely believed that all the bowing and spitting on the ground and salt over my shoulder influenced that ride, that i would become like ‘monk’ (the ficticious detective not the religious types) and become so clutched with the having to do this and that and i would become immobile in my life. 

however, every once in a while, i wonder.  this past friday – the start of the long holiday weekend – all i could think was: i just want a quiet weekend in my garden and i don’t want to leave home for a few days.  i’ve been working some part of 7 days a week for months now and this was going to be a treat.  what happens?  i get so sick i cannot get out of bed for 3 days.  i wanted to yell out:  i didn’t mean this!!!!!!!  3 and 1/2 years ago, i had a very busy start to the year.  i was working nonstop and i remember saying to a few people:  all i wanted was a quiet summer.  i got it.  i got cancer.  my life stopped and i wanted to yell out:  i didn’t mean thisssss!!!!!!!!!!!   i’m a little nervous to say what i want now!  should i knock on wood?  spit on the ground?  is my fate set or might there be some mysterious cross-draft just waiting to shift the path of my life at any time?


best laid plans of …

May 25, 2009


me and me…oh well.  whatever the creeping crud was that hit teenage daughter and husband caught up with me.  husband got the brunt of it…suffered with fever for 3 days then gallantly played his gig last night.  i have simply been an onslaught of dripping down the back of my throat and itchy ears.  i shouldn’t be surpised…hearing about so many people with variations on a theme. 

on the good side:  spent much of the past 2 days in my garden.  i’d put in a few cukes then feel dizzy and sit in the shade.  repeat repeat repeat.  basil, tomatoes; cukes; hot peppers.  most everything is planted and i acknowledge that i have too many vining plants.  i love the look of things spilling over the sides of containers.  sweet peas; ivy geranium; baby petunias, becopa, thyme and oregano.  that’s not to mention the many clematis vines all growing on trellises.  the climbing yellow roses are bursting with an almost obscene push.  the irises just pour scent through the back corner of my little brooklyn garden.  i added new coreopsis – last year’s didn’t survive and i adore coreopsis..those yellow flowers seem so cheery and add a good dose of yellow to my very blue and purple-laden garden. 

so no bbq.  no guests.  but some nice quiet time in my house and garden that i haven’t had in a while.  not such a bad thing.  now if the ringing in my ears would just stop….


lost in my backyard

May 20, 2009


i love holiday weekends because they give me an excuse not to work (ok, i’m sneaking in at least 2 appointments but it feels less obligatory).  i intend to sleep late saturday morning and find my way into my garden and then organize for a nice bbq with a family we’re getting to know.  my kind of gathering: 4 adults, 2 teenagers, a hiding cat and a visiting well-behaved dog.  all, hopefully, outside in the garden.  the irises are in bloom and there are beautiful yellow climbing roses, 2 of at least 7 clematis vines in bloom and even the newly planted tomato plants are starting to look established as they climb upwards.  still a lot of weeding to be done and basil to be planted – i’m hoping no one notices. 

and late lunch/dinner in the garden! 

Cheeses and Olives

Grilled Flank Steak over Arugula

dressed with olive oil and lemon

Orzo with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and mint

Grilled Asparagus

One big crusty bagette

and then, another day to laze about.  oh happy holiday weekend! 


catching a groove…

May 19, 2009


i am quick to blame many of my foibles
on the after-effects of chemo, surgery and radiation but i think i have to start to admit to myself that age and diet may well have something to do with it.  i can see that when i regularly exercise (for me that’s 30 min. on my ellpytical 3-4 times a week) i catch so much more of a wave through my week.  but now, i have a pattern:  i am very energetic all day – working, doing errands, planning meals and then around 8pm i crash…i could just pass out.  but i don’t.  i feel dazed and overwhelmed and play many too many silly word games on my computer waiting for bedtime for my teenager.  i can’t actually seem to process thoughts in the evening.  i have visions of becoming one of those characters in a p.d. james mystery novel who quietly watch the evenings go by in their comfy chairs.   but by the time i actually go to bed: i’m up again!   ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhkay…i admit it.  it’s the sugar.  it’s the finnish black licorice that i sneak nightly – if i couple that with pasta i’m a goner.  i feel pretty silly about it all.  i feel like i am 70 not 51.  it’s not like i’m drowning my worries in wine or whiskey!   shouldn’t i still be taking on the world?  turns out, if there’s licorice around, not so much! 

come and sell your soul…

May 17, 2009


just when i think i’ve seen it all – heard every scam and silly story out there, another one walks in the door.  hosting an open house today for a very special apartment here in brooklyn (special translating to brownstone tall ceilings; deck and garden and beauty and light) in walked a couple both with traditional priest collars around their necks (i have no idea what this is called – but you know, the black and white collar.)  she had a piercing look about her and introduced herself as ‘Reverend Gabrielle.  [name changed for blog] in fact, that’s how she signed in …no last name.  just ‘Rev. Gabrielle’.  and she introduced herself – both of them actually – as priests.  ok.  fine with me.  i was raised as a conservative jew but as an adult have left organized religion behind me – settling for equal amounts of a personal sense of spiritualism and a mostly dubious nature.  but trust me when i tell you that i leave my own opinions at the door of business.  anyway, we are bound by very strong fair housing rules and i believe in them – i believe in the fair housing rules more than i believe in organized religion!!! 

around the apartment they walk – i give them a nice tour and answer their enthusiastic questions.  they visit the yard – i give them a bit of time to themselves – and then we reconvene in the living room where i say, as always: do you have any questions?  here is the part where we discuss what it means to live in a co-op vs. a condo (for those of you not living in nyc, the real estate market here is a very different creature) and why there is tax deductibility for part of the money paid each month.  but rev. gabrielle looked at me with her piercing eyes and said (and i have to paraphrase here but the gist is completely there): “We’ve purchased upwards of 20 properties and for each deal, we’ve asked the broker  – as a part of the deal – to ‘donate’ 1% of their commission to a charity that we give to.  We’re really interested in this property.  Would you be willing to do that?” 

i stood there.  it was an odd, disconnected moment for me – i felt like this was a play and that they were playing out a script that they had acted out many times but one that i was unaware of ever reading.  while they had looked around they were more apart – one going here, one going there.  but now they seemed to have melded into one entity.  and they were both staring at me with 2 sets of piercing eyes and 1/2 smiles on their faces.  it was just surreal. 

i looked her in the eyes and said: no.  i would not give up my commission.  it’s how i make my living.   they replied that they had had great – really enormous – success with this all over the united states (even connecticut!!!) but as they were looking in new york city, they were suddenly finding unexpected resistance to this idea.  i just looked at them and said:  welcome to brooklyn. 

why would i give up my commission?  ‘to make the deal’ came the answer.  i would, i promised them, sell the apartment without putting my commission in jeopardy.  but mostly i was thinking:  what kind of charity?  do you think, for example, that i would give you money to make a real estate deal if it meant that the charity was anti-choice?  i presumed they did mean that.  that i should give a ‘donation’  with a financial gun to my head.   hey, i haven’t made it to 51 years old – a crusty old feminist – by bending my deepest values for the sake of a sale.  they looked puzzled…and, to tell the truth, i couldn’t quite tell if they were running a scam or were dazzled by their own perceived power. 

i looked on the sign-in sheet after they left.  some spiritual mysticsm.  i really believe in the separation of church and state.  it seems i also believe in the separation of church and business.

the season of almosts

May 15, 2009



as a freelancer, i’m quite used to watching events, deals, jobs, etc. swirling and then finding that you’re on…in the middle of happening things.  as a freelancer in a tanking economy, i’m getting used to working almost every single day and being as busy as i’ve been in good years but finding that everything is swirling and nothing is happening.  it’s been months of almost.  nothing is coming in to any finality.  and it’s not just real estate deals – although that is it’s own kettle of swarming fish – but also plans for the future; plans for summer; plans for my garden; and…all of it.  i know that neither hubby nor i can really commit to summer vacation plans because my business is stalled out and his (also freelance) business is down.  i just can’t quite get used to working so hard and not getting anything from it.  if i were just out of work (and i’m not trying to temp the fates here) i’d simply be out of work.  though maybe then i’d be working hard to find work.  sigh.  i just have to believe that all the swirling will eventually settle down into some of substance sooner rather than later.  i feel like i can will it into substance.  i think i can, i think i can…

warning; warning; warning; warning

May 13, 2009


ah, to wake up in the morning happy in the ritual of an extremely hot cup of deeply strong coffee in hand with those 10 minutes before waking child for school and finding my computer screen riddled with pop-up after pop-up telling me that annihilation is near for my computer.  pernicious malware! trojan viruses!!! stolen passwords!!!!  — all of these i can look forward to in my immediate future.  how could this be??  i have a relatively new laptop loaded to the max with virus software all recently updated.  turns out:  norton 360 is pretty much norton 350.  there’s a crack in the door.  and it just takes a tiny crack to let misery in. 

ironically, you need to talk to the service people online.  somewhat hard to do if you only have 1 computer.  thankfully, i could gallop between 2 rooms using mine – pernicious malware! trojan viruses!!! stolen passwords!!!! – and daughter’s.  vishney communicated with me via active control (gotta love seeing your mouse scrawl all over your screen without your actual control) and informed me that this invasive virus was at a ‘different level’ than the normal parameters of the aforementioned norton 360 and that he could certainly help me as long as i agreed to ‘value added services’.  yes, i paid more money to have the company that was supposed to protect my computer from viruses fix the computer from the virus it didn’t protect my computer from.  

$179 later no more popups.  no more pernicious malware! trojan viruses!!! stolen passwords!!!!   well, at least for now.  be sure your door isn’t cracked open also.  or at least save up for those ‘value added services’.  harumph.

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