It was a few years after WWII, but the industrial area in Richmond where the major shipyards were located gradually started undergoing a transformation. As the post-war period no longer needed ships, other manufacturing took over for a while. And then, for years, the area went to seed. Undergoing a renaissance in the last decade, there is now a ferry terminal for those San Francisco bound with that rare offer of FREE parking. Columbia has taken over a major portion of one of the old buildings and runs a significant operation including their “employees warehouse/discount” store. To which others (trust me) can receive an invitation. About 2 years ago, they extended the courtesy to all with a military ID, including retirees. With prices running 40-60% of retail on Columbia, Mountain Hardware, and now Praha – if you need one of their products, it is worth the drive. This area is also now home to the Rosie The Riveter Museum.
Where was I? Oh, yes, heading into Craneway Pavillion – which was hosting this year’s holiday craft market. This is not your ladies auxiliary market. There are no hand crocheted toilet box covers, nor did I spot anything even remotely plastic or disposable. But if someone is shopping for artisan wares – this would be the place to go.
We spent a couple of hours wandering through about 200 vendors. There was nothing I needed, and surprisingly little that I wanted.
This followed me home (purchased by Dani since she remembered that once upon a time….). This mug was made by another Rose with a studio in Oakland. The cat was because, when first starting out, she shared a house with a fluctuating number of others, usually about 10. And, there was a cat in about every room. I gave her the “clowder of cats” but forgot the alternative (a glaring of cats) when I had stopped by her display earlier to admire the bowls. She said that the two siamese were the only ones which were distinctive out of that “bunch of cats.” It was a number of years before she headed out on her own, catless, but still uses the image.
From there, it was off to coffee and back to the house. It has been a quiet evening.
I wish you all joy and freedom.
A long time ago – or when I lived in Heidelberg – which may or may not be all that long ago in geological terms I wrote about some of the brass plaques inserted in various sidewalk locations in memory of those who had lived at that location and were taken and killed as part of the Holocaust.
As it turns out, there are plaques with a similar purpose set in the sidewalks here in San Francisco. These don’t relate to the Holocaust (obviously). So far I haven’t found any that relate to much of the California shame of the WWII internments. But what I found on my walk from the Powell Street BART to UC Hastings via various streets in the Tenderloin – was the following:
B’nai Brith arrived in San Francisco in 1855. Started originally to help widows and orphans, nationwide it became a strong supporter of the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel Foundations and BB Youth Organizations.
And here is a link to the California Digital Press Archives from 1897. The archives are searchable and there are a number of contemporaneous articles on the 1906 Earthquake and the aftermath (1, 2 , 3- which discusses the libraries that were lost in the fire)
In researching more recent times – there were three remaining Lodges in SF which combined in 1997 to one. Of interest is that of those involved was still named the Golden Gate Lodge (see picture above).
In 1999, the official office closed and the organization became completely run by volunteers.
At some point, they even decided to admit women. (gasp! I remember the mother of a good friend saying – the men do B’nai Brith, the women do Haddasah. The local chapter likes to bowl, and bowling is just not a Jewish sport, I don’t belong! This was the early 1970s. )
In 2005, the remaining San Francisco lodge celebrated 150 years of activity in San Francisco.
It was at this point I ran out of time following various links down newspaper archives and various other bit-buckets. Something about a couple more classes this afternoon and maybe being prepared?
now through 94 rows –
aka Amtrak #29 connects Washington DC and Chicago. The journey is supposed to take about 16 hours – give or take. This obviously is not all that high speed (take it from some one who has done this by car) for a distance of about 700 miles. Not being completely stupid, I have a roomette booked. It might be a lot cheaper to travel by straight coach but the smell and noise level can be overwhelming. There always seem to be both those who haven’t had the opportunity for hygiene mixed in with those who think everyone on the train is dying to hear other people’s cell phone conversations. At 0300 in the morning. Not.
I spent this morning touring the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. It’s worth a visit for those who happen to be in the vicinity of 1811 R Street NW. Not open on Sunday just to give you the heads up. Overall, it is well done but seems to have a few significant holes in the collection since I happen to know for a fact that there have been women as well as men serving in the military all the way back to the Civil War…..
The Loop (Yarn Store) 1732 Connecticut NW isn’t open on Monday. Inhabited by staff but not open…
It is after dark and there are some lights shining out between the Cassia Lodge and Lake Victoria. It means that Shabbat has arrived. For that matter – it means that the first night of Passover has arrived as well.
We had finished by noon today, both with lectures and a session in Mengo Hospital Lab. I will not readily admit how many years it has been since I personally prepared thick&thin slides for malaria diagnosis. Since the flight times for our group varied from 1830 onwards we had a couple members leave from the lab directly to the airport. The remaining four of us came back to the hotel for the afternoon. Given that there were a number of hours, Silke, Sarah and I split a room so that we could rest, lounge and shower before getting stuck in the lobby for the last couple of hours.
Did I mention that I am returning home on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul?
Well, anyway that is the plan. Lufthansa doesn’t fly directly from here. Nor does Austrian or Swiss Air. So my choice was Ethiopian or Turkish. Having flown on the latter, it was excellent plus I would rather change planes in Istanbul.
But I have not been able to check in on line. As it turns out, they have only the one flight per day coming through on a loop – Istanbul-Kigali-Entebbe-Istanbul which means that the counter might not be open for a while. I will update you….
(Right about midnight – give or take)
We left the hotel about 2030 and hit an insane amount of traffic immediately. So instead of taking 50-55 minutes it turned into almost 100 minutes. It was about when we were at the airport that the trip organizer mentioned about he was glad KLM didn’t leave till midnight. No, the time has been changed to 2330. Ooops. We get to the terminal to hit screening (everything through a huge x-ray that I am not sure had anyone watching the screen. The two on the KLM flight dashed for the counter which was about to close. Counter->Gate->boarding.
It was about then I found that Turkish Airlines doesn’t open their counters till around midnight…
But I managed to get checked in as soon as they opened, through immigration and to the “one lounge for everyone.” And everything to eat, other than fruit and chips is either on bread, wrapped in dough or is bakery products. Fruit is good, and chips are a vegetable, right?
With the current fad of gluten free, it is honestly easy to find food to eat during Peasch. I am not putting down or questioning the reasonable percentage of those who have actually had a diagnosis of Celiac Disease made. It is however a time of year when I have to seriously consider what I eat and how it is prepared.
My last couple of years have been different than the previous 26. Even deploying, I stuck to a vegetarian diet that included eggs and dairy but not meat in any form. Hint – if it had eyes I didn’t eat it. Now, you can make all the jokes you want about potatoes. I heard them all over the years as well as comments on the “white diet” which were those days when the various dining halls offered cauliflower, mashed potatoes and rice as the only items on the serving line which were warm and uncontaminated with beast du jour.
Part of my decisions during those years were religious, part on ethical grounds and mostly just for health reasons. But then I started cruising more and more. It was impossible to eat a healthy vegetarian diet on ship (enough protein) without more trouble than it was worth. Anything that came out of the deep fat fryer suffered from both intensive fat levels plus having shared a basket with all sorts of things that I just don’t eat nor want in the neighborhood. Kitchen prep on ships is good – no issues with separation of cutting boards and knives between meats and vegetable products. But trying feel comfortable about eating any thing that came off a grill in the morning? Am I really sure that there were no pork products around the pancakes or french toast? How about those scrambled eggs? Are they powdered or real? And a diet of hard boiled eggs, yogurt and oatmeal gets to be extremely boring even when augmented with fruits, veggies and salad when eaten three times a day.
Fish was the first compromise. It happened over Passover a few years ago. If you don’t want any grain products, no meat, no fish this leaves you with fruit, some veggies and hard boiled eggs for eight days. Even I am not that stubborn!
Smoked salmon at breakfast. Protein – check. Fresh fruit – check. Yogurt? Dairy & calcium – check. It seemed to be a bit smarter. No treif, but a greater variety of choices off the menu. I had to admit to myself that I was enjoying the variety of foods as the days and months started rolling along.
And then it gets to Passover again. I still don’t eat treif during Pesach, but will eat meats from the cloven hoof and chews a cud club. Not dairy and meat together, that is still a step too far for me. Which left me with an interesting dilemma last night after finishing in the gym. It was well after 2100. I hadn’t paid any attention to the closing time in the Windjammer which turns out to be 1800-2030. The main dining room final seating was 2000 and My Time was 2045. Chops and Izumi both stop seating at 2100. Did I mention that I was still in gym clothes which for me leaves out the option of eating anywhere other than Park Cafe in the Solarium.
The Cafe is open for late snacks from 2030 to midnight. It is still Passover. They have wraps (tortillas) on offer along with panninni all of which are already made. There is pizza and there are burgers. What kind of meat is in the burger? No clue. Beef only? Can’t tell me that for sure. Next to the bin of burgers are buns (not an option) onion, tomato and lettuce along with plastic cheese slices. and a pot of lentil soup. What is the broth for the lentil soup? Vegetarian? Shoulder shrug.
Did you know that room service is quite good? They can provide a steak sandwich without the bread, a salad without dressing or croutons and some veggies and there is no delivery surcharge till after midnight.
Now my only real question becomes…… Do I save the two small squares of cheese cake on the nibbles plate from the kitchen since the chocolate covered strawberries were inhaled immediately. Or do I be a good kid and just get them out of the room since it isn’t sundown yet…….If I cover them up, it should be ok, right?
and no, I did not attend a seder last night at the start of Pesach. It fell into the “too hard to do” box. When I was here in Miami last week, I ran a search for community seders. After eliminating all those affiliated with Chabad (we checked that box in 1981 in Charleston on our way to Germany for the first time. More than three hours into the Seder at 2200 and we still had not gotten to the meal. Not a fun time with a 2 1/2 year old) there were actually few options that were in striking distance of where I am staying. Public transportation is not exactly easy to work in Miami. Either I was no tin the right location or the synagogue wasn’t reachable
So anyway, right on the front of the webpage for Temple Beth Or was the information about their community seder to include that it was a vegetarian/fish potluck.
Now, I do potlucks. Have for years in various military communities. Only time it doesn’t work is if someone decides to be more Orthodox than thou. Those games I don’t play. I received a prompt reply from the admin office that I was more than welcome to join them and the fact that I was in a hotel didn’t present a problem, even offered a ride.
Arriving early enough, I was able to help with a bit of the set up –
Once everyone arrived I didn’t attempt to take any pictures but it was somewhere around 45 participants. Other than one family, it was pretty much baby boomers with a few of their parents generation. It is an interesting, educated and well traveled group who quietly and without fanfare watch out for each other. That includes pushing chairs, giving way to walkers and making sure that someone gets a helping of their favorite food. The Haggadah on the other hand? You can become so PC that the words stumble in your mouth (?Family Eclectic? or some other such non-sense).
But there was plenty to eat, more than enough Manischewitz wine (it was BOKW) and Kedem grape juice to give everyone heart burn.
It felt like community – our original military one in Heidelberg, the Seders I spent in Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan where being there was more important than what you knew or your shul or town or family.
(note, I delayed a few days and thought about it seriously before posting the following)
Whether I attended them or not, all the cruise lines seem to have a slot in the Friday night schedule for self-led services. Occasionally I would be known to drop in, or not as the mood struck. Over major holidays the ships on which I have traveled have made more than a slight effort. (some engaging the services of a cantor or rabbi over the High Holidays) or supporting organized celebrations for Hanukah (somehow a more understandable holiday to the Christian world although of minor importance to most of us on this side of the fence).
But I realized the other morning when I made the mistake of heading early to the Sky lounges ad stumbled into quavery voices raised in off-key hymns that I hadn’t noticed an option on this ship. In fact not for Jewish or Catholic services. Protestant services – there always seems to be a minister, pastor or preachers lurking among the passengers. But the lack options for me or many others was clear once I went looking.
Carmen and I noticed last June on the Constellation that they did not offer Mass. Since we were in a port on Sunday morning and one of the Cathedrals had a Mass who’s time worked there wasn’t as much issue for her in Bergen as there could have been. I am vaguely remembering there might have been an opportunity to attend Friday evening services but didn’t take advantage. I don’t think there was that option on the Eclipse out of Southhampton and there is certainly nothing on the Solstice. Even Costa with it’s idiocy of scheduling the life boat drill at the same time as Friday night services (2012 out of Singapore) wasn’t this oblivious.
In case you frequent cruisers are wondering – the community bulletin board on this ship is not passenger friendly. If you want something posted, you have to find a member of the Cruise Director’s staff or the event coordinator. If they agree that what you want posted would be of interest to “enough passengers” then they will make up a sign and post it. Nothing (other than Bill W) will make the daily program. Just their policy, don’t argue with us, there is nothing we can (or want) to do.
WHich takes me back to my original assertion. The reason there was a Protestant service on Sunday morning was that someone went to the staff and requested that they be able to run it along with enough pressure from others on the ship who wanted to attend that it would have been fairly uncomfortable for the staff to turn them down. However since the Cruise Critic meeting was already scheduled at 0945 in the Sky Lounge they were provided an earlier time than requested with a take it or leave it attitude. I made an initial inquiry about other services and then dropped it as it was obviously not something the staff had heard often before nor did they seem at all interested.
Perhaps “Modern Luxury” means being “modern” in everything and eschewing support for what are assumed to be traditional passenger activities on the ship. Being modern means that Friends of Bill W get a nod, right along with unlimited drinks packages. The staff had difficulty understanding why a meeting place at one of the bars out in public was not an appropriate location. It means an interesting selection of music (most of which is actively detested by the demographic on board) in all the lounges whether desired or not. It means furniture appropriate for 20s-40s creating challenges for the over 50 & overwieghts who become trapped in the chairs and couches.
There is no chapel on the ship, but the Captain does have the power to perform weddings which just leaves me wondering. This apparently is a cruise line for people who like comfort, style and a nod toward tradition (Tea in the Afternoon) while avoiding the uncomfortable issues of religion, discrimination or politics.
While their advertisements state that Kosher/Hallel meals are available in reality the labeling on the menus or in the Oceanview Cafe is woefully inadequate. I have no clue why a chef would think that topping Halibut with a strip of crispy bacon was a good idea but there it was lying dead and nasty on top of my fish. It certainly wasn’t on the menu, mentioned by the waitstaff or something I would expect in a restaurant devoted to modern healthy cooking. The serving line personnel in most locations did not know which oils or fats were used for food preparation. Gluten they know, just because of the current fad but on most other issues (to include nuts and seafood) they were clueless.
So all of this might explain why I haven’t seen too many Jews on Celebrity as compared to Royal although both have the same parent corporation. I think it also might apply to Catholics if they want a line that insures there is a Priests on long repositioning cruises. Or maybe I am reacting to a slight undertone of distain for passengers that I have picked up across the board on this ship. Sincere efforts are made to insure passengers are getting what they want – not because it makes sense or is great customer service but in an effort to avoid complaints.
The difference is subtle but clear. My message is less subtle – not rebooking on this ship and likely not on Celebrity again beyond those itineraries on which there are no other viable choices.
It was about 1900 when I started back toward home. Our Strikktreff had run late since it was so lovely sitting outside Red. Given that I hiked into town it is more than reasonable to assume that a stroll toward was in order.
I try different routes each time; it lets me see more of the city including the warren of little streets that make up the Weststadt. Houses, cafes, people and interesting architecture are mixed with a fine hand scattering smaller neighborhoods like small jewels. After crossing Kurfürstenanlage, strassenbahn tracks and the busbahnhof (which, with no surprise is just off Bahnhofstrasse) I headed down Häusserstraße.
This is dinner time for most families with small children. Since it is summer, the sun will not be down for a few hours. Stomping along the other side of the street from me were four young boys wearing t-shirts, shorts and sturdy shoes. They were pushing, shoving and bumping each other in the manner of small boys every where. A man, obviously their father was a few strides ahead of them with a young girl of about three skipping and swinging from his hand. I couldn’t clearly see faces since the papa and three of the four boys had baseball caps pulled firmly down on the heads. The fourth boy had the standard black velvet yarmulke perched firmly on the back of his head.
I looked up and realized we were a block short of the Jüdische Geimeinde so I think I knew their destination. And so you have the Germany of today where a family can stroll down the sidewalk on a summer’s evening. Headed perhaps to services and Havdalah on Shabbos.
I am not sure what I expected. Certainly we wound up with the same challenges on boarding day as last spring on Costa. Services with a location posted and the safety/boarding/lifeboat drill effectively at the same time. By the time I saw the note for Friday evening participation, we were long past the time and on our way to supper.
On the Jewel last spring there was a retired Cantor who happily was up in front of a congregation (the 50 or so who came out of the woodwork to participate on Shabbos).
Now, last night was Erev Yom Kippur and today Yom Kippur. Somewhere in RCI’s literature I thought I remembered that they try to round up a rabbi for the High Holidays. Given that they have 22 ships, it seems like a bit of a stretch to me. OTOH, they managed to have a Catholic Priest on this crossing.
This post is pre placed – so it might yet change after I hit the next port and can give you a slightly more accurate account of actual evens
AKA – you may be on vacation from work, your family and life, but you are not on vacation from yourself.
Just like when I am deployed, I will attempt to locate Friday evening services if I am at sea on Shabbas. Doesn’t mean that I will always attend, but I have been known to show up. Sometimes out of curiosity but mostly for the same reasons as when deployed: my being there may make a difference to someone else. Of course, for many people who need a minyan I am not going to count but I view that as their problem, not mine.
On most cruises, if I am at sea on Friday evening at minimum I will show up. Did I mention that Costa was a Friday cruise start? And that their emergency boat drill ran at exactly the same time as they had listed? And they wonder why no one showed up either week? On the Grandeur this time the first Friday was one of the conference rooms which worked out. The second Friday since the conference rooms were now over run with the cable guys (nothing like doing as much prep as you can which includes wiring) they had moved us to the library which was neither cool or fair to those attempting to have quiet time and read.
Anywho – RCI this time had a signup sheet at the front desk. One of the desk people mentioned they were doing this so that they could book the appropriate size space. I didn’t think anything of it when I noticed that the Windjammer Annex was designated. Finding my way in to the room with three others, there were 35 already present when we arrived. Given Jewish time, it should not surprise you to learn that there were over 50 by the end of services.
Now 50+ Jews, most of whom are over the age of 60 could potentially be a recipe for chaos given all the differences in backgrounds, experiences and expectations. Instead, things were organized: not only were chairs set up, wine and challah on the side table but there appeared to be someone in charge and wiling to lead services. Neil introduced himself, and as a retired Cantor, not one person in the place had any problems with him leading services. It also eliminated any confusion about which melodies would be used. He/she who leads gets to chose.
With a Conservative prayerbook, let me just say that we had a few anxious people with 1800 dinner times since obviously services ran a bit long. Not as much over as it could have been but still ……
Cabin 7002, Jewel OTS
And then there is Bridgetown Barbados. British complete with right hand drive cars and an upper crust accent by those who are educated. According to several locals with whom I spoke, the town is turning more and more to tourism as a key part of the economy. The downstream effects are not insignificant.
For those who are students of American history – it was at Bridgetown, Barbados in 1751 where George Washington became ill with and survived Smallpox. There are statues, there is the former Trafalgar Square.
And there is Nidhe Israel Synagogue. Constructed ~ 1648 it was the first in the New World. Built by Sephardic Jews leaving Portugal (the Inquisition made that land a not particularly nice place to be) and augmented years later by Jews expelled from England at the high point the community numbered close to 700. The community was an interesting mix of Jews, Marranos, and Conversos.
Due to the efforts of the defendants one family of Jewish Polish immigrants (1930s) – the building was rescued from distraction in the 1980s and reconstructed as a Museum. The Mikvah was discovered with the excavation of the car park several years later. The cemetery, dating from the 1600s is still in use.
I could have waited till after sundown tonight or tomorrow morning to drive back to Germany. After all, this is the woman who wouldn’t travel on Yom Kippur (remember that was mid-Sept because of the difference between the Hebrew and western calendars) last year. Well, that might be different. Making a point with the military is always worthwhile.
But George leaves for the US in the morning and I wanted to see him.
One of the things I did learn about the ferry is that a set time is not completely set. If there is room, you can travel one ferry ahead of when you have booked. You can also travel on the immediately following ferry from your time slot without paying a penalty. This, of course is if there is space.
I had thought about stopping at Dover Castle. According to everyone, it is well worth visiting but takes at least 4 hours to properly appreciate it. I elected to grab the 1200 ferry instead. My drive home was leisurely, not pushing the speed, not getting lost and – due to low traffic – not being annoyed by all the road construction.
I’ll forgive all transgressions against me and plan on a better year if you will do the same. May you be sealed in the book of life for a good, next year.
A time of year to think, contemplate and look ahead.
This year the holiday pretty much snuck up on me. With all the changes that have happened in my life these past months, you would think I would have been looking forward to a time of reflection.
Instead, yesterday afternoon I was trying to figure out what time to bail the DH out of the train station because his flight from California was going to be late. Contemplating whether or not I was going to be able to round everyone up for dinner.
Deciding that I was not interested in either the Orthodox Services at the local Gemeinde or driving to Ramstein, I did manage to locate a Taschlich Service as well as several of the holiday prayer books. A bit of reading by myself was more than enough.
The Ramstein Chapel rather than the local one occurred because the local Rabbi is leading services in Afghanistan – which is the right place for him to be. What I don’t care for is his unilateral decision that there will not be services here in Heidelberg. Considering how many years we (the local community) managed just fine without a Rabbi, that appears pretty arbitrary.
So I just might not have the best attitude. Added to that, I seem to have managed to offend everyone in the house all on the same day. Except for the dog. It is really hard to annoy a golden retriever – everyone is their friend, especially someone who brings them a ball from the states.
May you all have a pleasant and sweet New Year’s. May your thoughts be serious, pleasant and your day go without worries or hassles. Enjoy friends, family and your health. Forgive them, as I would ask you to forgive me for all the petty annoyances and focus on the large things – life is good.
I think we all start Pesach very up beat and energetic. It is a time of celebration (they tried to kill us – they didn’t succeed, lets eat! Wait a minute – that is describes a significant amount of the Jewish Holidays. Recurring theme here?) All the special foods bring a bit of camaraderie and nostalgia.
Then reality sets in. There is probably a really good reason why we don’t eat this stuff the rest of the year. Yes, I like Tsmimmis and probably should make it. Most of the soups that I make are fine for any time of the year (I don’t do Matzoh Balls – I make them but don’t eat them. Even light and fluffy – I. don’t. like. them.)
The days start to pass. There are just so many ways that you can disguise matzoh and I get really, really bored with low fat mozzarella and tomatoes. All those things which I never eat start to look good. I start carefully reading food labels – scrutinising all the ingredients with care in the hopes of being able to declare it ok and add it to my pitifully limited intake choices.
And why is tonight different from all other nights (or at least the last eight)?
It is an interesting movement – the Multigenerational Houses in Germany. Although we have been living in Heidelberg off and on since 1993, this past week was the first time that I learned anything about them. Getting an email from Helena, another member of the US military related Jewish community – she mentioned that the Heidelberg Haus might be the perfect place to hold a community Seder for those of us not inclined to go the orthodox route.
The principle is simple, and honestly obvious once one thinks about it. It is simply a type of house where unrelated people of all ages live and create a family. Own room with bath is the standard. The cooking facilities are in common as are recreational spaces. Many offer community services, such as kindergarten so that you can’t think this is a substitution for the old residential hotels or boarding houses and it really is not a group home. This is essentially a location where people create a family of choice, not limited by age, gender or physical abilities. Many are Evangelisch sponsored, but not all.
The Haus in Heideleberg was established in 2007. I think Helena found it when she was looking for a child care/kindergarten location for one of her small children. This particular community is an incredibly interesting mix of ages, interests and country of origin back ground.
So there we are – setting up for a Seder of about 45 people of ages from crawling to walking to rolling to ambulating through the children with care, stiffness, and cane. Americans, ex-Russians, Germans, Israelis, Spaniards and probably a couple more countries of origin that I missed.
The Seder itself reminding me in many ways of the one I attended in Budapest – 1998. Scattered tables (only way to fit enough people into the room) and someone sort of leading but a lot of chaos and multiple languages. So I should not have been surprised at a Russian Haggadah being translated in German with most of the songs done in Hebrew (have you ever heard some of them translated into local language? shudder). Lots of introductory remarks, most of the long passages skipped as well as spilling wine for the plagues (all those kids? a chance to drip juice/wine?).
There was more than enough to eat (as always – turkey, chicken, veggies, salads, fruits and more matzoh) and a lot of discussions.
The Piano became multi-use, serving for both buffet and concluding music.
Passover has started. Normally met with an infinitely long before meal participatory service in which you tell the story of Pesach about fifteen different ways, discuss plagues, spill some wine/juice and eat too much.
Instead, I spent some time thinking about the current world and the issues of religious freedom. In audio n the car, I am currently listening to Kenneth C Davis – America’s Hidden History. With an excellent background provided in the numerous conflicts occurring in Europe from the 15th Century onward, Davis views the early history of exploration and conquest of the New World not from the sweetly painted fiction taught to school children but against the harsh realities of people and their belief systems. What might seem benign becomes rapidly apparent as intrinsically connected to the Protestant/Catholic – conflict in both England and on the Continent. The idea of the French-Indian Wars (the New World side of the European Seven Years War) being started by George Washington due to inexperience and stupidity is clear when viewed from the perspective of “religious freedom.”
The English founders of the New World were looking for freedom to practice their religion. Not for freedom for anyone else to practice theirs…… Which clearly explains the lack of Catholics, Jews and other strangers in the Massachusetts Bay Colonies and the later popularity of Maryland with non-Pilgrim/Puritan settlers.
The book is both interesting and entertaining. I have both paperback and CD and am willing to loan it to anyone who might be interested.
Fast forward to today. As I look back at the historical departure of the Jews from Egypt – I am struck by two things. The first is the stubbornness/refusal of the Jews to assimilate. The second is that fact that they did not try to impose their beliefs on the Egyptians, rather choosing to leave. I look around the US – fundamentalists want legislate my personal morals. I just want to be left to do my own thing and not force my beliefs on them. There are plenty of faith groups who – while having “the answer for themselves” don’t see a need to restrict/regulate/denigrate those outside their own group. Then there are those who, from religious belief or fear, can only see that I am not part of their group and so am wrong.
Meanwhile, I just spent six months in Afghanistan, trying to support the idea of freedom and choice for many to whom it is completely irrelevant. Those who would have happily executed me as one more infidel and a risk to their belief system. Working along side some quite interesting fundamentalist Catholics and Christians who were very uncomfortable with my religion/belief system. I am not sure which poses more personal danger to me. Probably the later.
We all remember Mr. Rogers. Well, ok, some of us remember Mr. Rogers either as a parent or as a child growing up with his regular TV program. Between being optimistic and being the cardigan wearing type, a few phrases have always stuck in my mind.
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood’
And it was today. Sun shining, the birds happily making a racket and the wind which had been whipping around last night at 45+MPH was so well behaved as to be unnoticeable. I slept in, 0200 for a bedtime is just not compatible with getting up at the crack of dawn. There was enough hot water for a shower and the laundry found my bag with only a minim of fuss.
Traffic was light as I made my way to the office feeling rather cheerful. Shortly after arriving, I even got a call from home. I like talking to my husband and son and would have talked longer but for the pesky battery on the phone deciding to die in the middle of the call.
Even the wind coming up this evening filling the sky, the air and my mouth with grit has not shaken my mood. Of course, it would have been nice to have gotten decent photos from the roof of the Korean hospital, but I will try again if there is ever another clear day. Being up there, even fighting the wind, did prove to me that there is actually a world, houses, villages and people outside the fence.
It is the fourth night
Photos from Last Night
and I have a few photos from last night –
and we kind of did a Pesach type thing – took the historical story and read it while eating, everyone taking a turn at reading so that no one had cold Latkes.
Since I have an 0600 show time, I think it is time to head for bed.
I am running quite a bit later than usual. For a while I was able to get in early in the morning, get this missive off to everyone and then spend the rest of the day figuring out what I should have said.
Now, since I wanted to include a Chanukka picture
I have to send it off in the evening. Oh, waahh, poor me.
Anyway, I spent a very interesting few hours attending the theater trauma conference. Initiated a number of years ago and now a weekly VTC run in each theater, the major trauma cases are reviewed with a eye to finding ways to improve care as well as provide feedback to the docs along the route.
The same conference = is run for the Iraq theater of operations. The Brits do the same thing – connecting the receiving hospital in Birmingham with Bastion. I am not sure that any of the other Allies are doing the same, but none of the rest are suffering our level of casualties.
Not all the casualties are reviewed, just the major ones. Major means that you have suffered enough trauma to lose a couple of limbs, or have major open head injury or a gunshot wound to your chest or…. you get the idea.
Trust me, I.E.Ds are extremely lethal. It is only the prompt and forward placement of a lot of medical know-how that is keeping any of the soldiers hit alive to get to the surgeons. Who, in turn, manage to save those who would have died just a few years ago. The level of surgical care in theater is phenomenal.
It also helps, when going over cases with just horrible injuries to hear one of the hospitals on the stateside end say – oh – he has gone home on convalescent leave. Or, even more rarely – he will be returning to duty.
It makes up for those each week who are going back with bilateral leg amputations. And those are some of the luckier ones. The cost to society is well beyond what most of us want to recognize. These are primarily young men – early 20s with a whole changed life ahead of them. Young men who have wives tell them – “I can’t do this’ while they are still on their backs in a hospital bed.
We are facing a lot.
When I lit those candles – I was thinking about religious freedom and perseverance in the face of some pretty challenging odds.
Or Chanuka or Hannuka or Hanukkah or whatever way you want to translate the Hebrew – It really doesn’t matter. Pick the spelling that you like best. You will come up with at least six on any websearch.
And, given that I took home a Hanukah in a bag, I had a menorah to light (plus a mini which I can take on the road). Courtsey of Mary in Guildford – I have a quite useful present.
I think she is hoping that this will decrease my chances of losing my key all the time.
1830 was the get together time at the Chapel. Which turned out not to be the Chapel, but back at the Annex where we always meet. Not only did we have supplies, but we are resourceful.
Where some flat grills, boxes of mix, and a bit of oil turns into Latkes for a whole crowd.
I would have pictures of us lighting candles, but someone forgot to take a badge off. End result is that I had to delete some really great photos and you will have to settle for this –
as about 1/2 of the Friday night regulars. (Hey – Hammer – please notice that I have not forgotten my weapon!). Instead of simply lighting candals and leaving, we had a party.
All of this may explain why I did not attend the Egyptian Hospital Change of Command this evening. It seemed like more fun to go, share an evening, light candles, eat and relax.
And these are the last pictures of me you will see for a long time. I hate being in front of the camera.
I did mention food, didn’t I?