I love Thanksgiving, not sure if it’s my favorite holiday, because to be honest, all holidays should be special. But I really love it. All Jewish holidays center around food and a lot of other stuff. So it’s nice to just have the food and guests of course. This year it was just the family – since we are growing (13 of us) I’m fine with that.No pictures of food this year, let’s just say we gobbled like turkeys. So after the meal, it was time to get pictures. Here I am with two sons, one son in law and oldest and youngest grandchildren.Shira, as the only granddaughter ruled the roost. Here she is reading to her cousins, then she declared it was cousins day and all adults were kicked out of the living room.You can clearly see the genetics here! Some of the adults complied, they were happy not to be surrounded by their kids.Mickey is always a winner in this house.

By 7:30 everyone had left, some for home some for shopping. They left behind their kids – it’s part of the tradition, parents go shopping and have a chance to wake up late. Grandsons stay here and have a blast.Another tradition on Friday, walking to the fire station. Why do the grandparents look so happy while the boys don’t?If Cam looks a little uncomfortable it’s cuz he is, he wasn’t so sure about being way up there, all alone, sure his brother was on the other side, but with all that equipment he couldn’t see him.West was much happier, look he even wore the right shirt for the occasion. I love our Fire Station, no. 78, whenever possible they love welcoming the neighbors in.The gorgeous weather in the mid 70s meant we took a hike. This time up in the Verdugo Mountains just off La Tuna Canyon. See, even in So Cal we get some fall colors.Along the path there were areas with large oak trees and shade.Someone is making honey. We had already started out climb at this point.Looking down on all those boxes. This wasn’t even the high point.This is as high as we got. That is the 210 freeway, with La Cresenta in the foreground and La Canada off in the distance.Something has to be done about fire abatement in this state. Fire is natural, but seeing the devastation up north in Paradise, it’s not natural. We as humans are stewards of the earth, and that means clearing brush, thinning forests and controlled burns. Don’t tell me that people should live in those areas – where should we live? On Mars?

Last year there was the Creek Fire, it started near Sylmar and burned through Tujunga and La Tuna Canyon. 30 homes were lost, horses were killed but no people were killed. A year later and we see the results of that fire. Nature is resilient, this tree was burnt, but the core wasn’t destroyed and after some rain in the winter, which ever trees can, are coming back to life.Not all can, many of the hills are bare, and there are areas like this that are just dead. But literally a few feet away, and the chaparral is growing just fine. Fire follows it’s own rules, it can cut quite a path of destruction, and on either side of the fire path – it looks like nothing happened. What I can’t show in pictures is the smell, not as bad as a new fire. But there was a real smell of burnt wood as we walked through these areas.

I’m happy to say that many people were out hiking, or biking. Southern CA has a real outdoor active vibe to it and I’m thrilled we had plenty of company.


The best part of Halloween

All month I’ve been posting images of yard decorations for Halloween. While fun and all, what I really love is the grandkids joy in the fun.We stopped by the pumpkin patch near his school. Ah, the joy of making a grandson happy!Didn’t see this part of the family on Halloween, thank God for phones and pictures. Mama took the picture, I think she wore something pink and fuzzy. How about Mickey Mouse. This was taken at Daycare, they manage to get him to keep the hat on his head.For actual Halloween, he was Mario.

He wasn’t alone. We all walked the neighborhood before the real trick or treating started. Yup, this trio got a lot of high fives and laughs.Getting into the picture. Then it was on to the older grandkids to actually walk around and trick or treat with them.I had no candy whatsoever, none. Quite and accomplishment in itself.

What a blessing to have these grandkids and see them grow.



I can’t believe that this big boy is already 4 years old!Hot wheels party and cake! With his cousin. Notice how creative Mandy is, she wrapped the water bottles with racing flag tape.I have no idea what is going on here, this was right before the cake came out.Brothers helping to decorate the cupcakes.The youngest one couldn’t make it to the party. We missed him.Can’t ignore the kids that provided the grandkids! They work hard raising them!


Family vacation

In our busy lives it hard to get all the kids and grandkids together. It took a lot of planning to find a date and a location. We ended up going for the weekend to a resort near Legoland. A great time was had by all. The pool and the splash pad were loads of fun.The playgound wasn’t large, but was very different from the ones at home. Westley is becoming quite the climber.This got the biggest workout of all.Some people sat and relaxed.Enjoying time with the Aunt.And others treated it like a roller coaster ride.We did go down to the beach, most of the pictures I took there are on my son’s camera, so I have to wait for him to share.Two gorgeous smiles, with Westley no so sure in the background.Reading books before bed.We made it to Legoland.

Went on a couple of rides and saw the aquarium. The one ride I wouldn’t go on is one I took pictures of.First you go up.Ready for action!Yup, then you get tossed! No thank you!Princess Leah with Princess Leia, I always tell people that my name is like the princess but I had it first. Not only that, I’m still around and she is gone. Oh well, at least the Lego Princess is doing just fine. I like how our hair almost looks the same, just mine isn’t in those silly buns.


Mementos from my mother

I had a couple of hours in my mother’s apartment. One thing that was very important to me was to bring home some of her old photos. So I took some of those, but then I wanted some tangible objects. This is something my parents owned my whole life. I don’t know where they got it. It is a Saddlebag for a donkey. Clearly, it is from Central Asia, but I have no idea the actual location. So this has to be over 60 years old, and yet, look at how bright and vibrant the colors of the wool are. This always was draped over a footstool. I’m thinking I need to do the same. It has such an interesting, yet simple closure. Loops of handmade rope that are woven together. Here are the individual loops. And here is one of the pouches open. Not clear how much could be stored in here.  Notice that edges of the pouches were bound in leather, the leather hasn’t fared well over the years, unlike the wool. The back is also interesting. A very tight weave, the colors are so vibrant. You can’t see those blue and red stripes because they are under the pouch. Looking at the center section, the front is as vibrant as the back. It was always out on display, which means sunlight. Not direct sunlight, but 60 years of sun should have caused fading. The back side was protected, but really, there is very little on this piece. So along with memories of growing up, and of always seeing this in my mother’s homes, I treasure it for the incredible piece of textile that it is.If you wonder where my crafting talents came from, look no further than my great grandmother Sarah Singer. She knit, and crocheted. I’m not sure if she sewed. She died when I was three, so I have vague memories of her, by then I’m not sure she was creating any more.

My mother owned three afghans she had made. Two were made out of sweaters that Sarah knit for my mother and aunt. When they outgrew them, she would unravel them and make afghans. She made a few from scratch, like this one, that wasn’t scrappy. I wasn’t familiar with this one.I then realized that my grandmother held onto a few of the afghans, this was one of those. Thirty years ago, my mother brought my grandmother to Israel along with some of her special possessions. When she died, my mother kept this in storage. Almost 40 years ago, I crocheted a baby blanket for a friend using this same wave design. I made it in shades of orange, yellow and brown. I don’t have a picture of my creation, but I do love that my great-grandmother and I made similar items.  This is wool, not acrylic, look at the vibrant colors, very little damage, unlike many of my newer wool creations that have already been attacked by moths. What a great color sense she has as well.I made many things for my mother, I didn’t want to bring them all home. But this really spoke to me. Up until the end, this was by her front door, full of bills and letters. It is pieced, not quilting here. I probably did use a rotary cutter, but I don’t think any of this was strip pieced. I like my workmanship, I also like how I have improved since I made this.At 12-14 my mother was in a painting class, these are a few of her paintings. After that period she never painted again. Some of these hung on my grandmother’s wall, but my mother never displayed them.I brought this one home. I think this is one that hung on my grandmother’s wall. It’s the Pied Piper of Hamlin. That story always resonated with me, I think because of this picture. I’m guessing that when my mother brought this to Israel, she took all the pictures out of their frames.

Another item that she brought over was a simple stripped Navajo Rug, in blue, black and off-white. It’s there in her apartment. I told my niece that I don’t have room for this, but it is something of value. I’m sure my grandparents bought it on a trip west. It used to be on their floor, and yet, the colors are still vibrant and it is in good shape. I hope someone else in the family takes it and uses it.Final item, my great-grandmother’s sock darning egg. I know it was my great grandmothers because neither my grandmother nor my mother ever darned a sock in their lives. So not only do I have items my great-grandmother made, I also now have one of her tools. No, I won’t be darning socks either. I did look online, young women are using light bulbs instead of eggs.

That’s it. Until my son in law and I go through the old pictures.


Memories of my mother

My mother died two weeks ago, that was the reason for my rush visit to Israel. I didn’t see her before she died, lucky for her it was only 10 days in the hospital and it was over. She lived with cancer for 12 years, but she lived very well. I’m glad I saw her three months ago.

Now for memories.My parents, when they were young, very very young.Still beautiful, at one of my nephew’s weddings.At another wedding, with her three kids. Meeting her first great-grandchild, my grandson Aytan. By the time she died, she had nine great-grandchildren and one more on the way. Unfortunately, because of the distance she never met my other four, only saw pictures of them. She loved hiking and was able to hike up until about 2 years ago.She still looked this good in February when I saw her.

Burials in Israel are very direct and basic. Coffins are only used when the body has been traumatized. Otherwise, the body is wrapped in a shroud, put on a simple stretcher under a Tallit, if it is a man and he had one. Or under a simple covering. At the grave site, the body is gently lowered into the grave, all the while the Chevrah Kaddishah – the men from the burial society are asking for forgiveness, that they are being kind enough and gentle enough.

Then the family and friends fill in the grave themselves. This may sound harsh, for me, it was very real and therapeutic. We returned my mothers’ body to the earth, no euphemisms no trying to hide death. Simple accepting it.

We sat Shiva for seven days, another wonderful Jewish tradition, where the mourners, (Parents, children, siblings, so in this case, only her three children) sit on low chairs and people come to share with us. Either memories they had, or ask us about our memories. Sometimes it’s just talk that has nothing to do with my mother. But it is a wonderfully cathartic experience.

On the 7th day, the Shiva ends and we went back to the gravesite to say Psalms.

This is what the gravesite will look like until a tombstone is put on top. Flowers aren’t really common in Israel, these were sent from my brother’s work. But most Israelis don’t put flowers. We put a stone on the gravesite.My father’s grave, right next to hers. He died 33 years ago to the week. This is what hers will look like in a few months.

Then it was back to her apartment, which is in a senior center, where friends from the building who couldn’t make it to the Shiva came to pay their respects. She was well loved.

I brought some items home, among them this: My mother’s wedding ring, this is the ring my she used when she married my father. In the last few years, she really got thin because of cancer and this ring didn’t fit anymore. She wore it on a chain around her neck. I don’t know where my father’s ring which was identical went. I’m sure my brothers will find it at some point. It fits me perfectly. It is a simple yet artistic ring, silver, and copper.

Someone at the Shiva stated things very well: it was sad but not a tragedy. She lived a long full life, she lived it well. She left many wonderful descendants and we will remember her and carry her memory on to our children and grandchildren.


Hanukkah, Chanukkah, or just plain old חנוכה

What a blessing it is to have the family around for a big Hanukkah celebration.We started with arts and crafts, decorating draidles.Cameron got bored with it and went to play with trucks.Then it was time to get the candles ready to light. The big kids helped with the lighting.We all sang the blessings.There was food. Mandy and Elk made real potatoe latkes, we had store bought sufganiot. The rest of the meal was simple salads and burekas. I don’t get the brisket deal, once or twice a year at Rosh Hashana or Passover is enough for me.My Hanukkah gift this year was an external flash. Which is why we took another family portrait. Also, Elk took most of the pictures, which is why you see more of me.We relaxed a little before opening gifts. Yes, that was Eyal’s choice to sleep face-planted like that.I guess this was early on when we were still decorating. Btw, Cam never took off his hat.Then the rukus began, gifts galore!Shira as the only girl, shines in her Belle dress.A lot of books were gifted, along with all kinds of toys.Love Cam reading while Aytan can’t wait to put on his Mindcraft pajamas. Cousin Janet bonding with Eyal. This year he slept through most of the fun, either way, he brings plenty of joy. Mandy even mentioned how nice it was that this year Yishai and Yochanan weren’t just handing out gifts but have a wonderful reason to receive them as well.

A true blessing, Chanukkah is almost over, on to a Merry Christmas for all my friends who celebrate it.


Quilt for Eyal II

Laying out the quilt, I like breaking the symmetry.Here is the final top, you’ll notice that I have a section of the background in the gazelle block. I love that secondary design and it only showed up once, so I encroached on the gazelle.

Remember the problems I was having with my ruler work? I took a class with Becky Wilder, a new member in the VMMQG, she is a whiz with rulers. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the problem. I needed to lower the foot a lot, much more pressure on the quilt was needed. The final item was using the purple Janome 90/14 foot. It worked.

Here is the result, nice clean ruler work, but what would happen when I go home and work on actual patchwork? Eyals’ quilt was the testing ground.See how nice and straight the outline is? I’m showing the back here, because the quilting is invisible on the print fabric I used.It wasn’t all ruler work, on the animals, I tried to highlight their shapes and then echo around them.Using the quilting to emphasize the owls’ eyes.On the dark brown chevrons, you can actually see the ruler work, on the green diamonds you can’t even see the quilting.

Yes, I still had some thread breakage, this quilt was great for practice. I still have a long way to go before I really conquer this technique, but working with busy prints is a good place to start, I’m getting the practice and you can’t see the mistakes. I still had some thread breakage, but that is to be expected, happens even when I’m doing regular free motion quilting.Finished! Well, except for a label that I need to embroider.How cute is the back? I used up a lot of my animal prints, a whole forest back there.I showed the quilt to the Dads and put Eyal on it, he is still small, it will be fun to take pictures of him on it periodically. Right now, I need to make a label, show it off at my guilds,  and then give it to Eyal.





The holidays are here

I love being a Jew in America who can enjoy all the Christmas displays without feeling left out. So between outdoor displays and fun parties, I just love this time of year.

The big office buildings downtown have large glorious trees in the lobby.  This is the PacMutual Building which is a wonder any time of the year. They have so much room in the lobby that even though this tree is in front of the elevator bank – it doesn’t block anything.

Meanwhile, out on the street, on a fenced off vacant lot, someone has placed this Magi and wreath.This is a window in a low-income building. Interesting, a bottle of water and the American flag. I do love how people are proud of our colors, regardless of time of year. It’s not just Independence Day where people display the flag.

The foyer of a beautiful old office building. How can I not love a building that displays knights!  The symbol indicates that this is a multi-purpose housing building – artists can both live and work here.

I gave my last tour on Spring st. today.  I doubt this tour will ever come back. Things always change, even Conservancy tours.  After it was over, it was time for celebration at an old classic speakeasy.

Methinks they do protest loudly. Everywhere they claim to be the originators of the French Dip Sandwich. An honor that nearby Phillipe’s also claims. I prefer Phillipe’s sandwiches, but what can I say, a wonderful dark old speakeasy – it’s just a fun experience downtown.

Then it was rush home to get ready for two Christmas parties, one at a friends’ house and the next one a business event. Both fun and festive.

Then it was time for our early Hanukkah party, early since it comes late this year and better to have a party on the ‘wrong’ day than not have a party.Cam’s first Hanukkah.

Someone had to eat before we lit the candles.With a little help from Dad.Since it isn’t even the holiday, we just lit them all.

Then it was on to a delicious dinner.Once a year I do this kind of frying. First I tried to bake them, then fry, they got a little burnt. Everybody was happy for the effort, they still tasted better than the store bought kind. Maybe next year it will be better.

After dinner, opening presents. No pictures, it was the kind of mayham you’d expect. The kids were very good, very excited, and we had our round robin exchange. Some very cool gifts.  All in all, a wonderful celebratory time.



Family getaway

Even though we are all fortunate to live in the same city, finding a weekend to get away has it’s challenges. But we did it!P1160143A quick jaunt down to Aliso Viejo.  We found a business hotel that has a nice workout center and just the right kind of pools and splash pads for little ones.  I brought the tripod and we had a very ragtag session trying to get a family photo. We got the photo, we clearly are real people, not one of those beautiful staged settings. P1160180Resting with Aytan.P1160177Fair skinned and blond, Westley is covered head to toe.P1160171Grandpa loves the pool.P1160175Fair skinned uncle could use the same kind of cover ups.P1160188P1160156 P1160167Clearly I’m an amature photographer, couldn’t get the shot with Yoch’s eyes open.P1160165Enjoying the pool.P1160158And the splash area.IMG_5531To my delight, when we went down for bagels and coffee, we saw a classic car club with all their gorgeous cars.IMG_5530 IMG_5532Probably looking much better than they ever did new.IMG_5534How iconically Southern California is this?IMG_5546Or this?

Great weekend, so full of blessings.