"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Archive for the ‘FUN!’ Category

Small Red Hand

Small Toy Hand

Small Red Hand. ©Batya7, JustHavingFun

Early one morning I drove to the medical lab to have my blood drawn. A small red hand lay on the curb in the parking lot. Its brilliant color caught my eye in the early morning sun contrasting vividly with the concrete. I paused and knelt to examine it.

Few others would stop to look at detritus on the ground, but I’m a scavenger. I believe that there are things in this world seemingly with no purpose except for that which only I can see in them. Found items, scrounged items, trash-picked items—they excite me. That which was once scorned calls to me. I have the “flea market gene,” and it activates itself when I pass thrift stores. Perhaps it can become “art.” I want to collect it but refrain. The “decluttering” gene kicked in and sense returned to me.

Still I wondered. Where did it come from? An action figure? Superman doesn’t wear gloves and Spiderman’s hands have webs on them. Batman’s gloves are black and Robin’s are green. Did the child cry when he realized his toy’s hand was amputated? How did it come to be precisely here, in this location, in the parking lot of a medical building? Perhaps the wind lofted it here, a particularly strong gust I’d imagine. Only a half inch long, it looked forlorn, abandoned, and incongruous in its strong color.

Brake Pad on Asphalt

Brake Pad on Asphalt. ©Batya7, JustHavingFun

I noticed the texture of the concrete it lay upon: coarse whitish rock fragments embedded in a sandy matrix. Nearby upon the asphalt rested a rusty brake pad, or so I thought then. Now I’m not so sure what it is. A smear of yellow paint limned one edge. The asphalt appeared chunkier than the concrete of the curb, almost sticky. In the strong morning light, deep valleys crowded its surface—deep from the perspective of an ant or a microbe, that is. Were I the size of the red-handed toy, I’d have no trouble walking over that knurled surface though. I’d have sat on the brake pad using it as a bench and admired the view.

I snapped some pictures then went inside for my blood test, forgetting the little red hand and the rusted piece of steel, my odd trip into a land where a red toy hand pointed the direction of my travels. That two-minute pause gave me a moment to think about something different than usual and I cherished it. And here, six months later as I reviewed my old photos, I was brought back to that sunlit morning, the air crisp, and possibilities beckoning.

Purim Costume?

It’s only Tu B’Shvat time, but I’m primed; Purim is coming. I need to think ahead already.

Goodwill provides me with much inspiration. Looking for “normal clothes,” I saw these items separately at Goodwill and immediately thought “PURIM COSTUME!”

Now, I am a white White woman with pinkish skin tones. Chartreuse, acid green, safety yellow—these just are NOT my colors (white girl problems). Certain combinations, however, tickle my funny bone, and the ironic laughter burbles over. This chance combination illustrates my point of view in lush colors.

purim-costume-at-goodwill

This chartreuse skirt, acid green paisley top & tropical print scarf combo with sparkly sneakers screams Purim at me. © JustHavingFun

Purim sheitel (wig)

Purim fun. © JustHavingFun

The Jewish holiday of Purim occurs a month before Passover. It is recorded in the Book of Esther, Megillat Esther. Purim commemorates our people being saved from annihilation in ancient Persia by the hand of Haman, minister of King Ahashueros/Achashveros.  The megillah is read in public, and it is customary to make noise when Haman’s name is mentioned to “blot him out.” We celebrate by bringing gifts of food to our friends and neighbors, having a feast, and rejoicing.  Children dress in costume, and many adults do, too.

Pink Purim © JustHavingFun

Pink Purim © JustHavingFun

I don’t do full costumes. I think when I was a kid I had a Queen Esther costume like all girls in that era. One year I made a red fake fur hat and trimmed it with jingle bells, shaking it when Haman’s name. That got me a headache. Other years I wore a rainbow wig for jolliness—paired with totally clashing clothing. Last year I found an outrageous sequined overblouse and hot pink skirt. Paired with stripey socks, that was a wonderfully inspiring bit of frivolity.

So on second thought, I may just go back to Goodwill and see if these items are still available. We all need some hilarity in our lives.

I am so easily entertained. I crack myself up!

Cling

Link to the daily prompt

Cling peaches

Don’t cry little fleshlings as you are destined for greatness:
No longer to cleave to that hard, unmoving pit inside your sunny heart.
Slide around my bowl, float in the spoon, and submit to my teeth

Cling wrap

Who would have known you’d stay faithful
when others failed their trials? When the task became urgent
you succeeded in keeping together the good
and excluding the bad. Alas you are expendable and flimsy,
your success being your downfall.

Cling on (sorry!)

furrowed brow and coarse glances
alien guttural growls of a foreign race
an enemy turned ally, warriors
united against a common enemy

Static cling

A spark, a shock, a cat winding around my calves, you
Plaster skirts to hose in an unflattering way. Dry air? Feet dragged across nylon
Rugs? I beg you reveal your origin. Clothes dryer inheritance? Evidence:
Socks hide in sleeves and wrinkles create hills and valleys
Like landscape artifacts as seen from space across my contorted torso.

Now picture this…

Joe Klingon walks across the room and flicks a metal switch. Zap! Static electricity shocks him! His dessert, a small packet jacketed in cling wrap — held against his uniform blouse (which was oddly bunched up from static cling) — jumps from his hand and flies across the room spreading the sunny yellow cling peaches to the carpet. He ironically roared, “Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam!”(1)

*************
1. Translation: “Today is a good day to die.” See: http://www.babylon-software.com/definition/Heghlu’meH_QaQ_jajvam/English. (Retrieved 12 January 2017.)

Dragon Boats

Dragon boats returning to dock

Dragon boats returning to dock. © Just Having Fun

You can see just about every kind of festival in New York City. My home at the northern end of Manhattan is rarely more than an hour and a half by subway from every locale in the five boroughs. Since I’m heat exhaustion prone and sun sensitive I don’t venture out too much in the summer. This past weekend was an exception. We went to New York’s “Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival” in Flushing Meadows, Queens, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, August 9th.

Unisphere

Unisphere” by Nick, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I had only ever been to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park as a small girl, to attend the 1964 World’s Fair, but knew its location because of the famous Unisphere globe which is still standing (and visible from the highway), and of course, Citi Field, the contemporary home of the New York Mets. I was anxious to see even a small portion of it and enjoy what New Yorkers seem to enjoy: crowds.

Dragon Boat Festivals, originating in China, have reportedly been around for over 2,000 years. Dragon boat racing comprises a portion of the festivities. The fair this past weekend sported a splendid number of people enjoying the day, strolling amongst the tents, eating, and watching the races on the lake.  Team sponsorship advertisements and race sponsors abounded including banks, health care providers, travel agencies, Chinese media, and insurers to name a few. Oars and paddles festooned the team tents as similarly-clad team members wandered around on their business in colorful packs.

I thought all the racing team participants would be Chinese, or at least Asian, but there were male and female athletes of a wide variety of ethnicities. Most, however, seemed to be on the youthful side. I can understand why: it is keen physical work! Ten paired oarsmen (oarspeople?) rowed to the accompaniment of a drummer who sat in the prow, facing the rowers, keeping time. Another person stood in the stern with a long oar (for stabilization?). It was difficult to examine the boats from my vantage point, but they appeared to be the same model, with a dragon’s head as a figurehead, and different paint combinations. It was lovely to watch, but the races themselves were very short in duration.

I looked for freebies hoping to snag an umbrella to ward off the hot sun and obtained some Kozy Shack rice pudding (Kof-K kosher) samples instead. I count that as success, too! Next time I’ll bring a camp chair and umbrella to further enjoy the sights and smells of a friendly summer festival.

Waiting for the Race to Start

Waiting for the Race to Start. © Just Having Fun

Lions and Tigers and … Alligators? Oh My!

Aligator at 205th St.

So this alligator was crossing against the light and the officer went to give him a jaywalking ticket…. Photo credit: NYPD34Pct via Twitter

It seems you can see everything in New York City. It’s true, not something you just tell the rubes coming from the countryside to gawk at the big buildings. Like wildlife. You can see a lot of wildlife–and I don’t mean the human type–here. NYPD 34th Precinct (@NYPD34Pct) tweeted a bizarre story today: they captured an alligator crossing 9th Avenue at 205th St. in Inwood today. That’s a mere 20 blocks or so from here!

This story made the news carousel at the bottom of the Bing search page! I clicked on it, and there was a story from the International Business Times! Unfortunately, the story’s first, highlighted photo was a fake prop alligator crawling into a manhole instead of the real thing. Look at it. Doesn’t this look dramatic to you?

An alligator was found Thursday in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Pictured: A prop alligator went into a New York City sewer drain during the launch of the Swamp People "Taste Of The Bayou" food truck, March 28, 2011. Donald Bowers/Getty Images for History's Swamp People

An alligator was found Thursday in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Pictured: A prop alligator went into a New York City sewer drain during the launch of the Swamp People “Taste Of The Bayou” food truck, March 28, 2011. Donald Bowers/Getty Images for History’s Swamp People

We don’t expect alligators (or crocodiles) to be crossing the street in NYC at any time. Leave that to those crazy southerners in Florida. They have alligators creeping into peoples’ back yards, eating their Chihuahuas and children, and causing all sorts of trouble.

We urban New Yorkers rest content with malicious squirrels, pooping pigeons, and the occasional stray dog. We expect to see cats on windowsills peering out from apartments, rats in the subway, and cockroaches a/k/a water bugs. But alligators? Aren’t they supposed to be in the sewers and not crossing city streets?

Pepé LePew (c) Looney Tunes

Pepé LePew (c) Looney Tunes

Skunks. We have them. I haven’t seen them, but I’ve smelled their presence on occasion. In September 2013, the New York Daily News published “Get these smelly skunks out of Washington Heights & Inwood, cries Councilman”, about the skunk problem in Fort Tryon Park. A photo of a skunk on Cabrini Blvd. graces the article. Imagine, you’re walking up Broadway when you see two glowing eyes. “Here kitty, kitty,” you croon. “Nice … skunk!” Hello Pepé LePew.

Add that to the cast of characters you see in Times Square, and you have a whole menagerie of wildlife to keep you gawking in and about the City.

Laughter

sloth - Thowra_uk

“Hi there. Ain’t I such a cutie pie?”
sloth” by Thowra_uk, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nothing fills the soul with pleasure the way a good belly laugh does! 

Memory 1: A close friend accompanied me to a lecture one evening several years ago. On the way home, I decided to stop at the supermarket for milk. We walked through the aisles toward the very furthest corner at the back of the store where (naturally) the milk was kept. On the way we passed the greeting card display. So we did what women do; we paused to look at a few.

You wouldn’t ordinarily think that greeting cards would be a source of great amusement.

However, some are good for a giggle. Maybe you’d get a few chuckles over a good quote from a “Shoebox” card by Hallmark. Or perhaps Maxine would get you grinning. I’ve dwelled over a few funny cat cards to be sure.  ….. sooooo … (pause for the punch line) …

greeting cards

cards” by Tom Magliery, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Luckily for us, few people shopped at that particular store at that particular time on that particular date or 9-1-1(1) would have been inundated with calls to rescue the two middle-aged ladies who were rolling on the floor(2) laughing for over an hour!!!

That was a great belly laugh!

spoon

“Speak into the microphone!”

Memory 2: My sisters and I had only one first cousin (our father was an only child and my mom’s sister had only one child). Needless to say, family was small but precious. It was the night before our cousin’s wedding and we four girls went out for coffee and cake without the parents. No bachelorette party but something nice. We were reminiscing, swapping stories, teasing our cousin about marriage, comparing lipstick, etc., and all of the things girls talked about in those days. We were jolly but not outrageous. I remember playing the interviewer, holding up my spoon as if it were a microphone, and asking an interview question around the table. The bride and my sister #2 said something into the “mike” and we were laughing. When I held the “mike” to my sister #1, she was laughing so hard that she burst into tears! At that point, the rest of us lost it and started howling laughing, too. For years afterward, the phrase, “Speak into the microphone,” would propel #1 into paroxysms of tears and laughter.

Now, that really was a great belly laugh!

Have some joy this week.

PS – Doesn’t that little sloth just make you want to smile until your face hurts?  Cuuute!

**************
1. American emergency contact telephone number. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9-1-1
2. Only in the idiomatic sense; but afterwards, our sides ached from the laughter as if we had been rolling on the floor!

YU Baseball Sunday

On the Field

On the Field

I was at the beautiful Van Cortlandt Park in Riverdale (the Bronx) yesterday watching the Yeshiva University Maccabees (Macs) vs. Vaughn College’s team in a double header. Unbelievable. YU won both games! That broke a 67-game losing streak! The guys looked sharp in their white uniforms adorned with blue letters. There were some great hits and pitches, and lots of steals causing the dust to rise from the field. What a day!

Pirates Hat at 191st St Station

Pirates Hat at 191st St Station

The sky couldn’t have been bluer nor the clouds fluffier. Breezy and a bit on the cool side, it was a perfect day for baseball. Some trees in the distance blossomed; a nearby tree shed red florets. I took the 1-train up to its last stop, 242nd Street, and the field was right by the station. I came prepared, proudly wearing my vintage Pittsburgh Pirates cap (with the mean Pirate). With my sons being on the team, I had to show our Pittsburgh pride. I wouldn’t care to be mistaken for a Mets fan after all!

As I sat in the bleachers soaking up the sun (and pretending to be able to see the ball against the sky when someone hit a pop-up), I felt the sun warming my body and heart. A bit of happy deja vu floated up. It’s one more time that I’m sitting in the bleachers for my sons’ baseball game. I’m reminded of all the Little League games I’d attended when the kids were small, but now it’s the big time: college baseball. The kids are bigger, but they’re my still kids, and I’m busting* with pride!

After-Game Wrapup

After-Game Wrap-up

Being not too far from campus, there was a bit of a cheering section, too. I chatted with Coach’s mom, the photographer, and some of the other people on the bleachers. One player’s sister who was visiting from Chicago came and another’s grandmother even came! I had met a few of the guys before and it was nice to be remembered and smiled at.

Nostalgia set in. How many hours had I warmed the bleachers supporting my kids’ teams? How many times had I yelled “way to go” or cheered when our team came home? This seemed not much different, only this time, the players had beards and were taller than previously.

Best of all was hearing how the players spoke to their teammates. Cries of encouragement were voiced to the guys at bat or on the field, and guys were clapped on the shoulder or tapped with affection when they came back to the dugout. Some cute nicknames were bandied about, too. Even the guys who didn’t play supported their teammates loudly and with passion. Brotherhood and camaraderie were evident.

There were some funny moments, too. At some point they called out random Hebrew words to confound the other team’s pitcher. I remember hearing “iparon” (pencil) and “todah rabbah” (thanks a lot) thrown out and cracking up over the absurdity! It was weirder than if the other team had babbled Spanish. One could expect Spanish in New York. But Hebrew?

I took plenty of pictures. I called my Mom to tell her about the game. I followed the players accessing the team roster via smartphone. I even got my sons to pose with me at the end of the day, as the team was breaking down the practice nets and putting away equipment. I didn’t get in the way and wasn’t embarrassing to them. I suppose teen angst has passed and appreciation has set in. They are men in uniforms, now.

Only one thing was missing that would have made the day perfect: I didn’t bring a knitting project!

Team Going Home seen from Train Platform

Team going home seen from 1-train platform

–/–/–/–/–/–/–/–/–/–/–/

* Yeah, I know it should be “bursting,” but I felt like a balloon swelling with happiness and thought I’d bust out in song!

What Mess? What Noise?

 

Whatta lotta matzah!

Whatta lotta matzah!

Passover is done for another year.

I loved it. I loved having five of our children around and various guests. I loved the planning, cooking, and serving. Even the cleanup after meals didn’t faze me. I was “in the zone.” I felt connected and fulfilled. My shopping list on Google Drive made me ecstatic in the stores. I felt efficient and prepared. I loved the crumbs on the table, the potatoes, and having to reach into a different cupboard than usual for a plate. I loved the seeming mess, having things displaced, needing to walk new paths, searching for equipment. A change, a shake-up. Spring-cleaning for the mind. Last year we were slaves; this year we are free.

And oh my–the second batch of chicken soup was one of the best I’ve ever made! With matzah balls! (The first batch was great, but this second batch… ummm yummm!)

Single-Bottle Wine Caddy
Last Sunday I “turned my kitchen over,” i.e., boxed up and sequestered all of the Passover plates, cookware, and equipment so I could bring out the year-round items. I discarded unused equipment: the wine bottle caddy my husband received with a Purim package ages ago but is not useful at the Seder; his Chinese-patterned melamine plates from before we were married that we used before we bought the new purple ones; and the decorative metal and glass serving box for machine-made square matzah because we predominantly eat handmade, round matzahs. I climbed up the stepladder to the cupboard above the refrigerator–which is closed year-round–and lovingly tucked the Passover supplies to sleep for another year.

I wish there had been more noise. Crazy? I wish there had been more visitors. I wish the apartment had been full of our children and their friends laughing, playing games, and squabbling. Although we played Settlers of Catan one afternoon, people drifted away for naps instead of digging in for the noisy, competitive, seemingly endless tournaments we’d played in younger years. The friends live elsewhere and a small New York City apartment gets crowded quickly.

I have memories of family meals from my childhood. Adults babbled in important adult tones; children laughed and shrieked while spilling drinks and tracking crumbs. Blotchy with wine stains, the tablecloth reminded us of years past. There’s a photo of my sister and our cousin, both about 5 years old, pouring soda and laughing. That’s what I remember.

Don't open! חמץ (Chometz; leavened items) may be lurking there!

Don’t open! חמץ (Chometz; leavened items) may be lurking there!

That’s what I hope to recreate.

The noise, the mess, the planning, the excitement. The expectation of the Seder meal, retelling our exodus from slavery in Egypt. The drama of one whole week of the year dominating our minds so thoroughly. That is Passover of the past, present, and of the future. I hope our children will retain happy memories of this year’s holiday. Doesn’t every parent wish this to be so?

We pray: Let us all be reunited in Jerusalem as One People, celebrating the Passover together, giving thanks to the One Who freed us and continues to sustain us throughout all time.

לשנה הבאה בירשלים

Next year in Jerusalem!

Basement Monsters

Basement Monsters

Imagine these as monsters… in our basement.

Creepy faces stare out at me from the quiet, dark room. I resist the urge to tiptoe by.

It’s odd enough in the basement in the late hours, though it is well-lit. I’m on my way to the trash room with bags of recyclables. But first I have to pass the … monsters! I feel compelled to sidle past the doorway with my back against the wall. But I don’t. I peek in. The imaginative me sees blank faces with glowing eyes. Gaping maws. Guardians. Soldiers. Watchmen. Or monsters. The red eye glares and the blue eye freezes you in place if it catches you in its beam. The mouth gapes widely, blackly toothless, waiting to devour the unwary. The murky gloom beckons you inside in a soft, insistent voice even though you mean to walk past that opening. Fast.

I could be terrified… until I take one step into the laundry room….

The second I cross the threshold, the lights blink on, and the monsters become tame washing machines. No noise, no suds, and most definitely, no monsters.

Yeah, I knew it all along, but there’s a part of me that is still six years old, creeping up the stairs a bit afraid of the dark because I’m afraid of a shadowy lamp in the corner… the silhouette of which just happens to look like the man-eating plant I saw in a cartoon! There’s a part of me that stays awake long into the night, assessing the sounds, measuring the frequency of the sirens, hearing the tock tick tock tick of the clock as it counts the hours. I’m a creature of the night but it doesn’t mean that I can’t see things in its veils of gloom. I’ll exercise that part of my imagination happily because it makes me feel alive and safe—here in my happy home.

Now next time I go down there, who knows what I’ll see?

Random Act of Bagels

What’s inside the box? What random act of kindness could be inside?

My box once held two bagels. I looked forward to enjoying their chewy goodness toasted with cheese melted on each half.  I had been at a party where they served a nice meal. At the end guests were asked to take the extra food home. I helped myself to the bagels, wrapping them in the time-honored fashion: in a napkin. I slipped them into my bag and boarded the subway home.

The bagels spoke to me from inside my bag. I knew exactly where the bread knife rested at home and saw myself slicing them into halves on my much-scored wooden cutting board. I heard the click of the toaster’s lever as I lowered them down in the slots, adjusting the browning knob to the perfect doneness. Ouch!  the hot bagel seared my fingertips as I pulled it from the toaster and popped the halves onto a microwaveable glass plate. Now, which cheese? Yellow cheddar or white Muenster? The cheddar won so the bagel was paved with small slices around the center hole.

My fingers slid over the microwave’s time controls. Too short and the cheese would be solid. Too long and it would be a burning puddle on the plate. How long would be just right? My fingers knew the right setting. Then the microwave buzzed and I opened the door. The gooey cheese puddled perfectly on the platter and steam curled from the surface. All I needed to do was take a bite….

I was savoring the anticipation of my cheesy treat when I heard a voice in the aisle. “Sorry to bother you but I’m homeless and haven’t eaten. If you can spare any change for food I’d appreciate it.” A scruffy-looking man in a soiled army-green coat had entered the car. “God bless,” he intoned as he walked down the aisle with his hat outstretched. He repeated his homeless plea again, humbly.

I knew what I had to do. I waited until he approached my seat then withdrew the bagels in their festive napkin. “Please enjoy this,” I said handing him the bagels. What was the dream of a cheesy bite in the face of a man who had nothing to eat. “God bless you,” he said looking into my eyes.

At that moment, providing a “box of kindness” to this unfortunate man tasted better to me than the most meltingly delicious cheesy snack I could ever prepare.

Some random act of bagels had fed my soul and nourished another, too.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: