Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I look back at my posts after the Iowa Caucus and read what I wrote about the then forthcoming elections. In one entry I was really wrong. I declared that Trump will NOT be President of America. And now he is President Elect. Obviously I saw this horror unfolding and equally obviously, I denied it would happen. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa. I was born into Apartheid and raised under the Nationalist Government. My parents belonged to the Liberal Party, which was later banned. They raised us to understand that we were living under an unjust amoral regime. As oppressive policies worsened we lived in a world of fear, mistrust, and hatred of the 'other.' Even as white people, because of my parents' affiliations, our phone was tapped. We were under strict instructions to not discuss politics over the phone. Our mail was censored. We removed banned books from our house. Our school teachers were only allowed to teach us according to the government's curriculum. It was hard to trust anyone when we knew there were spies and informants. This was the way things were. We knew no other way, but also, in my home at least, we knew it was wrong. Eventually, for all of these reasons, I left South Africa. When Trump first appeared on the political scene many of the people I knew found him amusing. I never did. Everything about him, from the things he said, to his bearing, to his rallies, filled me with foreboding. I remember last year speaking to American friends about my fears. Even though they were horrified by what he was representing, they could not understand my fear. Now I understand why. They had no frame of reference. The same night we had a discussion, I watched Comedy Central with Trevor Noah. He likened Trump to African dictators, from Idi Amin to Mugabe to Gadaffi. He understood what was happening because he grew up in South Africa. And now - it looks like history is repeating itself. Headlines speak about dangers of surveillance along with all the other things we learn everyday, from the people he is appointing to the corruption of his private business. I really fear that he will amass more and more money at the expense of the people. Those who support him may be the ones who suffer most. He even wants to ban Saturday Night Live, and angrily 'reprimanded the cast of Hamilton for addressing concerns to Mike Pence. This is the beginning of the erosion of freedom of speech. The unreasonable fear of immigrants and illegals. There are in fact people here illegally from Canada, Ireland, Europe, but they are not the ones feared. No, it is people of color of course, and Moslims. Anyone different from white people. I think that we must all keep open minds and open hearts, and be vigilant in understanding what can happen to us under the corrosive stream of vindictiveness, blame, and threats. We have dto fiercely defend the freedoms of America.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Out there?

Is anyone out there looking at the blog? please comment by clicking the box. Keep trying - it does work.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


The day after. I wake up and first thing on my mind is 'is this really happening. Did I dream this? I am experiencing this horror on a visceral level, I feel shaky, sick to my stomach, plus there is deja-vu - South Africa, the Nationalist Party getting stronger and stronger. Israel, The Likud getting voted in. Now America - a time of reckoning. A foreshadowing of things to come - I cannot listen to that man, and the thought of him and that silicone-filled Barbie doll with the cruel eyes inhabiting the white house. NO - replacing the refined, articulate, elegant, gracious, intelligent, beautiful Obamas No,no,no,no It IS happening. Today is day 2 after the election. Facebook is full of posts about the need to love, accept, forgive. For heavens sake people, be real. There is a time for everything, a time to grieve, a time to wait. Ecclesiastes. Let us allow ourselves time to absorb what has happened, and what is happening. We need time to absorb, to remain centred, to heal, and later to move forward. We need to be gentle to ourselves as well as to all those around us. We are all in pain.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


It is deeply upsetting to see the newspaper headlines and watch the news on TV. So much so that I have stopped reading or listening to anything at all about the abhorrent political campaign, if one can call it that. I remember when I worked in home health almost all the families I visited in the afternoon seemed to spend their days watching either Jerry Springer, or Maury Povitch ('who is the baby daddy?") or Dr. Phil, and judge shows, or equally awful spanish versions of reality TV and judge shows. I was just apalled to see the sick people I was working with intently watching other supposed humans pulling each others' hair, pummeling each other, screaming epithets. They seemed to be amused by all of this, and I thought to myself, just how low can everything go? Now we see it with our politicians and supposed role models, sinking lower each moment. Not to mention all the other horrors going on. So the other day I was driving somewhere and was listening to NPR, when I heard the most alarming piece of news. Global warming is causing a world wide coffee shortage!!!!! OMG, I think I can survive anything, but a coffee shortage!?! There followed long depressing interviews with Brazilian coffee farmers who are failing to produce any coffee because of the ongoing drought. My alarmed mind then hopped on to Africa where there is a drought, and wars. Likewise with Yemen. What does one do? Stockpile coffee? This, as I have said, is just too awful a vision of the future to even contemplate. Help .....

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yom Kipur - (another)

I have two dates that I will never ever forget. The date of Yom Kipur changes every year according to the Hebrew Calendar. The Yom Kipur War started at 2o'clock on a warm Saturday in Israel. That year the date was October 6 1973. That is the date that my life and my world changed. This year I awoke on 6th October. The sun came out like every other day. For everyone it was another day - to awake, perform morning rituals; listen to the news, drink coffee, exercise, meditate, whatever one does every morning. But I know that for me, and for everyone of a certain age in Israel, and the Middle East, it is a day that stands out crystal clear in our memories, and always will. I continued my day as I always do, but inside my head, like a tape on constant reply, I saw the events of that day. I remember the moment David Solomon came up to a group of us at the pool and said, "there is a war, turn on your radios." That was the day my husband, Raymond (Rafi) Lowenberg was killed by shrapnel from a missile fired by the Egyptian army at his bunker, Budapest, on the supposedly impregnable Bar Lev line. Usually I am in Israel at this time, but this year I am not, and so I was thinking how strange it is that for everyone here, this is just another day. But then I received a Whats App from a dear dear Israeli friend asking how today is for me. Later I came home to a message from another friend from Israel. Both of them are not presently in Israel, but for them too, this day is unique. For all of us who lived through those times, we are united by filaments of shared experiences and memories, and we shall always be, until we, too, pass from this earth.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Shrinking World

Since my ongoing purges, and upcoming move, I feel like my world is shrinking around me. My island of sanity is my bedroom, but even that is disappearing bit by bit. Down have come paintings, Amandebele beadwork, family photos - the walls resemble a face that has lost its expression. I gingerly pick my way between boxes. I have had to leave some things out of course; I still need to sleep in my bed, make my coffee, eat, wash, clean - all duties performed on the little island. Last week I was in the swamp of New York City and New Hampshire - despite the unbearably muggy conditions, a very good visit with family and friends and my absolutely delightful great niece!!!!!!! (Did I just say great niece?) My new home awaits me, all sparkling and clean. It looks so lovely I am loathe to put anything inside! Oh well, on to a new chapter.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


I take absolutely no pride in my knowing that this would be happening sometime this year. I felt it in the bone-dry winter. I felt it in the first tendrils of the fog. I knew it when homes on our street began to sell for over a million dollars. I rent an apartment in Albany which has no rent control. I have lived in my lovely townhouse for 20 years - the longest I have lived anywhere in my life. Up to now our rent has been very reasonable, although it is steadily increased each year. Each year I think, OK, still affordable, especially in the light of the sky-rocketing rents all around us. But I knew the day would come .... I am extremely thankful and grateful that, without looking even, I found a lovely affordable place just two miles from my present home. On Friday July 29th I informed my landlord that I would be moving in a month's time. He was pleased for me. Then he said that on Monday August 1st all the tenants will be receiving a courtesy notice to inform them that as of January 1, 2017 the rent will be raised by $355.00! "You can throw that letter away," he said. On Monday August 1st the letter arrived, and I threw it away.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Post Purge No. 2

Soooooo annoying, my last post was meant to be three completely different 6-word sentences, each on a new line. That is how I entered them, but that is not how they were published - a continuous run-on format! I tried to edit but the powers that be would have none of it. The best I could come up was to add a full stop at the end of each sentence. I am in a writing group and we meet once a month. A few months ago one of the members instructed us in Haiku, and we tried them. I loved the distillation - right down to the essence. On Sunday she introduced us to the 6-word memoir, and again, I love the form. The distillation, and that is what I wrote post purge. Of course my purge itself is a distillation, getting down to the absolute essentials of the 'stuff' that surrounds us. A number of people were horrified that I had thrown away both photographs and my journals. I listened to them and understood their sentiments, but I have harbored no regrets. The purge is continued - and I will report again!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Post purge no. 1

"A lifetime's memories in the trash." "Here and there, garbage is everywhere." "Memories have dispersed, floating in ether."

Saturday, July 9, 2016


I am not sitting with my head over a toilet bowl, nor am I drinking the latest cleansing liquid diet. The last few weeks have been a time of enormous serenditipous changes in my post retirement life. I did get my certificate in life coaching, yay. Cannot believe I embarked on, and completed this course, but I did, and I have a certificate to prove it! It is well known that the Bay Area, in which I have resided for an undisclosed number of years, is now probably the most expensive area to live on the planet. I am not exaggerating either. I have lived in my present apartment, which I love, for 21 years! Longer than I have lived anywhere in my life. The rent is raised every year, and pretty soon, retired me will not be able to continue to live here. Well, as a remarkable stroke of kismet would have it, I will be moving into an affordable rental just 2 miles from where I presently live. I am extremely grateful for the way this all worked out. I still have two months beore I move, but I have begun purging. Lodged tightly between the legs of a table I had bought at the Ashby Flea Market many years ago which is in my basement, under shelves containing obscene numbers of suitcases, is a trunk full of memories. Today i decided to begin my purge. I moved empty boxes which friends have brought me in anticipation of my move. I moved suitcases, I moved shoeboxes and cans of paint. I moved a rolled up piece of foam I had used as insulation under the garage door. I moved and pushed and hauled, and eventually I was able to pull the trunk toward me. Seated on an ancient little wooden bench which I brought from my cottage in Rockridge. I opened the trunk and began to go through, and throw out, all the years of my life. After six hours I threw away about 5lbs of slides (remember those things). I don't think they can be recycled, so into the trash they went. Thirty pounds, at least of photographs - South Africa, Greece, London, Europe, Recent, ancient, Montenegro, Mexico India, Israel, Israel, Israel. Family, friends, friends' children, friends' grandchildren, wedding photographs, photographs of tombstones, photos from work, my 'babies' - all gone into an enormous black plastic trash bag. Then came mementoes, I had made collages from the ash fragments of the fire in Oakland, I wrote about the Loma Prieta Quake, so many events - the change in South Africa. The Gulf War in Israel -- photographs, articles, all commemorating these historic events, all gone into the recycling bin and the trash. Clothes to go to Richmond Rescue Mission, soap molds to go to schools, crayons, paints, meditation benches, yoga bolsters, all gone. Do we need to hang on to all our stuff, our history, our memories? Hopefully the lessons we have learned, those we loved, are with us, in our hearts, our bodies, our minds and souls, until we too, move on. The great eternal mystery. All gone1

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


How did it get to be June?

How did Donald Trump come to be the presumptive republican nominee? I will not go there. All I know is that he will NOT be the next President of the United States of America.
Much of the last few months of this year were, for me, taken up by my eye! My left eye.
I suffer from glaucoma and for some unknown reason the pressure in my left eye, after having been stable for more than a year, skyrocketed. I underwent a medieval torture treatment known as needling, in which a needle was stuck into my eye and the doctor, whom I love and adore did something to the 'bleb' he had constructed in surgery a few years ago. If you don't know what I am talking about, that is fine, you are lucky, and you don't need to know. The long and the short of it all is that for at least six weeks my eye hurt and my vision was blurry. I only drove very short, well known distances, and spent minimal time with anything that has a screen. And while this was going on, Trump trumpeted, bullied, whined, lied, manipulated ........
My eye feels much better and my vision has cleared, and I pray the pressure stays down.
Other things happened. I completed a certificate in life coaching and now have to make an appropriate website for my new services!
I also became a groupie. Currently I am in an art class, a writing group, a spanish speaking group, and an enneagram group!  Me, who abhors any kind of group activity.
I had a cousin stay with me and then I went to Chicago for a few days. And now a nephew is staying with me and we are cooking, listening to music, watching movies, and discussing all matters pertaining to the arts, to life, and to death.
I feel this is a time of changes, the level of intensity seems to be revving up even more than it has been. I feel buoyed by a swift moving current and am doing my best to stay afloat ...

Monday, March 14, 2016


Anyone who has read at least some of my posts knows that for quite a long while I have been grappling with concepts of time, space, memory. Part of these constructs must include for me the dissonance of having three distinctly separate, yet nevertheless merging, identities. The South African me,  the Israeli me,  and the American me.

This morning I received an e-mail from a Yom Kipur war widow. She addressed it to Israeli war widows stating that she is writing a book on the sadly ongoing effects of the Israel Wars from a women's  perspective. She is interested in knowing how we were told of what had happened, and how it impacted our lives. She also is interested to hear how we were affected by our new status of being 'war widows' and how this aspect impacted society's response to us.

I have written about this in some form or another, whether it is in journals, or essays, or books, over the many years since.

Now I realise  that at first I was too young and too shocked to fully absorb the affects of the war. Mercifully, I feel, a shock absorbing buffer surrounds us. With the wisdom of hindsight I can now see how the war itself, and the shock of being widowed,  has affected my  every decision, whether consciously or subconsciously, since.

Even receiving the e-mail this morning has thrown me out of my routine, such as it is. It sent me whirling into the realms of memory and remembrances; of the places I have since lived in my life, of the work I have done, of decisions I have made or not made, such as buying a home. The very idea of that kind of permanence scares me. Since coming to America 36 years ago !!!!!!! I have lived with the ongoing ambivalence of not knowing whether I will live in America, or go back to Israel. An indecision that is with me even to this day, this moment, in fact. How can I put down roots anywhere? What does that even mean for me? to put down roots?

We lived on a kibbutz. The first few years after the war I was really supported by the community.  In fact, I still am. They are the only ones who truly can  comprehend those dreadful times  After a few years,  I began to feel that there is a stigma attached to being a war widow. Society wants the woman to remain faithful to her hero husband who died defending the state. It is frowned upon if she begins a new relationship - for a few years at least. Then after a few years it is suggested that she must form a new relationship. These rules of appropriate conduct are only implied of course, not stated or written, but they begin to impact one's life.

After a few years I felt that I had to get out of the kibbutz.  And I did, I left Israel. As soon as I left I felt free, I could just be me, Nesta, not "Nesta the war widow" or "Nesta of Rafi, who was killed." . I could have a life of my own, noone knew, or would even understand what had happened to me. At first this felt liberating, but later it began to be alienating. It is comforting for me to return to Israel and to be with those who know and understand, even if we do not speak about it.

This year in October it will be 43 years since the war, and its effects still reverberate in my life, and in the lives of everyone in Israel, even for those for whom now it is yet another war  in the  history book of wars.

Friday, February 26, 2016

What is Wrong?

As Trump continues on his roll I wonder what this says about 'the American people.'

I have always been opposed to the use of those words 'the American people' or 'let the people decide' etc. as if the inhabitants of the USA are one homogenised bunch. Really.

As for Trump, I know the talking heads and pundits all say the american people are angry with the current status quo in Washington, blah blah blah. These are the voices and the votes of fearful ignorant people. People who are petrified of anyone different from them - people of color, people of different faiths, poor people, rich people (except for one who keeps trumpeting about how rich he is.)

This weekend a crazy white man shot and killed 6 people with whom he had no connection, in Kalamazoo. No one made a fuss. It was barely mentioned in the press. I am sorry, but that shooting is an act  of terror of which apparently the american populace are so scared of.  But the shooter is not a Muslim, and he wasn't shouting for jihad,. That does not make him any less scary. He is a homegrown terrorist and no one worries. I just don't get it.

This week Frontline aired a 2-hour piece on the heroin epidemic. Now that so many addicts are white, well off, and educated addiction is now understood as a sickness. The addicts are no longer imprisoned. However, the prisons are still full of non violent offenders from previous epidemics.

Does noone remember the crack epidemic?

Something is indeed very very wrong with this society. In the wealthiest country in the world there is a sickness of spirit that pervades all its people and is becoming worse and worse. It is this sickness of spirit and fear of everything that paves the way for the lunatics.

However, I HAVE to bear in mind that it is not everybody, and hopefully some sanity still prevails.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Iowa Caucuses

Cruz, Trump, Rubio ----- to wake up to the announcements of such a triumvirate

Remember GW's triumvirate of evil? Here they are, alive and doing well in these United States of America.

United States? what a misnomer

Misogyny, misanthropy, misinformed

Come on, give me all the mis's you can think of

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Time Thing

"How long were you away?" asked someone.

Just two weeks, in terms of time as we know it. But I must return to my musings on time and space. Indeed, in measured time, two weeks, but in terms of consciousness, eons. And now that I am back I am experiencing that same contraction of time and space. The veils are inevitably thickening again between all that is.
How to measure my time there? It was so wonderful to reunite with my brother, sister, nephew, and niece. We live on 3 different continents, but reunited in India. So helpful for me to experience that new dimension with my sister - my brother has been in it for decades but we are visitors,  and just touch down from time to time, now experiencing it, then gone again.
My sister and I regressed to the comfortable language of our childhood. We used lifts, not elevators, and pressed the button for '0' for the ground floor, and not for '1', like in America. We doned spectacles, and we took snaps of people and objects.
The three of us shared memories of our ancestors and the meandering paths they took. Over shared photos we saw how we share genetic traits, how the bloodlines continue over such disparate paths
My brother and I remembered how we had fought over miscommunications from years past. Silly misunderstandings that flare like a dry bush catching fire and heating the space between us. It was clarifying and healing to uncover these long forgotten artifacts, to dust them off, and bring them to light.
And then I went off on my own, and feel very pleased with myself at having accomplished this, and that I survived!

And no doubt many more bubbles will surface and I will attempt to put them down here.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back Home

Did you keep up your blog?

No, wifi connections were spotty. I did something much more tried and true. I actually wrote - in a journal, just like I have done for most of my life.  I filled an unlined moleskin notebook and remembered how much I enjoyed writing longhand.

So now comes the blog.

Yes, of course I have photos. I shall upload a few. But as you may have noticed, visuals are limited on this blog!

It was just 6 days ago that I sat in the back of an uncomfortable small taxi without air conditioning being trounced around as we drove through narrow poorly tarred roads that wound up and down through the hilly countryside from Udaipur to Kumbalghore (Kumbalghash) the massive almost impregnable fort built in the 15th century, and Ranakpur, the exquisite Jain Temple. I wondered what and how to write about these experiences.

I think I will begin with being in, or on a vehicle, (I actually rode on the back of a scooter!) as it seems a metaphor for India itself. The only driver whose car seemed to have a seatbelt told me not to use it 'it is against comfort Madam.' He said this to me as he hurtled through congested lanes while conversing on his cellphone and honking. None of the millions of people on motor scooters wear helmets - I am sure that too,  is 'against comfort.' Many had bandannas tied around their faces, some kind of attempt against pollution, I am sure. It was dark as we drove from the airport to Udaipur and needless to say, roads were packed, as were the stalls and lanes at the side of the road. Suddenly the driver braked and we came across what appeared to be a major traffic jam. I peered out of the window to see bikes, cars, buses, scooters, tuk-tuks, rickshaws,  pedestrians, all seemingly patiently waiting for a cow to amble across the road. Then we were off again, a kind of choreographed balletic flow.

The idea of personal space is quite different in India People jostle and touch and push one against the other. A total stranger on the boat from Elephanta Island back to Mumbai cuddled next to me, arms around me, soft and smiling, as her daughter 'snapped us.' It seems to me that everyone enjoys being in close proximity, 'one to the other' and this proximity is also enjoyed on the roads. Every type of vehicle, from outsized trucks to bikes and cars also appear to enjoy being perilously close to each other. One feels the motion in the air as a car moves closely by, the warmth of an engine, glancing off someone's legs on a bike. All familiar, all comforting to each other, and for me, each exhalation is filled with gratitude at having survived.

I sat in the back of the taxi, bouncing up and down, my tailbone hitting the hard area of where the belt should have been, my spine undulating and bouncing, sweat pouring off my face, and thought to myself that I must tell friends to remind me that I must never ever  come to India again.

What is it about this country that keeps drawing me back? No sooner than I thought that I must never return, than I began to plan yet another trip in my head.

I think that for me, anyway, the stream of consciousness that constantly flows all around is an in-my- face reflection of the universality of the human condition. The universality of grinding poverty reflected in every line deeply etched on the faces of those passing by. They are emaciated, their legs bowed, they surely suffer from rickets. Poverty and suffering are part of the human condition - here we cannot avoid it. Every thing I see reflects the hardships, it is visible on the people, the dogs, the cows, the monkeys.
And untold wealth- a 27 storey building in Mumbai where the richest man in India lives, replete with helipad and an entire floor which is a swimming pool - and two people live there, with 2-300 servants!
And beauty - faces light up with smiles, the large velvet eyes of the children gaze out seriously from under thick lashes to light up the area around them.

And devotion - the joy on the faces of people in the temples, the beautiful thousands of years old traditions of darshan and arati. The fragrance of jasmine, the blowing of conches, the tinkling of bells. A constant flow of all that ever was, and all that is, and all that will ever be.