Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Trusted Traveler

Today, after a rather unsettling interview, I became a trusted traveler.

I don't know whether any of you have had any reason to be interrogated by a bureaucrat? Whether it be a customs official, or whether you have had to apply for citizenship, or any such thing in your own country, or in a foreign country?
As you know I am from South Africa. I grew up in a time when one did not question authority. Luckily I was not really put in such a position as I was classified as a first class citizen who had no brush ins with the law.
When I first left to go to England I applied for and received a work permit. Upon my arrival at Heathrow my passport was scrutinized. The oficial looked at me, at my passport photo, and at the work permit. After long silent minutes had passed he stamped my passport and told me to register at the Aliens Office the next day. The next day I sat on the wooden benches of the office together with other aliens. We were people from all over the commonwealth waiting for the official stamp of approval. Not too bad, just my first experience of dealing with the workings of bureaucracy.
My friend and I left the office and were walking to the tube station when a man walked toward us and spat in our direction! Luckily the spit landed on the pavement. He also said "go home filthy bloody foreigners." This was our official welcome!
This was followed by dealing with all the various ministries in Israel at a time when there were no numbers to be taken so that one could be seen in order. There were also no queues, nor even any vague idea that they may be useful in containing the pushing, surging crowd. I will not bore you with the ensuing chaotic details.
Then I came to America and applied for citizenship. This entails the filling in of endless forms, mailing them in with money, of course. An exam which required the purchase of a book, the study of the declaration of Independence, of the amendments, the system of democracy in the United States, and all its institutions. Once again, I will not go into this at length, but it was harrowing, and I can read, understand, and write english.
When I first left Israel I had a most upsetting run in with the Canadian officials. I had a multiple entry visa into Canada but the official in Quebec questioned my visa and actually called me at an Ashram in the Laurentian Mountains the next day to check whether I really was going to where I said I was going. He also added that I cannot go in and out of his country as I please!
One doesn't argue or try to reason with these petty bureaucrats.
Early this year I decided to apply for the Global Entry Program. It took me about three hours to complete the online application. I also had to send in $100.00. The money was immediately processed and I later received a notification that my application had been approved, and that I needed to apply in person for an interview. The first available time was the 30th November at 11.45a.m. I would have to go to San Francisco Airport. This was in March of this year. I put in my application for that time and then received a notification that I needed to bring my passport,, my driver's licence, and if that did not show my current address, a document proving residency, e.g.a bill from a utility company.
As I said, I received this advice in March. I made a note of the interview time in my calendar. During that time I traveled to England and Japan. My passport expired and I received a new one. The Global Entry Program received another designation - The Trusted Traveler Program.
Today I took BART to San Francisco Airport. I gave myself well over an hour. At 12th Street Station in Oakland the BART train stopped and the driver announced that there was police action at the West Oakland Station and no trains could go through. She would keep us updated. After 15 minutes the train resumed and I made it to the airport in time.
The doors to the Trusted Traveler Program are of course locked. After some time a uniformed man came out, shut the door behind him and asked for the names of the people waiting and the times of their interviews. He checked these on a clipboard. I was called in and went to booth No. 1 as directed. The same uniformed man asked for my passport and my drivers license. My drivers license still has my previous address, although of course this was officially changed over a year ago, when I moved. It will be on my new driver's license which is not yet due for a couple of years. My passport has a different number than the one which had expired. He gazed at me with his blue cheerless penetrating eyes and said I should have brought proof of my new address. "Did you not read the letter?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied, "in March, I just forgot."
He looked to a woman sitting behind him who was apparently training him and said I should be sent home and would need to reapply. Thank goodness she intervened, addressing him without either of them looking at me, that if I have a smart phone then I should show proof of address with something else. Amazon to the rescue - I showed them my address on their account.
He then asked me many questions and said "if you lie about anything you will not be granted permission." In the past five years where have you been other than Israel and India.
Oh my god, I simply could not recall having gone anywhere. Eventually I said, England. He then asked about Canada and Mexico - oh yes I said, Canada, I forgot it was a foreign country. I was in Mexico also, but maybe it was longer than five years ago. I totally forgot to tell him Japan, but after a lot of questions and much scrutiny of my application, and my new passport, and my fingerprints, I was told that I have been granted permission to become a trusted traveler. He gave me a booklet and told me to read it word by word, but not in his presence while he was talking to me! (I had dared open the book) - quickly I closed it and dutifully listened to whatever else he had to say.
Let my travels begin!

Thursday, November 23, 2017


These are the things I am grateful for, today and everyday.

For waking up
For restored health
For family
For friends
For a roof over my head
For food in my stomach
For the kindness of strangers
For the sunsets
For the beauty of autumn
For a wonderful new job
For the smile of babies
For music
For books
For art
For the ability to recognise these things and to be grateful for them

Friday, October 13, 2017


This was the view yesterday from my house and one from Solano Avenue. The sun is actually blood red - the camera doesn't quite capture it.

These fires are just awful, I am not sure what other words to use.

Just last week I was in Mendocino. Driving up 101 north and west on 128 I was struck firstly, by the beauty of Northern California, especially in this season as the grape leaves in the vineyards are beginning to turn, and shades of russett appear as if a painter had just added them into his painting of the tawny, golden hills. Bucolic and peaceful looking, far from the woes of the world. However, I was also struck by how tinder dry everything appears, despite the fact that we did have rains this winter. I mentioned this to my friends and she told me how difficult it is for them to get fire insurance. At this point I will quickly add that they are, so far, fine.

I have never watched disaster movies, but right now I feel that we are unwilling spectators in an endless movie.

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, the volcano threatening to erupt in Bali -the world is really out of balance, and I am not even mentioning HWSNBN.

I am also struck by how people are helping each other, This is one of the encouraging things that happen in disasters and wars. It is lovely to know that humanity can act in this manner. Perhaps we should try to always behave with consideration and compassion, all the time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

God's Little Creatures

I have a confession to make. This is something that is really hard for me to admit, because I am, for the most part, rather a courageous woman, even if I say so myself.

On the surface of things I state and in fact, feel, that I believe in the right to life of all sentient beings, from the tiniest ant, to the largest elephant. I am a defender of sentient beings. I have attended meditation retreats where we vow to spend 10 days in silence, and to not harm any sentient being. How well I remember a retreat in the foggy dampness of a redwood forest in Northern California. We lined up for showers - coldwater showers, in silence. I remember when I stepped in the shower and there on the wall was this most unappealing slug looking thing. It was big, at least 3 " long - magnifying in my mind to at least 3 feet. It had these pine needle looking things sticking out of its head. I was new in America, and new in California. How could I know that this was the state mollusk. A banana slug - something I had never before seen or encountered. It was all I could do to stifle a wild piercing scream.

I shared a bedroom with my sister in South Africa. I seemed to be the only one in our house who stayed up late, lying in bed reading, or studying. Always poring over a book, the light of my bedside lamp to my left, close to my head.

All was quiet, and I savored this time, then the moths would come. I am completely petrified of moths. I remember screamiing in our room one night because there was a zebra moth (black and white stripes) who had flown into our room seeking the light. My father held the moth in his hand, trying to show me how beautiful it was and telling me that it wouldn't, couldn't, do anything to hurt me. All the while I trembled and shrieked and cowered down, hands over my head.

Once when I was living on kibbutz during a period of terror attacks I saw this thing crawl into my home - it was really ugly - I saw horns and fierce eyes, and an artillery shell on its back. I looked at it as it crept even closer and Iyelled. My neighbour came running into my home with his Uzi, prepared to defend me, to defend us. I stood there frozen to a spot pointing at this thing - "Ah Nesta," he said, lowering his Uzi "that is just an artzav." (whatever that is in English I don't know.) Some insect that eats the roots of trees."

I have never attempted to squash or kill these creatures that come in the night, or during the day, or whenever they please - instead I scream and cower and pray, and try to shoo them out.

These fear and horrors have not abated with age. One of the joys of living in Northern California is that it is for the most part, benign.

Today at work, the woman I work for (I am a 'sales associate') called me from outside the back door near the garbage.

"Be careful when you take out the garbage tonight," she said. She pointed to what looked like a stick under a handle of the lid of the garbage. However, the stick was clinging upside down it seemed, with four legs around the handle. We approached it carefully to observe this thing. It really looked like a small broken piece of branch, or wood, except for those legs. It was not moving, and we did not see wings or eyes or anything, but it did cling, unmoving. I picked up a little twig and she took it from me and held it out to the thing and feinted a poke - we both screamed. The stick remained still, sticklike. She poked again. Again we screamed, rather loudly. This occurred in a city, and it was near dusk. We do have neighbours. One would thingk that the screams of two women in a back yard might attract the attention of some neighbours, or anyone passing by. How easily we could have been stabbed or strangled - absolutely noone came to find out what the screams were about.

After she left for the day I took the garbage out to the kerb. This thing remained there throughout the bumpy ride. I photographed it and just then a neighbour did appear, not to save anyone, just to bring out his garbage.

"Look" I said to him.

"A walking stick", he said, calmly and knowingly. "It lives in the trees and eats leaves and insects".

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rosh Hashana

In floods, fires, tremors

The past year shudders and fades

Yet hope still glimmers

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Worm

Plump pink worm squirms out

Gorging on my red apple

Yes its organic

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I am very pleased, thrilled in fact, to be able to report that at last I am feeling better.
Anything would be preferable to how I felt before. But as of this week, on Monday, I can say that I truly do feel better. I resumed work at Yaza (more of that later), I walk around my neighbourhood which is decidedly hilly. In fact, some streets are not just gentle inclines, they are quite steep. I go for long walks on the Bayshore trail and around the Berkeley Marina. I actually eat again, not much, but I do eat. I work in my garden and am knitting and reading. I can converse with people without being interrupted by bouts of coughing. I am exceedingly grateful.

The downside of feeling better is that I can listen to, and read, the news again. Need I say more ...

I look back at the entries I posted last year after the Iowa Caucuses, and pre and post election (this year.) Simply put, all the horror I foresaw is coming to pass. What shocks me is how so many people still seem surprised that there are people who support this man. I wish I could say I was surprised, but after working in Contra Costa County for so many years, this hatred and ignorance is sadly a representation of how many people feel. I would like to say how many people think, but thought does not come into it. Just knee jerk reactions.

In my book Tree Barking I wrote about the anti semitism I encountered. Of course not just anti semitism, racism and bigotry in all its forms. These superstitions and ignorance and deep seated beliefs exist everywhere. So, no, I am not surprised at all. I am deeply saddened.

What does surprise me is that some people still look to the so-called leaders in the hope of hearing some condemnation of the perpetrators of this hatred and violence. Some voice of calm and reason. They cannot look to those in power for any kind of reasonable, moral, articulate statements.

As a citizen of both Israel and the United States, I am further saddened by Netanyahu's lack of response to Trump's historical statements. The corruption and lack of humanity spreads across the globe. I am heartened somewhat by peoples' responses to what is going on. I am heartened that the CEO's resigned, and that citizens are making a stance, but those n power are very greedy and very short sighted, they don't, in fact, give a hoot about anyone except themselves and their pockets.

So ... I am feeling well enough to feel angry, saddened, and outraged. I am not sure whether this is good or bad.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


This is a photo of the bit of cream dropped by my fellow traveler which is what I believe led to the temporary loss of her kindle. Instant divine punishment on the gentler side of most punishments. The horror of it all. This is in a country where I saw steel samurai ear cleaners for sale. I looked for dental floss and went into the pharmacy area of a department store. There is a grave danger of getting the wrong product when you can't read the language. I saw what I presumed was toothpaste, but when I held my google translate app up to it I saw it was a tube of cream for vagina candida!!!! A grave error. I found an assistant and mimicked flossing my teeth. She led me to a section of dental floss, quite self evident, along with other things. One being a cardboard square with a graphic of a pretty woman on it with something in one nostril. On the other side was a graphic of a man with something in one nostril. The cardboad was encased in plastic and underneath the picture was a small green cylindrical thing with a small hook on one side. Intrigued, I asked the helpful assistant what that is. "A nosepicker," she replied, matter of factly.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Random signage in toilets

Chronicle Headline, July 6, 2017

View on page BART hit again by teen robbers Agency defends change in its way of reporting crimes on the system By Michael Bodley Above is a headline in today's San Francisco Chronicle. And then follows the shocking story of teenage robbers swarming onto BART and grabbing passengers phones, laptops, etc. This is the second time in 2 1/2 months! This headline catapulted me back to my trip to Japan. Yes, I really was there, and I have photos and memories to prove it. We spent lots of time on Japanese railways, subways, buses, trains, cable cars, and even on a plane. On arrival we went by shuttle from Osaka to Kyoto. The driver of the shuttle bus, a young woman, wore a uniform replete with white gloves. The seat tops were covered in spotless lace white coverings. We stopped at a gas station/refreshment stop and I was floored by the toilet. A heated toilet seat, spotlessly clean, with buttons to program 'actions.' A button with music for 'privacy.' A button for what looked like a bidet spray, another for a rear spray. Just astounding. All the writing was in Japanese but there were universal symbols. I was a bit hard pressed to find the 'stop' and 'flush' buttons, but after turning of all the lights and setting of an alarm, I learned. The buses were often crowded, but no one pushed against anyone. On both the buses and trains noone spoke on cellphones, and it was generally very quiet. The only sounds being that of a recording of each stop. Passengers seemed very tired, but they kept their legs together, bags on their laps, and curled forward, into themselves, to sleep. No manspreading or seat hogging here. Passengers got off the buses from the front of the bus inserting their tickets into a machine, or showing their passes to the driver who bowed, 'arigato'd' and 'haied'each and every passenger. Our first foray to the subway station left me once again, thunderstruck at the cleanliness of the floors, walls, escalators, and public toilets. This was not like BART, indeed not. To add to everything, the trains came and left on the exact second that was posted. We were on a crowded loop train in Osaka at mid-morning. One of our group realised she had left her kindle on the train. Of course she was very upset. This same woman had shamefully sullied the floor of the subway station in Osaka before losing her kindle. She took a bite from a cream filled pastry and some cream fell on to the ground. I pointed out to her that she should get down on her hands and knees to clean it up, but for some reason she did not do this. I think her leaving the kindle was a punishment. I once left a kindle on a plane to India - needless to say, it was bye-bye kindle. I understood her being upset, but for some reason was certain she would see her kindle again. Later we went to a tourist information office in a little village on Mt. Koya. The helpful clerks took all her information. At that time, just four hours later, they had no word of the kindle. She was forlorn. Once again I assured her she would get it back. Most unfortunately I did not place at least $100 bet on my assurance. Two days later her kindle awaited her at our hotel in Tokyo.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


An addendum (or whatever it is called) to my previous entry. My doctor called me this morning. I had gone online to arrange for a call from her on her return. She called 30 minutes late, but she did call. Basically she confirmed the entibiotics I was prescribed and told me why I was prescribed the inhaler. She said that the road to recovery is long, and I should drink plenty of fluids and that I should return for a follow up chest x-ray in a month. She added nothing new, really, but I find it incredibly comforting just to hear this from her. So now I rest and drink ..... and will write about Japan

Friday, June 30, 2017


My lord. I left Tokyo on Saturday June 24 with a scratchy throat. It is now, I believe June 30, and I have pneumonia!!!

Sorry, poor excuse for not posting any blogs, especially from Japan, but they will, eventually and hopefully, be posted.

This is unbelievable. I don't believe I have ever felt so pathetic.

I lie in bed and listen to debates about the new health care bill while I try, in my small way, to get help.

I have Medicare and a supplemental with Kaiser - Seniorcare Advantage.

Sunday morning I felt very weak and coughed sort of non stop, so I called urgent care. I had to answer all sorts of questions from an advice nurse. I know she, in turn, has to ask me these questions before she can continue with any 'assistance.'

How long have you been coughing?

(me, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 10 sec.)

Do you feel congested?

(Yes, that is why I am coughing)

On a scale of 1- 10 how bad would say your cough is?

(really? why do you think I am calling)

Is your nose running?
Can you walk to the end of your room?

(for God's sake)

Do you have a fever?

(I don't know - I will take it eventually)

On and on and on.


Would you like a doctor to call you?

Dr. so and so will call at 10.20 a.m. do you need a reminder for this?
(it is 9.20 am - I think I can remember for another hour.)

Doctor calls - same questions. Then she says - you may have walking bronchitis (?) or a bad cold. Drink plenty fluids (which I am doing) and if you still feel bad in two days, call your personal doctor.

Tuesday - I am feeling very very bad. My throat is extremely painful on the left side - I can't swallow. I am coughing endlessly and feel very weak.

I e-mail my doctor, as I am supposed to do. It is 7.00a.m.

I send a follow-up e-mail to say my throat is a bit better, as I don't want to unnecessarily alarm my doctor.

I receive 2 e-mail replies that my doctor is out of the office until July 5.

I call the advice nurse again

same number of questions

(same answers with the edition of the sore throat and that I am running a fever)

Would you like a doctor to call?


doctor ... will call in an hour and a half. Do you need a reminder?


A doctor calls and paraphrases summary of previous doctor. "You have a cold" he says

(I think a little more than a cold, I say)

I can send you a prescription for cough medicine

(could it be mailed - I don't feel well enough to pick it up)

Yes - I suppose so.

A little later I log on to my pharmacy center - there is the prescription with a remark next to it that it cannot be mailed. Call number on bottle (There is no bottle and no number)

I call the pharmacy and get a 'representative' for Northern California.

Rep: No prescription has been sent to the pharmacy

me: But I see it on my center

Rep: Yes, but it is not here

me: Whatever, if it can't be mailed can I pick it up?

Rep: But there is no prescription

This kafkaesque like conversation continues until finally she says. "Call the doctor for another prescription"
I explain that I don't know the doctor. I then have to call the advice line again. (All of this takes 4 hours) Eventually I am told that I can pick up the prescription.

The prescription has 10 mg. of codeine which is why all the prescautions and sealed packages. I have to hand over every form of ID possible. This is because of the opioid epidemic - I just want to stop coughing!

By now I am feeling really bad. I have a scary night - freezing, shivering and shaking uncontrollably, endless coughing, hallucinations about Anita Pallenberg (??????) This is NOT GOOD because

a) she is dead
b) why does she appear in my hallucinations?

Now I am now truly scared

I call the advice line again the next morning. This time I insist that I do not want a doctor to call me - I am really sick, I say. I need help, proper help, like actually seeing a doctor. Any doctor would hopefully use a stethoscope and hear the wheezing and rattling which I can hear loud and clear without a stethoscope.

Again - same endless questions - on a scale of 1 - 10 how bad is your chest pain?

(oh nooooooooooooo)

Then she says - I am messaging a doctor who is covering for your doctor. They will call you within 4 hours.

Three and a half hours later I get a call that I need to come in for a chest x-ray and to pick up some antibiotics and something else that is at the pharmacy. I do not get an appointment with an actual doctor.

I drive in feeling alternately clammy, cold, exhausted, foggy.

I pick up the antibiotics and some inhaler for which I fork out $84.00

Then I go for a chest x-ray ($55.00) and I go home.

I get home and get a call from the doctor's office
The x-ray shows you have pneumonia - you need to come back in for stronger antibiotics.

I ask all of you - is this humane???????????????

Thank heavens for a cousin who called and went to get the new medication for me. And thanks to all the offers of food and shopping. I am really grateful. When and if my appetite returns, I shall take you all up on it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Murder and Mayhem

Now I understand why they are referred to as a murder of crows. Friday afternonn I was in my garden at about 5, weeding, watering, tending to the quiet wonders of nature. The mint sprad out, lavender showed. Star jasmine was flowering. The roses bloomed. Just a beauty of purples and lavenders, whites, yellows, and greens. I heard the cawing of crows, loud and insistent, indignant, agitated, and angry. I looked up and saw crows flying in from the north, south, east, and west. I walked up the steps and out into the street and looked heavenward. Crows, many crows, perhanps hundreds of crows. The noise was deafening. They were perched on the telephone wires and up in the tree branches. Still more were flying towards this spot just outside my house. Neighbors came outside and we all gazed upward in consternation. It was just like a scene from The Birds. Quite unsettling. An SUV came up the street - the driver also was looking upward. He drove slowly past the house towards the corer, made a U-turn and came back down, really slowly. He looked to his left, then stopped to tell me there was a hawk across the street and it had apparently attacked a baby squirrel. I walked across the street and in a bush there was the hawk with something in its mouth and the something's tail was going back and forth. I heard a sort of a whimpering. Then I suppose it was the mother squirrel who scaipered onto the eaves of the apartments opposite, whimpering. Suddenly the hawk seemed to gaze in my direction and flew toward me. I was so startled I ducked. It flew away, the tail wiggling from its beak. The murder of crows flew after it, cawing and cackling. Crow reinforcements were still flying in. In the bush I saw the leaves spotted with the blood of the squirrel. We were unclear as to the outcome of this display. After a while the amount of crows dissipated. All was again quiet on the western front and we, the neighbours, were left in awe at this cruel display of nature in its true form. Survival. Murder. Killing. Mayhem.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Does anyone else out there read the obituaries? For the past couple of years I get my papers online (despite my last rant against things digital.) I get The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle - that is what I can afford. I scan through most articles, but I notice that what I read faithfully, and avidly, are the obituaries. In South Africa the Rand Daily Mail had a classified section in which were posted names of the newborns, the newly wed, and the recently deceased. This section was known as 'hatched, matched, and dispatched." It always garnished a lot of attention in my family. The dispatched section was not nearly as comprehensive as the obituaries are here. They drily showed the name of the dear departed and the date on which they died. We were left in the dark as to the details of their lives. Likewise for the hatched and matched. Since my arrival in the States, I have been fascinated by the obituary notices. I am known to sob when reading about untimely deaths, diseases endured, magnificent achievements of the deceased. Many of whom apparently devoted much of their lives to animals, to horticulture, to good works. As I grow older, I am constantly horrified by the large number of deaths of my equals, or those far younger. Sometimes I observe rather grimly that most of the deaths are of my age group. On the odd occasion when people do reach at least their allotment of three score years and ten, or far more, I am not so saddened by their passing. When I read these obituaries I would like to know the reasons for the passing of my cohorts, or those younger. Their loved ones do not always offer this information. I am left having to imagine the reasons for their untimely passing. Needless to say, my imaginings are not happy ones. Some people seem to have lived lives of enormous scholastic achievement. Many married the "loves of their lives" and apparently raised large, closeknit loving families whilst they traveled, studied, played sports, played musical instruments, taught and did endless good deeds. Others managed to marry several successful times. My sister visited a few years ago at the time I still received the daily newspaper in its normal form. (will the name newspaper change?) She pored over the obituaries as avidly as I did - (a possible genetic link?) She laughed at a description of a mother who had died in the fullness of her years. Her children stated that she ate copious amounts of ice cream. This was something our own mother did in her latter years. Well, that's all for now, I have to read today's obituaries.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


This evening I returned from a lovely walk at the Berkeley Marina and, as the sun began its descent over my view of Mt. Tam, I turned on the local news. The name of a 29 year old mother of two appeared on the screen. She was shot dead this morning in Richmond in front of her 2 toddlers. I saw her name flash across the screen and gasped. I felt my stomach drop down toward my shaking legs. My heart beat faster, and I gasped for breath. It can't be the Rashonda I know. Please, no. Is she 29 now? I wasn't sure, but somewhere in the close vicinity. Could she have children? Yes, she could. The details of her life and how we met played in my brain. My mind flooded with painful memories. Her family, the shocking murder of her adopted toddler brother. I remembered their home, the parents, the brothers. The details of all she and her mother went through were still crystal clear in my mind. I remembered meeting them years later in different circumstances. They lived in a housing project - bare to the bones. I remember seeing her cross MacDonald Avenue one day in the pouring rain. She was coming out of school and didn't have any raingear. I wanted to stop and hand her an umbrella but the light changed and there were impatient drivers behind me. No, please no, don't let it be her. Her mother cannot take much more. I know there are other women with the same name. If it is not her, then it is someone else with the same name. A young woman, shot dead in front of her children. It is not the Rashonda I know, and all I can think is to thank God, but I do pray for the children and family of the young woman who was murdered. Tonight's total upset has got me thinking about the nature of PTSD and how it can even take just one word, or one sound, or one small event, and one's nervous system and internal alerts and defenses get to work and unhinge one. And this womens toddlers saw this all happen. And the cycle doesn't end.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Deep Divide

I am NOT writing about the divide in this country that has always been there, but that has surfaced in unimaginably awful ways since the election of HWSNBN. I am NOT writing about the divide in Israel between the secular and the fundamentalist religious fanatics. I am NOT writing about the divides in any specific country. I AM writing about something far more universal that affects all of us in this new digital age. I am writing about the divide between the young generation born with technology at their fingertips and those of us born in the previous generation. I am also not writing about the societal problems caused by technology, or the wealth of knowledge that we do have at our fingertips. No, I am writing about the practicalities of life as a peson who was not reared in the digital age. That person is me. Not too long ago I moved, and I now reside in lovely new surroundings. Of that, maybe more later. My landlords and myself share direct service TV. My landlords spent large amounts of their time in farflung areas of the globe. As I wrote in a previous blog, since the inauguration of HWSNBN, I spend inordinate amounts of time escaping from our present reality. I go to movies and watch TV - mostly, I have to say, inelegantly, crap, but it does keep my attention away from our ghastly present reality. There are programs I want to see, but sometimes I am away, so I record them. For instance, Victoria. I faithfully recorded the first season and looked forward to watching it in my time. When I pressed the recorded TV button I saw all sorts of programs I had not, in fact, recorded. I was bemused by the vagaries of my TV which seemed to have a mind of its own. I dutifully deleted all these strange programs. Where was Victoria? no trace, not even the name. For quite a awhile I continued searching in the hope of finding Victoria and diligently deleted all these strange programs which my TV had decided, on its own accord, to record. A short while ago it dawned on me that maybe my landlords had recorded these programs as we share the 'service.' This was confirmed in an e-mail I received last night politely inquiring as to the possibility that I may be deleting the recordings they had programmed. I am, of course, mortified. However, the whereabouts of Victoria was still a mystery to me. I replied, acknowledging that I am guilty, abjectly so, miserably so. I then told them about the absence of Victoria. They confessed that they had also recorded Victoria and deleted it after they watched it. A dreadful error on both our sides. Today I went to my writing group. Previously we had decided that each member would bring a favorite piece of music to play, then the group would write about it. Well, the problems we faced. The loudspeakers, the bluetooth, the linking of systems, the setting up of the apparatus. Our omputers, wi-fi, passwords, playing a song, replaying a song. The only beneficial outcome of all this is that I no longer look at my technological awkwardness and fumblings as personal. I am not totally dumb, backward, retarded (sorry for the use of the word), clumsy, inept, inefficient, uneducated, fumbling - rather I belong to a cohort that was born before all of this entered our lives. I pass the baton to the 6-month old babies who soon will teach me all I need to know to survive!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Ever since my return from Israel I find that I am unable to look at, or to listen to 'he who shall not be named.' (HWSNBN) I couldn't look or listen to him before his so-called election either. I cannot listen to the news in the morning. Over my coffee I cursorily look at the headlines, grimace, and shake my head in disbelief. It is like everyone is projecting a fictionalised horror set in a shadowy now. I listen to classical music, I go to the movies - a lot. I read - a lot. Currently I am really enjoying Ann Patchett's excellent book, "The Patron Saint of Liars." I finished "I'm Your Man" - the life of Leonard Cohan, and "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng. But this isn't a plug for reading, or for books, and I am not receiving any money for these recommendations. This is my evening rant. I knew that the other awful man known as "Bibi" was coming to Washington today, so I broke with my policy of neither looking at nor listening to. any so-called leader. I looked at the so-called speech given by HWSNBN with Bibi on the podium next to him, facing a room of reporters. What speech did HWSNBN make - a speech? My goodness - not one coherent thought or statement. This is like the"Ministry of Silly Speaks." I wonder if he really knows what country he is speaking about, or to whom he is speaking. And when an Israeli reporter asked about the rise of anti-semitism in America, he evaded or ignored the reasonable question and uttered some junk about love?????? WTF??? Nonsensical gibberish with Bibi alternately smirking or looking crestfallen next to him. God help us all. Or, other than God, we need to help ourselves, and the first thing to do is to NOT listen to all the junk we are inundated with. We have to look for facts, for history, and to sift through the mounds of poisonous junk. Ughhhhhhhh

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Day After

Today is the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump. Just typing the name feels like a farce. But it happened, and I didn't even put the word President in front of his name, because I simply am unable to do that. Today is the day of the Womens' Marches across the country, and the world, it turns out. I had registered to join the Oakland March while I was still in Israel, but unfortunately I returned a week ago, on Friday 13th to be exact, not well. My voice is hovering somewhere over the middle east, accompanied by a relentless cough and generalized weakness. That is my excuse for not being on the march, but I am watching the coverage, and it is very inspiring. Yesterday I did not watch anything, I listened to classical music all day. On my forays in to the world outside my apartment I was struck by the funereal like atmosphere. Perhaps it is because of my visit to Israel, where the people have suffered for at least 12 years under the regime of Bibi Netanyahu, or because of my deep spiritual beliefs, but I have surprised myself by refusing to give in to despair. Yesterday the world did not end and the sun did not turn into blood. In Israel I see that life continues, and people continue to fight the good fight. Nothing is static, things do change. Definitely at this time the world that we know is turning to the right. I think these manifestations are the last gasps of those that are petrified that the world is changing. White people, especially white men, are no longer the majority. People are speaking up for their rights, and also increasingly defending the rape and pillaging of the earth. We are in the midst of massive transitions, and any time before a major change is a time filled with anxiety, uncertainty, fear of the unknown, until the new form is given life. Even then, it is not easy, as we take our first faltering steps, falling down, getting back up, looking back. I also don't feel that mankind is coming into a golden age, but it will be an age of expanded consciousness that allows for more differences to manifest. It is up to us not to give into complacence or despair. While in Israel I carried out a small experiment. In general, people in Israel do not acknowledge the presence of others, there is a general feeling of indifference and lack of compassion. It is exhibited on the roads, by reckless driving. In parking lots no one considers other vehicles, which are jammed in or crashed into. Late on a Thursday afternoon I had to get a bus for Netanya at the Arlozoroff Station in Tel Aviv. It is the time when the soldiers and everyone else are trying to get home for the weekend. The trains were closed for repairs so we had to take buses. To me it was petrifying standing quite helpless in a pushing, surging crowd. A few crammed buses went by before eventually I was borne onto one. My experiment was to acknowledge people on the street, as well as in grocery lines or cafes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that people smiled or nodded back. A flicker of humanity and fellowship. While trying to board the bus I was pushed up against a female soldier of Ethiopian origin. I looked at her and mouthed, "sorry, this is petrifying" and she smiled back and said 'yes, petrifying.' We both eventually made it to Netanya. On another occasion I sat with a friend at a pavement cafe in Tel Aviv. I saw a blonde woman dressed in shorts despite the cold weather, stagger up the street. She was completely dishevelled. Her eyes were bloodshot, her face puffy, a strong smell of alcohol surrounded her. She sat next to us and leaned over to ask us for a shekel. Two young waiters, a man and a woman, came toward her. They spoke gently and kindly, explaining that if she wanted a cup of tea, they would give her one, and asked her not to disturb the customers. Her voice rose as she slurred back at them, swearing. They both continued to speak to her gently, and the waitress left and returned with a cup of tea, but the woman stood up and staggered away. I was pleasantly surprised by their restrained approach. Small things, maybe, but nevertheless, a light shining through.