AGE-ING: Is it a numbers game?

It all started with a car. My old SUV died and I chose a sport two door roadster. I don’t remember the last time I felt so selfish in choosing something that is going to be hard to share with my grown kids.

A smile was on my friend’s face when he saw the car and asked: does someone have a midlife crisis? I just smiled back. I was puzzled and reflected…. really?? But I turned 60 last year. We all know that 50 is midlife, I am well past it.

The definition for AGE is: “a period of human life, measured by years from birth, usually marked by a certain stage or degree of mental or physical development and involving legal responsibility and capacity” and if we use it as verb to age means to grow old as “she is aging rapidly” (I hope not) or “the wine ages slowly” or “fear aged him overnight”.(The last definitions touches on age as number.)

When we approach 60 we are treated as OLD. Is it Ageism? Ageism is defined as a discrimination against persons of a certain age group or tendency to regard older person as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.

I love numbers and I always try to find hidden meanings. In my twenties I went to University, married and had kids. In my thirties I raised a family. Family raising lasted till almost 50. I saw my job as wife/mother/organizer/volunteer/interior designer/chef/cook/party-planner /artist/collector. None of these were paid in the monetary sense but were appreciated by my family and friends who participated or enjoyed the results of all these interests. In the world we live in there is not much appreciation for us/ women who devote half of their life to the family. The problem arose when my kids grew and started their own life. What am I going to do next? Shall I get a job? Do I want to get involved with volunteer projects? Shall I go back to school? A lot of exciting options but I am still faced with a society who looks at my grey hair and sees OLD.

Just writing this word makes my skin crawl. We need to find a new definition for those of us between 60-70+. We are at the “next prime” as a friend said. We need to find a word that will encompass positivity. A word that a 30 or 40 year old will say: “Whoa this 60 year old is incredible!”.

We need to ask ourselves: how old do we feel? Do we care about our chronological age? If the people around me consider me “old” what does it mean?

I invite your comments. Let me know your thoughts. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what matters is the attitude. Our population is growing and we are living longer. A Rocking chair is not the only way to express our vitality.

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wonder of wonders

madlik

I was privileged to see the new production of Fiddler on the Roof Starring Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht. Adam Kantor is amazing as Motel the tailor and when he sang Miracle of Miracles I realized that this song was a direct rendering of a favorite Midrash, which I am happy to share.

Rabbi Yehudah bar Simon began: (Psalms 68:7) “God maketh the solitary to dwell in a house”. A matron asked R. Yosi bar Halfa, saying to him: “How many days did it take the Holy One Blessed be Him to create the world?” He said to her: “[to] Six days, as it is written (Exodus 20) “Because six days God made the heavens and the earth.” She said to him: “What has He been doing since that hour and now?” He said to her: “The Holy One blessed be He sits and matches matches; the daughter of this…

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Art-Spring??

I will start this post with an unpublished post from last year:

“It’s April and although they say:”April showers brings May flowers” the sky is grey and it is hard to believe that we will ever get some sun and that the buds will come out from the frozen ground.  To lift me out of my melancholic mood it was time to find some art that will bring flowers into the world.   The Brooklyn Museum has two great shows: “Kehinde Whiley” show which is called “A New Republic” and Basque’s “The Unknown notebook”.

It’s April 2016, and you’d think nothing changed.  It’s like in the movie, “Groundhog Day”. Each April we think the weather will warm up but NOOOOO, we need a winter coat when venturing outdoors. Storm King sculpture park opens its door April 6th as one of the signs of change. Like daffodils coming from the ground.

Museums open the season with interesting shows. The Met at Bauer which opened at the “old” Whitney building with a show called “Unfinished”. It’s an historical review of works that the artist left deliberately unfinished  or let us the viewer decide left to our imagination.

Michelangelo work is divine, the image is so angelic.

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Andy Warhol leaves us wondering whether we will get a complete guitar image if we just follow the numbers.

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Picasso lets us wonder if his painting of man gazing at a semi nude  model is indeed a partial work or he really intended it to be partly penciled in and to think the it was painted on a dish towel.

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The Moma opened with two shows Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Degas is familiar with his ballerinas but he is a master using a monotype print technique. We can see the phases of the work, first it’s the black and white drawing and then the adding of color. Degas made these monotypes in 1818 as a way of searching for a new way to capture new life. You can see that what’s important is the process of innovation and less the finished product.

The other artist that is  having a retrospective and  was unfamiliar to me is :

Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective. A “forest” of palm trees welcomes the viewer. Marcel is Belgian. He takes us through his mind and gives us a glimpse at his thoughts. His works were created at the time when other artists did Pop and Minimalistic Art. He turns to poetry and ask “what is art?”. His answer is whimsical and playful. He plays with modules/eggs as objects that hide something. He pays homage to Magritte’s pipe and the folk tale of the raven and the fox. He created an installation that one feels like walking into the fable, surrounded by the words that describe it. He continues creating his own museum. His art is apolitical and poetic. A must see.

 

The Jewish Museum brings lots of color in the form of Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History; Isaac Mizrahi fashion designs from the 70’s and 80’s. One can imagine wearing these today. His fabric boards which welcome the visitor let us enter his world and we can feel as though we might be designing the fabric.

The weather continues to play tricks on me. The sun is out but you still need to wear a winter coat and add a scarf and gloves. Next I will be walking in and out of the galleries in Chelsea so hopefully it will get warmer…

 

Marrakesh – a kingdom unto itself

It takes four hours from Rabat to Marrakesh. The road goes through Casablanca and what a better way to pass the time then to watch the movie Casablanca!  As Rick was saying goodbye to Ilsa we entered the red city. The first stop when we arrived to Marrakesh was Jardin de Majorelle or as it is known: YSL garden. In 1923 Jacques Majorelle decided to live in Marrakesh, he purchased a palm grove and asked the architect Paul Sinoir to build an artist studio in Art Deco style. In 1980 YSL acquired the garden and restored it and installed a Berber museum in it. The “Majorelle Blue” with green palm trees and cactus cast a magic spell when you enter  the garden. It is the perfect first step into this mysterious city.


Marrakesh is more of a tourist city then the other cities we visited. The weather is warmer and there are palm trees everywhere.

We continued with a tour of the mellah and visited the only synagogue left inside the walls . There used to be 35 synagogues. As the community shrunk they closed. We were told that there is a daily minyan.

When I found out that the Marrakesh Biennale will take place during our trip I booked a tour. Their Biennale is spread among five sites. We visited two of them which were located in old palaces. I will write about the art in a different post. As it is Friday we got ready for shabbat and joined the Ohayon family for Kabalat Shabbat.

Marrakesh is known for palaces and magnificent hotels. We visited the Mamounia hotel and had a cooking class at La Madison Arab . I  know there are many more palaces and grant hotels to explore and we only scratched the surface.

Saturday morning we drove towards the Atlas Mountains to visit a Berber village. The guide explained that that the Jews arrived to Morroco as merchants and settled in small villages all around the mountains. These are humble dwellings. The houses were build from mud. We visited Zohara who demonstrated the art of making Moroccan tea. As a tea lover I found it fascinating as she did not use any measuring but only her hands and estimated the timing by the color.

The medina in Marrakesh starts with the Djemaa El Fena  Square. Water sellers, fortune tellers, snake charmers and henna ladies welcome the visitor even before entering the shouk. I was looking for the traditional tea pot which I found and got some glasses. I will practice the Moroccan tea serving with the mint from my garden.

The trip is almost over. It’s been an incredible journey. This country is mysterious  yet magical, complex and intriguing.

There is more to explore so maybe I will be back…

 

TO LIFE

It’s almost 30 days since my uncle ( Dod Amy) passed away. He was my mother’s younger brother. He was battling brain cancer for the last two years . When my mom called to tell me that she went to visit him , she was crying and found it hard to describe the way he looked. She said that his touch was soft, he could hardly smile but his blue eyes shined. When my cousin called to tell me that my uncle sailed to the other world I changed my plans and was on the next plane to Israel. This was mid October. My original plans were to come at the end of October  to celebrate Ima’s birthday but being with her during this time was important. Tears of sorrow mix with tears of joy welcomed me when I stepped off the elevator, as my mom said , now I got you for extra two weeks.

During the shiva I spend lots of time with my mom, my aunt and cousins. My uncle was a great person. He loved life. He loved his family and loved spending time at sea.

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My mom tells a story how he always loved tinkering and fixing or building stuff. One day when they could not find him at the end of the school day, they did finally discover he was busy fixing a clock. He wrote beautiful letters to his grandkids.One in particular was timely. He wrote it 20 years ago on the week that Yitchak  Rabin , the prime minister of Israel was murdered. He wrote to his grandson that it was the worst week in Israel he remembers. The prime minister was killed by a Jew. He also tells about putting his sandals away and wearing  socks and shoes as the weather got cold. Nov 4th 2015 marked the 20 year since Rabin was murdered. Saturday night October 30 there was a rally for democracy and peace at Kikar Rabin. The tel aviv municipality put photos of Rabin in the square , you can see how Rabin life interweaves into Israel history. The crowd was a mix of young scouts and older people from the right but mostly left.  President Clinton  was the guest speaker. He spoke of the special relationship he had with Rabin and the need to continue on the path for peace. Yonathan Ben Arzi, Rabin’s grandson called for the need to change. Singers sang and the narrator stressed the need to unite and speak in one voice, voice of peace, because if we don’t change the murderer has achieved his mission. We can not be divided. It was powerful and exciting to stand and be counted.

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Today November 11 we will celebrate my mom’s birthday. I wish her a long healthy life. May she have lots of nachas from her grandkids and great grandkids. My mom is an inspiration with her smile and caring for us all.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY IMA, TO 120.

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The Power of Water

Halong Bay is three hours from Hanoi. Once we get out of the city see rice fields and Buffalo grazing. We stop at a rest stop which really is a shopping trap for tourists.  You need to spend half an hour there in the hope that you’ll buy an embroidered picture or a semi precious gem. One can define it as “Capitalism” at it’s best..
Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, and legend claims the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains. As the dragon charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

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We boarded a “junk” sailing boat for the overnight exploration.
There is a mystical atmosphere as you look at the islands that pop out from the water at different perspectives. For a close look at the limestone rocks we take a kayak. It was a lesson in coordinating strokes as no one wanted to fall into the bay. We saw a floating fishing village although some boats were stuck on shore..

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The next morning we went back to Hanoi and flew south to Da-Nang. Da-Nang is the third biggest city. We did not stay there but arrived at the most amazing resort – The Nam Hai. There are three infinity pools ending at the beach… breath-taking.

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These are the best beaches in Vietnam by the China sea. Hoi-An is a historical village 15 minutes away which is another shopping mecca.  You can get a suit or shoes made in 24 hours . We took a tour of some old houses. It seems that the architecture of the house did not change there is a long room which is divided between living/bedroom and kitchen in the back.

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Half an hour bike ride took us through palm tree field, rice fields and into a farming village. The farmers grow rice for their own consumption, raise chickens, pigs , banana trees, papaya trees, lemon grass, basically anything they eat they grow.

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We were treated to a home-cooked meal of spring rice rolls and learned how to make rice by separating the husk till the white kernel emerges.
We then continued biking to a vegetable garden village where they grow vegetables to sell at the local market.

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we could see how the Viet-Cong were able to hide in between the palms or rice fields and come out at night.
Most days we woke up to a gray sea but on our last day the sun came out so we indulged in a day of rest, it is a vacation after all.

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अलविदा alavidā -Good bye in hindi

It is our last day, again we start with a 6 am drive from Jaisalmer to Jodphur, board a plane to Mumbai then a flight to Israel.

It is a bitter-sweet goodbye, two weeks adventure. India is a complex place, there are lots of contradictions, lots of mysteries, lots to learn. It is so different but yet familiar. Hinduism starts with one g-o-d and there is all the deities each one with it’s own face, like “elilim”,is that what Abraham broke when he affirms the belief in one god.

Mindfulness tours was the name of our tour and indeed in each city, each temple, one cannot escape the notion that there are layers upon layers of meanings. We were 21 strangers that became friends, cared for each other and learned to accept the differences.

The literature festivals in Jaipur, we saw the future, the generation that tries to break from old traditions. At the women’s gno we saw how hard it is to elevate the woman’s place in the society, education is a key to advancement.

The palaces and forts are a symbol of the rich past but not all of them are well kept, some are dilapidated structures and then we see the Taj which is a magnificent building that draws lots of visitors. Some are keeping with the arranged marriage tradition and some are trying to break away from the caste system.

As I am sitting on the plane to Tel Aviv, full of Israelis, some who finished a three month’s vacation through the south beaches and some who were on a tour of the country. India is a big country and we only covered the Rajasthan area. Will I come back to explore more? Maybe the north where the Dali Lama sits or visit the golden temple where they serve 100,000 people food with no charge.

I can’t say yes or no but one thing I know that the effect of this trip will continue to make me think and be puzzled.

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Going south-Udaipur-

6AM and we are on the way to the train that will take us to southern Rajasthan-the land of kings.
As a matter of fact we landed in Mumbai and went north to Jaipur which is the capital .
The landscape changes, there are no green fields of wheat or yellow flowers we saw from Agra to Jaipur but rather desert like sceneary, some trees but mostly dry land.
As we get closer the white magnificence of the palaces appears.
We drive through narrow streets up and down alleys towards our hotel which sits on the lake.
As we enter The Jagat Niwas Palace we think we are on the set of the improved Marigold hotel ( some of us saw Judi Densh in Jaipur filming the sequal).
We go on a boat ride, see the palace , unfortunately it is closed as the prince is getting married tomorrow.
The mountains around reminds of Italy, There is the summer palace which sits in the middle of the lake but alas it is converted into a fancy hotel.
We have a Rajasthan diner on the roof of another hotel by the lake looking at the palace.
I am not a big fan of Indian food but there is not much choice so I tried the daal which is basically lentil soup in yellow orange sauce, basmati rice, paneer with spinach and some spicy vegetables, desert is these round sugary balls .
As we leave we try the mix of fennel and sugar to cleanse our palate, it’s actually good, does the trick.

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Taj-Shmaz-Crown of India

Yesterday we took the train to Agra , the ride on the train seemed ok to start but turned into a nightmare, the seats -not comfortable, the train crowded and on top the fog made us stop every half hour so a trip of four and half hours took six. We spent the night at the Radisson, a western hotel that felt like a palace.
The weather prediction for morning fog was true so no Taj at sunrise. We started the day at the AgrA Fort, a beautiful fort build by the shah Jahan ,it is an Incredible structure , geometric designs.
At noon it was time to see one of the seven marvels of the world , The Taj Mahal. We entered through the east gate, as we got tickets in advance we used the vip line, went through security, only cameras allowed , got water and surgeon slippers to cover our shoes.
We then proceeded to the North gate, which by itself it a work of art with writing from the koran. As we pass through the magnificent of the Taj Mahal appeared . The symmetrical gardens are perfect and the marble white structure with the four towers symbolized the four corners is truly incredable. All skepticism aside , It is an incredible achievement that was build in mid 16 century by shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, mum tax mahal who died giving birth to their 14th son, there are stories that his hair fell from sorrow. How interesting it is that “we” create/build momentous buildings for the dead as if to immortalize them.

India is a country of extremes, the Taj is a pure drop in a sea of sorrow , a rich element in a poor place.
So let’s enjoy the beauty and the purity and remember the suffering and the poor.
We returned to Jaipur and this time the train was on time , the seats more comfortable and it only took 4 hours.

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