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  • Beginning the Jewish Spirituality Havurah

    The Jewish Spirituality Havurah had an inspiring beginning last Wednesday, Oct. 18 and we are still open for new members! My aha moment is that shared responsibility for a spiritually driven Havurah allows us to share our true selves. The article What is Jewish Spirituality by Jay Michaelson was our springboard that led to introductions and discussion about themes for future meetings as we relaxed in a home environment with herbal tea and cookies. Six of us (three over age 60 and three under age 30), came up with a number of good ideas: Jewish spirituality through integrating nature into a Jewish framework, exploring why there seems to be a large percentage of Jews drawn to Buddhism and yoga, Jewish community and joy, singing, meditation, miracles, hunger for spirituality, a cooperative and themed Shabbat dinner. Jewish chanting and meditation will be the focus of our next meeting on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at a co-leaders home in South Burlington. If you would like to attend the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue online minyan, you are welcome to arrive at 7:00 p.m. If you are excited to explore different channels for Jewish Spirituality in a small supportive home environment please click here to register, if you are not already registered. You do not have to be affiliated with a Jewish organization to join.

  • Peach Salsa

    This month's cooperative dinner was burritos made with fresh peach salsa. I was able to use tomatoes from our garden but, alas, our peach tree did not produce peaches after the harsh winter so I bought peaches shipped from somewhere else in the U.S. I provided tortillas and others thankfully contributed fillings of vegetables, rice and beans. Here's the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Feasting at Home: Peach Salsa AUTHOR: SYLVIA FOUNTAINE | FEASTING AT HOME PREP TIME: 20 TOTAL TIME: 15 YIELD: 3-4 CUPS 1X DESCRIPTION This Fresh Peach Salsa recipe is bursting with summer flavor! Delicious on its own with chips or serve over grilled fish or chicken. Simple and easy, make this when peaches are at their peak of flavor -fresh, juicy and ripe. INGREDIENTS 3 large peaches- ripe (but not overly soft) diced into 1/2 inch dice, skins ok 1/2 a medium red onion, very finely diced ( about 3/4 cup) 1/2 a red bell pepper, finely diced ( for color and texture) 1 medium tomato, finely diced 1 jalapeno, very finely diced 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, tender stems ok 1/4 cup fresh lime juice ( 1-2 limes) 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper more to taste 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder – optional, more to taste ( will add a pleasantly smoky heat) INSTRUCTIONS Gently rub peaches with a terry cloth towel to help remove peach fuzz, then rinse under cold water. Dice peaches, tomato, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and cilantro and add to a medium bowl. Add lemon juice juice, salt and pepper, gently toss to combine. Adjust lime and salt. Add optional chipotle powder, starting conservatively with a ¼ teaspoon. Taste, and and adjust according to preferences. You want a delicious balance between sweet, salt, lime and heat. Serve with chips, in tacos, or over fish or grilled chicken. This Peach Salsa would be a nice addition to Burrito bowls too. Or you could even make bruschetta out of it! NOTES If you are not a cilantro fan- feel free to use less. If you love cilantro, add more! Peach salsa is best served right away or within a few hours of making. Find it online:

  • Wedding Inspired

    My roots as a Jersey girl often bring me and some portion of my family "down the shore" in the summer. This year we followed up on Yitzi's idea to visit with NJ family the week before Paul, Yitzi and I attended a wedding in Purchase, NY. Our first stop was in northern NJ to see my lifelong dear friend and second cousin Lynne and her fiancé Daniel. We also saw Lynne's daughter Leah and fiancé Chris on Friday night when we don't take photos. I really enjoyed seeing all of them, taking a walk by the Delaware and eating super delish food that happened to be vegan. We followed recipes from Clean Food Dirty Girl (food blog) and went out to The Baklava Lady. It's also great to spend time at Lynne and Daniel's with their lovely kitty, Lily, whose overt friendliness and sweetness puts her in the angel category of pets, similar to our last pet named Sweet Georgia Brown. Paul and Yitzi drove to Philadelphia to see Elliott and Vinni while I spent a couple more days with Lynne and Daniel. The photos below show a combination of urban landscape and dog walk worthy parks. Next we enjoyed the lovely island of Brigantine off the Atlantic City coast. Atlantic City and Brigantine are two different worlds. Brigantine has become much more populated since visiting my grandparents there in the 1970s yet somehow still peaceful. Everyone I pass says good morning or hello. We also took a walk with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Murray on the family friendly Ocean City Boardwalk where we thoroughly enjoyed a game of skeeball. Paul, Yitzi and I bravely rode bikes to the same bird sanctuary that we used to stay away from because of vicious green flies. I have a memory of my grandfather swatting us with his jacket as we passed him on the merry-go-round. Was that because of vicious green flies or some other insect like mosquitoes invading freely during the more primitive 1970s? Coincidentally Yitzi's friends Jonah and Adira (met at school in Jerusalem and now going to the same rabbinical school as Yitzi in Boston) just happened to be visiting with their relatives during the same week in Ventnor, adjacent to Brigantine. Joined by Adira's parents, we spent the afternoon in Brigantine enjoying the best acai bowls and enjoying the beach of course. Aunt Lisa and Uncle Joel have lived in Brigantine for a long time during the summer. First Joel's parents (my grandparents), then Joel and Lisa and now their daughter and her family live in Brigantine. We really enjoyed our visit with Aunt Lisa, Uncle Joel, Aunt Barbara and Uncle Murray. Next year we are hoping for an even bigger family reunion at the Jersey Shore. Fun in New Jersey preceded going to the wedding of Helaine and Jamie in Purchase, New York. A lovely walk by the Hudson was followed by fun in formal attire. Helaine and her husband Jamie had a beautiful and meaningful wedding. Reid Castle provided the backdrop for imagination, dancing, and love. I'm looking forward to more photos and time with our dear friends. Below is a pre-wedding photo. Driving home after the wedding we stopped at a stunning Japanese botanical garden. Innisfree Garden gently enhances and augments the natural landscape. Wondrous eye candy was revealed in all directions. Near the Innisfree Garden we stopped at the lovely Hudson Valley home of Don Lewis. Don is a master gardener, ancient seed expert, owner of two adorable dogs and musician. Paul and Don met during a 1990s Ukulele festival and have been friends ever since. Although we love to travel... ...we are also so appreciative of our beautiful Vermont home. After returning, Yitzi, Claire and I took a beautiful Shelburne Farms walk with Yitzi's grade school friend, Gunther. Gunther flew to Boston from California so his girlfriend could attend a conference and he could take the heroic opportunity to bike a couple hundred miles to see his dad and friends in Vermont.

  • Cooperative Dinner: Hummus

    This months cooperative dinner used a special homemade hummus as the sauce, Sami's Bakery awesome Millet and Flax Pita Pockets for the base. Five more people contributed a single cut up (ready to serve) vegetable such as cucumber, tomato, sprouts, greens etc. It was a delish hit! The hummus recipe is from the book Tahini & Turmeric: 101 Middle Eastern Classics--Made Irresistibly Vegan by Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox. Don't forget to save the chickpea water. It makes a difference: Enjoy!

  • Cooperative Dinner: Forbidden Rice Salad

    I've decided to start posting about cooperative dinners because they have been a success! What is a cooperative dinner? I make a sauce and a base. You bring one ingredient. It's reminiscent of the children's book Stone Soup which takes place in a town where everyone is feeling a bit stingy until they discover that each person only needs to contribute something small and simple to collectively create a delicious soup. Cooperative dinners that have worked beautifully have been burritos, spring rolls, nori rolls and grain bowls. Last week I provided forbidden rice (also known as black rice) and a sauce. Six people contributed cucumbers, sprouts, carrots, radishes, greens, and tempeh. The sauce recipe came from the book East by Meera Sodha. The vegetables can easily be changed to anything:)

  • Watering

    This video shows you the value of a rain gauge and soaker hose. It's best to water from the bottom, in the morning and not to over water.

  • Sweet Peas

    Here's the most helpful article read so far: Lot's of peas came back from last year and they are getting taller. So far I've learned that it's a good idea to snip the flowers and make a teepee with the bamboo poles we already have. Gently tie the plant to the pole and the rest will follow or climb up the teepee. I'm looking forward to trying this tomorrow.

  • Plant Thinning

    In this video I learned that it's better to cut and eat the leaves from the lettuce type plants rather than thin. The plants with large root balls that need space are another story.

  • Bye Bye Montevideo Video

    Paul just finished editing this video that causes me to feel the bittersweet nature of traveling and saying farewell to the people, music, outdoor markets, mural art, biking and embracing the experience of living and working in another country for two months. I'm still practicing a little Spanish everyday.

  • Bye Bye Uruguay, Hello California

    Waking up at home I had some anxiety because I could not remember what house and bed I was in. I couldn't remember details about my routine like how much tea I drink every morning or what I eat for breakfast on Mondays. Yes, I would temporarily live in another country again, even if it is challenging to find organic food, to experience a somewhat different culture with warm temperatures during the Vermont winter. Moving into new experiences, shedding the old snake skin, can be enlivening. On our last day in the Uruguay apartment, Paul spotted a mourning dove outside the front window, instead of the back window where we had witnessed the mourning doves from nest eggs to flying away, described in earlier posts beginning with this one. I just read that observation of mourning doves shows some homing abilities. The mother and two babies greeted us when we arrived in our Uruguay apartment, then perhaps said good-bye when we were preparing to leave. Thank you sweet doves. Although I wanted to sit tight in our Montevideo Airbnb on our last day there, Paul had more expansive ideas. He convinced me to walk down to the water to experience, one last time, the dramatic Uruguayan sunset that made my heart sing and accept the imperfection of traveling to a new place. We had wonderful experiences yet didn't get to do everything that seemed appealing. There's always more to experience down the road. Also, on the last day, we had lunch with Leo at a really good restaurant that we had walked by many times but never noticed. Reading Guru'Guay brought us to Estrecho where you sit on stools and watch your scrumptious meal being prepared. Next stop California: We arrived on my 65th birthday after 28 hours of travel, very little sleep and a five hour time change. Even so, I am reflecting back on the rich highlights of the day. Siu Hung, Paul's brother's wife, brought me birthday flowers. Mike and Hung, my in-law siblings, guided us on a not overly strenuous bike exploration of Berkeley and Oakland California. They offered us their Rad E-bikes complete with pet pugs in the baskets. The only other time I have ridden on a Rad e-bike was on my 64th birthday in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Note: Paul and I have expanded our love for Sweet Georgia Brown to all the animals that pull on our heartstrings. Our adult children contacted me with a birthday song from Yitzi, birthday phone call from Elliott and lovely birthday message from Claire. Click Birthday song from Yitzi In addition to the Rad e-bike coincidence, my sister and her husband, Sandy and Steven, just happened to be ten miles away in San Francisco visiting friends while we were in Berkeley. Way to combine east and west coast siblings for my birthday dinner at a cozy and delish Japanese restaurant! Paul came up with a unique expression that combines my love for coincidence and love for food: Slaw of Attraction. Our niece Lia and her partner Dane returned from a trip to LA the day before we left Berkeley. Not only did I get to meet Dane and have dinner with Lia, Dane, Mike and Hung, but I got to hear about Lia's impressive animation career accomplishments and art exhibitions. A couple of people warned us about leaving Berkeley and driving two hours south to visit Paul's cousin Judy and partner Greg in Watsonville, CA. The warning was that we might experience the atmospheric river that had been soaking the state of California since January. On our way to Watsonville, Paul and I stopped in somewhat rainy San Francisco, where we stumbled upon the famous Tartine bakery and invested $14 in one of the sensational sourdoughs that inspired many people, including our son Yitzi, to use the Tartine book as a sourdough creation bible during the pandemic. After we were lucky enough to take a merely damp walk in Golden Gate Park (later I discovered that Sandy and Steven were also taking a merely damp walk in Golden Gate at the same time), we drove about an hour south and got socked into Half Moon Bay by a bomb cyclone. The better term might have been a tree cyclone because it was the downed trees that prevented us from traveling further on Route 1 or any of the alternative roads to Watsonville. We were forced to stay in a lovely B&B and enjoy one of the few places where the power was on in a Turkish restaurant with friendly staff. The following morning we enjoyed the B&B breakfast and discovered why Half Moon Bay attracts tourists. After leaving Half Moon Bay, we got to complete the second hour journey to cousin Judy and Greg's lovely house in Watsonville. Delish meals included Tartine's fabulously delicious sourdough plus the best citrus I have ever eaten, grown by Greg. Judy and Greg's dogs, Rosie and Petunia, became very excited and vocal in the car as we approached their treasured walk on the Monterey Bay beach. The dogs vast appreciation of the outdoors added greatly to our walk. Highlights of our visit include a beach walk with the doggies, a visit to Judy and Greg's Gitt-Gat-Gite lovely rental retreat and cousin Judy's art studio. Click Studio Judy G to enjoy a virtual tour of Judy's studio that displays her amazing art, and functions as a Watsonville community center with classes and events. Thank you Judy G. for the birthday week surprise. Next stop Hollywood. It was great to spend a few days with cousin John and wife Debbie while getting to know each other a bit better. We learned more about their many traveling experiences and about their interesting careers as journalists. They fed us delish grilled salmon and hiked with us in the spectacular Griffith Park. We took the Hollywood Walk of Fame where Paul bonded with the Marx brothers sidewalk impression. At the local farmers market John pointed out Aziz Ansari casually walking with his wife. Hover and click. A side trip included a delightful visit with Paul's friend since childhood, Paul W. and his family. Paul and wife Cheryl treated us to delish home cooked mediterranean chicken. We were also lucky enough to visit with one of their adult daughters, Jenna, who was visiting with her cute dog. Paul, Cheryl and Jenna all have careers focused on scientific solutions for our health and environment. Paramount Studios where they made Paul's favorite movie, The Godfather, and one of my favorites. Interstellar, was a fun and informative. For example, in the movie The Ten Commandments, the parting of the Red Sea was filmed using powerful fans and many gallons of water that filled a blue basin normally used as a parking area. It's available for rent if you need to stage your own water focused event. On the way to our last stop, before flying back to our home in Vermont, we stopped at Crystal Cove because Debbie described it as beautiful and reminiscent of a mediterranean beach. Although it's not expensive to stay in one of their restored 1930s cabins, making a reservation is like winning the lottery. We'll have to stick with other beach towns for family reunions. In Delmar we were fortunate to spend time with Aunt Mai-Lon, Cousin Amy and her adult children Jacob and Michele. Amy welcomed us with delish homemade tacos . Paul interviewed Mai-Lon and we learned about her life beginning with growing up in California with four siblings and parents who were busy with a restaurant. Mai-Lon and Marc met at a party and continued to meet every day for lunch or coffee on the UC Berkeley campus. They married and lovingly raised their two children, Amy and Joel. Mai-Lon was a teacher who enriched her student's education with creative writing. She developed a passion for writing poetry that lasted well beyond retirement. Mai-Lon's daughter Amy, also a writer, became a journalist. Marc was an esteemed University of California academic librarian who loved books and nature. Paul and I took a walk at Torrey Pines State Park, Marc's favorite.

  • Doors and Murals

    Paul has been photo collecting ornate and interesting doors on our walks through the city of Montevideo. The music and doors (not to be confused with The Doors) are a great match. Check out the video. As Paul stopped to collect door photos, I started noticing mural art causing me to use my camera as well. I'm excited to post this next MonteVIDEOSyncracies video that features a talented musician discovered by Paul. Matias is from a small town in western Argentina and now lives in a small town in Uruguay near Piriapolis. The video also includes some great shots of our visit to Carasco, tango dancing in the park, the mountain in Montevideo (a hill by Vermont standards) where there are some great views, and our visit to the small town (population 2000) where Leo grew up. It's just outside the city limits. We're appreciating the simple things as we come to a close of our stay here, such as native plants, low tide, crabs strolling on the beach and the few words we can exchange with Feria vendors and store owners who now recognize us as temporary regulars. Today at the Feria I understood the young man who works with his father and sister at our favorite vegetable and fruit stand. He flapped his wings and said one of the words I know (boleto or ticket). Yes, we were saying Adios. In my last post with the title Neighborhoods,, I mentioned purchasing fruit and nut bars to give to homeless people, because I never have any dinero (cash) and the homeless people do not take debito. This morning my heart soared when I gave a homeless man one of my bars and he gave me a big smile with some teeth missing, "Gracias senorita." Gracias lingering effects of Purim or remembering to give to the poor. Click Piriapolis video added to The Uruguayan Riviera blog post about Piriapolis.

  • Neighborhoods

    During the weekend Paul and I visited the wealthy neighborhood of Carrasco, at the edge of Montevideo, where they have a beautiful beach, delish lunch and lovely clean streets with impressive buildings. Spending two months in this Southern hemisphere neighborhood where summer is December through March is helping me with the concept of turning things around as we do on Purim (Jewish carnival) happening this week. Turning things around could mean becoming aware of our roles in life, disguises and the grey area between black and white. For example, when Paul and I go to our neighborhood Feria (outdoor vegetable and wares fair) on Tuesdays and Fridays, he has been standing still holding a shopping basket while I circle around collecting vegetables and fruit at what has become our favorite vendor. While standing still with the basket, Paul has been using google translate to assist him with chatting with one of the sellers. Last Feria she immediately recognized us and showed us her phone while pointing to the Zoom app because she is excited to be using Zoom to interview for shoe store jobs. Two years ago she was fired from her shoe store job, after fifteen years, for taking maternity leave. Paul suggested that she apply to a baby shoe store. She is also attending business school. How does hearing about a shoe store job from a young woman working at a Feria in Montevideo illustrate Purim and turning things around? Besides taking place in the southern hemisphere, it made me think of the impression I had of my paternal grandfather while I growing up and beyond. He became a shoe store employee after the first of two sons was born (my Dad, Donny). My Grampa Paritz gave up his career as a traveling big band saxophone player to become a shoe store employee and, I believe, he and my Grandma together became managers of a store that was not terribly successful. People said that he never played the saxophone again, his job never amounted to much and he was a good father. He also had a great sense of humor and loved to play golf. The family lived in a very modest apartment in Elizabeth, NJ. His two sons worked their way through a Rutgers University education, became professionally successful and eventually purchased a nice Florida condo for their retired parents. Is working in a shoe store good or bad? For the man who started Zappos the shoe business was extremely lucrative yet bad for his health. The young woman at the Feria seems really excited about earning her business degree and returning to shoe selling. Why didn't my grandfather keep playing the saxophone while selling shoes? Lower middle class living created a desire for professional success for his sons. Turn, turn, turn. Contrasting with the Carrasco neighborhood, our two month Airbnb rental is in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood where the streets are not so clean. On our morning walks, we see a few people waking up on their piece of cardboard. They are living the role of the homeless during this carnival time. Although I never have any coins to give, because I always use debito, I did purchase packaged nut and fruit bars at my favorite Montevideo health food store, La Molienda, to give to the homeless. Gifts to both friends and the poor are part of the Purim carnival celebration as a reminder that, whatever role we are living, we are all one. As we walk down the less than perfectly clean streets, we also see some impressive street art. Stay tuned for more video and a post about our last week of our winter escape to the beautiful country of Uruguay. Chao for now.

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