Primal Cuts

I’ll try to wind up this morbid streak I seem to be on.  Suffice it to say, I may not have been exaggerating about death or teeth, whichever comes first.  At this rate, it may be a close race, but I’m determined to die with teeth in my mouth if it kills me!  A multi-unit implant bridge (what I need) costs thousands of dollars, even with good insurance.  So that’s what I’ll be dealing with this whole coming year.  So much for my meager savings.

Specialists I’ve had to see or have lined up: periodontist, ENT, audiology, hematology/oncology, inner ear, endodontist, not to mention routine medical, dental, labwork, imaging, scans, and multiple vaccines.  I remind myself of a beef cut chart for butchers.  I’m sure they’ll try to add on more parts, like a droll reminder of my parents.  Gotta tighten the proverbial belt even more, and stay upbeat.

Compared to the above litany, my life at “the furry farm”, to coin a euphemism, is full of (mis)adventure and intrigue.  It sounds like I’ve been missing quite a lot of it.  I guess all the doctors are for rest and relaxation!?  One of these days I may even get back to the former life.  There’s a sukkah to be built.  Beer to be presided over.  Tempestuous kids to navigate.

Here are some cheery nostalgic flowers.



Death or Teeth

Good news: Avdi probably doesn’t have the plague, and is all vaxxed up to the gills.  Bad news: it made him feel like death warmed over, and he could still have it.  For now I have to wait at home and see.  I’ve been using the time to take care of various items of business, so it’s not a total waste.  I wish I could get back to walking somewhere meaningful as my only real source of exercise.

Turns out I’ve run out of dental coverage for the year just on preventive, comprehensive general dental procedures.  This means I probably can’t start my implant process until 2024.  Now it’s just a race to see which comes first, death or teeth!  Seriously, why does basic healthcare have to come at such a price?  I’ll literally have to weigh which medical necessities I can afford, or afford to neglect.

And still my worries are small compared to Avdi’s.  He has to manage and pay for all the complex medical needs of his whole family, on top of all the other huge expenses and work it takes to cover them.  He can’t take a day off (or an hour) to recover or recharge, or in other ways take care of himself.  His demanding kids see to that.  And I’m not much help right now, which makes me feel purposeless.  Still, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.





Death Rehearsal, and the Plague that Keeps On Giving

In the spirit of atonement and not-a-once-a-year-Jew, I confess that I had the option to go to CRC with Avdi and E, and passed.  I watched it streaming from the comfort of home.  I even attempted to fast, until all my oldster “exemptions” kicked in!  Yay, raging sages!  Even then I made the minimal exceptions to take my meds and not feel sick.  Good thing I’m not superstitious anymore.

I did watch a relevant movie, “Oslo”, about the Oslo Accords, secret negotiations between the PLO and Israeli representatives on neutral ground in Norway in 1992.  It was the first time, albeit unofficially, that the two sides had even talked to each other in person, which had been impossible until then.  After finally getting over their mutual hate and distrust, they eventually hashed out a compromise proposal that they could present to their respective governments.  The film presented the two sides in a non-partisan, very human way.

Today I was supposed to go to Avdi’s, but at the last minute he found out Jess has COVID and he may have been exposed, so just in case, he had to drop me back home.  Now I just have to wait and see who tests positive.  This throws yet another wrench in Avdi’s overloaded life.  I told him, with the variety of more exotic medical concerns I may get diagnosed with, COVID is the least of my worries!  (JK.)  But it’s better to play it safe, I guess.  So even if I want to help out, I can’t.

I don’t even have any new photos to show for it, just these (invasive non-native) morning glories taking over my “patio”.  They’re a good metaphor for the fleeting impermanence of human life, which is what YK is all about.  A rehearsal for our death, and living fully every moment.  I still haven’t figured out how one does that while limited by income, no wheels, and a bum leg, but when I do you’ll be the first to know.


Going Medieval, or, The Black Deathfest

My son and I used to love going to the renfaire.  We’d look forward to it all year.  When that first mystical hint of the autumnal equinox was in the air, it meant creating a unique costume and persona to escape into an otherworldly period fantasy each weekend, fueled by brews.  Things were way simpler in those medieval times.

Now it’s like the Nightmare before the Inquisition.  Imagine getting four neurodivergent banshees ready to probably whine and bitch all day in clever but uncomfortable costumes while you herd them around, when you’re already exhausted to begin with.  I had already resigned myself to being too old and gimpy to go anyway, but after experiencing what Avdi had to go through this morning, I’m actually relieved to sit it out at home.  I just feel bad for him.

I myself had a terrifying nightmare last night in the basement, after not sleeping well to begin with.  I can’t even talk about it; it’s like I woke up with PTSD.  Watching the kid drama unfold was actually less terrifying.  I just stay out of the way, or help if I can.

S and I had an interesting conversation last night, which I won’t go into, but let’s just say now all four kids are gender/orientation “questioning” or exploring.  It’s probably not a coincidence that within the subculture they are fortunate to live, what’s considered accepted gender identity can be all over the map, making the “typical” cis/het binary standard seem unremarkable to a kid in that environment looking to be unique.  Whereas the surrounding fascist state makes being trans or non-binary or queer unsafe and criminal, a real cause for concern to a parent of capricious, mercurial young kids.

I’m pretty confident, from what I’ve learned firsthand, that once the dust settles, it will become very clear who really identifies differently or needs to transition, as opposed to just going through a natural coming of age process of self-discovery.  Social or sibling pressure can be a strong influence, but bottom line is the difficult, irreversible procedures that few people would lightly choose to go through to fully transition.  That long, daunting process tends to filter out passing whims.  With proper mature parental guidance, kids will eventually indicate clearly if it’s an imperative or a phase.

This is just an oversimplified grazing of the topic, since it came up.  I’m just glad these kids get to live in an inclusive, open-minded environment and can speak freely without fear of rejection.  They won’t need to hide in a closet or act out of defiance or conformity.  I personally feel fortunate and honored to be a small part of this moment.

I snapped a few shots of the gearing up and kitting out of some less-than-enthused “medieval” creatures.  Also how I observe the season from the safety of home, pre-erev Yom Kippur style.






Mabon Sameach!

This is actually my second Autumn Equinox in STL, although the first one went by in a blur of moving in.  I vaguely remember colors, but mostly the fact that MO hasn’t chopped down all their trees like OH.  (Slight exaggeration.)  The weather is such that I can open up the window of my apartment and breathe in fresh gasoline fumes and sewage runoff (also slight exaggeration).  Not too shabby, all things considered.  If I squint my ears (?), I can almost imagine the Watson speedway is ocean waves.  (My hearing is officially not great, according to Audiology.)

Yesterday (erev Shabbat) I think I outdid myself again on the Challah and meal, according to reliable sources.  I did something different: baked salmon, roasted Mediterranean veggies, homemade mac’n’cheese, and fresh tomatoes from the garden.  S ate the mac’n’cheese and challah, par for the course.  Things were pretty quiet and even peaceable.  Avdi got to go with S to his school parent/kid event, and Y spent overnight with a friend.  My leg held out all day (with reinforcement) and I got a lot done.

I may or may not have more interesting items to report later, depending.  In the meantime, here are scenes from erev.




The Case for Human Augmentation

My latest medical adventure was ENT and audiology, to try to get to the bottom of what causes my vertigo attacks.  Naturally I have to go to yet another specialist to keep narrowing it down, involving multiple visits, one of which will be over 3 hours long.

This is getting really time-consuming!  But I suppose so is a week of incapacitating vertigo, with no warning.  And that’s not taking into account all the other specialists I have lined up for other concerning issues and body parts.

This aging crap is ridiculous.  When do you get time to just live your life, with all these appointments supposedly keeping you alive?  Now I’m my parents, oy.  The horror.

Here are random photos to change the subject.  These two squirrels were just sitting together in a drainpipe outside my window with their little heads sticking out!



Harsh Hits

Yesterday Avdi took me to lunch!  This is significant because it’s been so long since we’ve been able to do anything together, and he made time in his busy work schedule to do it.  We went to the beautiful Bowood by Niche, a restaurant right inside an urban garden center, and ate outside on a patio surrounded by plants.  The menu and drinks were well-crafted and creative, and we actually got to talk grownup talk for a change.  I appreciate such respites all the more since they’re so infrequent these days.

It turns out what’s more significant is that my son won’t be able to go to an important conference this week, the final one of its kind, taking place this time right in STL.  He’s been longing to go to it for a long time, but what with kid responsibilities, the high cost, and work, he wasn’t able to sign up for it.  It’s hitting him hard, and I can understand, but there’s nothing anyone can do.  It’s one of the high costs of having so much responsibility with inadequate resources all on one person.

An ordinary person would be angry and resentful that friends have the money and freedom to attend, and he could be forgiven for that, but that’s not my son’s way.  Mostly he’s discouraged and despondent because his circumstances preclude him from access to professional and personal benefits he used to enjoy.  It’s no one’s fault, just unfair reality.  It would take magic or superpowers to fix it, neither of which I possess.

To add to my inadequacy, my stupid bum leg keeps preventing me from helping out in even the most minimal ways.  Talk about karma.  I can’t chance walking over there, which usually makes it go out.  I can’t expect Avdi to have time out to pick me up and bring me home every day.  It’s hard to do even routine chores.  I have enough medical appointments lined up without yet another one to arrange a ride for well in advance.  I hate not being part of the solution, however minimally.  Hopefully this setback too will pass.

Sorry for the gloomy post.  To offset it, here are some scenes from yesterday’s outing.  One can’t even categorize STL’s architecture and landmarks, because it’s all so diverse and unique, with historic 19th century mansions of all types next to iconic modern high-rises.  Nothing mediocre about this midwest town.


MegaPizza and Puppet Purgatory

I spent the night so Avdi could go get some grownup time.

After the most humongous pizza ever, I was treated to the never-ending  “puppet show” by S.  Puppet show basically means some legos and stuffties interacting with mouth noises across the room with me as a captive audience.  Even when he drifts off into space, my eyes must be glued open.  Riveting stuff.

Finally, relentless hours later, he put himself to sleep on the sofa, with no persuading from me!  With eyes glazed over I gratefully tried to do the same downstairs in my “cubicle”.

Early this morning, on cue, I was awakened by S skulkily standing heavy breathing by my bed.  But hey, he no longer stands at the top of the stairs, afraid to come down, shrieking “Nomi” repeatedly, so that’s progress, I guess!  I feigned sleep, so finally he just lay down on the floor.

Then the 7:15 meds alarm went off, so I sleepily got up, and did the morning routine.  Then guess what–more puppet show!  I was relieved when Avdi relieved me, and drove me home.

There may or may not be a Beer and Badminton (B&B) today, but that’s OK.  I’m actually fine being by myself!

Here’s a picture of my so-called “patio” and morning glory “shrubbery”.  It’s a tradeoff–no garden, but time to myself, priceless.  With beer, bonus.  Seriously, though, I know I earned it allowing Avdi some well-earned furlough.


To a New Year of Connectivity (Neural and Otherwise)

So hey, I’m not a “once-a-year” Jew (those who only go to High Holiday services, kind of like xmas christians).  I didn’t go!  I watched some of it streaming at home, so much saner.  Actually, none of us went, because Avdi is sick (and tired)!  Also we neglected to reserve seats ahead, owing to the unpredictability and distraction of our lives.  Also so much calmer this way.

It’s nice to belong to a congregation that won’t judge us on that, or on how adequately ostentatiously we dress, how much we donate, or how well we conform.  In fact, the excellent sermon by R. Randy was all about how the “ger”, the stranger in our midst who is to be welcomed and not excluded, is anyone, Arab or Jew, trans or cis, gay or straight, black or white, foreign or American, or any marginalized “outsider”.  Fortunately, at CRC this is literally practiced, not just lip-serviced.

The band was pretty nice, too!  Not much danger of dying or falling into a coma during the service.

Yesterday I baked the traditional round challahs with raisins, and made a festive meal that almost everyone seemed to like.  We didn’t play “musical chairs” over the seating arrangement.  Everyone seemed to be getting along as well as possible.  S wasn’t melting down over the usual triggers.  Y was making an effort to be less contentious.  I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we may be past the initial upheaval of adjusting to a new life, and starting to fall into more structured routines.

Not to say we’ll ever look like the “average, well-adjusted” myth, which is also a good thing.  These kids are precocious and unique, and shouldn’t be forced into molds that don’t fit or work, such as we were as kids.  Having realistic, consistent expectations that adapt to changing or updated situations is healthier, more pragmatic, and peace-keeping.  (For example, Sat. night is traditionally pizza night, no matter what it says on the Jewish calendar.)





Atypical (not a typical) Rosh HaShanah

Because of our unpredictable situation with the kids, we probably won’t get to attend Rosh Hashanah services at CRC this year, but it’s nice to know in theory a welcoming, inclusive (and affordable for most) community is there for us, plus livestreaming will be available.  More importantly, I’ll be cooking up a festive storm for the family at home, which is more my style these days anyway.  I’ve had J’s car this week, so I was able to go get us some last-minute groceries for erev RH/Shabbat.

The kids haven’t been too out of control for the most part, though they have their moments.  It’s still pretty touch-and-go.  S’s outbursts and shutdowns seem to be a little less frequent, and Avdi is trying strategies to give him more consistent structured routines that work for S.  I’m also finding little tricks to help him stay calm while doing HW; just sitting with him while he reads and reassuring him when he gets frustrated seems to help.

Y is my/our biggest challenge sometimes.  They alternate between obstructive, antisocial, uncooperative, surly moods, and suddenly switching to agreeable and civil.  It’s hard to know what triggers all that rage and insecurity.  It doesn’t help that I recognize those familiar dark moods from my own childhood, which sets off my own anxiety and insecurity even now.  I’m hoping once they trust me more, we’ll make some progress.

I’m finally catching up on posting in the wee hours, when I often wake up and can’t sleep.  Sometimes it’s my only chance to write, and it’s quiet.  Here are some photos from the week.  The croissants were made by Y on a sudden whim timed right in the middle of my baking biscuits and making dinner, so I had to surrender the kitchen to them, which is typical.  But hey, the croissants turned out well.