Saturday, April 30, 2005

Not quite 64 years

My husband's grandmother Inge, who lived with us, was buried on what would have been her and her husband's 64th wedding anniversary. She was visiting her cousin (who was with her on the kindertransport, and who was the only remaining survivor of Grandma's life in Europe), and became disoriented in the dark, and fell down a flight of stairs. She fractured her neck, spine, ankle, ribs, you name it. She lived for two days, and died conscious and aware, with great dignity, with her family around her.

I miss her a great deal. We bought our house with the intention of living with them. We built an addition for them. And it feels terribly hard to come back to our home from our passover visit to my MIL, and face a house that is only us again. They lived with us for less than a year and a half, and she survived him by only 4 1/2 months. She was 80, in good health, and I cannot but think that this was no coincidence. She couldn't bear to be without her husband. Part of her left with him, I think - she no longer held herself as firmly together as in the past. I'm not sure I can blame her, despite the grief I feel, especially for the boys, who totally adored her, and are too young to fully understand why she is gone.

It has been a long, sad, passover holiday for us, and I admit, I'm grateful this week is over.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

Ok, I'm a bad person

It has been a whole month since I posted to the blog. The big reason for my being so dilatory - I'm pregnant again, and barfing up a storm. This pregnancy was, umm, a major surprise for us, wasn't supposed to be an option any more, but we're very pleased despite the shock, and also despite the fact that this is putting a big crimp in my teaching plans for next year. But we wanted more kids, just had decided we'd had our share biologically, and would adopt.

I'm pleased, at any rate, when I'm not herking. I *hate* early pregnancy (not that wild about late pregnancy either). I get sufficiently ill that I've been hospitalized for dehydration or put on medication more than once. This time I managed to avoid it, but it has been tough to do much of anything. Ok, enough whining about vomitfest.

In other news - Eli is back to horseback riding, and loving every minute of it. We're having an unusual dry spell in April, and I'm actually going to get to plant something before Pesach! We leave for NYC, the annual pilgrimage to Grandma, the Museum of Natural History, and malaysian restaurants. I'm looking forward to it, but it always makes me nervous to leave my garden.

Our first batch of chicks were chilled during shipping, and we lost all but 13 of them. I think I need to stop getting chicks early in the season - they do better when it is warm. I wanted to up our fall egg production by having some hens just coming into production during the fall off, but I'm not sure it was worth it. Obviously, they'll be replaced, but this time not until May. I'm finally getting banties! I had a couple of cochin bantams I got at a livestock auction, but this time I'm getting a bunch of silkies to set the eggs.

More geese arrive in May as well. And I think we're finally going to try and acquire dairy goats in the fall - we're travelling a lot this summer because of family things (sister's wedding, Grandfather's unveiling, family bar mitzvah) so we just can't quite manage a daily care thing. But I will be happier when our supply of home grown milk is more reliable than the current "barter if they've got extra" system allows for. Our goose is laying, and I'm planning on turning the eggs into decorations for family gifts, in my copious spare time.

In other news, since my sole contribution to the household economy next year will be a little online teaching, a few freelance articles and our garden production, I've decided to write fiction. Or rather, I've been writing fiction for years, but never as a for-profit activity. But after reading a fair bit of dreck recently, I've been inspired to actually write for publication, rather than the amusement of my friends. I might even post my first bits here, if I can get up the nerve to be mocked.

I'm trying to get Eric to do the same. I'm convinced there's a comparatively untapped market for boy(ish) children's fiction of competence. By which I mean things in the Heinlein children's fiction/Tom Swift/Jean Craighead George tradition, in which young boys and girls manage to do fairly remarkable things, the details of which, and theory behind them are explained, both engagingly and clearly. I loved those books as a child - I remember how strongly fascinated I was by the description, in _Have Spacesuit, Will Travel_ of the process (inaccurate to modern science, but still) of rehabbing a space suit and making it space worthy, or how much I wanted to go live in a tree and tan skins in oak stumps as in _My Side of the Mountain_. Eric's best qualities as a writer are that he is concise, and he makes everything accessible and comprehensible. We routinely get stopped on the street or in restaurants by former students of his who say, "you were the only physics professor I ever understood," or "you were the best teacher I ever had." I'd like to see his gift for clarity shown to a larger audience.

Ok, enough rambling. I promise, I'll be back with an oil related rant, bit of my dissertation, or some other inanity much sooner. But the peepers are peeping, the potatoes need chitting, and I still haven't had dinner.



Saturday, April 02, 2005

On Israel

Interesting short article on Israel in _The Atlantic_ this month. It does a quick but highly detailed analysis of the demographic and political situation in Israel, and asks, quite rightly, whether Israel will exist in 30 years.

I should say upfront that I'm ambivalent politically about Israel - I don't consider myself a zionist, and while I certainly don't want to see Jews harmed, I am troubled by our political past in Israel. What I am I unequivocably disturbed by, however, is the uncritical, "Israel right or wrong" input of American Jews into the situation, which annoys most Israelis I know as well. I'm always inclined to think something is truly wrong when someone who would never countenence an act by the American government tolerates it from Israel.

We all know that the central problem of Israel is demographic - and there is really only one way to resolve in a meaningful sense. That is, the two state solution isn't really a solution at all, when you are talking about cramming too rapidly growing populations into a resource poor area that cannot necessarily support them. There will be more war, more conflict, more territorial disputes, this time by two states both of whom get to have their own Cobra helicopters.

So the only way to fix the Israeli-Palestinian problem is to find another way around. No one is leaving. No one is willing to give as much as they should. So what alternatives are there, except to find a way to create one nation, not two, that captures the hearts and minds of both populations. A difficult call, that, but not, I suspect a totally impossible one. I do not believe it can be a Jewish state - and I do not blame Moslems for preferring not to live in a Jewish state, any more than I would prefer to live in a Christian or Moslem one. A secular democracy, however, with profound protections for both populations might conceivably be possible. I don't know - I know that it is *more* possible than continuing as things are.

The phenomenon of the religious state is fundamentally anti-democratic - you cannot simultaneously base your laws on theocratic principles and maintain an equal and truly democratic government. Moreover, in a practical sense, in very short order, Jews will be a statistical minority in Israel, and we all know how well a state run by and favoring a minority of the population fares in the long run.

The central tenet of democracy is that if you truly believe something, and your enemies outnumber you, you convince your enemies - you offer them something. No matter how much they hate you and you hate them, in a real and true democracy you must win your enemy's heart to move forward. Israel calls itself a democracy, but when its enemies outnumber it, it builds a wall. That's not democracy. Democracy is hard. It hurts. People die when real democracies are established. I am not suggesting this as a quick or easy solution - but I do think it may be both the right one and the only one. People are, after all, dying now.