Tag Archives: religious rituals

Jew, Zoo

This weekend brought about two great days. Saturday, Dan made 2 loaves of delicious, delicious challah for our friend Julie’s annual latke party. We went to the party and had a marvelous time.


60 pounds of grated potatoes.

This party was a bit smaller than last year’s (thankfully; last year you could hardly move inside) and we enjoyed catching up with people, meeting new people, and generally socializing. Julie made her chicken soup again to go with the latkes and challah, and people played guitar hero (or was it rock band? kids these days and their video games), and the coolest part of the evening for me was the havdalah. The rabbi was unable to attend this year, so it was just the host of the party (Julie’s friend Len) who presided, with the assistance of a rabbi’s daughter in attendance who read some of the prayers off her iphone. At least half the room recited along with her.

bubbes at work

Important rule: NO KETCHUP ALLOWED.

At some point, we got recruited to become bubbes-in-training (or, I guess, Dan would be a zaidy in training). Anyhow, Dan and I took our turn standing at the hot, greasy stove in the huge mess and fried latkes for a while. This process is far less easy than one might think (you think: potato, flour, egg, plop in hot oil, turn when browned, right?). Latke, uh, batter? dough? makings? is difficult to work with and it takes some real skill to get the stuff to stick together when you plop it in the oil. You have to squeeze a lot of water out, and wait a long time before flipping the latke, and lots of little bits come off and brown much faster than everything else. It makes the whole house smell of oil and creates a heavy, hot atmosphere. But Dan got so good at it, he was deemed Zaidy Daniel-san and given his own bandana to wear.

Bubbe Julie with Daniel-san

Sunday we decided we needed some good, old fashioned exercise. I only had two latkes and no booze at the party and I still felt ill from all the grease in the air and from standing in the hot kitchen that long, so we decided to walk to the zoo.


This year, I made sure my camera was functional and was excited to get some interesting photos. Dan played around with our fancy camera and got some Really Nice photos. Even though it was nice outside, it’s still winter, so the zoo, though not as empty as when it’s snowing, was still sparsely populated. Most of the animals were out and about, at least the ones that like cold weather, and the lack of screaming children made them more active. The wolves and bears seemed to be particularly enjoying themselves; the dall sheep and bighorn sheep were playful; and there were tons of gorgeous peacocks showing off for the peahens. The lions were in the larger enclosure and the adult male displayed his vocal prowess throughout the couple of hours we were wandering around, audible from everywhere in the zoo.

The scariest part was the duck pond. Or whatever the place was. Most of these birds just kind of show up and hang out here, I think. It was kind of like a nightmare you might have after watching a hitchcock movie.

My favorite amusement of the afternoon was watching an adult kangaroo chase an emu who was chasing a baby kangaroo. Or the cheetahs who have worn a path next door, trying to find a way in to eat the kangaroos. Or maybe the orangutan who was lounging under a large piece of burlap looking sort of babushka-like.

All in all, we probably walked 7 or 8 miles on Sunday. It was just what I needed to cap off a week of relative sloth and gluttony.


A new junkie in the neighborhood (plus, Friday links)

We found a junkie in our backyard yesterday, and I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Let me back up a bit. A few weeks ago we bought plants (veggies, herbs, a few shade annuals) to put in our yard and a few to put in pots. Dan thought it might be fun to get a catnip plant to keep in the house for the kitties (we’d never tried growing catnip before) as Petra loves the dried stuff. We planted all the things that needed to go in the dirt right away but it took longer to get around to putting the other things in pots. One morning I left for work and noticed the catnip plant was missing – not knocked over, not in some other part of the yard – completely and utterly missing.

My first thought was that Grey Kitty or some other neighborhood cat had taken it. Grey Kitty is a female cat that obviously lives somewhere on our block because we’ve seen her in other people’s yards and in the alley. I have no idea where she lives (in fact, it’s possible that several people consider her their kitty). She doesn’t have a collar but is sleek and healthy and quite well cared-for. She also likes to torment our cats by coming in our yard and hanging out where Loki can see her. Our cats are Indoor Only and Loki is uber-alpha-male, so to have a strange kitty in his yard that he can see and hear and smell but not chase away or fight is very difficult for him. On more than one occasion, they’ve faced off through a window or the screen door, yowling and poofing up tails and Loki being Very Put Out that there is a strange kitty in his yard. Sometimes when I’m out in the backyard the kitties will watch me through the screen door and let me know they’d very much like me to come back inside, and they get really upset when Grey Kitty comes by and rubs against my legs. I don’t pet her, but I do talk to her.

Anyhow. Later that week, Dan put the potted plants in larger pots and found the remains of the catnip plant – a clump of dirt with two sticks emerging from the top. He realized it was probably the catnip and put the dirt clump up on a little table.

Last night, while Dan was making dinner he called me to look out the back door. There was Gray Kitty, lovingly snuggling with the clump of dirt, rolling around in ecstacy on the back patio area. She looked thoroughly drugged and thoroughly pleased with herself for finding the remnants of the plant she so efficiently demolished a week or so before. I’ve never in my life seen a cat making love to a clump of dirt, but it’s something I’m going to remember for a good long while.

And here are the best things I’ve found on the internet this week (both today, actually). Watch Cookie Monster face off with Steven Colbert here.

The coolest wine glasses I’ve ever seen. But you’d have to find the perfect wine for each glass.

Slow news week

Rather than trying to write something that doesn’t seem to be working, I will instead send you to the best things I found on the internet today.

Leah on friends nearly made me cry.

Dutch, with a new children’s book idea that made me laugh out loud.

Jive Turkey, on icky girls and the Catholic Church.

Read ’em and weep! Or laugh! Or both!

Next weekend we’ll be attending a sing-along Messiah

Saturday was one of those very full days, with lots of snow that fell all day long, and going to the grocery store to buy yeast, milk, eggs, and a Christmas tree that we’ll get to enjoy for all of 10 days, and decorating said tree with the ornaments we’ve started to amass since living together. I wasn’t willing to spring for the tree that I *really* wanted (the noble fir, much prettier than the kind we ended up with) but I think the one we picked is fine. It makes our house smell like tree. Due to the aforementioned snow (and, along with, COLD), I wasn’t up for making a wreath for our front door out of the bottom branches like I normally do.

The tree got beautified and brought inside to melt, decorated with lights and ornaments and, of course, our traditional toppers of Devil Ducky, the Frog that Lives Over the Door, and Poseable Jesus on Wheels (we got Jesus working for us!). The kitties mostly ignored our new evergreen friend. We played Christmas music and hung the stockings I made last year, and Dan made challah from scratch which kind of took all day. It’s funny, but we’re still rising any bread products in the bathroom because it is by far the warmest place in the house, and our bathroom smells like bread for a day or so afterward.

After a trip to the liquor store for a big-ole’ bottle of wine, we got all gussied up and headed out to our friend Julie’s annual latke party. We missed it last year due to its proximity to Christmas, the blizzard, and our lack of vehicle, so I was really looking forward to it this year – especially because Julie and the other hosts had arranged for a rabbi to come by and do a brief service called a havdalah to end Shabbat. I think the rabbi could tell that most of the people there weren’t Jewish, so he took some time to explain what he was doing. Someone lit a multi-wicked braided candle, and the rabbi used grape juice instead of wine because he had to drive. Actually, the guy who owned the house tried to get him to use the leftover Manischewitz, but the rabbi told him to use that to clean grease off car parts or something.

The havdalah was pretty cool, and afterward I got to play with a wii for the first time (wii bowling), and we all waited patiently for the enormous pile of latkes to be done. Julie’s latkes, while fantastic, are, of course, simple carbs cooked in oil. The kind of thing we almost never eat. There was also Julie’s chicken soup (and Dan’s challah), but the whole point of the party was the latkes, which you could smell from a block away. The only condiments allowed at the latkefest are sour cream and applesauce – yummy, but again, more carbs and fat. Since I have to fit into a dress in a couple of weeks, I opted to go light on the latkes, but unfortunately forgot to eat enough other stuff to make up for it, and the 3.5 drinks I had in 6 hours made for a very intoxicated mle.

And I paid for it. Oh, did I pay yesterday. I felt like poo all day long, especially since the food I did eat was stuff that really didn’t agree with me. We had intended to go to Tuba Christmas, this Denver tradition where anyone in possession of a remotely tuba-like instrument is invited to practice in the morning and perform in the afternoon with the rest of the motley crew of people who show up. We went a couple of years ago and took some pictures, which you can see here. So let’s pretend that I took these this year, and that we got to go to Tuba Christmas, and there were 90-year-old men tuba-ing alongside their great-grandchildren. But it was still snowy, and the high was about 19F, and neither of us wanted to get as bundled up as we’d need to in order to spend a couple of hours standing around listening to tuba music. So we didn’t go, but instead he shoveled all the snow while I stayed inside and desultorily worked on knitting Christmas presents for people.

We did make it out of the house once, to Target for the angel tree gifts we picked this year, then to the grocery store. Outside the grocery store was a man with an oxygen tank, tubes in his nose and everything, smoking a cigarette. We decided to file that under “marginally better than smoking a cigarette next to an oxygen tank at a gas station.” I was not myself all day long, and finally started to feel better after he made me a fantastic dinner. After dinner we continued watching Rome season 2 and my stomach got all oogy again – seriously, that show is GRAPHIC. It’s a great show, but it doesn’t exactly aid in digestion, what with all the blood and the sex and the bloody sex. I slept like the dead, and feel fine today. Except for that one spot in my mouth, which I bit accidentally yesterday, and today it hurts like a mofo.