Saturday, April 28, 2007

Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Back in the dark days of January when Dad passed away, the entire family gathered to divide up the mementos. It was like the NBA draft, with a drawing for first pick and elaborate trades. I wanted very little as we don't have a lot of room here in New Zealand.

The one thing I really desired was a
paperweight that came from Dad's parking lot business. But brother Rick got it in the blind draw. Later, he surprised me by handing it over. I am eternally grateful. That was a generous move.

When all the dealing was done, everyone left for their homes. I hung around for a few days as did brother Barry.

One morning we noticed that nobody had claimed the mezuzahs on the doorposts.

A mezuzah is a little metal symbol that is attached to the door of a Jewish home. In Hebrew, it means "doorpost" I'm sure my friend Eyal could give me 30 minutes of discussion on every historical meaning of every letter.

Inside the little thing is a piece of paper that is illegible but VERY important all the same. Maybe it contains the directions on how to part the Red Sea. Do not purchase a mezuzah without the paper or you are wasting your money.

On one of Dad's the paper had come out in the past because he had it ducttaped back on. So we knew it was a crucial parchment.

The mezuzah tells people that a Jew resides somewhere inside, kind of like that fish symbol does for Christians. Why this bit of information needs to be advertised is any one's guess. These days, you would think Jews would be keeping on the low low. I mean, it's like we are leaving a breadcrumb trail for the suiciders.

None the less, Barry and I decided that we might as well take down all we could find. The house was going to be sold eventually and we didn't want these items to go to waste or to Goyim who might us them to hang their Xmas lights from.

Now there are heaps of rules involving the removal of the mezuzah as I found out later. Prayers are to be spoken, rabbis are to be notified. Israel must be alerted. There has to be a full moon and no pork can be within 5 miles from the site. These are just the easy rules. There are about 600 more.

Since we didn't know about any black and white regulations at the time, we went to the grey area of reason and found a screwdriver and pried them off one by one. I'm sure my sister Mickey is reading this and rushing to Rabbi Steve or Dave or whatever his name is for some magic wine to keep us from going directly to the Underworld on an express train.

No need, I am going to rot in Hell, and then some, according to a certain ex-wife.

And the some? What more could possibily happen after I am rotting in Hell??

None the less, the other day, Kimberly and I felt it was high time we advertised to our Nelson neighbors that we were members of the tribe, albeit atheists.

(Do atheists have a symbol?)

So I got out the hammer and nails. I found some yarmulkes (skullcaps) in a coat pocket. I must have worn that coat to some Bar Mitzvah 10 years ago. And so we went to work affixing them to our doorposts. I don't think prayers we said other than perhaps the beginning of the blessing over the wine. It went something like:

"Barouch Atoh Adonoy...Mezuzah.. Amen"

Just when we finished, Eyal came by and said we forgot some ritual or other, but I had already put away the tools and the deal was done.

So to summerize, Dad is laughing, we have muzuzahs on the doorposts, but have no idea of their deep meaning. I am going to Hell.
And then some.

Barry and his Shiksa wife put theirs up with no fanefare so at least I will have a golfing buddy down there on sunny days.

To make things even more confusing, we will likely have a goddamn Christmas tree up in December.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sometimes We Ride On Your Horses, Sometimes We Walk Alone

5 days - 71 km - all on foot

This is the goal of those who choose to walk the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds. Since we are not the most experienced at this sort of thing, we decided to do it in the pampered way.

Our goods would be transported each day by water taxi to the next luxury resort. Our meals would all be included with wine and gourmet menu. The accommodations would be 5 star.

All we would have to do is walk from one place to the other, about 12 miles a day, up over and through the bush on a fairly good trail.

There were only 4 hikers who would go the full way with us and Jeremy, one great Kiwi guide.

On the boat ride over to Ship Cove, an old harbor where Captain Cook landed, we saw the Hector Dolphin, the smallest in the world and found only in New Zealand.

On the hikes, we saw pigs, llamas, horses, cows, sheep, birds, stingrays, jellyfish...very few humans. The rooms had no phone or TV. No Internet. We were the last to know about the scuffle at Virginia Tech.

After 3 days, we got a resting day where we opted to kayak 15km. Very hard and we needed a hat spa tub to relax the muscles.

This was the hardest and most rewarding thing we have ever done. This was why we came here. We have stories and pictures, but the part we cannot explain is the experience.

During the hours of hiking, Kimberly and I played a mental game of "Survivor". I was the 3rd person to be voted off. She stayed till the end and lost to Jeremy.

We also discovered the value of a good walking is a good aid, two are better. These will be our next purchase.

There are 9 great walking trails in New Zealand and most are on the South Island.

We plan to walk them all as long as they have a pamper option.

Friday, April 13, 2007

No One Could Steer Me Right But Mama Tried

When I was in elementary school, The class bully, Roger Garino, took my ball on the playground.

This ape lived in a piece of crap dump behind us. We must have got the land cheap to build our new home because it bordered up to their slum.

The Garinos had the concept of "landscaping" down to where it meant, "Lay the used washing machines on their sides for the artistic touch". They were trailer trash before the term became popular.

Additionally, somehow, I was in the Cub Scouts at that time.

How did that happen? I cannot tell a lie, I have no recollection.

Anyway, Mrs. Garino was the den mother of our pack. I cannot believe the CSA could have allowed such a thing to happen. We used to have to go to her house for meetings.

I never ate the rice crispy squares she offered for snacks that's for sure. Thus, I failed to earn the coveted merit badge for "Diarrhea"

So Roger, my neighbor and scout mate takes my ball. When I tried to get it back, he beat the crap out of me. I was an easy target, a chubby pacifist Jew.

That night, my mother got some boxing gloves, I can still see them in the eye of my memory. ...where did she get them??? She was going to teach me the fine art of self as if she knew.

I remember her on her knees trying to teach me boxing in the basement. This must have been hilarious to witness. Later, she built a tiny boxing ring and arranged matches between me and my sister. Mickey had an uppercut that I never saw coming. I retired with a poor record. As it turned out, I did not go on to win belts in the arena of fisticuffs. Instead, I learned from my father the Hebrew discipline of JEWDO - the skill of smiling while you talk your way out of difficult situations.

Then there was the time when Mrs. Wright, an evil art teacher criticized my drawing of a tree. I swear it was a fine tree, but she wanted them done her way. I was doing it my way.

Apparently, art class is no place for creativity. She held my work up for all to see and exclaimed that my trees were an example of wrongness and failure. I was made to come in at lunch and draw a tree until I got it the Wright way.

She made me feel so bad, I feigned illness and refused to go to school for days. Mom finally figured out my ruse and marched me to the school and had a face to face with that Mrs Wright who backed down, apologized and never bothered me again. She must have realized Mom was a boxer and would have kicked her bony ass until it dripped blue fingerpaint.

I could draw whatever I wanted after that, because Mrs. Wright completely avoided my area of the room. So much for my budding career as a painter.

During a little skirmish I like to call the the Vietnam War, I went about using my creativity attempting to avoid service. This was not due to of any lack of patriotism. Instead, it was all about survival. After all, I was a creative, pacifistic, cowardly young man and the 'Nam was no place for me.

I would have been like a budding rose in Roger Garino's backyard.

Quite likely, my JEWDO would be useless in Asian countries.

When it looked like I was about to be called to a draft physical and certain death, my mom found an anti-war dentist, Dr. Bernie Fischer.

We sarcastically called him "Painless" because he was very heavy handed. He would not deem the day to be successful unless he had jammed his arm, up to the elbow, deep into the mouth of a young patient.

Dr. Fischer took one look at me, with my perfectly straight teeth obtained by a reputable orthodontist. He declared that I needed to have more braces immediately. Apparently he knew, a metal mouth smile would get me a draft deferment.

So on they went...again.

The good news for me was that when I went to the physical, I got a special braces deferment. The military doctor, whose name was Dr.Cantwell...true..., was the first man I ever saw do what is called GLOWER.

To avoid service, other guys were trying lots of things from running to Canada to cutting off their toes. My mom got me out with class.

So why would this dear protective woman curse me with a genetic malady? Why??

Yes, she gave me and some of my brothers and sisters high cholesterol. Very high. Higher than Jesus on stilts. And lately, high cholesterol is the Don Imus of blood disorders. Our fatty-dreaded foes, if you will.

In America, I nurtured a long term addiction to Lipitor It certainly kept the numbers down, but Kimberly felt that it would have side effects.

So when we came here, all pharmaceuticals were stopped. The numbers went back up to where I have a risk, rather low, of heart attack.
The doctor recommended Lipitor. But I will really try to do the right thing this time...really
I will choke down a nightly glass of wine, eat more fruit and veggies, increase exercise and stop eating all good tasty foods.

I might just be Jewdoing myself

We are going to check the levels in 3 months.

The smart money is on Lipitor in the 4th.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Undie-niably the Best

OK, this one is for my gal pals in NZ and old mates from the states. I also dedicate it to my gay nephew, Justin, who performed before a large crowd at "Lips" Cabaret in San Diego as Victoria Van Dyke.
(He also downloaded over 700 gay sites whilst visiting us from which we still receive unusual pop-ups.)
Unfortunately, or maybe luckily, Blogs didn't exist then.

However, at age 51 and straight, I can appreciate Justin's taste in fine young men. I'm not a pervert, but I AM menopausal. Yeah, that's it, I'm menopausal, that's the ticket.

As a lovely lady still turns Mike's head, (more like a gawk), I feel it's healthy, (yeah that's the ticket, it's healthy), so does the occasional Rugby player get my attention.

As the 2007 New Zealand All Blacks Rugby season approaches, I am getting very excited to see "the boys" once again in all their short shorts, no gear to cover ANYTHING, glory. These guys not only turn the heads of every sheila south of Ozzie, but capture the attention and respect of every Kiwi, male and female, from womb to tomb. They are rightfully the darlings of our small, cool country.

Recently, Dan Carter, All Blacks kicker since 2003, sealed a multi-million dollar deal with Jockey Underwear. You may recall Michael Jordan as their model/spokesperson several years ago. BIG TIME DOLLARS. Well, in a country of only 4 million, this IS a big deal. In fact, his poster on billboards in Christchurch has stopped traffic and caused collisions.

A little skinny on Dan.... He is 24 years old, born in Christchurch, also plays for the local Christchurch rugby team called The Crusaders. He has broken the All Blacks record for scoring in a game at 33 points..(old record- 18 points). He recently was the first person in the world to purchase a computer with Windows Vista on it, and it was promptly donated to charity.

This is not the first Kiwi to do business with Bill Gates. Peter Jackson & Bill Gates signed a deal worth who knows, a gazillion $$$ for video games! Bill's Chief Financial Officer is also a Kiwi. I may not write these blogs often folks, but when I do, my intention is to enlighten...

We just saw a CNN clip here with the Jockey Underwear spokesman claiming Dan Carter "The best model we've had in 135 years!". He has gone global with this campaign and I say "good on ya' Dan". When asked if his teammates have ribbed him, he said "Yes, but then I throw a couple 0f free pairs of Jockeys at them and that ends it".

The 2007 Rugby season here begins on June 2nd against France. Dan Carter says The All Blacks are his #1 one priority and his world tour Jockey campaign takes second place.

I never watched sports in the states. I knew the super-stars of course, and must give them their props, they are amazing athletes. But why am I so taken with these big boys from a little country way over here "on the edge of the world"?

Have you seen a Rugby match? They wear NO gear, well maybe a "cup", that's understandable. Each half is 40 minutes and I have seen them go almost the entire first half without a time out. I mean, what stamina! Their thighs are the size of pillars on a greek temple.

And the only time I have seen a squabble is with the South African team, who are even bigger than the All Blacks and play pretty rough by anybody's standards. When this happened, the ref pulled both team captains aside and admonished them saying "I will NOT let Rugby turn into this kind of Game!!" We got to hear it all from the ref's mic..

I admit it, I am caught up in the All Blacks hype but EVERYONE is. Even Mike. I don't know for sure, but I am assuming Jockeys are sold here in NZ, so on June 2nd I'll be wearing mine underneath my All Blacks jersey.

P.S. to my neice, Debbie, in NYC....Please let me know when Dan's torso shows up in Times Square in giant Diamondvison.

Get ready for some fender-benders and a few broken hearts...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sometimes We Visit Your Country and Stay in Your Home

Once we promised ourselves that if anyone had the courage to cross the big water and fight off the sea monsters and sirens, we would give them a shout out in a post.

In addition to the Kendalls last year, we have had 2 more sets of company.

A few months back, an old deadhead buddy, Mike Colette and his brother, Jim pulled up New Zealand's largest campervan. There were just 2 guys, but there was room in the thing for dancing. I guess they did not want to seem like "partners" so they rented a 2 bedroom.
But they still looked like partners.

Either way, it was very impressive to see them get it up the hill to the house.

Those guys stayed a couple hours and took off to see the country. Mike left his hiking boots behind somehow. I kept the socks, but the shoes are even too small for Kimberly. Did I mention that Mike is vertically challanged? And Jim is a giant.


They drove like fools all over the South Island, ate alligator meat and kangaroo testicles at the Wild Foods Festival, saw glaciers and Milford Sound, and lots more. Mike took excellent photos...and all while barefoot!

Last week, old friends from Tucson, The Ganslines, showed up for a week. In addition to being the world's greatest squash player, Bill is an archetect, as you can see from his "look". Nancy is, and always has been, simply georgeous. They have 2 great kids, Max, a Colorado University Buff, and Sam, still in High School.

These are lucky kids, who get to travel the world with their folks and never need to go into the pocket unless they are mining for lint.

But there is something very wrong with Bill. He must have been born with 4 times the normal amount of adrelinin. The man cannot sit still. He's a friggin' Tasmanian Devil. If Bill stops moving, like a shark, he will die. I bet he sleeps with his eyes open.

His kids have inherited a bit of that, but they are youth with all those puberty chemicals. And I saw them dozing a few times.

Nancy is normal and I think she is going with the flow, but would be quite happy with a glass of wine and a cozy lounge chair at sunset.

In one week, those guys crewed on a racing yacht, did 2 hot yoga classes, kayaked, went 4-wheeling, bungee jumped, jogged and hiked.

Every chance he got, Bill stood on his head.

We cooked, bar-hopped, dined on Thai and Italian. Bill got addicted to meat pie and fish and chips. The weather was divine. They went back to the sweltering desert with big smiles and aching bones.

We are off on a road trip for a few days to a nearby hot springs resort.

After all the guests, somebody thinks it's time for some pampering.