Monday, December 29, 2008

christmas in brief

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

new world

24 hours of travel
half a world away
we have found ourselves
both adjusting to a new time
(10 hours behind)
and a new place.
where it's so quiet
the silence rings in my ears.
where there's so few people
i think i may be in a ghost town.
where the only traffic jam
is when two passing cars
stop in the road to chat.
where i've got a dialup connection.
where everyone is so friendly
i'm wondering
what the heck they want from me.
the shock for me
has been poignant enough
i feel as if i almost know
what a brave 15-year-old
named alex
went through some 16 years ago.

but inside
we are cozied warm
enjoying all the things
our home cannot offer us:

that ceramic village
that both milla and i
dream of jumping into,
if only for an evening of tranquil
storybook festivity

a fireplace with stockings
and a nativity to adorn the mantle

and that serene view out the window
of open space
and a fresh blanket of snow.
presents under the tree
and the air of the season wafting. . .

christmas is finally coming. . .

Friday, December 19, 2008


so i really never dreamed
i would be celebrating

but when you send
your child
to a jewish preschool,
that's one of the perks.

and another one
is the jelly-filled doughnuts
that, as it turns out,
is a traditional hanukkah treat.

where has hanukkah been
all my life?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

love is. . .

love is. . .

squeezing your husband's 
to the top for him.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


and when it's the day before
your mother-in-law's birthday
and you are still
at a loss
on that birthday gift. . .
you whip her up
a painting
of her favorite place--
and call it good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


so i guess if there are times
when a mother is powerful
there are also times,
or days,
when she is just plain

i remember the days
of milla's first tantrums.
45 minutes
of blood-curdling screams.
and there was absolutely nothing
i could do
to stop it.

and yesterday?
well i was powerless
when avi refused to eat
both lunch and dinner.
nothing i could do.

i was powerless
when milla nibbled on the
gingerbread house
for the 14th time.
how many times can you repeat
the same thing to her?

and then
when avi took the crayons
to the chair,
the mirror,
the table,
the toys. . .
was it the least bit
of concern to her?
not hardly.
didn't matter what i said.

what about milla opening
the present
from under the tree?
she knew!!!
did it bother her?
uh uh.
and what could i do. . .???

and then when she ate
the other half
of the brand new toothpaste tube
(the first half she downed
a few days ago--
the only reason she's not dead
is because thank goodness
i still buy baby toothpaste)???
what could i say.
no more toothbrushing for a month?
you're not eating for a week?
you're grounded?
no toys until sunday?
are you getting my drift?
i am totally powerless.

and to top off my night,
these little night owls
played and sang
and read books and prayed
and gabbed and made rooster sounds
and giggled
until 1:30 am.
do you think i could do anything 
about it, try as i might?

by now you know the answer
to that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

midnight oil

what inspiration from
a tutorial from youtube
and a few late night hours
will get you. . .

Friday, December 12, 2008

treat du jour

and i have to give credit
to vegetarian times
(whom i miss dearly)
for at least giving me the idea
for what they called
romeo and juliet.
of course they said to use jam,
but my version lately has been
a toasted slice of 
wheat bread,
sharp cheddar cheese,
and cranberry relish.
trust me on this one. . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

isaiah bath

and what with the choir performance
of handel's messiah
tomorrow night
and the attending
final rehearsals this week;
and then having thrown upon me
just one week in advance
the job of giving a talk in church
this sunday 
(and i am one that requires
a month of advance preparation)
with the coincidental topic
of isaiah's prophecies of christ. . .
well i am just bathing
in isaiah water this week,
drinking his words,
dreaming him at night,
basking in isaiah light.

just wishing i could
play a recording
of the messiah score
in front of that crowd on sunday
instead of stumbling
over my own words.
handel and isaiah
were endowed with a bit more
than i was. . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the house

and i get by
with a little help
from my

now remind me
what christmas traditions
we have yet to fulfill?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

surprise du jour

well i have to admit,
i've never seen the movie.
but not only that,
i'd never even read the book.

but when i saw
the polar express
at my favorite bookstore that day,
when so few of the millions
of beautiful children's books 
are translated from english,
and then it had a price tag
that had both me and the cashier
thinking it was a mistake
it was so low,
well, obviously
i had to have it.
and now we've not only read it
(several times a day),
but we are loving it.

and thus our humble collection
of christmas books
has begun.

Monday, December 8, 2008


i knew she was up to no good.

but i was enjoying sipping my tea
and chatting with
alex's grandparents in their kitchen.
behind the wall in their bedroom
all was quiet.
and i was going to let her 
do her thing.
just as long as she didn't drop
that music box on the parquet.
i hoped there wasn't too much more damage
to be done.
just a little girl rifling
through a great grandmother's
jewelry box and perfume bottles.
 i mean, it is right on her level.
what do you expect?

finally we went in to check on her.
and as we sat on babushka's bed
we started to go through
the contents of the jewelry box.
she told us stories
of the different pieces,
how old they were
who had given them to her,
what they meant to her.
and i'm not sure how it came about,
but my wishes came true
when she offered me a piece or two.
i picked out my favorite brooch
that she wasn't too sad to part with,
and then patted milla on the back
for her rifling skills.

and then donned that beauty
for the christmas party,
all the while thinking of the history
it had seen
alongside of babushka masha
all these years.

Friday, December 5, 2008

all in a day's work

and now please,
please tell me
what would a christmas season be

without this???

Thursday, December 4, 2008

dying breed

and it was that new pair of jeans
that i bought for milla
that had the broken snap
that led me back to
the little hole in the wall
down the street.
where the sign left over
from the soviet period says
(metal repair)
and shows a zipper, an umbrella
and a key.
stepping into the box
you can hardly hear
over the sounds of 
"metal repairing"
coming from the back.
the ceiling is so low
surely being short is a requirement
for employment here.
but the place is already
in the festive mood,
with garlands strung around the window
and a big sticker
the size of half of me
that says
happiness in the new year!

the man
with the rough and dirty hands
makes sure that i won't mind
replacing my h&m snap
with a plain one.
and then disappears
into the noise.
i take a seat on the old red chair
that takes up 50% of the "lobby"
and within 10 minutes
milla's jeans are like new
(oh wait, they are new)
i part with 100 rubles
and with a joke from the craftsman
i am on my way.
and lamenting the fact
that these establishments
are a dying breed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


when i walked in the door
from a day of work
he excitedly asked me
if i was ready to see a new trick.
he led me over to
my 3-month-old
sitting in her little rocker--
just seeing her sitting there
was trick enough
for a new mother starved of
her firstborn child all day.
"just watch"
and as we stood over
the inquisitive baby
i watched
as she moved her hand
with outstretched fingers
over to that plastic chain
hanging next to her.
and with great mental exertion,
she touched it
and watched it move.
and we had witnessed a miracle
in mental development
right before our very eyes.


and now
with 4 great years of experience
under her belt
these monumental discoveries
don't seem to take place as often.
but that day
i saw her manipulate her pens
for the first time
to create
i was floored all over again,
giddy with the miracle
i was once again allowed to witness.

cup (stemware!)




and the masterpiece:
man holding stick

and it appears
just came to an end.