Friday, April 25, 2008

Learning from the Buddha

The kitchen project is in a "Hurry Up and Wait" mode -- everything we have to do is done, save for actually completing the packing of all the kitchen crap. (The easy stuff is done, the difficult stuff is still sitting there, taunting me.)

Bella arrived from Italy. She is beautiful and just a little intimidating. (That's how I like my women!) A piece of her luggage (her backguard) got lost on the boat, but the orphanage...err...manufacturer is going to send one post haste.

Why did I chose this title for this post? Well, funny you should ask that. It's because I have been looking for just the right Buddha to place on the counter just to the left of the stove. It is 1 foot wide, and will have a light above it perfect for displaying some awesome Buddhist objet d'art. And since buying presents for my new kitchen seems far more interesting and far less dirty than wrapping things in newspaper, I've been spending a little bit of time searching for the perfect piece.

Oh, if only I weren't on a budget. Because I found the perfect -- and I do mean PERFECT -- piece on eBay.

Isn't that divine? I have a particular affinity for happy Buddhas and laughing Buddhas, and this one hits me in just the right spot.

So what is holding me back, you ask? The item is priced at $49.95 or best offer, PLUS $19.05 postage. This makes it a $70.00 cookie jar -- far more than my Lovely Myfanwe could ever forgive me for paying for a cookie jar. I made an offer of $20.00, thinking she just might forgive me for a $40 cookie jar, but my offer was declined.

I spent a moment in quiet reflection on what lesson the Buddha wanted me to take from this experience. Is my desire for possessions keeping me from Enlightenment? Should I be focusing on things I should be doing instead of things I want to be buying? Do kids make me look fat? Should I make a batch of (pesadich) cookies?

I haven't decided the answer to the question. Bud I do know this -- if any of you see a cool Buddha cookie jar for a reasonable price, be sure to let me know. 'Cuz I'm almost certain having a Buddha in my kitchen will help me find the answers.

I'm off now to the dentist (yeah!) and later off to see the Yarn Harlot in Oak Lawn. Have a great day and an even greater weekend!

And don't forget to channel your laughing Buddha!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I am NOT a Big Crybaby. Ok, Yes I Am.

Since theprofessionalaunt asked, the organization who puts together the Passover food baskets is Maot Chitim of Greater Chicago. They provide over 5000 such boxes each year. I just read on their website that they have expanded to provide holiday foods for Rosh Hashanah, as well.

I went to their web site to get a link for this entry, and saw the little box which quotes from the Hagadah, "Let all who are hungry, come and eat; all who are in need, come and share the hope of [Passover]."

I am blubbering like a baby again.

I believe, I really do, that small actions change the world. If anyone out there has the ability to make a small donation to Maot Chitim, you can donate online. I can testify to the life changing work they do. I KNOW it changes the world. I have seen it. I can tell you how eagerly the people I met were waiting for their boxes. And I can testify that it has changed me, as well. I'm signing up for Rosh Hashanah.

Let all who are hungry, come and eat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


On Sunday, Myfanwe, Norbert and I participated in delivering Passover food boxes to poor, elderly Jews living in Uptown. Participants were drawn from the membership of the neighborhood Jewish Community Center, but all of the families that participated were families from Norbert's school.

There were a couple of humorous moments -- like when the desk clerk explained why Mrs. Horowitz didn't answer her door. Apparently she was at church. I wanted to say "With a name like Horowitz?", but before I could, the clerk added, "They have a nice snack after."

There were also some serious, thought provoking moments. Norbert was off with one of his classmates and her mom delivering boxes, so Myfanwe and i struck off on our own. We were delivering to separate apartments on the same floor. I knocked on a door and Mr. Geflotzenplotzer* asked from behind the closed door who it was. I explained who I was, and, after a pause, he timidly opened the door. He was a thin, frail old man wearing only urine-soaked underwear, sitting in a wheelchair.

I asked him if he would like me to unpack the box for him, which I did. He was very happy for the jar of gefelte fish and the horseradish. He likes horseradish. I put the chicken in the freezer, put the produce in the crisper, and stacked the boxes of matzah and the cans where he could reach them. He then apologized for his appearance, explaining that he didn't have anyone to help him get cleaned up and dressed on Sundays.

Without skipping a beat, and in a very matter-of-fact way, I asked if I could help him get cleaned up and dressed. He paused, but not for long, and accepted. I explained to him that my father had had numerous strokes and that for the last 12 years of his life he had been paralyzed on his right side and restricted to a wheelchair. I was confidant I could help him.

As he leaned his old, frail body against my younger, more hail frame something inside me changed. I can't really explain what it was or how I changed, I just know I did. The only thing worse than having to help a stranger off with his urine-soaked underpants is knowing that he had been sitting in them, possibly for hours, without anyone else to ask. As difficult or embarrassing as it might be to find yourself with a naked stranger leaning against you, think how embarrassing it was for him.

After Mr. Geflotzenplotzer was cleaned up and dressed, he thanked me. And I very sincerely told him that no thanks were necessary. And I made it all the way outside his apartment before I started to cry.

*Not his real name.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I Don't Care How You Get Here...

My new stove has a name. I've decided to call her "Bella". She's beautiful, she's Italian, so it fits. Thank you to everyone who e-mailed or left a suggestion in the comments. Her full name is Bella Lucrezia Principessa Angelina Ballerina Sophia Magliaia Lucido Cavolo Gilberto*. But we will just call her Bella.

Speaking of Bella, I was on the phone yesterday with the adoption sales representative, and Bella has left her birthplace of Guastalla, Italy and has boarded the boat the new world. She still has a few weeks journey until she makes it here, but she has begun the journey. (She does not, alas, have GPS tracking, so I cant direct you to a satellite image, but I am envisioning her on the front deck of a big ship, looking eagerly towards her new life. Without a Celine Dion soundtrack.

The contractors start on May 12th, and we have a shipload of work to do between now and then. Which will include answering the questions, "What the hell are we going to do will all of this crap? How are we going to fit a washer, a dryer, a refrigerator, a dining table, AND a bigass stove in our dining room...which will be under construction as well?"

We are going to move the big dining table into the living room, and move the luncheon table/mahjongg table from the living room into the dining room to eat on. Since Norbert has to move out of his room, we are going to put his mattress on the floor in the living room under the dining table. (Kids love forts.) And we can stack boxes on top of it. This is called maximizing space.

I am looking forward to Passover, where I won't have to pack any boxes or think about packing boxes!

*Beautiful Lucrezia Princess Angelina Ballerina Sophia Knitter Shiny Cabbage Gilbert. I threw in Ballerina becaue it goes so well with Angelina, but, yes, someone suggested I name the stove "Shiny Cabbage".

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I Just Couldn't Wait.

This is the computer generated expression of my new kitchen. Except the walls will be celadon and the counter tops will be a mossy green tweed, and the floor will be Mayflower red clay tile. And the window in my kitchen is much bigger -- it comes down level with the counter top. And I will have a much cooler faucet. And lots more light -- 10 can lights in the ceiling.

Oh -- and how can I forget this -- the big blank space below will be a 5' x 8' panel of stainless steal pegboard. (Yeah. Me likey.) The big-box kitchen designer/cabinet saleswoman (who we really, really liked) didn't have a "stainless steal pegboard" option in their graphics program, so you'll have to imagine it.

I feel like the space needs a Laughing Buddha. What do you think? Maybe a foot or two foot tall statue in the corner by the fridge? Or a 12" tall to the left of the stove?

Out of Chaos Comes Beauty

The Lovely Myfanwe and I sat down. We went over the budget. We chose a contractor. We finalized the cabinet order. We haggled to get 10% off the cabinets and free organizer shelves on the doors under the sink and a free quality cutlery organizer. (I have everyday flatware for 16, with 16 extra teaspoons. A little tupperware thing ain't gonna do it for me.)

And when we got home, we ordered this:

She isn't a Viking or even a Thermador. She doesn't throw heat like Natalie Portman, but she does make me schvitz a little -- kinda like Allison Janney. She has a convection oven, which I wanted for my bread, and she can be installed flush with the cabinetry. I haven't decided on a name for her -- but since she's Italian, I'm thinking Italy is a good place to start. Maybe Lydia? Maybe Lola? Do you have any suggestions?

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Myfanwe and I started packing the kitchen. This has been more painful than I care to admit. I have so many pots and pans and accoutrement - I make Julia Child seem like a minimalist.

The big heartache -- and I do mean heartache -- is that I fear I will get my dream kitchen, but not the kitchen of my dreams. Does that make any sense to you?

I have said many times that I am the luckiest man alive. I have absolutely everything I need and almost everything I want. What is it that I want but do not have? A professional style stove. One that can really handle the kind of cooking I do. One with burners that put out heat like Natalie Portman. And I had one picked out.

But then the bids started coming in about $2k more than we wanted them to.

I'm sad.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I've Been a Little Distracted...

I know what you are thinking -- he's just been laying around the house, smacking the penguin.

Well, you are right. That's exactly what I've been doing. And it feels good, too. You should try it. You'll want to smack the penguin, too.