Thursday, October 8, 2009

Friday, Oct. 2

It was about a 3-hour drive today to get to the Los Angeles area. My first stop was at Eden Memorial Cemetery where my parents and my Aunt Florie are buried. I spent some time at the grave sites and then continued on my way.

I got to my good friends, Carol and Don Neumark's, house in Encino, CA, a little after 5:00. As usual, Don was about to embark on a project. This time it was laying out rocks, gravel, and pebbles around their landscape---basically covering all the "dirt" spots. The rock had been delivered and at 8:00 am tomorrow morning the work was to commence.

A smaller, but more immediate project, was the decorating of their Sukkah, which was awaiting the helpful hands of their son Micah and his wife who arrived shortly after I did.
When they got to the house, Micah and his wife Katie helped put up the Sukkah decorations. Tonight is the first night of Sukkot, a fall harvest holiday Jewish people celebrate by building a Sukkah and decorating it (see below), and "dwelling" in it for 7 days. After finishing that, there were a few minutes before we all headed over to Carol's sister's house for Friday night dinner. Just enough time for Micah (who is a computer wiz) to take apart my external hard drive (which has the only copy of my 92,000 pictures) and see what was loose inside (I had been hearing something rattling inside if I gently shook it ever since it fell off the coffee table at Traci's house). He extracted a small chip which had come loose. There was no way he could reattach it but, since the hard drive seemed to be working without this chip in the circuit, he just removed it and put the hard drive back together. He did suggest that I get a new hard drive, or at least a new shell for the one I had, but I did not (yet) abide by his advice.

This is Elaine and Danny Spitzer and their four dogs (you might have to scroll down to see all four if you enlarge the picture.) Elaine is Carol's sister. They also have 3 children, but only one, Ari, was home to join us for dinner. It was the Spitzer's turn to host the weekly family Shabbat dinner which was, this week, attended by not only Elaine, Danny, Ari, Carol, Don, Micah, and Katie, but also the Neumark's daughter Kayli, Carol & Elaine's mother Lila Meyers, Danny's father Jack, Jeff & Susan (friends of the Spitzers), and me! I did not bring Maggie & Juliet but I sure enjoyed their 4 canines.

This being the first night of Sukkot (Jewish harvest festival), the weekly Shabbat dinner was being held in Danny & Elaine's Sukkah. The sukkah is a temporary structure to remind us of the dessert shelters the Jews used while wandering in the dessert for 40 years during the Exodus. During the 9-day holiday, meals are eaten in the Sukkah, weather permitting. Often, if the family has little kids, the kids sleep in the sukkah too. The sukkah is decorated with fruits, flowers, lights, pictures the kids have made, and sometimes prayers, signs, or art-work. It must have a roof of straw, palm or other leafy boughs (so that the sky can be seen through it).

Danny Spitzer led the Shabbat and Sukkot blessings before we ate the delicious dinner that had been prepared. Neumark/Meyers/Spitzer Shabbat dinners, which I've had the pleasure of enjoying several other times, are ALWAYS delicious. They rotate whose house it is at each Friday, Carol always makes a challah, and everyone brings a dish to share. And they are ALL great cooks!

Here Danny is explaining the significance of the the lulav and the etrog --- the symbols of Sukkot.

This picture of Carol and Don was actually taken the next day (I know, cheating again) just before I left them. Notice that the 3 big piles of rocks are gone. If you look carefully behind Don's left elbow and shoulder, you can see some of them now incorporated into the landscape and forming a sort of dry stream bed. It looked very nice. And the 3 men working on the rocks (there were also smaller rocks, gravel, and pebbles involved which were piled right next to where I was parked) since 8:00 in the morning didn't even wake me up!

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