♦ Stuff

Dear Shaina,
From bombs to earthquakes … a 100 pounds of the past year of your life dumped onto the living room floor exchanged for 100 pounds of clean neatly folded clothing and stuff, a wedding, a haircut, a massage, five filled cavities, three finished papers, two shabbats and only a few minor mother-daughter skirmishes (that I have completely forgotten although I am sure they happened) all squeezed into eight harried days and nine nighttime ritual tuck-ins. Your time at home was a blur, a treasured blur.

And then came the inevitable crash…the wandering through the quiet house, the gathering up of cast away clothing and unfinished jars of tea, the search for the reset button that would push me back into my daily routine…and let’s not forget the crash that shook the earth beneath you a mere nine hours after you arrived in the San Francisco area. There is no end for us weary worriers.

Fortunately for my mental health, the mothers are on my side. They get it. They all know and assured me that someday, you will too. It’s just what mothers do, no matter where their kids are, what they’re doing or how old they are. We worry. It’s not a problem. I feel fortunate to have the privilege of having someone to worry about. And like the other mothers, I have a perverse sense of anticipation, hope and glee at the prospect of you having the very same experience. So cut me some slack.

Progress...slowly but surely!

Progress…slowly but surely!

This moment in time feels like a major transitional period for all of us. Yours is more obvious; moving to a new city, honing in on a career path, forging a new life. Dad and I are just renovating a bedroom and bathroom. I was caught off guard by how jarring this would be; sifting through all our stuff, reading letters and papers, looking at pictures and mementos, deciding what is trash and what is treasure. This stuff prods us relentlessly to evaluate, to question, to take charge, to accept.

Dad and I have spent hours sitting on the deck at the end of the day, a glass of wine in hand, talking about stuff; how to become free of the unimportant stuff, how to translate our good fortune into what is meaningful and pleasurable to us and mostly, to know the difference. We are working on spending your inheritance while insuring that we can be cared for when the time comes.

My old vanity finding a place in our new bathroom.

My old vanity finding a place in our new bathroom.

This phase of our lives will be shorter than the ones that came before and that is more freeing and motivating than scary. We know that today may be the best day of our lives and we are trying to make each one count. In the meantime, if there is anything you need or want, now’s the time. We’re in the final quarter of the game and pulling out all the stops.

I am looking forward to our trip to the west coast and can’t wait to see you in your new home and hear all about your new ramped up life as a journalism student.

Love, Mom

Garden Herbed Meatballs

I know you don’t eat meat, but I had to figure out a last minute appetizer for Shabbat and I had some ground tenderloin in the freezer and lots of herbs in the garden and…well, it just happened. You could probably adapt this for some veggie variety. I served them with hummus. They would have been great with some tahini sauce, but I’m out. Gail and Abe promised to bring some back from Israel. Next time.


2 large chopped onions
2 – 4 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
olive oil
1- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup matzoh meal or bread crumbs
1 squirt of hot chili sauce to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Fresh chopped tarragon, basil, oregano, thyme and lots of mint or whatever you can find in the garden
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon allspice
black pepper to taste
1 cup sundried tomatoes or oven roasted tomatoes
Fresh parsley for garnish


Place onions and garlic in a food processor and chop into small coarse chunks. Remove half of the chopped onion and garlic and place it in a large sauté plan with a very small amount of olive oil and sauté lightly.

Place ground beef in a large bowl and add two eggs, matzoh meal and chili sauce. Mix together.

Add fresh herbs to the remaining chopped onion and garlic mixture in the food processor and chop together until finely chopped. Add all of the remaining chopped mixture to the ground beef. Add remaining spices and mix the beef mixture thoroughly.

Add the sundried tomatoes or oven roasted tomatoes to the lightly sautéed onion and garlic in the large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until blended.

Make small bite sized meatballs and sauté in the onion-garlic-tomato mixture until browned on all sides. Continue until all meatballs are cooked. Drain meatballs on paper towel if needed.

The onion and tomato mixture will become very browned and crispy and can be used to top the meatballs when serving.

Top with fresh parsley and crispy onion-tomato mixture and serve warm. They go great with hummus or tahini sauce.

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