Friday, April 21, 2006

past and present celebrations

er, just found out that the post-prandial pesach puking is actually an official holiday of sorts called Maimouna. tried to type link but my html is a bit poorly and the link is so long it wouldn't fit. what can i tell you about it? hang on a sec - let me do a bit of cut-and-paste ...

"Maimouna: A Post-Passover Celebration
An exuberant Sephardic custom whose origins are the subject of debate
By Lesli Koppelman Ross

The Moroccan Jews are known for Maimouna, the exuberant festival held on the evening and day after Pesach, and whose origins are unclear. According to one explanation, it is the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of Maimon ben Joseph, the father of the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, also known by his acronym Rambam), a scholar in his own right who lived in Fez (Morocco) and wrote on Jewish-Islamic relations. He died around 1170.

Others say Maimouna is derived from the Arabic word for wealth and good fortune (literally "protected by God," ma'amoun). Since Pesach is the beginning of the new agricultural year, when the world is judged for produce, it is a time to pray for plentiful crops, symbolic of general prosperity.

Still others connect Maimouna with the word emunah ("belief"), claiming it celebrates belief in Israel's redemption. Along the same lines, there is also support (said to be traced to Maimonides' explanation) for the word being an Arabic adaptation of the phrase Ani ma'amin (I believe), the classic expression of faith in the coming of the messiah (ana for ani, placed after the verb ma'amin, as is common in Arabic, yielding ma'amin ana, which becames maimouna in the local Judeo dialect). It may have been a greeting exchanged to bolster one another's disappointment that Passover had come and gone without the long-anticipated return to Jerusalem.

Dining tables were decorated with flowers, wheat stalks, and sometimes live fish in bowls (this time symbolizing birth and fertility). Golden rings were hidden in a bowl containing flour, suggesting hoped for wealth or blessings. A dairy meal of buttermilk, sweets, and special pancakes called muflita served with honey was accompanied by singing, dancing, and visiting with friends.

The Libyans made a challah-likeround loaf with a hard-boiled egg secured in the center with strips of dough. Single men and women received blessings that they would be married in the year ahead. Women wore their fanciest clothes, girls donned white, and children dressed in costumes like the Berbers (native North Africans) and Arabs who shared their celebration and provided flowers, milk, butter, honey, wheat, and other produce for the Jews."

i'm pretty sure we have sefardi roots ... those german ancestors that went east from spain in the fifteenth century. of course we cannot trace anyone back before 1815 ...

ah well - that was today (or yesterday really). now for tomorrow (or today). the queen has her actual 80th birthday. read some lovely tributes in the telegraph and the times. and - don't tell - i sent her a congratulatory e-mail via her web-site. got sent to a page which told me that she had told her web-site people to thank me on her behalf ;-) . hey - i may have been born in the usa, but my mother was born in england, so at least half of me can wish the queen well!

no woman is an island!

for the first time i am part of (terribly briefly, but nevertheless part of) a dialogue on someone's blog. Sandra Scoppettone's Writing Thoughts: Writing Again i find writing so difficult. to find the words that fit is a painful process. to make the commitment of writing things down, and then let other people see them and judge them, is scary.

one of the reasons i enjoy blogging is that it is stream-of-consciousness thinking and feeling sent out into the abyss. according to the site meter, almost 300 people have passed through the page. there were maybe a couple of comments that were not spam, and even the spam was lean.

yesterday my mother said (yes, she is still here, but returning to england tomorrow :-( ) that she thought blogging was extremely self-indulgent. i jumped to its defence, noting the information i get from political blogs, and the connections i may make with other bloggers, and the democracy of cyberspace, and cetera. i also note the delete button for sad needy desperate people who spew forth their guts. judge not, etc.


greetings and felicitations to all, especially those who feel sick tonight because they overdosed on pizza and pasta and all things not matza at the final official end of passover. confidential to my greek orthodox friends - i hope the meat will be delicious on sunday after 40 days of herbivorousness, and also that you don't get sick from too much flesh too soon. happy easter!

Monday, April 17, 2006

fibonacci fever?

just read an article in the ny times about these little fibonacci poems. said the mathematical sequence is well-known by middle schoolers and bela bartok. sadly, i never went to middle school.

this is the trendy site to see:

the times describes the fibonacci sequence as follows:

"The number of syllables in each line must equal the sum of the syllables in the two previous lines. So, start with 0 and 1, add them together to get your next number, which is also 1, 2 comes next, then add 2 and 1 to get 3, and so on."

ps qpr didn't lose this weekend :-)

Monday, April 10, 2006

mango mangle

tonight, for the very first time, all by myself, without parent or restaurant or supermarket help, i peeled and ate a mango.

what a mess!

juice dripping down my chin, and mango hair sticking in my teeth like badly-shucked corn as i tried to get the last edible bits off the stone ... i was most disappointed that my family did not have a culinary heritage that had within it a strong mango-peeling instinct. the mango was, however, delicious!

meanwhile, although the above was supposed to be the full sum of my current procrastination, i cannot go back to work just yet. this is my first pesach that i have hosted, and now i am beginning to understand. i am hard-boiling eggs as i type, and soon must return to my broom to sweep before i clean before the tables can be set up. i have my massively rude horseradish root, but still need to find silver dip and wash all the plates ... and wash the mango juice off my face and hands.

to all a zissen pesach and a very happy easter!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

waiting for the man to come and fix the door

yes, today is my day off, and i am waiting for the man to come and fix the garage door. i had planned to stay home today to do some vital cleaning in preparation for the visit of several family members for pesach. the problem is - now i am waiting for the man to come, i cannot begin any other projects. what if he rings the bell and i am standing there in my cleaning clothes in the middle of flexing my little broom? i should note that 'cleaning clothes' means something minimal and due for a wash - so i won't mind doing the dirty work. don't worry, though, for in my mind i am figuring out what other projects should be so that the moment the man leaves i can think about which one to do first :-)