Just Hilarie

essays on life...by me

A new season

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven*

Celebrating 70 with princesstårta

Celebrating 70 with princesstårta

This summer, on the 29th of June, l shared a Princesstårta with a few friends at our country house, thus observing and commemorating the last day of my seventh decade and officially turning 70. Four days later, I celebrated beginning a new season and the start of my eighth decade, together with a much larger group of friends at a big party at our summer house.

OK… so I am now 70 years old. There is no new age box for when you reach 70. The highest seems to be simply 65+ as if over 65 is just one big blur. What does that mean?

Originally, I hadn’t planned on doing anything special to mark my seventieth birthday. All I really wanted to do was hide and pretend it wasn’t happening and just go on from there. But I got talked into celebrating by my long-time friend and summer neighbor, Barbara Eveaus. She insisted I had to have a party and it would be a breeze because she would take care of planning everything for the party. LOL…you can not say that to a control freak like me. I am compelled to take care of that kind of thing. So… I gathered the long list of email addresses, I designed the invitation, I composed the overly wordy email message that sounded just like me, and then…I pressed send.

Take the first step

As some of my readers might know, I sit on the board of a small Jewish organization here in Stockholm. Within the auspices of the larger official Jewish Community we offer as an alternative to the other religious services here, a Reform/Progressive service. During Corona times we do our services via the Zoom app. Since the beginning of autumn we have been doing regular Friday evening services, called Kabbalat Shabbat services. For our services, we use the relatively new prayer book that one of our board members Eva Ekselius compiled, translated, wrote, and designed. I helped with the production of the book by creating it in InDesign from Eva’s design.

This past Friday, January 29, 2021, I had the honor of giving the short sermon that our one hour service usually includes. A sermon usually should relate in some way to the portion of the Torah that was read the same week on Saturday morning. Since this blog is the place where I put most of my short written pieces, I figured I would include this speech here too.

The first step

The first step

This week’s parashat  tells the story of how after leading our ancestors out of Egyptian slavery, Moses finds their way blocked by a great sea. In the Torah version, Moses obeys God’s command to “lift up his hands and the sea will part” – thus leaving dry land for the Israelites to walk across, on their way to finding freedom.

Now, that’s the Torah ’s version of events, the one we read aloud at our Passover seder tables. A spectacular miracle, to be sure, but something totally passive; missing the element of human purpose.

A different story is offered by the rabbis in the Babylonian Talmud. Here, in this version, the Israelites gathered at the water’s edge, Moses lifted his hands as God commanded… and nothing happened. The sea remained still.

Can you imagine the fear of the people at that moment? They were expecting another miracle by Moses to save them – and they get nothing bubkes.

Then, out of the crowd, walked a solitary figure:

Empty Nester

This summer like every summer, we had a bird family move into the small, wooden, video-monitored birdhouse on our property. Small birds, like the Swedish talgoxe or the blåmes seem to like raising their families there. The video camera mounted inside this tiny home is connected by a long cable which hangs along various tree branches as it makes its way past our porch door to our wall mounted flat-screen TV and for about 5 weeks we can watch our little feathered family lay and hatch their eggs and raise their babies. We keep the TV turned on and its like having a moving Harry Potter-style black and white painting hanging on our living room wall.

In spring almost two years ago, my son bought his own apartment here in Stockholm. He and I had spent the fall and winter months looking at apartment listings and every Sunday we made our way to 3 different showings. He put offers on a few of the apartments but he knew his top limit of how much he could afford to spend and while he came close a few times, someone else always offered more. Until the last one, when his offer was accepted. I helped him to paint all the rooms. We spent a day at IKEA looking at and testing out furniture possibilities which he then ordered online and had delivered directly to his second floor apartment. We spent another week putting the furniture pieces together. By then, it was finally summer and his dad and I moved out to our summer house. Our son was busy at work in the city and just continued to live in our apartment. Time passed as it usually does – all too quickly. Fall and then winter and once again spring. In the meantime, his fully furnished apartment sat there, collecting dust while my son continued to live in the only home he has known, our apartment. People who knew he had bought an apartment would ask me how he liked living in his new place and I had to keep answering, “He hasn’t moved out yet.”

It became a running joke every time I met a friend… ‘Has he moved yet?’ they would ask. We just laughed.

Just dropped in to see what condition my condition is in

Its a new year.

I sent out a nice graphic with pictures of the family doing stuff during this past pandemic year.  A short catch-up letter went along with it to people who live far away from my life here. It was generally positive because that’s what catch-up letters are supposed to be, right? I put the picture up on Facebook too. But how am I actually?

I’ve been thinking I might be depressed…but in a weird kind of way because I am not actually unhappy. I know that deep down I’m a lazy bugger. I have never been one of those people who always have to keep busy doing “projects” all the time. But now I can’t seem to do anything! I finally got out of bed today around noon! The main thing that gets me out of bed is because I have to pee. That’s a terrible reason – important – but terrible. There are so many coulda-woulda-shouldas on my to-do list that never get done. Actually, I don’t even bother putting them on the to-do list. They just float around in my head. The to-do list is for things that need to get done or there will be dire consequences, like the tax people will be after me or there will be nothing in the house to eat – so I do those things but always at the last minute. Its like getting out of bed because of urination issues.

I don’t sleep well. When I finally fall asleep I wake up two hours later and then can’t fall back to sleep so I just lie there looking at boring stuff on my phone. By the time I fall back to sleep its almost morning and then I don’t get out of bed till noon. I no longer have to go to work and I no longer have any kid at home to take care of. So time means nothing. And this pandemic encourages me to just stay in the house all the time which I must admit is my favorite place to be…sort of.

Even back in the 70s and 80s, in New York, it was hard to budge me out of my apartment.

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