Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Touch of Blue

A Touch of Blue, the name of this brief post, was also the name of the literary section of the Jewish campus newspaper, when I was literary editor back in the early eighties at the University of Toronto. I'd come up with that name, as it had a double entendre for me: "blue" meaning ink of a pen, and also meaning sad.

I haven't tuned in for a while to this blog; my life has been very busy, to say the least.

It's been a time of sorrow and happiness, rolled into a short time frame.

My mother-in-law passed away last Monday, June 16th. My eldest child's bar mitzvah took place this past Shabbos, June 21st.

Shiva...and simcha: an odd juxtaposition...

(more to come...)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


i read this book over yom tov.

it is a quick read. it is a captivating read. it is an insightful read.

i bought this book for one dollar from the discard book cart at the public library.

it is worth so much more.

i have read many holocaust books --fiction and non-fiction -- in my lifetime, but none like this one.

it is a novel made of up of short chapters. each chapter is a vignette. each chapter captures a father's memory from the war, and his children's reactions to that memory.

the reader is left wondering: is this a work of fiction or is this a biography?

with great simplicity, the author -- carl friedman being a woman actually -- captures a survivor's tale. the book, originally written in dutch and translated into english, does not lose anything in translation.

it is a powerful read.

i highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Oh. My. G-d.

I was just on the COSTCO website, checking out the location of one in Toronto near my parents. I want to go and see what sorts of paper goods they have -- if any -- for making a simcha.

I scanned the site banner of features: decor, food, furniture, funerals.

Of course I had to check it out -- it's broken down into categories with visuals: caskets, pet urns, memorial flowers, etc.

Oy... I can't help but laugh as I imagine this scene...

LAST STOP FUNERAL HOME. Vera and family are gathered for visitation from 2:00-4:00. Her mother, Eldora, died of old age at the ripe age of 97, and people are coming to pay their last respects and view the body.

Nestled in a baby pink, with mother-of-pearl inlay, coffin, she looks so peaceful, with her rouged cheeks and frosted pink lipstick. Her regular housedress has been replaced with a smart-looking denim pantsuit and orthopedic loafers.

People comment as they pass.

"Vera, I'm so sorry about Eldora. She was a wonder still at her age. Playing pinochle with the cronies at the seniors' lodge and baking muffins."

"She looks better than ever," is whispered between two lady friends.

"Vera. What a darling coffin! Did the funeral parlor supply it?"

Vera: "No. I got it online, ON SALE -- it was a clearance item -- at COSTCO! Marked down from $2500 to $800...can you believe it?"

Friend: "That is a bargain."

Vera: "Anything for Mother... And did you notice her pantsuit? COSTCO too! A special from last year's fall close-outs...I bought it just for this occasion, and even showed it to Mom, who gave it her blessings. You know, I guess when COSTCO calls itself a 'big box store,' they really mean it!"