34 ~ MUSIC and dogs and museums

“For he who lives more lives than one – – more deaths than one must die.”  Oscar Wilde

Have you considered the versions of YOU over a lifetime?  Did you push against the deaths – transitions into new seasons – leaving fingernail-scrape marks like in a cartoon?

My version of resistance sometimes manifested as decision-impairment. Stuck.  I spent many years under the illusion that if I had done better or made better decisions, I’d have avoided the changes of a lifetime.  Weary of letting go of what was known and venturing into unknown, I’d stagnate at a decision-point.

Thankfully, a few of my “lives” included dreams realized: 

  • Ballroom dancing
  • supporting causes dear to my heart
  • my career as a Speech Pathologist
  • living in Israel

I’m happy with most aspects of the lifetimes’ collage.  Still, I’m painfully aware of how much better to have gained wisdom more wisely.

What do the Jews do to Palestinians?  Cure their deaf children.


leashed and unleashed

I began watching relationships of dogs and their people when living in NYC. Devotion. Affection. Patience. Attention. That is, what the dogs receive. I’m told their masters (is that the right word?) receive the same in return.

I wish for all children to have parents with as much patience for exploration as people give their dogs. Rarely do I see a dog yanked away from his curiosity.

A few years ago I hiked with a friend and his wonderful dog, who requires no leash.  He was fun to have on a hike or walk, well-behaved and smart, and didn’t slow down the hiking group.  While he lingered to investigate, he kept an eye on us and stayed within reasonable proximity.

Staying at a friend’s beautiful home in the hills of Har Adar, 30 minutes west of Jerusalem, I took Shadow, their dog, for a walk.  Shadow is also wonderful but absolutely needs a leash.

Leashes compel the dog’s person to Wait! while the dog explores absolutely everything for as long as it takes.

Lingering as we did released a revelation: In a museum, I’m the dog on a leash.  I must stop to read and take in everything, and then linger for my heart to absorb the colors and shapes.  They are aroma to my soul.  I return to sections to reread descriptions or history, to revisit paintings, compare styles. . . it’s crazy-making. And I know from experience it’s no fun to have someone along who is intent upon strolling through a few areas of the museum and then leave.

My conclusions after leash-walking Shadow:

  1. I still don’t want a longterm relationship with a dog; visiting is great, a better fit.
  2. Continue solo as an intense, museum visitor rather than drive my friends away.

Oh, and Shadow did find something special on our walk.  It took all my strength to let him explore without biting or being bit.

5 minutes of digestible history  with  http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/the-video-that-obama-and-the-u-n-want-removed-from-youtube/?omhide=true



Museums show me souls searching for Creator. Artifacts and posted descriptions share commonalties that bind times and cultures. I find all or most of the following:  creation stories, worship, blood sacrifice, music and dance, fasting, lamp ceremonies, bells and fire in worship, ceremonial clothing, incense.  History screams of man’s quest for meaning, for help with the struggles of survival, and hope for when this life is no longer.

For some, life’s struggle is more focused on physical, cognitive, or emotional issues challenging life’s challenges.

Autism’s spectrum seems to encompass all three areas.  The Artists’ House in Beersheba has a room of amazing art by those living courageously through the blur of autism.   For all we know and don’t know about it, I relate to it most personally in the quest to connect through the haze of disconnection: The times of my life when I strived to connect with someone, but failed for reasons that in some cases still elude me.

Empathy leads me always to gratefulness for my struggles, never coveting someone else’s or thinking they have none because they aren’t evident.

I’m curious about the artists. How I’d love to hear them describe what prompted the choice of subject and medium.  Does their work express something about themselves, their perceptions, or?

I took an art class and a drama class in high school, but both experiences were flat.  I was hiding then because I was afraid to fail.  These days I’m a seasoned expert at failing, so boldly go where no (wo)man has gone before into uncharted (for me) territory.

I’m planning on signing up for an exploratory art class in April.  It’s not that I think there’s some hidden “gift” but rather that even a limited experience might release creativity that hasn’t found its way through writing. If not now, when?

Is there something you’ve wanted to try? or learn? Well, then, take your class, and please write to me about it!  Take a risk.  If not now, when?

EXCEPTIONS: parachuting, climbing Everest, wrestling crocodiles, and such .  It’s better to live to tell the story.  I think.

Commit with me to be Gently Courageous

“If you board the wrong train it’s no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I’ll be taking a break from Israel thanks to off-season rates in Italy.  Traveling via train from Rome to Florence to Venice, so sharing these life’s-train quotes from two people I admire greatly.  

“When the train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off.  You trust the engineer.”  Corrie ten Boom

Personal expression

During my stay in the Arava (eastern Negev – blogs 32 and 33) I visited a retired farmer’s woodshop.  This farmer by trade, his degree in engineering, now pursues his lifelong hobby.  Although we conversed simply in Hebrew, he seems to be a man of few words; his expression is his craft.

The adventure began, as do many, in finding his workshop. Finally, a sweet young soldier called someone to say she’d be a few minutes late, and then helped me understand/translate his directions (in Hebrew) and even accompany me to the site. The kindness of others is like fine chocolate.

I entered a metal, industrial looking building the size of a tennis court. It was filled with industrial shelving, huge slabs of various woods, equipment and tools, and lots of dust.  I can’t name walnut from mahogany, but the slices of assorted woods stacked against one another were like body parts, varied in size, shape, color, and origin.

He led me to the end of the workshop and opened the door to a space filled with his work.  4 levels of shelves lined the room (about 20′ x 15′). In the center were tables, some furniture pieces, and toys/games.  All his handiwork, each piece unique.

I breathed.  The aroma of the wood was . . . rich.  I deliberately oooohed and aaahed aloud, thinking it the best compliment I could offer.  He left me to explore, and explore I did.

With his hands he shouts his love of beauty! Variety of color, size, shape. Bowls, cups, plates, Judaica, candle holders, toys. Like so many children on a playground, each one-of-a-kind, beautiful and full of life.

(the video distorts horizontally, but might be helpful)

Places where line and color shouted texture demanded to be touched.  Smooth as porcelain.  The few with intentional knot-y texture with holes felt somehow like they should: polished and yet still earthy.

I was wishing I had a wedding gift to buy… something… but alas, left only with my heart full.

Elie Wiesel said, “With a Nobel Prize come quite a few lessons. For one, you learn who is a friend and who is not. Contrary to popular wisdom, a friend is not one who shares your suffering, but one who knows how to share your joy.

I count among my closest friends incredible people who have rejoiced at the blessings of my life, regardless of their own struggles.  Their expressions of love is humbling and shakes me to my core.

Music!  (finally)

The universal language, with so many dialects!

I can’t define Blues, but I know it when I hear it.  I found great blues in a pub in an artists collective in the old city of Beersheba, the capital city of the Negev (8th largest city of Israel).  Feel free to tell me how to improve videos recorded in a dark room!

OK, you music critics: whaddya think?

A great aspect for me was that the pub was about the music, not drinking and smoking.  Smokers took care of that outside before the music began, and drinkers weren’t drinkers, but rather listeners, with a beer or glass of wine. Perfect!

unique expression in Tsukim, a tiny community of a few hundred in in the Arava (eastern desert):

She played a variety of instruments, perfect for the desert’s breezy warmth, the surroundings, the crowd’s mood…

The field workers and the university agriculture students of the Arava’s performed their cultural dances at a fair.  Think county fair (food and specialty and craft items to buy) + trade show for farming equipment, seeds, pest control + concert and performances in the big tent. Here are a few of the students’ and workers’ performances from countries of Africa and Asia.

Saturday night Jam Session at the best restaurant in the Arava

A local concert in the Arava. Everyone but me seemed to know all the songs and sang along, until:

Knock-knock-knockin’ on Heaven’s door =  להידפק על דלתות השמים

The following are something-for-everyone-variety from Ramat HaNegev’s Annual Music Festival, including a few you’ll recognize. I was invited to 2 amazing days of touring plus the festival from the gracious leaders of the Ramat HaNegev’s Regional Council.  Israeli-grown music expands far beyond what I found on the streets of Jerusalem.

Even if you have not learned to appreciate opera, this voice is a MUST HEAR for 26 seconds of your life.

(more music coming) Vietnam in Israel

New friends: these young people from Vietnam are studying for their Masters degree in Agriculture at Tel Aviv University.  The extension campus for “AG” students is in the Arava.  I was asked to help them with their English and we became fast friends, mostly discussing cross-cultural living as well as U.S./Vietnam wartimes. I hope to visit them and their culture next year, when they finish their degree and return home.

January 22 was Vietnam’s New Year so I met my students at the Vietnam Embassy (in Tel Aviv) for a once in a lifetime party.  Several hundred students, temporary workers, and immigrants (converts? or by marriage?) filled the small Embassy space.

The table was filled with an astounding variety of pork dishes and a few vegetable options.  For me the highlight was this (PAINFUL) karaoke, which I’m compelled to share with you under a very very broad definition of “music”

And what to do at the end of the Embassy’s party?  Dance!  or is Vietnamese Macarena?

last but not least…Childrens Entertainment.  I’m told that this group is like having the Sesame Street performers come to town.  BIG TIME.  Or for some of us, Sheri Lewis’ and her puppets, or Mr. Rogers or Annette Funicello.

The theater was packed, the kids excited beyond measure. The hour long show was darling (almost too-sweet, but not quite), filled with familiar songs everyone except me knew from childhood past and present.  I was delighted to see as many dads as mom’s there, most seeming to enjoy.

It’s a big deal to bring national celebrities to the Arava’s 3,700 population.  My few weeks of volunteering had earned me sweet, excited greetings from several children, explaining to their parents the new face in a region of few strangers.

Please write me!  post a comment (it’s private to me only) or email. Tell me what you’re doing. I welcome feedback about the blog, of course.


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