Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mark's Favorite Salad

From Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Feeling: Happy

This is Mark's favorite salad. The beauty of this salad is it not only very good, but very filling and you can add whatever you like for your enjoyment.
A bed of Baby Spinch or Spring Greens (these have more flavor)
1 large tomato, thin slice.
1 small pearl or red onion, thin slice (I like both)
1 large cucumber, thin slice
1/2 red, yellow and orange peppers, thin slice
2 hard boiled eggs, thin slice
1 cup of feta cheese
1 cup of a mixture of red, green and black olives, whole or sliced.
2 cans of kippers, oil drained.
Greek salad dressing.

On a chilled platter layer it with the spinach. Then layer the veggies, cheese and kipper in the order that is laid out. You can replace the kippers with salman or tuna. Lavish your salald with Greek Salad dressing, then sprinkle a little Dill and then allow to chill for an old before serving.
Vary; If I use chicken, I do not use the cheese since this would be mixing dairy with meat.
Serve with a white or pink blush, or white grape juice. Also very good with Ice Mint tea.

Preparing For Shabbat

From Feb. 27, 2008

The Highest of the High Holy Days.
The joy and the beauty of the Day isn't dim because it is celebrated once a week. Shabbat is a weekly foretaste of what Paradise, the World to Come, Heaven is going to be like.
Today is the day I turn my full attention for preparing for Shabbath.
Today, I do any grocery for the Sabbath meal today. This includes what is needed for making Challah, Shabbath wine and fresh candles. Check table linens. If I am decorating the Oneg room (oneg means delight) for the Sabbath meal @ Synagogue, then I will take the table linens with me to Torah study this evening, for I can get the room ready the following day.
Mark and I have special clothes we set aside for the wearing of Shabbat. On this day I make sure my dress, skirt/blouse is clean and good repair, that I have fresh stockings, knee highs or socks.
Place my menu. There are several dishes that I make only for Shabbat. So today I will decide what I will have for supper. This Sabbath I am making a lovely salad that Mark. It is an Mediterranean Salad that is Mark's favorite and it makes me feel closer to him.
I will share the recipe in the next entry.

I also make sure the bed linen is clean and ready. We even have special bedsheets for Shabbat. Again, the purpose is to say that this day is different, set apart from all others.
It is a time of joy for Mark and I. We often decide who we are going to invite for Shabbat or if it is going to be a nice, quiet evening.
During Mark's deployment, I have to find the joy. It is still a Day of Rest and Peace. Whether Mark is home or not.
But he is home; home in spirit.
And at the Shabbat table, I include his picture.

Mummie's Birthday

Sunday, February 24, 2008
9:33:23 PM EST
Feeling; Happy
Watching: The Twight Zone: The Mask

In our family, birthdays are a big deal. A celebration.

Sometimes big and spalshy. Sometimes it is a quiet affair.
Either way, we take the whole month to celebrate the birth of our loved one and to thank G-d for the life of the one He has given to us as a gift of love. The idea was my mum's.
My younger sister's birthday begins about the beginning of April while my is close of June. Eileen's birthday would seen to fly by whereas there was always a build-up to mine. So, mummie came up with the idea for the whole month to be celebrated, that way it would be a special time for both of us. It has since become a family tradition.
This month, we celebrate the birthday of my mummie. Her 74th. Her best gift; her beloved son Mark's phone call from Iraq to wish her a Happy Birthday.

This afternoon, mummie, a dear friend Anne (she and her husband were one of the readers @ Mark and mine wedding) had Mummie's birthday lunch @ Azar's.
Azar's is a wonderful dinning experiernce. The food is natural, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Vegetarian, cuisine. It has something for every one, the service very good. Owe and run by a wonderful Lebanese family that still attends the church Mark and I met at, and it was Azar's that catered our wedding. If you ever come to Norfolk, you have got to stop @ Azar's.
I chose Azar's because not only is the food awesome, but because it handicap and senior citzen friendly. Therefore, it would be easy for mummie to walk about with her cane. And there is no smoking @ Azar's. Family friendly, and the service is very good.
Ann and I have know each other almost 12 years. She was a big help to me when mummie had her stroke and they, being closer in age, began quick friends. So it was nice to spend the afternoon with two of my flavorite ladies. And I did take pictures.
The gifts were; a shower gel with the scent of olive oil and orange blossems. A room flesher that was french, not heavy, but held Spring in its can. I have the same in candle form. A Chocolate cup and spoon, with a matching plate, for hot coco of course. Mint and Ginger tea. And last, but not least....
Yes, Elf Soap. While it is used to encourage children to wash their hands, it is a cute little gift for the "woman who has everything."Mummie loved it. She loved each of her gifts as well as her lunch.

But I was the one truly blessed; to have this remarkable lady I call mummie.
In many of my entries, I made my mummie sound perfect. She isn't; she is a human being. Our relationship was a rocky one; personality the same, but with different outlooks and talents. My mum has confess she didn't often understand me and thus made mistakes.

But don't we all as mums and dads?
My mum did the best she could with what she knew to do. I don't believe in "Mommie Dearest" tales; recounting the horrors of our childhood, even if the tales are true. It doesn't bring honour to our parents. No, judgement rest with G-d alone. Our relationship was healed and has become the thing of beauty you see today because;
1.Mummie admitted her own errors and failings, asking my forgiveness. 2. As I grew up, I realize that mummie was a human being and realizing my on mistakes and errors, asked for forgiveness.
Thus, in the same way G-d loves us, extends grace and mercy to us, we must be willing to extend to others. It is that is the healing balm that heals all wounds, broken hearts and relationships.

I have been blessed to still have my mum after her stroke almost nine years ago. She has been my greatest supporter, my loudest cheerleader, bigggest critic as well as my friend and big sister in the faith.
I know she shall never read this but: I love you, Mummie.

You know your soldier is deployed when...

From February 24, 2008

You know your soldier is deployed when...

1. You wear old sweatpants and sweatshirts to bed.

2. You can watch whatever you want on TV without arguing with him first.

3. You get up in the middle of the night to check your e-mail.

4. You sleep with your cell phone incase he calls in the middle of the night.

5. You love watching cute love movies because it reminds you of all the cute things he does when he's home.

6. You haven't shaved your legs in weeks.

7. The mailman knows you because you are always out waiting for him to come.

8. You start paying close attention in class when the words "military" or "iraq" are mentioned.

9. You suddenly have an obsession with anything military related.

10. You see someone wearing an army, navy, or usmc shirt and you get this overwhelming urge to talk to them.

11. You make friends with strangers online just because they are in the same situation as you and are the only ones that can truely understand what you are going through.

12. You can't decide what to wear when you meet him at the airport because his flight comes in at a rediculous hour in the morning and you want to look cute, but not too cute, because your cutest outfit you want to save for your first full day together.

13. Your first Christmas together is.... apart.

14. You find yourself checking your e-mail every fifteen minutes.

15. You know all the time differences between where you are and Iraq, Ireland, Kuwait, Italy, Germany, Korea, and every state in the U.S.

16. The highlight of your day is getting a letter that was mailed a month ago.

17. And if you don't get a letter, the highlight of your day is writing him a letter that you know he will be able to read in a month.

18. You realize that HOMECOMING is so much more than a football game.

19. You want to hit any happy couple you see together.

20. You get excited about "unknown" phone numbers calling you.

21. You've exhausted every idea a brain could have of what to put in a box.

22. You see a "support our troops" sticker on a car when you are stuck in traffic and you find yourself guessing about who they know that is deployed and thinking about their entire life story.

23. When the clock says 11:11, you find yourself wishing for the same thing everytime: a call from your soldier.

24. You get excited when its only 9 months until you see your soldier instead of 12!

25. You can't stand girls that talk about missing their boyfriends who live a few hours away. You just want to yell "drive and go see them them" because if you had the chance, you would jump on the first plane to go see your soldier no matter how far it is.

26. You don't know what teams are on top for football, basketball, etc.

27. You wouldn't dream of walking out of the house without the cell phone and every number you have is forwarded to that cell.

28. You find yourself randomly crying from just looking at a picture of the two of you together.

29. You find yourself randomly crying and you sometimes have no idea why

.30. You stay on the internet for hours searching for anything and everything about the military.

31. You talk to your friends about him so much that they know his full name, birthday and even his favorite color.

32. You are reading this and smiling and nodding because you know it's so true!*********************************************

You know You're Married to the Military when......

From February 23, 2008

You know you're married to the military when......

you don't mind a phone call waking you up at 3 a.m....

you tell people that ask that he's "only" been gone a month....

the smallest contact (even a short email) from your man makes your entire week!...

you cry over an email that says nothing more than hi and I miss you....

those recruitment commercials on TV make you cry because you are so proud!...

your sentences start containing more acronyms and numbers than actual words....

you sleep in PT attire, cuddled up in a poncho liner, because it's the closest you can come to being with your military man....

you're sitting at home and you realize that you haven't talked to your husband in over a month....

you get super excited just knowing that your husband tried to call but wasn't able to get through....

the first ball you go to as a girlfriend your name tag says "Mrs.. Is that a self fulfilling prophecy or what?!?...

when your favorite 'man' to see everyday is the MAILMAN (what a love/hate relationship that is)...

when you refer to everyone not in the military or dating someone in the military as a Civilian, you can rattle off the time in perfect military time without having to think and finally you get excited when you can name the assault rifle correctly....

you stop shaving above the knees. What's the point? ;)...

a 30 second phone call after no calls from him for a month leaves you full of joy and happiness, ..."No news is good news" becomes your motto....

the motto "no shore too distant " becomes your life....

you could wait forever for your loved one to return home into your arms....

you feel yourself growing more and more in love with your military man even while he's so far away....

planning letters/ care packages and putting them in the mail is more exciting then going out for a night on the town with the girls....

you don't mind tripping over combat boots left in the middle of the bedroom floor....

you find yourself learning phrases in foreign languages from letters, and aren't surprised when you realize you know how to say, "Throw down your weapons and lay down on the ground!" in Arabic....

you hold off on seeing certain movies so you can see them with your military man when he comes home....

you want to roll your eyes when you hear someone say, "I haven't seen my boyfriend/husband in a week!"....

you can go from being happy, to sad, to lonely, to angry, to proud, and back to happy in a matter of less than an hour....

you sleep with the phone right next to you, just in case....if he's deployed you don't care how your hair looks nor care about wearing make-up, and the people at your work ask about your husband every day to see if you've heard from him....

you start saying things like "Wow that is a really nice box. Are you going to use that for anything?" to total strangers....

you can give the rates for all the long distance calling cards on the market without hesitation....

the sight of any other man in a uniform makes you miss your husband MORE than it makes you drool, and when you try to explain to civilians what your husband does for a living, they give you a blank look because they don't understand a third of what you just said....

you feel lucky for each second granted to the two of you....

every new watch you buy has a two time zone feature....

you are half a world apart and you don't notice the time difference and talk until 1 p.m. his time and 2 a.m. your time on a school/work night....

Going 3-6 months without seeing your man seems like a drop in the bucket compared to other women you know and what you have been through before. know and what you have been through before....

you haven't heard from him in while and you find yourself reading the old letters you have received because it's something that makes you feel closer to him....

you don't bat an eyelash when he say's "Uh, Honey they changed when I'm supposed to return home, yet again."...

you find it romantic when your military man serenades you with cadences.

BUT MOST OF ALL....You know you're Married to the Military when you can stand next to your man and feel a pride you've never felt before and know that some people will just never 'get' it.

Flowers For Sabbath

From Friday, February 22, 2008
7:36:18 PM

It is almost Sabbath. But this was a story I wanted to share before t.he sun goes down.
It is a tradition for Orthodox Jewish men ( for most anyway) to bring flowers home to their wives on Friday afternoon. Yes, very romantic as well as a wonderful touch for the celebration of Sabbath. Having told Mark about this tradition in the beginning of our relationship, since the first weeks of our marriage, Mark has brought home flowers to me for Sabbath.

And I love it.
And it is one of the things I miss with Mark being in Iraq, I have not recieved Sabbath flowers. Yes, it is a small thing. But it is one of those things one misses when one's spouse is deployed.
But this afternoon, coming home from the store, I watched the flower delievery van park outside our apartment building. A huge smile spread across my face and I ran upstairs, knowing there were flowers waiting for me.
The Delievery Man was at the head of the stairs smiling. He is use do delievering packages from Iraq and knew how much this meant to me.

There were Red roses and white Lilies. Already my house smells like heaven.
The card read in part: "To the only woman I can truly ever love, Good Sabbath."
It is now.
Animated Flowers

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Love the Candles

From Thursday, February 21, 2008 11:35:55 PM EST
Feeling: Happy

Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Shabbat.

As the woman of the home, it is both my duty and my honour to kindle the Shabbat lights. Each Ere Shabbat, I have the blessing of lighting the candles and saying the blessing our mothers have uttered for hundreds of years.
There is a moment when after I light the candles, spread the light and joy of Shabbat to all about me and then hide my eyes.
That is a moment so blessed, so holy for it is my moment with G-d, a moment of sweetness, a soft kiss. During this sweet moment I ask G-d to bless my husband, children (the ones we believe G-d to give us one day) friends, family.
Then when I uncover my eyes, that is when Sabbath begins. For when I see open my eyes and see the lights, I smile and my husband says it is my smile that says; "It's Sabbath."
Right now, I kindle the Shabbat lights, knowing Mark is doing the same in Iraq. I send him to Iraq with the candlestick holders I used when I was still single, when we started courting, then engaged and finally married. Something of home, something to remind him of the sweetness we enjoyed on Shabbat.
I am happy to know that mark hasn't been welcoming Shabbat alone. That sometimes others join him.
Sometimes he calls me just before the sun goes down in Iraq, to wish me a good Shabbat. I have set aside one set of candleholders to light at @ 9a.m because it is 6pm in Iraq. This way we can light them together.
In our home, I have candles Mark brought a while back that are rose and jasmine scented. It makes me think of my beloved.
There is a softness and calm that comes when I kindle the candles.
The peace of G-d.

How We Do V Day

From Wednesday, February 13, 2008
7:01:28 PM EST: Feeling Happy
Hearing: Fox News

This day of love, chocolate and flowers is a very special day in our home. For it is the time Mark asked me to marry him. Three years ago this evening. And though he is in Iraq this year, we still send each other cards and gifts. And I recieved 12 long stem roses, a build-with-love-bear and a small box of Godiva chocolates.

Like all of the Celebrations of our lives, we also decorate our home for Valentine's Day. This year, I will save the decorations for when Mark comes home. A belated Valentine's Day.
These are pictures from our first Valntine's Day. I was just getting over the flu, but I wasn't going to miss this special evening.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It Rain That Night Too

From Feburay 13, 2008:
Lest I forget, it was a wonderful Vantentine Day, though my beloved is half a world a way.
We spend each other tons of Vantentine's Day cards and he did recieve his Piggy singing 'Hot Stuff.' Mark says she is the hit of the unit. He can walk away from his desk and within moments hear "Hot Stuff!" because one of the soldiers or Marines came over and presses her tummy. On the 13th of this month, I recieved a box of 12 long stem red roses and a Teddy with Godiva chocolates. We spoke on the 15th and while it wasn't the same, it was still quite romantic.
Next year, G-d willing, Mark will be home.
The following is why Lover's Day is so special to us.
Mark and Laini on Blessing Night, 2006

From 13th 2008
When: A Sunday.
The place: Beth Messiah Synagogue.
The Event: The Blessing Dinner.
For several years, the men of our Synagogue got together and made dinner for their wives, daughters, mums as well as the single, divorced or widowed women of the congregation.
The Sunday chosest to Valentine's Day was picked. It was called Blessing Dinner to bless the women in the men's lives. It was a potluck meal where the men did the cooking. Roses and other flowers were brought for the evening. For woman who were Bat Mitzvah (over the age of 13) she would recieve a rose. Girls under 13 recieve another type of flower.The men setup, serve the meal and clean up. After dinner, first the husbands, one by one would stand up and play tribute to their beloved and afterwards, represent her with a rose. The men would also pay tribute to their mums and daughters. Rabbi would give roses to the women who, for whatever reason, was without a mate. This way everyone recieved atleast one flower on Lovers Day.Mark and I were courting at the time. For several weeks we had talked about marriage. And Mark by his own admission suffered from a serve case of cold feet.We were suppose to meet earlier in the day, do a little shopping and then I woud dress at his apartment.But he forgot and was several hours late. We exchanged words and almost did not go to the dinner.But we went to his apartment so I could change. I wore a studding midnight black dress that had ripples at the hem and moved every time I did. I took my braids out and let my wavey hair fall down my back and laced in it little hairpins with pearls and dimands. I was looking good.Mark looked up when I walked out and then looked back into his book! My heart sank.
He then stood up, placed his hands on my shoulders and asked; "excuse me, who are you and what have you done with my Laini?" That made me smile. He really did notice. According to Mark; "she looked gooooood!"
Like tonight, it was pouring down rain and since I was wearing heeds I wasn't use to, I had to hold onto Mark's arm.Heads turned when I walked in. While most were used to seeing me dress for the services, no one had seem me dressed to the nines.Until tonight.After the meal, Mark wondered out loud: "I wonder what I am going to say about you."
I said: "Just ask the Holy Spirit. And the words will then come."He did and they did.At one point I notice Mark had left the table we were sharing with friends. I thought he had gone to the bathroom.
And then I heard his voice. Up front.
Now you have to understand, Mark didn't wait until all of the husband had spoken, but picked up and rose and began to tell everyone how I had prayed for him, cared for him, how I supported him while he was in Iraq and now during his cancer treatment.
That G-d had truly blessed him when He brought me into his life.
He spoke of his love for me and said everything but; "will you marry me?" He then came over and handed me the rose. He asked if I liked what he said. I told him; "I love every word, and you have no idea what you just did."
"What did I just do?"
"You just asked me to marry you in front of almost 130 people."It took a few moments, but when Rabbi asked: "you didn't see that coming did you?" Mark realized what he had done. To say the room was abuzz was an understatement.On the way home we talked about what he had done. And when he came to a red light, Mark turned to me and said; "well, you want to set a date?"And that is how is all began.
Three years ago tonight.
Around 7:00pm

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Marine's View

I love this guy.....

One Marine's View
Something cool that Xerox is doing
Posted: 18 Nov 2008 09:04 PM CST
If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.
How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! This is a great site. Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second.
THEN, get yer butt over to to pick out a warrior of your choice to support. C'mon gang, they are in the freaking desert!

When a Family Member Is Deployed

Content Provider By Military OneSource.
Maintaining a family routine and tending to your needs and those of your children can be very difficult when a family member has been deployed for military service. Children and adults may experience strong separation anxiety and fear about the well-being of a family member. It's important to come up with a plan for coping with separation and the strong emotions that may accompany a deployment.
Families should prepare emotionally for a deployment and the stress it may cause by:
Agreeing on a plan for communicating . Talk about whether you'll communicate by telephone, e-mail, or letters, and how often or at what times you'll communicate.
Making a plan for being alone . Family members who are at home while a loved one is serving in the military may be able to deal with anxiety and fear if they make plans to take classes, pick up new hobbies, or spend time doing things they wouldn't normally do.
Looking into support groups. Many branches of the service offer support in the form of social groups, counseling, or advice. Look into what's available for your family.
Spending special time together . Take the time to be alone with your spouse or partner before they leave. It's also important for children to have individual time with a parent or loved one before deployment occurs.

Staying in touch when a family member has been deployed It's vital to have a communication plan and stick to it. If someone is expecting letters or phone calls that never come, fear and anxiety could set in. Regular communication is extremely important because it can raise morale and help families cope with separation. Here are some ways to make communication even better:
Be creative . Document a regular day in photos and send them to a loved one with captions. Create care packages with baked goods, silly toys or souvenirs, newspaper articles, children's school or artwork and video or cassette tapes of family members.
Write frequent, short letters. Encourage children and friends to send postcards or brief notes. Constant communication from home can be very uplifting for those who are far away serving in the military.
Don't avoid answering questions or write about rumors or gossip . Avoiding questions or passing along misinformation that may cause worry or fear. Try to keep communications full of news about friends, family, local events, and expressions of love.

Cultivate new skills or hobbies . Take a class or start a project you've always wanted to do. It's important to continue personal growth when a loved one has been deployed. Open yourself to new experiences and friendships
Keep a journal . Many people find that writing down their thoughts and feelings is comforting when they are separated from a loved one.
Offer empathy and support to others . Remember that you aren't alone. Find a support group or plan events with other families who are experiencing the same thing.
Seek support from your faith community. Many people find comfort and solace from their faith communities during difficult times.
Do something special for yourself and your family. Rent a movie or cook a meal that your loved one wouldn't necessarily enjoy. Plan fun outings with children during free time.
Seek professional counseling . If you feel like you can't cope with the absence of a loved one, contact your health care provider or employee assistance program (EAP) to find a counselor.
Ignore rumors . Many people have trouble dealing with limited information about the whereabouts and activities of a loved one during deployment. It may be difficult to ignore rumors or gossip, but it's important to rely on official sources of information when a family member has been deployed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Somed things Are Best left Unsaid

One of the things I learned during my training as a Hospice LPN, is when you don't know what to say, say nothing at all.

That is true when someone or their family memember is facing the end of life, a death of a marriage, carreer, dream or a spouse who's beloved is deployed.

Sometimes what that person needs is a hug, a cup of coffee or tea, a blanket or a Teddy Bear. A card that says I am thinking of you.

A seat at your supper table.

We don't need to hear: stay strong! you look like your holding up well or even I am praying for you.

Sometimes, Prayers need feet and hands put to them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mummie's Birthday

From Feb.25, 2008:
Well, I finally got to take Mummie out for her birthday.
Anne, a good friend to both of us also came along. We went to Azar's, one of Mark's and mine eating spots. Great Middle Eastern food and easy for Mummie to move about with her cane.
It was just a joy to treat not just Mummie, but Ann too.
Ann has been a blessing to both of us and this was Mark and my way of thanking her.
For her birthday, I gave Mummie Olive Oil shower gel and lotion. Very good for the skin as well as helping to rest at night.
I know: I use it myself.
It was a cold, nippy day, so we ordered Chai-Lattes. Mummie never had one and we all enjoyed the hot liqurd. It looked like snow, but none fell and for that I was grateful.
I don't like snow.
Later, Mark called and we talked for a while. Work is going well. They are tying up some loose ends since there is a chance coming in several weeks. He said he would try to write some in the journal. That's if the lines are up and running.
One can never tell in Iraq.
Nap time. Then, a movie.

The Arms That Grid Me

From Feb 21. 2008:
While I am Mark's support here, and thankful for the prayers that go up on his behalf, I am also thankful for the prayers and support I recieve here at home.
Now, to be honest, there isn't a lot.
Rabbi Joe calls to see how I am doing. One of my closest friend's and Sister Rudy, calls every week to check up on me. Rudy has a husband, a full-time job and four of her six children still living at home and yet she still finds the time to see how I am doing.
Our Mums. They are the greatest. They call often to not only see how I am doing, but to allow me to vent frustations, cry when I am sad, yell when I am mad and give me that needful laugh and encouragement.
For several weeks I could not figure out what was happening to my trash. I would pit it out and later find it gone.
It turns out the guy upstairs would stop on his way out and pick it up for me. Since everyone in the building knows Mark is away, all of my neighors keep an eye out for me. They stop at my door to see if I need anything, make sure the apartment is secure, etc.
And then there is Joe and Sabrina. This lovely couples makes sure I get to the Shabbath services and Torah study during the week. They also call to see how I am doing. And then, there is my Starbucks buddies, Debbie and Sturat who I meet with once a month for coffee. Debbie also calls to pray with me and soon, she and her huband will be moving to my neighorhood, so I will see them more.
And how do I forget my shopping buddy, Sarah. Sarah and Paul who supported Mark on his first two deployments, upheld Mark and I when Mark went through Cancer treatment, were part of our wedding and here we go again with another deployment. I remember just after Mark left, we had an intense lighting storm. Sarah called me in the middle of it just to see how I was ok.
I was hiding under the bed.
Many people ask how Mark is doing, tell me how great I look, but have no idea how I am truly feeling.
Or care.
I thank G-d for the few that do.

Another Note From Avraham

From Feb.2008
Abba's back
Abba returned from the CERP office a little while ago. He seemed a little sad, so I asked him what was the matter. He told me that he was sad because he wasn't able to reach Imma on the telephone. He said all of the circuits were busy so he came home...
Abba needs to talk to Imma because she always helps him stay grounded. There are days when he just needs to vent, and she is always there to listen... That is why he loves here so much!!! I will be glad when I find a wife that is as caring and thoughtful as Imma... but that will be a while as I am only a little bear.

A Note About Avraham and Moshe

From Feb. 20, 2008:
Moshe the Mouse, my Starbucks Buddy......
Avraham the Bear, our Rabbi in Iraq.....
About our furry little people.
Mark and I love Stuffed Animals. Yes, we are a couple that really needs children.
About two Hanuakkahs ago, I gave mark Avraham the Rabbial Bear. And Mark gave me Moshe the Mouse.
We thought it would be cute to have the two "brothers" write each other since Avraham was now in Iraq with Mark. We have found that many readers enjoy hearing from our two furry guys as much as they like hearing from Mark and I.
Besides, they are rather cute.....

A Letter to Avraham From Moshe

From Feb. 2008
Shalom dear Avie:
Sounds like you and Abba are busy. Do you and Abba need blankets? Imma and I can make one for you if you need it. I heard Abba say its cold there because of the rain.
Imma was sad today well. But she and Abba were able to do instant messages later in the day. So now she feels better.
While at the store, Imma brought some peanut that I know you and Abba will like. And we're making cookies for Abba tonight. Yes, peanut butter cookies. Hope you both like them.
By the way, how's the cheese in Iraq?

Ode to my Pookie Bear

From Feburay, 2008:
Yes! my husband calls me Pookie Bear!
They say behind every man of consequence is a good woman. Well, I would like to add to that: Behind every good man of consequence is an excellent woman. I love ya' Pookie
This is Avraham, serving in Iraq with Mark....
Hi everyone! Avraham here. I am doing well, but I had to counsel Abba (dad in hebrew) this week.

You see, Abba is married to a wonderful woman, Pookie Bear. Now she and Abba started this journal so that they could keep a record of what each other is feeling while Abba is away in Iraq. Up til now, Imma (hebrew for mum, this is a couple that needs kids badly) has been keeping her end of the bargain. Abba, on the other hand...
The other day I was sitting on Abba's bookshelf while he was talking to the Imma on the telephone. I couldn't help but overhearing Imma say she was angry with Abba because Abba was not writing in the journal. The whole point was to help each know how the other was doing. Without him writing, she felt separated, distant, and she did not like that.

Afterwards, Abba asked me what he should do. I told him that I remembered Imma speaking of how she wrote an ode to you, Abba. Maybe you could make an Ode to Imma.
Today Shabbat, and if Abba was home right now, he would be helping Imma get ready for Shabbat. He would help her set the table and clean the living room. He would set up the washing basin and help prepare the Challah.

Then Shabbat would begin. This is the best time of the week because Abba studies Torah with me.
At the start of Shabbat Imma would light the candles. This is her special time, connecting with all of the other Jewish women around the world as they, too, light their candles. Usually she says a prayer after lighting the candles, but before she says the blessing. She told me she often prays that other women would see Y-shua in the light of the candles.
After washing hands and saying the Kiddish, Abba and Imma would take turns reading from the Scriptures to each other.

Imma reads Psalms 112
Abba's portion comes from Proverbs 31: you might know this as the "Virtuous Wife" passage. This is Abba's, "Ode to Pookie Bear":
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trust in her; so he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.
She also rises, while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor; yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is closed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor our her clothing; she shall rejoice in the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways for household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call for blest; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, but you excels them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears Adonai, she should be praised.
Give her the fruits of herhands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Pictures From Hanukkah

From 17th, Feb. 2008
Hanukkah at Beth Messiah. We have a traditon of bringing our families' chanukkiah to Synagogue on Ere Shabbath (Shabbath Evening) to kindle the lights. The only one missing is my Mark.....
This is one of the many chanukkiahs we have in our home. We almost have enough to go into the window of each room. Mark said he recieved several chanukkiahs for Hanukkah. A few he has given away. But a few he has saved and will bring home.
We are hopeful that Mark will be home this year to light the Lights of Freedom.

A Nice Surprise

From Feb. 15th, 2008
Today is Mummie's birthday and we are so thrilled that she is still here with us.
Almost nine years ago, Mummie had a massive stroke and wasn't expected to live.
I insisted upon bringing her home and caring for her myself. Several months later, she was doing so well that we were able to find a nice Assistance Care Home for her.
Since then, she has seen all three of her great-grandsons (hasn't seen her great-granddaughter yet) meet Mark and see us get married and rejoice over my sister getting married as well.
Such a busy lady! She is now living at Hope Haven, wonderful Assistance Care Home and enjoys it greatly. So, I will get a chance to take my mum out for lunch; next week. This week is booked.
But what thrilled her was when Mark called from Iraq.
Mark and my mum have such a wonderful relationship. He has called her Mummie since we began courting and she has loved him as a son since the first day they met. In fact, it was my mum who told me Mark loved me.
Mummie knows best.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Keeping Busy

From Feb. 2008:

After speaking to Mark, he has agreed that I can start decorating the Oneg room for Shabbat. As long as I do it before Shabbat and not on it.

After all, Shabbat is a day of rest.

And I so enjoy making things pretty for this the first of the Holy Days.

Besides, it gives me something esle to do and get out of myself.

Torah Study and Letters

From January 16th, 2008:

Usually I go to Torah study this evening, but I am starting to come down with a cold, so I am staying home this evening.

While out shopping the other day, I found this little Pink Pig dressed in a devil's outfit. When you press it's tummy, it sings "Hot Stuff."

Really cute, I will place it no Mark's next Care package.

I think he will like.

I also worked on the next supply cookies that I will add to the box, along with a cards.

Mark says it is wonderful to recieve e-mail, but there is something about getting a letter, a card that one can hold, touch, that brings comfort beyobd words.

It's Been Awhile

From Januray 15th, 2008:
It is a quiet Tuesday evening.
most evening are quiet around here with Mark in Iraq.
I miss him so miss.
So I am catching up on old projects, going through old books we are no longer reading and videos we are no longer watching.
I went out for a long walk and then stopped at Starbucks. One of the Server's husband is also in Iraq, a Navy Medic and will be coming home in a few months
I am happy for her. Wish it was my Mark.
Bur we go on. Mark has his job to do and I have mine.
I have deveopled the habit of going to bed early these days, so I am off for sleep.

PassOver in Iraq

From:Wednesday, January 2, 200811:28:00 AM EST
Feeling: Happy
From an artcile I read about Passover In Iraq last year

Passover in Iraq During the traditional eight days of Pssover or Pesach, Jews reenact and remember the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. The holiday of Passover (Pesach), the Festival of Freedom, is one of three major festivals of the Jewish year. On the nights preceding the first and second day of Passover, a seder, a ceremonial meal, is held with foods that symbolize the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and rituals that tell the stories of ancient Jewish history.
Jewish American soldiers celebrate Passover in Iraq.
The Haggadah, the storytelling book read at the seder, includes rabbinic commentary, hymns, prayers, and stylized questions and answers.
Citation from Psalms Morris references chapter 137 from the book of Psalms (New Revised Standard Version):
By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How could we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem's fall, how they said, "Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations!" O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!

Sabbath Supper

Wednesday, January 2, 200811:20:00 AM EST

Feeling: Happy
Sabbath Supper
I'd decided on lentil-lamb stew for Sabbath.
This means I have to take the lamb out of the freezer, defrost and since it has already been Kosher, place it in my Greek -Moroccan marinade for a few hours. The marinade? It is a Greek salad dressing I'd learn to make, but I add Moroccan spices for my own personal touch.
I will also place fresh candles in the menorahs. This is a bitter-sweet chore for me. Mark was the one to freshen the candles for Sabbath. He liked to help me get ready for Sabbath. He also made the preparations fun.
But I can't help but smile.

For though he is in Iraq, Mark still kindle the lights (I send him to Iraq with small candle holders, mailed a huge box of candles and grape juice) bless the fruit of the vine and Challah some dear lady send him. We still celebrate Sabbath. It's just more precious to us now.
Shabbath is going to even a sweeter time when he returns home.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

First Day of the New Year

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 9:51:00 PM EST
Feeling: Quiet
Watching: Twlight Zone
It has been a good day.

Both our mums called to wish me a Happy New Year to check up on me and see how I was doing.
I went out to StarBucks this afternoon.

This is something Mark and I always did on New Year's Day; go to StarBucks.
The clerk was rather rude when taking my order and the order was wrong. I was willing to give the woman grace; she must be having a very bad day. Sometimes we tend to take things personal, when the problem isn't us, but the other person. So, I just said a silence prayer, took my coffee and sat down to read my book.
It is time for me to call it a night. One of my goals is to get to bed at a decent time and I am right now pushing it.

New Year's Day

From; Tuesday, January 1, 2008
1:21:00 PM EST Feeling: Happy
Watcing:Twlight Zone

I grew up with many, many New Year's traditions.

The coming New Year was just as exciting for us as the other holidays.
My mum made it so.
My sister and I got to stay up late 12 to see the New Year come in.
My step-father always insisted in having a BBQ's Pig's Head (yuck! never knew the reason for that, nor did I partake) Black-eye peas; the more peas you ate, the more money you would recieve the coming year. I remember as a child, we would take down the Christmas tree in the evening.
When I became an adult, I would develope a few of my own.
When I was single, and still celebrated Christmas,I kept Old Christmas and the trees (two) didn't come down until Januray 7th. I loved celebrating the 12 days of Christmas and still have fond memories. During this time, I also celebrated Hanukkah, so the month of December was a month of joy and wonder in my home.
But the more I studied my Jewish roots and the history of the early believers, I found much of our Jewish had been removed and replaced with pagan worship. So I began to rediscover my roots and fully embrace them.
I did the same with New Year's Eve. I no longer went out, partying the New Year away, but often went to an all night prayer service, spend the evening reading the book of Ecclesiastes. On New Year's I would read Proverbs.
There is one tradition that I heard about that I loved. Opening the front door to escort the Old Year out and welcome the New Year in.
Last year, Mark and I were at our Shul, praying in the New Year. Then we came home, drank a glass of wine out of our wedding glasses, danced and then
Fireworks I love this little tradition of ours.
This year, Mark called me from Iraq. We brought in the New Year together telling each other "I Love You!" The sweetness and joy I felt hearing the voice of my beloved. Even in Iraq, he causes
Fireworks Since there is no wine where Mark is, he drank grape juice to my wine. But my beloved should be home for the coming of 2009.....Fireworks

New Year's Eve

Monday, December 31, 2007
8:49:00 AM EST Feeling: Sad
Watching: Fox and Friends

It is New Year's Eve.
I will drop off the rent, do some window shopping and pick up salad fixings, wine, hard crust bread and some cheese.

I will work on a baby blanket, hoepfully finish it and then work on Mark's quilt.
Twight Zone will run for the next twenty-four hours and I will watch that this evening.
For many years, every New Year's Eve I would read the book of Ecclesiastes.

On New Year's Day, the Book of Proverbs. But the past few years, I must confess, I have not. Since we were married, Mark and I have brought in the New Year together; our own special New Year's celebration: a glass of wine and some cheese, dancing to some music and then cuddling the New Year in. Mark said he wanted my face he would see at the end of the old year and the first he saw at the New Year.
But this year, Mark is in Iraq and I am here.
This year, I will lift up my wine glass to my busband's picture. And then get back to his quilt.

2:28:00 PM EST Feeling: Sad
Mark called just as it turned 12 am in Iraq. So, we brought the New Year together.

The cough still hanging on. He did recieve a letter from one of our g-dparnets. So he's in good spirits. But he is very tired from work. Seems there was some paperwork mix ups that he had to straighten out.
It has been two months since I'd seem my big guy.

We brought WebCams just before Mark left, but now because the signal in Iraq is weak, we can't use them.

Rainy Sunday

From: Sunday, December 30, 20073:09:00 PM EST
It has been a nice, quiet afternoon and I am about to take a nap.

Hopefully it will have stopped raining when I get up.
The chores of the day have been done; mopping of the kitchen floor, changing and airing out of the bed, cleaning the bathroom. I have some stew already made in the freezer. Just need to pull it out for supper later on.
The baby blanket is coming along nicely. It should be finished in a few days and post a picture of it soon. I like to keep a record of the things I make. To see finish projects always boost my spirits.
I spoke to Mark this morning. He still has that yucky cough from the cold he'd had. But he is doing much better. He said he recieved another of my boxes, which means he has most of the Care Packages I'd send. There is one more coming and that's the one with the homemade cookies.

His days are busy ones. This weekend he had an inspection and from what he tells me, all went. There are still problems with the computers, but he is hopeful that the unit will have internet usage back in their rooms very soon. Mark sends his love and thanks everyone for their prayers.
Well, it's nap time.

Meet One of My Flavorite Rabbis

From: Sunday, December 30, 200711:43:00 AM EST
Rebbe With a Cause Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Boteach is one of my flavorite Rabbis. One doesn't have to be Jewish to learn from his wisdom.
The Receding Hemlines of Crown Heights
If even pious and religious men have been conditioned to fixate on a woman's looks, then woe unto the rest of us!
Returning to the Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for a Shabbos is an exhilarating experience. Lubavitchers are arguably the most alive people in the world, and there is a pulse and electricity in the air that can scarcely be found anywhere else.What I did not expect, however, was to be approached by a large number of young rabbinical students (bochurim) of marriageable age who wanted counseling as to how to overcome their obsession with a woman's looks on dates. Some of the bochurim who approached me had dated upwards of 40 women and had been instantly dismissive if she wasn't a beauty. Mind you, these were not bums. Most were outstanding young scholars, deeply religious, serious about their rabbinical degrees, and desirous of going out--right after marriage--to the far corners of the world to spread Judaism. But in the area of dating, they had absorbed the shallow mores of the mainstream culture: They judged a woman primarily by her looks. They had a problem and they knew it. They felt like they were betraying the values of the faith to which they have devoted their lives.It was then that I understood the full extent of the downfall of our culture. If even these pious and religious men had been conditioned to fixate on a woman's looks to the exclusion of most everything else, then woe unto the rest of us! The male diminishment of women to mere body parts--high cheekbones, large chest, and long legs--seemed to have been complete, the sum total of those parts, consisting of spirit and heart, all too eclipsed as a result.Nearly 20 years ago when I married as a young Chabad student, it was almost unheard of for a bochur to date an endless stream of women before he found one that was a suitable wife. On the contrary, we were so enamored by the thrill of just being out with a woman that the dating did its magic and most of us found life partners without playing the unwinnable game of endless comparison. But those days are gone. Perhaps for the first time, Chabad and other religious groups are developing their first ever "singles scene," with literally thousands of single men and women remaining unattached for a good portion of their 20's.Sadder still is the way in which the young women of Crown Heights of marriageable age accommodate this growing male shallowness. Last year there was the tragedy of a young Chabad woman in her late teens who died of anorexia. Her case was not an anomaly, as more and more Hassidic girls do everything to keep the pounds off knowing that few rabbinical students will marry them if they are overweight. Then there are the receding hemlines one sees in religious communities and, of course, in the mainstream culture. Religious girls are showing a lot of leg, which might seem innocuous--but it's not. The one thing religious Jews always understood is that modest is sexy. Magnetism exists specifically in those things which are hidden and obscured. When Oxford's Bodleian Library last week decided to display all four of their copies of the Magna Carta for the first time in 800 years, they did so for only a single day. Likewise, in stark contrast to withered celebrities like Pamela Anderson who overexposed themselves to the point of a public yawn, great stars like Barbra Streisand remain interesting for decades because they know when not to appear in public. Overexposure is the very heart of boredom and one of the qualities that always made religious women so profoundly desirable and attractive was their ladylike demeanor and feminine grace. I remember how, at Oxford, whenever Orthodox Jewish girls would come to spend Shabbos with us, the secular Jewish male students were taken aback by how eye-catching they were--their comeliness lying intheir off-limits mystique. Indeed, the very soul of erotic attraction is what relationship experts call "the erotic barrier," the hurdles that a man must surmount in order to obtain a woman who is always just slightly outside his reach.
That same weekend I spent in Crown Heights, I also saw another group of young men who engaged me in endless debate to justify their preoccupation with their potential mates' looks. One told me that there was nothing wrong with a man wanting to be attracted to his wife, and how else could he guarantee that he would not look at other women after he married? "Of course a man has to be attracted to his wife," I conceded. "But your mistake is to so narrowly define attraction as consisting merely of physical beauty. What makes a woman striking is the totality of her being--her body, her mind, her heart, her virtue. Do you believe for one moment that marrying the prettiest woman in the world will serve as an immunity to a roving eye? You can grow just as weary of waking up the same beautiful face as you do to a more ordinary one. Just look at Hollywood. These actors all marry women who look like supermodels, but they cheat on each other and end up divorced after just a few months. Rather, it's finding newness in a relationship that obviates boredom. And that can only come from a woman with real personality." But what about the Torah, he countered, which refers to the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel as being exceedingly beautiful? I responded that whenever the Torah speaks of the matriarchs' beauty, the remark is accompanied by a description of their virtue which served as the great multiplier of that beauty, such as Sarah's readiness to feed all passersby and Rebecca's kindness in watering Eliezer's camels. But the very fact that I had engaged in a debate with learned rabbinical students about how a woman dare not be reduced to a soulless body was troubling. Of late, I have devoted several columns to the increasingly distressed Orthodox Jewish dating scene, where the core Jewish values of character and spiritual virtue are losing out to the dehumanizing qualities of money and looks. Jews who wouldn't be caught dead driving on the Sabbath or eating a cheeseburger are prepared to base the most important decision of their lives on values that are antithetical to the Jewish insistence on character and depth. King Solomon may have exclaimed that "beauty is false, while a woman who fears G-d is to be praised," but many of the Yeshiva students today prefer a shapely body to a sculpted spirit. Jewish values must be restored to religious dating. The Orthodox community can no longer turn a blind eye to the growing artifice of the religious dating scene. Lectures on the Torah's definition of feminine virtue should be made part of the Yeshiva curriculum for marriage-age men to counter the growing effects of a TV and magazine culture that is increasingly marketing women as all cover and no book. Rabbis should give sermons in synagogues that focus on religious men never punishing a woman who puts more time into developing her mind than choosing her clothes. And the women should make it clear to the men who date them that marriage is for adults, not for boys.

Blue is Now One of My flavorite Colours

From; Saturday, December 29, 20079:37:00 PM EST

Feeling: Happy

I'm about to watch the movie the Miracle Worker. It is the life story of Yeshua told from a child's point of view and it is faithful to our Jewish roots. I'd seem it years ago and plan to buy the DVD since it is now available. But for now, I will enjoy watching the Life of Yeshua unfold as I work on a baby blanket.
It is had that satan works best in the darkness. When we hide (or try to hide) our sin, our hurts, pains and fears, this becomes the playground for the devil. Since I was a child I suffered from manic depression; now known as bi-polar. It wasn't until I was an adult and fought out counseling that I realize that what I suffered from was a disease, not just a life long case of moodiness. For awhile, I did take Prozac, in my case it helped. I am no longer on medication. And while there are times the depression comes back, I have learned how to tame it.
Yes, I said tame. As strange as this sounded, I learned not to fight the big blue Jinn, known as Depression, but learned how to turn into my servant.

Like the Jinn from Aladdin' Lamp, that which tried to master me, I learned to master it. That which I still call the Big Blue, what use to keep me in bed or on my sofa, struck in a blue fog, is what now stirs the creaive juices in my being, causes me to reach out to others and drives me into the Torah. I learn through depression to see that "dark time" as a time of growth, of leaning more on my G-d. I use to say to friends, "no, I'm not depress."

But everyone knew I was. Years ago, however, I learned that if I am honest, that I say, "yes, I am depressed right now, but I am working through it," the chains of depression drop off one by one.
I use to see the depression as a dark blue. I still "see" that blue. It is a blue-purple, rich and royal. What I use to hate, I now know that G-d uses in my life.
Blue is a beautiful colour.

The colour of Life itself.

She Died For What She Believed In

A Major blow. May She R.I.P.
US Scrambles to Respond to Assassination
Associated Press December 28, 2007
WASHINGTON - The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to restore stability and democracy in a turbulent, nuclear-armed Islamic nation that has been a critical ally in the war on terror.
While not entirely dependent on Bhutto, recent Bush administration policy on Pakistan had focused heavily on promoting reconciliation between the secular opposition leader who has been dogged by corruption allegations and Pakistan's increasingly unpopular president, Pervez Musharraf, ahead of parliamentary elections set for January.
In Washington and Islamabad, U.S. diplomats urged that Jan. 8 elections should not be postponed and strongly advised against a reimposition of emergency rule that Musharraf had lifted just weeks ago.
FBI and Homeland Security officials sent a bulletin late Thursday to U.S.
law enforcement agencies citing Islamist Web sites as saying al-Qaida had claimed responsibility for the attack and that the group's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, had planned it.
The intelligence community is using all of its resources to determine who was behind the Bhutto assassination, Director of National Intelligence spokesman Ross Feinstein said. But he added, "We're in no position right now to confirm who may have been responsible for the attack."
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the bureau was reviewing the al-Qaida claims for any intelligence value. "The validity of those claims are undetermined," he said.
The United States has poured billions of dollars in financial assistance into Pakistan since Sept. 11, 2001, when Musharraf made a calculated decision to align his government with Washington in going after al-Qaida and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. That move is blamed for several unsuccessful assassination attempts on him.
But it was not immediately clear, however, what if any influence Washington might have or whether Bhutto's death would drive the United States into a deeper embrace of Musharraf, whom some believe offers the best chance for Pakistani stability despite his democratic shortcomings.
"This latest tragedy is likely to reinforce beliefs that Pakistan is a dangerous, messy place and potentially very unstable and fragile and that they need to cling to Musharraf even more than they did in the past," said Daniel Markey, who left the State Department this year and is now a senior fellow at the private Council on Foreign Relations.
"The weight of the administration is still convinced that Musharraf is a helpful rather than a harmful figure," he said.
Amid the political chaos and uncertainty roiling the country in the wake of Bhutto's slaying, U.S.officials scrambled Thursday to understand the implications for the massive aid and counterterrorism programs that have been criticized by lawmakers, especially as al-Qaida and Taliban extremists appear resurgent along the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Underscoring the concerns, a grim President George W. Bush interrupted his vacation to personally condemn Bhutto's murder, demanding that those responsible be brought to justice and calling on Pakistanis to continue to press for democracy.
"We urge them to honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life," Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch, before speaking briefly to Musharraf by phone.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bhutto's assassination would "no doubt test the will and patience of the people of Pakistan" but called on the Pakistani people in a statement "to work together to build a more moderate, peaceful, and democratic future."
Yet such calls could fall on deaf ears, experts said.
"The United States does not have a great deal of leverage where Pakistan is concerned," said Wendy Sherman, who served as counselor to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. "And at the end of the day, the decisions are going to be made by the Pakistani people and by the leadership of Pakistan and not by the United States."
Other analysts warned that Bhutto's assassination might further damage Musharraf, whose democratic credentials have been seriously tarnished by growing authoritarianism, and have lead to widespread unrest.
"Legitimacy for Musharraf will be deferred if not impossible," said Christine Fair, a South Asia expert at the RAND Corporation. "The U.S. likely does not have a plan for this contingency as Musharraf remains a critical ally and because Bhutto's participation was hoped to confer legitimacy to the upcoming January elections."
She also warned that the murder could embolden militants in Pakistan to seek out other high-profile targets.
Bhutto, who served twice as Pakistan's prime minister between 1988 and 1996, was mortally wounded Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi. She had returned to Pakistan from an eight-year exile on Oct. 18 when her homecoming parade in Karachi was also targeted by a suicide attacker.
The attempt on her life added to U.S. concerns about the country that had already been heightened by the situation in Pakistan, largely ungoverned frontier provinces where a truce between Musharraf's government and tribal leaders is credited with helping extremists regroup and reorganize.
In addition, Musharraf's declaration of emergency this fall, along with a clampdown on opposition figures and judges, irritated the administration, which was criticized in Congress for lax oversight of the nearly $10 billion (euro6.9 billion) in U.S. that poured into the country since he became an indispensable counterterrorism ally after 9/11/.
Under heavy U.S. pressure, Musharraf resigned as army chief and earlier this month lifted emergency rule to prepare for the elections. Bhutto's return and ability to run for parliament had been a cornerstone of Bush's policy in Pakistan.
Congress last week imposed new restrictions on U.S. assistance to Pakistan, including tying $50 million (euro34 million) in military aid to State Department assurances that the country is making "concerted efforts" to prevent terrorists from operating inside its borders.
Under the law, which provides a total of $300 million (euro207 million) in aid to Pakistan and was signed by Bush on Wednesday, Rice also must guarantee that Pakistan is implementing democratic reforms, including releasing political prisoners and restoring an independent judiciary. The law also prevents any of the funds from being used for cash transfer assistance to Pakistan, but that stipulation had already been adopted by the administration.

Coke and Popcorn

Saturday, December 29, 20075:37:00 PM EST
Feeling: Happy
It's been a quiet day.

I spend it watching DVDs. One (Miss Potter) kept skipping, so I had to wait until after Sabbath to take it back and I will in a few minutes.
I was looking forward to watching this movie, so I am disappointed. Hopefully the Naro (where I rent my movies) will have another copy.
Normally, I'm at the Temple for Sabbath. But since I am on bed rest, (doctor's orders) I read some and then watched some movies.

Funny how just losing oneself in a story can help calm your spirit. It actually improved my health. So today was a mental health day. I will so the same tomorrow. Next week, however, I will go back to not watch TV on the Sabbath. It just something we don't do. By tuning out the world for 24 hours once a week, truly is a piece of heaven on earth.
But today, was truly a day of rest, resting on the sofa and watching favorite mades the day truly a day of rest.
Tomorrow, I will see if the Naro has Beauty and The Beast.

My favorite Fairy Tale.

No Regrets

Dec. 29, 2007 1:03:00 AM

Well, I have broken one of my rules.

I should be in bed, but I cannot sleep, so I am writing instead of laying in bed.

I am about to change that. I do feel sleep coming and I do plan to rest tomorrow. One moment at a time.
This is hard. It is hard being away from the one you love this long. To know that my beloved is in harm's ways. There are times I jump when the phone or doorbell rings or there is a knob at the door. I don't watch the news much anymore, because of the thoughts that often fill my mind.
Yes, I knew Mark could and would be deployed when I married him. I knew there would be lonely nights, days of no e-mail or phone calls.

Months before I would see him again.
But I have no regets. I am a pround army wife; standing beside my big guy as he does the job he does best. As he defends the nation we both love, as he works to help the people of Iraq rebuild their lives, I stand with him, pray for him bake and send cookies and keep that candle in the window burning intil he returns to my arms.


Friday, December 28, 20079:02:00 AM EST

Feeling: Happy
Hearing: Fox and Friends

I slept in late.

I was in bed by 8:30 late night and up around 8 a.m. So that was a good sleep. And while I am still sleepy, I will make the Challah and then take a long nap.
I am behind my time, I know, but I really needed the sleep. I have to take care of myself: for me, for my beloved who is courting on me. For my Heavenly Father.
I am going to look into a new blood pressure cuff. I will take my workouts more seriously. The past few days I have taken a hard look at somethings that truly have to go.

Including several so-called friends who have been draining my energy.
So why am I making these changes make this public?
It makes me accountable, keeping a running record of what I am doing. And knowing others are aware and praying for me, this will be keep me honest.
So, now it its time to make the Challah. And while it is baking, I will work on the baby blanket for Beth's new grandson.
One of the stress levels in my life have now been removed.

There is a saying I like and agree with; People are brought into your life for a reason, a season or for a life time.
A friendship has been cut loose. Someone who drained me of time and energy and resources. I wish this person and her family the best. But it is time to let this person go and allow G-d do what needs to be done.
It was needful. And franky I feel better for having done so.