Thursday, March 27, 2008

What you should expect from your horse sitter.

(Part One of Five)

A professional horse sitter will not just agree to take care of your horses. They will want to come and visit with you and your horses free-of-charge.

The most important issue for an owner at this first meeting is to see how that person mingles with your horses. You want them to get inside the corral or the barn to touch your horses in a gentle way. See how they talk to them and most importantly see how the horses interact with them. If they are hesitant to do this, then you as the owner shouldn’t feel bad to say, “I don’t think this is a good mix.”

Should your horses be inside their stalls due to bad weather, when I arrive. I always go in the stalls with them, and then ask permission to lead them in and out of the stall for a short walk. Afterwards, I tell the prospective client whether or not, I am willing to sit their horses.

If you feel the mix is good, then you and the sitter begin the planning process.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

picking the bones

making chicken soup
not quite my mother’s way
I remember the women sitting in her kitchen
munching on boiled chicken feet
and sucking marrow out of other cooked bones

her friends were younger than I am now
but they seemed like old women to me then
it’s all in perspective

where are the chicken feet now?
hard to find in a supermarket
but an asian market stocks them
along with tongue and other exotic foods

I rarely buy these now
preferring mostly vegetarian recipes
but when holidays come
I still cook mother’s soup
complete with giblets, fennel
and matzah balls

copyright 2006 Linda H. Feinberg

Just a note -- Passover is coming and I bought Matzah along with other goodies for our seder while at the grocery store last night. It made me think of this poem.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Purim

Happy Purim. We will be going to a party tonight. Joe plans on dressing in his western clothes, complete with stetson type hat. I’ll add a bandana to my hair. That should be festive enough. For those who wonder about this Jewish holiday, it is based on the biblical Book of Esther and we have fun dressing in costumes. We read the story, sing songs and eat a festive meal too.

While it is still winter here (despite technically being the first of spring), we are looking forward to our trip to visit our grandchildren in April. Last year “Lucky” was born on my birthday, just a few hours before we arrived. This photo from last year shows her nursing. She’ll be all grown up when we see her again.

Meanwhile, I thought I would post another poem. This one is old, from my first poetry book, but I still like the image of the early spring flowers. It will probably be another four weeks before we see them here in New Hampshire.

Dressed in lavender and pink
spring arrives
like the long awaited bridesmaids
slowly marching down the aisle
stately in demeanor
anxiously awaiting
the show to begin.

copyright 1990 Linda H. Feinberg from "red poppies and green clover"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reducing your anxiety about your horses when you're away

What do you need to learn about having just anyone sit your horses?

What did I hear you say, you can’t take time off because you don’t know who you can trust with your horses? Maybe, you’ve had bad experiences in the past with others you have hired. I hear these statements often and some sad tales as well.

Possibly you are not doing your homework. Possibly you are unaware there are individuals available who are experienced professional horse sitters.

There is a way to reduce your anxiety about leaving your horses when you go away, by finding a reliable horse sitter.

One key way is to check with veterinary offices, feed stores, farriers, boarding stables, newspapers where a professional sitter may advertise, or even website links for their postings, for those who service your area.

Starting in two weeks, I will post a series of information, providing what horse owners should expect from a professional sitter. I hope that you enjoy them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Tourists at Masada

Dead Sea

buses drive along the Dead Sea
filled with tourists of all colors and creeds
modern cable cars bring them up to
the ancient fort called Masada

I can’t imagine anyone living here
especially thousands of years ago
but we are seeing empty cisterns
the storage rooms, baths,
their “apartments” along the walls,
Herod’s broken down palace,
nesting sites for the pigeons
the Snake Path and Roman ramp,
the difficult access to this place in the past

we say a prayer in the old synagogue
one of our group brought a tallis
and prayer book for this purpose
the rest of us are busy with our cameras
while listening to the guide
trying to understand the fear
the zealots had of Roman slavery
their decision to commit suicide
no escape – no other options
soldiers camped all around
outnumbering them

while history is being brought to life for us
I notice the birds chirping and a tree growing
in the dry and barren soil
the birds seem comfortable with the tourists –
after all they can fly away quickly
the tree reminds me that life renews and
beauty can blossom
even in a place of such desolation

copyright 2006 Linda H. Feinberg
published 2006, BU Arts & Sciences (partial)
and The Reporter

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Redbud Tree explained

Joe and I took a trip to Israel in March of 2006. I had never seen a redbud tree before and was impressed with the beautiful blossoms. I took a photo looking up. I like to play with oil pastels (they are like kids crayons) and made a drawing. I experimented with pen and ink (calligraphy) on a transparency, but I decided to use the computer and printer instead for the writing. I added a transparency over the drawing with both the Hebrew and English verses from Song of Songs 2:11-12 (I have a Hebrew word processor as well as an English one).

For now the winter is past,
The rains are over and gone,
The blossoms appear on the land . . .

Of course, it is still winter here in New Hampshire, but we can dream about spring. I already bought some seeds for my garden and I hope to see some bare ground in the next few weeks.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Art Exhibit

My art exhibit is up at the Federation , 698 Beech Street, Manchester, NH and I have been receiving positive feedback. I have a basket of card samples in the anteroom, prints and paintings in the hallway. I have already sold one oil pastel (redbud tree with verse from Song of Songs - on right) and I’m very happy about that. As a student artist I always have anxiety about how my “vision” will be received, but so far so good!

Winter is still here, but we are thinking about spring and summer plans. We can see a little bit of grass peaking through the snow. The sun even comes out to play from time to time although the trees have been dancing quite a bit with the heavy winds. Some mornings I actually hear the birds singing. A good sign.

We received a brochure in the mail about a retreat center in New York. While browsing, I saw a familiar artist’s name and I am hoping to take a workshop with him this summer. Joe could also attend the center and take a different workshop. We are still researching and waiting for more information from other places we have attended in the past, but I’m leaning toward this one.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gan Eden (Garden of Eden)

Four or five of us meet at the funeral home
quietly reviewing the procedures,
our roles and the prayers we will say.

Silently we enter the preparation room,
gather our supplies, wash and glove our hands.
We stand respectfully around the departed
and begin the prayer, slowly and with feeling,
first in Hebrew, then in English, so all can understand.

As I say the words, my mind visualizes this woman,
beautiful and healthy again, vibrant with life,
dancing with the other souls,
free at last in the Garden of Eden.

copyright 2003 Linda H. Feinberg

(Quote from the liturgy)"May she tread with righteous feet into the Garden of Eden, for that is the place of the upright, and God protects the feet of the pious."

Green Burial – Hevra Kadisha

At a meeting of Jewish artists recently I was asked whether we had a hevra kadisha (holy burial society) in the state. I mentioned that there were several. The questioner wanted to know why this wasn’t announced somewhere. I hesitated to answer because it’s a touchy subject and those of us who are involved are not really supposed to discuss it.

Meanwhile I have noticed recent newspaper articles about “green burials” and also about the Muslim burial rites clashing with Connecticut laws. It would seem that the Muslim rites are very similar to the Jewish rites – burial within 24 hours, washing the body, wrapping it in a special cloth. Since the state of Connecticut won’t allow burial without a casket or vault (burial liner) if the cemetery resides within 350 feet of homes, the Muslims are being flexible and respecting the laws of the land. They also put some soil in the coffin or vault so that the body is in touch with the earth in accordance with Islamic law. Jews who are not being buried in Israel frequently have dirt from Israel placed in the coffin as well.

Green burials seem to be catching on as people become concerned about the environment and the costs associated with the average traditional funeral ($6,500 according to the National Funeral Directors Association) plus the cemetery costs. Cremations are also increasing.

As Jews we have choices in our state. We can have a funeral director guide us, or we can use our own traditions for guidance. Our traditions are already “green” – no chemical preservatives, no metal casket, and are less harmful to the environment. The hevra kadisha is divided into two groups, one for preparation of women, one for preparation of men. We are very respectful of the deceased at all times, saying prayers (both in Hebrew and English), washing, shrouding and placing the body in a wood coffin (interestingly enough the Hebrew word “Aron” is used both for the coffin and for the “Aron Kodesh” – the holy ark which holds the torah).

Another group is asked to provide a “shomer” (watcher, guard) at all times until the coffin is buried. We usually take one to two hour shifts. It is traditional to read psalms while you are sitting with the coffin. It is not necessary for any of the people involved to actually know the deceased.

For more information, contact your local rabbi. Also, on the web, good materials can be found at, and other sites. Just do a search for “hevra kadisha” or “green burial” or “Muslim burial rites” – I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.

Behind the Lies

The following scene is one of a number of military strikes against the United States by Iranian submarines in my first novel, "Behind the Lies."

Kilo 102 launches its cruise missile aimed at San Francisco. On the surface, the winds and rain along with five foot waves are tossing every vessel around like corks. As the missile rises above the surface, the guided missile destroyer USS Hawkeye DDG 94 spots it on its Combat Information Center radar. Trying desperately to destroy the missile before it gets out of range; they begin to rotate their surface-to- air launcher in the direction of the missile. Suddenly the launcher ceases to operate. Attempt after attempt to restart provides no results. Their last resort is to notify Pacific Naval Command and tell them the shore based batteries must deal with the incoming missile. California’s National Guard manning the defense batteries are new to combat. The soldiers are visibly frightened by the enormous task they just received. Anxiously, they begin searching for the incoming on their radar screens. Locating the inbound missile they fire two surface-to-air missiles. Will they be on target and in time to save the city?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

More beautiful snow.

Shabbat, March 1, 2008
Truly a winter wonderland in NH.

We are close to breaking the record on snow totals for our state this year. It is beautiful. I love looking out the window and seeing the frosted tree limbs. It’s a great day for me to write, play with my art supplies and say a few prayers. While I’m not an observant Jew, I always feel a connection to the spiritual and believe in having a sabbath day. I bought a new prayer book recently, (Siddur Eit Ratzon, Shiviti Publications
) and have been enjoying the more modern translations and meditations.

Joe helped me mount my art exhibit this week. I am the “Artist of the Month” for March at the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, 698 Beech Street, Manchester. The building is open on weekdays, 8:30 to 4:00. I have already had some positive feedback (which a creative person always appreciates). This is my second exhibit and I’m still nervous about what people think of my work.

I finished my six week art class, “Bootcamp Drawing” with Cameron Bennett. It was very intense for me, especially since I don’t like drawing with charcoal. Cameron was attempting to teach me how to draw without using technical aids like grids. Just to draw what I see. He’s a good teacher, but I definitely need to work on this area. I have so many creative images in my head (from my poetry and my busy brain), but I need to have better technical skills to get them out on paper. Will keep working. [Sometimes I see myself as the turtle, slow and steady, but I eventually get where I’m going.]

My business (Z-Best Bookkeeping) tends to keep me too busy during the week, so the creative side has to wait for the weekends to play. People wonder how I can do bookkeeping (the logical/mathematical stuff) and poetry or art. I don’t see any problem. Both sides of my brain seem to be working well. There is creativity involved in problem solving, especially when I am called in as a QuickBooks Certified Proadvisor to do some trouble shooting.

A Wonderful Snowy Winter

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Have had lots of good snow. Went cross-country skiing both weekend days. Saw tracks of snow shoe hares, moose (big feet!), deer, dogs, some little critters I couldn’t identify. Sled dogs out having a good time. We share the trails and step to the side (they have the right of way).

I have been writing for over 25 years and have been a member of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project for many years. I am gradually getting involved with more artist’s associations. I joined the Manchester Artist’s Association. We have a group of Jewish artists organizing as well, but we haven’t picked a name. We coordinate through the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire with our sister city’s art group at Ein Hod (Israel). Two of their artists will be coming in May and we will have a showcase at the Federation’s festival celebrating Israel’s 60th birthday.

Somehow we got on the topic of Hevra Kadisha (Jewish holy burial society). I offered to do an article for the paper (since I am a writer as well as artist) on “green burials” and the Hevra Kadisha. I submitted it to the Reporter (our monthly Jewish newspaper in NH) and the Union Leader (our local daily paper). The Reporter will publish in April if there is room. I will attempt to figure out how to post the article here as well.

Where Jewish Meets Duke Ellington, Portland, ME

February 15th & 16th 2008 in Portland, Maine

I guess we are crazy northerners. Not cold enough in New Hampshire, so we took a weekend trip to Portland, Maine. It was a sunny weekend and a change of scenery for us. We went to a great music program in a small venue (One Longfellow Square), reminded me of coffee houses in Boston in the 60’s when I attended Boston University. There were two musical groups, Okbari and Zhok Therapy. The first group played Armenian and Turkish music on interesting instruments, Oud, violin, drum, tambourine. All outstanding musicians.

The second group was apparently a subgroup of the Casco Bay Tummlers (klezmer music). This group played a combination of middle eastern, Macedonian and jazz. Some of the pieces played were written by the musicians themselves. This was the first time I saw a bass flute. I was very impressed with the musicians, especially the trumpet player. One of the pieces was subtitled “where Jewish meets Duke Ellington”. I thought there should be a poem in there somewhere, but I haven’t come up with it yet. The two groups played together at the end of the program. Wow!

The history museum had an exhibit on the Abenaki indians. They had some computers set up so we could hear voice clips of old recordings. I thought some sounded very similar to Hebrew chants.

The Portland Museum of Art had a sculpture exhibit by John Bisbee. Large pieces made with nails and other metals. Very impressive as was the rest of the museum. Good restaurants in Portland too. We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and the change.

As this is my first attempt at a blog, I haven’t figured out yet how to include links to these interesting places, but you can search for them easily with any search engine.