Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Noodle Kugel: A very short story

The Noodle Kugel

I had a funny thing happen around a noodle kugel that a friend named Elsa made for Mina to eat at Thanksgiving time. Mina had some of the kugel (she had eaten some the day before as Elsa had brought it all the way from Oceanside, Ca.) after I left for home). Mina had what was left put in a locked refrigerator at the nursing home but when she asked for it, I was going to eat some too, it was gone. This also happened previously with some probiotic yogurt I had brought. A male nurse who seemed to be in charge of the Frig encouraged me to talk to the Director of the Home because he was under the impression that someone ate our food and this was wrong. Explaining to this very non Jewish guy(The Director) what a noodle kugel was not easy. He asked if he could replace it, like go out and buy one. Understand, we are in the middle of the Mexican American ghetto which is where this nursing home happens to be located. I said "You can't replace a noodle kugel, it is not replaceable. He said is it llike Ramen noodles?

I said "Kugel meanss pudding in Yiddish". The Director looked at me blankly. " It is hard to describe" I said "but there is farmer's cheese in it". Oy Vey. What could I say? Getting to the point, the Director said Mina had to put a date on the food she put in the Frig in order to expect it to be there as the staff is instructed to throw it out if it doesn't have a date. I wondered but not outloud why the staff didn't seem to know this and 'au contrar' seemed to think other staff were eating food meant for the residents. I told him to call Mina and tell her this information about the dating of the food. He could have gone down to her room in the first place but did not. Makes me wonder about those like Mina who are pretty much bed bound. Mina listened and admitted she had not dated the food.

Anyway, we both ended up getting some mediocre tuna fish sandwiches to eat as a mid-day snack. It was a poor substitute for the vision and taste I imagined of that noodle kugel Mina's friend Elsa had made. When I got home, I felt deprived so I bought a sweet at a coffee house and went home. Here I have lost 24 lbs. since Mina's fall, and now I think I am off the wagon once again. Oh, no, that damn noodle kugel. But it seemed so right, the way it looked in my mind with a sweet brown and yellow crust, yummy egg noodles and farmer's cheese and brown sugar oozing about. My Mother's face was watching me think about the noodle kugel and I know she smiled knowingly as I ate a pumpkin slice instead along with a cup of coffee.

Such are my days. Learn something every day at the nursing home.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Email to Friend about Mina plus

Sent from my iPod

Begin forwarded message:

From: Sharon Raphael
Date: November 26, 2009 12:26:48 PM PST
Subject: Re: Happy Thanksgiving Wishes...


Yes, of course I will take Mina the card as I do all the others. It will be nice to see you in December.

Wed late afternonn Mina and I sat down and had a t-day dinner at the
Rehab place. It wasn't as good as the food usually is, not even any cranberry sauce. But we listened to some pretty fine Mexican music and enjoyed the other 2 guests at our table, one engaging Thai fellow who will be leaving the place after 7 mo. (he had a stroke) and a smiling woman with dementia who loved being seranaded. She still had her sex appeal.

Mina sat in her wheelchair longer than usual. It is hard for her as she has 2 pressure sores she got from being in the hospital not the nursing home. But she did okay and they are healing. So is her ankle.

Today Mina has 4 sets of visitors arriving mostly at different times.
After Carolyn and I visit, we are both going to a family style cafeteria I like for our own T-Day dinner in LB.

Mina's friend Elsa is bringing Mina a noodle kugel she baked.

All the best,


Yesterday after sending an old friend from high school one of those emails I had forwarded on to twelve people, I heard back from her. She asked me how I was. I told her about what happened to Mina and then she called me on the phone. I have only seen this person once since our early college days and that time being fairly recently. Several years ago, we got together when she happened to be in my city for a convention. Like me, my friend is a Professor in a similar field so we do have a lot to talk about on that score. Our lives drifted in different directions as my friend is a very conservative religious Jew, and I am a very non conservative non religious Jew. Seems like our views on Israel are not as far apart as one might guess. We both think the leftist knee jerk reaction to everything very diversified Israelis (people tend to see Israelis as all white) do or think is wrong. We both are against settlements.

My former classmate has been married for many years since college days. After I sort of "came out" with her, I moved to California and we drifted apart but one day about ten years ago I came across her name in an academic publication, I googled her and her email came up so I wrote. Several years ago when we met at a downtown hotel, I saw the same person I knew in high school, a caring, thoughtful person who reached out to me though even back then we appeared to live in such different worlds. On second, thought, she kind of revealed to me that we are not in such different worlds. Her primary attachments seem to be with woman friends. Her best friend is a nun at her college. It is hard to discern what our differences really are but the chasm seems pretty large to me. It is like to talking to my cousin in NYC. who has been married for eons, lives on Long Island, and is very involved with her grandchildren. Family is not the focus of my life, Mina and our friends are though.

Nonetheless, my friend and I had a good conversation. It is nice to know people care even if we are connecting again at these later ages. There is something about connecting at this time in life (We are both approaching 70 in year and half. I think it has to do with family roles changing. It is easier for heterosexual women to reach across the divide because they are no longer threatened. The lost years are their (her) loss not mine.

Sharon Raphael