Season of Our Birthdays

“MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES.” [erroneously attributed to an] ancient Chinese curse

It’s been quite an interesting season leading up to my birthday. And I mean that in the way people use this word as a euphemism for unpleasant.

But it hasn’t been entirely unpleasant.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra that I strive to find balance in all areas of life, to judge all experiences as having good and bad aspects. Or maybe I don’t want to focus on the ick factor of hosting an intestinal parasite for the past two months.

I prefer to share some facts I learned about Giardia lamblia and to sing the praises of the people who took care of me until I regained my strength:

  • First, for those who were quick to blame Henry, or blame me for letting him kiss me on the face: the Giardia strain in dogs is different from the strain in humans. I brought this souvenir back from Lac St Pierre, Canada. Courtesy of the beavers living in that lake.
  • Why didn’t the other people who were at the cottage with me get sick? After all, they were wading and swimming in the lake; all I did was paddle around in a kayak. As the gastroenterologist patiently explained, some people have a natural immunity to Giardia and I, apparently, am not some people.
  • Early in September, when my symptoms were relatively mild and I mistook them for a stomach bug, I was not contagious. I didn’t seek medical attention. If I had gotten on a scale, I might have realized that losing 10 pounds was serious. 
  • When my symptoms flared up two weeks later, I was very sick, and also afraid it was something more serious. I thought cancer, not parasite.
  • I’m so grateful: to my spouse who prepared BRAT diet foods for me; to my primary care physician who was determined to diagnose and treat me while I waited weeks to see the gastroenterologist; to the nurses and pharmacists who showed great compassion while I worked my way through not one but two courses of medication. 

Just five more days of that metallic taste, and not a drop of alcohol, in my mouth. I’m looking forward to celebrating the first sabbath in November with a glass of wine for kiddush.

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Sixty is a Suitable Age

“Rabbi Yoḥanan says: They place on the Great Sanhedrin only men of high stature, and of wisdom, and of pleasant appearance, and of suitable age so that they will be respected.” Talmud Sanhedrin 17a


You may be familiar with the mishnah outlining the ages and stages of the life cycle of a Jewish male in the second century: “At five years of age the study of Scripture…at thirteen the commandments…at eighteen the bridal canopy…at sixty old age, etc.” (Pirkei Avot 5:21) My spouse, having encountered this text many times, has been bemoaning that he’s “almost sixty, an old man” since turning 59 exactly one year ago. I’ve been trying to convince him for just as long that he’s not nearly as old as my old man, who will turn 80 in January. 

In honor of my guy’s birthday, I share the teaching of Rabbi Yoḥanan, who defines sixty as an appropriate age to serve on the highest rabbinic court, an age that commands respect. He’s not a rabbihe’s a Research Scientist, respected by his colleagues. He’s also a man of wisdom, a parent who is both honored and loved by his children.

There’s nobody else I’d want to grow older with. 

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56 ÷ 2 = 28

Our eldest turns 28 this week, the age I was when she was born. She is an accomplished, funny, intelligent, and kind person. Beautiful inside and out. I’m grateful that we are celebrating her birthday with her, in person, this year.