Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Simchat Torah 5776


Simchat Torah lit. means 'Rejoicing in the Law'. Torah is commonly translated to mean 'law', but also means 'teaching'. Today celebrates the last parsha or weekly Torah portion of the year, and the first parsha of the year starting the 'cycle' again. That beginning parsha of the year is read this Saturday. Some spread the parsha out for the entire week, but the parsha is chanted out loud at the synagogue during services. And, most people study Torah on Shabbat. For Simchat Torah, we sing and dance around with the Torahs at the synagogue, eat candy, sometimes the adults drink schnapps, read parts of the end and beginning of the scroll, and most synagogues roll out one of them and the congregation holds onto it as it is completely unrolled so everyone can look at it. You have to be careful not to touch the areas with letters. Or, really anywhere but the edges. The oils from our fingers can damage it. The parchment part is made out of lambskin, and writing is handmade by a skilled scribe using ink. It's a special style of writing Hebrew, too. Also, they omit the vowels...It's pretty impressive to see it totally unrolled. It's easier to move it to the beginning this way too. Some places eventually have the congregation dance with the Torahs out in the streets just outside the synagogue. It can be a pretty fun holiday.
:iconfrancisplz:I haven't gone to a Simchat Torah thing for a few years, though. I'm still sick, and don't want to be around a lot of people while on a higher dose of the new med. So, it wouldn't be a good idea to go this year. Don't want to feel worse...:iconlietplz:Also, we have a mini family Torah scroll. Complete with a cardboard arc it sits in. Even has a little yod, which is a pointer shaped like a hand with the pointer finger extended. It's the only way to keep your place without physically touching the letters. I think it has a tiny chest plate or shield, too. (Also, has it's own cover.) Kind of cute. Since it's mini-sized, it can be a bit difficult to actually read. It'd be interesting to just go through, though. It's also National Noodle Day, Mad Hatter Day, and National German-American Day. I'm part German. So, yay!:iconranranruuplz:Celebrating more of my people that way. Noodles are awesome! I could probably eat them all day. The Mad Hatter is one of my fave characters from Alice in Wonderland. I think I remember reading that it's a day where the 'normal' is crazy, and the crazy stuff is normal. Kind of an interesting way of looking at things. 
This is my wallpaper for October. It's Xerxes Break from Pandora Hearts. Back when he had long hair, and seemed a bit crazier. I think he's one of the most complex characters of the series. There were moments where you didn't really know which side he was on. Break was one of the first ones to go into the Abyss, meet the 'Will of the Abyss', and come out alive. He changed history in order to save someone (by asking the Will to help him), only to find out it didn't work out in the end. He also offset everyone's 'destiny' by doing so. The Will took out his eye during his meeting with her, and she gave it to Cheshire. (Originally was Alice's cat. Yep, like Alice in Wonderland...:iconheroamericaplz:It's a big theme throughout the series, although it certainly has it's own unique story line. Might even be more twisted than Alice in Wonderland.) He loves sweets (sometimes he just eats sugar cubes), and usually has a doll on his shoulder named Emily. The doll sometimes talks. He's a bit of a trickster, incredibly manipulative, was once a knight and is a very skilled swordsman (his cane can turn into a sword), doesn't physically age, and is probably the strongest in the Pandora Hearts organization. The Mad Hatter is his Chain. He's one of my favorite characters. Anyways, I thought this was perfect for a Halloween-like theme.

My Paris calendar features the Eiffel Tower. Particularly around autumn. Cultural exhibits, shows, and movies fill the event schedule around it at this time. The European Cultural Heritage Days are held there at the end of September. Nuit Blanche or White Night is an annual night arts festival during the first weekend of October. 

My Jewish calendar's main pic features a Torah shield, anonymous maker, made out of silver, Germany; 1750-1800. Torah shields go over the covering for the scrolls. Usually, there are some beautiful designs. Some have removable plates that have holiday names written out in Hebrew. This one seems to be stuck on Shavuot. I would have thought they'd find one with Simchat Torah on it (if it had to have the removable plates), to go with the theme, since the holiday is during this month. But, that's ok, it's Torah related.:iconswissplz:The design is pretty cool, too. It's cool they found one that's so old. Especially from where it came from. Doesn't look that old, either. The second pic's of an etrog box, made by Piet Izak Cohen, out of silver and felt, Amsterdam, Netherlands; 1995. An etrog is a citrus fruit kind of similar to a lemon. We use it during Sukkot which recently ended. (It's an 8-day harvest holiday.) Some make jam out of them, and some let it shrivel up and use it as decoration. My mom would occasionally do the latter. They become really hard like rocks, and turn into a dark orangey color. (We had 2 sitting around for a few years.:iconhanatamagoplz:) We have a nice etrog box still. It's made out of a dark red wood, and has yellow/gold lettering and a design of an etrog on the top. The inside is lined with red velvet. It's been a long time since I've used it. This one's kind of a modern design, though. Looks like it's made in the shape of the fruit with loops as a handle. It has writing going down the sides of it. Not my style, but interesting to see. 

The month-long holidays are: National Apple Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pretzel Month, National Seafood Month, American Cheese Month, Bat Appreciation Month, Corn Month, German-American Heritage Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, National Cookbook Month, Polish-American Heritage Month, Sausage Month, Spinach Lovers Month. Some are for important causes, some are to make you appreciate things you may take for granted, and some are just for fun.

I've been sick for the past week.:iconusaplz:I started to feel like I had a bit of a scratchy throat that Wednesday night. That feeling happened at the tail end of going to a potluck/social thing with a support group. It just felt really scratchy the rest of the night. I didn't really cough, but it was a weird feeling. 

The next day, it started to really hit me. I never had a fever during it, although my temp was unusually high for my norm. My 'norm' is around 96.2. I think my highest temp during it was like 98.9. Not really fever range.:iconnorwayunimpressedplz:Had an extremely runny nose (I was going through tissues like crazy!:sick:), face felt like it was on fire most of the time (my sinuses might have been full):onfire:, headaches, sensitive to certain things in the air or light (couldn't really tell. But, my eyes became really watery after being out for a while one night), and general aches all over. I had one night where I couldn't stop coughing, but that was it.

Dad was sick a couple days before me. Hers seemed a bit different. She had a horrible hacking cough, and things progressed until she went to the ER. They told her she had acute bronchitis, and told her to have benadryl and, I think, some sort of inhaler. They kept asking if she had asthma. That's kind of scary in itself.:iconitalyishorrifiedplz:She seems a lot better now. In fact, it seems to be out of her system. (Hopefully it is!) 

I'm still slowly getting over mine. It feels like it's almost gone, but my nose is still weird (more stuffed up rather than runny, although it does occasionally get that way still. Sometimes it's hard to breathe with it while I'm eating or something. It's also very sore), my throat feels a tad sore, and I get slightly dizzy at times. I just want it to be totally gone already!:iconhongkongplz:I think the reason why it's taking longer than usual, is because I've upped the dosage of azathioprine. That probably also helped with getting me sick in the first place. My immune system was already taking a hit from it. Interestingly, I got sick only about 8 days after starting this new dose...I've decided to keep track of when I get sick in the future, to see how common it'll be. I'm going to try to be a bit more diligent, but there's only so much you can do, and I have kind of a morbid fascination with it right now. I usually don't get sick that often. Maybe once a year. But, I've gone for years without being sick, too. So, I'm just not used to it. 

I spent Yom Kippur at home, and joined services online. It was very interesting. Thought I wouldn't get much from watching it online, but I did. I also had a plethora of choices (services, study, talks, etc.) to choose from throughout the day. I only really paused to eat. Almost felt like it was more engaging this way. Also, some synagogues have really beautiful sanctuaries. Some congregations actually put handouts and prayer books up in a pdf file so the people watching can follow along. I might try out a different synagogue every Shabbat to see the ones I like the most. It's a handy tool for people who are immunosuppressed, live where there isn't a synagogue anywhere near them (one person commented that they watch every service at one of them, and they come from Germany. The nearest synagogue from where they are is at least an hour's drive. Cool to hear stories like that, and who they can help), etc. 

Yizkor on Yom Kippur was a bit difficult to sit through. Yizkor is a memorial service. Essentially, it's for anyone who has lost a loved one. People share stories, there are poems, prayers, etc. Parts of it made me think of Mom, and every so often I thought maybe I should skip it, thinking it might be too much. But, I actually sat through the whole thing. The last time I went to a yizkor service was about a year after she passed. That was about 2 years ago. I remember walking out of that one about a third of the way into it. It was too much.:iconwtfromanoplz: 

I went to my eye exam appointment today. The optometrist was kind of pushy. I was trying to fill out the paperwork, and she grabbed it from me. After some talking, I got it back and filled out most of it. My right contact lens has been bothering me for the last couple of days. It won't focus all the way. Things are really blurry in that eye. This makes the good side kind of overcompensate, leading to some headaches.:iconraivisplz:It's been hard to watch TV sometimes because of it. Luckily, it was time for my annual exam again. Normally, I get an optometrist who's kind of a creepy old guy. This time it was a really pushy woman who wasn't listening to a thing I said.:iconromanoplz:There's never anyone who's 'normal', is there? We went in and started the exam with the cover one eye and tell me how far down the list you can read thing, then the other eye. My eyes seem to be really bad, because I couldn't read much passed the 3rd line with my left, and only some from the 2nd on my right. This was with my contacts in.:icondisgusted-hongkong:We had to stop a few minutes into that, because there was a problem with something, and I won't be able to have it done until next month. The optometrist said she could at least tell that I might need a different prescription. That's good to know that it's not just in my head. It's strange that it seemed to have only gotten weird the last couple of days, though. Makes me wonder if it's just the contacts themselves?:iconchibiaustriaplz:Oh, well. I guess I'll find out next month. 

Lately, I've been trying to go back to bed early, again. It's helped a bit with getting over my cold. (There was one day that I spent most of it in bed, because I was feeling so horrible.) Also, feels nice to go to bed at a somewhat decent time. Yesterday I started up my sit-ups again. I'm doing 10 of them twice a day this time. Starting kind of light, since I'm not entirely out of the woods yet with my cold. Hoping to at least get one 2-mile walk in tomorrow. But, if I'm still sick and don't get to it, it'll be ok. 

I've finished formatting my nightmare anthology. Now I just have to do the cover art before I send it off to be published. I might give the whole thing a once over one more time before I actually submit it.:iconeestiplz:I already have an idea of what I'll do for the cover art. I might use an old drawing of Max from my first novel (has no relation to this novel). He's a skeleton demon, and I have a drawing of just his head (or skull, however you want to look at it), and one of his entire body from head to toe. I might use his skull for a main part of it, and maybe take out a few of his other bones to scatter around it. I'm thinking of having kind of a dark blue color with a lighter color of cloud-like swirls in the background. Then, the title over it. Thinking of blending in the bones somehow. Just enough to still make them out. (Photoshop will be my friend throughout this...) This shall be another interesting project for it. I already have the parts, I just have to turn it into something. I also have some ideas of how to market it better than I did with the first one, and this one seems better all together than the other one. Certainly easier to explain, too. 

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