Sunday, 16 July 2017

An Authentic Summer Moment...Gas and all.

I ate a hot dog yesterday. From a street vendor.

There is much about that collection of words that is unusual.

I really don't like hot dogs. Never have. Not even as a kid. Not even at a picnic, barbecue, or a ball game.  There is something extraordinarily distasteful to me about a casing stuffed with unknown innards roasting on a ubiquitous street cart that passes for an outdoor restaurant. And honestly, veggie hot dogs kind of define everything that is wrong with trying to turn meat dishes into vegan fare. They are tasteless, chewy, spongy, and filled with so much sodium as to mask and substitute for what they are lacking. I have often joked that I would be much happier with just a toasted hot dog bun off the cart filled with all the toppings. I really love hot dog toppings.

Hot dogs are also not what anyone would call easy on my digestive tract. Without getting into ugly descriptors of stomach ailments, if I am going to suffer the after effects, I'd rather suffer them for junk food I truly enjoy like ice cream, chocolate, or greasy french fries. Hot dogs are frankly a waste of a good calorie-binge.

So the question becomes, why did I choose to indulge in a street dog yesterday?

The Husband and I have been making a concerted effort to get to know our still-sort of-newish neighbourhood this summer. Since we moved late last August and then left for The Southern Home only a few months later, we really didn't get as much of a chance as we would have liked to explore and experience all that our new urban digs had to offer. So this summer, we have searched out the festivals, the neighbourhood farmer's markets, the walking trails, the street art, and the natural vibrancy of downtown Toronto. (When people tell me that they have never been to Toronto and want to visit, I always joke and tell them to come in the summer. Not that winter doesn't have its charms, although I personally struggle to find them, but Toronto in the summer is a fantastic place.)

None of this explains why I ate a hot dog.

Yesterday, we decided to walk over to the City Hall Art Show. This outdoor exhibition is an annual favourite of ours. We spent several hours meandering through the assortment of booths, stopping on occasion to chat with the artists and just enjoying Shabbat amidst soaking humidity and soaring temperatures. That's another thing about Toronto in the summer. There is never a perfect weather day. As we made our way back towards home, both of us noted that we were hungry. We were hoping to check out some of the new food trucks at City Hall, but as fate (or city council) would have it, there were only chip and ice cream trucks. As we approached Queen and Spadina, The Husband finally stumbled upon a street meat vendor and the die was cast. Summer in the city. Feel and taste the experience. I could feel the indigestion burbling as he grilled the thing. Tell me something, as an aside. Why does it take longer to grill a veggie dog than it does a regular dog? Is there some pretence working here that if the vendor spends longer on cooking non-meat, it might seem and taste like real meat? Are we worried more about ptomaine or e-Coli in a veggie dog than in a standard dog?

As the vendor worked at his craft, I was far more interested in the street musicians playing on the corner. These guys weren't just jamming for nickels and dimes, they were fricking amazing. Billed as The Big Smoke Brass Band, they are a collection of five wondrously talented guys who have been moving from intersection to intersection this summer in order to get heard. And heard they were. The people at Queen and Spadina literally stopped in their tracks to listen. (This video isn't mine, but you can at least get a feel for their sound. I found trying to record while holding onto a hot dog a first-world social media challenge.)


I was almost disappointed when the hot dog was ready. We stayed a bit longer to listen and then we were off on our wild new journey towards dyspepsia.

So, yes....I ate a hot dog yesterday and yes.....I am paying a huge price for it today. But I figure it was worth it. It was a small price to pay for a truly authentic Toronto summer moment. If we hadn't stopped for the hot dog, I wouldn't have been blessed with the talent of these young men. It almost makes up for my seriously messed up digestive tract.

Check out Big Smoke Brass on social media. They often list where they will be playing next. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Camp is For the Campers

To all parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles and other assorted adults who are currently experiencing child withdrawal because your kid is at overnight camp:

I say this with the utmost compassion and love....BACK THE HELL OFF!

Stop updating and refreshing those camp photo websites in a desperate search to find your kid. And when you do happen to find them, stop posting those pictures on social media. Cut out the daily updates. Cease and desist, parents. It's time to cut the cord.

It's fabulous that Johnny or Jenny had a great day waterskiing, sailing, or dancing. I'm so thrilled that they are settling in and enjoying their camp experience, but here's the thing....that was their day, not yours. This vicarious social media blitz really must stop.

I know. You miss them. I get it. I also get that you want them to be happy, safe, and comfortable. I get that you need to see tangible evidence of that happiness and share it with the world, but speaking from personal experience as a long-time camper, counselor, unit head, and parent of all of those aforementioned, you are doing a great disservice to both your child and yourself by peering into a world in which you absolutely DO NOT belong.

Overnight camp is about so much more than fun activities. It is the first place that many kids get to flex their independence and make choices that maybe mom and dad wouldn't necessarily make for them or even worse, disapprove of. They learn conflict resolution, how to clean up after themselves, how to deal with disappointment, success, failure, first loves, first kisses, new food choices, teamwork, self-advocating, friendships, dealing with people that can be difficult, and most importantly they are doing all of this without parents around to tell them how to do it. When you digitally spy on them (yes...I said, spy!) you are intruding on their privacy. Maybe they don't want you to see them holding hands with somebody? Maybe they had a bad day and don't want to be photographed. Maybe they are deliriously happy but they simply aren't interested in sharing it with you. I realize that might be difficult to hear, but it's true. There are things that happened at camp over forty years ago that I still haven't told my parents about, and that's as it should be.

My dear friend the camp director from my own camping days was always adamant in his mantra that "camp is for the campers." This constant obsession of parents scouring photo websites changes that dynamic. Suddenly, there are no surprises. Parents know far more than they should and kids will have less excitement to share with you when they return home.

Look. I understand that you worry. I know that there is a giant-sized hole. But trust me...if there is a major problem, the camp will contact you. Is your child homesick? Maybe. But trust the camp and their competent staff to deal with it. If it is more than they can handle, you will know. Has your child failed to write? Possibly. But that could be a good thing. When Older Son first went to camp at the tender age of 8, (by himself, on an airplane, and crossing an international border!) we didn't get a single letter, save for the introductory postcard. He was simply too busy and too happy to care.  

Use this time when your child is at camp to reconnect with your spouse or friends or yourself. My mother used to say that the only pots on the stove during the summer were flower pots and that the kitchen was closed. Have fun. Eat out a few more times and cook a few less. Sleep in on weekends. See friends. Enjoy a brief respite from parenthood and trust that your child is in good hands.

And write them letters. Campers love and need to get mail. It is fun for them and a gentle reminder of home. Tell them about the dog or what you have been up to. But seriously...stay away from those photo sites. They aren't helping either you or your kid. Content yourself with the odd picture that the camp puts up on Facebook to let you know everything is just fine and then go and let your camper enjoy his/her summer.

In my next post maybe I will tackle why Visitor's Days are a nightmare for all and should be abolished unless a camper is staying over sessions.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Moments of Me

A friend of mine who is currently recovering from knee-replacement surgery and dealing with rehabilitation therapy posted a wonderfully positive status on Facebook. With her permission, I share it here.

"This morning my husband asked me how I was feeling. I said I was feeling great. Actually feeling like me. I qualified it by saying that I have been having "Moments of Me".

In her world, those "Moments of Me" are how she is defining progress in her recovery. The pain, the struggle, the limitations, the loss of her independence, the boredom, and how very small her world has become recently, is very much outside the comfort zone for this strong, self-reliant, and wonderfully robust woman. Every moment of normality and every moment that she can point to as regular is a step forward in her recuperation and convalescence. As her friend, I was thrilled to hear that she is experiencing more and more of these moments and that she is seeing a small light at the end of a very painful tunnel.

As an addendum to her Facebook post, my friend threw down the gauntlet to her friends to try and define the term "Moments of Me" in personally creative ways. I realize that she is extraordinarily bored and is hoping that we will provide her with some much-needed entertainment. How could I deny her that? And so....friend....challenge accepted.

As I have gotten older, I have become aware of the little bits of me out there in the universe that I wish I could retrieve. Toxic bits. Unkind scraps. Moments that I wish I could have back. How would I have handled myself if I had the chance at a mulligan? Would I have better control over my temper or my tongue? Would I have been less dismissive and more compassionate? Would I have stressed less and enjoyed more? Would I have spent more time on the floor playing and less time worrying about keeping it clean? Would I have stopped more often to appreciate and record just how fleeting it all is? All of those times that I worried over narashkeit (nonsense...the small stuff) served only to diminish my strength and my power over my own world. I'm not for a minute reaching for unattainable self-perfection but rather a better understanding of my faults and foibles and how I can learn from them.

These are indeed "Moments of Me". They are certainly moments that I am embarrassed by and ashamed of, but they are a still part of me. They have been teachable moments and moments of growth and maturation. But they are only useful if they have been instructive. So how do I re-gather these negative "Moments of Me" from the ether of the universe and celebrate the "me" I would rather be?

I sing and I dance. I plug in my headphones and jam, loudly. Last week The Husband posted a rather unflattering video of me belting out "Hello, Dolly" and doing the soft-shoe in the kitchen while preparing brunch. This singing and dancing routine wasn't an isolated incident. I tend to do this a lot but in the privacy of my own space. I was blissfully unaware of his prying eyes and his gentle humour in posting the offending film until the comments came pouring in. I was slightly horrified by my image; hair pulled back, sweatpants, sweatshirt, no makeup, and singing and dancing to music only I could hear. My mortification was all-encompassing. This past weekend, my dear cousin pulled me aside and told me how much he loved the post. He told me that it was a pure Dawn moment. "It was so you", he said without a trace of mocking or irony. Only then did I stop plotting my excruciatingly painful revenge on The Husband and realize that he recorded that image not out of ridicule or malice, but rather out of love and he wanted to share that love he has for me with everybody he knew. He saw what I didn't.

I allow myself public emotional release. I squeal with childish glee at the magnificent sight of dolphins in the bay or an eagle taking flight. I shake with sustained anger at those who would excuse and allow continued poverty or injustice from their perch of privilege. I still weep at the end of Marley and Me and I have read it several times and seen the movie even more than that. I scream and cheer passionately for my favourite sports teams even when they kind of suck. (I live in Toronto. It's what we do.) I vituperate at the f***ing squirrels for all of their sins against me. I sit in stunned silence at great moments of artistic genius and appreciate godliness in them. I still laugh out loud at Danny Kaye movies and I still cry when I hear Idina Menzel hit the highest bridge notes in Defying Gravity. I swear like a sailor when I encounter profound stupidity and I am calmed by the brilliance of words. Through every single one of those things, I like to think that I am bringing balance back into my world.

I dispense with the bullshit. The Husband had a wonderful grandfather whom I absolutely adored. As he aged into his nineties, it became obvious to all who knew him that he just didn't have time any longer for pretense or bullshit. He said what he wanted to say when he wanted to say it. His lack of filter did get us into some trouble on occasion, like the time he wondered aloud at my son's elementary school why all the teachers were "so ugly". His often inappropriate musings were excused as the rantings of an aged man with no fucks left to give, but I have to admit that there existed a tremendous freedom in his demeanour. While I hope to God that I haven't yet descended to publicly insulting people, I am no longer distracted by bullshit. New-aged diets, beauty routines, must-have shit, phony celebrities, flat-earthers, science deniers, climate change rejection, paternalism, misogyny, quacks, religious fundamentalism...I'm done with all of it. All of it. I cannot and will not pretend that any of this is anything other than grade A, high-level bullshit and I will continue to call it such whenever it rears its ugly head. There is tremendous honesty in living as Zaidy did with zero fucks left to give about any of it.

There are other times when I feel me come to the surface. The contentment I feel when I sit quietly and watch The Husband solve a complex problem. The pride I experience when I see the independent adults my sons have become. The pleasure I get listening to children sing. The awe that comes with the viewing of a sunset or the ephemeral emotion contained in a rainbow. These are touchstones, markers that remind me of who I am at my core. No labels, no monikers. Just me.

I know that I can't go back and undo the bad stuff. I'm not sure that I'd even want to. I just want to come to a place, like my friend has, whereby I experience more of this authenticity. It is in those truths we find those fleeting "Moments of Me".




Monday, 22 May 2017

Another Short Tikkun Olam Story From The Streets of Toronto

Another short post about the Tikkun Olam happening every day on the streets close to my home.

This past weekend we were privileged to celebrate with good friends on the occasion of a milestone birthday. As a kibbitz, the hostess gifted us all with scratch-off lottery tickets that we played together at the dinner table. It should be noted that I am not a regular lottery ticket buyer and I have never before played a scratch-off. After some discussion as to the methodology so as not to accidentally void a possible winner, we all began scraping at our tickets with coins. A friend across the table was elated when he won $10.00, but my highlight came on the final rub of my ticket when I was stunned to find a $50.00 winner. After ascertaining from everybody at the table that I had indeed been a fortunate soul, I began to plot and plan what to do with my free money. I mean, really? How often does something like that occur?



The Husband had been talking for a couple of weeks about going to see the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Coincidentally, the cost of the tickets was exactly $50.00. We decided that since today is a holiday, we would make our way over to the AGO to view the work of one of my all-time favourite artists. 

But as it happens, my plans were slightly waylaid by a story I saw on last evening's newscast. It seems that there is a good soul of a local chef named Jagger Gordon who has set up a soup and sandwich bar in a retrofitted shipping container in a nearby neighbourhood.  It is a pay-what-you-can enterprise that is an outgrowth of his Feed It Forward program designed to collect discounted food from local sources and feed it to those less fortunate. Chef Gordon is passionate about food waste and he is even more so about making sure nobody goes hungry. I was enthralled by the story and said to The Husband that I really wanted to stop in to check out his work on our way to the AGO this morning.

Jagger is an extremely affable man. He carefully explained his project to us and when The Husband offered him some cash to offset his costs, he told us that our small donation would feed about eight other people. He made sure that we added our poker chips to the jar so that those eight would eventually have their soup and sandwiches. 


I certainly am not trying to tout our altruism. That is not at all the point of this piece. Yes, it is true that some of my free money went to support this project, but I simply want to highlight the good work going on in our neighbourhoods, sometimes right under our noses. We hear so much shit about people today that every so often it is really wonderful to remember the decency and morality of humankind. If you happen to be in the Dundas/Bathurst Street area of downtown Toronto over the next couple of months, I urge you to stop in and chat with Chef Jagger Gordon and contribute to his little bit of Tikkun Olam, the reparation of our little corner of the world. 

And...The Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at the AGO is absolutely worth the price of admission. A lovely way to spend a holiday Monday.

Monday, 15 May 2017

My Weekend on Broadway

Last December, The Husband gifted me with Hamilton on Broadway tickets for my birthday. As he knows his wife is a very public and self-proclaimed Broadway musical savant/nerd, his gift couldn't have been more on point or more personal. The date finally arrived this past Friday and while I have been sitting and marinating my emotions for the several intervening days from then until now, there is no question that witnessing that show was one of the most profound and emotional experiences I have ever had in the audience over decades of watching musical theatre. I don't really want to rehash what dozens of critics and theatre-goers have already written about this brilliant musical. That would truly be an unworthy exercise in mental masturbation, but I will give a few answers to some very basic queries some of you have asked about the evening.

Yes. The Husband did pay an ungodly sum for our tickets. I won't embarrass either one of us by publishing the actual number, but I do know that he felt his largesse was truly vindicated by the performance. This was the first time in over thirty years of dragging him to musicals whereby he said that he really wants to see this one again because he feels that he hasn't fully processed it. I have to admit that he stunned me with that admission.

Yes. The cast we saw was excellent. Were they as good as the original? I can't answer that because I never had the good fortune to see that award-winning group, but this cast of actors was off the charts brilliant and incredibly talented. Their voices were strong and the acting impressive as hell. This young ensemble made my Hamilton experience singular and I was engrossed from note one.

Yes. I was terribly concerned that the hype was overplayed and that I would be disappointed. The Husband kept asking me if I was excited and I kept downplaying my emotions. It seemed impossible that anything could live up to the reviews and massive media reports. I won't say that it surpassed the hype, (honestly..how could it?) but it was certainly a unique and singularly impressive theatre experience.

Yes. I believe that this show is one of those rare experiences that moves the needle for the Broadway musical. Every so often, a show comes along that changes the definition of the artform. It started way back with Show Boat by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1927. Show Boat was a radical departure from the trivial burlesque and "follies" that had preceded it as it married musical spectacle with serious drama. Those watershed Broadway musicals moments are few but important. Porgy and Bess gave us the first American operetta. Oklahoma! gifted us with the book musical and fully integrated choreography into the storytelling. West Side Story allowed it's lead characters to die and not have a happy ending. Hair integrated modern themes and explored rock and roll for the first time within the confines of the musical theatre stage. Cats demonstrated that a series of independent stories strung together could act in cohesive harmony. Rent allowed for the exploration of modern alienation. And finally, Hamilton has continued the work Mr. Miranda began in In the Heights where he married the beats and rhymes of hip-hop with the elegance of jazz, r&b, and traditional Broadway belting. The simplicity of the choreography belies the complexity of the source material. The historicity he imparts to the audience is poetic and he takes great care to present his subject matter without fear or favour. Hamilton is a watershed moment in the history of Broadway musical theatre and I do believe it carries a mark of brilliance.

Yes. I do want to see it again. Like The Husband said, it is impossible to digest it all in just one sitting.

No. Hearing and memorizing the soundtrack isn't nearly enough to get the full picture of the true brilliance of this particular piece. I have had the music playing almost non-stop for close to two years and I still wasn't prepared for what I saw.

Yes. You should pony up for whatever it costs when this show comes to your city. Even if you think it isn't in your musical "wheelhouse", you should see it anyway. I do believe it is that important a work of art. It is kind of like saying that you won't see a Picasso exhibit because blue isn't your favourite colour.

***As a quick footnote to our weekend on Broadway, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other two plays we saw. Sweat is a brilliant and difficult dissertation on working class alienation. It is the winner of this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama and is nominated for several Tony awards. And of course...there was the Divine Miss M. Never before has a role so perfectly suited an actress. Bette Midler was born to play Dolly Levi. She is "of age" and frankly her voice is showing some wear and tear, but it really worked in the part and she happily moved about the stage with the flamboyance that the role dictates. David Hyde-Pierce is her perfect foil as Horace and was every bit her equal. Hello Dolly! is an old-fashioned, rip-roaring, over-the-top Broadway crowd-pleaser and it succeeds on every level.

Broadway is my happy place but it is even more so when I get to witness history.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

My Oven Was Trying to Kill Me

Today I made hard-boiled eggs in the microwave.

I never even knew it was possible to make hard-boiled eggs in the microwave. I mean....why on earth would anybody, anywhere willingly choose to make hard-boiled eggs in a microwave? For me, the microwave has always been a glorified double boiler/butter melter/pizza re-heater. I simply don't cook in a microwave.

Maybe it's because of the less than appetizing food that seems to come out the microwave. Perhaps it's an unnatural fear of radiation poisoning our meals. Perhaps it's just the reality that a microwave is a cooking tool rather than a full-fledged cooking device. Whatever the reason, today, out of sheer necessity, I made hard-boiled eggs in the microwave.

Why?

Because our full-fledged cooking device has been thankfully euthanized. Our stove, which hasn't functioned properly since we moved in here, is about to become a matte-finished heap of useless scrap metal. May it forever rot into whatever hell stoves/ovens descend.

We knew when we bought this place that the oven was less than optimal. The gas burners didn't properly ignite and the gas stove, which I will admit to being fearful of and less than enthusiastic about, cooked unevenly and overheated on a regular basis. The previous owners needed to get the oven into working order and to their credit, they did just that. It was our own fault that we didn't include a "please do not incinerate our food" clause into the real estate offer. The oven consistently ran about seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit hotter than any set temperature, so it wasn't unusual for cookies to come out charred or roasted cauliflower to become a meal fit for Satan.

Repairing a seventeen-year-old oven seemed silly. We knew that a replacement would need to be found, but we also knew that we would be spending the winter south so procrastination was definitely in order. I started doing the research on new ovens while in the Southern Home and while I often hyperventilated over the cost of even the most basic of said devices, I knew that a functioning oven wasn't a luxury.

Our timeline was accelerated during my cooking preparations for Passover. When a batch of my chocolate macaroons came out flamb├ęd after only 8 minutes at 270 degrees, we knew that we were at the end. Not only that, we started smelling gas on a regular basis. I was getting paranoid. Was our oven trying to slowly poison us or maybe a grand explosion was in the cards? When The Husband lit a Yahrzeit candle for his father on the last evening of Pesach, I hurriedly moved it to a different area of the condo for fear of us both winding up on top of the dome. Whatever the issue, we knew we were done. The Husband (thanks to the Divine Spirit for a handy husband) found the gas shut-off and we have been without a functioning stove or oven for almost a week now.

We are limited in our options. Due to the configuration of our condo kitchen, we need to have a downdraft. A hood and a fan aren't really options in an open concept design with twelve-foot ceilings. The stove would have to fit neatly into a previously designed spot which meant a 31-inch slide-in model. I really wanted to keep the gas burners but was adamant that we have an electric oven, which meant dual-fuel. When all the research was completed, we realized that we only had a choice between two models. Ruling out the Jenn-Aire was a no-brainer. We haven't had good experiences with this company in the past, and thus we were left with Kitchen-Aid. The reviews on it are positive so we ordered it.

The appliance store insisted that their installer must come out to take a look at the situation before they would even allow us to make the purchase. Sam showed up on the day of the second seder. He pulled and prodded. He hemmed and hawed and then said haltingly, "I'm not sure that it's possible."

What. The. Fuck???

Sam (who for some reason insists that we call him Mac) told us that the downdraft from the old oven is in the wrong place and he is pretty sure that the new oven won't fit. I asked him what the solution might be and he said without any trace of irony or amusement, "You might have to do a full kitchen remodel."

What. The. Absolute. Fuck????

I remained calm in the face of stupidity. "Sam/Mac," said I. "We are not remodeling the kitchen unless you are offering to do the work gratis. Obviously, we need a stove. You are basically telling us that there isn't a SINGLE model on the market today that will work? Your job is to make it work. MAKE. IT. WORK!"

Sam/Mac got back down on his hands and knees, hemmed, hawed, huffed, and puffed and lo and behold came up with a solution. A Pesach miracle. He tells us that the installation experience (?) takes three days. One day to uninstall the old piece of shit that wants to send us into the world beyond. A second day to deliver the new model and remove the old piece of shit that wants to send us into the world beyond. And finally, a third day for Sam/Mac to install my heavenly new piece of nirvana.

Day one was today.

Hopefully, we are on tap for delivery of the new machine tomorrow and we can kick this piece of crap into the gutter.

But until Sam/Mac returns on Friday, reconnects the new stove, and gives us a gas feed that isn't going to launch us into orbit when we ignite the burners, I will continue to make hard-boiled eggs in the microwave. Our very safe, possibly radioactive microwave.

I suddenly feel an overwhelming need to take a Silkwood shower.







Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Another Vignette of Tikkun Olam

Another quick and really nice story from the streets of urban Toronto.

I know, I know. 

I am in danger of losing my official membership card to the "Curmudgeonly Gadfly" club, but my psyche has been in desperate need of good news stories. Trust me. When baseball is no longer an escape but instead it has a compounding effect on my acid-reflux, you know that I am on a precarious perch. So when I see deeds of loving kindness up close and personal, I feel an overwhelming need to share.

Yesterday, The Husband and I had an appointment in the east end of the city that required a ride on the Queen streetcar. While waiting at the stop, we noticed a gentleman who had obviously spent the frigid night before sleeping in the bus shelter. He was amiably chatting with some other familiar locals and just trying to keep the crisp April morning air at bay.

While we continued to wait, I noticed that the Tim Horton's directly behind us was doing its usual brisk early morning business. Easter Monday is a school holiday here so the place was filled with young families as well as young urbanites who were languidly enjoying the slower pace of the day. Just before our streetcar arrived, two young women exited the shop with several orders of coffee. They approached the gentleman and explained that they had been given a free coffee and were wondering if he would like to have it. He very politely declined their offer and thanked them for their thoughtfulness but he explained that he really didn't care for coffee. However, if they were willing, he would really love to have a chocolate donut. He hoped that they weren't offended by his request. Quite the contrary, they told him that it was not a problem at all and they would be more than happy to get him his treat. They then proceeded back into Timmie's to purchase it.

After seeing so much incivility in the news lately and being constantly led by world and business leaders to believe that being an asshole gets one further in this world, these small and random acts of kindness that I have witnessed lately are helping to fuel my yetzer ha-tov, my better inclination. It certainly doesn't mean that I have lost my cynicism or that I am going to start farting rainbows and unicorns but these episodes do serve to remind me that so many people are inherently decent.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam
She-natan lanu hizdamnut l'takein et ha-olam

Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, for giving us the opportunity to mend the world. 

**With thanks to Dan Nichols and Rabbi Ron Klotz