July 17th, 2014
We are back east for our summer visit to the holy land- the Catskills. This is the time to liner over coffee on the screen porch, let the breeze drift in, listen to the water slosh against the stone wall. There have been Canadian geese here the past few days. Blue dragonflies that the kids run screaming from. My little nature girl allows herself to be drawn into the city kids’ phobia of all things outdoor. All the time we spent gently introducing her to ‘worm friends’ and encouraging her to handle bugs- totally undone in the face of a new friendship.
The best part so far has been the rain. After so long in drought-ridden Southern Cali, the pleasure of falling asleep to the sound of a gentle, or even not so gentle, downpour is deep and fortifying. We wake to fresh skies and the water level an inch higher in the lake. More to swim in!
I’ve identified my summer organizing project. I try and tackle one part of the place as a contribution to my visit every year. I wonder sometimes if my mom simply tolerates my going through her stuff and refolding all her linens. She does fine without me, and it’s not like I’m so organized at home. Other peoples messes are so much more straightforward then one’s own, I find. So I tackle hers and ignore my own growing piles.
My other project is to come up with a studio name for the new work I’ve been doing. I sometimes post the occasional non-ketubah art piece here and sometimes someone actually wants to buy one of those. So cool! I have been at the ketubah biz for a while and am chomping at the bit for some new challenges. This spring I took a surface design class and have been steadily amassing a portfolio of work for that market. It’s a bit of a shift to do pattern work, and it’s been a learning curve but I’m getting the hang of it. My goal is to have enough designs at the end of the summer to launch a new studio. I figure I’m about halfway there, maybe a third. But the name has been evading me and I hope this is the week it pops fully formed into my head.
Get to it, muse!
Water Lily by Rachel Deitsch
April 17th, 2014
Judaica Design by Amy Reichart
So I have not posted for a while, and it’s going to continue to be spotty I fear. I have immersed myself in a project that I hope will take me in brand new directions creatively. It’s still such a challenge to find time to really be in the studio and not think of business or housework or Mena’s ever growing schedule of activities. Not a terrible problem to have, but a challenge nonetheless.
I’ve been seeing all sorts of conversations about how to use traditional forms and invest them with new meaning that resonates for us now, in our lives today. As usual, Dasee Berkowits, of Jlife, had a thoughtful essay to share for the Passover holiday. Every generation redefines Judaism and the tradition of their own families in a way that makes sense to them and enriched their lives. I continue to be so inspired by couples who embrace the tradition and add their own layer of meaning to it.
I saw something in the NY Times yesterday that really inspired me. It was a profile of an architect and Judaica designer named Amy Reichart. I had never heard of her work, which, coming from my cave, means nothing viz her reputation. What I was really struck by was the elegance and thoughtfulness invested into her designs. It made me very happy and hopeful for the world of ceremonial object and of course inspired me no end.
I hope this period of stepping away from ketubah work for a bit will have me returning refreshed and re-inspired to add my own voice to this conversation.
February 7th, 2014
This just came across my desk- a nice article on Chuppah styles.
I love the Chuppah tradition- the symbols are powerful and clear (for those of us who prefer not to dig too much for meaning). What you choose for your chuppah can say so much about your intentions for your marriage, much like a ketubah can. I love how couples today are taking traditional rituals and reshaping them to fit meaningfully into their own ceremonies.
At my own wedding, we used my Dad’s tallit for our chuppah, which was very special to me. I had, for my family, a very non-traditional wedding and it took a while to get my folks to come around and support us in it. They loved my husband and celebrated that I was (finally) getting married, but they are very traditional people and they needed some time to ease into our vibe. So having my Dad’s tallit suspended above me in that moment felt like an embrace and a blessing from him.
Did you put special effort into the symbolism of your chuppah? What does it mean to you and your dreams for your marriage?
January 14th, 2014
This is just the best. Wish I’d seen it 6 years ago…
bride and groom carved crayon figures
January 6th, 2014
So I’ve been working on these designs since the summer, on and off. My husband will attest to the many many variations this design took until I settled on the one that felt right to me. I hope that my perfectionist tendencies will at least bring some joy to those people who will see these new pieces and agree that I was right to keep at it. I am pleased as punch in any case. I found my way into a new way of working and I reconnected with my love of building shapes with letterforms. The quote is from the Song of Solomon, and goes like this- ‘Arise my love, my fair one & come away for lo! the winter is past the rains are over and gone, flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come.’ I mean, holy cow, is there a lovelier sentiment on your wedding day? I was married, in fact, today, six years ago. I was dead in the middle of winter and rainy to boot, but damned if the flowers were not blooming in my heart and didn’t I feel the earth sing with me? It was not my intention to reveal these designs on my anniversary, but of course how fitting.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
January 6th, 2014
micro-photo of grains of sand
Happy New Year! Just found this photo of sand magnified 300x. Made me think of all the amazing and beautiful things I pass over every day without notice. Also made me think of how damned much time I waste looking for photos of stuff on the internet….
December 5th, 2013
So, while the ketubah elves are snoozing a bit at the end of another busy year, I thought I would share some holiday joy. Latke sandwich- genius, right?
Last day of Hanukka. My head was all over the place this year- it was so crazy early and mashed together with Thanksgiving, which doesn’t lend itself to an easy portmanteau like Chistmakka. I am meh about Thanksgiving on a good year, despite its being our sort of anniversary. In fact I think the last time I did host a Thanksgiving was the year I met Cecil. We tend to be pretty lame about things like birthday’s and anniversaries. I wish I were one of those people who made an occasion out of everything, but it’s not in my DNA. (This, however is SO in my genes- yiddish curses, anyone?)
We do like to make a fuss over latkes though, because there is very little shopping involved aside from a ton of potatoes. Latkapalooza 5774 was great fun. We had a robot bouncy house, because why not, fired up ‘Big Ted’, Ed Martin’s enormous Le Creuset pot, over a propane fire outside, and let er rip. This year we also tried Sufganiyot but upped the game with dulce de leche filling. The only change for next year will be to triple the recipe. Holy cow.
November 25th, 2013
festive AND classy!
So I just wrote that subject line to the friend who is hosting us for Thanksgiving and belatedly realized that could be interpreted as a salutation, as in SHE’S the Thanksgiving Ho. Not cool if I want to score a second serving of pie.
It’s finally Fall weather here in Mayberry. The 90 degree weather has cooled to a balmy 65 and my thoughts turn to winter gardens and closed-toe shoes. Yesterday was one of those idyllic low-bar days. I had a short list of accomplish-able tasks that actually got done.
I did some gardening to get the bed ready for the lettuce crop- my favorite of the year. Mena helped for a bit, picking and choosing which plants would receive her loving attention and which would wither and die. She getting old enough now that her ‘helping’ is actually helpful. I have been waiting for this for a long time. Aside from the fresh salad greens every night, the main reason we do a vegetable garden is to demonstrate a bit of the food chain to our daughter. So, you know, come the zombie apocalypse she can forage for edibles in the woods. Yeah, you go there as a parent.
So, garden in, we came inside to ice the ninja gingerbread cookies we’d baked the day before. I don’t know what Martha Stewart has sold to the devil to make her cookies so perfect, but it was probably major. Those things are tough! Mena did not notice the glops in what was a fairly epic cookie fail.
I had put dinner into the slow cooker in the afternoon, so my next task was to organize the tiny cabinet that serves as the pantry. Mena got into it and edged me out and then went on to organize all the other cupboards in the kitchen. Again- waited a long time to get to there.
I don’t know why all this was so satisfying, but it really was. Life often feels like a malfunctioning treadmill- all you can do is run like a spaz and try not to fall flat on your face. Then you get a day where what you plan and what happens are pretty much in synch, and maybe even something extra is delivered, like your kid quietly sitting with her dad after dinner to play a game while you can apply yourself to a jigsaw puzzle. And you have the presence of mind to look up for a second and appreciate the rare and beautiful moment you are lucky enough to get right now.
I hope you have a few moments this week. Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukah!
November 14th, 2013
Yes, I have not posted in a dog’s age- since the summer? What the heck, time? Lots been going on at the New World Ketubah house. We started kindergarten! (one of us) We started a whole new business (another one of us, not me…yet) We acquired, through no effort of our own at all, two delicious remotely-cared-for babies, in the form of one delectable niece and one spectacular nephew who arrived within three weeks of each other. I shlepped Mena across the country to meet them a few weeks ago. She was much more interested in Bubbe’s trampoline and the age appropriate cousins who could enjoy said with her. And Fall, she got some of that good stuff too.
But what has shaken the cobwebs off to write today? (and hopefully gotten the momentum back to keep writing?) This!
There have been a flurry or articles about the confluence of Hanuka and Thanksgiving but honestly I have not gotten too excited about it until I saw one family’s Kickstarter campaign (successfully funded) to produce this awesome menorah for this special year. Thanks for getting my head into the holiday spirit Weintraub family!
October 4th, 2013
I’ve had a nice little flurry of ketubah orders for couples who have been together for a long time- 20 plus years- who can finally marry legally. It’s been such fun working with them and noticing the difference between couples who are just starting out on their life together and those who have been together and already know the drill. The is an assurance these women have (most of them are women with a few guy couples thrown in) about their relationships. They have families. They know what it takes to stay together for decades and there is an easy give and take, an understanding of compromise that comes from the doing for many years. It’s that depth of feeling and experience that makes me especially gratified when my work is chosen to represent their union. I feel lucky to be doing this work at this moment and being a small part of these inspiring stories.
house blessing image by Rachel Deitsch