"Man Plans And God Laughs": Home Renovation And Bereavement



After our two daughters had left home my husband Tzvi and I decided to downsize-- to move from our  house in the suburbs to a smaller one in town. It was going to be a happy move, an opportunity to be centrally located while still having a house with a garden.
In a green neighborhood  just outside Tel Aviv, we found the perfect house. It was an old semi- detached that needed a lot of work: in Israeli terms "old" means about 60 year old. We were thrilled, we knew that this was the place where we would spend many happy years together, and in February we signed the contract.
 However, as the Yiddish proverb goes “man plans and God laughs,” a week after we committed ourselves to buying the house Tzvi was diagnosed with lung cancer. Still we worked on the plans for the  new house together, it was our light in an otherwise very dark period. Originally we planned two studies, and  I remember my heart sinking when he told me one day “I don’t believe that you would need that second study,” I didn’t want to hear it.
On Tzvi’s last day in July he was busy saying good bye to friends and family, he also signed the final papers for the sale of our house in the suburbs to make sure that my move  to the new house would go smoothly.
Taking possession of the new house occurred on the day when I got up from the Shiva, and two days later, on the first day of August, the renovation began. I was grateful for this project, it forced me to be sharp and stay focused in order to take the necessary decisions and make the right choices. I was very fortunate because the architect and the builder, who were aware of my plight, were kind and generous. They took special care of me and we worked together in perfect harmony.
 I have not seen renovation mentioned as a prescribed medicine for bereavement, but for me, (although I was still angry with Him for laughing at our plans) it was “God sent.” It is almost a cliche as the word "renovation" has within it the root "renewal." Indeed as we demolished and built new walls gradually turning  a building site into  a home, I realized that my shattered life was also taking a new form. It gave me new hope for the future.
This was the beginning of my recovery, and  in less than three months, at the end of October, I moved into my new house. I remember waking up on that first morning -- boxes everywhere,  telling myself “this is where my new life starts.”
Each year, around this time,  when I mark another anniversary to my house, I reflect on my circumstances in the summer of 2007 and am thankful for the project and the kindness of people who helped me get back on my feet. But most of all, like Virginia Woolf, I am just happy to have “A Room of One's Own. “





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Back to Basics

It wasn’t just about the closing of Red Room.

It was a series of small things slowly piling up.


They all just came to head at the same time.

Red Room was the best cover up.


Scrambling to get back to center I searched.

Meditation here, small talk there, coffee at Philz.


Long walks, bookstore visits and meals alone.

Sitting on the bench and people watching.


Little by little they all added up.

I thought about my knitting needles.


And just like that I decided to knit again.

I have forgotten how quickly a knit and a purl can cure!


I haven’t been able to put my needles down.

Knitting every moment I can.


One doesn’t really have to go far to enjoy life’s perks.

You just have to remember where to find it!


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The Writing Day July 28 2014

Surged past 52,000 words in the science fiction novel, Returnee, today.  Wrote a major lynchpin scene.  Now the characters are heading south into California and Silicon Valley.  It's a wild world outside the domes.....

I've only inhabited other planets, space vessels and the wilds of southern Oregon in this novel thus far.  Now we're heading into Earth's domes.  Earth, while the model for other worlds being terraformed, doesn't resemble the model the others use.  The model is the ideal that Earth once was for humanity.  That's not the novel's point so I don't dwell on it but it's there. 

Meanwhile, going into the domes, this is where the new Earth really exists.  How have people changed?  Yes, they're much different from the unincorporated wilds that live outside the domes.  First, they're quite beautiful.  And they're clueless.  Vacuous.  Consumers consumed by having the latest, seeing the latest, hearing the latest, being the latest.  I've just started thinking about them and won't give them much thought.  Although the Silicon Valley dome is my heroes' destination, little time is spent in the dome and few people are encountered.  Teleporting is the norm.  Lots of fun and reflections are required to get from here to there, starting with the notion that I must discard the notion that Earth is a uniform and static place.  Even today, if you travel America, you'll encounter wide variations among race, religion, attitude, appearance and experiences.  While the domed regions become more homogenized within them, outside of them is less so, and the domes and regions are vastly different from one another, part of our growing polarization and the increasing likelihood that each person will seek out their own kind and live among them and essentially ignore anyone outside of their tribe.  While everything is cyclical, this is far enough into the future that the cycle has gone through a few turns after today. 

Over on the publishing side, my wife found an interesting article about Self-Publishing on NPR, an article that sufficiently convinced me to say, WTF and just go that route.  I'm immensely displace with current iteration of 'traditional' publishing.  I'd rather just enter the wilds of self-publishing via the e-publishing model rather than wasting time and energy on agents and publishing houses.  After some thought, I decided that I'll edit Dark Red as my first attempt. 

Here's the link to the article:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/07/25/334484331/unknown-authors-make-a-living-self-publishing

Now I'm done writing like crazy for today.  The coffee has been drunk and my ass is thoroughly numb from sitting, staring at walls and typing.  Time to brave the burning sun and hot air and walk home.

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Don't Read This Book

Brace yourself.  A rant is exploding out of me.  To protect you from similar sickness and rants, I'm urging you not to read this book.  This book peels back the covers on humanity's greed and government uselessness.  If you're anything like me, you experience this too often, way too often, like too many minutes in too many days.

The book is Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.  It's about how stock markets pricing, buying and selling are being managed by computers and how High Frequency Traders, sneaking in through the systems' many gaps and the laws and regulations' many loopholes to game everyone to make money from them without adding anything of value.  It's about how corporations, driven to increase profits, pretend to protect its investors and do whatever they can to make money off of them.  It's what I would call pure, thoughtless, senseless greed.  Just greed, the sort of greed you hear about but you don't want to believe exists but the greed that rises up from swampy, fetid places wherever humans reside. 

Worse is how stupid, senseless and brainless so many of these greedy people are, and the inept, pathetic responses American regulatory agencies demonstrate to stem this greed and actually regulate markets and protect anyone from the greed.  If you read Flash Boys and believe it as true, there's not shit you can do as an individual investor about it.  They're going to make money off you if you buy or sell stocks.  The book informs us about the joke that we call Wall Street and The Market that dominates so much of so many people's life blood. 

If you read it, think about those people who would tell you to do away with Social Security and other safety nets.  Save your money yourself.  Invest it in the stock market!  As if there's not ample evidence already of the many things that can go wrong with that theory, read this book.  Then, any time you hear a wise person tell us to invest, ask them to tell you about dark pools.  Ask how many stock exchanges there are.  Ask about rebates and high frequency traders.  Ask them how they fit within this chain of greed.

Sadly, at least in America, we need money to survive.  Our water isn't our water;  we must pay for it.  We pay taxes to keep up our land and we're often prevented from growing things on it.  But when you do, well, see the point about water.  Can you grow enough for you and your family to survive?  What about surviving the winter's cold without being able to buy and build?  Looking at the connections of cause and effect, you wonder where we're going with all of this.

I do, at least.  If you don't wonder, then don't read this book.

It's better to be ignorant and not wonder.

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Latest Comments

Ken Hartke Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
Thanks, Rosy, -- glad you liked it.
Ken Hartke I Promise
20 May 2018
I am so looking forward to your return -- I love your writing and wish you well. From my youth I've...
Stephen Evans I Promise
20 May 2018
Sometimes when I am dealing with deep anxiety I find that work (by which I mean writing), and the f...
Rosy Cole Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
I just love this, Ken. As appealing to the senses as a painting. Thanks :-)

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