Food for thought: Sifting through the dust

Food for thought Siftin

We finally moved to Efrat two weeks ago, and here is my revelation: Dust is ubiquitous. For those of us not staying current with our SAT words - ubiquitous (yoo-bik-wi-tus) adj., being everywhere at the same time. No feather duster can handle this amount of dust. This uber-dust is swept up, only to be replaced by its closely followed cousin, more-dust, a few seconds after uber-dust has vacated its position. This uber-superdust has the ability to maneuver its way into closed rooms, into closets and amazingly into taped-up boxes. In fact, uber-superduper-dust has superpowers: fast moving, constantly regenerating and capable of blocking one's windpipe. Aside from the dust, moving is an exciting adventure which, thankfully, is currently tempered with exhaustion. I'll explain. The wonderful house we have moved into is nearly perfect - and by "nearly" I mean two weeks away from perfection. We moved in, much to the surprise of the builders, while they were still hard at work, tiles going up and floors going down. Things are moving ahead apace, and we have settled in among our closed boxes and unpacked suitcases. At first it was fun. I was able to micromanage the project. The fun only lasted long enough to realize that micromanagement only works if you aren't intimidated by your kablan (contractor), so that went out the window. Then I thought it would be fun to watch as the patio flooring was put in. And fun it was, until we started choking on Jerusalem stone dust and one of our kids soon found his way to the local emergency medical facility. Not only did that idea go out the window, but the window needed to be firmly shut. The fun truly begins now. When the novelty of a new place is just about to run out, when our lovely new home is covered in the ubiquitous dust, writing an article actually means slamming down the keysss (especially the 's'). Did you know that dust can get under the keyboard and literally freeze up your keys? Or that dust can get into the new hinges in your kitchen cabinets, and then the cabinets don't close properly and the only way to get the dust out is to use some kind of high power tool to blow out said super dust? Though I shouldn't complain about kitchen cabinets not closing, one of the things still under construction is the kitchen. It's not as if the drawers have anything in them. For the last two weeks I haven't cooked a thing. I haven't cut a cucumber, boiled water for pasta or fried a schnitzel. I know some of you are saying what a mechaya, a week off from cooking. I, on the other hand, am biting my nails, I need access to my kitchen - my pots, my pans - and I need it now. Everyone has their thing. My daughter is drawing, and for the last week I couldn't understand why she was extra whiny. I know whininess is the prerogative of every six-year-old girl, but there is a limit to the patience of the six-year-old's mother. And then I realized that all her drawing materials - markers, crayons, pastels, colored pencils and especially paper - were still boxed up. The minute I located the box, dust be damned, I opened it, and she was in there. I mean literally in the box, smelling her crayons, reveling in the colors, telling me of all her projected projects. Within half an hour, the whining had quieted down to an even-tempered undercurrent of "if-one-of-my-brothers-looks-at-me-funny-I'll-scream," meaning nothing out of the ordinary. However, I keep gazing at my almost finished empty kitchen longingly. I open and close the pantry umpteen times a day, trying to visualize all the lovely food I'm going to store in its too-deep shelves, and though I am happy, I'm missing my joy, the thing that makes me… well, me. My blessing, though, is this: Because I have no kitchen and my home is fully covered in dust, I have had to slow down. I can't unpack, since anything I take out of a box becomes instantly enrobed in dust. I also can't clean… what is the point? I can't cook - no gas or electricity in the kitchen turns out to be a hindrance to the modern cook. At present, I find I have time on my hands to contemplate human nature and my new home. When people ask for help, it's generally because they need it. It's not laziness, it's necessity. When people accept help, it is not only with gratitude but with a wish that they hadn't needed to ask in the first place and a fervent hope to reciprocate in the future. At last I have - in just one short week - come to understand the generosity of the community I have moved into. Neighbors who have had to suffer the dust and drilling coming from my house have dropped off cakes without arsenic as a main ingredient. Friends have not only invited us for meals but have dropped off even more meals. And my family - an ode to my family - have rallied around us, inviting, hosting, taking in sick children, being the uber-super-duper-family they have always been, which perhaps until now I hadn't appreciated enough. Here it is, kvetching aside. Though we miss our friends and our relatively dust-free environment in Beit Shemesh, I wouldn't change where we are now. I had written recently about how beautiful it is here: the views, the mountains, the mist, the rocks, but I had failed to mention - mainly because I didn't know - how warm and beautiful the people are. With the New Year ahead, all I can think of is that all beginnings are hard; but given time, patience and perseverance, the results can be great. Regardless of the ubiquity of dust, one can survive - and flourish - amid the ubiquity of family.