Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

Archive for March, 2012


As my former classmates at Simmons College back in the late ‘60s may recall, this is the time of year when I would wander around the quad declaiming, in a loud voice, the immortal words of that well-known poet Ann Ona Muss:


Spring has sprung.

The grass has riz.

I wonder where da boidie is.

Some say da boid is on the wing,

But dat’s absoid.

Everyone knows da wing is on da boid.


And I’m not even from the Bronx.


Here in South Jersey, spring has definitely sprung, several weeks early. I was picking up supplies at a local wild bird store today, when the temperature was near 80, and found out that someone in my town had already seen a ruby-throated hummingbird – almost a month earlier than usual. I usually put out the sugar water feeders on April 15. I was thinking about doing it this year on April 1. Now I’m going to do it tomorrow, March 24.


The hummers probably won’t show up in my yard until later in the summer, after the trumpet vine blooms. What’s left of the trumpet vine, that is, after most of it was torn out when we had to replace our old fence, which was being held together by trumpet vines and bird droppings. But we did have two hummers most of last summer, and they tend to return to the same feeders every year, so I want to make sure I’m ready for them if they come back early.


I have to keep reminding myself we still have to get through another week of March and half of April before we can be fairly certain it won’t snow. And our official frost-free date isn’t until May 15, although I don’t recall a frost after mid-April for the past few years, a recollection confirmed by a Google search. It’s hard to think about the possibility of snow, though, when walking around outdoors in sandals in March.


There’s a downside to all this nice weather, though. Just talk to any owner of a ski resort or a snow removal company or a hardware store that stocks ice scrapers and sleds. I doubt they’re happy about this past winter.


And neither are the farmers. They are worried that fruit plants that are blooming too early – peaches and strawberries, for example – will suffer if there is a frost. And it is sad to see the magnificent blooms on a magnolia tree turn black overnight when the temperatures drop.


Farmers – and those of us susceptible to bug bites – are concerned, too, that insects whose numbers are controlled by their dying off over the winter have been enjoying the mild weather as much as we humans, meaning we may have a bumper crop not of plums but of mosquitoes and cabbage loopers and grubs and root worms and brown marmorated stinkbugs and ants and termites and ticks and  . . . well, you get the idea. And I’ll get the calamine lotion.


Is this winter a precursor of things to come? Is it evidence of climate change, or just a weather glitch? We won’t know for several more years. But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy every minute of it, even this weekend, when it’s going to rain and be in the 50s. But at least we don’t have to shovel rain.








Thank you for your interest in the manuscript of my first novel, Starlight Shines on Starlight Manor Nursing Home. You have asked me for a market proposal. I thought it was the publisher’s job to distribute the books. But I tried anyway. I took the nursing home bus when it made its weekly run to the supermarket – my aide usually buys me my supply of Ensure –  and I talked to the manager, but he said they do not sell books.

I promise you that my family, my fellow nursing home residents, and the staff will buy the book. They know I have named all the characters after them.

My great grandson said I need to learn to use a computer. He is the one who “scanned” (he said it was like teletype) the typewritten manuscript (I even used an electric typewriter!) to send to you electronically. He did show me how to turn on the computer, and he even set up an “email account” for me, but until I have my cataract surgery, it is too hard for me to sit in front of the glowing screen. I even find it hard to watch my favorite soap operas most afternoons. I am dictating this letter and he is typing it into the computer for me.

By the time the book is published, I will have had both knees and hips replaced, and will be able to walk by myself to the refrigerator for the food to attach to my feeding tube. I might have to delay the orthopedic surgeries, though, until I recuperate from the heart bypass surgery. I am not sure I will be able to travel by airplane to appear on Oprah or The View, as I doubt oxygen tanks can be taken on airplanes. But, do not worry, I have all my wits and all my own teeth, and, at 97, can play a mean game of whee bowling while seated in my wheel chair.

I always thought it would be fun to write a book. What a wonderful hobby for a retiree!

I look forward to hearing from you again, but you will have to send me a message by regular mail. My great grandson is going back to college, and I am afraid if I try to turn on the “email” by myself, I will “crash the internet.” I don’t know what that means, but I remember when Wall Street crashed back in ’29, so it cannot be good.

Sincerely yours, Mrs. Penelope Snoodle

Proud widow of the late Wilfred Snoodle III

Author of Starlight Shines on Starlight Manor Nursing Home


It is obvious to me that car rental agencies did not run focus groups before deciding that instead of taking shuttle buses to and from the airports to remote locations to pick up and return cars, customers would now walk interminable distances, with their luggage, to pick up and return cars from the airport parking lots. The procedure may be more efficient for the companies, but are a pain in the butt for those of us who rent cars. At least shuttle buses would drop us off in front of the terminal, where we could check our bags at the curb and go right to security. Now, in addition to the aforementioned walk, we have to wait in line (even if we have printed out our boarding passes) in order to check our luggage.

I know I could use carry-on bags only, and often see fellow passengers get on board the planes with bags larger than the one I checked. But I am, I admit it, short, and shrinking as we speak (in height, not width). There is no way I can lift a suitcase over my head into one of those compartments, and I’m too proud to ask for help. (The exception being when my tires need to be inflated; then I’m willing to play the helpless middle aged lady card.) My one carry-on bag – a soft-side duffle on wheels, containing my meds, jewelry, laptop, and magazines for when the plane is taking off and landing and I can’t use my Kindle, fits under the seat of almost every airline I’ve flown.

In addition to the indignity of having to walk with my bags 20 miles in the snow, barefooted (subjective opinion), to wait in line, I was 10 minutes from the airport, looking for a non-gouging gas station (the pumps at first one I found were off-line; fortunately, the next one was only three miles away), when I got a notification that my flight had been delayed for 2+ hours.

So here I sit in the airport, still a half hour before the original departing time, wondering why I travel.

I love going to new places. I hate the process of getting there and returning.

There were good things about the travel process, though. The free apps I downloaded to my iPhone 4S were one. MapQuest works as well as the GPS Gary uses; even the voice is the same, although “she” doesn’t sound too petulant when I refuse to follow the route plotted for me. GasBuddy, which I’ve had for a while, was fairly accurate, although it once insisted a gas station that was .4 miles away was 60 miles; I think I had forgotten to change my location. Unfortunately, BirdsEye Lite, which lists bird sightings and sites, kept crashing. I’ve sent an email to their tech support before deciding if I should buy the full version. But it worked well enough to point me toward a wildlife refuge only a few miles from my hotel (and on the same street as a Kosher restaurant; that location didn’t come from any app, though – a van with the name of the restaurant passed me when I was heading toward the refuge, and I googled it). Flight View was great and sent me a text when my flight was delayed. I’m not sure how well Trip Advisor would have worked because I forgot I had it.

The best things about the trip, of course, were seeing my parents and aunt, and talking on the phone for an hour-and-a-half with an old friend (which, in these days of cell phones, we could do any time); getting in some terrific birding and visiting two places, Corkscrew Swamp and Ding Darling NWR, I’ve long wanted to see; and being at Sleuthfest, where I renewed old acquaintances and made new ones.

So despite the wait here at the airport, the trip was worth it. But I do wish someone would invent a Star Trek, or even a Blake’s 7, transporter already. Beam me home, Scotty.