First off, who changed the default layout for the posting page? It is now hideous and difficult to see. I am sad.
Next, I tried to keep the lights off for the entirety of Shabbat (sundown on Friday — or more accurately, dinner on Friday for us — til sundown on Saturday) to combine the “Hour for the Earth” group with my spiritual explorations. It was surprisingly profound. I normally try to keep lights to a minimum, but I tend to think of two candles as being inadequate lighting for dinner, and I’ll often turn on a few lights Saturday afternoon.
Dinner was wonderful, which helped the ambiance get off to a good start. I made olive oil-rosemary bread as posted by someone or other. It’s a wonderful recipe, but a whole tablespoon of salt for one loaf of bread? Really? I know I missed the part where it said to use slightly less if you’re using standard finely-ground table salt, but I also didn’t put in the fairly substantial quantity of olives the recipe called for. Oh well. It was utterly delicious, even if it was very salty and slightly underbaked. Next time, I will use less salt and turn the oven down slightly (it had a nice brown crust, so I assume that my oven runs a bit hot or something). It made a good celebratory bread. Along with that, I steamed some broccoli and trout with garlic, fresh ginger, salt, and candied etrog* peel. The bitter candied citrus peel added an amazing note; I’ll have to try that again, maybe with Seville oranges or something like that. It was light, yet earthy, or possibly more accurately, ocean-y.
Two candles is in fact just about the right amount of lighting to set a nice tone for dinner, even with my abysmal night-vision. Turning off the last light in the kitchen and then lighting the candles made an interesting sort of dual feel to the ritual. I first switched off normal space/time and then switched on ritual space/time, with a short interval in between to realize that we had forgotten the forks. It is good, however that I have by now finally memorized the longer parts of the (rather minimalist) table ritual we do, as two candles isn’t really enough to effectively read by. Having to take my cue off of Ben made me focus on the words more (at least, the bits of them where I can remember what they mean), instead of my attention flipping all over the text and translation. I even got that word with insufficient vowels in Lecha Dodi mostly right. ;-)
I managed to take a lovely cat-nap in the afternoon sun this afternoon. I should figure out if my recent ability to nap is a Shabbat-ritual-space thing or a sleep-deprived-grad-student thing. I normally can’t nap, no matter how little sleep I’ve gotten, unless I’m very ill. After I got up, I went to get another slice of bread for a snack, and automatically switched on the kitchen light. I then realized that besides the fact that I had decided to keep the lights of, turning that one on was silly, and switched it off again. I don’t need the light on in the kitchen in the afternoon, particularly when I’m only going to grab a snack. It’s dim, but I can see just fine. I did turn on the light in the bathroom Friday night and later this afternoon, because there’s no window and thus it really is pitch-black in there. I feel no spiritual or ecological compulsion to knock myself out on the sink attempting to do bedtime-type stuff by feel in the dark.
*Etrog: mystical mutant lemon** used in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Also called a citron when not being used for ritual purposes. It consists mostly of peel and seeds. Ben finally candied the one we had which had been sitting in the freezer. I find the peel too bitter on its own even candied, but it’s wonderful in cooking.
**not my phrase; blame Ben ;-)