Dear Avigial,
I seek your help in the hopes that you can advise me. My husband, daughter and son seem to take me for granted. They act like the taskmasters of our slavery in Egypt, and I am just not a multi-tasker.
A Juggling Jewess.

Dear JJ,
A friend of mine, Gertie Greenspan, developed a prayer that would raise the consciousness of her family, so as not to take her for granted. At first, they refused; but, at the threat of compote-free desserts, they complied. It became a tradition. Much to their delight, more dried apricots were added to the dried fruit fermentation.

A woman of velour, who can find? She would hide, rather than be caught dead in last year’s fashion line. She is thrifty and frugal, and that’s a nice way of putting it. The heart of her husband trusts in her, he lacks no gain, yet his wallet yields loss. And yet, when she gently prods him with constructive criticism (“HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF”) she does so with goodness, with no evil or malice. He eagerly lives out all the days of her life, and takes a hefty insurance policy, lest fate should take a cruel mallet and whack her one. She seeks out wool and flax, and would never deny someone else the mitzvah* of weaving them into curtains and throws (and occasional valance.) She is known for her Chesed* and is also a good tipper (even during the early bird specials). She never raises a harsh voice or hand at the help, even the time the seamstress accidentally sewed stripes horizontally and made her mistress’s hips look like the entire Phoenician navy.

She is like the merchant ships that bring take-outs from afar. She rises at the beckoning of her senile rooster, who you can’t get a peep out of, till a quarter past ten. She rises while it is still night to eat her portion of cake. She makes a mental note to put a lock on the grain silo after 10. She gives food to her household and basks in their unsolicited accolades. The peptodismal bromides are passed, and only a few twice removed cousins* faint from the pain. She sets out the tasks for her maids. She considers buying a fabric shop in Hebrew Heights, from her own earnings of undisclosed venture capital. She skimmed the butter and egg money, yet kept her husband’s cholesterol levels in check. She girdles her loins in control top spandex for strength and a sleek line, and flexes her arms. She moans, “Imagine seeing Jell-O for the first time!” She makes a note not to let her gym membership get past due. She realizes the potential in this new enterprise; her lamp doesn’t go out, as it never went on. Her husband approves of his wife’s new business. Though she turns a profit, she gives charity to the poor with alacrity and relish, whichever they prefer, and whether they are planning on milk or meat for dinner. She does not fear for her household in the frost, for they are garbed warmly. She did not haggle with Shmulevitz the Shmatamonger*. Instead, she wrangled a fair price, triumphantly, at a Persian merchant’s store, NOT WITHOUT MY DISCOUNT.

Her linens are of 300 count Egyptian cotton, but she has rid them of the symbols of their bondage, as well as the logo of the Geza Hilton. Her household sleeps as free men, however, if no iron percale could talk!!! She watches the conduct of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness – for the new bakery makes fat-free *rugulach. Her children rise and acclaim her virtues; her husband declares her deeds far surpass the value of rubies and diamonds. Yet, she assures her husband that he shall not fail if he so wishes to purchase some. Yea, they are a weak comparison, but she shall make do.” Try me,” she implores demurely. Her husband replies, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is naught.” He will have none of that here! And so, he didn’t. That night, he got prune pits for dessert.

A woman of velour, who can find? Honey drips off her tongue and leaves a permanent stain. She smiles, and makes a mental note to call Tille Waxbaum and get the name of the plastic slipcover nomad.

*mitzvah: set the tone for the boy/girl scouts in doing good deeds, without expecting anything in return, with the exclusion of grandparents.
*Second cousins removed: originally were first cousins, but got a demotion for unruly behavior.
*chesed: doing kindness (hoping that person will reciprocate when she asks him/her to tend the sheep when they go to Boca.
*rugulach: sweet confection with an overdose of chocolate or cinnamon.
*Salesperson of clothing and accessories, with great, promotional come-ons. Ex: Two for one. Buy one, and I’ll set you up with my cousin Chaya Rifka. She can play the spoons!

Life’s questions are timeless. Ask Avigail is a collection of biblical-era “Ask Abbeys.” It is a work in progress, and so is its author.