Thursday, December 21, 2006

[singing] Hanukah, oh Hanukah, come light the menorah [/singing]

As is my fairly inconsistent and unpious custom, I made it a point to prepare not at all for Hanukah.

I told various friends that I wanted to have a latke party at my house, but didn't actually invite anyone or buy potatoes.

And I told Rose all about how I was going to have to light lots of candles every night, and that I didn't have a menorah, but didn't think too hard about how I was going to solve that problem.

Suddenly, it was the day of Hanukah eve, and I had no plans and no menorah.

Surely it was hopeless.

But no!

As I lay around in my pajamas on Friday morning pretending work on my computer, I got a phone call. It was EmbassyMan, and he was inviting me for a small-dinner-with-latke-and-menorah celebration at his house.

Perfection. Except the holiday lasts eight days and I still had no menorah of my own.

Newly energized, I threw on some clothes and went out to Naw.

Take me to the wood guy! I proclaimed with vim.

It shall be done, he intoned.

Or maybe I just explained what Hanukah was, and told him I needed something to hold my eight candles (plus the other one). Either way, I drew a fabulous schematic of what I had in mind.

To wit:


So off we trotted to Abdoulaye, our neighborhood wood guy.

I showed him my technical drawing and explained the concept.

He was getting fairly excited. He pulled out drill bits and matched them to the candle stub he had lying around, and made practice holes and discussed logistics of length and width. You can usually tell when someone is just nodding and thinks you're crazy and when they really get it, and Abdoulaye really got it.

Now, I was just picturing a plain block with holes for candles, and one elevated part for the shamus. Simple, utilitarian, disposable.

But Abdoulaye is a craftsman, and he had other ideas. And when he started talking, I just told him to go wild. Just as long as it had the spots for all 9 candles, and was ready by 5 o'clock that afternoon.

Y'all. I had no idea.

Abdoulaye, who has never seen a menorah in his whole life, who has probably never met a Jew in his whole life, made me the coolest menorah.



Except... Well, wood burns. And so now, my beautiful, NON-disposable menorah is getting ruined.


So I'm going to find an alumninum guy to make me some candle holders.... It's a work in progress.


Blogger Lisa said...

that was a great story! way to be crafty at the last minute -- it's the only way to go, really.

let us know how mennorah 2.0 turns out.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Habeela said...

What a beautiful menorah! Can't wait to see what the final version looks like.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Dori said...

Naomi, that's a very cool story. I'm so glad that living in Africa is working out for you.

5:21 PM  
Blogger jeanne said...

It's not getting ruined, it's being used! And, it's getting, like, weathered! You'll remember this menorah forever.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Ditto on what Jeanne said. What an absolutely charming story, though. Your menorah story is worth telling throughout the years. :) I don't think it's getting ruined. It's gaining character.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous susie said...

Hey! This is so cool:) You are making such memories....

9:31 PM  
Blogger Erwin said...

Just a quick note, long overdue, to let you know how much I enjoy your writings. I found your blog when looking for stories from first-time marathoners - really LOVED your saga! - and am now visiting regularly to check whether you've had time and inspiration to write more... Keep going!

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Hey, that's really lovely... shame about the burning! But I bet once you get those aluminum candle holders for it, you can make it all pretty again.

I'm leaving to see you tomorrow!!! YAY!

3:07 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Hi Naomi! This is Teresa (from here: I arrived in Dakar last night and am at work, struggling with french keyboards! I was wondering if you wanted to have coffee at some point, or if you had any advice for my time here.

A bientot et bonne annee!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Oops! I forgot: this is my e-mail...


9:10 AM  
Blogger jeanne said...

just when i get caught up and back in the habit of naomi vs the volcano--you stop updating!


5:52 PM  
Anonymous said...

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9:08 PM  
Blogger Ashley C aka Kitten said...

Missing your updates. Hope all is well.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Faithful Soles said...

My name is Robert Key and I am a runner from Houston, Texas. I saw your blog listed when I was looking through the RBF directory. I hope that running in Africa is as beautiful and peaceful as I perceive it to be. I have a web site at that is inspirational stories for walkers, runners and athletes of all ages and abilities. A new feature I am adding to the site is a searchable/categorized blog database where people can find a blog of interest to them based on similar abilities, goals and interests. To my knowledge it will be the only one of its kind for runners on the internet. I would be honored if you would allow me to put a link to your blog on the site. Just click on "Link your running blog" under "Free Features" from the home page. If you want to learn more about my running background, just click on "Meet Robert" from the main menu , or to learn more about my involvement in the running community, click on "Faithful Soles in the news" in the left column under "Weekly Features". I also have a blog that I just started at, but most of my running information is on my web site. Thanks and continued good luck in your training.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Rose Skelton said...

Naomi girl, what's going on? I know we have electricity, I know your computer's not broken, I know you're not in Guinea... we all wait for an update.

Soon I will have to take you off my bookmarks bar and replace you with the BCEAO link if you don't start giving us something to read! Get on it girl.

5:16 AM  

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