Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Always Thought Bloodsucking Was The Publisher's Job

The other day, having nothing better to do, I googled my grandfather, Grandfather Rabbi Pfeffer. Much to my delight, I found an entry about him in Orthodox Judaism In America: A Biographical Dictionary And Sourcebook.

Now I knew Grandfather Rabbi Pfeffer was an important rabbi and Talmudic scholar. Once or twice, I've been asked if I were related to him, even though he was dead more than a decade before my birth. But what I hadn't known was that my father, the last of the Pfeffer children to be born in the old country, was actually from Bitchkov*, Transylvania.

My father always said he was born in Hungary. He never said Transylvania.

My brother scoured Wikipedia, and assured me that Transylvania at that particular point in history was in Hungary. But still. You think you know a man, and he ends up coming from Transylvania.
Not to mention that this makes me one quarter Transylvanian. I remain uncertain which quarter, but I do like my hamburgers really rare.

Now if I were into genealogy, as many of my friends and relatives are, I could have found this Transylvania stuff a long time ago. No doubt Grandfather Rabbi Pfeffer is in Who's Who In Bitchkov, or Great Transylvanians I Have Known And Loved.

But while I really understand the appeal of genealogy, I've never been particularly curious about my ancestral geography. Bitchkov, Transylvania, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, it's all the same to me. Neither of my parents ever expressed any interest in returning to their birthplaces, so they don't have much aura of mystery to me.

However, the having nothing better to do is of interest and concern to me. I've been thinking about my life a lot lately, and it's occurred to me that I'm in need of a hobby.

As it happens, I have a lot of interests. I'm always reading articles online about new dinosaurs or ancient burial grounds. But an interest isn't a hobby. An interest is when you read an article. A hobby requires actually doing something. Maybe even leaving the house to do it.

Only I can't think of any hobbies that I really want to spend time (and possibly money) on. So I decided to turn to you and ask if you know of any good hobbies. Maybe one of your suggestions will be perfect for me. Maybe it'll get me thinking about something I've never considered before.

So do me a favor, and tell me about hobbies. Your hobbies, your friends' hobbies, some bizarre hobby you read about once. I'm open to all possibilities, except for those that involve spending a lot of time with the undead!

*My father never met a pun he didn't love, but I don't know how he would have felt about being called a son of a Bitchkov, which is why I'm putting this as a footnote.


Jill Darwish said...


If you need a hobby Mrs.Pfeffer, I would recommend an exciting and fun filled game called Minecraft!!!! I know a game is not a hobby, but trust me it will become one!!! Even if you arn't intressed in the a game, I encourge you to at least check it out!

-Your loyal book reading fan!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Thank you Jill Darwish. I will definitely check it out.

Marci said...

I don't have time for a hobby, and it's been years since I had one

You could say that watching movies is a hobby. You do that.

I used to garden, but that was a long time ago. And I do take photos when I travel, mostly of flowers. You could take up photography. You would be good at it.

And I do enjoy cooking. Cooking can be a hobby.

I suggest a hobby involving finding the best cupcakes, then maybe the best ice cream and possibly the best chocolates. I did once have a hobby of trying to find the best chicken marsala, but that quest failed. None measured up to a perfect plate of it enjoyed 40+ years ago in a cellar bistro in Princeton NJ

A quest for the perfect donut seems noble also.

All of this would require travel and could include photography.

Don't take up stamp collecting. I did that also and it all ended up worthless.

Gia Vogel said...

I guess Transylvania is in Romania today... But very interesting that your father came from there! I always asked myself wether you might have German ancestors, because Pfeffer is a German word... :)

My hobbies are very unspectacular... I like reading, drawing, cooking and playing with my dog. The only special hobby of mine seems to be Geocaching... Most people never heard of it yet... =D

OwlTraveller said...

I've recently realized that organizing is a hobby for me. Haha. I love putting things in order. Not everything, though; my closets could use attention. More like organizing information and ideas, like recipes and quotes and random thoughts and inspirations.

Zentangling is a portable, creative hobby that I've been playing with for a few years. It's like meditative drawing. It involves drawing structured patterns, not to be rigid, but to free yourself from over-efforting and worry/panic over what to draw. It is about process, not the end product. And it quiets my mind

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning to my fellow cupcake traveller Marci, and to Gia Vogel and to OwlTraveller-

I'm completely unfamilar with Geocaching and zentangling, so now I have two more things to explore and consider.

I really appreciate the suggestions. Especially those that don't involve hundreds of calories!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I have friends into geocaching, and now I'll have to look into zentangling. I think you already have a hobby that is rather like mine -- playing with words ("son of a Bitchkov"). I made a separate blog for my wordplay:

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Bonnie Jacobs-

Playing with words isn't a hobby for Pfeffers. It's a way of life!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

So maybe we're related! My earliest detailed memory was (I figured out decades later) probably following my grandmother's funeral, days after I turned three in 1943. An uncle asked my cousin, "What grade are you in?" She answered, "First grade." I was distressed because I could clearly see that she was IN a room, not a "firstgrade," whatever that was. I determined right then that I wanted to learn the meaning of all the words in the world. For 70 years now, that's what I've tried to do.

librarina said...

My biggest hobby is reading, but I'm pretty sure you do that already! ;-) I also love to play video games with my husband and 8-year-old son. (I am sure my 3-year-old daughter will be starting soon enough.) Maybe you should buy a WiiU!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello again to Bonnie Jacobs and hello to librarina-

Since my writing vocabulary died in the middle of fifth grade (making my books very appealing for reluctant readers, so it worked out fine), I don't think there's a chance I could learn the meaning of all the words in the world (although I do know the meaning of antidisestablishmentarianism because my father taught me).

I never bought a Wii, but I do know what it is. I'll have to see what a WiiU is and figure out if a hobby for me is lurking there!

Fear Death By Water said...

My hobby is reading apocalyptic books ... and that's a good thing for you. In fact the first two Moon Books were the subject my blog at

so if you need any world ending book recommendations ... i'm your reader.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - geocaching is very popular and has been for quite some time. I think it's the perfect hobby for an inquisitive, adventuresome Pfeffer who enjoys the thrill of discovery. Besides, it get you outdoors.

From what I can gather, there was a virtual geocache relating to Babe Ruth's resting place in Westchester.

Barker and Jones Staff said...

Knitting, or any related hobby like sewing, crotchet, etc? Relaxing, once you get the hang you don't have to think too much about it, and you could make all your birthday presents for other people!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good evening Fear Death By Water, Anonymous and Barker and Jones Staff-

I don't think reading apocalyptic books is going to do for a hobby for me, both because it would be too much like work and because I still can't spell apocalyptic. One really should be comfy spelling one's hobby (or profession, for that matter).

Geocaching looks way beyond my extremely limited abilities. I can get lost in a driveway.

I used to crochet granny squares. Back in the granny square era, I even had friends who claimed to be grateful for receiving one of my granny square afghans. It certainly was relaxing. I remember having a migraine once and crocheting with my eyes closed.

I dunno. I think I'm still hobby searching (but I thank all of you for your suggestions and welcome more).

Anonymous said...

Okay, then. Self-taught ukelele. It's all the rage, smaller than a piano...

...ballroom dancing - other than cats
...drawing and/or painting - you're very good at that, too...

last but not least roller derby


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good evening W.S.-

I will definitely take roller derby under advisement!