Friday, February 16, 2007

What's New

Realize that I've been woefully out of touch from a blog persective. I think that I went through a period of feeling that I had nothing new to report. Kids were coping, Ira respiratory health had improved, even if his back had not, I was feeling at odd ends. I have more free time here than I am normally accustomed to and while I was filling it with household related activities of the ordinary sort - shopping, cooking, knitting (when I can), reading (when I don't fall into a narcoleptic haze), working on my hebrew (watching stupid tv while folding laundry), doing some writing, planning our business (which should be launching mid March if we get our act together) - I felt my time had become most unstructured. I have time to do my yoga, get to the pool, drink coffee on occasion with people, shop with Jess at different moments - all things that I did in NYC but with greater difficulty. While I confess to missing some of the things that kept me busy in NYC, I haven't missed them that much - directing my theater group, volunteering on any number of projects for the homeschooling world or the Kane St world or whatever else came my way. Here, I retain my anonymity and consequently, my world has been alot smaller.

Ira went to the US for his 2nd trip and while I was jealous, I was happy that he was going in, if for no other reason than to take care of the buildup of boxes at Iris and Steve's and 409 Pacific. Oh, all sorts of things from Amazon orders of books, to new shoes and whatever else has seemed important to get from the US. Truthfully, you can get everything here. What we are still bringing here are the familiar - certain toiletries (things are much too scented here which I can't stand), shoes for my achy feet (just easier to get what works for me), the odd (real vanilla which I can get here but b'koshi/with difficulty and Danny picked up for me with ease at Costco), the esoteric (ski mags and books), and then there's always stuff like Lands End or whatever else just seems so easy to order off of the internet. Again, shopping's fine here but one likes what one is used to, whether it's clothes or home stuff. Ira shlepped home lots of good stuff and new bottles of scotch (always critical, thanks Meyer) and we enjoyed Hannukah in February.

A few amusing things. An interesting breakfast with a friend last Friday at Pundak Elvis. Shockingly, I'd never noticed this place. One drives down the road from J'lem towards Tel Aviv and gets off at Neve Ilan. Suddenly, a gold statue of The King, and there, in the middle of nowhere, next to a gas station (that's how it always is here, the best places are next to gas stations, like the humus place in Rosh Pina) is this diner. I'm talking diner, just like American diner, silver Airstream look, circa 1965 - red vinyl booths, pics and posters of Elvis all over. I'm feeling good and enjoying the look. We sit in the booth and take our menus and open up and there it is, Shakshuka and the standard Israeli breakfast - eggs, veggies, cheese, bread, eggplant salad (or humus), olives (no diner would ever serve olives) and tahina. I mean, where were the home fries, the pancakes and french toast? Oh well, Israeli's wouldn't really know what to do with a real diner menu. They've never gone into a diner at 3:00am and paged through the 10 page menu, eyeing such delicacies as surf and turf, and veal medalions a la something and burgers of all varieties and types and wondered, can they really produce this at 3:00am? Meaning, I didn't eat all those things (this for my mother reading this post) but I always wanted to order filet mignon just to see. Of course, to me, diners meant really good white tuna sandwiches (hey, we were 4 kids and my father's a rabbi, we ate light tuna) with mayo and bits of celery on rye toast or whole wheat. Diners meant that covered revolving stand with fancy desserts that always looked outrageously exciting to a kid - lemon meringue pie (I'm sure my mother's was better but it didn't look 10 feet tall), layer cakes of all flavors, ideally iced with white icing and flaked coconut, crumb cakes (2 inches of cake and 4 inches of crumb) and those big, really big cookies. Diner breakfasts were a later discovery in life, and one that I've since given up because the smell of bacon really does interfere with my enjoyment of the meal. Still, the feeling of sitting in the booth was a pleasantly familiar one and it was nice to be with my friend, Barbara, and talk about our lives.

Hermon #2. Went back to the Hermon this week. Intended to have a sleepover but talked my way into a voucher for a 3 person ski pass for another day as there was a storm coming in and it was likely that they wouldn't be open the next day and the boys and I just wanted to go home and see Ira who was returning that night and Jess and D were no longer coming up because of the storm. We all lost money because we didn't sleep over but that's life I decided, as we drove home, down from the North, with the Kinneret on our right, glowing in the evening light and the sky striped with pale orange and grey. We headed through the Jordan Vaalley this time, as green as one will find it in Israel, the hills covered in green, wildflowers sprouting everywhere. Israelis are terrible litterers but after a campaign to save the wildflowers, the gov't managed to educate people not to pick wildflowers and consequently they have a vast variety of wildflowers in spring and it's just fabulous to go and see them. Indeed there are books dedicated to flower hikes (I should know, I just bought one, in Hebrew no less) and what time of the year is good for what flora and fauna. We headed down into the desert section of the Beka Valley once it was dark but I looked at the scenery with familiarity despite the darkness - the sandy humps and oddly majestic brown mountains in the distance, with the Dead Sea coming up on our left, to the East. What a drive. We went from J'lem in the morning, heading to 300meters below sea level where it was sunny and warm, to sea level along the Jordan River and then making a steep climb up to Route 98 in the Western Galilee, which we traveled all the way up to the Hermon, where it was intensely foggy. Wild to go through such different terrain and weather conditions on a 3 hour drive. Skiing was blind in the fog - not a 10 in terms of conditions but we persevered. Gabe and I are just itching for our planned ski gig in Northern VT in March, where it just snowed about 3-4 feet in some places this past week. Ah.

Today, celebrated my mother's birthday. Went to sister Sarah's for breakfast. Saw niece, Elisheva, the newest soldier of the crowd, for the first time in months. She looks great and spoke of her job and training, which has been interesting and hard - she's in Doveyr Tzahal - Army Spokespeople. Essentially, the Army's spin doctors. Benjy was there and spoke of being at Dan Halutz's retirement from the army ceremony. Interesting and Idan Reichel, a great Israeli musician who plays Ethiopian influenced music, was there and played. Gabe Wasserman, has been staying by us this week. He's arrived for a few months in Israel, looking for work as a translator and as an aspiring Sofer/Jewish scribe. Looks like he found a place to live in the Jewish Quarter, which is a cool place to live - perhaps not forever but for a few months, certainly. He's off in Ramot, visiting a family and an interesting shul this weekend. Believe it or not, Natan is off for Shabbat on his own, at a family that he met during the play period. A homeschooling family with 7 kids - with 1 Natan's age, as well as many others, from the US. Actually, we were all invited and would have considered it more strongly - they live on a moshav, complete with peacocks and other animals, but Ira's just returned and it was too much for this weekend.

Need to run and take care of last minute Shabbat details. Weather is cloudy and rainy for Shabbat but hopefully, it won't pour tomorrow. Dinner with Jess and Daniel and lunch with Alan and Lisa. I already talked enough of food, so I won't bore your further.

Shabbat Shalom.

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