Archive | January, 2011

Italiano, Ancora

31 Jan

One of the main reasons I joined the IWC is that they offer classes in Italian. Since I’ve been out of practice for several months, I wasn’t sure whether to sign up for the beginner’s or intermediate class. But of more concern for me is that the classes meet at the instructor’s house in Tel Aviv. Without transportation, I’d have to depend on getting a ride to class. Then there was an email from the instructor: she was planning to have a class in Herzliya just this week, so long as someone could host the class. With a house full of boxes there was no way I could host the class, but thankfully someone else did. The class was held at H’s house, a 15-minute walk from my place. She is Chinese-American and her husband works at the U.S. Embassy. Two other women also attended. I believe they are both American but not sure if they are connected to the Embassy or not.

Turns out it was a beginner’s class. The lesson was very informal, a far cry from the structured and comprehensive classes I attended in Baltimore. For  this session the instructor concentrated on idiomatic phrases, emphasizing the difference between English and Italian. For example, in English we would say black and white while in Italian it is customary to reverse the order and say bianco e nero. We also looked at anomalies in the Italian language, such as nouns like mano that you would expect to be masculine but are actually feminine.

Next week, I hope to attend the classes in Tel Aviv. I’ll go first for the beginner’s class and stay around for the intermediate lesson, which I hope I’ll be ready for. At any rate, it’s great to be studying la bella lingua again.

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No Room For Grandma

30 Jan

Grandma Genovese

Grandma Genovese Won't Fit In My Kitchen

I haven’t updated my blog in awhile…we’ve been doing our best to unpack and organize our house. I started with the kitchen. We have plenty of cabinet space to accommodate all our dishes, cups, platters, utensils etc. Those items have all been put away. I don’t have a lot of counter space, however, so the Kitchen Aid, food processor and blender are stored in the cabinets in the laundry room. Now I have to figure out what to do with all the items I normally decorate my kitchen with. The cabinets go straight to the ceiling so I don’t have any of that top of the cabinet space that I used at home. I already mentioned the precious little counter space. And…there is barely any wall space. Where, oh where, am I going to place the portrait of Grandma that Domenica made and gave to me? Grandma usually always presides over our kitchen. It looks like I’ll have to move Grandma to another room.

A Warm Welcome

28 Jan

I took a break from unpacking this morning to attend a Welcome Coffee for newcomers to the embassy community. The event was hosted by the DCM’s wife at her residence. DCM stands for Deputy Chief of Mission. The DCM is the second in command under the U.S. Ambassaor. His wife is very friendly and makes one feel at ease immediately. They have a lovely home with a large backyard and a pool. It’s just a five-minute walk from our place. A handful of us were newcomers, myself being one of the most lately arrived. The rest of the women who attended have been living here for awhile with a few just about ready to head back to the States. The coffee was great and there were plenty of yummy snacks available, but I hardly had time to partake of the goodies as I was so busy chatting with others in attendance. Some of the women I’d met already but I made a few new acquaintances as well. I made plans to visit Carmel market with two of the women. I met the Ambassador’s wife with whom I’ll be taking Hebrew lessons. And I reminisced about Frankfurt (where I attended high school) with two other women who had also lived there before. I’m not usually a fan of events like this, but I enjoyed myself this morning and am feeling more positive about living here.

Our Stuff Arrives

27 Jan

The First Crate Is Opened

The First Crate Is Opened

Let The Unpacking Begin

Let The Unpacking Begin

Boxes Everywhere

Boxes Everywhere

A Mountain of Boxes

A Mountain of Boxes

I think Lulu knew something was up this morning. Our household goods were scheduled to arrive which meant the kitties would be locked in the upstairs bathroom while the movers unloaded the truck. Was it the anxiety that made her throw up everything in her stomach?

The moving crew arrived shortly after 9 a.m. and things began to move at lightning speed. There were about five guys in the crew and they trotted into the house with boxes while Brad checked off the inventory list and we directed them where to place the boxes. The crew chief unpacked big stuff and assembled anything that had been disassembled for the move. We told the crew chief that the kitties were secured in the bathroom but apparently he didn’t pass the info along. One of the movers opened the door after he heard some noise in the room. The noise was Baxter pawing at the door, trying to get out. There were a few panicky moments as we closed doors and scooped the kitties up again. Despite the incident with the cats, we were very pleased with the moving crew. They were quick and efficient. They finished unloading the truck shortly after noon.

And so now we are surrounded by boxes again. At first I was thinking it was more fun to unpack than it had been to pack out but now I’m sitting here daunted by the task ahead of us. I started with the kitchen. I’ve been at it all afternoon and early evening and have yet to unearth our coffee mugs. But we did have the pleasure of dining on our very own dinner plates this evening.

Lulu seems to be okay now too. She held her dinner down this evening and she and Baxter tuckered themselves out exploring all the stuff in our house and jumping in and out of boxes as we emptied them.

One of my friends noted that the time will fly and soon we will be packing up again to return home. I fear she is all too correct.

A Taste of the Exotic

26 Jan

Passion Fruit

Waiting For Wrinkles

This is the second passion fruit Brad has found in our back yard. We cut the first one open before it was ripe. I’ve since learned that wrinkly skin is a sign of ripeness in passion fruit.

We tried pomelo for the first time today. It’s the fruit that looks like a giant grapefruit in this picture. An Israeli woman I met raved about pomelos so I thought I had to try one. The rind of the pomelo is incredibly thick. It took me awhile to get to the fruit within. After watching a video on how to eat a pomelo (imagine — watching tutorials on how to eat fruit!) I learned how to carve away the rind and to peel away the membrane surrounding each section. Pomelos are said to be sweeter than grapefruit but not as sweet as oranges. Well, I must have gotten a bad one because it was rather tart. I broke up the sections into a bowl and sprinkled sugar on top (as I saw in one of the videos I watched). Tasted just like grapefruit to me. Hardly seemed worth the effort I went through to peel and eat it.

Maintenance Morning

25 Jan

Haaretz

Don't let the maintenance man read your paper...especially if he's Irish-Israeli!

Last week two representatives from the Govt. Housing Dept. came for a “walk-through” of our house. This is routine when you move into U.S. Govt.-owned or leased housing. I reviewed maintenance issues with I. while M. took requests for removal or requisition of furniture items.

This morning several teams of maintenance workers came to the house to see after the requests I had made last week. They came in pairs: two guys to repair the leaking sink and to install a towel rack in the master bathroom; two who repaired a faulty electrical outlet, made us a second garage door remote control and sealed the holes from the TV cables to the backyard; and finally two to repair a window frame and replace the cover over our patio area. One of the maintenance men spoke with an Irish accent but has apparently been living here a long time and considers himself Israeli. He kept trying to get me talking about politics. When he learned I was of Italian descent he began grilling me about Berlusconi and then began comparing Bill Clinton to Berlusconi. When he saw we had a copy of the Haaretz (part of the international version of  The New York Times) he decried it as a radical left wing publication that is pro-Arab and depicts Israel as a nation that practices apartheid. I attempted to mollify him by saying we also read The Jerusalem Post. Later in the morning a fellow stopped by for me to pick out window treatments for our sliding glass doors and living room windows. My choices were rather limited, since the govt. is paying for it. They prefer you to pick neutral colors and not too extravagant materials. His visit took about a half-hour and by then I had chosen Roman blinds for the living room and sheers for the sliding glass doors. Normally a decision like that would take me weeeeeks.

Good News, Bad News

24 Jan

Okay, the bad news first. I really did a number on my back when I slipped and fell at Apollonia National Park last Saturday. That Saturday evening it was my foot that was really sore but the next morning I awoke with agonizing back pain. I spent most of the day on the sofa icing down my muscle spasms.

Good news: Hebrew and Italian classes have been announced and I should be starting real soon. Maintenance will be here tomorrow to fix a few odd things in our house. Our household goods are here and will be delivered this Thursday. Our car will be arriving next week. And….my back is feeling much better today. Good enough to take a short walk this afternoon.