Archive | October, 2011

Here Comes The Rain Again

30 Oct

Rhythm of the Rain by Bart Van Oijen

Today Brad turned off the AC and opened up all our windows. It was so nice to have cool air coming in from outside rather than from the AC units on our walls. And a sure sign that summer in Israel is coming to a close came in the late afternoon: a torrential downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning. Today’s rain has come after days, weeks, even months of non-stop sunshine. Fall and winter here means the monotony of sunshine will be broken by these sudden, strong downpours. And then back to more sunshine. Wish I could share it with my friends and family back home who are dealing with their first snow of the season.

This week's forecast

Advertisements

Belayed Birthday Greetings

28 Oct

 Belayed Birthday Greetings

It appears receiving my mail is a matter of sheer luck.

There are many strange things about our house on David Hamelech Street, the foremost being that it does not actually sit on David Hamelech Street. Our house is located on an alley off of David Hamelech. The house on the corner of David Hamelech and the alley has the same house number as our house, as well as the two other houses between our house and the one on the corner. These four houses should be labeled with A, B, C, D to differentiate one from the other. But no one has ever bothered to do it, neither the homeowners nor the municipality.

Confused? Apparently the postman is too. Since we moved in ten months ago we often receive mail intended for our neighbors. And we continue to receive mail for our landlord who used to live in this house. I’ve tried keeping a lookout for the postman so I can talk to him directly about this but I never seem to catch him on his route. I went to the post office twice to rectify the matter, but the landlord’s mail keeps coming.

But today the ultimate blunder occurred. I took a walk to run some errands and upon my return I approached the house on the corner of our street and our alley…the house with the same house number as ours. I noticed there was an envelope on the sidewalk in front of that house. It was stamped and postmarked. And then I noticed it was addressed to me! My personal mail. Just lying there on the sidewalk. I snatched it up. The envelope was dirty and had obviously been rained upon. Turns out it was a birthday card from one of my relatives in Sicily. It was addressed correctly to me. But apparently the postman here cannot figure out how to deliver mail properly, even though we have been living here for ten months and have our names clearly marked on our mailbox.

Grrrrr.

I’ve placed a call to the housing manager with B’s employer and wheels are in motion to get this situation under control.

Another Unexpected Visitor

22 Oct

Salamander?

This little critter was not longer than an inch and perfectly matched the pattern of the carpet.

Before going to bed last night I noticed both Baxter and Lulu eyeing something intently on one of the living room rugs. They started gyrating in odd directions and reaching out their paws. I dreaded the reason why: probably one of those damned cockroaches on steroids. As I drew close I saw quite an unexpected sight. A tiny little yellow lizard or salamander. The poor guy looks like he’d just lost his tail, probably due to one of my kitties. After I managed to get this pic of him B. scooped him up in a box and freed him outside.

A Nearly Perfect Day

19 Oct

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today is my birthday. And it has been one of my best birthdays ever.

Got up to feed the kitties, turned around to see the birthday package from hubby. Opened it to find an iPad inside. Ooooooh, wifey is very happy and kisses hubby.

Went to get my hair cut at a salon I’ve never been to before. (A couple days ago hubby and I were having coffee at our neighborhood cafe and he noticed the hair salon next door to the cafe. Wifey got brave and made an appt.) The stylist did exactly what I wanted him to do. No more, no less. I was in and out of the salon in 20 minutes. And this place is just a five-minute walk from home. Yay! I think I’ll become a regular at this salon.

In the evening, hubby took wifey out to dinner at Manta Ray, a seafood restaurant right on the water in Tel Aviv near Jaffa. The sun sank slowly into the Mediterranean as we had a fabulous dinner.

Back home and wifey is off to play with her new toy.

This is the only thing that was not good about this day: When I returned from the hair salon, I startled the little kitty that has begun to take naps in the potted palm in our front yard. As I stood there watching him, he scrabbled to get out of the pot and climb over the front wall. He lost his footing and fell onto one of the other plant pots in our yard. I then saw him limp away through our gate. I sure hope his injury is not serious and that he comes back for another visit some day.

My First Sukkot

13 Oct

Sukkah in Herzliya Pituach

Sukkah in Herzliya Pituach


A Peek Inside the Sukkah

A Peek Inside the Sukkah


Today is the first day of Sukkot and B. had the day off from work. Sukkot, also known as the Festival of the Tabernacles, lasts seven days. To celebrate Sukkot, families build a temporary shelter called a Sukkah (Sukkot is the plural of Sukkah). The shelter, which should be decorated with plant material such as bamboo shoots or tree branches, is meant to be reminiscent of the fragile dwellings the Israelites lived in while wandering the desert for 40 years after the exodus from Egypt. Many families eat their meals in the shelters and some even sleep in them. I’ve also learned that Sukkot is a harvest festival during which thanks is given for the bounty of the past year.

The weather was supremely gorgeous today, so Brad and I took a long leisurely walk. I was hoping to see some of the sukkot built by our neighbors. We knew they must have built some as we noticed many people hauling away tree branches and other yard waste that had been put out for collection. We only saw one sukkah during our stroll. I’d forgotten to take into account that just about every house in Herzliya Pituach is hidden behind a tall wall or other barrier. If there is a sukkah behind the wall, I’ll never be able to see it! I’ll get a chance to see another Sukkah next week when I will have my Hebrew class inside my Hebrew teacher’s Sukkah.

A Bit of Fun at the Beach

13 Oct

My Feet in the Med

My Feet in the Med


Jumping the Waves

Jumping the Waves

The Road to Akko

10 Oct

El Jazzar Mosque at Dusk

El Jazzar Mosque at Dusk

Knight's Halls

Knights' Halls built by Hospitaller Knights

Sea Grotto at Rosh Hanikra

Sea Grotto at Rosh Hanikra

B. had a nice long weekend this weekend: Yom Kippur on Saturday and Columbus Day on Monday. We thought we’d do an overnight stay somewhere but since everything –including roads — is closed in Israel on Yom Kippur, the long weekend stay was a bit truncated. We decided to do a one-night stay in Akko, leaving on Sunday morning and returning Monday afternoon. Located less than two hours north of us on the coast, Akko is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in Israel. It is mentioned extensively in the novel The Source as Michener chronicles the many civilizations that occupied the site: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Turks. Today the population of Akko (also known as Acre) is about 70% Jewish and 30% Arab. Akko has a large, picturesque and exotic old town situated on a bay facing Haifa.

We stayed in Akkotel, a boutique hotel housed in an old Turkish police station that is built right into the city wall. We covered a lot of ground during our short stay in Akko, wandering in and out of the labyrinthine lanes and covered walkways of the old city. I felt the Turkish Bazaar was more colorful than Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market or Jaffa’s Flea Market, but it was also a bit more odoriferous. I could barely stomach the stench coming from the fish vendor stalls. We visited the vaults and halls of the Crusader Fortress and crouched through an underground tunnel built by the Templars to connect the Fortress with the Port. An incredibly corny audiovisual display accompanied our visit to the magnificent old Turkish Bathhouse, built in 1781 for Pasha el Jazzar. El Jazzar also built the large mosque that dominates the old city.

We happened to be standing atop the city wall when the muezzin made their evening call to prayer…a magical moment as dusk settled on the city and the minaret was lit up from within by a bright green light. We had dinner at the legendary Uri Buri restaurant and left feeling they had lived up to their reputation for serving excellent seafood. We did all this on Sunday.

The next day we visited the el Jazzar mosque. The courtyard surrounding the mosque was beautifully landscaped, quiet and tranquil. We took a peek at the interior of the mosque (a barrier prevented us from entering more than a few steps inside). We returned to the Turkish Bazaar so I could take some pictures and then walked to the very end of the fisherman’s wharf. We made a quick stop at the market near our hotel to purchase some delicious middle eastern sweets and were on the road again.

Rather than heading straight home we drove about 20 minutes further north along the coast to Rosh Hanikra, situated at the border of Israel and Lebanon. At Rosh Hanikra we rode a cable car down the side of a chalk cliff for a view of some stunningly beautiful grottos carved out of the chalk by the pounding waves of the Mediterranean.

By 2:30 we had begun our ride back home. As B. navigated the heavily trafficked highway outside of Haifa certain memories of Akko clung to me. For one, I could not shake the smell of those damned fish stalls. And then I kept singing the words Uri Buri to the tune of Wooly Bully. Thanks B. for putting that tune on endless loop in my head.