Archive | September, 2012

Going Offline

30 Sep

I was napping this afternoon when I woke with the sudden realization that tomorrow our internet service ends. Yikes! Time for one more post before we leave Israel. I don’t have anything deep or profound to say. Only that I will miss living in this region much more than I’d ever dreamed I would. I’m hoping that my previous posts attest to all the reasons why. Add these recent experiences to the list:

After my early morning visit to the Israeli govt. vet to get the paperwork signed and stamped for Baxter and Lulu, I met up with my friend Anne K, who lives nearby. She treated me to breakfast at a cafe at Ramat HaNadiv, one of the places on my long list of places to visit before we leave Israel. Anne and I met months ago at a Mah Jongg game, something I’ve always considered to be a good omen. We will continue our friendship…and collaboration on a book…after I leave. (photos by Anne and our waiter.)

We had a fabulous breakfast at the cafe at Ramat HaNadiv

Cafe at Ramat HaNadiv

Memorial Garden at Ramat HaNadiv

Brad and I took one more walk along the Med this morning, wading in the water as the tide came in. We’ve just begun to move out of the summer season here and have witnessed some light sprinkles and blustery skies. This view of the mosque, near where we usually access the beach, was particularly engaging this morning.

Sidna Ali Mosque

We had lunch at one of the area’s best restaurants, Segev. I must thank Anne for introducing me to this fab establishment, just minutes from our house in Herzliya Pituach. Everything was delicious and served in inimitable style.

Brad’s serving of Scorched Tuna

My serving of Drum Fish Filet


A Few Of My Favorite Things

26 Sep

Aside from ready access to some of the greatest historical sites in the world and top-notch middle eastern cusine, here are a few of the things I will miss about living in Israel:

The view outside my studio window.

Being able to walk from our house to the shores of the Med in 15 minutes.

Being able to walk down the middle of the highway once a year on Yom Kippur.

The bougainvillea outside my kitchen window.

Predictable weather.

Visita Dolorosa

22 Sep

Contrasts in the Shuq

Today we made what will probably be our last visit to Jerusalem. My very first full day in Israel was spent visiting the Old City of Jerusalem and I was thoroughly enchanted. We’ve made several trips since then and even had a couple overnight stays just outside the Old City. I had thought I might pick up some final souvenirs but I found myself passing the vendors by. I was more interested in just soaking up the atmosphere in this city full of contrasts: old and new, sacred and profane, Christian, Muslim, Jewish religions.

Jerusalem skyline with the dome of Hurva Synagogue

Though we’ve visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher many times, we made our first visit to the nearby Church of the Redeemer. We decided to climb the 178 steps up to the top of the Church tower and were rewarded with fabulous views of the Old City. The climb up the narrow spiral staircase was tiring and a bit claustrophobic; going down made us both dizzy. As we continued walking though Jerusalem I felt a profound sadness, knowing I will probably never return to this ancient city again.

Eighth Station of the Cross on Via Dolorosa

Calm Before The Storm?

21 Sep

This is how I found Baxter and Lulu this afternoon. They’ve recovered quite well from being shut up for a day in the bathroom while the movers traipsed through the house packing up all our belongings. During clean-up after the move, I found several cat toys behind one couch. The kids are ignoring them for now. Baxter’s hot spot seems to be healing quite well.

The two of them haven’t a clue what lies in their future: another vet visit for a health certificate. Then a few days later we will leave with them in the wee hours of the morning for a ride to the airport. After the long flight home, and a long drive home from Dulles Airport during DC rush hour traffic we will drop them off at our home in Linthicum.

I wonder if they will recognize their old stomping grounds? I also wonder if they will miss this house in Israel with its tall windows looking out onto an exotic landscape, its various nooks and corners for running and chasing each other around and one very nifty kitty hiding place?

Pack Out

19 Sep

The scene at around 3:30 p.m.

Our stuff getting loaded onto the truck.

Lulu inspects my now empty office.

The pack out went well today. A crew of six arrived a little after nine a.m. They were polite, efficient and professional. And, as it turns out, it was the same crew that moved us in to this house nearly two years ago. I recognized some of the faces. And they recognized the elliptical exercise machine—unarguably, the single most challenging item we’ve ever had moved. The crew did not take a lunch break, though they did take a couple of coffee and smoke breaks. (They brought their own coffee, we provided hot water and sugar.) They were done and driving down the road with all our stuff by 4:30 p.m.

We locked Baxter and Lulu into our bathroom during the move. I visited them now and then to see how they were doing and they were not happy campers. Lulu was fussing and fidgeting about, trying to head out the door. Baxter laid low and lurked in the corners of the room. He must have been hatching his secret escape plan. Near the end of the day, he did dart out of the room. He was so startled by the empty rooms (nowhere to hide under or behind!) that it was an easy feat to nab him and return him to the kitty hideaway.

Now the house is so empty our voices are echoing off the walls. We halfheartedly unpacked the welcome kit and I heated up leftovers for dinner. Lulu has found a way to deal with the new development. She has been leaping up to incredible heights, chasing after the nails that have been exposed from prints that have been removed from the wall. She’s also spent part of the evening playing like a kitten with a little seed pod that was tracked in from outside by one of the movers.

As for Brad and I, though all we did was sit around and watch the movers work all day, we were both exhausted by the time they left. I suppose a lot of the exhaustion has been building up over these last few days as we’ve been preparing for the move back home. Add that to the fact that I did not sleep well last night on the govt. issue bed with govt. issue pillow, sheets and blankets. Oh dear, it will be a long, long time till we can sleep in our own bed again.

Jaffa Jaunt and Baxter Boo Boo

16 Sep

Persian Ceramic TileOur plan today was to go to the Jaffa Flea Market in the morning. I’ve had my eye on some ceramic tiles with fish designs ever since we moved here. The tiles are said to be about 40-50 years old and to come from Iran. I bought a small one in Jerusalem the very first day I arrived in Israel. Today I was looking to pick up a couple of larger versions.

As we were getting ready to head in to town, Brad discovered that Baxter has a bare patch of reddened skin on his right shoulder. Yikes! We hastily made an appt. with our vet for noon, leaving us time to drive into Jaffa, head immediately to the ceramic tile vendor, and come right back. We spent a bit of time with the vendor, who obliging pulled out various sizes and styles of the vintage tiles for us to consider. Brad and I made our choices and tried to dicker the price down but the vendor wouldn’t budge very much. These tiles must be much sought after so there is no need for him to come down very much in his price. He did, however, give us a small freebie tile as he was packing up our order.

Baxter was well behaved, as usual, at the vet’s. The vet ran a couple of tests to determine the cause of the skin irritation but did not come up with a definitive diagnosis yet. He sent us home with some lotion to put on Baxter’s “hot spot.” We’re to keep an eye on it and bring him back if we notice the irritated area getting larger or more inflamed. We were very worried this new development might cause a problem in getting Baxter out of the country but our vet doesn’t think that will be a problem. I have to bring both Baxter and Lulu back on Sept. 25 for their health certificate. I hope by then Baxter is well on the mend.

Spent the rest of the day continuing to organize for the move. I noticed that I’ve incorrectly placed some labels on kitchen cabinets. Stuff that is supposed to go by air I had marked for the shipment that goes by boat. Geez! I am vowing to recheck all labels on Tuesday — the night before the movers come.

Homeward Bound

15 Sep

Labels placed on all drawers and cabinets.

We’re moving back home in just over two weeks. I’ve been having restless nights and fleeting moments of panic. Can’t understand why. This is the fourth time we’ve moved from an overseas post. And that’s not counting the moves I experienced as an army brat. But there is no escaping this fact: Each move is different. Each move is difficult in its own way. I’ve made some great friends while living here in Israel and have been involved in a wonderful social circuit. Plus, I had a great part-time job doing what I love to do. Now, we head back home. No more jaunts to Jerusalem or Jericho. And I will be unemployed again.

But, yay! We will be close to family and friends we haven’t seen for awhile. I won’t have to screw up the courage to speak in a foreign language when I go shopping. Yup. I’ll be riding this roller coaster for awhile.

The movers will arrive this Wednesday to pack up our stuff. Lucky for us, thanks to Rosh Hashanah, we have a four-day weekend to organize for  the move. Let’s hope we take advantage of these days off. When we moved here we were up till 2 a.m. the night before the movers arrived.

I’m using plastic containers left over from purchases as fruit and veggie bowls so that my usual decorative bowls can be ready for the movers.

To get organized for the move, we must separate our stuff for two different shipments. One goes by air (essential stuff needed right away) and the other goes by sea (all the rest). The challenge this time around is that we do not move into a hotel right after the movers leave. We will be in the house for another two weeks before we fly out. We don’t move into a hotel because the house has been furnished by the government. We will have a “welcome kit” (the same sort of kit we received when we first arrived here) with essential housewares, linens, ironing board and even a TV (AFN reception only). I’m having a hard time adjusting to this weird two-week period when we’ll be in limbo. And I’m cringing at the fact that we’ll be using govt.-issue towels and sheets. Actually, they’re really fine and it’s what we used when we first arrived here.

This past week, I started organizing for the move in my studio. It is the most cluttered room in the house. It took me a few days to get the room in order.

I spent most of today in the kitchen, organizing and sorting. I’ve relegated the den as the repository for most of the air shipment items. In the kitchen, I’ve labeled all the drawers and cabinets according to which shipment the contents are destined for.

The den is now the air shipment sector. Items on the shelves are destined for the household goods shipment — going by sea.

Brad has been doing a lot to get ready for the move as well. Packing up electronics. Sorting most of the stuff in the basement. Sorting items in the guest room.

Well, fading fast now. Must toddle off to bed. Tomorrow we head out to Jaffa early for one last browse through the flea market.