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I’m Mad, Man

15 Mar

This was taken with my crummy camera phone from the parking lot where I park when I go to work. Seeing Don Draper there and knowing I won’t be able to watch the show is agonizing. We’re subscribed to Yes TV, HOT’s rival. At least I’ve been able to watch Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead on Yes.

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One Year Already!

15 Dec

Today marks the one-year anniversary of our arrival in Israel. So much has happened since that day of our arrival at Ben Gurion airport.

Welcome to Israel

In the first few months of living here I spent a good part of my days exploring our neighborhood on foot while hubby drove into downtown Tel Aviv for work. I got to know Herzliya Pituach pretty well.

Hibiscus

Hedges of hisbicus surround many properties in my neighborhood

Hoopoe

I'm always delighted when I see a hoopoe in the 'hood.

Beach in Herzliya

A fifteen-minute walk to the beach

On weekends we began to visit historic sites near and far.

Caesarea

Caesarea

Beit Shean

Beit Shean

Akko

Akko

I joined some social clubs and made lots of friends with whom I’ve been exploring the area. I’ve been studying Hebrew and Arabic, visiting museums and markets, restaurants and cafes. I offered my graphic design services on a volunteer basis to some non-profit organizations and have been able to keep my design skills honed. Just recently, I took a part-time job in Tel Aviv. This brings me into the city on a regular basis, satisfying my affinity for city life. I find Tel Aviv to be a curious mix of grit and refinement with an edgy artistic sensibility.

Tel Aviv Grafitti

Tel Aviv Grafitti

Cinema Hotel

Cinema Hotel

Neve Tzedek

Neve Tzedek

As with all places there are both good things and bad about my new home.

cappuccino

Good: Delicious coffee at nearly every cafe . . . and no Starbucks here!

Hummus

Good: Yummy food!

Shop in Jerusalem

Good: Exotic shopping

dog waste disposal

Bad: I don't think anyone uses these dog waste disposal bags. In fact, pet dogs are allowed to run free in the neighborhood and there are way too many stray cats.

Tel Aviv Traffic

Bad: Horrendous traffic, crazy drivers, parking nightmares

I wonder what the coming year will bring? If it flies by as quickly as this past year has I had better hold on for the ride.

A Nearly Perfect Day

19 Oct

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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.

Tel Aviv Explorations

7 Oct

A couple of weeks ago I began taking Arabic classes. I, and everyone else who knows I’m also taking Hebrew lessons, thought I’d be in for major language confusion. Though I sometimes find myself starting to answer ken (Hebrew for yes) when my Arabic teacher asks me a question, I actually find it helpful to study both languages at the same time. I’m noticing strong similarities between Hebrew and Arabic and the knowledge from one language reinforces that of the other. Hard to explain in words but my brain seems to be sorting things out okay.

My Arabic classes take place in downtown Tel Aviv, so now I’m driving into town at least twice a week. I’ve been making it a habit to explore the nearby neighborhoods after class. It feels good to experience the hustle and bustle of city life now and again.

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HaTachana: Tel Aviv’s Best Kept Secret?

26 Jul

HaTachana

The old train station building for the Jaffa to Jerusalem railway.

HaTachana means train station in Hebrew. And since last year it also means trendy shopping center between the Mediterranean and Neve Tzedek. In fact, that is the address that is given for the HaTachana shopping complex on their website. Of course, I had to use Google Translate to figure that out. A search on Google Maps for HaTachana yields zilch. There’s no chance it would appear on my old (circa 1994) map of Tel Aviv. But I’d heard about HaTachana from friends who’ve been here for a while. And it definitely seemed like a good place to explore.

Armed with my outdated map, a print-out of the Hebrew-labeled map from the HaTachana website and a print-out of the Google map, I headed there with a friend of mine. The conundrum was that the HaTachana website map indicated a turn where the Google map showed no road. So I missed the turn (an unmarked road) and found myself driving into Jaffa. Yikes! No worries, though, I got turned around easily and we made our way to the large (thank goodness) parking lot.

The HaTachana complex is comprised of some 22 buildings dating to different time periods. The complex is named after the old train station building (where trains used to run from Jaffa to Jerusalem) which now houses the Tourist Info office and a great souvenir shop. Other buildings in the complex are a villa built in 1902 once owned by Templar Hugo Wieland, the Wieland brick and tile factory, the freight terminal and a typical Arab house older than the Wieland villa.

Despite the glaring heat from the sun, we had great fun exploring the complex, popping into one shop after another, finding shade or air-conditioned relief when we could. We both purchased a few souvenirs and S. got a great deal on what must be the best-designed tote bag in the world. We had a delicious lunch at a charming restaurant. We shall both add HaTachana to our list of favorite places in Tel Aviv and will do our best to spread the word. But then again…perhaps we should keep the secret to ourselves?

White Balance Test in The White City

24 Jul

White Balance Test of Tel Aviv City HallShown above: Tel Aviv’s original City Hall. Each image shot from the same spot (hand held), at f/9 at 1/320 sec, each with different white balance setting (clockwise from top left): auto white balance, direct sunlight, cloudy, fluorescent, incandescent, shade.

I’ve lived in Israel long enough to know that Tel Aviv is known as the White City because of the many examples of Bauhaus architecture. I’ve owned my Nikon D40 for five years. Even so, I took a photo tour of Tel Aviv today and learned lots about my camera and about Tel Aviv as well. The tour was led by Rinat Halon, professional photographer and resident of Tel Aviv. There were six of us on the tour, all with different makes and models of digital cameras. Rinat shared photo tips with us and gave us assignments to carry out on the spot to demonstrate certain features of our cameras. Rinat’s mother came along to dispense historical information about many of the places we visited on the tour. For example, we stopped in at one of Tel Aviv’s three surviving traditional grocery stores, a place I’m sure I’ve walked past and driven past many times. We met the owner who graciously allowed all us shutterbugs to take his photo. The tour did not cover a wide area of Tel Aviv, but it featured historical details, characteristic architecture and some interesting anecdotes. Plus, I learned about a couple of restaurants and museums that I definitely want to return to.

A Morning at the Traffic Office

6 Jul

Morning Rush Hour on the Ayalon Freeway

Morning Rush Hour on the Ayalon Freeway. Traffic was slow enough to allow me to take this photo with my cell phone.


Today I went to the traffic office in Holon to officially transfer ownership on Peppino and exchange the license plates. I’ve been driving with the seller’s plates and had been waiting for paperwork to clear the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before I could get my new plates.

The traffic office is open from 7:30 a.m. until noon-ish and is only open one afternoon of the week. I left early so I could beat the crowds one expects to see at any traffic office, no matter what your location. I managed to get there at 7:20. I’d brought a screwdriver to remove the old plates. With plates and paperwork in hand I went through the security check at the front entrance. Oops! I’d thrown the screwdriver into my purse and the guard told me I had to return it to my car before I could gain entrance to the building. Good to know the security checks really work here.

I had been instructed to report to counter 6 to complete my transaction. I did so but there was no clerk at counter 6. There was a man sitting in a chair in front of the counter. He said something to me in Hebrew. I responded that I don’t speak Hebrew. He explained to me in English that the counter would not open until 9 a.m. The clerk who usually works that counter was on holiday and the person filling in for her couldn’t come in till 9. Oh well, there was nothing to do but wait. I suppose I’d anticipated this as I’d brought a book as well as my Hebrew notebook for studying. I settled into a chair in front of the counter and began to read.

Before I knew it I realized that some people were speaking to me in Hebrew. There were two clerks behind counter 6 beckoning me to approach. Lucky for me they spoke English well. I explained what I was there for. One clerk, who I assume was the supervisor, explained to the other clerk how to complete the transaction. She apparently had no experience in this kind of transaction. The supervisor left and another clerk came to help out. The two of them were chattering back and forth, banging keys on the computer and occasionally asking me questions. Before I knew it four people were gathered around the counter. Comments were being bantered back and forth, none of which I could understand.

Then I realized something that made my stomach turn. I’d been instructed to bring my passport and had forgotten it. Worry gnawed away at me. After all this, will I be unable to complete the transaction? Those clerks are really gonna be angry with me when I’m unable to produce my passport. I’ve got my MFA ID card with me…maybe that will suffice?

The clerk never asked me for my passport or my MFA card. Soon enough I had the new registration in hand, a receipt for the old plates and an order form for the new plates. I was instructed to proceed to a building across the street to get my new plates.

Said building was a sorry-looking shack that appeared to have been caught in a time warp from the 1940s. Lots of old license plates had been nailed to the outer and inner walls of the shack. There was even a clock, telling the wrong time, that looked like a license plate. Behind the window sat a grizzled looking old man. Again, I was relieved that he spoke English. He took the order form, collected 100 shekels from me and proceeded to make the license plate right then and there. I could hear, but not see, him punching the letters and numbers into the metal plate. Then he ran the plate through a machine that inked the raised letters and numbers. He handed the plates to me along with a receipt and sat back down. But wait a minute! There were no holes drilled into the plate for me to attach it to my car. When I inquired about that, the man told me to bring my car over and he’d attach the plates.

A little over an hour after I’d arrived I was ready to hit the road. Peppino is now fully and legally my own. I headed back on the Ayalon freeway back home and got caught smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic. I guess that was the only typical thing that happened this morning.