Monthly Archives: July 2008

Still Alive…

The shiputzim never end:  I’ve been off the air for a while because of the unrelenting schedule of tryiing to get this stuff done.  Plus I seemed to come down with something and lost a day or so.  Anyhow, today is shaping up to be one of those killer days: kitchen cabinets will be installed, I’ll be painting, my office cabinets will be moved, and there are supposed to be a few deliveries.  Meanwhile, here’s what’s happened since last week:

  • Finished stripping off all the wallpaper in the living room and prepping the walls (lots of spackle) with the very generous help from a friend’s husband.
  • Prepped the office and the bathroom for painting, including getting all the gunge off from the crappy job the plumbing contractors did.
  • Blew a gasket at the morons at Home Center, who had never placed the order for my bathroom sink and cabinet unit.  Now, two weeks later, the order is placed, so I may be moving into an apartment without a bathroom sink for a while.  Grrrr!
  • Survived a horrific visit to IKEA, with help from a friend.  It wasn’t just the long journey there and back (IKEA is near Netanya, which is about an hour and 45 minutes from Karmiel), but there was a sale going on, so the place was jam packed to the point where you could barely move.  Even worse, they had sold out of at least half the things on my list, so it was a very frustrating experience.
  • Discovered another plumbing problem—this one on the utility mirpeset.
  • Have been completely unsuccessful at getting the movers to return my calls…

Wish me luck.  If all goes well, a huge chunk of the work will be behind us by this time tomorrow…

A Real Font of Humor

Juvenile and funny: (Or maybe only if you are a DTP geek…) If fonts were people.  Hat tip to LR in sunny San Diego.

The Shiputzim Saga, part 3

Slow progress: Nothing like discovering unforeseen problems.  Outlets needed to be moved.  The sink drain was in the wrong place.  I spend most of the day coping with Sami’s workers from Sachnin (one of the big villages in the area).  I’ve discovered that “15 minutes” means something entirely different in Arab culture than in Anglo culture.  It is a day of three steps forward, two steps back.  I spend part of it chiseling away at concrete.  At least it seems to be as effective as a gym workout! 

One of the reasons that it was such a tough day was that I got home from Tel Aviv at 23:30 last night and slept for four hours.  Yikes.  I have another two weeks of this before my life will have any semblance of normalcy. 

Meanwhile, Terri is being incredibly naughty, though she is as sweet as sugar with my neighbor’s elderly mom (who doesn’t speak a word of Hebrew or English).  She croons at Terri in Ukrainian, and Terri leans against her and looks adorable.  Hard to believe that this is the same dog who started barking and snarling at a helpless puppy on this evening’s walk.  Gotta sign up for those obedience classes!

Doggy of the day: Check out Jerry amusing himself.  (Clearly, Jerry’s human is an engineering geek.)  Hat tip to Gilah.

Terri Gets Her Groove

The naughtiness emerges:  It’s a little over three weeks since I adopted Terri, and she’s evolved from a shy, quite, emaciated pup into a brash, confident, and naughty girl.  Her fur is lovely, she’s got some flesh on her bones, and she’s about as flea-free as you can hope for with an active dog that goes outside.  She seems to be part terrier, part mountain goat, as I find her the other day on the kitchen counter.  She has her neighborhood buddies, particularly Sean, a stubby-legged mutt who loves to run and mock-fight with her.  On our long walks, she is always on the lookout for Donny, but if he isn’t around, she can at least chase birds and shefan selah (hyrax).  At night, I wake up to find her on the bed, stretched on her back, looking very foolish indeed. 

During one of the many STC-related conference calls that I have, Terri decided that it was a good time to drag her toy mouse into my office and disembowel it.  It was very hard for me to keep a straight face and concentrate on serious business stuff!

The Shiputzim Saga, part 2

Wallpaper is evil:  After spending now countless hours peeling wallpaper, and not being anywhere near finished, I have come the conclusion that wallpaper is evil and anyone who uses it here, in this climate and on these building materials, is seriously stupid.  I pulled a piece off today, revealing a comfy little nest of bugs.  Sorry, guys, but you need to relocated.  More spackling and painting.  The counters get installed today. 
new kitchen counters

Here’s the sink view:

Check out the gorgeous embedded stone trim.  It may look odd now, but it will really pop with the green bits of the cabinets. 

Of course, we discovered along the way that there are more unforeseen snags.  Some outlets need to be moved, more plumbing work done… but in the end, I know that it will be lovely.

In addition to peeling wallpaper, it was a painting day. Mmmm… the smell of fresh paint. I don’t know if I am feeling that or the beer more!

I am actually so tired that when I took a lunch break today, I feel asleep in the cafe!

This Message Brought to You by…

Gotta love JibJab: Here’s a little break from the shiputzim saga to enjoy some American political humor.

The Shiputzim Saga

Check your logic at the door: If you have never purchased property in Israel, you would be hard pressed to imagine how complex and convoluted the process is. When you buy “clean” (i.e., you are buying a brand new unit and you aren’t selling anything), it is relatively simple. But as soon as there are existing owners who are also looking to buy something else, the process becomes a long chain of complex, interconnected dependencies that can drive you nuts. Despite all this, I got my keys 16 July as planned in the purchase contract and, after surviving a final four hours of shlepping around between city hall, the utility companies, and the lawyer’s office, was the semi-official owner. Technically, things aren’t 100% kosher until the building contractor agrees to push a piece of paper from one pile to another to acknowledge me as the new owner, and this can take forever. I have heard of people selling their place some five years later and discovering that, legally, they aren’t really the owners because the kablanim (contractors) never did this. It probably amounts to seven minutes of work on their part, but…

Why shiputzim?  Shiputzim is a great Hebrew word that means renovations, improvements, fix-ups, you  name it.  When you tell someone here that you are doing shiputzim, they know that it is going to be stressful and difficult. But what can I say? I bought the place because it has potential: great location, great view, great air flow. But it was owned by a family who wallpapered every available inch and allowed the kitchen to rot into a state of foetid, bug-infested filth. You want proof?

Below: Ivy wallpaper in kitchen, grease-soaked cabinets…

Below: Hideous counters and a sink that looks like something out of a mercaz klitah (immigrant absorbtion center)…

Left: Here’s a close-up of the grotty sink. I cannot believe that anyone could turn a place over like that, let alone live in it. Yech!

Right: Detail from wallpaper trim in living room (yes, that is fake wood-grain wallpaper).


Below: Here’s one bedroom. I call it “Bambi on Borscht” (though more likely vodka). Can you imagine any child not having nightmares in this room? And check out the light…

Below: Another bedroom. Textured wallpaper and stick-on “stained glass” decals on the windows.

Left: Here’s a bit of detail from the Bambi wallpaper. Ripping this off was a great pleasure, though discovering the colonies of silverfish residing underneath was not so fun.

Below: Here’s the main room. That fake wood wallpaper is a real pain in the butt to remove! You can see where I started trying to pry it off…

Right: The kitchen ivy in its full glory. Bug heaven.

Below: I didn’t waste much time. That same afternoon I returned and got to work. Aided by a few teenage boys, I managed to get the kitchen gutted. Here’s what it looked like after four hours of work:

Left:No more ivy! Of course, there is no drywall here; it is plaster over concrete building blocks. This means that the plaster falls off if you just breathe on it too hard, so scraping stubborn wallpaper definitely causes chunks of plaster to collapse. No worries—I have two big tubs of “shpeckle” (you can figure that one out for yourself).

Below: A corner in the kitchen, cabinet-free and partially degreased.
Right: Bye-bye, Bambi!

Below: Just starting on the second bedroom. One stained glass decal down and some of the hideous wallpaper removed.