Brace yourself! Yes, once again we celebrate the survival of our people with Purim. It is either your favorite holiday or your most hated. Sugar-gorged kids in face paint and costumes, screaming their heads off and making as much noise as possible… some may find it joyful, but I think that Dante would have written about it had he gone on to describe a few more circles of hell. But one has an obligation to hear the reading of the megillat ester, with the requisite noisemakers drowning out the name of hated Haman, so I’ll don the old cow costume and head out to beit knesset this evening. There is also the tradition to drink “ad sheh lo yodeah“—until you don’t know—meaning, until you are so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between Mordechai (our hero) and Haman (the evil enemy). Or as my friend Bracha says, “till you can’t tell Obama from Amidijad.”
Costumes, when I was a kid, were Queen Ester for girls and Mordechai for boys. Gradually, things got more wild and more mainstream, with today’s kids dressing as Batman or cowboys or ninja turtles. Best costume ever was when my sister Tracy turned me into a hamantaschen (oznei haman). She’s still using her creative talents. Check out her guinea pigs, Hunca Munca and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, in ersatz Purim costumes:
It is also the time for mishloach manot, the custom of sending treats (generally three different things). This, too, has morphed from the traditional pastries of the season to commercially-available gift baskets of candies. But I am surprised yesterday by this gorgeous bouquet of flowers:
It arrives with chocolates (of course) and this card:
Wow! Happy clients are always good, but when the participants in the course send you flowers and say that your course was practical, interesting, and extensive (and a “rare combination,” at that), then you know that you’re doing something right!
He’s back! Terri’s large friend, Archie, is back in the dog park, bogarding squeaky toys and terrorizing smaller dogs. Archie is actually a marshmallow of a dog, despite his enormous size and formidable appearance. Terri is not put off—she chases after him and gleefully nips at his heels.
We are enjoying a sudden hamsin (heat wave). It gets up to about 30 today; just a few days ago, it was 10. We’ve gone from serious rain gear and wooly sweaters to shorts and tank tops in just a few days. No wonder the doggies are going nuts.
Terri discovers a tortoise, but is quickly distracted because a whole herd of goats is going past, and then a guy on a horse comes down the trail. Too many exciting things to sniff!
Huh? OK, I’ve mentioned the rain, yes? Yesterday’s midday walk with Terri gets both of us soaked to the skin, and even my boots finally have had enough. Time to dry them out, warm them up, and give them a good waterproofing. I search through my gear and discover an old container of Skinnfix, which I picked up when in Norway several years ago. Not sure if it will work. So I do an online search, and the only references I can find look like this:
Färglöst läderbalsam. Otroligt drygt, räcker länge. Mycket effektivt och färgar inte. Skyddar mot sol, regn, snö och saltvatten. Tar bort saltränderna och ger lädret en lång livstid.
Hmmm. Time for an online translator. Unfortunately, I don’t know what language it is! When I try Norwegian to English, I get just a few random words. I eventually hit on Swedish, and get this:
Färglöst läderbalsam. Incredible consequential , reaches long. Very effectively and dyes nots. Protects anti suns , rain , snow and saltvatten. Am grabbing away saltränderna and give leather a long book currency.
I like any product that can grab away saltranderna (not to mention being consequential). Let’s see what my boots think of it!
Leaks: Still there. Gonna be a while before we can sort out the roof. This is complex, because it involves fighting with the va’ad bayit (homeowner’s association) and then getting contractors to fix the roof, which can’t be done in any case until all the rain stops and the roof has a chance to dry. We’re living with plastic sheeting and scattered towels…
Crack that back! Nothing like a trip to the chiro-quack to put a spring in your step. One of those “ow-ow-ow-aaaaah!” experiences. Driving there, I see a car weaving all over the road. No camels on board, but two little knee-biters in the back, screaming and whacking each other. No wonder the mom at the wheel was losing it…
Update from Gaza: What is really going on there? If you haven’t read this report, do so! Hat tip to CBA.
How cheap is Ryan Air? OK, this is only a joke, but anyone who has been recently gouged for baggage, extra taxes, paper ticket fees, etc., will appreciate this. Hat tip to Central LS.
Today’s rant: Someone sent me a video of an American Jew proudly talking about praying at the “Wailing Wall.” Fer cryin’ out loud! The Western Wall (hakotel, or simply “the wall” in Hebrew) is the only surviving wall of the Second Temple. It was dubbed the “Wailing Wall” by General Louis Jean Bols, one of the most notoriously anti-Semitic British leaders of the Mandate period, and that is really saying something. Bols sneeringly referred to hakotel as the place where “all those *expletive* Jews go to wail.” Despite its wide use, it is still insulting when used by outsiders, and is even more disgusting when mouthed by a Jew. Don’t let our enemies apply labels to our most holy places! (I’ve also heard this attributed to Sir Herbert Samuel, the first High Commissioner, but most archives seem to support the theory that it was Bols.)
And while we are on the subject, it pains me to hear Jews refer to the Kinneret as the “Sea of Galilee.” Perfectly nice term for Christians to use, but why should Jews use a term that has only to do with Christian references, and is not the proper name of the lake? (And yes, it is a freshwater lake, not a sea.) I get ticked off when I hear Israeli tour guides using the wrong name with their groups (unless it is something like a Christian church tour).
Names matter. ‘Nuf said.
Tires: Dead flat tire greets me this morning, in the rain. I hoof it to a meeting. When I return, I tackle the damn thing and, on a dubious spare, limp cautiously in to Tzmigei Yossi. I’ve yet to wear down the treads of any tire here; the blazing hot summer sun usually dries out and eats through the sidewalls before the tread even starts to go! In this case, a wonkin’ big screw has caused one puncture, and on site we discover that the rubber has rotted out around another tire’s valve. That could have been a nasty highway blowout. Yossi says, “Elohim!!!” and goes into a huddle with two of the grease monkeys. There is much animated discussion and wild hand-waving. Two more guys come over to stare at the valve and remark on my near escape. I hear Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. “God sent that screw so that you would notice this other tire in time,” says Yossi. Not sure that I buy that, but I am never-the-less glad to have caught the problem.
They’re hairy. They’re 700 kilos each. They’re here. We get our first bison. (Note the snow on the ground; that is here, in the Golan, not somewhere in Wyoming!)
Is that the sun? More rain. I even end up stuck in my car for 20 minutes, waiting for a torrential downpour to ease up enough to allow me to dash from the car to the building. But after what seems like a Noah’s Ark epic rain storm, I find myself driving into the brilliant dazzle of sunshine. For about half a kilometer, the highway is bathed in golden rays that seem like a spotlight. Behind me, dark clouds. Ahead, dark clouds. In a matter of seconds, I’m through the sunshine and back into dark, dank, overcast gloom. A minute later, it is pissing down again.
But the sun peeps out again as I take Terri out. Everything is so intensely green (and glistening in the sunshine) that it hurts my eyes. The wadi is a flowing river, and we both stop to stare at it, fixated on that most ephemeral of all natural phenomena here: water and sunshine together. The gorgeous weather lasts for all of an hour; another storm front is moving in.
How many camels can you fit into a Subaru? Ouch. Hat tip to Central LS.
Simon Deng, on target again. In case you missed his editorial… Hat tip to Central LS.