Which side? Terri’s lump has gone down so much that I can barely find it! Hooray to Dr. Ofer! Pretty Good Dog celebrates by finding yet another dead, rotting carcase to roll in. Ugh.
Fore! The rain has finally saturated the roof to the point where a big chunk of plaster fell off the ceiling of the stairwell, leaving a large diningroom-sized scar and showering the area with debris and rubble. Amir, my downstairs neighbor, helped me clean up. Yikes. More repairs to add to our list!
Miracles do happen: After being locked out of my mail box for almost two weeks, and wasting endless time calling the post office, I happened to be passing by when the post office car was pulling up to our mail box area. Thirty seconds later, the guy had cheerfully comfirmed what I had suspected—namely, that the box had been locked from inside. It was, as you can imagine, crammed full of mail.
Thank you, Galil Tzmachim! Kudos to the incredibly patient and knowledgable gardener at Galil Tzmachim (the nursery at Misgav). She recommended a natural material made by Organigan (an Israeli company) that should work on my whitefly infestation. (BTW, turns out that whitefly in Hebrew is ash hatabak.) Ironically, this woman looks a lot like my Seattle friend Megan who is also a whiz with all things green.
Naughty dog alert: I ran into a friend on our morning walk. She was with one of her grandkids, a little toddler clutching a large pastry. Suddenly, I saw that Terri was chewing and gulping, and that the kid was sans sticky bun. She (the toddler) looked a bit confused, and Terri looked a bit guilty. But only a bit. Problem with most dogs is that they bolt their food, which is one of the reasons that they can get poisoned. They gulp something down before they realize what it is. Dogs also have a very poor sense of taste. Despite their incredibly powerful sense of smell, dogs have very few taste buds compared to humans, which is yet another reason why they can gulp down the most disgusting things.
A global class: My latest class for STC has 32 students spanning 7 countries and 13 time zones. Tres cool. While waiting for class to start, I played some Israeli music for them, and then a classic Turkish song. (The guy in Turkey was very impressed.) We’ve five students from India, so I’ve promised to play Indian music next week (and yes, I have some). It is probably a major culture shock for some of the more insular American students.
Belated Happy Tu b’Av! It has turned into Israel’s version of Valentine’s Day (the secular name for the holiday is yom ahava, or Love Day). Shmaltzy love songs on the radio, specials on chocolates, adds for flowers, romantic get-aways, etc. Since our holidays are tied to the lunar calendar, Tu b’Av syncs with a full moon, and last night it was an absolutely magnificent moonrise. Terri and I celebrated with a long walk and extra parmesan on our pasty.
Not as easy as you may think: With the end of Simchat Torah, we are officially through the marathon holiday slog that started with Rosh Hashana. I don’t know if they’re putting something in the water, but this was a very violent Sukkot. in addition to the usual road accidents, there was a lot of violence in Jerusalem with lots of injuries. Shootings, knifings, rock-throwing, you name it. And not all of it was what you would expect (Palestinians vs. Israeli). There was plenty of violence on the home front, with a kid stabbing his little sister, and adult son stabbing his mother and brother, fights and shootings at night clubs… It seemed that every time I turned on the radio, there was something else.
Karmiel is quiet and peaceful, though Terri seemed to pick up on this wave of violence and go nuts on our walks, chasing birds, cats, hyrax, her ball, other dogs… She ate goat poo, rolled in something stinky, and argued with Snoopy (a usually mild-mannered dalmation). She always managed to calm down with small children, however, becoming instantly calm and passive and allowing herself to be mauled by those grubby little hands.
The sukkah roof collapsed after the first rain, but at least I had managed to have one dinner out there.
Onward, courses! Today I started two new course (yes, on the same day!). The morning saw me trudging out at 6:00, bleary-eyed and cranky, to get to Rambam for a new course in medical writing. Highlight of the session: a cardiologist who wrote that a procedure was to be performed “once anally.” For the heart? Yes, says he, once a year. Ah. Anually. Mystery solved to great rejoicing. The second course today was the first session of an online certificate course that I’m teaching for STC. A few technical snags, but otherwise OK. I usually greatly prefer frontal teaching where I can see and interact with participants, but there are a few advantages to online courses, such as being able to wear PJs.
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!
Well, maybe just a few discs: My back chooses to go out on me at the worst possible time. I am going through the conference in a haze of pain that astonishes me. To add to my general comfort, there is a fire alarm last night after midnight. The hotel has a PA system hooked up through the speaker phones, so we get announcements blared out at us. Turns out to be a false alarm, but for about 15 minutes I sit there, dressed and clutching my purse, waiting for the order to evacuate the building.
The certificate course is now behind me; most of the students seem pleased and no one throws anything, so I guess it is OK. The conference officially opens with a very controversial panel discussion, and then the governor of Pennsylvania opens the expo hall after first telling some very entertaining stories. Turns out that not only is the guy Jewish, but he’s a darn funny public speaker.
Gotta go ice my back. Think good thoughts for me!
Boaz does us proud: Amidst the ludicrous, the embarrassing, and the gimick-laden acts, Boaz Mauda stood on the stage and sang. And it was good… good enough to earn us a spot in the finals this coming motzei shabbat. See who else got in here.
I’m still alive: My back, which has been bothering me for about a month, got so bad that I showed up at a client site yesterday wearing a brace. I may have looked like a dork, but the brace got me through a longish day (left the house at 5:30 and got home at 20:30) that included a full day seminar. The group was fun and energetic, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Looks like I might be wearing this bizarre corset on my transatlantic flights, too… Wish me luck.
I say good-bye to my current class: They are almost ready to be turned loose on the TC community. Back row, left to right: Dirk and Bruce. Middle row: Farnaz and Jonah. Front row: Gayla, Luba, and Vika. (Missing: Jenny.) I am expecting great things in their final projects.
Driver of the week: Stuck in slow-moving traffic on the coastal highway (route 2), I see a beat-up old car with velour curtains (tres chic a la Arab village). The driver is smoking a hookah and drinking a glass of beer. No lie. I try to take a picture but traffic starts moving again. Luckily, I have a witness, as I am hitching a ride back with student Dirk.