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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Post Battle

Avishai returned home today. Seems that he was in the middle of everything that was happening on the NOrthern border last week, from the attempted kidnapping of the soldiers to the actions afterwards, when they went into Lebanon to hunt for the terrorists who had been involved in the attempted kidnapping.

So what is his assessment? "It was the most interesting night of my life. It was so much fun! I was great...". What is it about men and their lust for action? Shortly, Avishai will be going to Jenin, which is "the most fun". HUH?

I always say psalms for all my children, every day. But somewhere, I believe what we're supposed to believe, that on Yom Kippur, God decides what will happen to everyone. And staying out of danger's way is not going to keep Avishai, or anyone else, safe. So truth to tell, I don't even worry, though I wish that they'd let him sleep a little more!

I can't believe that it's December already. (OK, tomorrow). It seems like the days fly by. I'm so tired by the end of each day, I'm lucky if I can hold out until 10:00pm....I usually go to bed around 9:00p.m., right after I put Margalit to sleep, and try to read a bit, though generally, I fall asleep with the book in my hand.

Then, of course, I am up at 6:15a.m., like it or not. That's when my alarm clock goes off -- not the electronic kind, but Jenny, whose bladder can't hold out beyond 6:15a.m. That's nice on weekdays, when 6:15 is a good time to get up, if I'm going to get things moving in the house. But on Shabbat? 6:15a.m.? Do all pet owners have their schedules determined by their pets?

Today at work, another couple of tourists, these from Nashville, asked me the question that I must answer about 3 dozen times each year -- why am I here? What made me come to live in Israel? Why do I stay?

It's actually interesting, because on some level, it forces me to reevaluate, each time I'm asked, what my reasons are for being here. Sure, I came because it was romantic and I was idealistic about living here. Sure, I was a Zionist, and loved the country. But why do I stay? Especially now, when it would be so nice to have family around to help me raise my children as I deal with everything alone.

And each time, I come back to the same simple answer...I am home. I am no longer idealistic, no longer romantic about living here, and certainly no longer a Zionist. Living in Israel, as the Hebrew expression goes, "sucks the juice out of you". The government, both on a local and national level, is corrupt and not at all democratic (of course, that's true in America too)people can be rude and difficult, earning a living is much more of a struggle than it is in the States....and on and on and on.

But this is home for me. I love the country, the people (even the rude ones), the traditions and customs, the arguments, and the varied ways of seeing a living Judaism. I am grateful to be a part of the process and of the nation, and hope that nothing will happen to dull that.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Battle


Avishai is stationed on the Northern border now, and for the first time, is in the midst of battle. Hizbullah has launched an attempted infiltration and is pounding the area with katyushas and other artillary fire.

I know that the army has been on alert for several days, and I'm sure that Avishai is now in the midst of whatever is going on.

Strange feeling. I don't want to call, because I don't want to bother him...if he's "working", he shouldn't be distracted. And if he's sleeping, let him sleep. But I know, all the same, that he's involved in whatever is happening.

Hope he's sleeping OK. And that he has enough to eat. And that he's warm enough. And ..... that I sleep a bit tonight.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Rappeport Critters

Margalit and Miranda













Jenny and Yoda


















Bagheera taking a snooze in the window pot, amongst the basil






Yesterday, while I was preparing for Shabbat, my 13-year-old son suddenly called out "Ema! Come quickly!". I raced over to the entrance hall and stared in amazement at our cat, Yoda, who had climbed up the bird cage that's against the wall (built into the staircase wall, about 3 meters high and half a meter wide....a paradise for any bird!) and was sitting on the wire netting which stretches over the top. He was obviously stuck, and not happy about it, judging from his pathetic mews.

"Just let him stew" I instructed Hagai, and Ariella, who had come in the house in the meantime. "When he gets good and hungry, he'll come down".

Despite their wails and worried looks, I refused to allow them to set up the ladder next to the cage and go get the stupid animal...it's too high, and I'm too nervous to have the ladder perched on a stair while one of them climbs it.

So they held out one of the curtains that I've used in the past to close the cage (we used to have cockatils, who screech in the morning, so we put up curtains so that we could get a few extra minutes of sleep before the cockatils realized that morning had arrived....I wasn't sorry to see them kick the bucket at an unusually young age, and certainly didn't replace them) and Yoda ran down the curtain to the ground, bringing down the curtain with him.

Yoda is just the newest of our furry creatures...the others are Angora, a daushaund-type dog, Jenny, a terrier (I guess) pup, Bagheera, another male cat, and Miranda, a neurotic cat who almost never leaves the safety of the girls' bedroom.

All of these guys were, as I guess one says in America, "rescued", though I have another way of looking at some of them. The dogs, to be honest, are on my head....I found Angora as a puppy, digging through the garbage, and brought her home, thinking "she's so cute. I'll have no trouble finding a home for her!" HA! Seven years later, she's still here, sleeping on Hagai's bed every night.

We had an old terrier, Sparky, who died about a year-and-a-half ago, and I didn't replace her until Yoni had left the house...I didn't want to be obnoxious about doing something that would piss him off too greatly. But after he left, within a month, I started looking for a second dog, and when a neighbor advertised that they were taking care of a puppy but couldn't keep it, I took the kids to check her out, and when they OK'd it, brought her home. She's a sweet and loving animal, and is a great pleasure to me.

The cats however are another story. I don't really like cats, and could live very nicely without them.

Ariella brought Miranda home about 9 years ago...our neighbor asked Ariella if she wanted her, and Ariella said "sure" and carried Miranda home. And since I wasn't really anti-cat, and didn't care a whole lot, and was already cooking up chicken bones for the dogs anyway, I let Miranda stay. Miranda is a nervous and skittish cat, and she used to have a terrible habit of peeing in places where she shouldn't, like on the couch or my bed. She hasn't done it for the last year though, so I basically ignore her.

Margalit schlepped Bagheera home about 2 years ago, as a kitten, and again, I didn't really want him, but also didn't really care enough to go to war with Margalit to get him kicked out. Bagheera is a huge tabby who shows up about once every day or so to eat, and sometimes to sleep a bit, but other than that, he spends his time roaming the neighborhood.


Yoda, finally, is another Margalit-find...a ginger male cat who is spunky and full of himself. He and Jenny frequently roll around the floor, playing, and watching them is more fun than anything that the TV has to offer.

Now, Margalit wants a rabbit. We had one a few years ago, Lavander, who used to hop around the yard freely. I really liked Lavander...she went to the zoo when we were asked to host another rabbit for a weekend...that weekend turned into a month, and and suddenly, Lavander was digging up the yard, looking for a place to have her babies. But I'm thinking about it. Don't tell Margalit yet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Desert relax

So, in the end, it was me who went to the parent meeting.

I was lucky...I made contact with some other parents who live on the way, and I was able to meet them at their kibbutz and travel the rest of the way with them. In addition to helping me find the settlement where Ariella's school is (talk about well-hidden...I don't know if I would have found it otherwise!) it was a relief to not have to do the 2 1/2 hour drive myself. Not to mention saving about half of the gas money!

The settlement is one of the illegals, near Jericho -- 20 caravans set up in the middle of no where. The families who live there are all young...the oldest child is 7. The setting is stunning, set in the Judean Hills just north of Jerusalem, and in mid-November, the evening was warm and everyone was outside. I can see the attraction of living in a small intimate community like that, though I am at the point in my life that I need a larger group of people around me. But for girls like Ariella, who are in the process of healing, there couldn't be a better place.

There are 5 girls in the group now. Two are sisters, and, I believe, not having problems, but just decided to attend the school because they wanted something more idealistic and open than the options open to them. Their mother is from Phildelphia.

Another girl who is struggling is in her second year...her parents are from Cleveland and Toronto.

So out of the 5 girls, 4 have english-speaking parents. Does that say something?

Anyway, everyone was extremely nice and open, and I can only hope that it's what Ariella likes, and will allow her to complete 12th grade and continue her life in a stronger frame of mind. The girls cook for themselves, and their living units (3 girls per unit) are quite homey, with a little kitchenette in each and a TV and DVD player. Not that there were any DVDs around to play, but it was nice that someone took the time and thought to provide them for the girls. The surrounding community seems very friendly and supportive.

But ah-h-h-h...the desert! I really love the remoteness and quiet, and though wouldn't want to live there, would love to spend a week there, maybe sometime when the weather is like it is now...not too hot. I could use a little healing too.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Modern life

The son that I sent back to the army yesterday, after his week of R&R, just showed up in my office to say "hi" and get the house keys...his group is being "reorganized" and he's been reassigned to a group that is on R&R THIS week! So, home he comes, at least until Wednesday. Sometimes, my house feels like Grand Central Station.

I was at the doctor's office this morning...Ariella needed a refill on a perscription (that, admittedly, I think that I threw away by accident) so I went to the doctor to request a copy of the perscription.

The doctor is a Russian lady, very nice. ButI was waiting among a group of Russian ladies in their 60s and 70s, and from the sounds that I heard coming through the door, it sounded like these ladies come to their doctor for some TLC, words of advice, conversation, etc. And, from the relationship between the women who were waiting with me, I definitely got the feeling that this visit to Kupat Cholim (the sick fund -- kind of like an Israeli-version of an HMO) wasthe equivilent of their social club. They all obviously knew each other and were used to spending their mornings with "their" doctor, or gossiping while they wait for her.

Just read in the Jerusalem Post yesterday about a new diet, the Bread Diet. Evidently, the objective is to eat moderate meals consisting of low-cal whole-wheat bread, with light spreads, but to eat when you want. Evidently, this is a good way to raise your "seriton" (or something like that) levels, which keeps you feeling full, and prevents you from, well, you know-- pigging out.

I like bread. A lot. So I'll give it a try. Though I can't buy the book, so I'll have to wing it based on what I read in the newspaper. Don't know if it'll work, but at least I won't be hungry all the time, like I was when I tried South Palm Diet (also, just from reading news accounts of it) or Weight Watchers (from a Xeroxed copy of someone else's booklet -- not only was it hard enough to think about living my day around my "points", but I had to struggle with the hebrew too).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

?

I put a question mark on the title line because I can't think of a good title for this bit of musing.

A few nights ago, we saw a movie called "Spanglish". I don't usually put on the television, much less a movie, on school nights, but the movie that I had taken out last Friday didn't work, so I figured, OK, it would be fun.

So I took out Spanglish, which I had seen previewed on the previews of another movie, and it looked good.

Truth was, it was a very nice movie, about a non-english-speaking young mother who comes to America with her young daughter and gets a job as a sort of mother's helper in a well-to-do American family.

The family is kind of disfunctional, and at some point, the young daughter, about 12, comes to stay with the family while her mother works. The daughter enjoys the lifestyle of the wealthy, and is "sponsored" by the wealthy mother (Deborah), who takes her on as a "project". The Mexican mother (Flora) gets more and more upset as her daughter moves from what she sees as a sound and moral upbringing into enjoying the lifestyle which seems to be empty and unhealthy.

At the end, Flora abruptly pulls her daughter away from the home, quitting her job so that her daughter won't be exposed to these influences. When her daughter angrily demands "give me some space", Flora says "NO space between us!" and then goes on to ask her daughter "do you really want to be so different from me?"

It was a well-done movie, and the message was a good one.

So why am I having a difficult time with it?

Because there was a mandatory sex scene -- rather graphic. And there was an undertone of a developing relationship with the father and Flora, while Deborah was conducting an affair.

WHY can't one bring home a movie to show to their family without having to worry that their kids are being exposed to material which is inappropriate for their age and the kind of moral upbringing that the parents (or parent) is trying to provide for them?

And considering that this is the umpteenth time that such a thing has happened in my house...what should I do? No movies? Just Walt Disney? Personally, I wouldn't mind, but i have children who are young adults, and they'd be furious. They want movies which go beyond animation.

I'm also sorry that internet ever entered our house...it's uncontrollable, and brings a lot of dangers with it. But again, if I get rid of it, I have to deal with the anger of my kids, who have gotten used to it. And right now, it's enough for me to struggle with margalit being pissed with me because I outlawed Yoda (ginger cat) from the house (because he poops daily in the living room).

On the other hand...can I really keep my children unexposed to all these outside influences?

Sigh.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Heat 'er up!

I just took two jerrycans to my neighbor, who orders solar heating fuel for his roof-tank -- I hope that the company will fill up my jerrycans, so that I don't have to schlep them to the gas station to fill them up. We have a great heater for the winter, a kerosene heater that sits in the middle of the living room and heats things up nicely. (We only heat the living room -- if anyone wants to go to bed, they can snuggle down under the covers). But getting the "neft" (heating fuel) to the house is a process. Up until now, I've gone to the gas station and filled up the jerrycans, but I'm hoping that I can manage to get it done right down the street, if the company will agree.

The winter brings with it a whole new energy in the house, especially regarding the animals. When the heater is lit, the animals like to sit as close as possible, and sometimes, there is a bit of conflict over who gets to sit where...we've had Miranda, the cat (our snob) on one side of the heater, and Angora, the dog (kind of a daushaund) on the other, each eying each other. Last year, we also had Bagheera (whom my neighbor calls "Uncle Fred", which suits him...he's a Tom cat who just walks around the neighborhood slowly like he owns it) -- Bagheera rarely comes in, except for meals, but every once in awhile, he likes a bit of heat too, and then there are problems.

This year, we have added Jenny, our terrier (I guess...I don't know what else she might be) and Yoda, a ginger cat that Margalit dragged home at the beginning of the summer. So it will be interesting to watch the proceedings.

Having so many animals is something that I never expected. First of all, I am not a cat-person, and am not responsible for any of the cats being here. Ariella carried Miranda home when she (Ariella) was 9, and we just said "OK, let her stay". Last year, Margalit lugged home Bagheera, and we just said "OK, let him stay" (though he was supposed to be an outdoor cat, which didn't last long). And this summer, Margalit found Yoda, who rarely leaves the comfort of the house.

I guess it's just easier for me to feed them than to fight about taking them away. But the dogs are my responsibility. I like dogs, and brought home all three of ours. The first, Sparky, died last year at the age of 15. The second, Angora, was found by me about 7 years ago, rummaging through some garbage as a puppy...I brought her home, convinced that she was so cute that I'd have no trouble finding a home for her. Ha!

I didn't get a replacement for Sparky right away, because I knew that Yoni would be annoyed. But when he left (oh yes, Yoni is my husband...presently living down the street somewhere) I figured "why not?" And when I saw a notice on the local e-bulletin board reporting a found pup, I brought the kids to take a look, and once I got their OK, brought her home.

What can I say? An animal is a lot of work...five is a LOT of work! But I see, every day, the value of pet therapy. We get so much pleasure out of watching the critters' antics, and I and the kids love to sit and have a furry creature plop down on our laps for a nap and a pat. It's so soothing and relaxing -- I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now Margalit wants a rabbit. I'm thinking about it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Phew!

A family came to rent my room downstairs for two nights -- 500 shekels! Hurray! I can get some wedding presents for the two couples!

I've got to get some heating kerosene soon...the weather is turning cold, fast! I got Yochi some long-sleeved undershirts today at the shuk. She worries me...she's always tired and cold. I don't know what to do, since I simply can't afford to start heating so soon in the beginning of the winter. I know that we're supposed to pray for rain, but why can't it be rainy and WARM? There are years that it stays warm until December. How am I going to manage? AWK!

OK, one day at a time. And I should be thankful that I haven't had to cook yet this week, with all these weddings and wedding preparation meals.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One down.....

The first wedding of the week has finished, and tomorrow night is the second. Last night's wedding was lovely...the bride and groom were so relaxed and obviously were enjoying themselves, and the atmosphere was extremely friendly and happy. There was a mixed dati(religious)/hiloni (non-religious) crowd there, and everyone seemed to be having a good time together. The first round of dancing was separate (men-women) circle dancing, and the second round was mixed and modern, and everyone seemed happy to let things flow and everyone participate when and where they wanted to. The groom's mother, my co-worker, was teary-eyed under the chuppah, and by the time I made my way to her, I was glad that I had some extra tissues in my purse to press into her hand, because she really needed them. The groom's father passed away about 7 years ago -- everyone that I know of there was remembering him as they watched his son, who was wearing the shirt that his father had gotten married in, standing under the chuppa. But what we all remembered about the father was that he was an incredibly happy and optimistic person, and that he would have only wanted everyone to enjoy themselves.

Tomorrow's wedding is going to be that of a daughter of friends...a girl who grew up with Avishai from age 2! I have a picture of her, chubby, blond-rings in her hair, playing with Avishai, and it's hard to think of her as a married lady. Tonight, her mother invited us to join them for the "henna" ceremony, when after the bride goes to the mikva for the first time, she dresses up in an elaborate caftan, with all sorts of jewels and gold, and henna is rubbed into everyone's hand for good luck. The custom is actually North African, but Atara, whose parents are from England and antecedents from Eastern Europe, was game, and it was great fun with her sisters and friends. Afterward, they had supper -- ordered Chinese, which was terrific. I don't even want to think about how much weight I gained tonight, since Chinese food is all fried and not exactly low-calorie. But, hey, what the heck...sandwiched in between two weddings, who's going to notice?

In the beginning, I was invited, along with Avishai, but then I asked if Ariella could be invited, since she's also friendly with the bride, and was told "yes". And yesterday, the mother of the bride called up Yochi and invited her too. So, again with a bit of chutzpa, I asked if I could bring Margalit and Hagai, if we all shared chairs at the supper, and was told "wonderful, bring them". Truthfully, there's so much food at the reception, before the chuppa, that I can't imagine that we'll have any problem sharing our food, but it's important to me that the kids see the older kids in the neighborhood getting married (though this wedding won't be particularly religious, which is always a good example) and participate in the weddings. So I'm looking forward to going together. Avishai will hopefully be released for the evening from the army, and will either come with us from Tzfat or will meet us in Jerusalem, and I'm hoping that Ariella will be able to come too. I think that I found a ride for her.

Ah, just when the holidays finish and I think that I'm done planning.....