12 ~ The bird and the Negev

12  The bird and the Negev

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jeep 4 wheeling WP_20150127_001The BIRD!  Do you hold grudges?  I do. Well, this time anyway.  I was walking to a class one morning 4 weeks ago and a bird greeted me from an electric (or phone?) wire above.  Not the greeting anyone wants on their hair, face, and sweater front.  It was disgusting!!!  I yelled something like, “oh, oh, no, oh, euuw!” but doubt I disturbed him as much as he’d disturbed me.  I washed it off as best as possible in the ladies’ room, trying to not shred the paper towels while soaking and wiping the “debri” off of the front of my sweater and hair; I was tempted to entirely soak both hair and sweater under the running water, but cold outdoor temps were a deterrent.  I wondered afterwards, sitting in the class, whether those beside me could also smell the bird visitation clinging to my sweater.


What remained of the morning carried the bird’s faint aroma, reminding me of my rough beginning.  Hardly a trauma in the grand scheme of things, but not pleasant.  Now, about the grudge: my heart snarls as I search for him and his wire each time I enter that building. I confess my attitude is not very gracious about this other creature of God’s creation, and somehow the wire itself is at fault as well.  Holding a grudge is silly pertaining the bird and his wire, but what about my attitude toward the irritating woman in my class who constantly interjects what she knows about the subject.  Have I built grudges, or constructed a martyr complex, when excluded from friendships?  Is there a grudge in my heart towards those of the past, the intentionally harsh treatment from some or clueless (un)treatment from others?  Mostly not, but I watch (inwardly) for scrunched face or flinching at the thought of relationships or encounters.  King David’s prayer, after his sin of adultery and murder, was “Change my heart, oh God…make it pure,” and is my prayer over and over again.



Differences between living life in Israel vs U.S.:

  1. Entering the mall requires passing through the metal detector and handing over my opened purse and other bags for the security guards’ perusal. They peer inside all openings and feel the outside for distinct shapes, look at water bottles and the like.
  2. Pay electric bill at the post office.   Remember the long lines?  I’m told the bill will come every 2 or 3 months, though, so at least it’s not that often.  The unfortunate thing with that timing is the accumulation of 2-3 months of payments!
  3. Rent: At the time we signed the rental agreement, I wrote and gave to the owner of the property not only deposit and initial rent payment, but checks postdated through the entire course of the lease agreement, plus blank checks(!!) to Electric, Water, and Property Tax on the chance I were negligent toward those responsibilities.
  4. “Kindergarten” is public education for children ages 3 – 5 years.



Tuesday’s visit to the Negev – Hopefully, those of you who followed my (pre-move) summer adventures here recall the day with “my darling Yedidya” in email #7, taking popsicles to soldiers at Gaza’s border and oodles of toys to children in the bomb shelter playground.  I’ve posted those July reflections Update 7, on the chance new readers will find those excursions of interest, as well as a new video of Halutza’s pioneering Kindergarten (3-5 yr olds) class in its temporary facility.

There’s also an extremely dusty, dirt filled jeep photo from which I joyfully whooped as we jolted up and down crazy terrain of the beautiful dessert.  I’ve always wanted to go “4-wheeling.”  It was fun, the perfect place.  After the first few whoopdeedoos, Yedidya asked if I was ok and having fun, and then to my, “of course,” he said, “You’re not afraid of anything!”


Let me back-up with some clarification:  “My darling Yedidya” is an Israeli I met through the fundraising efforts of Jewish National Fund in Denver.  Our day in the Negev this past July was a bonding experience between this “mature” me and the young-enough-to-be-my-son/ committed-husband-and-father, whose heart and life is devoted to the protection and development of his beloved home, Israel.  He was one of the teenagers whose families lost their home when expelled from Gush Katif, a city traded in 2005 for “peace” with the Palestinians.  For most, that “land for peace” politics destroyed families net worth and retirement savings, and resulted in prolonged under- or unemployment.  Of course, you know terrorism continues, rockets soaring into Israel’s population centers countless times since 2005.


How many times do you believe and compromise with a lying-enemy who repeatedly proclaims they intend to destroy your entire nation?  http://gushkatifbook.com/


Three new towns in the Halutza sands of the Negev are at various stages of development by young pioneers, building family oriented communities.  $$$$$ Let me know if you’re interested in joining me to fund the children’s center for the settlement in Shlomit, the newest of 3 Halutza towns which is planned to be the largest, with as many as 500 homes and extensive community resources.  Currently, 50 families live in tiny temporary homes (about 120 Sq ft) and are preparing to build their (slightly larger) permanent homes.  All building plans include a bomb shelter bedroom or equivalent, since 4 1/3 miles away is Gaza, and Egypt’s border a mere ½ mile.  I saw both borders and Israeli guard posts as we drove past.  I’m looking at the plans for Shlomit’s children’s class (Kindergarten), have met residents and teachers, and trust those in charge for responsible management of the funds.


Another stop caught me by surprise: We hurried out of Yedidya’s car and into a truck driven by Major Guy, a 42 year old career officer who told me he has managed to visit his wife and 2 children each week while stationed at this Gaza post.  Our conversation was as much Hebrew and I can manage combined with his better-but-limited mastery of English, while driving towards Gaza.  We pulled up alongside other several civilian (looking) vehicles and I found myself at the entrance of a tent filled with about 10, assorted army uniforms and civvies clustered around a table with papers.  Some sort of serious coffee was brewing in a tiny field boiler rigged up to propane, I assume. I accepted the potion in something smaller than a hospital medicine cup, and tasted it.  That’s it, I only tasted it once.


Yedidya led me to the tunnel.  Yes. Tunnel. The only tunnel the army did not destroy from this summer’s Protective Edge many.  He said, let’s go, so I followed, handing the tiny coffee mud to Major Guy.  Down the 30-40 steep, dried mud packed steps that OSHA would never condone.  What was I thinking?  “Yedidya, I’m not dressed for THIS!”  I’d asked him whether I needed rugged shoes when he kept referring to surprises he had for our Negev day.  Long skirts are the necessary wardrobe for the hospitality of the Negev families, and since I don’t typically wear hiking boots with go-visiting skirts, I was wearing silly girl shoes (flats, thankfully!!), not steep-muddy-dirty-steps/underground-tunnel-visiting boots.


The tunnel was one-person narrow and we walked past the corded off leg that went directly to Gaza, and walked 50 feet or so in the to-Israel direction.  At one point we turned off the flashlight and the tunnel-no-air-no-light phenomenon was REAL.  The picture of me didn’t come out, but I’ve posted a photo of Yedidya, regretting I’m not a more sophisticated picture taker to capture more of a sense of the experience.  Why wasn’t this tunnel destroyed, like the others?  The engineers and specialists are studying it.  Makes sense!


There was more to the day which I’ll share in future posts.



Jerusalem Mall – much like any mall in the U.S., unless you like to read the signs depicting restrooms, exits, menus, and store names and sales… check out the video of the food court, including Kosher McDonalds, sushi, etc. The experience is familiar-but-different, as you’d expect.


I took #17 bus to finally visit the Mall because it’s adjacent to the attorney who will be helping me draft my Israel will, medical proxy, and “Living Will.”  I’ve learned the issues warrant these documents in both nations, and am happy to prepare as best I’m able for the unforeseeable, to relieve the burden as much as possible on those who have agreed to handle my affairs when that time comes.  If you haven’t taken care for yourself, do it for those you love so they don’t have the guilt or burden of painful decisions and conflict. It doesn’t have to be morbid, but a part of relating to God’s plan for these bodies to only last so long.



New photos:  Apartment (most are purchased, so “condo” in U.S. vernacular) building’s interesting architecture is something that’s caught my eye in several Israeli cities – everyone gets a balcony and light!

I’ve also posted 3 photos of street-side construction without ANY safety barriers for cars or pedestrians.  Improving Jerusalem is a great thing.  Your safety is YOUR responsibility, so pay attention!



I’ll close with a risk, since Yedidya was wrong about me not being afraid of anyting.  I feel afraid of many things.  One fear is revealing my intimacy with God, as well as the yearnings of my heart toward Him.  It’s risky mentioning, because too often others try to wash away this crucial part of me with words about how great I am and shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  It’s not about self-confidence or esteem, but I don’t seem to be able to make that clear when that’s the wall I encounter.  This morning I wept before Him at His loving voice of redirection of my negative attitude in response to someone’s (negative) attitude.  Hmmmmm. Get it?


Who do I want to be today? Tomorrow? When I grow up? The reflection of Him, so others can know His love.  For me, that’s where it all begins.

11 hard as stone

11 ~ Jan 17 – 24, 2015



Nails and hammer?  Not so simple!  With my laughable-but-adequate tool collection unpacked and decisions finally made about where each picture belongs, I set to work to hang them.  The Renoir print, from Los Angeles’ Norton Simon Museum dating back to my college days, was given the honor of “first,” in my bedroom as always. However as things go, it was both first and last.   The nail bent and fought with me and my lightweight hammer, but did finally nestle well enough to hold Renoir.  The next two attempts created craters in the wall, since after the first pound, the nails found Jerusalem STONE!  When unable to coax into place a substantial nail or even a tiny one, I thought my college days’ hammer had finally met its match. Its delicate wood handle, painted with caterpillars and its “pounder” of about ½” diameter (it’s always made men laugh!!) wasn’t up to the task.  I emailed one of my new-friend’s husbands who’d offered, “Let me know if you need any help.”  His reply included: Most of the walls here in Israel are cement and skimmed with plaster to make them smooth.  Depending on how heavy the item is that one wants to hang, there are plastic hooks that can be purchased at most any housewares/hardware shop. They have three to five little metal pins that get hammered into the wall and come in various sizes.  If the item is too heavy for such a hook then we will need to use a hammer drill to make a hole in the wall and sink a plastic plug to put a screw into.

I know when I’ve been beat!  As I type, the pictures are sitting on the floor, each below its assigned spot, like children waiting too long for the bus to the beach.  I’m waiting until the kind soul with a better understanding of my walls than I have, is available to come be my handyman.


BIG families here and how do I pronounce your name!  By chance, my darling friend Yedidya called right after the picture hanging failure, and he will help with whatever remains unhung when he picks me up on Tuesday for a visit to the Negev, to finally meet his beautiful wife and daughter in person (as opposed to SKYPE), his parents, and maybe a few of the g’gillion cousins he’s named.  These families are huge, and I love that.  The only problem?  All the names are new, so very very hard to remember. I come home and write them down, often.  And I’ve become bold about asking how to pronounce them, what they mean, and so forth.


01/02/15   Did you know there are two ways to read this date?

Is it January 2, 2015 or  February 1, 2015.  It can get tricky!  P.S. Israel puts the month in the center, as does most of the world.


Walk on by (who remembers the song by Dionne Warwick?  You’re THAT old?!?!?) Work or construction crews blocking traffic from “their” street is rare, but they occasionally drag a trash dumpster into the center of the street to block cars.  As a pedestrian, I walk without hindrance under, over, or through debri and seriously big, moving equipment I’d never be allowed near in the U.S.



My new clothes washer heats its own water, rather than pulling from the home’s hot water source.   Makes sense!

It’s very common to have gas burners for stove top cooking and electric oven as one unit that otherwise looks like a freestanding range in the U.S.


Ummmmmmmm, there’s something growing on my walls and I don’t know anything about mold.  Do you?  I’ll ask the apartment owner, and let you know. This is a desert region, yes, but I’m living in a very, very old building and we’ve had rain rain rain, even some snow.


Challenges:  The mailman brings bills in a language I can’t read!  Imagine that. Texts and emails arrive in Hebrew as well, but they can be copied into Google Translater, which while not perfect, reveals most of the particulars.  One time I opted to trust a security guard at the medical insurance building, and asked whether he could tell me in Engish what a text said.  Sigh.  It was my bank telling me my bank account.  Lesson learned on that one.

Currently I have 5 documents that look like an assortment of bills plus 2 receipts for payments (?) that I can’t sort out.  I know of one immigrant whose provider didn’t bill him for an entire year and then demanded payment with penalties.  Perhaps that’s fight-able, but think about it: if one can’t sort out bills received, how to work through the system to solve a problem like that!?!  Again and again, I wonder how people do this while searching for or learning a new job in a new culture with kids doing the same and still setting up a new home and routines and and and.


Some bragging:

  1. Assembling my modular desk and computer/keyboard/monitor with transformer and all.
  2. Decision made about condo in Denver: I’m selling it!  The finances of renting were not sound, given HOA fees, insurance, tax along with the distraction of dealing with renters’ wanting this or that, the property manager’s availability/unavailability, and ultimately the realization that its time has passed for me and is not a home to which I need to return.  Perhaps by next blog I’ll have it under contract.  I’m very confident in the broker and relieved to not have the condo to deal with going forward
  3. Packing for this move: I’ve graded myself 95% for my preparation packing for this move.  There are a few opsies in terms of what I brought or didn’t bring, but none substantial.  The movers get a 90% with 2 plates of no emotional value broken, a small crack in the glass of a framed picture, and (the worst!) a couple of 1 inch scratches on a large, lovely photograph of San Francisco’s skyline dated prior to 1960, that has hung in my home virtually all of my life.  I took the S.F. photo to an art store and found an oil-based pencil to fill in the scratches – at this age, none of us are perfect.  I can live with the photograph’s imperfections more easily than my own.


The adjustment: The wave of Moments collide and contradict themselves:  This is sooooo right.  It’s where I belong.  The 19 year old girl I was, still lives within, and loved these streets, this life, during that life changing visit one college summer long ago.  What was I thinking!?!?!? Can I do this? God, show me how to deal with these feelings.  Why did I wait so long? How could I have doubted about this move?  I’m lost, figuratively and literally in a maze of spaghetti-like streets with ever changing names.  I’m learning and growing in ways I never could have without being HERE.  This is the perfect time in this place, this place of ME and this city.  Am I invisible? Don’t they see me? Do I matter to anyone?  That conversation was worth so much.  I’m inspired by their life and boldness and love and courage. Oh, God, give me the courage to tell others who I really am and Who You are in me.  I miss the comfort of familiar friends and solutions.  I love this fresh produce and the cuisine!  New is exhausting. I find myself feeling “ritualistic” after having done something once, thinking I must do it that way again, without even exploring other methods, routes, or options.  Mostly I’m sleeping well and feel strong, good.  I love this gym and the classes. Sometimes I have to bring my sorry-self home, like a tantruming 2-year-old and put myself down for a nap, lest terminal stupidity emerge in all its glory.


The replacement phone arrived, thanks to the Pam for bringing it, BUT now I’ve learned it’s “locked” and that unlocking it without a current Tmobile account may not be an easy task.  Locked means I can’t use it with any provider other than Tmobile, which is not viable here… so more processes to explore and the saga continues.  If you techies have any suggestions, I’m listening!



Gaza has ISIS causing trouble for Hamas.  Greater evil fights evil….


My 5-hour language class begins Sunday, Feb 1 (01/02/15), and will run 5 mornings per week for 5 months.  Shalom


I love your comments and emails, and look for them each day after posting.

Have a glorious week!!!



10 ~ Unsung Heroes

10 ~ Unsung Heroes

Jan 10 – 17, 2015

Thank you to each of your comments and thoughts, reflections on my reflections, and loving words of encouragement.  I feel loved by your words, and appreciate you for taking the time to make this journey with me!!

Beneath the Helmet – http://www.beneathhelmet.com/   is an excellent documentary that will be making its way across the U.S. –  following young Israeli soldiers beginning their mandatory 2-3 years of Army life in paratrooper training.  If you served in the military, I’m confident you’ll appreciate the issues addressed, and if you never served, it will give you worthwhile insights.  They’re looking for hosting opportunities across the U.S. so it may be showing in nearby Universities, and community groups with interest in the Jewish culture, Israel, young adults, and those who want more understanding outside their own culture or experiences.


What’s happening in France!? Belgium? Great Britain? Are you surprised?  Where else is the problem brewing?  Always, we’re living history.





I’ve found a variety of classes I’m enjoying – centered on Israel’s Biblical/secular history.  It’s not about learning the stuff of dates and names and such, but rather the STORIES.  The known heroes, and the Unsung Heroes.

For each of the Unsungs I meet in their non-highlighted, easily overlooked paragraphs or sentences in history’s sagas, I “see” countless hundreds of thousands lined up in their silhouette – men and women and even children, brave or otherwise, but WILLING.  Willing to take a stand and do what matters.  During one class this week, our skilled teacher devoted nearly an hour to Lewis Yelland Andrews, with a byline “the Jews’ forgotten friend.”  I love that byline!!!  Could I be that in oooodles of people’s lives?  No, I really don’t want to be forgotten, but notoriety is fleeting and vain. I’d much rather have impact! Influence for the Good (for God)!  To matter in someone’s day, even without their awareness… the moment of a genuine smile and loving interaction that may let their rough day be a bit more smooth, or enable them to pass along the loving care in their day’s encounters.

Stories: I love being told stories.  They inspire me.  Stories wrap me in the lives of others who, though I’m unknown to them, allow me to visit and anchor into their life, their time and place.  I love learning history embedded in the lives of real people.  I see God in their lives’ moments or themes – or perhaps it’s something He shows me about their lives that I want to embrace for my own.  Too often, of course, I see in the lives of other what-I-don’t-want for mine, and my prayer is to keep from becoming the very thing I dread.  May we keep our hearts so close to our Maker’s that He truly can guide us to . . . the good He has for us and those around us.


At long last, my shipment of household items arrived Wednesday evening, and I’m enjoying the few familiar favorites I’ve managed to unpack thus far; the mattress is best of all!!!


Differences big and small (continued from Blog 9) – here are a few more of the differences I’m discovering:

  1. Many Israeli homes have solar-heat units for household water, with an electric water heater turned on as needed, for back up. My unit does not have the solar unit, so I rely entirely on the electric water heater which is not on thermostat, but must be turned on in advance of need.
    1. Note to self #1: Plan ahead at least 20 minutes by turning on water heater, lest the shower be ccccccold, but . . .
    2. Note to self #2: Don’ leave it on all night! (I realized it at 6a.m., and slipped out of bed to flip it off… L) Since it’s as hot as it’s going to get in about 45 minutes, running it for hours is a huge waste of energy, and I’m told the electricity bill can be brutal.
  2. I’m surrounded by a delightful blend of hospitality and directness. From my early encounters with the culture, it appears the co-dependent gene is missing.  My encounters reveal a people who are quick and gracious to help to the extent they are able, while directly and without drama or apology letting me know what they cannot do, or don’t want to do.  It feels honestly-helpful, and I love that!!!
  3. A vegetarian-around-town and nearly-vegan at home since the mid ‘90s, I’d settled into not telling hosts in advance, because of hearing: “What do you eat? What shall I prepare? I can’t invite you because I don’t know how to feed you…” My strategy was that once they saw I was low maintenance on the subject and that, while I really enjoy food, my priority was friendship building, they’d relax and not fuss about it.  That didn’t always work, and I sadly recognize that the diet may have been an excuse (!!) for some.  The subject was always a moving target I couldn’t quite manage.

How does this culture differ?  I’ve been told, directly and graciously, that in this culture I MUST tell in advance – vegan, vegetarian, whatever – lest my hostess suffer because of not preparing a meal that I could entirely enjoy.  I may see this differently in time – perhaps as regional (eg, Jerusalem’s culture places Shabbat dinner as a very high priority) or unique to those who’ve so graciously adopted me for a visit or meal; nonetheless, at this point I’m determined to take the counsel and see how it goes.

  1. Paying property tax:
    1. Following verbal instructions from the Information Desk, I failed after 4 tries at the number dispensing machine to get a number for the proper cue, since my Hebrew isn’t adequate for reading particulars quickly. I’m guessing there were about 8 variations, so given those odds, I’ll continue staying away from gambling.  How did I get the number finally?  The receptionist at the information desk LEFT HIS DESK to do it for me!!!
    2. And, then he let me log into his computer and printer to get a copy of my rental contract, since this is the only office that doesn’t accept the electronic version. Have you anywhere, anytime, had a government employee hand over his chair and mouse and left you unsupervised to access your gmail???  I suppose that could happen in a small town with slower pace, but if you could see Jerusalem’s Municipality offices long lines, mostly ignored because everyone’s question is urgent and they’re in a hurry, and this is their 3rd attempt to get this taken care of… and I think you get the scene.
    3. Why am I paying property tax on a rental, you ask? That’s how they do it here: the rental tenant pays the tax.  And yes, as a homeowner in Colorado, I am also the tax payer there.  Who said life was fair?
    4. But then again, one of my amazing benefits as a new immigrant is a dramatic discount off of the first year property tax bill. Good news to me.
    5. What to do while waiting those long times? I listen to the numbers being called with my eyes closed and practice recognizing the numbers – “Number C164 to desk 42… Number A39 to desk 102… Number E67 to desk 8…
    6. After 1 ½ hours of false starts and waiting my turn (my number was 157 and they were at 82 when I began my wait) I was given my bill and told to go to the post office to make the payment and that it must be done “today”. Do you, my beloved readers, recall the loooooooooong wait at the post office several weeks ago??!!
    7. This smaller Post Office branch’s informal line, rather than an electronic number system, turned out to have its own challenges. After letting one person slip in ahead of me, I determined he would be the last, and then smiling, gently but FIRMLY told the next man he could not stand beside me, but must stand behind me.  He did!  Later we began talking – broken Hebrew meets better-but-still-broken English – and after the line exhausted itself of us, our payments made, we went for coffee.
  2. Would it occur to YOU to call to ask whether FedEx can handle international mailings during all of their “open for business” hours?? com gave the address and hours of both offices in Israel: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  With Google’s help, I found the 35-40 minute bus route and off I went to get some business documents and checks in the mail to Colorado.  Not so simple!  The bus stop name was not familiar to the bus driver, nor mentioned on the automated announcement prior to each stop.  After a long walk in the cold, backtracking several times, I was trying to not wonder about the great event I was missing – something I’d been looking forward to for several weeks – but set aside because my priority was to get these documents in the mail.

As I started resenting the time it was taking, I was reminded by the Giver of all time that my time is FREE, that I have placed myself at God’s disposal for this day.  Finally at my destination, the 30-something fellow manning the FedEx office apologetically informed me he couldn’t help with an international delivery, and that it didn’t matter what the website said, I’d have to return another day for international service.  I pressed just to make certain I couldn’t leave the materials, or bring an envelope with me to drop off at a hotel closer to home, anything to avoid another trip… to no avail. He was obviously relieved I’d not screamed at him as I left, and I found my way to the return bus stop.

What made it worthwhile?  Meeting Sonya on the bus ride home and hearing about her own journey, immigration from California as a young wife and mother of 2, their 9 children, and 40 grandchildren.  She said “40” and since I’ve been having trouble understanding when shopkeepers and others who say numbers to me, I assumed I’d misunderstood (even with all my practice listening to the numbers called out in the property tax office).  I repeated back to her “arbaeem?” and she smiled knowingly, and said in English, “yes, 40,” and then went on to tell me about her friend with 17 children and over 100 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.  Oh, and did I mention Sonya earned her Pilates instructor license 3 years ago, at age 70!!!

(Not a difference)  Some things are the same everywhere because of life’s surprises:  in Colorado winter or in southern California traffic, it is wise to begin one’s journey with an empty bladder.  Here, by foot or bus, the same rule applies.  One never knows what delays lay ahead and public facilities are, well, a last resort.


NEWS FLASH: I successfully made an appointment communicating entirely in Hebrew.  This included:

  1. that I was not changing an appointment already on the books, and
  2. that the desired week for the new appointment was NEXT week, not this, and
  3. specifying the provider.

One friend suggested I wait until after the appointment is PROVEN to have been successfully scheduled, on the chance that I booked a neighbor or one of you readers for a trip to Egypt…  who knows what the appointment clerk THOUGHT I was saying!!!!!!!


Weather? Alternating rain, sun, cold, temperate, sometimes all in one day.  Me?  I’m happy, learning, at peace, learning, growing, learning, and grateful, oh so grateful.

9 ~ Jerusalem Snow and Relocation

9    ~  Jerusalem Snow & Relocation

Jan 1 – 9, 2015

This links you to a powerful UN presentation – a Lebanese leader discussing the Israeli conflict  http://rotter.net/forum/scoops1/138333.shtml

My bus-smashed Nokia phone is just as “smart” as ever, still keeping my calendar, texts, and emails accessible and collaborating perfectly with my computer.  The screen looks like, well, like it was run over by a bus, and the phone’s audio fidelity for calls is impossibly poor without a headset.  My search to replace the phone locally met nothing but stone walls—Israelis only like iPhone and Adroids, apparently.  So, you ask, “why not get one of those?”  Well, I’m drinking from a firehose already when it comes to NEW, and I simply don’t want to take on one more challenge if I can avoid it, especially a technical challenge to learn a new phone plus make collaborate reliably with computer.  Thankfully, Pam, a new friend I haven’t yet met in person, is bringing the replacement from Denver’s Microsoft store at Park Meadows Mall.

We have “snow” in Jerusalem.  I need one of those Eskimo words for snow to distinguish this from NYC snow and Colorado snow, or the un-snow of the southern California “mountains”.  It’s more like spring snow – wet – though not heavy.  My clothing and footwear was not packed with this in mind, and the local weather site’s frequent warnings about ice and “slippery” have effectively reduced me to: homebound.  Why such a coward after tromping through NYC and Colorado snows?  Most central Jerusalem sidewalks are not concrete or asphalt, or even cobblestones, but larger, potentially slippery-when-dry, Jerusalem stone.  Beautiful.  But a moment’s carelessness could result in a slip even in dry conditions. My idea of a good time is NOT finding a good orthopedic surgeon, or any of the associated drama.

Familiarity breeds… well familiarity.  The cold temperatures, even the electric central heat of this newly remodeled apartment cannot combat the stone floors which retain NO heat.  A space heater will be my next purchase when I can safely navigate around town once again.

Otherwise, my apartment may remain primarily empty with echo-y walls for a while longer than anticipated.  The storm that brought the snow and cold temperatures made Ashdod’s port inaccessible and if the ship can’t dock to unload in a timely manner, it will continue on its journey to Europe.  At this point I have no ETA regarding my shipment finding its way to me.  I wrestled my sofa into the small “office”room with my borrowed table (aka: desk), and have closed off doors in hopes of warming this room enough to sleep and work while housebound.

Since snow is infrequent in Jerusalem, most everything was closed or cancelled by the weather.  Stories abound of last year’s intense storm leaving households and entire neighborhoods without electricity (including heat) for days.  Snowplows, salt, and other snow adaptations are not prioritized among this nations’ top “readiness” issues.  Imagine that: Israel protects her citizens with intentional military personnel, the Iron Dome missile interception, and the like, since the frequency of uninvited war and terrorist attacks far outweigh the dangers of inclement weather.

Relocation.  Everyone’s done it.  A new job, home, community, state, nation, or lifestyle (empty-nesting, marrying after prolonged independence, adjusting to birth or death).  We see differences in countless ways.  How do others live? What do they expect? What are their standards of excellence?  How to they disagree or fight? What makes a meal good? Or a complete meal? Are ice cubes mandatory?

When I moved to Colorado from California in 1988, I was surprised to learn I couldn’t buy wine for my spaghetti sauce at the grocery store, or that drivers didn’t seem to know how to merge.  I didn’t anticipate growing to love the slower pace of life, or that the Colorado hospital staff had not heard of advances that had been routine for years in the California hospital I’d left.  Just a few, and not meant critically, reflections of learning to adapt to NEW.  Transitioning to this culture will no doubt catch me by surprise time and again, for a very very long time.  I’m going to begin mentioning those differences – it’s not about better or worse, merely: different.  And that is so easily exemplified by the simple TRUTH that we’d all judge the pros/cons of the differences . . . differently.

I make the choice daily to be ever observant, not critical, only surprised.  One reason is my life experience: the supermarket clerk in Colorado who had difficulty embracing the question of “where is the wine?” clearly thought I’d already had too much.  And, I’m ashamed to say, I was initially mocking of the drivers who stopped at a merging on-ramp.  That’s cruel.  We all had to learn everything, and geography, family, culture, nationality, gender, era, natural talents, and so many other factors develop vast diversity.  Add to that speaking different languages, and you’re beginning to catch my days here.

A few differences:

  1. The flies all over the delicious, fresher than fresh unwrapped bakery goods, fruit, and vegetables at the open air (AKA: farmers’) market in central Jerusalem, and you can add meat to that list when you amble through the open market in the Old City.
  2. Restaurants are mostly “milk” meaning you can enjoy sumptuous meals or fast food of vegetables, fruit, cheese and other dairy products; some offer seafood as well. Other restaurants are “meat” where you carnivores get your fix of chicken or beef or, ummmm, I don’t even know what else because I haven’t eaten at one. The meat is all kosher, which means they were killed in proscribed manner which minimizes its pain/suffering.
  3. Filtered water dispensers with 6 oz one-time use cups are easy to find. They feel more sanitary than the more communal of water faucets that leave me wondering where children or teenagers have left their mouths.
  4. You could set your watch to the city’s buzzzzzzzz as Thursday’s workday ends and into Friday morning. The week’s countdown towards Shabbat generates preparation for a meal with family and guests and, in many Jerusalem households, a 25-hour silencing of electronic gadgets (including phones!).  Israel’s other communities welcome Shabbat with a wider range of responses, and the buzz is different, mostly quieter in my very limited comparison.


Is the U.S. press keeping you informed regarding Hamas terrorists signing up with ISIS? http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/189706#.VK_Y9iuUeSp

the father across the street has a smoke while the bundled up boys play in the “snow” 2015 storm

8 First Reaction

8 First Reaction

Dec 25 – 31

First reaction

What’s your first reaction when something awful happens? Even considering “awful” has a very very long continuum, the MOMENT when it happens is the test. Right? A friend many years ago taught me that when you’re bumped, what spills out is what’s really IN you. Ugh. But even if not, “ugh”, it’s potentially revealing.

I was standing on the corner of King George and Hillel, waiting for the light to change, when I had the brilliant idea to check my phone for anything that might mean a change of plans for the next few hours. Whether walking, standing, or in my apartment with the stone floors, I’m usually intentional, attentive, careful with my phone – acutely aware of how important it is and so easy to drop, trip if walking with it, or be careless…. Do you think you know what’s coming? Don’t bet, yet!

I turned the phone on, and it jumped out of my hand onto the street.

The phone landed on its face.

The case popped off and flew more than a foot away.


my Nokia 521 didn’t simply land in the street.

A bus was turning the corner.

The huge tires of the bus squashed the case.

I screamed “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”

and reached for the closest co-pedestrian.

I buried my face into the (fortunately) woman’s soft, squishy grandmotherly (translated as “comfort”!) upper arm and shoulder to hide my eyes from seeing the HUGE tire go over the phone.

I’m certain the cry I made has been heard before in this land of awful, unimaginable tragedies, but I humbly confess my momentary anguish is embarassng.

So much more than the situation warranted!!! But,

give me a break. My reaction wasn’t deliberate or rationalized. It was a REACTION, not a response.

My decision to carelessly mishandle the phone could have been followed by a second bad decision: to launch a rescue maneuver against the bus. I shudder to remember the moment I actually considered whether I could retrieve the phone, but the bus’ proximity was a…deterrent. That will go down in the annals of a Good Decision.

A knight in shining armor- his head donning not a helmet but a kippah (Hebrew), yamulka (Yiddish), or, if you must, beanie (WASP) – retrieved my damaged property left in the wake of the bus. We, my co-pedestrians and I, peered at Nokia’s shattered face, the beautiful lines of fracture obscuring the Windows colors on the screen and prohibiting navigation of the device by touch. The case, cracked and no longer able to hug the phone to secure the battery and protect the sim card, had its own battle scars of bus tire marks.

Did the bus go over the phone, or was the shattered face only from crashing on the asphalt? I blurted to my stranger co-pedestrians that I don’t know what to do, have no one with me, don’t know what to do, have only been here 5 ½ weeks, and that don’t know what to do and that I don’t know what to do and that…

My knight in shining armor led me to a phone repair shop saying all the while how he trusts the man there who was fair and would assess the phone to help me know the best strategy. We discussed the pitfalls of options: ordering the replacement of my $65 Nokia phone from the U.S. (tariff and delivery would likely overshadow purchasing another phone here); considering an inexpensive dumb, not smart, phone and have my friend coming late January bring it directly the Microsoft Store in Park Meadows Mall; or shopping new phones here.

At the phone repair shop, the trustworthy man ordered the face for the next day’s (if I’d been an hour later, delivery would be delayed days or into next week). With the new face, he will then assess the phone – whether damaged other than the screen or not. If he determines the phone is damaged, he won’t charge me the 500 shekels (around $130) for the new face, and I’ll explore replacement options. I’ll find out tomorrow evening Nokia’s prognosis….

So – while my phone may not consider it minor – what was my reaction to this, minor “trauma”? I reached out to a stranger for comfort (not something I would have done at other points in my life). I didn’t curse or feel sorry for myself or visit “why me?” or anything of the sort. Thankfully, I didn’t even cry, then. I wanted to cry when taking leave of my Knight, Asaf, because he’d been kind and understanding and helpful, taking time from his workday to help. Kindness is more likely to bring me to tears… I’m glad that what spilled out was reaching out to others, and nothing I have to undo.

What does this have to do with Israel? The tough on the outside/tenderhearted on the inside example of a cactus fruit “Sabra” used for native born Israelis. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-sabra.htm. I’ve seen the tender, sweet inside exhibited in countless ways on the streets, and in the lives of the kind-hearted folks who have reached out to me in hospitality and inviting me into their lives and activities and friendships. Oh, and yes, I’ve seen the tough side as well.

The challenge of an extremely minor crisis. Regardless of how random, my experience will hopefully not be lost, but another of the tiny steps of living life better. I’d like to be more disciplined to heed the caution I’d already embrased about handling something “precious”. How much more so should we handle one another, our love, the blessings of our lives.

This is the last day of 2014. May your celebration of the year past, and the one ahead be worth remembering, as the marking of new beginnings, new ways to love, to live truthfully, to grow in God’s amazing creation