Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now?

I just can’t wait!  On Friday I am jetting (or Dash 8ing) off to New York to join my two sisters for a fun filled weekend to celebrate Peaches birthday.  It is a pretty big birthday, one that warrants celebrating.  I would like at this point to add that I am the youngest of the sisters, no matter what they may say.

This is how I view the weekend:  There will be much laughter, tears rolling down your red face, snorting laughter for we are a fun bunch who love to laugh together.  There will be alcohol consumed, it helps with the laughter.  There will not be singing.  There will be good food eaten, who doesn’t like that?  There will be some shopping – it is New York after all.  There will be museum visiting for make no mistake we are fun but we are also a sophisticado group.  There will not be wistful thoughts of the family at home as I will be living in the moment for that is what we young pups do : )

At the end there will be a lump or two in our throats as we say our goodbyes and each of us heads home to our own city, because what girl doesn’t feel sad when the best party ever comes to an end?

I wish it were Friday already but then it would almost be over so I’ll try and just savour the anticipation.  But really, is it time yet? Can I pack my bag? Can I go now?  I’m mentally walking out the door, getting into the car, driving to the airport, getting on the plane, listening to the overhead announcement – “Do not buckle your seatbelt yet you have to get back in the house and finish the laundry before  you can go anywhere.”  Damn, who hired that flight attendant?

Hunting Season

I find this time of year very difficult.

It’s not because of back to school, laundry, the holidays, rainy weather or even lice it’s because hunting season is beginning. Now I’m no vegetarian and I understand that when I eat meat it was once actually alive and walking around. I just don’t get the whole shooting something and watching it die for sport aspect. If you want to impress me with your skill go grab yourself a pair of antlers and duke it out with the deer horno a horno. That’s an accomplishment.

As bad as all of this is there’s something even worse. There are some hunters here who are so proud of what they’ve done that they take the freshly killed deer head,
mount it on their truck hood and drive around town. I still have trouble believing this. Fortunately you don’t see it very often. I’ve just seen it twice in the 15 years we’ve lived here.

So if you see me driving through town staring straight ahead and not really looking around you know why.

I Am So Losing It

I could write a year’s worth of blogs just about the embarrassing things that I have done to myself in my life. But, I won’t because basically I like me and don’t feel a need to embarrass myself on a global level. As I related this story to my sister yesterday we both ended up laughing so hard that I have to risk the embarrassment and share because we all need good laughs.

Thursday was a fairly busy day around here, what with the laundry and all : ) I wanted to bring up my favourite bra from the laundry room to wear that day. Not a big accomplishment, just another little thing to do that I forgot.
As I was heading into the shower I heard a knock on my bedroom door which of
course caused me to jump out my skin. I had forgotten that the artiste would be home for lunch as he had a spare that day. He announced through the door that a
friend was with him (someone I had not yet met) and was that O K? I said sure and
that I’d be down when I was done. By the time I got down his friend was gone for
football practice or something. I didn’t go any further than my front entryway as I
had errands to run and needed to be done in time to get the Artiste to the dentist in
a couple of hours. He asked for a lift back to school and told me that a second
teacher was away so he would be able to meet me at home before the dentist. One
less errand that was a little piece of good news. So off we went.

When I returned to the house my son was already home. I walked into the kitchen to say hi and that’s when I spotted it, my pretty pink bra, lying so happily across the back of the couch that divides the kitchen and family room. Staking her territory as only one of my bras can do. My jaw dropped open, I felt a flush of embarrassment
sweep my face as this thought came to my mind, “Did your friend see this lying
there?”. My beloved Artiste answered with “Nah, I just threw my jacket over it.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Him: “I don’t think he did.”

Of course I did not feel reassured. Then my son asked me a question that could only be asked by the generation that wear their pants low enough for us to see their cracks, underwear or thong straps; “What’s the big deal anyway even if he did see
it?”. I tried to explain by comparing it with a jock strap and his little sister’s friends
I think he got it

I’m still blushing. At least I’ve never met the kid before and I’ve already forgotten his name.

Itching to Get Home

Sometimes I do things and I kind of know why I’m doing them but I also wonder what I was thinking when I said that I would do them.

Yesterday is a perfect example of what I mean. I have decided that I want to take a year off from all of the parent teacher committees (called the SAC here)that I have been a part of for the past ten years. Everyone needs a break now and then. This in no way means that I want to be a less involved parent it just means that I will redirect my involvement.

I had to attend one last meeting as our commitment for last year does not end until the first meeting of this year. I announced my year off and said that I would like to volunteer in the school more – parent volunteers are always needed and always in short supply. My favourite area of involvement is in literacy. I think that I have done most anything that a parent can, that is until this Friday. Now I think that I can say that I’ve done it all. At our meeting the principal mentioned that we have not yet had any parent volunteer to conduct the lice checks on the students. I looked at the principal and said to her, “I can do that.” The reason why I can do that is a whole other story. It was one of those moments when you say something and you hear the words coming out of your mouth but you’re not really sure who made that happen because there is no way in hell that you voluntarily would have said that.  I mean really, why would I have said that?

That was on Monday, on Thursday I received a phone call from the principal about an emergency situation asking me if I could possibly come in and go through one class of kids. Wow, that was fast. I could not get in until Friday morning. So of course I spent Thursday night lying awake until 2a.m. Scratching my head, not in bewilderment but in itchment. Friday morning I got up, put back every strand of hair that I could (anyone who knows my hair knows what a nightmare it would be to rid my hair of lice) and headed off to the school. For the next 6 hours I checked 22 little heads and I’m happy to report that I did not find even one nit. What if I just didn’t spot them?

I went home with an itchy head and face, a sore back, a little grossed out but also with a sense of accomplishment. I just don’t want to ever do it again, but I know I will.

Daily Battles

You stare at me with menacing hostility,

Daring me to engage in battle.

I look back in fatigued defeat,

Having no choice but to vanquish the enemy.

I will win today’s encounter but I know the war is yours.

Tonight you shall regroup and grow stronger

While I rest preparing to go back into battle, a lone warrior.

I hate laundry.

Touring Day 3

We began the day with a treat, we slept in until 8a.m. while those who wanted to went on a hike to the Banias Waterfall.  We had both been there before and we were feeling as though we just needed a little more sleep so we opted out of the hike.  Our youngest and our eldest both took part and really enjoyed it.

Our tour began at the Golan Heights at the site of what was once a volcano.  We had a very good view of Syria.  That’s the one thing that was hard for my North American head to get around, everywhere you look you have a very good view of your enemies. Canada is such a vast country and although we may disagree with certain American policies (or as some would see it, have a chip on our collective shoulder) we do have a very good relationship with our southern and northern neighbour.  We really do not know what it is like to be surrounded by neighbours who at best would not care if we were wiped off the face of the earth and who at worst would like to be the ones to do it.

Next we got a real treat.  We went to the de Katrina chocolate factory.  We got to see the chocolatiers make some chocolate, then we sampled some chocolate (yum) and then we got to make our own chocolates (yum again).  I wonder if any adult born in the 60’s can possibly visit a chocolate factory without thinking of Lucy and Ethel.  There was no assembly line here, this was world class chocolate.  The kind of chocolate that will haunt me on Yom Kippur.

Back to serious stuff.  We next headed over to a military (are there any other kinds?) tank base.  The soldiers are so young looking that I could not help but think of their parents.            May all of the soldiers return safely to their parents’ loving embraces.

As always in Israel the heavy is balanced by the light.  Rafting on the Jordan river came next.  The water felt great when we splashed one another.  The river was packed and I was shocked to see how much junk was floating in it.  In true Israeli style it seems that when you find running water you tell everyone you know about it and throw a barbecue!

Seeing so many people out there just enjoying living is the best antidote to looking at the borders and seeing all of the enemies.  Kol Hakavod.

We had dinner on masse at a nice fish restaurant and then headed back to the kibbutz to pack up as the next day we were moving out and heading far south.

Trying to Catch Up

I really do want to be a good blogger, however I seem to be having trouble posting regularly.  Right now I am just trying to stay on top of things; laundry, holiday preparations, back to school everything (papers, papers and more papers to be signed), dental appointments, etc.

I did do something good for myself today – I went for a mammogram.  But, I must admit that it has left me feeling a little flat : )

I will try to catch up on my Israel posts by the beginning of next week.

The big city symphony has come to my little symphony and we are going tonight – so yeah!

Hope to post more tomorrow.  At least when I still had jet lag I could always post at 5a.m., now I just sleep and am back to finding it hard to wake at 7.

I hope to be able to break my habit of falling asleep during the kids’ piano lessons, but old habits die hard and if I’m up late tonight I know I won’t be able to overcome the need for zzz’s (pronounce the z like the Americans do – go ahead I won’t be upset)

Touring Day 2

The morning started out bright and early as all of our tour days did. We headed up to kibbutz Misgav Am which is on the border of Lebanon. We were treated to a tour by a very colourful kibbutz member who left a lasting impression on everyone, especially the 5 teenaged boys. He is an exCalifornian with the most piercing grey eyes and the ability to state his opinions in a way that you just couldn’t argue with. The gun he carried also helped add to his tough guy mystique. Statements such as, “I found this place 50 years ago and ain’t nobody going to get me off my mountain.” and the equally vehement “We don’t have to apologize to anybody ever again for existing.” speak for themselves.
When you could see Lebanon so clearly and so close and add to that the fact that all of the homes in sight are being used as storage for Hezbollah armaments you could really appreciate our guide’s attitude
as well as his gun.
From there we drove to the Hula Valley where we had a date with some horses. I have to be frank, horses are not my favourite. The last time I rode a horse in Israel it reared on me and bit my leg. I am quite a bit older now and not quite as resilient but I did not want to miss seeing my kids on horses for the first time. Happy to report that I survived (although I truly was sore for days after) and I even
managed to enjoy the view once or twice. Most importantly the kids had a blast. The phrase ‘best day ever!’ became their mantra and I think it started there.
A quick change and it was on to Zfat. Our bus driver got to impress us with his maneuvering skills on the narrow city streets. I wish that we had been able to spend more time walking around there but it was a very full day and I failed to mention, it was still VERY, VERY HOT. We saw a lovely old synagogue, beautiful artwork and Judaica and we met an artist whose family had lived in Zfat for hundreds of years. It still astonishes me to meet Jews who have lived in one
place for that amount of time. It is hard for me to get past the image of the wandering Jew. I saw a stunning painting of a pomegranate that I would have happily had shipped home but I was unable to sell Papa Bear on said artwork. I’m still thinking about that painting which is a sure fire sign that I made a mistake. We did buy a Yemenite shofar which I was very excited about. The Artiste took trumpet in school and is quite adept at blowing it.
We happily headed back to the kibbutz to freshen up before dinner. Dinner was at a local restaurant that was made in the style of a log cabin. The logs were very small and cute looking. The boys were
thrilled with the dinner as it was very heavy on meat. I ordered a
delicious St. Peter’s fish that was worth the battle with the bones.
Once back at the kibbutz I was able to visit with my sister and my brother-in-law who just arrived in the north late in the day
Best day ever.

Boy, Was I Ever Wrong

I cannot write about this trip without mentioning how truly wonderful it was to have my sister and my brother in law join us in addition to my father. No matter how well everyone is getting along and how much everyone likes one another it is not the same as being with my sisters. They are my original home team. So being able to share any of our simcha with my sister and my brother in law (henceforth referred to as big shvester and accountant man) made it that much more special for me.
Now, this is where the apology and the part where I was wrong come in. My big shvester always looks like a million bucks. Personally I like looking good but I prefer being comfortable. If my feet are happy the rest of me is happy. This means that my collection of footwear is not the prettiest. I swore to my sister that she NEEDED to get herself a pair of Naot sandals for the trip. Her feet would thank her for it. I was also sure that she could find a pair that were actually pretty. The first time that I saw her on the kibbutz I could not help but notice that she was limping and looked to be in a lot of pain. When I asked her what was wrong she said, “I hate those sandals and I’m never wearing them again!”. I took one look at her feet and was horrified to see many blisters. Her touring was just beginning. I didn’t know how she was going to manage with her feet in that condition. Then I asked to see the sandals. They were even uglier than the blisters! Luckily we are not the same shoe size.
I would just like to take this very public forum to say to Bigshvester that I am sorry that I convinced you to try a pair of those sandals. They might have been better if you had broken them in at home first but that would have meant wearing them out in public where you are known and not even I could have done that with those particular sandals. Personally, I still love each and every pair of Naots that I own and I saw many more pairs in Israel that I would have happily purchased had neither my budget nor my suitcase been a limiting factor. I’m just happy that my sister was not left with any physical or emotional scars. You know your feet best, buy whatever makes you happy.
Thank you both for coming, for the laughter and for the support.

First Day of Touring

Our first day of touring began with something different, waking up early, getting organized and getting out. We managed to pull it off.   Little did we realize that this was just the beginning of the command to wake up early.  Have I ever mentioned that we are not a family of morning people?   Two of my family members manage fine in the morning, they are also glared at by the rest of us.
I cannot talk about morning in Israel without mentioning Israeli breakfasts. Let me just say that there is nothing better on earth than Israeli cottage cheese and fresh tomatoes. Destroy even managed to get over his hatred of tomatoes on the trip. Truly the land of miracles.
We picked up some other tour members and headed off to Caesarea, Zicharon Yaacov, Rosh Hanikra and then to our hotel in Kfar Blum.
Caesarea was interesting.   I was last there in 1984-85. The thing that surprised me was that I had expected the cities to have changed I did not realize how much an archeological site could change.   The whole Herod thing was beginning to get banged into my head. Tell me something enough times and I may just remember it. Is anyone more ubiquitous in Israel than Herod?  Pictures of the Lubavitcher rebbe don’t count.   By the way, it was hot. Very, very, very hot.

We went to the the Museum of First Immigrants in Zicharon Yaacov.   A little hint – a museum tour guide is not necessary as things are already spelled out very well. By the time the tour ended the kids were bored and hungry which means cranky. We had lunch and then boarded our beautiful air conditioned bus.   Let me just say that I loved our bus driver.   Not only was he an excellent driver who always greeted us with a warm smile but he also always had the bus cooled off and ready for our arrival.
Next on to Rosh Hanikra. I loved these grottoes when I first saw them and I still love them. We saw a short film first in which I learned about the train track that had been installed there for use during the War of Independence (if my memory serves me correctly).   I may have mentioned before that I love water so listening to and watching the ocean slam against those rocks was definitely the highlight of my day.
Next it was on to Kfar Blum. It was so much more than I had expected. I don’t know why I was expecting something along the lines of my Kibbutz Ulpan accommodations, but I was. Glad to be so wrong.  It is funny how little things can feel so familiar and take you right back to another place and time.  Something about the walkways on the kibbutz took me right back to my days on kibbutz Sarid so long ago.  We met up with the rest of our touring party there, had a delicious dinner followed by a nice swim in the kibbutz pool. Then it was bed time. The kids were happy to finally get to hang with their cousins and we were happy to be out of Tel Aviv and touring.
So ended day one of touring.