Friday, February 26, 2010

Objects of Worship

Everybody knows that cats are to be worshipped. Right?

Here are two. First, a cat among the wild plants:

A cat among the plants

Next, Ms. Neighborcat:

Ms. Neighborcat

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

The Difference a Week Makes

Last week, I went for a hike in the Judean hills. Here are some of the pictures I got.

First of all, a general idea of the setting. A ruin, possibly from the Byzantine era:

Ruin with tree

The hills, with blossoming almond trees:

Almond trees with hills

In a meadow near the trail is a grove of date palms. Hardly any light reaches the ground there, in dramatic contrast to the sun-drenched hills:

Date palm grove 2

Three trees on top of a hill, with stone ruins:

Stones, trees, sky

This gorgeous blue-and-white butterfly was flying around and about. It finally lighted on an oak tree and stayed still long enough for me to take some pictures. This is the best of the shots I managed to get:

Blue butterfly

A scarlet pimpernel, face upturned:

Looking upward

A tzaharon (Barbary nut)—or, as I like to call it, a baby iris:


The trail that I was on features two springs. Here is clear water emerging from one of them:

Water from the spring

Here is the tunnel of the second spring. It’s high enough to walk in if you have the proper shoes. (I didn’t, so I didn’t go wading. Next time, maybe.)

Tunnel entrance

A meadow with lupines and almond blossoms:


An individual lupine:

Lupine with leaves

A Small Pheasant’s-Eye:

Small Pheasant's-Eye

Returning to civilization, a still parade of bicycles:


Back in Jerusalem, a lizard on a stone wall:

Lizard 2

Hard to believe it was a week ago. We’ve had steady thundershowers for almost an entire day! (Thank goodness. We need the rain desperately.)

Sleet on Emek Refaim Street earlier today:

Sleet on Emek Refaim Street

More rain and sleet:

Rain and sleet

Finally, something unusual that I saw downtown today: soda-water bottles from 1965! (Wow—they’re as old as I am!)

Soda bottles from 1965

(Click on any photo to see a larger version. For all the pictures from my hike in the Judean hills, click here.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Haveil Havalim Is Up

The current edition of Haveil Havalim, the weekly Jewish blogging carnival, is up at Me-Ander and Shiloh Musings.

Monday, February 08, 2010

My Audition Adventure

Crazy? Maybe. Last week, I decided to audition for “Kochav Nolad” (literally, “A Star Is Born”), Israel’s version of “American Idol.”

I got as far as the third round of auditions—singing in front of the program’s five judges (Gal Ohovsky, Margalit Tzanani, Tzedi Tzarfati, Dana International and Tzvika Hadar). But I didn’t make it.

I did get pictures, though.

Here, on the day’s first train to Tel Aviv (which leaves Jerusalem at a dark and early 5:43 a.m., if you must know): sunrise between Lod and Ramle. The train had stopped temporarily, and because of its position, the sun appeared to rise through the lone tree on the horizon:

Sunrise framed by tree

At the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds, waiting to get inside. I arrived at about 7:25 a.m. and was given the number 826. (The numbers started at 500.)

Waiting to get inside

As we waited, I looked up and saw a flock of birds flying through some sunbeams:

Flock and rays

Once in the main tent, the people in charge put us in high bleachers and taught us a song that would be used for the program’s opening. Smoking was prohibited in the tent, but people smoked anyway. I left, but before I did, I managed to get the following shots. First, head stocks and hair:

Head stocks and hair

Next, the crowd at the open auditions:

The crowd at the audition

When I went out to the lawn, I discovered that I wasn’t the only person there by any means:

On the lawn

Once on the lawn, I couldn’t resist looking at the greenery. I found some shepherd’s purse—one of my favorite herbs:

Shepherd's purse

I don’t know whether this man at prayer was a contestant or not.

Praying at the audition

I passed the audition on the first day, and was invited to a further audition that would determine whether I would sing before the judges. After that second audition, which took place at a community center in southern Tel Aviv, we left the audition room to see this double rainbow:

Double rainbow

So what happened at today’s audition? The judges appeared to like me and to like my singing, but said that while I sang very well, my style wasn’t appropriate for Kochav Nolad. Then they revised their statement slightly, saying that Kochav Nolad wasn’t suitable for me. “Throwing you into our pond would be like throwing a fish into the Dead Sea,” they said. They were very kind, and wished me luck.

They also asked me a lot of questions about my hand-made soap. On the audition form, candidates are supposed to list their hobbies, so I listed soapmaking as one of them. The judges appeared to be particularly interested in the citron peel that I like to add to my soap in order to give it a delicate, unusual fragrance. They asked me about it and made jokes about the use of the citron, known in Hebrew as an etrog, during the Sukkot festival.

Hmm. Maybe I have a niche at Kochav Nolad after all: soapmaker to the stars!

(Nah, I guess not.)

When I came out of the audition, my two friends, A. and N., were there to greet me. I owe them both big-time, since candidates had to bring at least two friends or family members to the audition, and both A. and N. generously volunteered to give up a day of work and family time in order to come with me.

As strange as it may seem, I’m not disappointed. I didn’t even expect to get as far as I did. It was an adventure, and it was great fun.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.