Friday, October 28, 2005

Meryl Yourish Needs a Job

... and fast. Spread the word and let’s help her find one.

Yeah, What He Said

Lair Simon pegs it:

Folks, I have one word of advice: be yourself. If you look in the mirror and don’t see yourself, fix that.
If enough people are themselves, maybe those who are most uncomfortable with you as yourself will finally have the courage to stop displacing their discomfort with who they really are upon you.

Wise words in any context.

They bring back a memory from a long time ago, too. I grew up in a town where being yourself beyond a certain age (like, say, twelve) was regarded as quite the silly thing to do.

An illustration: during one class in middle school, we were supposed to introduce ourselves by telling our names and mentioning two things that we liked to do. One girl mentioned activities that seemed perfectly appropriate but that somehow earned her a storm of mocking remarks. At the end of the class, I heard one of the more popular girls lecture her: “How could you be so stupid as to say you like the activities you mentioned? I said I like to swim and ski, but do you think I actually enjoy them? I don’t—I only named them because I knew that would be a popular answer.”

I always wondered how she figured that out so young. I wonder whether she still thinks the same way today.

The Perfect Excuse: Backpack Attack

Ummm, Teacher ... I didn’t bring in my homework today because Pinocchio—she’s the picture framer’s cat at the local shopping center—attacked my backpack.

I know that sounds strange but here, Teacher, I’ll show you:

(See more kitty movies here, here and here.)

A tip of the Mediterranean sunhat to Avram of New Cat City, who turned me on to YouTube (pun intended). Go pay a visit to his beautiful orangeboys, Arthur and Beowulf, and give them some virtual skritches from me while you’re at it.

And be sure to check out today’s Friday Ark at the Modulator. This week’s Carnival of the Cats will be up at Watermark this coming Sunday.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Something New

Well, new to me, anyway: personal-size watermelons at the open-air vegetable market. The vendor was giving out free tastes, too, but I didn’t take one. Maybe tomorrow, after work.

Personal-size watermelons at the open-air vegetable market in downtown Jerusalem

A Visit to the Big Apple

One of my favorite pizza places in Jerusalem is Big Apple Pizza. It’s a franchise, and Jerusalem has three stores: two downtown and one in a new shopping center near where I work. Tel Aviv and Eilat have one franchise each, too, but I haven’t sampled them yet.

Each franchise in Jerusalem has memorabilia from New York City and from the rest of the US. One of the downtown stores even has a mural of the New York City skyline.

Of course, my favorite part of Big Apple Pizza is the pizza. It’s delicious, and I highly recommend it. While I’m at it, there’s something else about Big Apple that I like: the music.

Each franchise of Big Apple pizza plays the sort of music I grew up with. One branch even has tapes of radio broadcasts from popular rock-music radio stations in the greater New York area. (Imagine sitting in downtown Jerusalem and hearing what’s being played on Long Island—without benefit of laptop!) The branch I walked into yesterday was playing “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin IV. And yes, nostalgia sells ... even for one who wasn’t much into rock as a teenager.

But besides the excellent pizza and the music from my youth, what really sold me on this new Big Apple Pizza franchise was its collection of license plates. The other Jerusalem franchises have collections, too, but this one takes the cake ... I mean, the pie. When I was a child traveling with my family, I used to enjoy looking out our car window and seeing license plates from different states, sometimes even from different countries. Now, you can get all the license plates you want from eBay. That’s what Roni, the franchise owner, did.

For anyone who is into license plates, here’s a bunch for your delectation. I’d include a slice of pizza, too, but I haven’t figured out how to upload one yet.

License plate display at Big Apple Pizza in Jerusalem

License plate display at Big Apple Pizza in Jerusalem

License plate display at Big Apple Pizza in Jerusalem

License plate display at Big Apple Pizza in Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Want Some Passion in Your Life?

(Well, that title ought to get me some interesting traffic. Heh.)

In honor of the annual period in Israel known as aharei ha-hagim (after the holidays), here’s a passion flower ...

Passion flower

... and here’s the ripening fruit, next to a bud.

Passion fruit

I would have preferred a passion flower with a bee on it, but I didn’t have time to wait for one to show up. Oh, well.

Israel produces a fine liqueur from the fruit, by the way. Just in case you have a ... well, passion for that sort of thing.

(Oh, all right. I’ll stop now.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bathing Beauty

It’s said that cleanliness is next to godliness.

Her Ladyship in the bath

And Her Ladyship should know. After all, her ancestors were once worshipped as gods about a day’s drive from here, give or take a few hours.

(Check out The Modulator for this week’s Friday Ark, and Mind of Mog on Sunday for the upcoming Carnival of the Cats.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

On a Rainy Autumn Morning in Jerusalem ...

I took my arba minim (four species) outside and waved ’em in the requisite directions as a light rain fell around me.

Waving the Four Species on Sukkot in Jerusalem

(Actually, Jewish tradition doesn’t consider rain on Sukkot particularly favorable, but as someone who has been inside sukkot in upstate New York amid freezing rain and falling snow, I’m not complaining.)

Mo’adim le-simha!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Trees at the Train Station

Israel Railways is busy beautifying the Tel Aviv Central Railway Station:

Trees at the Tel Aviv Central Railway Station

It’s not exactly the Jerusalem–Bet Shemesh line, but it’ll do. And oh, check out the pattern made by the tape.

(New stations are due to open in Dimona and Modi’in sometime in 2006. The Modi’in stations will eventually become part of the rapid Jerusalem–Tel Aviv line due to begin operation in 2008 or 2009. The stations are noted on the new railway map that I saw on the train last week, but the new map isn’t up on the website yet.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Feeding Time

Here’s our feeding station at work during a visit from Lady:

Lady at the feeding station

A kitten showed up while Lady was there. Here she is, waiting her turn patiently (or perhaps out of a healthy sense of self-preservation).

Kitten waits her turn

(For more animal goodness, check out this week’s Friday Ark at The Modulator, and for more kitty goodness, check out this week’s Carnival of the Cats, coming up on Sunday.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Passing Thought While Singing

Tonight I rode back to town with a friend of mine who is a professional singer. Unfortunately I was too tired to take full advantage of the opportunity to sing with her during the entire trip (she’s excellent and it’s tremendous fun), but we managed to sing a few songs together before I conked out from exhaustion in the back seat of her car.

One of the songs we sang was “Oh, Sinner Man,” a song I have loved since childhood. (If you ever get a chance, listen to Leon Bibb’s recording of it. It will blow you away.)

After we finished the song, I mentioned to my friend that its lyrics cause me a bit of dissonance, and I don’t mean musically. If I were to perform it in public, I could see myself giving a disclaimer first: This next song is a powerful one, and one of my favorites. But before I sing it, I want to make it clear that I don’t agree with the theology behind it at all.

Why is that? Well, the song takes place at the final judgement at the End of Days. A frightened soul turns to heaven and earth for refuge and finally appeals to God, who rejects him, saying, “Oh, sinner man, you shoulda been a-prayin’.” At the end of the song, the Devil gleefully ushers the poor soul into Hell with the words “Sinner man, step right in.”

I realize that the song reflects a particular time and place in history, and in its own way is a message to human beings to mend their ways before it’s too late. Yet what is “too late”? Is there really such a thing? My friend and I agreed that the message of “Oh, Sinner Man” is pretty much the opposite of the Jewish attitude toward our relationship to God. Jewish tradition teaches that every human being of every faith always has the chance to draw closer to the Creator. God never turns us away when we seek sincerely to amend our lives and connect with the Divine, no matter how badly we may have messed up in the past.

On Yom Kippur—and on every day of the year—God holds the door wide open for each and every one of us and says, “Step right in.”

Gemar hatima tova.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Flower for Shabbat Shuvah

Here’s a flower for the first Shabbat of 5766.

A flower for Shabbat

Shabbat shalom.

Friday Catblogging

Hillel lives near a building downtown where there are lots of journalists. As you may imagine, it can get to be a pretty high-pressure environment at times. So how does a normally laid-back cat such as Hillel deal with the stress?

Hillel takes a drink

Well, as best he can, but sometimes it drives him to drink.

(Check out this week’s Friday Ark at The Modulator. This week’s Carnival of the Cats will be at Ginasrantings).

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Narrow Escape

Today, on my way to work, I passed the scene of what looked like a minor car accident. No people were there when I passed by; all I saw was the damaged vehicle, a white Volkswagen Golf.

It had apparently struck a wall at the side of the road. Its right front fender was heavily damaged and its right front tire was flat. The front doors were open and the passenger compartment looked undamaged, though two deflated airbags dangled from the steering wheel and the glove compartment, respectively. It looked like anyone who had been in the car might have been lucky enough to walk away from the crash, and I hope and pray that was the case.

The sight—which was scary enough by itself—brought back an awful memory of one of my most frightening experiences, which took place on this very day, according to the Hebrew calendar, more than a decade ago. I was crossing a narrow street in my neighborhood when a motorcycle came down the hill to my right. I was already in the middle of the street when I heard the approaching motor and I froze, not knowing in which direction to run and thinking: Well, I guess this is it. The rider swerved to avoid me, but the corner of the metal box at the rear of his motorcycle hit my upper arm and sent me flying. The rider also fell off his motorcycle but was only scratched, thank God. My arm was pretty bruised but other than that I was fine. Both of us were very lucky.

It was the day after Rosh ha-Shana, the day after we begin asking God to inscribe our names in the Book of Life.

But the really creepy thing was that the night before, Israel Radio had broadcast a program on road safety during which various announcers read out the names of all the people who had been killed on Israel’s roads the previous year.

In time, the municipality redesigned that pedestrian crossing. I guess I wasn’t the only pedestrian who’d had a problem there.

To return to the present, it looks like someone else may have had a narrow escape the day after the New Year.

On each of the ten days between Rosh ha-Shana and Yom Kippur—what Jews call the Days of Awe—we add the following supplication to our regular prayers, which we recite three times a day:

Remember us for life, O King who delights in life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life—for Your sake, O God of life.

Amen. May it be so.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Le-Shana Tova

Before I sign off for the holiday, I’d like to wish all my readers and all klal Yisrael a good, sweet New Year, filled with good health, prosperity, good news, good cheer and all possible blessings.

For those of my readers who aren’t Jewish ... have a wonderful year, too!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pssst ... Got a Good Pattern?

The cover of my old lambswool comforter is torn beyond repair. I have a bunch of cotton fabric scraps with floral patterns in dark blue, light blue, turquoise, peach, burgundy and white. And the Jerusalem nights are starting to get chilly. So I've decided: it’s time I learned quilting.

Does anyone know where I can download good instructions for a beginner? I have a fair amount of sewing experience (doing simple things), an old but serviceable sewing machine and a lot of motivation: I really like the thought of sleeping under the work of my own hands.

I’m interested in downloadable (and preferably free) geometric patterns that really catch the eye, or patterns that feature cats. The patterns should call for the use of existing fabric scraps rather than the purchase of new fabric.

If you know of any good sites, please leave links in the comments. Thanks!