Friday, February 29, 2008

Disputed Territory

No, not political unless you have feathers. (Click to enlarge.)

Mr. Parakeet at the Disputed Nesting Hole

The Disputed Nesting Hole in the nearby eucalyptus tree: now apparently occupied by a parakeet couple. In the photograph: Mr. Parakeet. Mrs. Parakeet was somewhere nearby, calling out to her husband. She was probably warning him about the suspicious-looking human below who kept aiming her Flashy-Box at him.

Other contenders for this nesting hole have been a family of woodpeckers.

Stripey Kitty

I found a lovely model on the way home from work the other day:

Stripey kitty poses

Hello, stripey kitty. Thanks for being a good sport and posing so nicely.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Earth to Our Government...

[rant ON]

This blog is usually my quiet little corner, my escape from all the madness that’s going on around us. Nevertheless...

Since when did it become a crime to be a college student sitting in his car?

Or a ten-year-old boy playing with his friends after school?

Or an eight-year-old boy going out with his older brother to buy a present for his dad?

Or a city that has the bad luck to be within range of rocket-wielding terrorists (who are financed by governments that are known to support terrorists, not to mention by billions of dollars in donations from the international community)?

This has been going on since 2001. Seven years! Any decent government would have acted long ago. Any government worth the name would protect its citizens. That, among other things, is what a government is for. That is what a government is supposed to do.

Not that our elected officials are going to listen to me, of course, or to the thousands of citizens of Sderot and its environs who have been putting up with these murderous attacks for so long. (Don’t tell me that they are not murderous because the death toll has been so low. It’s not as if our enemies don’t intend to kill us.)

When is our do-nothing government going to act? When is it going to do something besides... nothing?

[rant OFF... maybe]

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bev in Heaven: A Hundred-Word Story

In memory of my late friend Beverly Burge, who died suddenly a month ago and whose shloshim (thirtieth day after burial) we observe tomorrow:

“Beverly Burge?” asked the angel. “Welcome! Right this—” Suddenly she froze. “Goodness! Duck!
Bev looked into the distance and grinned. “Cassowary,” she corrected as the cloud of feathers, fur, skin and scales hurtled closer. The angel leaped aside as a young Persian leopard sprang forward, knocking Bev to the ground.
“Roo, let me up! I’m glad to see you too, but I can’t hug you all at—”
Roo nudged her gently, his eyes twinkling.
“Oh,” Bev breathed, spreading her arms and finding that her embrace was as wide as it needed to be. “Oh. I guess I can.

Bev, who was the section head of the Quarantine Unit at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, hand-raised many animals including a tiger, lion, kittens, ferrets and, last of all, a Persian leopard named Roo who died suddenly last year.

Bev was also a writer, musician and friend to people all over the world. She is very much missed.

May she rest in peace.

Maybe I Should Have Gone into Hibernation

That’s what I said to a friend on the phone today. Between two bouts of sinus infection and today’s migraine, I probably should have spent this month in bed. Or in a cave.

The shimmer started as I was getting ready to go to work this morning. Since I already know the drill, I ran for the painkillers, hoping that they would act in time. They usually do, after all.

This time, they didn’t.

This was the worst migraine I can remember. I ended up spending most of the day in bed, with my whole body in rebellion. Ironically, after my body decided that it no longer wanted breakfast (there was no question whatsoever of eating lunch), I felt much better.

Well, tomorrow is another day. Here’s hoping.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Homemade Suds

It can cost a lot to be environmentally friendly in this neck of the woods. The principal brand of eco-friendly cleaners is quite expensive here, and the locally-made alternative is only slightly less costly. So I decided to find out whether I could make my own laundry soap. I figured that if I’m already making my own soap, why not see whether I can use it as a base for other non-toxic, eco-friendly (and far less expensive) household cleaning products?

Well, I can! After some searching on the Internet and reading comments by people who make and use their own homemade laundry soap, I found several recipes that looked helpful. Tonight, I made a bucketful according to this one at The Family Homestead. (I should point out that the recipe contains borax, but can probably be made without it.)

Other helpful links for making homemade detergent (including in dry form):

Modern Cottage: Home-made detergent

The Simple Dollar: How to make your own laundry detergent and save big money

For locals: even though we can’t buy pure washing soda or borax in the supermarket, we can get them from a local medical-supply store that delivers. So instead of lugging home big boxes of borax or washing soda, I get the items, which cost little to begin with, delivered to my door at no extra cost. I’ll be happy to give the medical-supply store’s contact information to anyone who’s interested in making their own homemade cleaning products. Just ask!

So now I get to wait twenty-four hours for my laundry soap to gel... or do whatever it’s supposed to do. I’m sure it’ll be great fun to use!

Oh, yeah, and because the stuff is unscented, I can scent each laundry load any way I like with just a few drops of essential oil. I can see it now: one week I’ll smell like geranium, another week like orange, another week like lemongrass, and so on. Great way to confuse ’em, eh?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Old Mailbox Built into the Wall

Old mailbox built into wall

In Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood, an old mailbox built into a wall is still there, but no longer in service. Note the strip of white metal placed across its opening so that it can’t be used anymore.

Coca Takes a Break

Coca the shop cat takes a break

Coca, who works at a pet-supply store in my neighborhood, takes a break.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still Sick

This is really getting to be a drag. I’ll be seeing the doc later today, though, so maybe we can find something to knock this bug out of me once and for all.

My dear friend Joanna, who knows a great deal about natural foods and their uses in healing, suggested that I prepare some congee for myself. Congee is a kind of porridge that you get from slow-cooking a whole grain for four to six hours, and it’s supposed to be very nourishing and healing. I’m using whole-grain rice.

Will congee save the day—or at least my sanity? Here’s hoping.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Saying Yes to Drugs (the Legal Kind, That Is)

As a rule, I don’t like drugs of any kind. I’ve never tried an illegal drug; it’s usually tough enough to get me to take legal, prescription ones. It’s something I’ve felt strongly about since childhood: I don’t want anything messing with my brain.

But after waking up this morning with a relapse of my sinus infection and dragging through the day with a fever of 100.2, I decided that enough was enough. I needed to be functional again, if only in order to stop feeling so restless, depressed and generally awful.

So I took two things: some over-the-counter painkiller that also lowers fever, and a glass of hot water with a tablespoon each of cider vinegar and honey to improve my mood.

As far as I can tell, they both worked. Yes, I’m still sick, and it will take at least another day or two to get better. I may even have to visit the doctor to see whether I need—gasp!—antibiotics.

But at least I can think again, my head doesn’t hurt, and I don’t have those horrid feelings of boredom and depression anymore. So far, so good.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

But It’s So Nice Out!

Years ago, when I was small, I saw an episode of “The Addams Family” in which the children, Pugsley and his younger sister Wednesday, wanted to go outside to play. Their mother, Morticia, remonstrated, telling them that it was not a good idea: blue sky, soft breezes and the like. Surely a day to stay indoors!

Morticia would likely keep her children inside today. It’s positively balmy out there, so pleasant that you’d never guess what tomorrow’s going to be like.

It looks like the Middle Eastern groundhog—if there is one—saw his shadow two weeks ago. We’re in for high winds, rain turning into snow, and temperatures even lower than our last cold snap. Our building just got another warning about turning on our water heaters and leaving our faucets dripping overnight so that our pipes won’t freeze. Morticia Addams would love it.

The only good thing about this particular slice of winter is that it’s going to be brief. The sun should be out again by Wednesday.

She and Pugsley will have to go back inside then, poor things.

(Want to know what the weather is like in most places in Israel? Visit, the newest addition to my sidebar.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kitty and Tree: Two Views

Seen in a neighborhood on the other side of town:

Kitty and tree

Kitty and tree: another view

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats, which will be up at Mind of Mog on Sunday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Guide to the Halakhic Minyan

Who’s afraid of halakhic egalitarian minyanim?

Not Michal and Elitzur Bar-Asher, who wrote The Guide for the Halakhic Minyan. (It’s in PDF format.)

I haven’t read it all yet—too busy—but I hope to soon. In any case, a huge kol ha-kavod to them. It’s about time.

Rest in Peace, Tigger

Meryl Yourish’s Tigger is gone.

My deepest condolences.

Friday, February 08, 2008

How to Make a Lady Happy

From a recent visit:

The Lady in Red loves her some tummy skritches.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Is There a New Radio Station in Town?

I am a great fan of Reshet Gimmel (Radio Three), one of the Voice of Israel’s principal radio stations. Ten years ago, it switched its format to all Hebrew music, all the time. Though this may date me, I admit to preferring the older style of Hebrew songs, the “beautiful Land of Israel” songs as they are known here. Reshet Gimmel plays them from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. on weekday mornings and at many other times during the week, particularly Friday afternoons.

My clock-radio alarm is set to Reshet Gimmel, and until recently I woke up to the 6:00 a.m. news followed by my favorite Hebrew music. But several days ago, I started hearing something strange that didn’t sound like Reshet Gimmel at all. When I listened more closely, I realized that it was a place-holder for an incipient station. Reshet Gimmel is located at 97.8 FM in this part of Israel, and this brief, repeating broadcast, a bizarre pastiche of historical and contemporary sound clips, ominous-sounding bass music, frequency identification and exhortations to “Get ready,” was coming from 97.7 and bleeding into Reshet Gimmel’s frequency—at least when I had the antenna pointed in a certain direction.

I have no idea what this could be, where it comes from, who is behind it or whether it is even legal. I found it fascinating at first, until the repeat broadcasts of “Get ready!” got old.

I’ll keep listening periodically, though. I always did like unusual radio, and this weird ad has piqued my curiosity.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Jerusalem of Snow

OK, so the title’s not original, but I couldn’t resist. Here are some pictures from my neighborhood during last week’s snow.

The front yard:

The front yard

A nearby traffic circle:

Traffic circle

A snowwoman (taken from the front for modesty’s sake; after all, this is a family blog):


Equal time for the opposite sex:


The park in snow:


Oh, my goodness, what can these be?

Cat tracks

Downtown, a study in black and white:

Fluffy black cat against white snow

Finally, a snowscape.


Irony behind Glass

There is an artistic exhibit of manual typewriters at my workplace. It’s been in place for some weeks now, so I almost don’t notice it on my way into and out of work.

Today, on my way out, I noticed the exhibit and joked with the security guard about our fossil collection.

Typewriter exhibit

He said, “I want to show you something. Have you looked closely at one of the typewriters?”

He told me which one to look at, and I went closer.

Pre-war typewriter

Look over the number 3. (Click to enlarge.)

SS symbol over number 3

That’s the SS sign. The SS.

My first reaction was: “Oh, my God, what’s this doing here? They should take it out and burn it!”

But then I had another thought. The Nazis, may their names and memories be obliterated, had plans to build a museum of the “vanished Jewish race,” and had done their murderous best to make us disappear.

They failed, as do all the enemies of the Jewish people. Today, proud, free Jews can look at this relic of their vanished regime behind glass in downtown Jerusalem.

I have no idea whether the artist knows it’s even there. In any case: take that, antisemites of whatever stripe. And then, if I may quote the mantra, just die already.

But don’t worry. We’ll take good care of your old typewriters.