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Archive for the ‘The weird and the wonderful’ Category

The last year has felt like the world has been tilting wildly and weirdly, and often not in good ways.

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The first six months were emotionally tortuous, as we applied to high schools for Miss M. Her brightness and quirkiness have not diminished over time, and her official Aspergers diagnosis from a couple of years ago was refreshed by a new round of professionals. There didn’t seem to be a school that suited her within commuting distance. Not having an answer to “where is she going for seventh grade?” as May 1, then June 1, rolled past was…stressful. As usual, I dealt with my stress by not sleeping much.

The school question was finally settled, then RESETTLED at a different place OMG LIFE ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? just in time to deal with the final birth pangs of her bat mitzvah. (Which was, admittedly, super great .)

Then the whole election debacle-slash-world-upside down. I still have a lot of anger about this, which spills over into things like discussing with Taxman in front of the kids why I shouldn’t call him a rapist in front of the kids but sexual assaulter is ok because he’s admitted it. Incoming president of the United States. I just. (For my utter bewilderment, see my Twitter feed.)

Also not a lot of sleeping happening in October and November. Because time zones, and who is driving this plane; are we crashing?

So when an acquaintance announced on Facebook that she was going to run an eight-week knitting for beginners class, I said please, please pick me!

Knitting was something my mom did, and my aunt. I have no idea where they learned – maybe their grandmother? (I certainly never saw MY grandmother with knitting needles in her hands, unless by knitting needles you mean cigarette or gin and tonic.) When I was old enough to have enough patience to learn (an early attempt had been quickly shelved), my brother was a baby and then a toddler. I think my mom, who worked full time, put away her own knitting for years.

As an adult, I’ve realized I have a ton of friends who knit, enough so that I felt I was really missing out on a generational experience.

So I’m learning now.

I’m not as terrible as I thought I’d be, although I’ve managed to break two sets of not-great circular needles.

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But I’m being propped up, sometimes literally, by Miss M, the ringer I drive to knitting class. (The kids’ class didn’t fit with her schedule.) She’s a natural at this stuff, if a little overly ambitious, so has saved my ass many times with her nimble fingers and multiple crochet hooks. She can’t really keep up with the “bitch” element of the class (a lot about parent teacher meetings and planning bar mitzvahs), but she’s spot on with the “stitch” part.

So that’s a skill I’m hoping to take with me into 2017 and beyond. I’m seeing the beginning of how it becomes A Thing – beautiful yarns, complex patterns, different equipment, but at the same time a way to really turn off the world and concentrate on what’s literally directly in front of you.

I’ll be here with my in-house knitting coach, hoping to finish my hat before winter ends. (In the meantime, I had to buy myself fingerless gloves because we keep the house at like 60 degrees.)

PS This blog turned 11 today! Crazy.

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Eggs

This is going to sound odd, but one of the things I enjoy most about cooking in Israel is the eggs.

In America, when you buy a dozen eggs (conventionally produced), you get 12 eggs that are so uniform they are indistinguishable from one another. Same color, same size, washed clean. Every once in a rare while you get a blood spot or a double-yolk; clearly those internal “mistakes” are hidden from the inspection process and allowed to pass through.

In Israel, a dozen eggs can be more like cousins than identical siblings. Shells may be white, ecru or slightly spotted. There is a range of weights and sizes for each egg category (large eggs, my personal preference, may weigh between 63 and 73 grams–and sometimes you find both extremes in the same batch). Tiny feathers may be stuck to some shells. Chickens do have feathers, you know.

On the inside, I’ve seen yolks of many different shades of yellow and orange: sunshine, buttercup, gold, lemon, marigold. This is totally normal; from what I understand, it depends on what nutrients are in the chicken feed and has no effect on the nutritive value of the eggs, but it’s a delightful hodgepodge to me. Every time I see yolks other than the “standard” shade, especially in the same carton, I get happy….because that would never fly in America.

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I don’t know who is going, but I know who is definitely not. Me.

That’s right, BlogHer 2010 is in New York City. Twelve full months after I left New York. Where I lived for nine years.

Now, we all know I am not blogging for the money (four and a half years ad-free! whoo! I hope my 15 commenters and ??? lurkers–I can’t count you if I don’t know who you are–appreciate my COMMITMENT to the CRAFT. And also? Laziness), nor for the fame. I do it for the comments, the empathy, and the strengthening of communal ties.

So on behalf of the love, I want to ask one of you lucky BlogHer participants a favor.

MamaPop (my most trusted news source…don’t look at me like that, we already know how I feel about the New York Times, despite the fact that I read the Sunday Vows column on Saturday night because I just can’t wait) ran a contest to find a T-shirt slogan in connection with their BlogHer 2010 party, Sparklecorn.

Winning slogan here. It is genius. Please, please, someone get me a T-shirt? I can PayPal you money.

Don’t make me come after you individually. I mean, I totally will, but…please?

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I am not a person who objects to shopping. Usually.

Food shopping can be great, especially at a place like a farmers’ market or the shuk, where the food looks beautiful and smells intoxicating.

Clothes shopping can be fun if done without small tag-a-long people. Since that is so not my life right now, I’ve relied a lot on e-tailers. Thank goodness for them.

Shoe shopping? Necessarily evil. Seriously, Taxman makes me do it. I don’t like it.

Shopping for other things? Well, it’s a rare event. We bought most of our furniture nine years ago, when we had money from wedding gifts to spend and no children, lots of internet access, and starry-eyed, newlywedded patience. We bought our appliances five years ago, when we bought our apartment and renovated the kitchen; we relied heavily on Consumer Reports and readily took Miss M, the tiny nursling with the occasional blowout poops, along for the ride.

But now we are faced with purchasing a lot of furniture and appliances all at once. In a currency we’re just getting used to and in a language I don’t understand all that well (and cannot speak back to save my life). And about half the time we’ve had two rambunctious, snack-demanding tyrants with us.*

The furniture shopping was agonizingly slow because it was one piece here, one piece here, once piece here. We’re still not done. But at least by the end of next week we should have mattresses for everyone–and whole beds for the kids! (Note to self: must buy sheets in Israeli sizes.) Oh yes, the next-day delivery from mattress stores or 3-day delivery from furniture stores? Whoops, wrong country. I mean we don’t have a shortage of beds to sleep in, but they are not in our apartment but rather in Jerusalem or Haifa or the suburbs of Tel Aviv.

We have been attempting to divide and conquer at the appliance stores, wherein Taxman deals with the negotiations (read: haggling. This is the Middle East and you never know when you have reached the “final price,” unless you a) walk away and never come back or b) put down a deposit) and I attempt to keep the small people from breaking the merchandise/touching the wall of flatscreen TVs. This involves keeping their MP3 players charged and their mouths full of snack. And sometimes waiting too long to force AM to go to the bathroom and having him pee a little on my shirt. But I digress. (It was gross, although I was already sweaty and disgusting, so what’s a touch of pee? It was the principle, in that it was SO grotesquely obvious that he needed to pee, but had been refusing to go for 30 minutes and finally when I laid down the law he admitted it was about 15 minutes past due and almost could not stop it. Vey iz mir.)

No two appliances chains have the exact same models, a la trying to comparison shop for mattresses in the United States. Sometimes prices at the same chain differ from city to city. The brands are largely unfamiliar. We know of LG and Siemens, but Bellers, Bauchknecht, and Beko? No. (Two of the last three are made in Turkey.) The salespeople are either completely disinterested or so aggressive we might have to change our cellphone number. Seriously, if a woman named Yaffa calls for us? We haven’t made a decision, we’re not home right now, and we might be moving to Botswana next week.

So we still do not have a fridge or a stove or a washing machine. But really, really, really we have to decide–it’s just a lot of money. At some point we were thinking of buying second hand, which we might do for some furniture, but we don’t want to get older appliances (5+ years) because they improve efficiency all the time and for the newer second hand by the time you pay to move it to your place and pay to have it installed by a professional it could easily be almost the price of buying new. If you get a good deal when buying new, that is, and that is hard to do when you feel like you are constantly being harangued or fleeced.

Welcome!

But we had a true Israeli moment today. Taxman pulled the car into a gas station. Unsure of which side the gas tank was on, he stopped short of the self-serve island and we peered out of the car to try to guess. We were immediately approached by a gas station attendant. Rather than attempting to get us to come to the full serve island (more expensive, natch), he tried to get us to buy a kumkum–an electric kettle that is a mainstay of pretty much every household. “Giveret, giveret!” (Miss, miss!) he kept calling to me, extolling the virtues of said kumkum (good brand, good price). It was a good price and a brand I recognized, but somehow I just couldn’t buy a small kitchen electric at a gas station. Maybe once I’ve been here for more than six days. We did, however, meet our 30 liter minimum to qualify for a free 1.5 liter bottle of water. If we fill up again Friday I think we get either a free newspaper or a free challah (!). New stuff around every corner.

Many thanks to Gila from Aliyah by Accident, who rescued us from a noontime meltdown in the playground (yes, it was 33 degrees, but now we have health insurance because Taxman was able to fill out the forms without preschool company) and fed us lunch and refilled the water glasses all around! Sorry Taxman fell asleep on your couch! We’ll call it jet lag.

* My in-laws have been really great about babysitting at all times of the day and night, but from time to time they have their own obligations. And we’ve been using them more for when we have to make trips to government offices and the like, where one of us can’t just disappear for 20 minutes at a time.

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I hope not.  This week was (or at some point very recently it was) National Infertility Awareness Week.

Our relatively brief struggles with infertility seem light-years ago, now that we are up to our eyeballs in preschool and miniature underpants and all that, but when you are trying to have a baby in your 20s and it takes 30 cycles to conceive (with no underlying medical reasons) it seems like a damn long time. I never did the heavy-duty drugs (just Clomid), but we were seriously considering IVF because it promised a 70+% success rate for someone my age and with my (non) diagnosis.

Our joy of success has always been tempered by knowing that others are struggling and may not have the kind of outcome that we did. We are annual supporters of A T.I.M.E, but just this week I discovered a program that truly made me smile. Socks seem like a small thing, but the message of caring is big.

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Taxman: “So what’s this Twitter I keep hearing about? You’re not on it…are you?”

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The new computer is a little wonky and has not let me publish all week, so here you have a week’s worth of posts in five minutes.

Anyway, today I ran the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. And it was HOT. And HUMID. OMFG. And people did not follow the rules of the race course, so it was more like running (!) through an obstacle course (!!) and I still managed to finish in about 35 minutes (!!!). And I missed Chichimama, who wanted desperately to run but was trapped under something heavy dropped a can of crushed tomatoes on her foot and, as a result, can’t wear closed shoes.

And afterwards, on our way back to the 72nd St. Transverse, I came within four feet of Cynthia Nixon, the Grand Marshal of the NYC Race for the Cure. My first celebrity sighting after all these years in NY.

I said to Taxman, “Wow, that was Cynthia Nixon!”

“Who?”

“Cynthia Nixon!”

“President Nixon’s daughter?”

“What?! NO! Cynthia Nixon! Sex and the City! [which he has seen many times] Look at her!”

“Oh. Well her hair isn’t as red in person.”

Yeah, I had no response to that either.

Did I mention that it was SO HOT and SO HUMID it is only through an act of divine intervention that I didn’t melt into a puddle of ooze in the third mile? Luckily at the end there were bottles and bottles of cold water and bananas and my husband and son and daughter clutching a bunch of Central Park weeds wildflowers just for me. Awww.

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