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Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Big Felafel's Community Service Announcement

One of the best-by-far and most useful blog sites in Jerusalem is The Big Felafel, which has done us all a terrific service by summing up the candidates, the parties, and how the system actually works. Did you know you get two votes?

Go read.

Then VOTE!!

...and in case you need to know anything else about Jerusalem (gyms, bus routes, shiputznikim, movers) you'll probably find the information at The Big Felafel. Check it out. Their subtitle is "Essential Tips For Living In Israel." And they've nailed it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By Popular Demand

This was the only one of several pictures I took in which she held still long enough for the camera to grab a shot......

We still need a name -- any suggestions?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Absentee Blogger

I haven't been blogging. I haven't been blogging because I have been chronically sleep deprived for two weeks. It wasn't enough to be arguing with the contractor, the sub-contractors, having nightmares over cash-flow and due dates....we got a puppy.

We didn't get a puppy on purpose. As a matter of fact, I can't honestly say that "we" got a puppy. As a matter of fact, I suspect that if I bring one more stray anything, my husband will divorce me. Just kidding. I hope.

It happened like this. Yossi took me to the condo one morning when the Husband was busy with other things. We did something there involving the delivery of or completion of something crucial, but left fairly early. I think we left the building at about 9:30 in the morning.

It had been cold the night before. The first kiss of Autumn chill was in the air. Our building is one of many on our street, but part of a complex of 5 buildings built by the same kablan. As we walked towards Yossi's taxi, which was parked against the curb in front of the building adjacent to ours, Yossi said, "Sarah, look!" pointing to a box.

Or so I thought. There, at the base of the outside staircase leading to the lobby, adjacent to the stone wall containing the pipes to the building, was a large, brown box. But Yossi wasn't pointing at the box. He was pointing at what looked like a rag behind the box. He reached over, pulled the box away from the wall, and I could see what his sharper eyes had already discerned: this rag had feet, a nose and a small head.

It was a puppy. A very young puppy at that. I bent down and touched her, and she breathed, but didn't do much more. I picked her up and asked Yossi to drive me to the vet. He took me to the SPCA clinic in Talpiot. For the duration of the trip, the puppy simply huddled in my lap, burying her nose in my armpit. She didn't even whimper.

The vet checked her out and provided deworming medication for free "because she's a street dog," he explained. He pronounced her seven weeks old, and other than being starving, dehydrated and frightened, she was healthy...except for the parasites. She was filthy: ticks and fleas were seemingly renting space on every portion of her body. Because she is a puppy, the usual anti-parasite medications couldn't be applied, but the vet washed her down with a liquid-on-gauze which he promised wouldn't hurt her. I asked what kind of dog she was, seeing that she had small paws. "She's probably a Jack Russell Terrier or some mix with a lot of Jack Russell in her," he told me. "She won't get a whole lot bigger."

Then he startled me with the next question: "Are you keeping her?"

I hadn't thought about it. Picking her up and taking her to the vet was simply instinct. I couldn't leave her lying on a road, behind a box, in a construction site where very large tractors and delivery vehicles were constantly pulling up on the sidewalk in order to unload their contents. She was a candidate for instant road-kill on that stretch of sidewalk, if she didn't freeze to death that night.

"Of course," I said. [What are you DOING?!!] my brain sputtered, trying to override my tongue. Too late. She was bundled into the car, and I thought I'd better call The Husband to prepare him.

He was NOT pleased. To say the least.

On the other hand, once he got it all out of his system, I told him that I would take the puppy back to the shelter, and I'm sure they would find a home for her. He declined. Later, the Boy's tutor gave us the phone number of his good friend who, in her volunteer capacity, spent her spare time placing orphaned street dogs and cats in suitable homes. The tutor called her, and she told him to give us her home telephone number and call her at 8:00 pm that night.

Eight o'clock rolled around, and as I was searching for her phone number, the Husband said, "You don't need to do that."


It's too late, he explained. The puppy was curled up asleep at his side.

The Husband is a softie. It's one of the reasons I love him. We sat outside that afternoon, grooming her, picking off the hordes of ticks and fleas from her bedraggled fur.

Still, I brought her home, so I have some responsibilities. Puppies are like babies -- they have very small bladders. Unlike babies, they don't wear diapers. We've trained her to kennel at night, but the first week she cried every morning at 4:00 am to go out. I got up and let her out. Having an older dog as a role model has been invaluable. Whatever the Big Girl does, the puppy wants to imitate. I tell Pax, "Go pee!" and she obediently runs to the yard and takes care of business. Never mind that it's 4:00 am. The puppy follows and copies.

But she's not a big dog yet. Unlike Pax, who can go for eight hours without a bathroom break, this one needs to go out (1) when she first wakes, (2) after the first bowl of food and water, and (3) about every 30 minutes thereafter.

She has made her mistakes. We rolled up all the rugs. This is one of the benefits of tile floors in Israel--they are very forgiving when it comes to house-breaking puppies.

As she's grown, and learned the ropes from Pax and from our admonishments, she has learned to go to the door when she needs the sherutim, and she has begun to sleep a bit later. Now, Nature doesn't call until 4:45 or 5:00 am.

Don't laugh, I'm grateful for the extra 45-60 minutes of sleep in the morning.

It does, however, put a crimp in blogging. I go from pet-sitter (4:45-6:00am) to mom-making-breakfast (6:00-7:00am) to the showers and dressing, and into the car to check out the day's progress at the condo at 8:00 am. By 2:00 pm, I feel like I'm ready for bed. Not much blogging is getting done as a result. Not only am I tired, my brain is mush by the afternoon.

Jack Russell terriers were bred to hunt foxes, badgers and other small prey that hide in holes. Therefore, we are attempting to train ours NOT to dig in the couch, as there are no foxes under the cushions. Also, digging up the herb garden is not going to produce a badger (although I have a very real fear it might disturb a snake--our neighbors found one in their garden). Learning to distinguish between pull-toys, old socks, chew toys and my hand is another lesson in progress.

The new condo will be an interesting change. There's more room by far, BUT no back yard. I'm going to be seeing a lot of the staircase, I suspect, since the nearest place to walk a dog is the park in our cul-de-sac.

I'm sure there are no foxes there, either. Maybe I should try to find a frisbee....

*photo courtesy of Jack Russell Terrier Club of America http://www.therealjackrussell.com/fun/galleryshow.php inasmuch as I haven't had time to take a picture...but this winsome but knowing look captures our pup perfectly.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Duh" Moments in Jewish Life

Short because we're now on winter hours and Shabbat is rolling in early....

These are the "duh" moments of my chagim:

Pesach -- stopping in the midst of the kitchen kashering routine and wondering in exhausted bemusement, "Now how did I kasher that toaster last year?".....DUH!

Yom Kippur -- turning off the refrigerator light. Helllllooooo? Now just why would we be in the refrigerator? DUH!

I topped that a few years ago by not only turning off the 'fridge light on Yom Kippur but also putting out the blech and the kum-kum. For the morning coffee I'm not going to drink, natch.

Anyone else do this or am I the only one who goes brain dead at these times?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Coffee Table Politics

Coffee Table Politics (with gratitude to Bec)

What happens when a fly falls into a coffee cup?

The Italian-throws the cup and walks away in a fit of rage.

The Frenchman-takes out the fly, and drinks the coffee.

The Chinese - eats the fly and throws away the coffee.

The Russian - Drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra with no charge.

The Israeli
- sells the coffee to the Frenchman, the fly to the Chinese, buys himself a new cup of coffee and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.

The Palestinian - blames the Israeli for the fly falling in his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, the Frenchman, the Chinese, and the Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give away his cup of coffee to the Palestinian.

--Isaac Yedid

Monday, October 06, 2008

Throw The Bums Out!

The Rasmussen Report's most recent poll has the voters giving Congress an "F":

Congress was front and center in the national news last week and the American people were far from impressed. If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, 59% of voters would like to throw them all out and start over again. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 17% would vote to keep the current legislators in office.

Today, just 23% have even a little confidence in the ability of Congress to deal with the nation’s economic problems and only 24% believe most Members of Congress understand legislation before they vote on it.

Last week, the House of Representatives initially rejected a financial bailout bill proposed by the Bush Administration. Later, after the Senate added a number of items that some call “pork” and others call “sweeteners,” the measure eventually passed. While the bill survived Washington, it did so at a time when just 30% of voters favored it and 45% were opposed.

And my personal favorite:

Only half (49%) believe that the current Congress is better than individuals selected at random from the phone book.

Thirty-three percent (33%) believe a randomly selected group of Americans could do a better job and 19% are not sure.

A separate survey found that just 11% of voters say Congress is doing a good or an excellent job.

This Eleven Percent is completely delusional.

It seems that Taxation With Representation ain't what it's cracked up to be. I belong to the Vindicative School of Voter Ballot Casting....like many of my fellow citizens, I remember who voted for what, especially when its something I think is designed to screw me. In the weeks to come, there will be lots of press, lots of blogging and lots of calls to take action and toss the overpaid, non-Social Security-contributing, seemingly non-responsive-to-their-constituencies, parasitical party hacks out of office.

We, the collective Voter, are making A List. Even if I don't live in, Wisconsin, for example, I can send my money anywhere....including to the candidate running against the incumbent fool who padded this bill with pork.

Tea Party, anyone?

Friday, October 03, 2008

This Week In Home Construction

This is short. It's almost Shabbat. The food is heating, the stew is in the crockpot, the salads made but not dressed, everything else in serving dishes, and the guys have had their showers and I'm next.....

...but I've been away from the computer because of Home Construction Blues.

We're getting closer every day. However, the Builder's secretary, we suspect, has quit--because he is clueless and doesn't have any idea what has been ordered in terms of screens, windows, trissim, and so forth.

The ceramic floor in the kitchen had to be torn up to accomodate a water pipe to the patio which was overlooked. Fine -- old news, but as of today the pipe was in but the large trench were it was place was still open. The kitchen cabinets are coming on Sunday -- so the floor has to be 'closed' by then.

Thank G-d for Yossi (again)!

Between Ramadan, Eid and Rosh Hashanah, not much is happening on the job site this week...but Yossi is friends with Aoud, who took it upon himself to make sure the kitchen floor was finished by today. The Builder interfered and assigned Aoud to do other tasks, but both Aoud and Yossi protested, pointing out that the job site foreman has been promising to take care of this for weeks.....and hasn't.

So as of 2:00 pm today, the floor is finished.

Then Nadar, the electrician, pointed out to us earlier that the gas line is on the wrong wall. Uh, the cooktop is going on the east wall, not the west wall. The job site foreman's response was "Too bad, I can't keep track of everyone's kitchen plans." He was planning on taking the entire week off and didn't care. Yossi (again) told him this was unacceptable, since the crew had the kitchen plans, BUT that Yossi would make sure the gas-line guy came out on Thursday and fixed it. The deal, however, was that since it was the Builder's crew who screwed up, the Builder would pay for it.

Gas-line guy comes and looks at the walls. The work involved is basically punching a hole in the wall and running a line from the gas on the east wall into the kitchen. It ultimately took less than 15 minutes and his assistant did most of the work. For this, he wanted 500 NIS.

"No way!" Yossi told him, having already told me to shut my mouth and say NOTHING in English. I think it was the quiestest 15 minutes in my life.

Bargaining went hot and heavy, with Yossi capping it off with, "Hey, I'm not paying this, the Builder is. Should I tell him you want 500 NIS?"

The gas-line guy works for this Builder all the time, installing the gas lines in all his projects.

"Okay, I'll settle for 300 NIS," he conceded.

Yossi doesn't waste a minute. He calls the Builder from the condo.

"300 shekals?!" the Builder roars. "Is he out of his mind? Pay him 200 and not an agurot more!"

Done for 200 NIS.

The Husband suspects that in the end, Yossi's knowledge of "the system" here and his fierce determination to make sure his olim family doesn't get taken advantage of, has probably saved us tens of thousands shekels in the myriad of small nickle-and-diming transactions that go into building a home here.

Thank G-d for Yossi!

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