Monday, August 17, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #12 – the lift, falling plaster, the problem with natural fertilizer, and some recycling fun

thinking about unpacking my lift alone, self-medicating with chocolate

my tatooed ethiopian moving men asked me where they could wash netilat yadaim before they ate their pizza. :)

Over the last week or so, our lift at sea has become a sort of mythical place. Asher dreams about his Wii floating around in the ocean, being guarded by sharks, safely inside the lift. Everything Becky can’t find since we moved from the first house to Zerubavel Rosie reassures her is “On the lift. In the ocean!” Where is my hat? My robe? My pillow? My this and my that? “On the lift. In the ocean!”

Exactly six weeks to the day from when we stood in front of our two-thirds full container lamenting how little Bounty we had bought and joking about living in the container itself if we really want to fit in (in the “shtokim”), a Russian driver and a crew of Ethiopian and Moroccan moving men pulled up with our much anticipated lift. The day went quickly with breaks for pizza, water and cigarettes. At one point there were Bob Marley tunes (funny – we had moved out to Bob Marley as well) and a lot of laughs – receiving your goods is so much better than sending them off. We opened the couches from Jennifer and wouldn’t you know it. They are the color of chocolate. There is not a camel in the universe that color. Is it a sign? Please, Gd, let there be more chocolate in my future than camels! We laughed about it because chocolate looks great with the new paint (although I am still not sure about the cantaloupe colored pillar in my living room) and because – really – what else is there to do but laugh? My friend ordered a cream chenille rocker to her lift and it showed up, here in Israel, in yellow corduroy.

Ceiling Fans – Wind at a Price.
I am now seeking refuge in the frying closet. And not because I have the overwhelming urge to fry. I simply want to be in a part of my house that is free of dust, dirt and chunks of plaster. Today, after four separate visits from the Sparkling Cleaning Service, including one after the landlord moved out, one after the painters finished, and one before the lift arrived (I am not even counting my own compulsive late night bleach spraying cleaning sprees), the ceiling fan installation crew hit my house like a ton of ‘blokim’ (cinderblocks). And unlike all the previous messes, this mess caught me off guard.

The houses are made of blokim. If you want to extend an electrical wire through a cement wall, there is going to be some damage to the wall and (make no mistake) most certainly, a dumping of plaster onto whatever surface is exposed. In my case that would be every bed, dresser, counter and half-unpacked moving box in each bedroom. Lucky for me, they did not finish in one day and they will return Tuesday to wreak havoc on my living room, dining room and kitchen. Bob is regretting the move to put in ceiling fans – I say we’ll be so happy one they’re in. The wind is one of the most amazing things about where we live. So many houses in Efrat do not even have air conditioning but rather rely on open windows and ceiling fans to bring in (and circulate!) the delicious wind from outside.

Is it a conspiracy or just fertilizing season? Why am I thinking about gas masks?
So the wind is always blowing in Efrat – more so later in the day – and with that wind comes the scent of lemon grass, rosemary, lavender, fig, olive and almond trees and everything else that grows in the valley below our house. Or so it’s been until yesterday. I awoke to the sound of a braying donkey. Not unusual. Arab farmers have little plots of land on the hills just below our house. They tend to the land as needed, often with a donkey in tow. But yesterdays “tending” seems to have left a scent of the donkey’s “business” blowing in the wind for the rest of the day and again today. Hmmm…..

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle – it comes naturally when you love the land.
In Brooklyn these were mostly buzzwords. My kids would come home from yeshivah, talking about saving the planet and recycling. Tonight, when Barbara looked out my window and saw that the garbage men had come and emptied the tank but left behind all the cardboard and boxes surrounding the tank she was shocked and mortified. “You mean the garbage men are just doing this for the money? Not to keep our land clean?” Then and there she announced her plans to pursue a career as a garbage lady in the aretz.

On the local chat list there are constantly posts by people giving away everything from old furniture and old books to broken appliances, closets, doors – really just anything you can imagine and everything that we would have not given a second thought to taking to the curb, back in New York. So when we started unpacking our lift Bob asked me to put up a post in case anyone needs boxes and packing paper. We have 100 of them, remember? We got responses from people who needed just that and the boxes have been disappearing from the front of our house at a steady pace!

When my landlord stopped in last week and saw us collecting water from a leaking pipe in the bathroom he made sure we were planning to use that water either for sponga or to water plants. We’d just had the ceiling fan guy over to give an estimate and we were flicking all the light switches on and off to see which controls what. Seems we left one light on. In the middle of the day. The landlord wanted to know why we had a light on in the middle of the day? We pay for the water and we pay for the electricity but the true Israeli mindset is one of conservation. Bob loves that and is striving to be Israeli in this way in particular. When the cleaning service had a bucket of used sponga water he was quick to tell them not to throw it out – we used it to sponga the front patio. We are re-filling our Rubbermaid water bottles, re-using bath towels and pajamas, hardly using paper towels at all, and saving uneaten bowls of (milk-less) Cini Mini’s for snack time.

In the middle of all the balagan (craziness) today, Bob went to pick up the kids from camp. He called to tell me some exciting news – something about a Mai Eden bottle he’d seen at the makolet to collect air conditioning water. “Huh?” I asked, but he had to hang up. When he came home, he took our empty 6 liter Mai Eden bottle, laid it down sideways in front of the house and then fed the air conditioning drainage tube into the mouth. In an hour’s time of using the air conditioning (yes, the air conditioning! The wind was blowing bad smells on a hot day!) he had enough clean water to water all the plants we have in the house (8 cacti plus several leafy plants). And there was no water pooling on the patio in front of our house. Two problems solved! He was so proud. I told him his inner Israeli was shining through.

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