Monday, August 24, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #18 – flying carpets, made in USA, keeping a low profile in the gush center

There’s a little boy who lives in the downstairs apartment in our house. He lives there with his mom and dad and there’s also a little baby. The loud crying kind. A few days ago the boy appeared in our garden. He speaks only Hebrew and he was saying something very excitedly about us not being allowed to play in the garden. The next day when I came downstairs he was in our living room. Bob had let him in and though the kids were preoccupied with their DS, he seemed very comfortable just wandering around. I asked him his name – Matan. Matan knocked on the door during Shabbat lunch. And he was here again this morning. Matan’s father does something with wood – I’m not sure if it’s his job or his hobby. Each evening his electric saw is going. Matan’s mother is busy with her baby. I hear my kids speaking with Matan. The older ones really speak with him – in Hebrew. Rosie tries her best. She tells him Ken (yes) and Lo (no) and today she busted out with Beseder! (okay).

So we live over Matan’s family and next door to us is a house under construction – a “shellet” in Hebrew. Since we live in the hills, the land for this house is below Matan’s house. This morning in a fit of unpacking enthusiasm we unpacked the area rugs for the kids’ rooms. Barbara’s from BJ’s – “it looks like a beach towel – it’s so small”, Rosie and Becky’s from Land’s End – big and luxurious and the envy of the rest of the family, and Asher’s from JC Penny on-line – a Yankee’s rug that surely was made in China, shipped to the Port of Newark, trucked to a JC Penny warehouse somewhere until my order at which time it was trucked to Brooklyn, then packed in my container and shipped from Bayonne to Israel. And if it didn’t smell when it left China, well then it picked up a smell somewhere along the way. So we hung it out on our side balcony – the one attached to the laundry room, over Matan's house, over the land with the shellet, the balcony with all the laundry lines and clothespins which I have used all of one time until today to air dry some shirts I had spot cleaned and then forgotten about for two weeks. It’s a wonder the wind did not blow them away.

So we left to the Gush Center to pick up some essentials (shower hose, hot water pot for Shabbat, hot plate for Shabbat, toaster oven) and to grab some essential ice cream and ice coffee. Every electric appliance we’ve purchased since we’ve been here has been “Gold Line” brand which boasts “AMERICAN - USA!” really big all over it. I have to check the box because I am so sure it is made in China. In 37 years of living in America and at least 11 of them spent buying appliances I never once came across Gold Line brand. Anyway, Bob has a funny ringtone on his phone for calls that come in from people his phone doesn’t recognize – it’s the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” song. And while we’re navigating the Gush Center, trying to keep our kids quiet, trying to decide on the appropriate size for a toaster oven (Gold Line makes 3 sizes) and trying to conduct a conversation a kindly gentleman has struck up with Bob about being new to Israel, Bob's phone rings. And it's really loud. “It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time. Where ya at? Where ya at? Where ya at? Where ya at? Peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat” and it’s as if we’re stuck inside a really loud skipping record in the Gush Center – for some reason the ringer isn’t stopping and everyone there is staring at Bob who is staring at the phone wondering who is calling him.

When we get home from the Gush Center the first thing Bob sees is that Asher’s area rug is no longer hanging from the laundry lines. Some investigation leads him to the adjoining lot which is below Matan’s house and seemingly unreachable from our property. He and Asher walk on the security road behind our house. Asher wondering all the while what will happen to them if the security cameras see them on the road. Will they be shot at? Will they get run over? Bob had to explain to him a little about the purpose of the security road. When they couldn’t access the lot they came back and tried from a neighbor’s back yard. They made a new friend but alas, no access to the resting spot of Asher’s fly-away carpet. When they returned home, Matan was out front and the kids explained to him, in Hebrew, about the flying carpet and about how it seems impossible to reach it. Each kid devised a plan to get the carpet but each plan was prefaced with “Aba - this will be risking your life but...” Ultimately it was Matan’s dad who climbed a seemingly un-climbable fence and rescued the Yankees from further disgrace.

We’re desperately trying to get to the north on Tuesday. We must first exchange the Ford Focus for our brand new Chevy Uplander(!!!!), then wait for the gas (balloon) technician to check my connections (Bob’s interpretation of this event – they come for money – he’s gearing up for a fight), then take Becky to meet her teachers at school for half an hour. Then get on the road. And we have no directions. Note to self: Get directions.

While most of Israel is getting in their last minute vacations and ultimately getting ready for school (which starts on September 1st), as the advertising specialists would have you believe, most of Jerusalem is counting down the minutes to GAP. That’s right. The GAP is opening its doors on Shopping Avenue (aka Mamilla Mall) this Tuesday. Will the goods come in at half price since we’re halfway to Asia and even closer to Pakistan? Doubtful but I’ll let you know.

It’s funny what catches on here and what doesn’t. To save my life I can’t find a case of Coca Cola in cans for Bob to drink. But I could buy a 5-pack of 1.5 liter bottles of – would you believe? – RC Cola. Next to the Tnuva dairy trucks, the Nestle NOK OUT trucks and the local tomato/cucumber/watermelon delivery trucks, I would say the RC Cola trucks are the most commonly sighted delivery trucks in all of Israel. RC Cola – go figure.

The Wii is hooked up. And so all of our addictions may now be fed. I left for a leisurely 1½ hour trip to the makolet – ALONE – wandering the aisles, making small talk with old friends (remember my tour guides to Ir David via Silwan?), learning new vocabulary (economica means bleach), and finding mother’s little helper (the six-pack of parve chocolate bars) on sale. I ran into a neighbor just back from America. She asked what I was making for dinner and then complained that all she’s been making is schnitzel tieraz (corn schnitzel) and cream cheese sandwiches. I suggested she add fish sticks and salami sandwiches to her repertoire and she’d be on par with the haute cuisine of our summer. When I returned I simply called up to the open attic window – “Anybody home?” and the rest of my family appeared in the window asking if I needed help from the car. Wii. Trying hard to find something good about the Wii. Bringing families together?

My dear friend Michele once corrected me when I said I hated something. It’s better to say “I don’t care for it,” she advised. I try to encourage my kids in this manner. Clearly I forgot about my husband and another dear friend. B’kitzur, Bob hates the fans, Natalie hated the cantaloupe pillar. I don't care for the Wii. But I still love my Maytag.

Enjoy some Peanut Butter Jelly Time:

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