Monday, September 14, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #36 – Rosh Hashanah is coming, homework is not. Jets, ulpan, banking, swine flu and mai eden.

On the radio, DJ’s are counting down the last days of Taf Shin Samech Tet to the start of Taf Shin Eyin. And now, the top ten songs of Taf Shin Samech Tet…

Leek Edjeh – failure to fry in the frying kitchen
I never made leek edjeh (leek pancakes – like latkes) before but it wasn’t hard. It took a while, made a mess and most of my house has the lingering smell of frying leek. Bob mentioned that maybe if I would use the frying kitchen the smell would be contained… I asked him where the frying kitchen was? I only see a frying closet! There is now talk of installing an exhaust fan. The recipe yielded about 20 pancakes. I need closer to 40. Not wanting to lose my momentum (and not wanting to bring back the smell of frying leeks another day) I ran to the makolet for more leeks. I ran into some friends in the cookie aisle (see pics). I shared my observations with another American. Even as we giggled and laughed (check out the girl holding the cafe oleh), we're uncomfortable in the cookie aisle - in a way that only Amerikayim could be.

In the meantime Bob spoke with Asher’s rav. Each day Asher comes home with no homework. I find this odd. I think the teacher must be saying (as opposed to posting) the assignments and Ash is just missing it. As it turns out, Asher is a yeled tov maod (very good boy) but he is boring (pretty sure he meant bored) and the teacher isn’t giving him any of the homework because he thinks it will be too difficult. We’re going to start sending him with Hebrew workbooks and let the spoken Hebrew from the teacher sink into his brain via osmosis. Between that and a tutor we think he’ll catch it and become less boring.

You can take the Jets fan out of New York…
That large charge on the CapitolOne bill turned out to be the ridiculously large TV screen on which we’ve decided we will not sign up for TV. We use it for a computer monitor, to Skype, to watch videos (including a nostalgic season one of the Brady Bunch), and Bob has signed up for a Jets website that lets him watch games streaming live. There was a lot of anticipation yesterday. Bob announced in the morning he would be unavailable from 8pm. It took a while for the game to come on – seems they had some technical difficulty which was less painful to withstand once we got into a related chat room and found out all the subscribers were complaining of the same problem (the problem of ‘they took my money and now I can’t see the game!’). By 9 it was resolved and Bob watched his Jets in real time. On a really big screen. A real treat.

If it was good enough for Rabbi Akiva, how can I complain?
I registered for ulpan, was tested by reading a Sipor (story) about a fisherman (got through 2 lines) and placed into the equivalent of Keeta Aleph (first grade) – the beginner ulpan. No matter about my measured successes with Mai Eden, that I can fill gas and know how to turn down the attendant who is insisting I need all sorts of vital fluids for my car, that I can navigate through the makolet (getting the specials AND avoiding tashlumim), or that I can talk to an exterminator about nimalim ketanchikim (small ants). The first thing we learned today was about the extra season that exists in Israel. It’s called Acharey haHagim (after the holidays). Ulpan starts Acharey haHagim. We’ll find out which days it will be held Acharey haHagim. Any questions we have about uplan will be answered – you guessed it – Acharey haHagim.

After the ulpan registration I headed to the bank. There is one bank in all of Gush Etzion – located in the beautiful and sleepy town of Alon Shvut (exactly 3 minutes from Efrat). Technically it is located in the Mercaz Hayir – the city center – but that is a very relative term. Becky and I drove around for ten minutes (presumably in a circle) until we asked someone where the bank was (I have been to the bank 3 times prior and always seem to stumble upon it – you cannot access it from the road). Turns out we were right in front of it. But we needed to park and walk through a shady path to access the entrance. The lady at the bank was very helpful – walking me through ordering checkbooks (how many do I need? she thinks 2 is good), changing dollars to shekels (she thought maybe I have enough shekels and should leave some dollars), and depositing checks (she took the time to teach me how to write the deposit envelope myself so that I can save 7 shekels per transaction). Do you notice a theme? When Israelis help you they do it in a very nurturing and paternalistic way. When I was finished with all my bank business she wished me well, told me what a pretty house I live in (she used to live on my block) and reminded me where the bank deposit box in Efrat is so that I can deposit checks next to the makolet (now that I know how to fill out the deposit envelope). I hope I can remember – I truly don’t want to let her down!

First lines of an important email received today from school (compliments of Google Translator):
Blessing the you!
Re: how to wake pig influenza
Bob just got home from the health clinic via tremp. With antibiotics and an ambiguous diagnosis that ranges from the beginnings of a chest infection to possibly flu. Swine flu? Apparently there is only one type of flu available in Israel.

He may be down but he’s not out.
Bob tried using the hot water from the Shabbat hot water pot to make his coffee this morning. I had filled it with water from the Mai Eden machine. He threw it out when he saw pieces of limestone floating in the water. He is now on the phone with Mai Eden cancelling the water. He’s calling them on their bait and switch. ‘Lo rotzeh!’ (I don’t want!). They are giving the hard sell on the other end. He’s holding his own, demanding answers. We get one. Those free bottles of water they gave me along with a Mai Eden vase when we opened our account – yes those were ‘accidentally’ charged to our account. ‘NIMASLI!’ (I’m disgusted!) I feel like I am at the US Open. He’s on hold while they track down the English-speaking sales rep who opened our account – seems she’s the only one at Mai Eden who is authorized to close our account and will have to call us back. Within 48 hours. To be continued…


  1. Your husband sounds like a pretty smart guy. maybe you should listen to him about the frying kitchen and the mei eden -- paying for that extra water seems to be a waste since you get those bottles on sale all the time.


  2. I love to read all about your adventures...keep doing it.

  3. Lisa, dad and I are loving your blogs and we wish you,Robert,and all our grandchildren a very sweet New Year and much happiness in your new home. You're all, missed very much but we wish you much success with your new life.
    L'Shana Tova
    love and Hugs, mom and dad