Thursday, January 20, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #185 - problem with caffeine? there's a teepool for that

One of my favorite words in Hebrew is teepool. This one word can refer to any of the following SEVEN events, depending on context.
1. treatment
2. care
3. therapy
4. nursing
5. handling
6. attendance
7. maintenance
The occupational therapist cannot answer the phone if she’s in the middle of teepool. I cannot get my 10 shekel coffee if the coffee machine at the bakery is undergoing its (weekly? monthly? annual?) teepool. The car, the kids, dry skin, head lice, there’s basically a teepool for every one and every thing. Take Bob’s quarterly cleaning of the fish pond. Officially, it’s the fishpond teepool. But it’s so obviously therapeutic I think of it as Bob’s teepool.

In the meanwhile, I have signed up for ulpan, starting this Sunday. This is a different type of ulpan than before – we have an hour long conversation revolving around a specific theme. At the orientation it was a coffee shop dialogue. There was the ordering of the coffee complete with all the waiter questions (Do you have black coffee? Of course we have black coffee!) and the subsequent small talk while waiting for the coffee (How is work? Don’t ask! Carmella didn’t show up and all the work fell on me!)

Then we went around the table describing our current level of Hebrew. Each person admitted to knowing way more Hebrew than they are comfortable speaking. As it turns out, this is normal.

I, on the other hand, know very little Hebrew but shamelessly use all of it (the same 25 words) for every request, demand and esoteric thought. (Except for when I yoshevet (sit) instead of hoshevet (think).) In short, I characterized myself as a confident caveman.

One of my esoteric thoughts. On coffee...
I mentioned to someone in the health clinic once that there should really be a coffee bar in the waiting area. They looked at me like I was crazy. I probably did sound crazy since I was struggling to articulate this brainstorm in Hebrew.

But I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Both my desire for a coffee bar pretty much everywhere I go (the post office, the health clinic, my kids’ school lobby) and people’s reaction to my idea. American’s seem to be on board. Israelis, not so much. And then it hit me. This country operates from 8-4 as opposed to 9-5. Ganenets (nursery school teachers), shomrim (guards), housecleaners, and the nurses who draw blood start work at 7 or 7:30. They must get up at 5am! People here are accustomed to rising very extremely abnormally early.

My untested hypothesis is that the American’s living here are getting to their 8am appointments/jobs/errands by the skin of their teeth and most certainly skipping their morning coffee to do so while the Israelis arrive on time without angst and fully caffeinated from a carefully planned morning that started hours prior.

The drive to ulpan blee (without) caffeine
As I mentioned, it’s not always so easy to get a cup of coffee just when you want one and so this morning, I made my way to ulpan wishing I’d had just a few more minutes to run to the gas station where, reportedly, the coffee is tops! In a dreamy haze I noticed almond trees blossoming in time for Tu’b’Shvat, independent of the (lack of) rain. I passed dumpster after dumpster, each one being guarded by a stray animal that could have walked off a Disney movie set. Ironically, when I finally did get my coffee, hours later, and went to throw the empty cup in a seemingly unguarded parking lot dumpster, a fat cat jumped out at me and gave me a near heart attack. Note to self: an unguarded dumpster is a jump-out waiting to happen.

I'm thinking about rearranging my morning schedule to make time for the gas station coffee run. In the meanwhile, here’s hoping the teepool for caveman Hebrew is Ulpan.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #184 - I see Astroturf in my future

Transplant Shock
No, this is not what happened when I moved to Israel only to find that I have to drop off my own throat cultures, bag my own groceries, and plan my pharmacy shopping around ‘siesta’ hours.

Remember my fig tree? The one my father in law dreamt about and then had planted in my garden the very next day? Well it looked great while he was here. He told me to water it. A LOT. And then he left. I tried to remember to water it. It did get some water. But maybe not A LOT. And the leaves started falling off. Rapidly. And then there were no leaves. And then I was scared. Because I knew he’d be asking me about the fig tree. Had I killed it in just two weeks time? I called the gardener, nervous.
Not to worry! It sounds like transplant shock! You know, from the nursery to your garden. A little shock to the system.
Does a fig tree recover from ‘transplant shock’?
It should!
It better!
And what do you know, it surely did. The leaves came back, big and green.

Fast forward 4 months. We’ve had exactly one rainfall since we planted the fig tree but since it’s technically ‘winter’, we are no longer running the automatic sprinkler in the garden each day. And my fig leaves have turned yellow. A quick google search turned up more info on fig trees in winter than I knew what to do with but the bottom line is this:
Yellow leaves indicate too little water.
Water….hmmm…(brain cranking)

About a full year after reading this amazing post from Maya on how she saves water, I had a EUREKA moment. With the right equipment, I, TOO, CAN SAVE WATER!

If I keep one of these

in my shower, I can collect all the cold water that normally runs down the drain as I wait wait wait for my shower to heat up.

And with it, I can water my fig tree!

Next came a trip to the nursery. To buy the watering can, of course!

It’s not easy being green. Or is it?

The nursery had the most extensive collection of roll-out Astroturf I’ve ever seen. And what’s that name? Pashut Yirok? Easy Green! Of course!

We got our watering can and some flowers (no Astroturf) and made our way home. As Bob worked in the garden I went into the dairy kitchen to wash some dishes. I have a double sink and not so much counter space so I cover the second sink and use it as a surface. But once in a while I take off the cover if I have a lot of dishes to wash. But it must have been some while...
I pulled one of these beauties all the way out to see that it had sprouted from a renegade lentil. Then I pulled out the rest of them and gave them to Bob to plant. I wonder if they will suffer transplant shock. You know, from drain to garden.

Check out my new bathroom fixture!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #183 - We’re all getting so…Israeli.

It’s happening to 7 year old Becky now, too…
The new housekeeper made my room so…misadair!
Becky – how do you say misadair in English?
Um…cleaned and nice?
One word, Becks.

A few days later,
Mom, what’s that word for misadair again?


And yesterday, doing gymnastics in the living room.
Look Aba, I can do a tzvi!
Becky, what’s a tzvi ?
(A handstand with some leg movements, apparently)
Um…Barbara, how do you say tzvi in English?
Deer, Becky.
Aba, look, I can do a deer!

Rosie has used the word k’eelu maybe 3 times in the last 2 weeks.
From my previous post regarding the word k’eelu:
Do you, like, remember the way we used to, like, talk in
middle school? Sometimes there was, like, an extra word with no meaning? I’m not sure, but, like, I think k’eelu is the Hebrew equivalent. Sort of that and sort of ‘as if’. K’eelu.
Well, now here was my opportunity.
I could ask a real Israeli, who effortlessly uses the word k’eelu, what it really means.
Rosie, what is k’eelu?
You know, Ima. For fake.
I guess “as if” to a four year old is “for fake”.

Ulpan – Round 2. And a promotion. Grade 2.
I start my new ulpan tomorrow. A six week course that meets for an hour each day. I had to take a short quiz to see which group I belonged in. The questions went along the lines of:
Can you give directions? YES!
Can you order in a restaurant? TOTALLY! I can so do that!
Can you call Rami Levy when your grocery order has not arrived 6 hours after you left the store to inquire after your order? OMG! I rock at that!
But then when the Rami Levy lady starts telling you what actually happened to your order, do you hand the phone to your husband? Yep, that’s me.

My kids saw a photo of our Brooklyn house during the snowstorm. Asher asked me:
What’s that dancing rabbi van doing in front of our house?
That's a commercial van.
Just a regular van. No dancing rabbis.