Monday, May 25, 2009

Forgetting the Old Country

On Sunday was the Walk with Israel in Toronto. Two years ago I went myself with Channah because Rachel had a jewelry course. Channah was very upset because she thought it was the Walk to Israel. Last year we were able to go as a family again. The problems with the TTC and the special treat of no name brand warm water that ended Channah's desire to walk were memerable for the wrong reasons. It was weird as we were mostly sure that we would be making Aliyah although we still had a couple of 'if's on our plate.

This year while everyone was out walking I was at work and Channah was reaching the end of her day at gan. Rachel had spent the day with her parents in and around RBS. It is amazing how much better life is living in Israel, rather than walking through the streets of Toronto to think about it.

Last week my mom said that she was going out with friends to their favourite restaurant. Channah just assumed it was Burgers Bar. She refused to accept the concept that Toronto did not have a Burgers Bar and that it would not be someone's favourite restaurant.

Channah has spent something like 15% of her life as an Israeli citizen. She is becoming more and more Israeli everyday. It is amazing to see how she considers the culture she is surrounded by is the most natural thing in the entire world. I am so happy with the oppurtunities we can provide her with here that we would never be able to contemplate living in chutz l'aretz.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dira Chadasha

We got a call from the apartment we looked at this morning that they are thrilled to have us as new tenants :) Yay!

It is about a block and a half from here (for those who have been her in the building next to the makolet) a bit further from shul and gan, but we are talking a difference of 3-5 minutes here.

We are moving from red circle labeled OLD to red circle labeled NEW. I also marked in the gan, her school for Grade 1, and the shul. Deal v'zol (the makolet) is in the building right next to NEW marked with a 4.

Picture of the new building. Our apartment is marked with the red dot.

Last but certainly not least is the layout of the new place. You will notice that the studio is sort of hovering in mid air somewhere outside our mirpeset- it is actually a seperate room, with lighting and ventelation on the main floor. It will also have our pessach dishes and baby stuff that we brought with us.

Yes that is a walk in closet and built in linen closet.

Best of all, the people who are there now have been there happily for a number of years, and would be staying if they had not bought something nearby. They say the landlord is nice to deal with, fixes thigns when needed, and other than that is out of sight out of mind even though she only lives around the corner.

The kitchen is smaller than what we have now but much better laid out- way more storage! The sinks are the tiny ones so we might have to resort to doing the really big pasta pot in the bathroom, but overall it is a much better kitchen and includes a working built in oven and stove top (with all 4 elements working!) so we do not need to buy own own. Our fridge is so much smaller than the one currently in there though we will likely get a small rolling upright pantry to go beside it and use our current keter pantry else-ware (like maybe to hold the pessach dishes).

I think we will go ahead and get the new washing machine now that we know a little more of what we are looking at cost wise. We are also going to get ceiling fans for a few of the rooms- much cheaper to buy and have them shipped though than to get here so I need to talk to someone making aliya in July to see if we can have a bit of room on their lift. Hint hint. Nudge nudge. Wink wink.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Haircut :)

We decided it was time. She has been asking for a while so I did it this afternoon after gan. She thinks it looks like tinkerbell!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baruch dayan Ha'emet

To those who added Chaim Gad ben Chaya Clara to your tefillah and tehillim lists, the time has come to remove the name.

A more positive and upbeat person I never met. He brought joy and laughter with him everywhere he went.

My thoughts are with his his wife and the kids.

Doctor's vist (or thank you Lor for kicking me in the butt)

I have been procrastinating.

Ever since the first dust storm that we have I have had a hair trigger on coughing and wheezing. Add the night of a bazillion bonfires to that and you get a person with a chronic cough and a hair trigger. Bad combo.

So of course I procrastinated making an appointment because even at the best of time I procrastinate on doctors/dentist appointments. Lor finally kicked me in the butt enough times I had to make one just to get someone to take a look at the bruises she was leaving.

So I called to make an appointment (for some reason my online access code does not work).

Now, my Hebrew is decent. In some cases it can even be qualified as reasonably passibly fairly good. But for some reason I can only use it in person. I can not understand a thing people say to me on the phone. It is a nightmare! No matter how slowly I ask them to speak I jsut can not make out the words they are using.

So calling the maccabi line where they are fast, rude and not too interested was scary! I chickened out at least twice. They do technically have a "press 4 for English" option, but I never managed to find an English speaker. When I did finally manage to make an appointment, I realized I had no idea where to go!

So I did what I always do. I asked Lor. I think she should dress up as google next purim.

I waited outside room 6 for about an hour (doctor was running behind- I hear that is normal). chatted with some random strangers.

Once I finally got in it was quick, easy and I liked the doctor I saw. Way less scary than I imagined it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lag B'Omer

Massive, 2 story bonfire at the school near our house. Look at the height of the silhouettes in front of it for a size comparison! This picture was taken from at least 50 feet away- and Jason thinks it was even further!

We took the bus to the fire we were going to in the giva. It was funny, the driver was nto charging anyone becuase his machine was broken, but he was saying it was for the "yom chag". It was nice to see every single person who got on the bus get a nice little surprise. you saw them all look a little confused, then smile like they just won the lottery.

En route we got a great look at about 70 or so other fires (those are the ones that were visible, early in the evening, from the road. Some were enormous, some were tiny. One was a live tree stuffed with about a million palstic bags and set alite. Dangerous? Yes. Bad for the environment? Yes. Giving off so much heat our bus had to move into the other lane and we are roasted while we spend by? Yes. Amazingly cool to see? Hell yeah!

This was our "little" fire. It was "only" about 6 feet or so.

Jason with hot dogs

channah with hot dog

creepy picture of channnah with hot dog

there were also marshmellows but those did nto make it into the pictures. By the way, Israeli hotdogs are super-gross. I took one bite and let Channah have the rest of mine.

Everything and anything becomes kindling. Since pessach the park benches have been slowly stripped of their planks. Succah boards magicvally walk away. I do not tihnk there is any wood left in the entire country- no wonder wood furniture is so much more expensive- We need to start from scratch every year!

yes that is a chair
today we had no plans. Jason had to work, and Channah and I were thinking kiddie pool on the mirpeset. Then the noisy truck went by (not the standard kol bo tikunim noisy truck, this one was sponsored by a realtor and had a whole whackload of speaker strapped to the top). It was playing music and inviting all thek ids to a lag b'omer parade at a park nearby.

Channah and I decided to get dressed quickly and run over. we ran into a neighbour with a kid in channah's class who told us it is a huge thing here every year. I guestimate about 1000 kids. give or take 500. I am bad at estimating numbers like that.

Anyhow, it was a Chabad sponsored event. the kids were divided into groups of 20 or so kids and a "leader". they were chanting back and forth different psukim and nice thing. After about 20 minutes there was a giant yechi- but it was sort of too late to pull channah away. Today was a lesson in indoctrination that I will likely post about seperatly. The "parade" wound its way around the main circle in RBSA to a large park where there was an assembly sort of thing. There was supposed to be a migician as well, but as we had run out so fast we were not wearing hats or sunscreen and after being out for over 2 hours and there not being any shade frmo which you could see or hear, I made the executive decision that it was time to go.

channah in her plastic bag vest

some of the mascot things there were also shabbat candles, and a different syle of tzedakah box.

The tent at the park at the end. totally out of room by the tiem we got there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The hunt might be coming ot a close

We think we might have found an apartment. We like it, the rent seems right, the location is good. We just need a confirmation of terms for the rental from the owner (We spoke to the property manager) and we will know if it is a for sure go ahead.

Random updates

Ok, so I have been sort of letting my online communications lag. A good part of that is because I have nothing really to say- it is amazing how nice it can be to have NOTHING worth reporting going on for a little while.

Be that as it may, there are a few things to bring up to date.

First off, the apartment hunt is on and we are planning to stay in RBS. Basically, it comes down to the fact that we are just too darn lazy to uproot ourselves a year after we did it the last time. Fortunately it looks like we will be able to do quite well and stay within 2 blocks of where we are now.

Before anyone gets all up in arms about the landlord being insane, we did sign a contract with him stating he could theoretically do what he is doing. We did not know that A) the world economy would TANK, or that B) he would be so hard-nosed about something that just does not happen here anymore. It was a good place to be for a year, we have learned something from our mistakes about the value of not tieing ANYTHING to a foriegn currency in even the losest sense of the word and about last minute changes being thrown in and being scared to walk away, but Baruch Hashem the whole thing could have ended up a lot worse.

Truthfully the whole tihng might be a bracha in disguise. Better to find out sooner rather than later/if anything were to have gone wrong) what sort of person we are dealing with. At least now we have plenty of time to find something. It is also nice that this time we are local and know a little bit more about what we want and where we want to be so we are not pressured into something we do not need/want.

We are going to look at something tonight that is right near here, a 3 bedroom with a large storage space (We are currently in a 4 bedroom with no storage space). It is a little cheaper than what we are currently in, and as it is slightly smaller the property tax will also be a little lower. I would likely put my studio into the storage space, and although the balcony is going to be smaller we should be just as functional as we are now.

We would likely move during the fist 2 weeks of August and then have 2 weeks to make sure this place is return-ready. I guess I do not get the help of the Bubbie Brigade in cleaning out this year... thankfully with not nearly as much stuff, and not having been here nearly as long, it is not going to be a difficult move. I think our plan is to hire someone for the piano, fridge, washing machine, couch and beds and do the rest of it pretty much on our own.

In other news I turned 30 last week. Yes I feel old. Yes I know I am making my family feel really old. Oh well. To be fair, although 29 got off to a rough start it turned out ot be one of the best years ever- hopefully 30 will be even better.

I was sooooo homesick leading up to my birthday. The combination of not being with my extended family and having people here basically all but do nothing made me really lonely. B'H Jason (with Lorien and Avri's help) managed to pull oversized bunnies out of hats and turned it into a really nice day.

I got home to find a huge thing of baloons on my doorstep from my parents that thrilled me to no end. (Yes of course I got teary- this is me we are talking about!).

In other news,

I got an award!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oh my freaking gosh!

Holy hell. Was that considered normal for this time of year?

I have gotten used to being woken up by the wind. I have gotten used to laundry left out overnight being on the floor in the morning. I have gotten used to dust coming in through open window.

But bushes being ripped out of the ground? Laundry flying on it's own steam at least out of site (bye bye favourite black dress!). Not being able to go outside for being blasted with sand? Power outages across the entire country.

This is not normal. Is it?

I kept Channah home from gan today because I figured a day at home would not hurt her, but a day out just might!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yom HaAtzmaute

I know I should have posted on Yom HaAtzmaute sooner, but better late than never I guess.

To be honest, I was so incredibly homesick on Yom HaAtzmaute that I almost did not go anywhere. Believe it or not I was missing sitting at a program that I hated going to full of people I mostly did not want to see, making snarky comments with my sister.

But I went anyway. The tefillat chagigit at shul was really nice. Parts of tefillah were done to various traditional Israeli music, and we finished with tehillim to Hatikva.

Channah at Tefillah at shul. Yes our shul has plastic lawn chairs.

From there we walked up to one of the central streets in RBSA and around to a park not far from here. It was the gathering point for the "parade" to the "City-wide" (minus some flag burning nut jobs over in RBSB) tekes (ceremony).

After shul on our way to the "parade"

It was so old-worldy. People were there, alone and in families, with flags and torches. No, not candles. Torches. These things were like havdalah candles on steroids!

The parade

We walked from the park, across the centre of the top of RBSA and to the ulam sport (open air basket ball court and wannabe fitness centre). Once we got there we went up the stairs and into a "carnival". There was food and glowy toys and some giant inflatable kids jumping/climbing/bouncing things. We went into the seating area where there was a pretty good live band and people dancing. We were shocked to see so many normal looking people in RBS- there was even mixed seating! I know. We are all going to hell. Celebrating the medina with mixed seating and live music durring sefira. Oh well. At least I know I will have some nice looking company!

We spent the rest of the night chatting, hanging out, and enjoying ourselves. We stayed until 11 o'clock when there were some pretty nice fireworks, and then we walked home.

Not sure if all the people who read this blog know that apparently the English translation of "yom HaAtzmaute" is "Thou shalt cook cows over open coals to show thy loyalty to the blue and white".

I was even warned by one of the parents from Channah's class that I should know that picnicing without the "mangal" (coal bbq) does not count. Um, yeah. Sure.

So we went to friends in Tel Aviv for a bbq. We got a ride in with some new friends, and spent the afternoon with a really nice mixture of old and new. The kids watched a movie inside and some people started up a volley ball game. All in all it was a nice afternoon. It is funny, in non-election years it is the ONLY statutory holiday of the year, so everybody, I mean EVERYBODY is out bbq-ing with their families. There were wall to wall people along the sides of the roads trying to carve out a little piece of grass on which to mangal their food.

Someone else pointed out how different it is here. In Toronto, those of us who consider ourselves "staunch zionists" would go to great lengths to go to various tekesim and programs and rallys for Israel. Here it is more of a "woke up this morning. I did my bit".

I mean, do not get me wrong, Yom HaAtzmaute is a HUGE deal here. The kids start learning songs the day after pessach. Everything is covered in blue and white decorations. Every tzioni car has flags. It is unbelievable how into it everyone gets.

Anyhow, so that was our first Yom HaAtzmaute.