Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow Alert!

Israel's meteorologists are on overdrive these days, forecasting a 2-day snow storm that is expected here in Jerusalem. The inclement weather, according to the Jerusalem Post is expected to begin already this evening with the weather plunging below freezing. And then, tomorrow evening, that's when the snow is supposed to begin and they're predicting it won't end until Thursday night. 

Well, that sounds like a lotta snow and we still have no heat. It's getting a bit cold in here and I don't know if my sneezing fits are because of the workmen's dust or an actual cold. Here's hoping it's the former and not the latter. Regardless, I'm actually missing my first day of school tomorrow to wait for the Electra repairman to come and fix the unit. If they don't come, I honestly don't know what to do with myself. We can't live in this apartment without heat if the snow is falling all around us. We'll just figure something else out then, we'll have no choice.

Pidgeon is all gung ho about the snow and he dug out his ski pants and ski gloves yesterday. We found his wool black hat and draped them over the chair in the living room. I took out my fleece Rangers sweatshirt, from my days working with the hockey team, and a brown Gap puffy vest that will give me plenty of range of motion to throw snowballs on my husband. I'm hoping we'll be able to find some sort of snowball fight in Jerusalem if there's enough of the gorgeous snow to actual pack and toss snowballs. I'm kicking myself for leaving my snow boots back in the States and already plan to pack them up the next time we're visiting the folks. These snow storms are rare occurances but they DO happen. It's great to know that, hopefully, one day our kids will experience snow. If not, we'll just have to pack them off to Switzerland for some skiing in the Winter. 

Do you remember Freezy Freaky's? I had a pair I absolutely LOVED and when it was still warm, would sometimes put the gloves in my folks freezer just so I can see them turn. I mentioned these fantastic childhood fashion items to Pidgeon and he had no idea what I was talking about. Poor guy, he missed out on Freezy Freaky's growing up in Israel! 

The contractor came back today to "finish the work" and then he disappeared. Bastard. I'm really losing my patience with him and I honestly just want all this work to be over and done with. I haven't had clean nails in over a month and I blame it on the work! Honestly, ever time I go to clean my nails, they just get dirty 15 minutes later. I miss being in a clean environment and it really bothers me when people come into the house and track boot prints of dirty all over my floors. If you ever plan to visit me folks, make sure you check your shoes at the door when the weather is gross outside. I don't need to follow you around the house with a smartoot to clean up after your mess. And don't think I won't either! Just ask my little sister, I once chased her around my Upper West Side apartment with a coaster (hey, all my furniture was wood!)

My neurotic tendencies aside, Pidgeon and I went to see Juno on Saturday night based on a friends recommendation and the movie was terrific! I really liked the music, always been a big fan of Belle & Sebastian and so I bought the soundtrack off of iTunes and then burnt a CD of the music for Pidgeon's car. I think he'll be happy with the surprise CD, and hopefully I'll get a chance to listen to the music the next time we take a ride together.

Yesterday was a pretty busy day as I spent almost 6 hours putting the clothing back into the closet. It was exhausting work but Pidgeon really helped me out, which was nice. My back was starting to really hurt by the 4th hour but I still had ALL of clothing to do, so I couldn't rest. I was pleased to see the floor in my room and the bed in Pidgeon's study emptying out. Slowly, the apartment is starting to look normal and I'm starting to feel a bit better.

I was settling under 2 layers of heavy blankets to watch a bad TV movie when my sister called to tell me that they bought a webcam. Well, we wanted to try to see if it could work, and I waited for Pidgeon to come home to try it out. It worked and it was so great! I haven't seen my niece and nephew since August, and they have changed so much in 6 months.  They're both 1 and 3, so my 1 year old nephew wasn't really interested in the faces on the screen. He was just so happy shoveling fists full of spaghetti into his mouth. My niece, on the other hand, was enthralled and slightly confused. She was happy when we read her a book and when we jumped together with her. And then, right when we started to sing them Happy Birthday, my nephew grabbed the pulka off of her plate and she we all started cracking up. It was 20 minutes of bliss together with the kids. Here's hoping modern technology will enable me to video chat with all my friends and family in the States.

Well, I'm off to kick some contractor butt now that he's back to do some more work. Will keep you all posted on the snow and I hope to send some pictures of the wonderous weather within 48 hours!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Videon Snobs

OK, so I'm a bit obsessed with the Heath Ledger story and have spent the majority of this morning surfing the various websites for more information. The latest news that the maid called Mary-Kate Olson for advice is ridiculous! The man was not breathing! You don't call a friend in California, you call 911. You know, even in celebrity PR, we learn that you have to trust your instinct and deal with a scandal later. I'd rather save a dying client and deal with the media fallout later, than try to protect a potential media frenzy by delaying a life saving procedure like dialing 911 to do something stupid like try to protect his privacy. And, had any one of my previous employers instructed me to do otherwise, I would have refused. I don't need something like than on my conscious.

It's interesting, but this part of the story reminded me of something I dealt with while in College. My boyfriend at the time and best friend were roommates in college and my best friend has epilepsy. Before they moved in together, my best friend's Mother told my ex that if he ever finds my BF in the middle of a seizure then he should call her first before calling for help. Sure enough, a few months into their semester, the ex came home late at night and found our BF in the middle of a seizure. He didn't call his mother but called for Hatzolah instead. Well, when our BF's Mom found out that the ex didn't call her first, she had an absolute shit fit. Bottom line, I told the ex he did the right thing. What the hell would his Mother have done 45 minutes away by car when the BF needed immediate medical attention? Nothing. Sometimes, people are so scared about the reputation or fallout from these types of experiences, that they make bad choices. My BF's Mother's request, from the beginning, was absolutely ridiculous. She was hoping to protect her son from having people discover his condition (which he is able to control with medication, so that it's not really public knowledge) and in the end, she neglected his basic need for emergency medical care. Fortunately, my BF is healthy, married and no longer my BF (I blame his wife, she never liked me, but that's a blog posting for another time). As for the ex, well, he's an ex for a reason. Nuff said.

Yesterday, an angel named Ellen came to our apartment and did the most incredible cleaning job EVER! I love her. I told Pidgeon all day how much I love her, she did such an amazing job. Granted, she was here for 6 hours (and that cost us a pretty penny) but it was well worth it. You wouldn't know there was work done in this apartment, she was that thorough. I need her to come back next week to help finish up the rest of the apartment, and I'm really looking forward to that. We still don't have any heat in the apartment, and our upstairs neighbor is dicking us around so I'm pissed. We need her to let in our workers because half of the unit is up on the roof and is only accessible through her apartment. I left two messages asking to organize a time, and have yet to hear back from her. I left her another message last night, trying to appeal to her human side, and explaining that we are freezing in the apartment without any heat. No response. We had scheduled the workers to come this afternoon and now I'm going to have to cancel and once again, Pidgeon and I won't have heat for another night in the apartment. It's a really crappy situation to be in, but it's our reality. If she doesn't get back to me soon, I'm gonna find a locksmith to break into her apartment. Seriously. It's ridiculous at this point!

So, with no heat in the apartment, Pidgeon and I went out to eat again last night. This time, we went to Marvad Haksamim on Emek. It's a GREAT little restaurant that has some great Yemenite/Israeli food. We split a hummus with meat (yummy) and a Saloof (I think that's what the bread is called, it was great and spongy), then Pidgeon got the chicken shishlik with rice and beans and green beans. I got the chicken nuggets, french fries and green beans. The green beans were so salty, I took a pass on them, and then we both did something amazing. We didn't clean our plates and were able to bring back leftovers that will be another meal for us today. I sent Pidgeon to school with his leftovers today since he will be class from 10:00 - 4:30 and I plan on finishing my food for lunch. That is, if I ever get out of bed today. We have a mini heater in the apartment and it's on in this bedroom and keeping me warm. The rest of the house is absolutely frigid so I'm trying to stay in the areas of the house I can keep nice and toasty. 

We also stopped by the Video store on Emek to drop off the movies we took out last Saturday night. Well, with the Oscar nominations recently announced, Pidgeon had a great idea that they already do back home at Blockbusters. He suggested to the woman behind the counter that they could set up an area with all the Oscar nominated films. We were looking for the Israeli film Bafour, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, and thought it would be great idea if everything nominated would be in one area. Well, this snobby woman responded indignantly that she absolutely HATES any Oscar films because they are the worst movies ever. I laughed as we walked out of the store. Interesting perspective from the adult working behind the counter of a video store. Everyone's gotta opinion in life; I thought Pidgeon had an excellent suggestion.

Meanwhile, Pidgeon has to hand in a final project next week and is waiting on an upholsteror to get in touch about building the chair he designed. I think the chair is very cool and it's really the ultimate TV watching chair. I begged him to had the upholsteror make a real-sized model so we could put it in our living room. That would be so cool! I'll take a picture of the model next week so you can see the brilliant mind of my hubby.

Well, I think it's time I actually get myself up and out of bed. It's cold in the apartment, but I still have a lot to do today. Here's hoping my neighbor will stop being a bitch and help us out! My skin is so dry from the cold that it's literally flaking off!



Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger - A Tribute

I awoke this morning to the shocking news that Heath Ledger has died, at the tender age of 28. According to police reports, he was found by his housekeeper, naked and dead in the Soho apartment he was renting.  An empty prescription bottle of sleeping pills was apparently also found near his body, although family and friends are refusing to believe it could have been a suicide attempt. I worked with many celebrities back in my NYC life, but unfortunately never had the opportunity to work with Heath Ledger. I thought he was an extremely talented actor, absolutely loved his performances in both Brokeback Mountain and Monster's Ball, and I cannot deny just how enjoyable he was in 10 Things I Hate About You. In his memory, I fess up to liking that teen chick-flick. I feel for his daughter, Matilda, who is only 2 years old and will probably never remember him. At least, for her sake, there are enough cyberspace photos of the two of them together so she will have something to remember him by. Pidgeon and I were always planning on going to see the new Batman movie, set to open this summer. Now, even more so, we are looking forward to watching him play The Joker, which is perhaps his last role he ever filmed. The above photo is a still for his recent movie, Candy, I thought it was extremely poignant picture to remember him by.

On to brighter things - like living life!
Pidgeon and I moved back into the apartment yesterday and braved the cold (we still don't have a working heater) for the comforts of home. The house was a wreck, full of dirt and dust and pieces of stone, that rendered the living room area completely uninhabitable. With the rain falling outside, we decided to order in dinner, and just sat on our bed and watched the last episode of Heroes. We ordered from Yoja, and it's probably one of my favorite restaurants on Emek! We split 4 beef dim sums and 4 satay's, Pidgeon had the Hot and Sour soup and then we ended up swapping our mains as mine wasn't sweet enough and Pidgeon's was too sweet. I ended up with the Goya and Pidgeon enjoyed the Pad Thai. Yum! I used this Oriental tray that we got from Pidgeon's Grandparents so he could eat comfortably, and I spread a towel out in front of myself so I could dig in. I'm usually very against eating in bed, but when you have no other choice, you just deal with what you can deal with. At this very moment, Ellen our new cleaning lady, is scouring the kitchen/dining room/living room area. I asked her to clean what she can see today, and will hopefully move everything back into the Mamad from the other bedrooms so we can clean the other rooms next week. I'm hopeful that life will be getting back to normal before I start school next week!

We spent the past two days at Pidgeon's parents house, so he could heel in comfort. He was a very good patient, and really didn't make too many demands on me, although I was very happy to do whatever I could to help. The first night, I kept waking up thinking that he was moaning from pain, and so I would wake him to see what was wrong and it turned out to be nothing. I think that's why he slept until Noon on Monday. He's starting to get some range of motion back into his shoulder, but it's going to be a while before he feels 100%. I made sure there was plenty of ice cream in the apartment and served him as much comfort food as I possibly could. 

On Monday morning, I left Pidgeon for a few hours, and met his Aunt at Shuk Ramla. This is an outdoor market in the Talpiot area, right on Pierre Koenig Street and off of Rivka, that has some very interesting items. I tend to over do it at the Shuk, so we put myself on a 70 shekel budget and I was off. I took the car and parked by our apartment and then walked to meet his Aunt. She warned me right away of the rampant pickpocketers in the Shuk, and so I shoved my meaty upperarms into the tight handles of my hand bag and tried to keep my valuables close to me. At one both, this old woman stumbled into me and grabbed my back really hard. Immediately, after I yelped in pain and she apologized for falling, Pidgeon's Aunt told me to check my valuables as that's the MO of many of the pickpocketers. Fortunately for me, all was there, but I was extra vigilant moving forward. Personally, I'm not a fan of the Shuk, as I can't stand the overcrowding, the pushing, the thick cloud of smoke that hangs over ever area, and the filth. But, they did seem to have a number of "good" items for much cheaper. I decided not to tell Pidgeon's Aunt that I wouldn't buy clothing there. I also haven't bought clothing in Israel, period. I find that a lot of the material just isn't very durable, and so I'm keeping to wearing what I already own. Although, my JCrew long-sleeve t-shirts have taken quite a beating and I definitely need some more ASAP! 

So, are you wondering what I spent with my 70 shekel? I bought (at the insistence of Pidgeon's Aunt who kept yelling at me to go ahead and treat myself) a pair of Dolce and Gabbana underware (I don't think they fit and haven't tried them on). That cost 10 shekel. For 3 shekel, I bought Pidgeon black Kippa clips as he ran out of his old kinds. Of course, now he tells me that the bobby pins I gave him a few weeks ago were much better, so these we'll just have to put away for a rainy day. For 30 shekel, I picked up a copy of the Hebrew version of Erik Carlisle's children's book The Catepillar. My niece loves that book in English, so we bought one for her birthday in Hebrew and sent it home with my folks. I'm hoping that now we both have the book in Hebrew, we can do a webcam book reading with her. The leaves me with a couple more shekel to go. And, for 30 more shekel, I bought 2 sponge baskets that suction into the sink. I hate that I have no where to put my sponges and they get filthy if I leave them on the counter. This way, I can put them in the sink and they can stay cleaner longer! There you go - I overspent by only 3 shekel and it was well worth the trip. That being said, I don't think I'll be going back there once a week. It's just too much for me. Although, it's good to know I can get other items like children's toys and house decorations, on the cheap.

We stayed up pretty late and watched the Christian Slater indie flick The Quiet Man, which we both really enjoyed. And then, it was off to bed. Pidgeon was in more pain so he took some Advil's, but we both slept very well. 

Yesterday, we spent the morning sleeping in and just cleaning up. Pidgeon was finally able to shower and I got a good look at his wound. It's a little bruised and swollen, as the surgeon predicted, but looks like it's on the mend. This morning, the swelling had gone down significantly, which was great to see.

With Pidgeon on the mend, and the work in the apartment coming to an end, I'm finally able to think about school. My new schedule sucks but once again, I have no control over the system. My first semester starts on Sunday and goes until April 11th (Pidgeon's birthday). Then, we have a break until May 18th until second semester. During that time, there are exams for classes that have exams. Fortunately, my classes this semester are all paper courses, which makes me very happy. The second semester goes from May 18th through July 31st. And that is really, really crappy as the weather in Bar Ilan from May until October is absolutely sweltering! It's going to be hot, hot, hot! Oh well, hopefully I'll be able to stay cool and just suck it up for the one day a week I have to be in school.

Well, it looks like I better get started on my readings. I have a huge reading list for my Holocaust Literature course and I managed to get my hands on the Nicole Krauss book Man Walks Into a Room. Hopefully, that will be a decent read.

Till tomorrow!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Patient Zero

Pidgeon named today's blog entry as it's all about him. This afternoon, Pidgeon had a surgical procedure to remove a lump on his shoulder. We had been calling it his second head  for a few weeks now, and we were both very happy when it was finally taken out.

The morning was very stressful, with the build up and anticipation of the procedure. Pidgeon and I picked up breakfast at Aroma and came back to the house so he could shower. We picked clothing that were buttoned up or zippered so that it would be easy to get in and out of it, and Pidgeon got dressed and ready to go with 30 minutes before the schedule date. I drove us to the hospital and we went to the recovery room where they checked Pidgeon in, took his stats, weighed him, and gave him a gown to change into. We were then escorted to a room where Pidgeon changed and we waited for the surgeon.

All around us, in curtained off areas, were other people recovering for their procedures. The gentelmen right next to us kept moaning, and I was worried that Pidgeon would get nervous from his pain, so I tried to distract him. We talked about the movies and ice cream we bought on Saturday night, in preparation for his recovery, and Pidgeon just laid back and held my hand, and we chatted. The surgeon finally came by and did the final check, looked at the lump, felt around, and then discussed how long the procedure was going to last. Since Pidgeon was only going with a local, no sedation necessary for my guy, he was allowed to keep his shoes on with these blue booties on top. I helped him with his hair net and even joked we should pocket some to take home while preparing food in the kitchen, and before we knew it the nurse came by to get him.

He was a male nurse and said to Pidgeon he was going to be his "Ach" for the day. Ach, in Hebrew, also means brother and Pidgeon remarked that his brother looks totally different from you, but it's nice to have a new one. I gave him a hug and a kiss, and then his new Ach took him away for surgery.

The next 30 minutes were absolutely grueling, and I've never felt this way in my entire life. The anxiety stretched like a band across my chest and I did the best I could to keep my breathing under control. I said my Tehilim, but I couldn't really concentrate after a few perakim, and so I took out Pidgeon's hand held computer and played a few games of Solitare. That didn't calm me down either and so, for 20 minutes, I just stared out of the crack on the curtain by the bed and waited for Pidgeon to come walking back through the door - post-procedure. Every time the doors opened, my heart skipped a beat and I got excited thinking it was him, but when it turned out to be someone else it just made me really scared and sad. I kept imagining that he was awake on the table, and scared and in pain and lonely, and the not knowing what was going on was the hardest part. I would have given away my entire life's savings if the surgeon would have let me in the room during the surgery, just so I could hold his hand. I just wanted to hold his hand.

Meanwhile, the room started to stink as more and more people in recovery were farting away. It was loud and smelly and almost comical if I wasn't so scared about Pidgeon. And finally, in walked the surgeon with Pidgeon's lump - all white and pink and peach - floating in a bottle that will be sent to pathology. A few minutes later, Pidgeon came walking in with a female nurse, and I felt the same way I did when he came to our badeken 5 months ago this past Saturday.  Thrilled that he came for me, love because I care about him so much, and scared shitless that I have this man in my life that I cannot ever imagine losing. 

I helped him get dressed and, after resting for a bit, we walked out together. I drove us back to his folks house and we have been resting ever since. Pidgeon indulged in some comfort food - the ice cream we got at Aldo/Max Brenner's, some chocolates and a big bowl of left over meat and barley soup. We watched Season 2 episodes of Heroes, this great movie with Christian Slater called The Quiet Man and some news. Fortunately, he isn't in any pain yet, but I have a huge bottle of Advil next to the bed just in case something happens in the middle of the night. Here's hoping tomorrow will be a much better and brighter day.

And here's wishing my Pidgeon a Refuah Shelaymah! May he never have to go through something like this every again.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I set my mother-in-law's kitchen on fire last night. 

More on that in a minute.

Pidgeon and I had the most exhausting day yesterday and it started off with an early morning blood test at Wolfson center. The alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. and I jumped out of bed, got Pidgeon moving, and we were underway a few minutes later. Of course, they had some issues finding my veins (happens all the time) but she was quick so we were able to get in and out of there in no time. Since the workers moved our entire living/dining/kitchen into the spare bedroom, we had no place to go and eat breakfast. We decided to stop off at Aroma and eat a quick sandwhich. We had to be back at the apartment, though, to meet with the AC repair guy about the central heat/AC that went on Wednesday night. I was in pretty good spirits when we drove back, a little tired, but still in good spirits.

And then, when Pidgeon parked the car, I got out and literally stepped full on into a pile of dog shit. Pidgeon tried to warm me - yelling watch out but it was too late. I stepped and I stepped with authority, so the shit was all up in the crevices. Needless to say, I threw a bit of a fit outside the apartment and then walked shoeless upstairs. The workers ALL wanted to chat, but I was still having my fit, until the contractor took my shoe and cleaned it off for me. That made me feel a bit better, although I did spend another 30 minutes with Qtips trying to get all the crap off the shoe. I was in a lousy mood for the rest of the morning.

We left at 3:30 p.m. to get haircuts, since we are both very shaggy and dirty individuals. I haven't had a hair cut in 4 months and it was way overdue. We went to Tzvi Michaeli's on Marcus Street and he did a pretty decent job with the haircut, but with all this dry weather, I had no idea that I was going to be the poster child for Static Cling! I kid you  not, I was like the Bride of Frankenstein doing a kids school experiment. Just without the balloon. We went straight to the SuperSol in Talpiot to pick up food for Shabbos and Pidgeon was having a little too much fun with my staticky hair. If you raised a hand near my hair, the strands would just rise and levitate. It was annoying when my bangs wouldn't get off my face, but we did our shopping and raced home to pack.

We moved into Pidgeon's parents house since they are away for Shabbos, and I immediately got to cooking. Probably NOT the best of ideas since I was super tired at this point, but I wanted to get some stuff going. Pidgeon abandoned me to chill out and relax, but Pidgeon's cousin came over so I had someone to talk to. 

And that's when I set the pan on fire. I still have NO idea how the whole thing happened but one minute, I am sauteing potatoes in the pan and then next it's going all flambe' on me. Fortunately, I was very calm, and just took the pan off the fire. It quickly went out with a few shakes. I mean, I have my mother-in-law issues just like everyone else, but I certainly didn't want to burn her kitchen down. Pidgeon's cousin promised to keep the incident a secret, so that's a relief, and I was able to continue cooking food for Shabbos.

I thought we were going to be a lot more people, so I ended up overcooking today. I'm still in the kitchen, been here since 10:00 a.m., and I am finally almost done. The shnitzel is baking nicely, the roasted vegetables are cooling and the onion soup for tonight is still bubbling. Pidgeon left to do some work, so I'm alone in the house, and it's really weird cooking in my in-laws kitchen. It's just this entirely unfamiliar experience, complete with cooking utensils I'm not used to handling and a gas range as opposed to my great electric unit at home. 

BTW - it looks like this Professor strike is finally over and for the first time in 7 months, I'm going to be back in school this week! Too bad I'm really not looking forward to it, especially since the house is in shambled. 

And, it looks like this cold snap won't be breaking anytime soon and my skin is about to flake off. It's so dry the everything is in need of moisture. I'm just hoping my nose doesn't start bleeding in the middle of the night, we're sleeping on white sheets!

Wishing everyone a very good, and warm, Shabbos!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Frigid Comedy

You know how cold it is in Jerusalem? So cold, that I'm sitting here and contemplating putting on a pair of tights underneath my jeans. Last night, Pidgeon and I had experiences that will go down in our personal history. Stories we will hopefully tell our children one day - about how Mommy and Daddy dealt with construction during their first year of marriage. 

I haven't left the apartment in 2 days, and I'm looking forward to finally getting out of here for an appointment today. I am getting a little ancy, although I did manage to watch the entire 3rd season of Weeds so I feel a little sense of accomplishment. The house is a wreck but I got over than 2 days ago, what I didn't get over was what happened last night.

First, we needed to have the Treissim guy come and fix the same @#$*$%^ tris that just keeps on breaking. He was coming at 7:00 p.m. Beforehand, I had to wait for the dry cleaners, who was delivering 4 bags of moldy clothing back to us. Fortunately, he was able to clean and get all the mold off. Unfortunately, it cost more than 500 shekel to do. At least I didn't have to throw anything out! My moldy shoes, on the other hand, are a different story. I was annoyed with the cleaners because he made me come downstairs to pick up the clothing. It was heavy and I stepped on the bags a few times. Fortunately, I didn't get any dust on anything but the bags. The tris guy showed up and was very thorough,  but he kept all the doors open and the freezing cold air just poured right in.

So, right after he left, I decided to put on the heat and warm the place up. Since no more workers would be around for the night, I felt this was a good opportunity to get the place in shape before Pidgeon came home. I also needed to do a load of laundry, cause we've been recycling the same clothing for a few days now and I was short on under garments. 

And then the pop heard round the neighborhood as my heating system blew. I went to the fuse box and sure enough, the switch was down. So, I tried putting it back up and it threw some sparks. I called Pidgeon in a crying panic and then called my folks. Everything is just falling a part.

Pidgeon rushed home to help out and the electrician paid us an emergency visit. He told us it wasn't an electrical issue and we needed to get someone in to check out the unit. Pidgeon ran out to pick us up a portable room heater and I tried to figure out what's for dinner. He offered to pick us up some food, but I didn't want to eat out anymore so I decided to make my version of a deconstructed tuna casserole. I cooked up whole wheat penne, steamed broccoli, opened up a can of tuna in water, mixed 1 can of mushroom soup with 1 can of skim milk and then crushed potato chips over the big bowl. This was dinner (and, I ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning). Not that nutritious since we ate a heck of a lot of it, but still much better than eating out at a restaurant that pours salt all over their food.

Just when we thought nothing else could happen, Pidgeon decided to help out and wash the dishes and somehow managed to break a really nice bottle (for olive oil, part of a set of olive oil and vinegar that we got as a wedding gift) right behind the fridge. Fortunately for us, the bottle was completely empty. Unfortunately, we now only have 1 part of the set and it just doesn't really work as well alone. Then, I accidentally sliced my finger open on the jagged edge of another wedding present that I broke. Somehow, one handle on the soup tourrene we got from our Tel Aviv friends completely broke off and I want to try to return it as I didn't do anything but reach down to pick it up. I kept it on the counter but didn't think it would be detrimental to me, until I sliced my finger. Pidgeon rushed around trying to get me to put on a bandaid as the blood just dripping all over.

We started laughing at this point, until we decided to go to bed and move the new heating unit to the bedroom. We plugged it in, put it on, and out went the lights. It blew the lights not once -  but twice -  until we figured out that no other lights in our house could be lit while running this unit. This morning, our contractor told us that the unit was too powerful for the power in the apartment. Crap. We can't return it and what the heck are we going to do now? I guess we'll just have to figure something out. 

Well, I've been scouring the net for new cake recipes. I don't have a cook cake recipe that's pareve that's also NOT chocolate, and so I'm trying to find something good that works for me. Too bad all of Paula Deen's cake recipes are Milchig. Sometimes, it would be nice to a piece of sour cream cake with buttercream frosting. That just sounds yummmmmy!

I'm off to scour sites like Food Network, Epicurious and BakingBites for a great cake recipe!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Under Siege - Day 3

It's day three of Operation Mold Removal here at Jtownunderground's apartment and I've eaten plaster already twice. And, let me tell ya, it wasn't tasty. The apartment is such a wreck, it's a miracle I still have this one swatch of bed to sit on and type. Every room is filled with either our stuff or stuff the contractor brought in. There is dirt and plaster pieces on the floor of every room, and they are using two brooms to try to keep the mess at bay (it's not working). Progress is going well though, and I'm waiting for the workmen to return to get started on the master bathroom. They have a lot to fix in there and Pidgeon and I are looking forward to our weekend retreat away from our construction site.

Since we're basically under siege, and my kitchen is all cluttered and messy, we've taken to eating out. On Sunday afternoon, we had brunch at Caffit and I ordered the sweet potato and leek quiche. I asked the waiter if it was good and he insisted it was delicious. Unfortunately, when it arrived, I found it tasteless and mushy and so I basically left it untouched. We had ordered onion soup to start and I filled up on bread, so I decided not to send it back to the kitchen. Also, our waiter never once showed up between leaving us our food and bringing us the check, so I didn't even have the option to send it back. Now, I was okay with paying for it and just chalking it up to a bad order, when the manager came over and basically chastised me for not saying anything. She insisted that, had I said something, they could have replaced it with something else. I told her not to worry about it and then Pidgeon and I left to get the rest of our day going. I was annoyed with the way she addressed me and, I could have said something snide about the lack of service in the restaurant,  but I usually am happy with the food. We will certainly go back there to dine, I just don't know if I'll order something I'm not already familiar with.

Meanwhile, last night, the family went out to Buffalo Steakhouse for a mini celebration. It took us over an hour to get our main courses and I ordered the hamburger since the thought of eating another steak just didn't appeal to me. I wanted some beef, just not that much! Well, I didn't tell them not to bring me a bun because, up until the moment I got my plate, I thought I would eat the bread. However, since it took so long to get our meal, I had filled up on diet coke and the french fries and onion rings that were going around the table. When the waiter came back to remove my plate, he asked me why I didn't eat the bread, and I told him that I just wasn't in the mood. He then chastised me for not ordering initially without the bread and I said - stupidly - that I didn't think I could do that. He got all snobby and responded that "anything can be done". Bitch.  I didn't eat all my french fries either, should I have not ordered that too? I also didn't lick my plate clean, is that offensive? I'm sorry I wasted the food but isn't it my right as the customer to order as I please and eat what I want? I'm getting a little tired with the attitude of the wait staff at these establishments on Emek. The more they bug me, the less I'm inclined to eat out. And folks, I'm quite a big eater, so that's just bad business practices. 

I'm trying to adopt a new policy of not complaining to Pidgeon about his family, as I don't think it helps him one bit. Sometimes it's difficult and I slip, but for the most part I think he knows that I'm trying. Well, at dinner last night, his sister said something completely inappropriate and I was livid. This came after the fact that, when she was organizing this shindig and she told us it was called for 6, she neglected to inform us of the 2 hour time change and come 6:30, both Pidgeon and I were starving and wondering what was going on. I was upset that she dissed us in that fashion, but since Pidgeon was even more pissed, I decided to control my tongue. Pidgeon and his sister have a difficult history and, as of late, he has been making a tremendous effort to change their relationship. Since we're all adults now, it's in the best interest of the family for them to get along since we all get together so often. But what should he do when he takes 2 steps forward and she takes 2 steps back? I bit my tongue last night after her rude comment, but all I wanted to do was ask her if she heard herself speak. I honestly don't think she realizes what she says sometimes - and she can say some mean, spiteful and obnoxious things. Pidgeon is reconsidering whether or not to make an effort anymore, I think he should just point out these problems to her and see what she has to say. Either way, I have to stay out of it because this is his family, even though it kills me inside to see him try and constantly get rebuffed and hurt. 

I'm excited because we're planning our trip to the States! I can't WAIT to get back to the family and we're hoping to go in the Spring so we can have some good weather. My Mom offered to fly us in, if we paid for everything else while we're there. Since we want to do some East Coast traveling to visit the rest of the family, that could get a little pricey, but it's well worth it. I have no idea how often I'll be able to get into the States, so this could be a great opportunity for us. Pidgeon needs to get clearance from his advisors and I need to consult with my thesis advisor and then we can book some tickets. Woohoo!  The Big Apple - I'm a coming back to see ya!

Pidgeon and I are getting away for Shabbos, but I still have to cook and it looks like I'll also be cooking for some other folks as well. I'm looking forward to mixing things up and so I'm trying to figure out a good Shabbos menu for everyone. I have such issues with chicken on Shabbos day and since I can't use any sauce, it gets boring just breading and frying/baking cutlets. But, I'm hoping to supplement with some interesting side dishes, so it should work out ok. 

Well, the workers came back so I'm off to go "supervise" once more. Not much left for me to do, but I think my presence is good enough. Here's hoping I don't eat anymore plaster.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Lamed Hey

Today has been an extremely cold and emotional day. Pidgeon and I attended the Azkarah for The Lamed Hey, a group of 35 men who were brutally murdered while on a mission to bring supplies to the isolated Etzion Block during the War for Independence. Pidgeon's Great Uncle was a member of The Lamed Hey, and so each year family members attend the special ceremony graveside at Har Herzl. This year was my first in attendance, and it was extremely moving and very sad. There were many family members and friends of The Lamed Hey, and we listened to emotionally charged speeches by a Former President of Israel, the Army Chazan and family members. I didn't dress appropriately for standing an hour outside on the mountain, and by the time Pidgeon and I trekked back to the parking lot, my toes were numb and icy. We ended up going out for breakfast to try to warm up, as our apartment has been overrun by workmen.

We got a 7:45 a.m. wake up call from our contractor today, who was enroute with the workers coming to solve our mold problems. To say the apartment is a mess would be an understatement. Every room is a mess, and either covered in dust/plaster/dirt or hidden under mounds of clothing. There are 10 dirty footprints in our bathroom, and I'm surprised and there is no reason they should even be in here yet. They aren't supposed to fix the master bathroom until tomorrow. I'm trying to take it all in stride and not freak out too much, but it's difficult for me to live in such disarray. Plus, the clean up process is going to be long and hard, and I will probably have to go at it alone. I'm certainly not looking forward to that either. We were told to expect a few weeks worth of early morning wake up calls.

Last night, pidgeon and I went to a Bar Mitzvah in Rishpon. This is like Israel's version of a podunck town. It's literally in the middle of nothing, and seems that the only store on their Main Street is a flower shop. The party was out at Gan Tapuz, which is apparently a very famour and popular event hall in the area. The place itself was beautiful, and I could imagine some exquisite weddings taking place in the Springtime. They tried to warm the room up with these jumbo heaters that looks like airplane engines and I would have stood directly in front of one if I didn't think it would blow up my skirt. By the end of the evening, Pidgeon and I couldn't feel our feet. I think that explains why I came down with a cold today.

So, I was surprised at this Bar Mitzvah because we were put on a table that 1) didn't have seats for us (we arrived later because it was a long drive with traffic from Jerusalem) and 2) didn't have anyone we knew on it. Now, we only knew 1 other couple and another gentelmen, but still. Why didn't our hostess put us on the table with people we knew? I felt like such an idiot asking everyone at our table if they were at the right table since there weren't enough seats. Meanwhile, my friend saved a place setting and seats for us on her table, assuming that's where we were supposed to be. I didn't say anything to the hostess after Pidgeon and I relocated ourselves, but it appeared she wasn't too thrilled with my move. I will explain to her at a later time that we moved ourselves because it was much easier than trying to jostle the guests at our intended table. And, once we moved and settled in comfortably, we had a great time. I couldn't dance because my kitten heel got caught in the floorboards one too many times, so we basically stayed in our seats and chatted with our friends. It was so much fun, it made the 3 hour car ride (there and back) worth while.

Shabbat was quiet and uneventful. We spent a lot of time just trying to be good to ourselves (i.e. we slept a hell of a lot). You know that promise not to bake anymore? Well, I found this great new recipe a fellow blogger posted for pumpkin muffins and since I have 5 cans of pumpkin puree leftover from Thanksgiving, I'm going to try this new recipe out. I hope it's good - I think Pidgeon needs a sugar fix.

Meanwhile, I heard some disturbing news about a friend, and I wanted to post a bit about it here. She was mugged on the streets of Baka a few weeks ago and it was extremely traumatic. She was walking home alone from an event in Talpiot and a guy started following her, and talking to her, and asking her questions until they got to an empty lot and he grabbed her purse and jumped into a waiting car. Needless to say, she was really shaken up and it's 100% understandable.

People, just because this is Israel, doesn't mean that crime doesn't happen.  I've been preaching this for a while and my husband sometimes thinks I'm being a paranoid New Yorker. I'm not. I'm just being cautious. Do not, if possible, walk alone on an unlike road. Not in Tel Aviv. Not in Timbuktu. Not in Jerusalem. Nowhere. If you're a woman walking alone, use well lit and well trafficed roads if possible. Even if it might be a little out of your way, it's worth the extra few minutes if it means your safety. 

Enough preaching for now. Here's hoping everyone tonight is safe and using their basic street smarts. 

Friday, January 11, 2008


It would be cliche for me to include a picture of El Presidente George Bush in my blog, so I decided to go with one of my favorite New York City images from the 30's. Let me assure you folks, the construction workers in this country don't look or act like these men here. 

So, Bush messed a lot of things up in this City this week, but it was all manageable. Pidgeon was able to find a back way into school by driving down Derech Chevron and well, me, I stayed in the house. Almost 24/7. For 3 days. It was nice. I was in PJ's all Wednesday, in solidarity towards the President who came and mucked up this entire City. Well, he did pledge MidEast Peace by the end of his term, so who am I to sulk? Let's see what really happens, shall we?

It's another Friday and the sun is shinning and I've got a full day of cooking ahead of me. I decided not to do any yesterday, since we ran a lot of errands and I was too tired to start anything by the time I got home. I need to give women everywhere - who are in charge of running a household - a lot of credit. It's tremendous work just doing one load of laundry, going food and other errand shopping, and then having to make breakfast/lunch and dinner! I'm constantly cooking in the kitchen, which I don't mind, just never found myself doing much of when I was single. I was the girl who bought one of those Lean Cuisine/Weight Watchers meals and popped it into the microwave and just chowed down. Simple. Now, I'm grilled steak burgers, sauteing onions and making a fresh garden salad for dinner. No wonder I'm too tired to get cooking for Shabbos.

Since Bush is in town, our work was called off for the week because the workers couldn't get around the City. Everything is scheduled to start in earnest this coming Sunday, which means it probably won't be done before Pidgeon's surgery next week. He's going in to have a growth removed and then tested. We're hopeful it's nothing, but the procedure itself shouldn't painful although the aftermath will be. I'm hunkering down for becoming Florence Nightengale Wifie during the next week. Hopefully, our workers will be done with the bedrooms and bathroom so Pidgeon can get some much needed rest.

We're going to dinner tonight at Pidgeon's folks house and I'm looking forward to it. It's nice not having to cook another meal and just focus on Shabbos lunch. Although, the weather forecast is calling for 2 degree Celcius tonight, and that's just a number I'm not excited about. Fortunately, I think I know where my winter coat is, but am not 100% sure. I hope there's no mold on that one too - cause I'll be super pissed if there is!

Pidgeon and I found another place to shop yesterday and we're thinking of making it our go-to- food place from now on. We've been using the Rami Levi by the Rav Chen mall and the prices are decent, but not so overly cheap that it's necessarily worth the hassle. But, we went across the street to this other shopping center and found a SuperDeal inside whose prices are really comprable. Plus, it's very, very clean and that is so important for me! I need a place that's clean because it lends confidence that the food I'm buying is good quality. Call me crazy, but I like to shop in nice places. Now, we just need to shave 100 shekel off of our bi-weekly food trips and we should be all set. I think we're just going to have to employ some portion control so that our food will last much longer.

Meanwhile, we've both been starving lately because we're used to eating 3 meals out with the family. I spoke to Mom last night and she's in the same predicament, it was like Rosh Hashana for 3 weeks only we never had that cleansing fast. I'm hoping it will resolve itself soon because it's no fun waking up with a growling stomach.

Saturday night we have a bar mitzvah all the way out in Raanana. I, of course, have absolutely nothing to wear so I know it will not be fun around here as soon as Shabbos is out. Plus, the trek to and from is going to be very exhausting. We're having a busy day on Sunday as it's the 60th anniversary of The Lamed Hey and Pidgeon's Great Uncle was unfortunately a member. We'll be going to an Azkarah at Har Herzl and a couple of other events for the family members. It will be a busy and emotinal day, but they did a tremendous service for this Country that we can all be grateful for.

Well - I'm off to finish cooking for Shabbos and get the rest of my day going. Wishing everyone a wonderful and warm Shabbos in Jerusalem!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mold and Ire

I am a very unhappy person today and it's because our apartment is overrun by mold. As I mentioned in yesterday's update, we discovered a lot of mold growing in our Mamad. So, we hired our contractor to build us two walls of sheetrock to ward off the outside moisture and better insulate the room. We are hoping this will solve the problem. Now, I knew that today I had my work cut out for me, but the extra surprise that waited for me behind the closet was extremely unexpected. 

We have one very large wall-to-wall sized closet in the mold room and it's made of wood. Last week we checked behind the closet and saw some mold on the wall, so we knew that it needed to be fixed. The contractor told me that I had to remove everything from the closet for him to do the necessary work. I spent all day yesterday moving us out of the spare bedroom and back into the master bedroom so I could prepare for today's day of labor. I had asked pidgeon to help me last night, but somehow that never happened, and so when he left for school at 6:30 a.m. this morning I realized I had to do this tremendous task alone.

I started in pidgeon's closet first and moved all his hanging clothing to a stand in our bedroom. Next, I took all of my hanging shirts and moved in to the second stand in our bedroom. And that's when I discovered that the mold invaded the closet - and my wardrobe.

I now have three piles of clothing on my floor - covered in mold - and in the following categories: I hope to G-d the cleaners can salvage this, It's gonna take a miracle and Who the hell am I kidding? This is going straight to the trash. My Steve Madden black fabric flip flops are gone - covered in mold - and straight into the bin.  I know that the Lord hates me because only my clothing was ruined - pidgeon's is practically pristine. 

After my discovery - and subsequent shit fit/crying jag - I called the contractor and he came over to help me. Fortunately, he brought a worker who cleaned all of the mold from the room. Unfortunately, he can't clean my clothing or all of our travel luggage which is covered in green mold.

The apartment now stinks of mold and bleach, and I'm trying to keep everything ventilated and dry. Of course, today is perhaps the rainiest day all year and it's absolutely freezing to boot. I don't have the heat on, I'm afraid the heat will lead to more mold and I just can't have any of that anymore.

Meanwhile, my resentment towards pidgeon's family is growing day by day. I'm still upset with his sister over a Chanukah incident and now she's insisting that tonight - of ALL nights - we both come over to her apartment so she can give us the wedding gift she bought us. My friend said I need to grow up and just go over there because it's her right to want to give us the present together. I am not interested in seeing her right now - she waited 6 months to buy as a gift - she can wait a few days. This apartment is full of mold and I'm miserable, to have no choice but to cater to her whim is absolutely preposterous.

Well, I just learnt that with Bush coming to town, my contractor can't work for a few days. It looks like this place will be a mess for at least another week. Anyone out there want to invite us for Shabbos? 

Monday, January 7, 2008

Alone at last

Sorry I've been MIA for a while, but we had two weeks worth of family visitors and I haven't had a chance to update the blog. Unfortunately, my folks left late last night and I've been feeling a little down since they've gone. I'm in bed, listening to pidgeon snore ever so gently this morning, and waiting for the Dud to heat up my water for a much needed hot shower. It's weird to have the apartment to ourselves again, and the visit was so quick, it was much shorter than I would have preferred.

But, here are some fascinating highlights of the trip:

  • We ate out anywhere and everywhere - breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks - for almost 2 weeks straight. Pidgeon and I put on a lot of weight in that period of time, but it was well worth it. Yesterday, pidgeon's brother taunted me for passing on a piece of cheesecake. I just smiled and told him I ate steak for dinner - 4 nights in a row last week - and he was pretty speechless. Steak trumps cheesecake, anytime, any day. We also tried the new restaurant down on Emek called Buffalo's Steakhouse and it was surprisingly good. My steak was pretty tasty and the bread was amazing. My parents liked it so much that they decided to eat there again before their flight last night. They raved about the bread too. We got breakfast each morning from Bagel Bites and I actually have another plain bagel with American tuna in the fridge should I want it this morning. But, I think the biggest hit with the folks and the Dude this trip was Neeman Bakery on Emek. My brother, as you recall, picked up a chocolate mousse cake for our lunch meal two weeks back and my father was in heaven! He bought loafs of marble cake, chocolate chip cake, rugelach, danishes and my Mom and I surprised him with some tiramisu cake. Which, I finished straight from the container using a fork, after they left last night. What can I say? I'm an emotional eater and since I've given up the smoking (1 month and counting!) all I got is my TV, a fork and some dessert. 
  • You Ate All That! - Last Tuesday night, pidgeon and I slept at his parents because the apartment was full and there was no room for us as well. We decided to celebrate some alone time by going out to eat at this new sushi restaurant at the bottom of Emek called Tamago. Personally, I have a huge preferance for Sushi Rechavia because their fish is fresher and their rolls are a lot more interesting, but pidgeon wanted to try this new place so I acquiesced. We were starving, having missed lunch and since it was close to 9:00 p.m., we ordered appetizers and a main. I had the tempura and pidgeon had the soup. I ordered the vegetable platter (which was 3 rolls of sushi) and pidgeon had the sushi/sashimi platter. We got jasmine green tea for the table, and I got a nestea and pidgeon got a juice. All together, the bill was 252 shekel. What happened next was just appalling. The manager came over to present us with our bill and he proclaimed: My goodness, I can't believe you ate all that food! I mean, I checked the bill and looked at your empty plates, and I see that you did finish everything! Needless to say, I was not happy with his comment. And, were I a bit more on the ball, would probably ask him if that was a fat comment. But, we left and vowed never to eat there again (besides, it pales in comparison to Sushi Rechavia and the rice was hard). We then decided to really stick it to him and helped ourselves to dessert at Aldo's next door.
  • How do you know you've made an impression on your mother-in-law? I'll tell you. When she sends you an e-mail forward about a neighborhood woman selling plus sized clothing from her home. American sizes 18-24 no less! Now, I haven't been a size 18 in YEARS! I actually will admit that I wore a size 22 suit to my cousin's wedding a number of years ago, but I'm a healthy size 14 today (and trying to get to my dream size 10). Which means, B"H, I can shop in stores throughout the Globe! Any store carries a size 14, except perhaps the uber-designers and Zara, but I've been a member of the mainstream shopping society for 4 years now. And proud of it. Not really sure where that leaves me with my MIL. Am still obsessing over that e-mail, believe me, obsession.
My parents had a really great time on their trip and we did a lot of shopping, meetings and planning. Starting Wednesday, this apartment will once again undergo a transformation, and that means I am now looking at 2 weeks of hell. We discovered a tremendous amount of mold growing in the Mamad, which is unusual since the Mamad is now obviously ineffective against outside agents. So, the contractor is coming to do some construction in the room, and will also do some work in the master bathroom. We are switching ALL of the light fixtures in the apartment because they are much too weak and the lighting is really lousy. My Mother couldn't even read her book because, with all the lights on in the living room, she still couldn't see the words. Meanwhile, the toilet in the master bathroom went on us and we're going to need a new one of those. And, we ordered an entire wall unit for the living room, so pidgeon and I can get some of our stuff out of boxes. I'm thrilled with all of the renovations, but it will mean the following:
early morning wake up, stranger work men flitting in and out of the apartment every day, tremendous noise, tons of dirt, plaster and paint, smells that I could do without, etc.

The plus side is that, when everything is finished, this place is going to look great. 

The electrician wanted to come early this morning and I begged off, telling them that I needed one morning to sleep in. With the family in town, we were up and out by 8:00 a.m. which is really too early for me. The irony of it all is that I woke up, on my own at 8:00 a.m. 

I'm meeting the contractor this afternoon in town to finalize the light fixtures my parents ordered, have a Dr.'s appointment later, and will spend the rest of my day just taking care of all the linen and towel washings I need to do. After that, I have to move the entire contents of our wall-to-wall closet into one room so they can work in the Mamad. 

It's gonna be hell people but hey, I guess that's just the reality of Israeli construction. Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Animal House

Cousin Neil reminded me that I've been neglecting the blog and so, before the parents and brother invasion that is imminent, I'm going to try to do a very quick update on life.

My brother arrived on Christmas Day and well, he certainly has turned out to be the gift that just keeps on giving. He insisted that he not eat ANY meals in this house - breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks included. In a week, I've gained 7 pounds because he needs someone to eat with and so I've been going with him places.

Wednesday night, we went to Olive on Emek Refaim because it was in walking distance and The Dude wanted a piece of meat. He was disappointed in the size of his beef but fortunately, we were able to appease him with food over the course of the week so he wasn't so unhappy. That night, at 10:00 p.m., pidgeon had an ultrasound scheduled over at the Terem near the entrance of the City. We drove over and they were extremely efficient, and we were in and out within the half hour. Fortunately, what the ultrasound discovered was something manageable, so I was able to breath a great big sigh of relief. I know pidgeon wasn't too worried going into the ultrasound, but I was petrified. Hopefully, this will just be another blip in our lives and we can move on.

Pidgeon let me drive home to practice for my big driving test Thursday morning. It was fun to drive through town so late at night and B"H, we got home no problem. I was up extra early the next morning for my driving lesson and Avi, my favorite driving instructor, picked me up right on time. We drove around Arnona, Baka, Talpiot area and past the driving exam center, before he dropped me back home and promised to pick me up 15 minutes before the test. He told me to eat breakfast to help stave away the nerves so I took him up on his suggestion and grabbed a bite. My brother went to the Kotel to daven and then Pidgeon met him at Caffit on Emek Refaim for breakfast. They were both disappointed with the food but then they went to the Supreme Court and the Knesset for guided tours. They were very happy with that. Meanwhile, I was in the midst of my driving test and was in the back seat of Avi's car when we picked up the driving examiner. The British Chassid went first, I drove second, and the Christian Arab was last. Fortunately, my test lasted a total of 5 minutes and I didn't have to do anything like I did 14 years ago in NYC on my driving test. I guess since I've been driving for 14 years, he just wanted to make sure I could handle the car. Fortunately, I could. 

Avi promised me that he was going to drive us home and then, right when the test was over, he informed us all that we had to figure out other ways of getting back. I ended up walking 45 minutes through industrial Talpiot to get to the apartment. Needless to say, I wasn't so happy and told pidgeon to rip Avi a new asshole if I failed the test. Anyway, once the Dude got home we decided to relax a little and then we took a cab to the Malha Mall for some lunch and shopping. We ate at KFC and, well, since I've had the real stuff it was a bit disappointing. The Dude was thrilled and claimed it the best meal he's had in Israel thusfar. Oh well, we're trying. We ended up buying some hats for my sisters, a pair of Naot for my brother, a comic book for pidgeon and a People magazine for me before the night was over. We came back to the apartment and rested before we headed out to Emek again for dinner. We were also going to the Kotel to do the tunnel tours at 10:00 p.m., so I honestly don't remember where we went to eat but I know that the Dude wasn't too impressed. The tunnel tours were much better this time than last because it was in English. Some yeshiva guy asked whether or not the tunnel would cave in and we were unimpressed but the question. There was also a lot of sludge leaking through from the Muslim Quarter and all I wanted was some purelle. It was nasty that the sewage just leaks on down - they need to get in there and fix that problem. I was very happy when we got home as my day had been exhausting and I fell into bed and to sleep. 

Friday, the Dude took me to the zoo after I spent the morning peeling a sack full of pearl onions for the Beef Bourginone. It was a big time hassel, but it turned out really well so I was pleased. The zoo was exhausting, since the Dude made me walk all over the place. He kept asking me why I was huffing and puffing and I explained that I haven't done this much exercise in months! The zoo starts off in the valley and ends at the top of the mountain, so that was pretty much a big ass hike for me. It wasn't even so worth it when I saw my favorite animals, but the day was beautiful and it was nice to be outside. I complained the whole time - mind you - but that's just my way of saying I was having fun. Shabbos came in early and we ate dinner with pidgeon's parents and then walked home. We told my brother the walk would take 25 minutes but we decided to go the long way home to walk a bit with pidgeon's brother, so the walk actually took 37 minutes (oh yeah, my brother kept track). The house and warm and inviting and we all just fell asleep as soon as we could.

Shabbos day, I missed shul while pidgeon and The Dude went to Pelech, and spent the morning getting ready for lunch. We were having a whole bunch of guests so I tired my best to be a good hostess. Unfortunately, the two big shots of scotch from the night before didn't help and I was hung over and grumpy. I managed to get a smile on my face before our guests showed up and we had a very nice lunch. My food turned out really good and everyone ate well. We went to nap late and woke up an hour and a half after Shabbos ended.

We were really, really lazy that night and we all decided just to hang out at home and call it an early night. I was very appreciative that my brother was ok with that, since I was wiped and all I wanted to do was sleep. Fortunately, he let me do that, and I was very thankful.

Sunday morning came and we had a ton on our list to do. I found out that I passed my driving test and pidgeon had to take me to the DMV to pick up my drivers license. Unfortunately, we got there when the DMV was on a 20 minute break and the line was out the door. I feared we would be there forever, but once break time was over it was very efficient. We went to pick up the license and the woman yelled at us because she was closed on Sunday. Don't ask - completely messed up - but pidgeon yelled back and she ended up helping us. She was pissed because I started my driver license process under my maiden name, and had since officially changed my name to my married name, and apparently I was supposed to come back to the DMV and deal with the name change. Whatever, she gave me the paper and we were on our way home.

Pidgeon went to the office quickly and I got back to the apartment to clean up and check in with The Dude. He decided to go to Mini Israel and Latrun, while we went to the airport to meet my parents plane. It was so nice to see them and even nicer to get the second suitcase worth of goodies from the wedding. We put them in a cab to Tel Aviv and then drove back home so that I could unpack. The Dude just got back from his day trip and we decided to go to Selena's on Emek for dinner. We all got steaks - which were very yummy - and then we came back to the apartment. I finished putting everything away and we went to bed.

Yesterday, the Dude left for his day/night with my parents in Tel Aviv and we had the house all to ourselves. I went to the post office to pay for my driver's license and then came back to the apartment and completely vegged out. Originally, since it was New Year's Eve, our plan was to go out to a nice dinner and just celebrate together. We are both so tired and sick of eating out, that I just warmed up leftovers and we had a nice dinner at home. We watched some TV and then we went to bed. I fell asleep at 11:30 and pidgeon woke me at Midnight to give me a kiss. It was very, very sweet and, after listening to some of the fireworks in the distance, we went to sleep.

This morning was our 6:30 a.m. wake up and I got pidgeon out of bed with much difficulty. That's what happens when you stay up until Midnight! But, I made him a great lunch of shnitzel on a whole wheat roll with some salad, and then helped him get out the door. I called Cousin Neil to check in and wish him a Happy New Year and then I went back to sleep. I asked pidgeon to call me to wake me up at 9:30 and I was not happy to hear the phone ring. But, since the parents are arriving today for the rest of their stay here in Israel, I really had to get up and moving.

I had so much cleaning to do that I didn't know where to even begin! I decided to take care of us first, and pack us up since we'll be spending the next two nights at pidgeon's parents. I went to the Mamad to the suitcase corner and that's when I discovered the mold. The entire corner of the room is COVERED in green mold. I looked down and all of my suitcases are full of green shit. That's when I noticed it had spread underneath the window too and I started to freak out. I can't believe this is happening and my parents are going to come in and see this! 

I called our contractor and told him the problem and begged him to come and check it out, then I SMSed pidgeon to call me immediately and then I called pidgeon's Mom to ask her about the situation. Well, I tidied up as best as I could and moved all my suitcases away. I have to call Samsonite and ask them how to remove mold from my suitcase and lord knows how the hell I'm going to clean that wall. My parents are going to freak out when they get here but I swear, I had no idea this was growing in the room next door! How the hell it happened it another mystery and I'm not looking forward to finding out what's the cause.

I quickly packed us up and then tackled the master bedroom and bathroom. I put all new sheets and blankets and towels, and even moved away the beds and cleaned the dust bunnies. I lit a candle to freshen up the place and then I was done. I'm now doing two loads of our laundry, so when they leave we'll have clean sheets and towels to put back onto the bed, and I'm just waiting for the folks to arrive.

Hopefully, when they drop off their stuff and head out to dinner, I'll be able to do some cleaning so they won't be that unhappy. That being said, today is my Zaydie's Yahrzeit and I know my Mom is just not in a good mood.

Well, that's it for now, more to follow once they leave! Hope everyone reading this is having a fantastic New Years Day and is sleeping in - and sleeping it off - and just enjoying their start to 2008!