Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dog Walking Weather

How cute is my in-laws dog? It's 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and I'm letting her rest a bit more before I strap on my sneaks and take her on a walk through Katamon.  It's perfect dog walking weather today, the sky is partly cloudy and the weather has warmed up a bit. Monday was awful, with torrential downpours that of course I got caught in. I had to take my socks and pants off at the front door because they were soaked, and all I did was literally walk 2 blocks back to the apartment. I, for one, am happy that the rain is over. The walk should do both of us good though, and I'm looking forward to getting some fresh air and exercise. Pidgeon warned me not to walk too far because I don't want to give the dog a heart attack, but I promised to be gentle. 

I'm feeling much, much better today and it shows. I have more energy and the headaches are gone. I'm also down 3 pounds on the scale, so that's tremendous progress. I have my eye Dr. appointment in Modiin on March 13th and I just pray I'll get back down to remission weight (5 pounds to go) so I don't have to deal with medication or another spinal tap. 

I've been feeling very unhappy with my Israeli Dr.'s and I'm at the point where I think I need to find new physicians. I like my family Dr. at the Wolfson Center, and my eye Dr. in Modiin is also terrific, but I really need a neurologist I can rely on. I see both Dr. Bierman's and Professor Reches,  but you practically have to sell your first born to get an immediate appointment with both of them! Professor Reches has two jobs (head of the medical ethics committee in addition to being a neurologist) and Dr. Bierman's is so good that you have to book an appointment MONTHS in advance. I miss my New York neurologist, he was fantastic. If I felt awful, all I had to do was call his office and he would literally call me right back. Once, unfortunately, he called late on a Friday night and I didn't pick up the phone, which caused my ultra-religious Father to go into a rage. Boy, did I learn my lesson about Mechalel Shabbos after that situation.

But, the important thing is that I'm a lot more informed this time around about my condition, than I was when initially diagnosed. I am involving myself in an IIH/PTC study (since there is a lot that just isn't known about this condition) and I joined an MSN group for fellow sufferers and the people who love them.  This has helped calm me down a bit, and I'm listening to their advice and its helping. I just wish there were some sort of support group for IIH/PTC patients in Israel too. I heard that Tel HaShomer Hospital has a pretty good research department, but until I get a Dr. to diagnose that I'm officially out of remission, I'm going to hold off on contacting them for now.

I did start davening again, which is a big deal for me. I'm working on my spirituality and I'm really trying to figure out what will work for me in terms of my relationship with G-d. I also joined this group of couples davening for children, which I found through Janglo, so I added Tehillim to my nightly routine. It's not necessarily "working" right now, but I'm hoping that if I can continue to daven daily, something will change. Do you ever wonder what you're supposed to feel when you daven? I took a Tefila class when I was in Michlalah waaaay back in the day and I just didn't get it. I would look around at my friends and they would daven with such intensity that I just never had.  One of my friends used to sigh heavily after she prayed because it was as intense for her as "running a marathon" and I just never had that. Does that make me spiritually bereft? I never thought I would end up married to a man who davened three times a day. It was one of things that really impressed me when we were dating, how Pidgeon would stop whatever he was doing to make sure he davened Mincha before it was too late. It got me thinking and we once discussed what he got out of Tefila. Who knows, maybe this time around Tefillah will help. 

School yesterday was pretty intense. My eyes were hurting me from lack of sleep and because of the condition, and even though it was cloudy I wished I had brought my sunglasses. Bar Ilan these days is a hopping place and I realized that, from the time I got to the Tachanah to the time I returned and Pidgeon picked me up, I didn't speak to a soul. My friend from class was down in Eilat for the day and I just basically went to class, participated in class discussion, and then left. I don't really know anyone else in the course and I sit in the back and just keep to myself, so I didn't really socialize much. I'm pretty much the type of person whose okay with that, and it was actually really nice being able to do my typical write/observer thing without anyone getting offended when I just take everything all in and am quiet. Pidgeon dropped me off at home and then he went off to work and study and I spent the afternoon relaxing. It was exactly what I needed, especially since I have a potential new client who is going to work me to the bone! What can I do? We need the money so I'm not very picky about work these days. 

So, this morning, while I was doing my usual blog hopping (i.e. read a blog then jump to another blog based on the blog roll) I stumbled upon these two great groups. First, the Kosher Cooking Carnival, which is a great blog post with links to other blog posts with kosher recipes. This makes me VERY happy as Mom and I were just discussing how we need some new kosher recipes. The other one I found was the Haveil Havalim Carnival which is hosted this week by EsserAgaroth. I'm going to check out some more Blog Carnival to see which other great blog roundups they have available. Here's hoping I'll be able to expand my blogroll soon!

Well, the handyman just showed up to switch a million light bulbs in this house (we need one of those industrial sized ladders cause the ceilings are so darn high) so I'm going to go supervise and then take the dog out for her walk.

Yom Tov!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Four Cinnamon Buns and a Funeral

As I write this, the beginnings of a pressure/eye strain headache is starting to throb. I blame it partially on the lack of sleep I got last night, and this time I can't blame Pidgeon's snoring. I am back to my insomnia days of yore, and it's not fun. We went to the gym after 6:00 p.m. last night, had a really great workout, and that just got me wired for a few hours! Plus, I got it in my head that I needed to watch the Oscars, but since there is no TV in the bedroom I tried desperately to watch what I could online. I tuned into the E! red carpet webcast but everything stopped as soon as the actual awards show started. I ended up passing out at 4:30 a.m. from the sheer frustration of not knowing who won what award. And, of course, I was disappointed with the winners when I awoke this morning. I couldn't believe I lost precious sleep for No Country For Old Men.  What a waste of some good shut eye.

It has been a really nice couple of days, and I'm thrilled that I was able to spend some time with my friends visiting Israel.

The workers were back and trying to fix the problem with our AC/Heating unit. After numerous hours running back and forth, and back and forth, they came to the same conclusion we've known about all along and then they tried to bypass putting in a new cable by jerry rigging a loose wire to serve as the cable. It worked for 30 minutes, until I shut off the unit and plugged in my hand mixer. That's when the AC/Heating unit fuse blew. The thing wasn't even on people. Go figure. I managed to bake my snowdrop brownies though, an amazing recipe I got off of Epicurious for Kiddush on Shabbos. Pidgeon spent the day taking a Government test and, when he got home 7 hours later, was thoroughly exhausted. But, since we made plans with my friends, we rallied and met them on Emek Refaim for dinner at Marvad. The food was great, the company was even better, and we all had a really nice time. Afterwards, we walked the group down to Aldo for some Parve chocolate ice cream, and the Pidgeon and I went back to the apartment to pass out. We had an early morning on Friday, so we knew we had to get to bed early.

We woke up with 30 minutes to get dressed and out the door to the Kotel. The weather was absolutely AMAZING, beautiful sunshine, cloudless blue skies and warm temperatures. We parked in the Rova and then we walked through towards the Kotel. While passing the Rova square, we ran right into Marns and Rachel, who were on their way back from davening. We chatted briefly and made plans for us to visit them at the hotel that night, and then we parted ways. It was nice to run into them and I liked how happy it made me feel. We met Pidgeon's family at the Kotel and watched as his second cousin put Tefillin on for the first time. I went into the woman's section to daven but couldn't get up to the wall as there were two huge groups of women from India (not Jewish) and Ethiopia (Jewish) crowding the area. I was content hanging out in the back and praying. At some point, a woman came by asking for money, and Pidgeon's Aunt declared that it was illegal to panhandle at the Kotel. I gave her money anyway, illegal or not. We emptied out our Tzedaka box that morning and I had the money on me for that very reason. I don't care when they ask me for money - or where for that matter - if I have it, I'm going to give it to them. After davening, we walked back to the car (of Pidgeon practically pushed me to the car as the steps back up from the Kotel are really hard on me since I'm so out of shape) and drove to the breakfast at Shmil's, a breakfast/coffee place on Derech Chevron. The place was pretty cool, actually, and we were all absolutely starving. The food was decent, although I thought the eggs were a bit undercooked for my taste, but since we were so hungry we just wolfed it all down anyway. We hung out with the family some more, and then went back to the apartment to get ready for Shabbos. All of the cooking was already done and so we just got ready, relaxed and went to Pidgeon's parents for the weekend.  I passed on joining Pidgeon and his brother at shul on Friday night in order to read his Mom's current issues of Hello, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and when they returned we had a really nice dinner. Before I knew it, the time was 9:45 p.m. and we had to rush to get to the hotel to see Marns and crew. We made it there by 10:05 p.m. and stayed for a few minutes. The group decided to play a few rounds of Taboo and since the only game I slay at is Trivia Pursuit's Pop Culture Edition, I took a pass at participating. My friend Jeff was also there, so we caught up a bit and invited him back to Pidgeon's parents house for kiddush the following morning. Exhausted, and feeling a bit queasy from the undercooked eggs at Shmil's, we walked back home so I could rest. 

I was feeling lousy, as Shmil's food had me sick for most of the night, and so I slept through davening. I pulled myself out of bed and got the house ready for our Kiddush guests. Unfortunately, my American friends didn't make it, but Jeff and Pidgeon's cousins joined us. We had a nice time and, since the weather was so nice, decided to push off lunch and take the dog for a nice, long walk. The walk was great and then we took a nap before lunch, which we didn't start until almost 4:00 p.m.! After lunch, we went back to bed, and the next thing we knew Shabbos was over. They go by so fast sometimes! We decided to stay in and not go to any of the parties we were invited to since I was still feeling a bit queasy. We also never heard from my American friends, so I assumed they decided to do a group thing and our presence would  have been inappropriate. Pidgeon and I watched a movie on TV and then we went to bed.

Pidgeon woke up early and ran to a Dr's appointment while I languished in some more sleep. I knew we had a busy day, but didn't want to have to face it so early. I still hadn't heard from Marns, so I just assumed she was busy and didn't try to reach her. Pidgeon returned from his appointment and we came back to the apartment to do some work. I was feeling a little down and so I spent a few hours just watching some TV. I kept thinking about the hotel on Friday night, and how they had all this junk food laid out for the group. There were bags of popcorn and boxes of cinnamon buns. I just kept thinking how eating the cinnamon buns could be the end of me, 4 cinnamon buns and a funeral, and it was a very upsetting thought. 

For those who knew me in 2004, I was diagnosed with condition known as Pseudotumor Cerebri, which is basically a build up of spinal fluid in the brain. The body, for some reason, doesn't drain this extra fluid and so the result is pressure on the brain and optic nerve. If untreated, PTC could lead to blindness and in some extreme cases, death. The Dr.'s say that the condition primarily affects women of childbearing age who are overweight. Yup, that's me, a woman of child bearing age who is overweight. The diagnoses was miserable, and the spinal taps I had to endure were grueling (spinal tap headaches are wicked). Fortunately for me, after diagnoses, I responded extremely well to the medication and lost weight. I was put into remission 6 months after diagnoses and had been in remission for the past 3 years. Until this past week, as a result of the 20 pounds I've put on since our wedding this summer. The pressure headaches are really rough, pushing around my eyes to the point where I think they're going to pop out of my skull. My vision has been off too, and that's the scariest thing, as sometimes I worry about my driving. But, the short term memory loss is perhaps the most frustrating and upsetting aspect of the condition. I asked Pidgeon the same question 3 times on Thursday night, and I honestly didn't remember his answer. With Alzheimer's in my family, and having had to witness my Grandfather dealing with this terrible condition, it takes memory loss to a new level. I'm feeling so much stress now having to lose the weight that I've stopped sleeping. Pidgeon's been really supportive and helpful, and so we agreed to go to the gym after his dentist appointment yesterday. It was the best thing we've done in a long time, as the workout made me feel so much better and helped me face this long road I have ahead of me. I just pray that I'll have the self control to stick to a diet. And, for me, it's no longer about looking good or being attractive. It's about the basic joys of life, because the thought of not being able to watch Pidgeon sleeping, or to see his beautiful smile and watch him do his little goofy dancing, would be my own personal tragedy.

I didn't get much sleep last night and Pidgeon got me up and out of the apartment fairly early. We're spending the morning working, and the afternoon relaxing and getting ready for the week. I have school bright and early tomorrow morning, which I'm looking forward to, and Pidgeon is gearing up for another Final at the end of the week. I can't wait for his tests to be over, hopefully we'll be able to relax a bit and get ready for Purim and our trip to the States this Pesach!

Well, I'm off to do the laundry before we have to hit the road again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monday Revelations

Today was a rough day, really rough. It's ending finally, and I'm looking forward to shutting the lights and going to bed. Tomorrow is another day and I'm just hoping it will be a better one.
The situation with our apartment is getting very frustrating and I'm starting to feel tremendous pressure being stuck between my folks (owner of the apartment) and everyone else involved in the maintenance/fixing. As you know, we have had no heat now for 6+ weeks. Today was another freak snow storm that covered the area, and it was really, really cold. The workers came by to assess the situation and try to fix the problem, and they were here for 3+ hours. 

The workers are Arabs, and they treated me terribly. First, they yelled at me to open the downstairs door for them when I wasn't fast enough on the buzzer. I told him that I wasn't going to let him up if this was the way he was going to talk to me. Well, that just set the tone for the whole work visit. He walked in with another worker and they both refused to speak with me. They only wanted to talk to Pidgeon, who was in the other room davening. Well, I was not having any of this not-dealing-with-women bullshit, so I started screaming. Fortunately, my level headed husband came out and took over the situation. After the 3 hour experience, they determined exactly what the other workers determined, and decided to take a piece home to try to get it fixed. Well, that just sent my parents into a rage because they didn't want them to take anything out of the apartment. I was suddenly at fault and feeling the pressure as my parents anger grew. I wasn't pleased and I tried to do what I could to get the piece back, but to no avail. I felt bad that my parents were mad and felt even worse because here I thought I was doing all I could to help fix the situation.

The afternoon was just dreary after that and I decided to make a split pea soup to cheer myself up. Only, I think there was a lot of soap residue on the bottom of the pot, because when I went to blend the soup a big frothy mess of soap bubbled to the top. Pidgeon insisted that it was still good, and I couldn't taste anything out of the ordinary, so we both ate it for dinner.

I decided it was time to try to catch up with my friends and called a friend I haven't spoken to in a really long time. The conversation was fine at first, we exchanged pleasantries, and then she abruptly ended the call and hung up. I felt really slighted and confused as to why she had to suddenly just check out of the call. And, it made me realize something that I've been trying to ignore for quite some time now.

I moved here a year and a half ago. When I left the States, I was a single gal with a career and lots of friends and roots in New York. And now, I'm married, with a career that I'm trying desperately to hold on to 6,000 miles away from New York, and trying to set down roots in this Country. I'm in limbo with everything other than a soul mate right now and it's very disturbing. I'm neither here nor there. I'm no longer in New York, so a lot of my friends have started to phase me out of their lives. My clients have also left me, except for 2, and my work colleagues have written me off. Aside from a handful of good friends and my family, it's almost like I never existed in New York at all. Meanwhile, here I am in Jerusalem, nary a friend, a new family I'm still trying desperately to fit in to, and school that has suddenly become a top priority and the looming deadline to hand in my thesis is extremely overwhelming. And, I've gained 20 pounds and I feel bad about myself. The problem is, I just don't know which part of my life to try to tackle first. Do I try to make friends? Do I ignore everything else and just concentrate on school? What about the clients I'm still trying to work with? We need every penny I can get since we're both not working and on a serious budget. And I have a sister-in-law and brother-in-law who don't even say hello to me when they walk into a room, and the snub makes me want to pack Pidgeon in a suitcase and highjack him to the States. I don't know why some members of Pidgeon's family doesn't like me, but I really do all I can to be nice, so I'm just extremely confused and hurt. 

The good news is that my phone number is back, thanks to my amazing VOIP company US VoiceLink so I am thankful about that. I truly need my American cell phone for more than just getting insulted by my old friends in the States. 

Pidgeon is off to school tomorrow and I'm hoping the sun will come out and dry this place up. I decided to spend the morning doing some writing for school, the early afternoon running some of my errands, and the evening we have a birthday party for Pidgeon's cousin. Since Pidgeon has a big Government final on Thursday, I'm hoping we'll have time after the party to take a walk to relieve some of this stress, and then just gear up for another day. Thursday is going to be busy as I have to take Pidgeon to his test and clean the apartment for Shabbos. At least I don't have to do any cooking this weekend, which will be nice, since we're eating at Pidgeon's parents house.

I think I'm going to try and watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother on Sidereel before I try to get some sleep. Hopefully it will be funny enough to turn my mood upside down. 

Erev Tov from Jerusalem. 

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hot Magic

Pidgeon had a very big day today. This morning, the Hot cable company technicians came and brought us Hot Magic. This is Israel's version of Tivo and boy is my husband a happy, happy man! He has been playing with his new toy all morning, setting the recorder to capture all of his favorite shows. Finally, we no longer have to deal with his antiquated taping! I'm thrilled and it was definitely worth the money. The two technicians also hooked up our bedroom TV, so now we have a remote control in there that works and I'm looking forward to TV in bed. It's one of my favorite past times, watching an episode of Friends before I got to sleep, so I'm looking forward to that.

We also decided to go to the States for Pesach, as opposed to waiting for this summer. I'm so, so happy with that decision! My Mom seemed really happy too, and now all I have to do is start on organizing what I'm going to need to buy when I'm home. I'm running out of provisions in terms of hair products, so I need to get moving on that. But, what I'm looking forward to most is hanging with the family and seeing my friends! We're also only keeping one Seder, so that will be interesting for my family as Pidgeon and I will disappear downstairs to the TV room while they're upstairs going through the Hagadah. I'm hoping the weather will also be really nice, so we can get out and walk all over the City. I can't wait to be back in Manhattan!

Yesterday, we decided to go to the gym for the very first time since I became a member. We got up early, got dressed, ate a healthy breakfast, waited 30 minutes and then drove to the gym. Only to discover that the gym was closed until 4:00 p.m.! Well, since we were up and out, I decided we should be productive and we went to Har Nof to get some Purim stuff. We're doing a frugal Shaloch Manot this year, which means that the burberry bags will not include anything more than a cake (I'm baking) and maybe some chocolate. Simple yet elegant. Hopefully :) I never thought I'd do Purim on a budget but you've got to cut corners sometimes.

So, we got back to the gym at 4:00 and I went into the ladies locker room to get ready and somehow, I just got lost in there. It was like this maze of green and white and I kept walking into the pool when what I really wanted was the bathroom door to the gym! Well, I finally figured it out and was thrilled to see Pidgeon waiting for me. We had a great, short, workout and then came home and just collapsed. I made a quicky dinner and then we both sat down and did some work. Pidgeon has a big test on Thursday that he's studying for, and I'm trying to do some writing for work and for school.

Tomorrow has already been declared a snow day for me, as the forecast is calling for stormy weather starting already tonight. It's surprising since yesterday and today has been such beautiful days. I'm looking forward to cuddling on the couch with a big, warm blanket and a glass of tea! I'm also saving cooking a big vat of split pea soup for tomorrow too. Fortunately, Pidgeon loves it and I like to have soup on snow days. 

Meanwhile, my friends are on their way from New York and I'm so excited to see them! I already spoke to my friend Ilana yesterday, who arrived before the group, and she promised that they will make an effort to see us. I'm really looking forward to seeing some familiar and friendly faces! Can't wait!

Well, I'm off to finish doing my typical Monday load of laundry. Here's hoping we get some significant snowfall this time!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

We celebrate Valentine's Day in our house, especially since it's also the 1 year anniversary of our engagement.  I still can't believe its been an entire year, sometimes I feel like it happened just yesterday. Where does time go in life? Our engagement was very romantic and extremely unexpected. Pidgeon tries so hard to surprised me and last year, he certainly succeeded. It was the New York Valentine's Day Noreaster of 2007 and Pidgeon and I were stuck at my folks in Queens, and the day I had planned in the City was never going to happen. With roads closing and the snow piling up, I had to cancel our dinner reservation at Le Marais and forget the movie we were going to see. My Valentine's Day plans completely in ruins, I had to go with the flow, and laced up my Timberland boots, buttoned up my jacket, pulled on a baseball cap and trudged through the snow to wake up my love. 

I cam bearing gifts and presented Pidgeon with a bag full of great presents and tons of cards. He smiled through each gift and then he pulled out the ring and proposed. It was such a happy moment. I can still remember what he was wearing,  how he looked so nervous, and the flowers in the vase by his bed gave off the sweetest scent. In the background, the snow fell softly and the room was cast in the white sheen of a snowy day. It was perfect. And then, we spent the afternoon between calls to family and friends, shoveling the snow. 

When my parents came back from work, I was just so excited to see them and to celebrate with them. My Mom walked into the kitchen, and I asked her if she wanted to see my engagement ring. She took off her glasses and then looked at my father and said: what does this remind you of?. My Dad smiled and responded, your Mother.  That was so touching for me to experience, to recreate a moment my own parents had years ago. It made me sad that my own Grandmother wasn't around to experience the joy of our engagement. Afterwards, we had a nice dinner as a family and just talked about wedding plans and logistics.

This morning, I woke up next to my husband and felt this incredible joy. I'm just so happy that we're together. Each and every day with him is amazing, even when we fight. He surprised me again today by sending me flowers - orange tulips, which are my absolute favorites. They are gorgeous, and I set them up in a beautiful vase on the dining room table. Tonight, we're going out to a nice dinner to celebrate. I'm really looking forward to it!

I can't even tell you how many Valentine's Day's I had as a lonely single gal in Manhattan. There were a couple of years when I was dating someone, and one year my buddy Lou sent me flowers at work and I sent him a Bonsai plant, because we decided to be each other's Valentine. But in general, the day would be spent working for me. Since I have clients in the dating industry, I spent a lot of time talking to couples and dealing with people who want to get engaged on Valentine's Day, etc. I always felt just a twinge of jealousy during those moments, and genuine happiness for the people who had love on Valentine's Day. When I was in my bitter/angry single girl modes, I would hit the gym and then have a pint of chocolate Ben and Jerry's for dessert. Other years, I met my girlfriends for movie night at the theatre. I have some good and some bad Valentine's Day memories. But since Pidgeon came along, those memories have faded in my mind and been replaced by happiness.

OK - moving on from Valentine's Day.

So, Hot Extra now has the Ellen DeGeneres Show and that makes me so happy! Today, they aired her 50th birthday episode, which was fun but I had already seen the highlights on YouTube. That being said, it's good to be able to catch up on my American talk shows. We get Dr. Phil here too, but he's really boring, so I don't watch him much. 

Meanwhile, my cleaning lady is here and she is doing the most incredible job. The problem is that she is sooo slow! She's been here since 12:00 and has even gotten to the living room/dining room/kitchen area. I told her that she has to leave at 4:00 and she was shocked that she has to leave so soon, I think she expected to work here for a few more hours. That being said, I can't afford to pay her to work here for more than that! She charges 40 shekel an  hour, and at 4 hours that's 160 shekel! I can't afford that each week. I was hoping she could work for 3 hours each week, since we're pretty much clean people in general. All I really need her to do sometimes is just wash my floors. Well, we'll see how the next hour and a half shapes up. Also, when she came to the house today, she asked if she could wear my slip on New Balance sneakers. I thought she was going to wear them with socks, so I told her she could. Just now, I saw that she's wearing them barefoot and I'm really not happy about that at all! I really don't share shoes in general, and certainly not with someone whose going barefoot. Oh well, I guess there goes my slip on New Balance's. I think there going to now have to be her sneakers. That's very disappointing! 

Well, I'm off to do some homework and some reading. Hope everyone has a LOVELY day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Corn Chowder

It's almost 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and I'm sitting here as the corn chowder cools on the stovetop, and am waiting for the AC/Heating repair man to come take a look. It's been 5 weeks since our heating/AC unit died a very miserable death, and it looks like we might be in for another snow storm at the beginning of next week. I know he won't fix the problem before Monday, but here's hoping we'll figure out a solution sooner rather than later.

Week in Review:

Pidgeon and I were in Ashkelon for Shabbos with his parents, and it was such a beautiful day! I woke up early and poked Pidgeon out of sleep. I wanted to spend the day outside since the sun was shining and the beach looked so inviting. I left Pidgeon to daven and took the dog for a nice, long walk on the beach. When I got back, Pidgeon was finished davening and we took the car and went to the huge SuperSol Big that's right outside the city. We had a quick breakfast at Aroma and then did some pre-Shabbos food shopping. I didn't want to leave, the supermarket was amazing. It reminded me of Costco from back home and I tried to steer clear of the massive cookie/cake aisle. We finished getting what we needed for Shabbos: some herring, smoked salmon, caviar, etc. and then drove back to the apartment. With a few hours left to go before Shabbos, we just relaxed and watched some DVD's. It was amazing.

I slept in but Pidgeon went with his Dad to an Ashkenazi shul in the area. When they got back, he woke me up and we joined his parents and their guests for an elaborate Kiddush in the apartment. I treated myself to some delicious chocolate Babka while Pidgeon feasted on the smoked salmon. After Kiddish, we took the dog for another walk and this time we went to the Ashkelon Marina. It was absolutely packed with Israeli's enjoying the weather and all of the various eateries. The marina was full of boats with names in English, and some sported International flags as well. The dog was a little overwhelmed with all the people, but we stayed outside for a while soaking in the sun. I got a bit of a tan, but Pidgeon laughed and said that all my freckles came out. I get freckles in the sun, which is annoying, but it's nice to know that a mere 1 1/2 hour car ride could get me some color in this Country. We went back for a late lunch and then slept Shabbos away. We ended up driving back to Jerusalem after Shabbos and spent the night just unpacking, relaxing, and watching some TV.

It was a pretty busy day, with a very early morning start. Once again, I needed to go and get another blood test. We thought that the center opened between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m., but it turns out that the Maccabi on Aggripas doesn't start drawing blood until 9:30. So, we went to eat breakfast at Beiytza Ayin on King George Street. We love that place for breakfast as it serves some great eggs of our choice. Pidgeon got the Shakshuka, and I got the Healthy Breakfast with scrambled eggs. Fortified, we went to Maccabi and stood on line for our turn to register and pain. Well, as soon as I went up to the front, the woman at the desk told me to cut the line and go ASAP inside for the test. That was a little scary, but it worked out nicely as the woman who drew my blood was very experienced. Unfortunately, she took 7 viles of blood! Needeless to say, I spent the afternoon resting because I was exhausted from the morning and Pidgeon ran around getting ready for the week.

We woke up very late and decided to do our major food shopping. We went to the SuperSol Deal in Talpiot and literally loaded up our cart. Pidgeon remarked that most people don't food shop for Shabbos on Monday, but the supermarket was empty and they had a pretty decent selection. We got some staples like cheese and deli and bread, and then some interesting items like Phyllo dough and cocktail olives. I decided to make a brisket for Friday night and a deli roll for Shabbos lunch. We got home and I set to work on putting everything away and then got down to doing my homework for class. I'm reading the Autobiography of Mary Rowlandson, who was kidnapped by the Native Americans in the 1600's and wrote about her 11 week captivity. It was a little difficult to get through as Rowlandson preached a lot (she was a Puritan, so what could I expect?) but the details of the situation was riveting. Pidgeon did his own homework too and, before I knew it, it was late at night and I had to cook dinner and get ready for bed.

The alarm went off at 6:45 a.m. and I jumped out of bed, ready to start the day. Pidgeon was so dead to the world, I was scared he wouldn't get up in time to drive me to the Central Bus Station. Fortunately, with much prodding, he got up and drove me in time to make the 8:20 a.m. bus. I zoned out and listened to my iPod and managed to get to the class before the rain started. I love how it rains in Tel Aviv. When class was over, and after I dealt with Schar Limud, I walked to the bus stop and waited for the 400 to Jerusalem. I felt two heavy, big drops, and knew that I'd better make a run for cover. I entered the crowded bus kiosk just as the rain starting to come down in sheets! Everyone crowded in and waited for the bus, and I just pulled my hood tighter and waited for the rain to stop. Almost as quickly as it began, it ended and the bus pulled up a few minutes later.  The ride back was pleasant and Pidgeon picked me up and we went to his parents house to raid their fridge. I was starving and cranky, so it was a good thing we did the parental pit stop. We loaded up on bagels and tuna and then, satisfied, went back to the apartment to relax. Pidgeon left for a bit to do some errands, and I just unloaded from my day and did a little work for my American client. I was more than happy to fall into bed early. 

Pidgeon was up early and out of the house to go to school for his test review classes. I was tempted to sleep in, but decided to drag myself out of bed and get my day going. Since our freezer is full of bread, I thought I'd make a bread pudding for Shabbos. It's a pain to make as it takes at least 3 cooking utensils and a lot of elbow grease, but Pidgeon loves it so much that I knew he'd be thrilled to have it for Shabbos. I also got us some turkey legs for Shabbos lunch, so it will be very tasty coupled with the bread pudding. I also wanted to try this new recipe I found on the box of Saltines. I've never made corn chowder before, but I had all the ingredients in the house, and as an old episode of House played in the background, I got to work. The chowder is extremely thick and creamy and, since I'm not a big milk person, it doesn't really fill my palate. Pidgeon's opinion will determine whether or not I make it again. The previous apartment owner sent an electrician to look at our AC/Heating unit problem and, he stood here for a few minutes before telling me that he was the wrong person for the job. I was more than happy to let him out the door as quickly as he came in. I'm starting to think that this is just never going to get fixed!

Meanwhile, tomorrow is our 1 year engagement anniversary. I cannot believe its been a year since Pidgeon proposed in New York City in the aftermath of the Noreaster. It was a lovely, and surprising, Valentine's Day. We are going to celebrate by going out to a nice dinner and, since our cleaning lady is coming to the apartment at Noon, I plan on taking my time and getting dressed up for the occasion. We're on a very strict budget, so there will be no exchanging of gifts. Instead, we're treated ourselves to a nice dinner out on the town. I'm really looking forward to a fun evening together!

Well, I'm off to go fold the laundry and call Cousin Neil. I shipped a package to his apartment in Manhattan so my friends (who are coming P"G next week) can bring them to me. Anyway, I need to let him know so he can BOTL!

Erev Tov!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Everyone's Fat

This is a picture of Pidgeon's snow tree in Baka from last week. You wouldn't know that we had snow last week since the weather these past fews days has been absolutely glorious! We just got back from a Brit in Elazar, which is a small Yishuv in the middle of Efrat (but on the right side if you're coming from Jerusalem) and it was so nice that Pidgeon and I went for a walk in the neighborhood to just take in the view. It's really breathtaking to live on top of a mountain, the view from where we were today was incredible.

But, a recap of the week:

First day of school and I had no trouble popping out of bed at 6:22 a.m. Pidgeon had a final, so he was really nervous, and we both respected each other's private space by getting ready in separate rooms. He dropped me off up the block from the Tachanah in Jerusalem and I literally ran across the bus station and made the 8:00 a.m. bus. It took me an hour and 20 minutes to get to Bar Ilan, and the ride was extremely pleasant. I met my friend Tamara in front of the English department, and we went together to the book store to get what we need from our class. It was so nice to sit in a class again! The conversation was stimulating, the material was intellectual, and for the first time in a really long time, I felt like I was where I needed to be. I'm ready for this semester to begin and end, so I can complete my Masters and feel that sense of accomplishment. I have a ton of reading now for next week but I'm looking forward to it as the material is interesting. After class, I went to Schar Limud to give in my papers that I'm covered as a Minhal Hastudentim student. Well, it turns out that someone in the University decided to add another number to my Teudat Zehut. Just randomly. Added the number 2. Don't know why,  but they refused to give me a reimbursement check until it was taken care of. Meaning, I now have to go to the Dean of Students office to have them correct it in the computer and then come back. And, wouldn't you know it but on Tuesday, Schar Limud is only open from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Well, my Professor was giving me a ride back to Jerusalem, so I certainly wasn't going to miss that in order to run to the other side of campus to the Dean of Students office (which, with my luck, would have likely been closed for the day). I decided instead not to get aggravated, and to call them during the week to figure out the situation.  I met the Professor by his car and the drive back to Jerusalem was great. I did most of the talking, but I was able to get a lot of information regarding my Independent Study course and my thesis. He dropped me off at Binyanai Haumah and I called Pidgeon, who was finishing up work at the office. I decided to walk and meet him part way, and I was feeling so good about the day, that I was practically skipping. The sun was shining and my jacket was open and I had my knapsac on me and I was so happy just being there. It was a good day. And then, I walked past this elderly Babushka looking woman, and she smiled at me and said Kulanu Shemainim which literally means We're All Fat. Well, there went my smile. WTF? I definitely didn't need a weight check, especially since I already know that I've gained a lot of weight. But here's this Grandma Israeli Lady telling me that we're all fat. Well, I didn't let it get me down. In fact, I thought it was really funny. I told Pidgeon when he picked me up and he said that the same woman said the same thing to him a few years ago. I love my husband, he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Well, I hummed the rest of the night and made us dinner and we went to bed very a happy and relaxed.

We could not get out of bed. I was just so happy in my sleep that I ignored my alarm and slept some more. The bookcases we ordered though last month were on their way, and so we had to force ourselves out of bed. The guys came and here I thought they were bringing already assembled bookcases into the apartment. But no, they assemble it all here in the apartment. It was incredible the way they put everything together. And, a few hours later, we had a beautiful shelving unit in our living room. Pidgeon left me to go to the office and do some work, and I spent 5 hours just cleaning and organizing. When Pidgeon came home, our living room was practically transformed into a really nice area. I was proud of my work. I made us a quick dinner of pasta and steak burgers and salad and then we went to bed.

Once again, we coulnd't get out of bed but we had this Brit in Elazar to go to. So, I forced myself out of bed so that Pidgeon would follow my lead and we got dressed. We were in the car and on our way by 9:15 a.m. and we arrived within 20 minutes! We went for a nice walk and then joined the crowd at the Brit. The Mohel was an hour late, and we recognized him immediately because he has been making the rounds. He was the Mohel at our nephew's brit last year, and the Mohel at Pidgeon's best friends son's brit this year, and then again today. The shul was nice but the food was amazing! I haven't had such good Brit food in a while. There were mini pizzas and olive and nut whole grain breads. There were these zatar topped bread too and mini whole grain challah rolls. Then, there was a table to fresh salads, including a pasta salad. The mains were little mini quiches of either corn and mushroom or broccoli, scalloped potatoes and cheese blintzes. Yum! I definitely want to get the name of this caterer because the food was great. Either that, or I was just absolutely starving. No matter. It was yummy!

Well, I'm back in the apartment now and getting ready for Shabbat. We are going away down South for some R&R. We're leaving tonight so we can spend the day tomorrow just relaxing and, if the weather is as nice as we hope it will be, we'll get a chance to take a walk on the beach.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Giant Season

I know I haven't updated the blog lately, and for that my sincerest apologies. I have an upper respiratory infection that is bordering on walking pneumonia. I started feeling lousy during the first snowstorm - Wednesday morning - and am only now feeling a little bit better. It's because I'm already taking the Z-pack and so I actually am feeling like I can breathe again. I have some great snow photos from our Thursday walk (Pidgeon insisted that I needed to be aired out and it was nice to go for a walk) and I'll try to upload those later.

I'm always depressed the morning after the Super Bowl. I can't explain it that well, but I just absolutely adore football season. I wait until August for pre-season games, and scouring the newspapers in June when football camps open for the latest news, and then try to spend my Sunday's watching the games. When I lived in the States, I watched football every single Sunday. I would run and do all of my errands in the morning - hit the gym, go to the supermarket, pay my bills - so I had all afternoon to just watch football uninterrupted. Since I moved to Israel, though, watching football on Sundays is really difficult. Sometimes, I catch the games on Monday when ESPN replays them. But, for the most part, I spend my time watching any highlights on NFL. Since I'm sick with fever, my Super Bowl 42 plans were shelved for some much needed sleep. But, I spent all morning watching both the Highlights of the NY Giant win over the New England Patriots, and the I watched the commercials. 

Here's my take:

I absolutely adored the Coke commercial with the Thanksgiving parade balloons fighting over the Coke bottle balloon. Not just because I love Family Guy, but because I found the commercial smart and funny. In the beverage wars, Coke beat Pepsi in the commercials. Hands down. 

There were a lot of vitamin water, energy drink commercial during this year's Super Bowl. I found this ad, with the man who used jumper cables attached to his nipples to start a car, hysterical. It was actually the only commercial that got me to laugh out loud. I don't know what Amp is, or even if it's kosher, but the commercial was great. 

The only reason I'm writing about the Diet Pepsi Max commercial is because it was so bad. It was 10 years too late in terms of both song, Don't Hurt Me and actors. Do you even remember the guys name from Saturday Night Live? Dear Pepsi Max executives. That skit from Saturday Night Live isn't vintage yet - give us until Super Bowl 80 before you whip it out! It was just sad. And don't get me started on the Justin Timberlake Pepsi commercial. That one was about as dumb as the Carmen Electra Ice Breakers commercial. 

The dot com's have taken over for the food ads in the Super Bowl, and we were subjected to commercials from Cars, CareerBuilders, GoDaddy and E*Trade. Where were the Subway, McDonald's and Pizza Hut commercials? I was shocked with the absence of food commercials. It seemed like only Taco Bell made an effort this year, while beverages and beer once again dominated amongst the usual car commercials. That being said, my favorite commercial was the E*Trade baby with the clown. It was cute and smart, just how I like my commercials.

Honorable Mentions
Victoria's Secret, Budweiser and Bridgestone Tires for three commercials. I loved the Victoria's Secret commercial with Adriana Lima and the football, with the reminder to men that Valentine's Day is next week. The other Bud commercial I loved was Hank, the horse training for acceptance into the horse pack. It was Rockyesque and adorable. Well done. And, the Bridgestone tires commercials were also adorable. Anyone who wants to try to mow down Richard Simmons is alright in my book. 

Movies I want to see based on the Super Bowl commercials includes Jumper, Wanted and Leatherheads. The other movies just didn't do it for me. 

Pidgeon just came home from school and told me about the Piguah (terrorist attack) in Demona. We're watching the news now and it's not good. Basically, we're afraid this is going to continue throughout the Country as Gaza residents are going into Egypt and then Gaza terrorists are crossing the border into Israel from Egypt (a peaceful border). One person was killed at the shopping center in Demona, which is in the South of Israel, and many more injured. To say we're upset is an understatement. People in this Country have been saying that the era of suicide and homicide bombers are long over. I think they're wrong, we've just been more successful at containment. But now they've found another way into Israel. And I truly hope we nip this in the bud before more Israeli's are murdered. This is a scary situation for Israel. 

I'm off to watch the news to see what Israeli is going to do in retaliation for today's attack. Meanwhile, I'm going to upload some photos from our snow days last week. Let's hope for a calmer week, especially when I have to go to school tomorrow.