Thursday, June 29, 2006

Yesterday...Today...and Tomorrow

Yesterday, my server was down and I couldn't drop in to say hello.
Today I'm running off to work very early because this afternoon I have to pick up my grandchildren from nursery school. Their parents are taking the day and night off, so I get to sleep over at their place. Well, sleep may be a bit optimistic :).
Tomorrow, I get to take my babies back to their nursery school, where my oldest, the four year old has an 'end of the year' party. His parents are coming back to the party and then they are all off for the weekend.
Finally, I will cook for shabbat. Drag my old bones to the computer. And then we can shmooze.
I don't know about you, but I miss us.
Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It’s Hard to Lose Weight on a Diet of Chocolate and Carbs

Summer is here and my sweaters and coats are safely packed away until next winter. That leaves me exposed to my skimpy summer t-shirts and light weight pants. As a good friend once told me, “Isn’t it amazing how the dampness in your closet shrinks your clothes from season to season?”

So every spring I start ‘the diet’.

Actually this time I wasn’t doing too badly. Summer is a good time for eating salads and cooked vegetables.

Then, suddenly last night, I found myself craving chocolate again. I don’t know about you but chocolate and carbs are my customary comfort foods. And if you put them together like in rogelach…ambrosia!

It all started when I made the mistake of turning on the news. Big mistake. I have tried to avoid watching the news since the intifada when I knitted all those sweaters I told you about in a previous blog. I meant to put on the Israeli version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and instead of nice people doing the cha cha and samba or waltz, I got our Prime Minister giving a speech.

Usually I would have pretended not to hear him, but this time I had to find out what the news is about our Gilad ben Aviva - our soldier kidnapped by the Hamas. The tension in the country is tangible. Everyone is talking and running to hear or read the latest alert. His sweet face is everywhere. Oy.

Suddenly I got an SMS message on my cell phone. I opened the phone and there was a note from my daughter, in Hebrew that said, ‘Please pray for Gilad ben Aviva and pass this on to five people.’

I cried. One, because the situation is so scary and horrendous, and two, because the children are using whatever means they have to keep our soldier in everyone’s hearts, minds and prayers.

I sent it on to five people. I cried a little more. And that is when I turned on the T.V.

It was then that my inner voice started whispering in my ear… chocolate…chocolate…

I fought it off. I reminded it of the t-shirts and light-weight clothes.

And then I went and made some 93% no fat microwave pop corn.

The Hamas are not going to make me fat. No, sir! Not this time. I learned my lesson during the intifada when they had control of my eating habits.

Today I am liberated! Today I am back to the farkakteh salads.

But, with G-d’s help when we get our soldier back, I will be happy to celebrate with a nice, little piece of hot chocolate cake with the runny stuff that dribbles onto the plate when you cut into it and runs into the waiting mound of vanilla ice cream.

And a diet coke.

Let’s keep praying for Gilad and his family and may they and we only know simchas.

Have a good day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.

Monday, June 26, 2006

One Not So Happy Family

Nineteen seventy-three. Summer. I was standing at a bus stop in Kiryat Ha Yovel, my neighbourhood at the time, waiting to take a bus downtown.

When the bus finally arrived at the stop, an elderly man announced, “Let the soldier go on first.”

I backed up and turned to look for the soldier.

It was then that I realized that the man was referring to my nine month old son in my arms.

My baby? A soldier?!?

When I agreed to marry my husband two thoughts flashed through my mind…one that yahoooo I was going to be a grandmother one day…and two that my own children would be soldiers.

Both sobering thoughts. (We’ll talk about the mystical/shmystical another time :))

My soldier/baby is now in his thirties and the father of my two sweetsie tootsies. But in all those years I never forgot the sound of that man’s voice at the bus stop or the panic I felt when I realized he was talking about my baby.

Yesterday the piranha attacked and I am praying with all my might they aren’t on a feeding frenzy. Dear G-d, please, please, please…

Hamas has taken one of our children. You see, in Israel every child belongs to each and every one of us. One womb, millions of parents. That’s how we are. One big happy family filled with love, and Jewish Mother Guilt, and two thousand years of worrying.

When we mention someone in our prayers to G-d we add the mother’s name.

Today I am asking you all to pray for Gilad ben Aviva, the IDF soldier taken hostage. That he comes back to us safe and sound.

Please, please God.

Hope you have a great day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pavlov and Dill Pickles

When I was a kid we studied Pavlov and his ‘conditioned reflex’ theory. You remember…he turned on a metronome at the same time he fed his dogs. Soon the dogs began to salivate just at the sound of the metronome.

I always thought of Pavlov when I went to get one of my mom’s dill pickles. Just thinking about them always made my mouth water. Still does.

Last week I decided it was time to make some home made dills. I had all the stuff I needed…wide mouth jars with the rubber thingee to keep it sealed. Loads of fresh dill. Ahhhhh love the smell of fresh dill. Garlic…keeps away the Angel of Death. You didn’t know? Ask the 2,000 Year Old Man. “Just before I go to retire, I eat a nice pound and a half of garlic. Then when the Angel of Death knocks at my door, I look at him and say ‘Whooooooo is it?’ and he says WOOO and runs away.” (AH Mel Brooks, I love you!). Pickling spices, small cukes, kosher salt, and tap water.

I made four kilo of dills. And about a week later took some to my mom. My mom is going to be eighty-three next month and she is the pickle maven. Ma took one taste and ooed and ahhed and I knew I was a hit! So then we went to the shuk and made her some dills. Don’t tell anyone but she eats them like peanuts…never mind the salt…we won’t discuss that when home made dills are involved.

Two days ago my oldest grandson turned four and I decided it was time he had a real birthday party at our house. I invited my husband’s immediate family and we had around twenty adults, the birthday boy and his eighteen month old sister.

I had a black forest chocolate cake…and yes it was mine (I paid for it myself) and a table full of food plus three pizzas and dishes of my pickles.

At one time during the evening I looked at the table and there was my mom taking a pickle. Standing next to her was her great granddaughter grabbing a pickle for herself.

Ahhhhhhhhh the joy that surged through my soul at that moment.

Memories of Windsor and my mom downstairs in our basement making fifty jars of pickles for us and our friends and relatives.

The thrill of watching my mom and my granddaughter biting into my dills and the look of joy on their face as the pickle juice swam over their tongues.

I love chocolate. I love anything with yeast.

But only home made dill pickles make me salivate.

What do you think of that Mr. Pavlov?

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem.

Have a great day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Milky has a Friend in Heaven

My oldest friend is Donna. We met when I was six months old and she was an older woman of one year. We lived next door to each other and that afternoon our mothers decided to bring us together while we ate our lunches in the fresh air of our back yards.

That was the beginning of seventeen years of shared lunches. Yup, every day we either ate at her house or my place. Her mom made exotic Ukrainian dishes…my mom made Campbell’s soup and tuna fish sandwiches. See, by us the fancy meal was supper when my parents came home from the fur store and we could all sit around the table.

Over the years I learned to love pedeheh, and babkah and piroghi. And Donna learned to love stuffed cabbage and latkes and my mom’s famous dill pickles. I went to Midnight Mass and she came to Pessach Seders.

The only reason we stopped was that Donna had the chutzpah to be accepted to U. of T. in Toronto and I was at Wayne State in Detroit.

We missed each other. But over the almost sixty-two years (oy sixty-two years!??!) we’ve managed to stay close and share our joys and sorrows.

The hardest part of moving to Israel was leaving everyone behind. It took me months to get over being homesick until I realized that I could never live there again.

See, after living twelve months in Jerusalem, I went back home for the summer and to get ready for my wedding in December. It was during that trip home I realized that I ached to be back in Jerusalem. Who knew? Twenty-five years I lived in a place and after twelve months I ached to be home. HOME. Jerusalem was home.

And still is.

And I still miss my family and friends from ‘the good old days’.

Donna’s cat Rudi died last week. I wrote her and told her I knew how she felt. My dog, Milky had passed away a few years ago and no one can raise and care for a pet for all those years without feeling sad.

Donna wrote and told me that now Milky has a friend in heaven.

Of course he does!

I wonder if they’re eating babkah or latkehs? Even days cat food and odd days doggie treats.

And why not?

Have a great day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Two Thirds of Shalom

For those of you who don't know, the word SHALOM has three meanings...hello, goodbye, and peace.

Well, I am all for peace and I love saying 'hello' as you have probably gathered, but I'm not so good at the 'goodbye' part. Actually, I'm terrible at it.

The first time I realized that I hated goodbye was when I was thirteen and my closest friend was moving to California. Today with all the communication options it’s easy to stay in touch. But then it was like saying goodbye forever.

When my oldest son went into the army and was ‘someplace’ in the country it could have been days or weeks between communication. On every base they had pay phones and whenever the boys had some free time they would line up and call home.

Usually at six in the morning.

And the phone calls went something like this:

‘IMMA, IT’S ME!’ (he had to shout to be heard over the noise).

One day he called and here is the conversation:

“Hi, Imma, guess what?”
“Hi, darling! What?”
“I got a prize!”
“You did? What kind of a prize?”
“I got an M-16!”
“They gave you a plane?”
“OY, IMMA! That’s an F-16, an M-16 is a rifle!”
“They gave you a rifle and that’s by you a prize?”
“Yah, Imma. Well, I’ve got to run. Give my love to Abba and the kids.”
“Bye honey, stay safe and take care of yourself. Keep warm. Thanks for calling, I love you!”

Now by me a prize is a weekend in Eilat…a free dinner in a fancy restaurant. What did I know? A gun? They gave my kid a gun and he thought it was the cat’s pajamas.

There was a period of three years, when both my son and daughter were in the army, that I had a house filled with kids and guns. Babies. They were only babies. With big guns. And these babies were protecting us all and keeping the country safe.

When my youngest went into the army ten years later, he had two cell phones. His own and the one the army supplied. No more phone calls at six-thirty. Instant communication.

What a life!

Yesterday a close friend told me he was going back to the states for three months on family business. My first reaction was the old ‘goodbye ache’. And then I realized.
Hey! We have phones…email…and skype!!!

Goodbye isn’t forever anymore when a friend leaves town.

Looking forward to seeing you again and using the hello part of the word.


Have a great day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Shmoozing In the Night (part two)

It wasn’t that I wanted to end all communication with family and friends. Hell, I was ‘a stranger in a strange new place, looking for an old familiar face’ to quote from Tevya, but writing lost its effect due to the time warp of waiting.

No one had a phone and besides the telephone became like the telegrams of my grandparents era – a thing to be used in times of emergency, G-d forbid.

So we all sort of drifted apart.

In my heart I was so lonely and longed to be back in the middle of everything.

See, when I moved to Jerusalem, I lost ‘me’. That’s why I kept my name as Marallyn instead of using my Hebrew name of Miriam. I didn’t have a language; I didn’t have a past; I didn’t have any family…I just had me, Marallyn.

No one really spoke English at the time. The major languages here were Hebrew, Arabic, and French. And NO ONE wanted to speak Yiddish! Vey!

So I learned Hebrew. I was one of the lucky ones and picked it up very quickly. First I understood a word, here and there; then I understood most of the sentence; then I could make a feeble attempt at composing my own sentences; then I translated from English to Hebrew. And, then one day I was babbling on, all by myself, in Hebrew.

But I still missed my everyone over on the other side of the great water.

Then one grand day, when I was back in Windsor, my cousin Robert said, “Why don’t you get email?”
“Email? What’s email?”
“You get a computer and can send messages back and forth for free, instantly.”
“You can?”

The rest is history. The moment I got my first computer I was hooked. Finished.

“You want dinner? Go make it yourself, I’m busy!”

Well, not quite, but boyohboyohboyohboy…instant gratification. My two favourite words became 'send' and 'receive'. :)

Today I not only email but I can ‘talk' using two programs I downloaded for free. I put my little headphones on with the microphone thingee and off I go shmoozing with everyone.

When we were all worried about Y2K the only thing I panicked about was the computer. I didn’t care that I couldn’t shoot a moose with my bow and arrow. I didn’t care that I had no idea how to grind wheat into flour. I stockpiled up enough medicine to cover any emergency for a few months figuring that if we were back in the dark ages, that, by then, someone would know how to get rid of a headache or what plants we needed to chew instead of penicillin.

No. All I worried about was what would I do without the computer.

Thank heavens I never had to learn how to make fire. No, don’t look for me on Survivor…living in the wilds of Jerusalem is exciting enough for me.

But,if you want to stop and say hi…well, I’ll always be happy to talk to you.

I love you Mr. Gates.

Have a great day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.
p.s. Shabbat Shalom

Shmoozing in the Night

The other night I found myself wandering around the house at two in the morning. As usual, I had fallen asleep in front of the T.V. Don’t tell anyone but the old grey mar, she ain’t what she used to be. :)) and at two o’clock I had had enough sleep and was wide awake! Ratz!

So, I did what I usually do, I ran to the computer and checked my emails. And played a little scrabble. My friend Alex introduced me to a wonderful site where you play one move at a time directly from your email. and now I’m playing four games with friends….one Israeli, one Canadian, one American, and one wonderful lady from Ireland.

Anyway, last night at two in the morning I played my next moves and the American was online. Now what I forgot to mention is that there is a little window underneath the scrabble board where you can leave a message. You know me, I can’t let an opportunity to chat go by, so I always drop a line or two as I play.

Well we played and chatted last night until nearly four in the morning, my time.

What a world we live in!!! What a change the computer has made in my life.

When I first moved to Israel, the cheapest way of communicating with family back home was to buy an airmail sheet at the post office. They came already stamped and after you wrote and wrote and wrote as much as you could squeeze on the page you folded it along the pre-marked lines. A little fold here, a little tuck there and then you licked the little tabs and voila you were ready to drop it into any mailbox you found along the way.

The only trouble was that it took two weeks for the letter to arrive and then another two weeks to get your answer. By that time who cared what you wrote??? No matter what the problem you were facing or the joy you wanted to share, it was already old news by the time you received your reply.

So I stopped writing.

(end of part one…my dear friend John, who set up this blog told me that it is customary for a blog to be around three hundred words...and that's where we are hope you will tune in tomorrow to see what happens…in the meantime, have a great day…stay safe…and thanks for dropping in.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I Wish I Could Knit

Wait! Don't get me wrong. I learned to knit a zillion years ago when I was seven. My mom said that it wasn't good to sit with idle hands and taught me the fine art of knit one, purl one and all the magical combinations of those two stitches.

Over the years we knitted, my mom and I. Sweaters, afghans; fancy and plain. It was then I learned the secret that you are NEVER to make a sweater for your boyfriend. Something about that combination ruins the relationship and the guy walks off with the knitted item and you are left holding the extra buttons.

After I was safely married, I knitted for my husband and I knitted for my three kids. Even though, in their hearts, I'm sure they wanted to wear sweatshirts, they put on my cardigans and kissed me good bye as they walked out the door.

Then my son got married and soon they were expecting their first child.

I couldn't wait to begin knitting again. Little baby stuff...booties, caps, sweaters...I couldn't wait. But, of course, you know that you NEVER knit or buy anything for a baby until he/she is born. NEVER.

While speaking to two of my best friends, I learned that they too were going to be bubbies (grandmothers) and all three babies were due the last week in June. Yahooo now this was going to be really fun. I told them that I was itching to start knitting baby stuff and one of the women said, "Go ahead, I would love to have a hand made sweater for the baby."

I answered, "What about the eyin ha ra (the evil eye) tfu tfu tfu?"

She said, "Ok, so don't finish anything until the baby is born. Leave off a button or weave the cut off yarn into the edges later when the baby is born."

Eureka!!! Like the wisdom of Solomon, my problem was solved.

I went to my favourite knit shop on King George Street, next to my mom's apartment, and bought all kinds of sweet baby yarn. Neutral colours since no one knew if we were having boys or girls. I ran to my computer and started looking up 'free patterns to knit for baby' on the internet. I still have loads of pattern books in my closet, but this was going to be for my new baby and I needed the newest and best patterns to choose from.

And I started knitting. How sweet. Little baby stuff. And how easy. In a day or two the item was done and in a week the matching blanket was ready to be put together.

Then my oldest son called me and told me that he was called up and had to report to his base...somewhere...they never tell you anything, these kids. At the time my youngest son was regular army and his base was hours away by bus or train. Okay, I thought, now I have two of them in uniform.

I phoned my daughter-in-law and promised that I would stay close and that she didn't have to worry. She still had a month yet before her due date and we had time. I asked her if she wanted to move in with us, but she decided to stay in her own place. We live about ten minutes away from each other and are really close, which is so special and so nice.

The intifada was in full swing and Jerusalem was being bombed weekly and sometimes daily. The army went into action and my son and his friends were sent into Shechem (Nablus) of the most dangerous cities in Israel.

I knitted. And I knitted. By the time I was finished I had one hundred and fifty baby sweaters, blankets, booties, and caps. I enlisted my mom, who was seventy-seven at the time and her job was to make the hand made buttons and to put the things together. I didn't have the patience for that part. Soon Ma was knitting along with me. She made the fancy stuff...lion sweaters with full manes, and giraffes, and monkeys and the sweetest elephant sweater where one sleeve was the trunk. We knitted.

By the time my son was released we had two suitcases filled with stuff and in the five years since we haven't had to buy one baby gift! We are down to the last twenty sweaters.

But since then I can't seem to knit any more. I wish I could. Sitting in front of the T.V. with the gentle clicking of the needles used to be so calming.

Instead I eat pop corn.

I wish I could knit.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I Miss Track

I decided to check out some other bloggers this morning to see what's out there and I came across someone who wrote..."I miss track."

You know, in all my life, I have never said those words. There are plenty of things I miss in my life. I miss my Dad, who passed away nearly ten years ago. I miss butter tarts. I miss watching the trees turn colours in the fall. But track?!?

I don't know anyone who has ever said that. Must not be a Jewish thing. I bet Jackie Mason could do an entire routine about track.

When I was growing up, there was a girl in my class in high school, Christine who eventually was on the Canadian Gymnast Team that went to the Olympics. That was nice. For her, I mean.

I did once ride a horse. From Day Camp. We all trekked out to Yakki Bush for the day and rode horses. I hated it.

I went skiing once too. Nice. Cost a lot of money to rent all that stuff and I spent the day trying not to make a fool out of myself and not break anything.

That doesn't mean that I'm not brave. I moved to Jerusalem. I got married. I had kids. That takes moxie, doesn't it?

Then I watched my three kids grow up. My oldest son became a paratrooper and one day all the parents were invited to the base to watch the kids jump. I have pictures of me clutching my heart and praying that the thing would open and my kid would land safely. As I looked closely at my pictures, I noticed that all the other moms looked just like me.

But then, when the kids were running up to us, proud as punch, we all put on our brave faces and told them how great they did. No one slept for a long time after Parents' Day at the army.

Then my daughter became a soldier. And was working with a special unit to catch 'would-be' stabbers who were walking our streets at the time. She was at the Kotel, the Wailing Wall, on duty the morning of the riots. It took eight hours before they could be evacuated and my daughter got a citation for bravery. No one slept for a long time after that.

And finally my baby. He joined intelligence and aside from the days when he travelled home and back to his base, I didn't worry. I wouldn't have worried at all except that he was travelling during the intifada where all the busses and trains were being blown up at the time.

Then came the day when my three soldiers were out of uniform. Yahoooo. Finished! It's over.

Track? I don't miss track.

I miss the good old days. You know, the good old days when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yassoo, Yassoo, or How I Came to Live in Jerusalem

It's all because our washing machine broke down. Every day of the week my Dad went to his fur store to work, but on Sundays he was free. Too free. So, he decided NOT to buy a new washing machine and to take the laundry to the laundromat instead.

I became a partner in the deal and to this day I miss our Sunday mornings. I was sixteen, I think when we started going to 'sudsy'. That first morning we took Maeshey with us. Maeshey spent as much time in our house as he did in his own so we absorbed him and to this day, along with my brother David, he is my dearest darling.

Early that morning we packed up the dirty clothes; the stuff we would need for the machines; and the three of us, Pa, Maeshey and I went off searching for a laundry place. We didn't know any other Jewish people who used a laundromat, so we couldn't call anyone and comparative shop. We just got into the car and tried to find a place close to where my Dad wanted to go for breakfast. :)

Yahoooo there was a laundromat a few blocks away from the restaurant and it was open and empty. We shlepped our stuff in and filled up the front loading machines. One for whites and one for the rest. The machines were much larger than the one we had at home and my Dad wasn't sure just how much soap to put inside. So he filled the little cup and added more 'for the pot' so to say. And then instead of watching it go around and around, we drove up the street and had breakfast.

When we finished, we rushed back to the laundromat and the place was still empty. THANK GOODNESS because the entire floor was covered in soap suds! Foam was everywhere!!! We swished and slid to our two machines, the front loaders, and when we opened them up to rescue our stuff, floods of foam flew out at us.

So we did the only thing we could do. We laughed. We were hysterical. Then when we got control of ourselves, I am ashamed to admit it, but we hijacked our clothes and ran like hell to find a new laundromat.

At the second place we didn't need to put in any more soap - our stuff was still full of suds, and this time we sat and watched and waited for the machines to end. OY what a relief. Then we put them in the dryers. This time we were safe. Nothing to add. No calculations to make.

So, while they were drying we drove to Adler's bakery and bought rye bread and bagels and lox and the fixings for Sunday brunch...lox, herring, you know...fixings.

When the clothes were dry we folded them and placed them in the two laundry baskets we had brought with us and put them into the trunk. Then we drove out into the country to the farmers.

Windsor, Ontario is part of the 'breadbasket' of Canada and we had a Jolly Green Giant plant and we had the best fruit trees and beefsteak tomatoes and cucumbers and...and...and...

After loading up the trunk with baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables we drove back into the city and home for Sunday morning brunch.

Now, you may well ask, what has all this got to do with Yassoo, Yassoo and Jerusalem? Well, on the way we turned on the radio and at that time every Sunday morning they had different ethnic half hour programs. Our travel time always hit the Greek Hour. Boy oh boy! I heard that bouzouki and my heart twanged. Something in my soul glowed with the music as if I had known those melodies all my life.

I 'sudsy'd' with my Dad for as many Sundays as I could. All through high school and while in college, when I had time. And always there was the Greek Hour.

I graduated from Wayne State in Detroit in 1966 and began teaching school. That's when I discovered Greektown. Downtown Detroit has a section where, if you blink your eyes you will be sure you have left America and are sitting in Athens or Piraeus, or Mykonos ahhhhhh. Now my Greektown adventures will be left for another time...ahhhhhh Greektown.

Towards the end of my second year as a teacher, my friend Anita said, "Marallyn, I think I'm going to go to Greece this summer, want to come?" I thought for exactly forty seconds and told her I'd love to. ME? Greece? I'd never been on a plane before and the farthest I'd gone alone was with my girlfriends for weekends in Chicago. But then I told Anita that I couldn't go that close to Israel without visiting there too.

She thought that was a grand idea and we booked our trip. A week in Israel, then a week on the Stella Maris Ship and a week in Athens. I figured I'd get the Israel part out of the way and then hit the bouzouki.

But, the moment my feet touched the ground in Ben Gurion Airport, I lost my heart. I was home. I can't explain it to either know what I'm talking about or not. And in the almost thirty-seven years I've been here I still feel the same way.

See, if my Dad had bought a washing machine, I wouldn't be able to tell you that I have three children and two grandchildren with passports that say...Place of Birth...JERUSALEM.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Wednesday is Shakshuka in the Mall with Rena

Every Wednesday morning I meet my friend Rena for brunch in the Malcha Mall before running to Gilo where I teach remedial reading once a week to a great bunch of kids. It is a special program and I've had a soft spot in my heart for Gilo since they were being shot at all the time from the neighboring Arab village.

My apartment is directly across the valley from Gilo. Excellent acoustics...some days and nights I was really sorry for the excellent acoustics.

The families who could afford it, quickly sold their houses and moved to safer neighbourhoods. This gave other families an opportunity to purchase great apartments for a fee that they could afford and today there is a great part of Gilo where wonderful children live who need remedial help but simply can't

Anyway, since I have to pass the Mall to get from my apartment to Gilo, it is only natural that brunch in the mall with a friend becomes a perfect excuse to sit and talk and let them do the cooking and cleaning up.

Shakshuka is a great Middle Eastern dish and so easy to make. All you need are eggs, lots of ground tomatoes, you can add some cheese and for those who like it, fried eggplant slices.

Here is the basic recipe:

4-6 eggs
two pounds of fresh tomatoes, unpeeled and cut into cubes or one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2-3 green peppers (optional)
2 onions (small) - finely chopped
hot chili pepper - whole (optional)

In a pan, saute the onion in olive oil until golden...
add in the peppers, tomatoes and saute for 4-5 minutes...
add the tomato paste (and some water), and stir...
season with salt and pepper...
put the hot chili pepper into the pan (whole) - this will make the Shakshuka extra hot - so go easy at first...
Now, crack the eggs, put each egg in a different side of the pan carefully so it won't break...
reduce the heat and cover for 10-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the eggs are done...
Eat - usually eaten with pita bread, or hunks of fresh bread...
Trust me...this one is delicious...

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's Hard to Stick to a Diet When This Could Be Your Last Meal

All my life I have 'battled the bulge'. I keep telling myself that round is a shape too, right? And after all the classes and groups...not to mention books I've read about diets and why we eat, I have come to the conclusion that food is the only addiction that you can't abstain from. So for some of us it's a losing battle.

During the intifada I watched the fatties get fatter and the skinnies get emaciated. Nu, all right...they got skinnier.

They ate nothing. They drank gallons of coffee and chain smoked all day.

Well, that didn't work for me because on one idiotic day, October 4, 1994 to be exact, I quit smoking. It was by mistake. I had been smoking since I was a teenager. We all did. Who knew? I guess in 'the good old days' we were not as smart as we are today. And we smoked.

I quit because I threw out my deodorant. Really. I had just come back from a trip to Canada and the States. I hadn't been back in eleven years and my Dad wasn't doing well. So I took my youngest son and off we went. I was one of the few who were still puffing and I found myself out in the backyard or on the porch of everyone's houses. I didn't care. I'm Israeli. I'm tough. We smoke.

When in Boulder visiting with my brother David and his wife Annie, I loved going to the Lighthouse Bookstore on Pearl Street. What a difference between Pearl Street and Ben Yehuda Street. Maybe I'll write about that later. Anyway, at the time the big deal was aromatherapy. Oils and stuff and you cure what ails you without taking pills. I bought a great almanac and little bottles of exotic sounding stuff...patchouli...tea tree...lavendar, I couldn't resist.

Well, to make a long story short, when I got home and started to read the almanac there was a little article on one of the pages that said something like this...'If you have aluminum in your deodorant, it may cause lumps in your breast or alzheimer's.' OY. I ran to where I keep my deodorant, and sure enough it was full of aluminum!

Shocked, I walked into the kitchen, opened the cupboard door and threw the dangerous stuff into the garbage! Then I lit a cigarette.

Hold on. Idiot, I said. The deodorant is in the garbage and you're smoking? There was nothing left to do. I had to get rid of them. October 4, 1994 was the last cigarette I smoked.

Two years ago this month, I was sitting in my Learning Center with my staff and students when the bomb went off. My daughter was teaching that day and we looked at each other. My 'school', my mom's apartment, my husband's office, my mother-in-law's apartment, my brother-in-law's office, and my daughter's apartment, were all in the triangle...Jaffa Road/King George/Ben Yehuda. And we were being bombed there at least once a week.

When the dust settled and we could see the burned out bus in front of us, the first thing that I did was automatically grab one of my daughter's cigarettes. She, bless her, looked at me and took it away. "Imma, you don't really want this," she said and hugged me.

So instead we ate. The chubbies ate comfort food. My personal favourite was cream of wheat and/or spagetti. You can't get thin on a diet of carbs. No one knew what the next minute would bring, so we ate like there was no tomorrow.

As I gazed at my Boticelli figure in the mirror, I thought, 'Who cares? I could be killed any day now." And then, the little voice who has had a running conversation with me since I learned to talk whispered, "Yes, but what if you live?"

So, here I am, grateful that I'm still standing and still fighting to take off those nasty pounds I gained when I stopped smoking.

My doctor, bless him, said, "Marallyn, I don't care what you weight, just don't smoke."

I smiled up at him and answered, "Will you write me a letter for my Mother?"

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Life is Never Boring in Jerusalem

My life has always been an adventure...student teaching in the 'Projects' in Detroit in the 60's...moving to Jerusalem...getting married...having kids. Then one day I gave up my family and my car and took up residency in Jerusalem.

I moved here with two girlfriends from Detroit, who I will call Sarah and Leah. We found a great apartment on Ha Palmach Street...very fancy...very posh. And it also had fifty-six stairs. You forgot something? You were back on the stairs. You dropped something? You were on the stairs. At the time, everyone carried little multi-coloured cloth mesh bags to put stuff in. There were no plastic or paper bags anywhere...still no paper bags...we try to plant trees and not cut them down. So we quickly learned to double check the mesh bags before we left the house, so we wouldn't have to go back and get them. Of course, we always could give up and buy new ones but money was tight and that was a waste.

Then came rule number one...if you can't carry it, don't buy it. One day we outdid ourselves and then couldn't drag the stuff home. And never mind the steps!

Our first business of the day was to enroll in the Ulpan and learn Hebrew and master the supermarket up the street. In the Supersol they had everything. Well, we think they had everything. My Hebrew at the time was Shalom and Bli Yadayim...Hi and hands off! Ahh the good old days, but that's another story.

Now in the supermarket, if it didn't have a picture on it, we had absolutely no idea of what was inside. Sometimes we took a chance, and dinner was an adventure that night, but usually we could figure it out and managed.

Simple. Living here then was like traveling back fifty years in a time machine. Nasser was dead three days before we knew. Oh, sure, we had a radio, but everything was either in Hebrew or Arabic. Eventually, we did discover the English News and became women of the world, once again.

Those were great days. The wool shop had two kinds of wool...thick and thin and only in the primary colours. If you wanted to get anywhere you ran for the bus. And best of all you could walk anywhere, day or night and not be afraid.

After coming from Detroit and the race riots of the 60's, it took me a long time before my heart didn't klap every time I heard footsteps behind me. But we were safe and we walked. In the city, around the city, in the Old City. We walked.

Today I still walk, but today I am aware of everything and everyone around me. Today I listen and look to see who is walking with me. And sometimes I change my direction and move to the little side streets.

I still ride the busses. But now it's like playing chess. Is this seat good, should I move over there? Maybe towards the back is better.

Last week I left work in the Clal Building (yes the same building that was blown up while we were inside a couple of years ago this month) and immediately I heard the hum. Now the hum is something only Israelis hear. An electricity in the air that hints of danger. Here are the clues. Outside the building were three policemen with walki-talki's. Across the street, at my bus stop there wasn't one bus guard, but three and another one with a sniffer dog. The bus stops were over crowded as no traffic was coming through.

I had to or bus? When the traffic finally began to move, it was so congested that I figured it didn't matter. Either way, I would be sardined between the busses and cars, so I took my life in my hands and entered the bus.

My 83 year old mom,who lives downtown and has the 'whoozsh' called me and asked where I was and made me promise to phone when I got home.

It has been a long time since I've been scared, but that day I have to admit, I was nervous. I couldn't wait to get away from downtown and off the bus. So, I did the next best thing. I called my friend Rena. I figured, if I was going to die, then someone should know where I was.

Instead of twenty-five minutes it took over an hour to get home. Later that night we were told that they had been on high alert as they had information that a suicide bomber was either on his way into the city or already there.

Once again I realized how 'boring is better.' I've had enough excitement in my life for three lifetimes. And now it's time for boring.

But as things look, I think it will be a long time before it gets boring in the Middle East. Maybe never. Too bad.

But this is the Holyland. This is the land of miracles. This is where we have 'the original cast' and anything can happen...even boring.

I still put my money on the good guys waking up in time to save the day.

But in the meantime...have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and ran to the computer. Then I realized the kid was back from his quest and sleeping safely in his own bed. The kid being my youngest who is twenty-three, tfu tfu tfu. And now I don't have to go check and see if he left an email or is online someplace where I can't even pronounce the name.

So, since I was up and awake anyway, I wrote a few emails and grabbed the book I was reading and went back to sleep.

Six months ago, my youngest son informed us that he was going to South America for four months...and maybe the western coast of the USA.

I said, 'That's nice'. Actually, I said, 'With the piranha and the nazis!?!' G-d help me, I really said that. Of all my three children, I never thought that he would be the one to go on a quest.


---I flashed back to the day thirty-seven years ago (oy thirty-seven years ago) when I informed my folks that I was leaving for Israel for a year. They had the good grace to let me go without feeling guilty or scared.

And those were the days without computers and cell phones. Those were the days when if you wanted to make a long distance phone call from Jerusalem you had to go to the main post office on Jaffa Road and book a call - usually around two in the morning and then stand in line and wait your turn.

No one had a phone. Well, that's not true. We were living in Macheneh Yehuda just off the shook and Yossi's mother had a phone. We had a TV. And no one had a washing machine. But that's another story :).

---So I told my son that I was thrilled for him and to have a wonderful time and to stay safe. Then, I had to practice not crying. I am an expert at that. I have a gold medal at not crying...a Ph.D.

See, I sent three children to the army - my son, my daughter and then Che Guevara, here. And I learned how not to cry until after the elevator doors were closed and they couldn't see. And you will all be proud of me, I made it in the airport and didn't fall apart until we were in the parking lot. Then my husband looked at me like I was a crazy woman. Men! What do they know about sending your baby into the wilds of South America? All he could think of was what a marvellous adventure the kid was going to have until he has to come back and start law school.

Yes, my kid was accepted to study law at Hebrew University. Now all I had to do was try to figure out how to keep him safe until he can put his tush in the chair and start studying.

Well, I've got to run. The guy from Ben Gurion airport just rang the buzzer. Iberia left New York an hour and a half late and they all missed their connection in Madrid. Luckily, El Al picked them up but their luggage stayed in Spain. There's a song there someplace. Anyhow I've got to go open the door for the suitcase man. Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.