Sunday, July 30, 2006
The moment we entered the city it was not the usual tension that hit me, but rather the unexpected sight of so many Americans.
Now we're off for a night at the Carmel Forest spa. Yeah!
Seabiscut was one movie neither of us had seen. We'd heard it was good, we both wanted to see it. We started watching it our first night and didn't get more than 15 minutes in before being overcome by sleep.
Since that first night we've slowly, very slowly been chipping away at it.
"Is it Seabiscut time?" I would ask, meaning "Is it bed time yet?"
I decided that this stupid war would end as soon as we managed to get to the end of Seabiscut.
"We're looking for escapism," Adi said to me philosophically last night as we returned from Jerusalem. "And it is different - horse racing! what could be more different? But, somehow it's not working."
"Yeah, it's just not compelling enough," I agreed. We had trouble keeping track of the characters, especially the first four days or so before we'd crossed the first hour mark.
Now Adi is watching the DVD extras. They mentioned that the real-life jockey swallowed tape worms to keep his weight down. Now if they'd included that, it would have improved the movie. As it was all we were left with was confusing Hallmark sap.
But the good news is, we got to the end, damn it! So Nasrallah, our personal condition to ending the war has been met. We're ready to go home. Haven't you had enough?
Friday, July 28, 2006
Last night we went to the nearby beach. It's a real beauty, part of a nature reserve. Several families had set up tents together and we wondered if any of them might be refugee families who had settled on a cheaper solution than a hotel in the center. We ran into acquaintences from MegaCorp who invited us to stop by their house, a short walk from Maggie's.
I guess I do feel calmer now. The whole thing starts to become a bit of a routine, and not an entirely unpleasant one for us.
But some days are better than others.
In Cholent news I managed to call a nice English woman, Wendy Blumfeld, who is a local birthing and nursing coach. I signed us up for a birthing class after discussing with her the fact that I will most likely require a planned C-section. Unlike some of the natural-birth zealots I've heard of, Wendy does not shy away from the subject of C-sections. She even includes a film of a C-section in her class and observed that these days, some 20% of births end up as C-sections, plannned or not. She told me that she would always let us know what subject was up next and I could feel free to skip natural birth parts if I felt they'd bum me out.
Excelently, the classes are held very close to our house. Of course, we will have to have Nasrallah's cooperation to get started, but as Wendy said in her charming British accent, "The babies don't wait!"
She wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post recently about cloth nappies as a greener, cheapr, healthier alternative to disposables.
"Oh yes, a lot of people saw that!" she exclaimed cheerfuly when I told her I'd read it.
I am interested to see how I'll feel when we enter Jerusalem. Usually the the Holy City hits me with a vicious wave of tension as soon as I enter its limits. Today it may feel like a comfortable old friend. Of course there is nothing like the peace of the sabbath in Jerusalem and I'm eager to connect with that, may even try to go to shul tonight.
Our friends are the founders of www.jewishmosaic.org, the center for Jewish Sexual and Gender Diversity. One of their orignial travel goals was to attend the International World Pride Day, scheduled to be held in Jerusalem. Given the current situation and ugly threats from Jewish extremist leaders before it, the Jerusalem police in a sad but responsible decision said they could not ensure the saftey of participants and the parade had to be canceled.
I will probably not post again until after Shabbat or even Sunday morning, so don't worry about us.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I woke up early in a fit, caught in a dream that I was arguing with my in-laws about my decision NOT to do amniocentesis. I had been in a state about it last night when Adi told me that they'd asked us to talk to another OBGYN friend of theirs. I am determined. And luckily, Adi respects my determination.
Later, here's the email I sent them:
I understand from Adi that you are concerned about our decision not to perform amniocentesis. I hope that knowing the facts behind our decision will help you feel comfortable with our choice.
The key facts are as follows:
The Integrated Test התבחין המשולש
-The results from the Integrated Test, "התבחין המשולשfor us personally,
for this pregnancy are 1: 8,100. That number is considerably better than the
statistical risk based on my age alone, 1:290.
-The accuracy of the
Integrated Test varies between 94-97%, depending on who you ask and on who
performs the test. Dr. Shapria of Elisha hospital who performed the test for me
places accuracy at 96%. He is considered the best at what he does, his equipment
is the finest, and his testing includes measure of the nasal bone, a factor
known to increase accuracy of the test.
-The risk of losing a baby due to
performing the Integrated Test is zero. It is a totally safe, non-invasive
procedure. It simply cost money and time. And it's done already!
-The main reason for doing amnio is to achieve closer to complete accuracy on
the question of Down's Syndrome. The accuracy of amniocentesis is 99%, and “An
amniocentesis can accurately detect many birth defects including Down's
Syndrome, but it cannot rule out all problems or guarantee your baby will be
free of all birth defects." (WebMd.com)
-The risk of losing a baby due to
performing amniocentesis is somewhere between 1:100, 1:360, to
1:1000, depending on who you ask. My doctor, Professor Ron Gonen (head of his
deparement at Rotchild), considered by many to be the best doctor for amnio in
Haifa claims his personal risk level is better, I think around 1:1000.
-According to Dr. Moshiach who admitted me at Ram Bam hospital and who is
also highly-regarded in Haifa, my personal risk for miscarriage due to
amniocentesis is higher due to the fact that I have two myomas, each ~8 cm in
diameter, sitting directly below the cervix ("tzavar harechem") and am faced
with a high-risk pregnancy.
-The reason that misrad habriut recommends amnio
for women over 35 is simply because that is the point at which they estimate the
risk of the test itself matches the risk of Downs Syndrome. Their statistics do
not take into account the personal risk circumstances of the particular mother
or fetus. They are merely guidelines.
I summarized these details in a table and sent them, along with an article from the NY Times describing the Integrated Test. The Integrated Test is relatively new in the United States, but even without it, few American women perform amniocentisis unless they have strong personal reasons for doing so. See http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/27/health/27brod.html?ei=5070&en=e0a12f5ed0f06baa&ex=1154145600&pagewanted=print
I try to approach statistics as rationally as possible and have made every effort to arm myself with as much information as is available. Rationally, I do not see how to justify an amnio in my case. Even if we were to assign to Professor Gonen (or any other doctor who performs amnio) superpowers which he himself does not claim to have, and were to quadruple his skill so that his risk of miscarriage due to amnio were only 1: 4000, that does not approach our personally estimated risk of Downs Syndrome at 1:8100.
I have sought out the best doctors and their opinions. We are now waiting for a call back from Dr. Gonen, but our several earlier discussions with him and with Dr. Shapria on the subject suggest that performing amnio when the Integrated test results are anything better than 1:600 or so would be unnecessary, especailly in my case.
However, in the end as I'm sure you know, our approach to statistics is a personal, emotional decision. Emotionally, I could not bear to lose a healthy baby for sake of a test that buys only the slightest additional margin of certainty. It would be wonderful if we could know with 100% accuracy that our baby will be absolutly perfect. However, no test can provide such a guarantee, not even amniocentisis.
I'm sure that you share our desire for a healthy baby and I hope you will respect our decision not to put our baby at unnecessary risk.
Just after I clicked "send", Dr. Gonen returned my call. When I told him the results, 1:8100, he said "Great, that reduces your risk substantially." I told him our decision not to do amnio and he said "Yoffi!", terrific! emphatically. He's not a very emotive guy so that was a virtual outpouring of support from him and very reassuring.
And, you can donate a package of food and supplies to families stuck in bomb shelters for more than 2 weeks now in the north: https://www.supersal.co.il/netsal/supersolDonation.asp. Site is in Hebrew, packages of 70 NIS or 110 NIS.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Yes, 281 nets will have 562 children sleeping under them, and more dramatically when you look at the impact that has on the number of children that will now not die (who would otherwise have done had they not been protected)…it is not that all 562 children would otherwise have died but a proportion of them…and when you look at the what studies show us about ‘how many nets end up saving how many lives’, the answer is every 20 nets installed reduces the death toll by 1. Hence, 14 lives saved per 281 nets.
This all comes from a base statistic that is widely accepted that 1 life is saved every 160 bednet years. Given LLINs last for 4 years and 2 children sleep under each net, 20 nets x 4 x 2 = 160, hence 1 life per 20 LLINs installed.
Hope that helps.
There is more here: http://www.worldswimformalaria.com/en/OneChild.aspx
Best regards – and thanks for your support.
Here's an udpate I received:
HAIFA Malaria Mashers
HaifaIsrael25 Jul 2006
Dear L, My sincere thanks for your participation and US$1,406 fundraising contribution to World Swim For Malaria (WSM). Your money will buy 281 long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) which will help save the lives of children. That is the difference you will have made. LLINs are the single most effective way of preventing malaria. Hence, this is our focus. 500,000 children protected 250,000 people participated in WSM on and around 3rd December 2005, making it the world's largest swimming event. We have received US$1.3 million so far and money is coming in all the time and people are still organising swims! The money raised so far will buy 260,000 LLINs costing US$5 each. On average two children sleep under each net, meaning more than half a million children will now be protected at night from biting insects. Data shows that for every 20 nets installed one life is saved. This will save the lives of 13,000 children.
www.WorldSwimForMalaria.com/20NetsPerLife Nets being distributed now The first 28,000 nets are being delivered via a dozen bednet programmes. Information on the website allows everyone to see the specific location and status of each distribution. Complete transparency is at the heart of what we do. www.WorldSwimForMalaria.com/en/NetsOut We are now planning the distribution of the next 230,000 nets so we fulfil our aims of: a) 100% of the money buys nets, b) the nets will end up over heads and beds and c) we will demonstrate that has happened. We intend to have the majority of the nets distributed by early 2007. We are aiming to have as many of the countries that are affected by malaria - in Africa, Asia and Latin America - benefit from WSM funds and we are working hard to achieve that. 100% of funds raised buys LLINs and the nets end up over heads and beds We can achieve this thanks to the generous support of more than 100 companies around the world, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Microsoft and Speedo, helping us pro bono with technology, accounting, banking and legal support etc. Our unavoidable cash costs have been covered by a group of private donors. Our distribution partners, including The Red Cross, pay for the distribution of the nets. April 2008 World Swim For Malaria will run again in April 2008 with plans for there to be 1 million people swimming on a single day, as well as people swimming on days either side if they wish, with participation in every country in the world. Once again, thank you for your terrific support. Best regards Rob Mather Founder, World Swim For Malaria Dir: +44 (0) 20 7371 8735Mob: +44 (0) 77 11 263 725Email: email@example.com
The World Swim For Malaria Foundation is a charity registered in the UK (registered number 1105319), in the USA (Federal Identification Number: 20-3069841) and in other countries. www.WorldSwimForMalaria.com
I liked this article written by a fellow technical writer http://www.paulasays.com/articles/war_of_the_captives/war_of_the_captives.html.
And a bunch of my friends and colleagues have started blogs too so I'll link to them.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Here is Adi enjoying the trampoline at Maggie's place today!
Coverage of Arnold Schwarzenegger's pro-Israel parade in CA made news here too. Ynet readers responded with cries of "Hasta la vista, Nasrallah!"
Admitedly, I feel funny agreeing with Bush and Shwarzenegger on anything, but on Israel's defense against Hezbollah I sure do. And I can not begin to fathom how Jews like Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Harold Pinter can support Hezbollah. They can kiss my touchis a rein.
Another link to ways you can help:
We're fine. I went to the local branch of "Milk Drops" - pre-natal & post-natal check up centers. It's an optional supplement to care from your regular doctor. I hadn't been yet and was afraid they'd chew me out (nu, nu, nu!) for not going sooner but the nurse was very nice. She's from Maggie's moshav and asked how I knew her. Her son sails with Maggie's son.
It was nice to confirm that all is in order, that I'm doing all the necessary tests at the right time and so on. She checked protein levels in my pee pee, all good. She weighed me and discussed what blood tests I should get. Tomorrow I go to get blood tests.
I worked at our Yokneam office again today. It was good to be there again.
Adi went into work in Haifa. He works at the MegaCorp gym. I was very very scared about him driving there, but knew he'd be fine once he was there. The gym is in the basement, a veritable bunker. He enjoyed his time there.
"Every time there was a siren, everyone came down to the gym. But I was already there. I could continue my work out without interruption!"
We'll follow the same plan tomorrow.
Still vomiting again, today and yesterday. Always in the evenings. Blech. But mostly feeling good.
Oh and today Ms. Efficiency sat with me at lunch and she became very nice when she learned I was pregnant. Suddenly all the women at the lunch table were offering advice about what to eat and what not to eat.
"Mix a can of green peas with 3 hard-boiled eggs, fried onion, and a cup of finely chopped walnuts. It makes a great veggetarian spread!" urged one.
"Yeah, make a double batch and bring us half!" chimed another who warned that "Nothing, no book, no course, nothing can prepare you for motherhood! But," she added "it's worth it!".
"Don't eat spicy! Don't do that to your baby!" warned one woman after lunch.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I got emotional at several parts of the service like when Golan blessed the bar mitzva boy and spoke of Jewish continuity. Duirng the prayer for Israel's soldiers I had to get up and get a glass of water least I totally lose it. Good timing too because after that they sang "Lo Yisagoy.." ["And nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they practice war anymore."] usually one of my favorites but there was no way I could form the words today.
Golan gave us big hugs after services. His family is waiting for him in Jerusalem, where they all escaped a few days ago. We compared stories and status. It was good to see a friend.
"You have to take care of yourself now," said Golan. "Being altruistic now means taking care of YOURSELF," he told me. I'm trying.
We went to walk around Zichron, a scenic town which can be described as "the Nyack of the Middle East". One of the earliest Jewish settlements in modern Israel it's main street is now a pedestrian way lined with cute shops, cafes, and botiques. It's the kind of place where even the McDonald's and the bank must comply to "cute" zoning rules.
On the way though Adi called his parents and sister to check on them. His call stressed me out. I wanted NOT to focus on the war for a while, to pretend we'd come to Zichron to enjoy the day as we might do on a normal shabbat. But he'd overheard someone in the synagogue talking of sirens in Haifa, so he had to call. It took me a while to cool off after the call. Adi got me some cold water and we sat for a while, until all his calls were done.
"No more now," I insisted. We walked the lenght of the street, passed the Nili museum where brave resistance fighters helped form this country. Then we doubled back and stopped in a scenic Yemeni restaurant for a malawach before heading to Dr. Lek (origianlly a gay dentist from Seattle, I've heard, now makes a mean Israeli icecream including flavors like poppy seed).
Back home at Maggie's where we're now camped out we took cooling showers. Then we got to do something I'd been wanting to do for a while. We read the "2nd Trimester" pregnancy brochure from our health plan. It's tone was reassuring rather than scary. Adi read the Hebrew and gave me a simultaneous translation in English. Here are some highlights:
We learned that now it's particularly important to eat vitamin C which helps with absorbtion of iron, and to take iron and folic acid suppliments. It's also important to avoid excessive fiber which gets rid of the iron.
Hartburn is a common symptom of this stage of pregnancy but luckily so far, I'm not suffering from it. If I were, almonds should help.
It's important to rest during the day, and to put my feet up when I can.
I was a bit frightened to learn that my breasts are expected to KEEP GROWING. They are already enormous. I had visions of the scene from Woody Alen's "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex" movie with the giant run away breast. Yikes!
As for Cholent, he or she can hear now, so it's good to start playing nice music for Cholent and to start speaking to Cholent. We can sing lullibies (actually, I tried today and found I'd forgotten most of the words, looks like we'll have to brush up on these!) and Cholent may recognize our voices.
There was a nice little section at the end of the booklet about "Your Couplehood at this Stage of Pregnancy". It warned that women might experience some mood swings at this stage.
"Nah, no way, they lie!" teased Adi. It also mentioned that women might need more attention now. But it also said that it is important for both people in the couple to share their feelings and try to understand each other.
We napped a bit.
We went to the beautiful beach at Habonim, site of many happy "end of year BBQs" with my kibbutz friends. Adi's parents came from Haifa to meet us.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
But it was a good day for Cholent: we received results from the lab from the "integrated" 6-way test that calculates odds of Downs Syndrome. For Cholent they are 8100:1. That's great news. If you go by my age alone, the odds are like 260:1. So no amneo for me!
No time to celebrate though. There was another siren and another three booms, farther away. And we had more mundane issues to deal with. Sometime between Adi's visit to the apt. on Wednesday and today, the fuse for the refrigerator went down (probably due to condensation from the AC). All the food was fading fast. We quickly went to work, triaging things we had to chuck and things we could salvage and take with us. We cleaned the fridge and left it open with baking soda inside.
Adi dashed off to get the key to our next destination and I did laundry. I tried to spend time with Koshky the cat. She was glad to see us and pretty well but clearly nervous, crying a lot whenever I went into another room.
We were finally ready to go around 3PM. The streets were emptier than when we'd arrived. We drove through the forest, near past where we got married, rather than down the more exposed route.
I'm tired now so more tomorrow but in short we're staying in a big, comfortable house and all is fine. We went to dinner at friends in Zichron Yaakov and had a great time, laughing and talking about the situation as well.
I think that fortunatly the odds of actually getting hit by a katyusha are close to zero. But the odds of being stressed out in Haifa by sirens and booms are close to 1. So here we shall stay until. Until when? I have been thinking that my measure will be 24 hours of quiet in Haifa. 24 hours with no sirens, no booms. But who knows.
Before we went to our house, we visited Adi's parents. "But there hasn't been anything in Haifa since yesterday morning!" his father said. Right, except for the sirens yesterday at 5:30 PM. I amdit that it felt so calm when we drove to our house that I was thinking that maybe we should just stay home. But luckily or unluckily any questions I might have had disolved within the first 5 minutes. I'm not frightened, but I don't want to become frightened or stressed out either.
Final note: Bibi Netanyahu, for all his politics that I don't like really should be Israel's one and only international spokesperson. We saw him on the news this morning. Brilliantly, smoother than the melted icecream in our freezer today he said (I paraphrase).
Israel did what any other country would have done. What France would have done, what England would have done, what Germany would have done. Yesterday in Nazereth which is an Arab-Jewish city, two young Arab boys were killed. Are we to just do nothing in return?
Pure genius. He makes it sound like we're fighting for two Arab (Israeli Arab) boys. Which of course in a way we are.
Those poor boys though, everyone wants to claim them. Yesterday Nasrallah quasi-apologized for their deaths, calling them "Palestinian martyrs". I saw the father kissing their little caskets in the earth. I don't think he wanted his boys to be anybody's martyr.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Today Adi and I took that other option and came into a MegaCorp office located in a developement town very close to where we're staying (the big Y, to those who know!). It felt great to be in a semi-familiar environment with cubics, air conditioning, free coffee, and network connectivity.
I made contact with some fellow tech writers I'd met at a cross-site get together. They were warm and welcoming, providing familiar friendly faces and orientation. There's lots of room here due to recent re-orgs so we happily settled into desks across the hall from our pals.
After a while though Ms. Efficiency came around and told us that refugees were expected to all work together in a particular conference room. Bummer. I felt like a refugee again and nearly cried. (It also clearly wasn't true that everyone was there, since only 3 other people were in the room and we'd seen others, quietly spread about. But there wasn't any fighting it once we'd been singled out. )
"But I work with so-and-so," I protested to Ms. Efficiency, a slight stretch of the truth."I'd like to be with people I know."
"We're nice here too," said a fellow refugee. And they were. They helped me get my computer connected. Ms. Efficiency took our lunch orders which was also a good sign.
I also wanted to keep a low profile because while Adi *is* a bonafide MegaCorp employee, technically he's a contractor and a student at that. I was afraid they'd try to boot him out. Not working on his laptop, he was reading a book I hadn't let him take that book on the plane with us to NY for a course on Terrorism in the media entitled "Jihad in Paradise" about Sri Lankan madness. Luckily they weren't checking us that closely. And happily, Adi's own ID tag did open the door to the building.
I could finally really focus on work and it felt great, nearly normal. Cholent and I enjoyed exploring the slightly different range of snack foods available here: fresh fruits, cheese toast sandwiches, cold water, cottage cheese.
Lunch came and us about 16 of us refugees sat together at a long table, sharing salads and soft drinks. My order got messed up so instead of foccacia I had a cheese burekas and a hard-boiled egg. It was greasy, decadent, and DE-licious! Adi had fries "cooked in motor oil" and a rubbery-looking burger.
After lunch Adi began another discussion about our next move and I got tense again. Grrr. Then Yael called and invited us to Zichron for shabbat. I gladly accepted and told Adi the good news. I was feeling quite mushy and emotional from all this already when Ms. Efficiency came in with beautiful bouquets of flowers for all (non-contractor!!) employees. These were a gift of a florist (who happens to be the brother-in-law of the guy who sat next to me at lunch) who was unable to unload them due to the "situation" and instead donated them to all sorts of institutions including hospitals and apparantly, MegaCorp. I was so moved that the tears were rising in a big wave when Kineret called. Saved by the bell. Her call gave me an excuse to run to the hallway. She had just today made her aliya (imigration to Israel) from Canada.
Bravely, Kinret came here with "Nefesh b'Nefesh", a group [crazy] Chrisitians who believe that you-know-who will come when all the Jews are in Israel. The cool thing is that they're willing to sponsor Jews who are willing to move here, paying for plane tickets, providing job help and financial services to back their beliefs. Right on!
During her call my mother called. I got way choked up when I tried to tell my mother about the flowers. I was sitting in the lobby now and the security guard brought me tissues and cold water and southingly said in English, "Don't worry, everything is going to be OK."
I tried to tell him that I knew that and that emotional due to pregnancy. By now I'd taken refuge in a little cafeteria behind the lobby and was regaining composure while talking to my father. A cleaning lady appeared and said, "Not sure if you know, but this [front part of the building] is not a secure area."
I ended the call and went back to work, revitalized.
LAURA, sufficient rest is one of the most important components of a healthy
pregnancy. Pregnancy-related insomnia may start to affect your daily routine,
but there are things you can do to help. Make sure you always go to the bathroom
before you go to bed so you won't be awakened in the middle of the night. Try
using pillows in different places under your chest, abdomen or between your
knees. Find an arrangement that is most comfortable for you. Take a warm bath or
read before bed to relax you further.Click here to read more about insomnia.
Too funny. I actually snickered out loud. Daily routine, hah! Sleep clearly is really important. I slept great last night after another weepy evening then a quiet walk with Adi around Ein HaEmek under the stars.
Funny how pregnancy prepares you for taking care of a baby by turning you into one. Not enough sleep and I get cranky and tearful. Feed me NOW when I'm hungry or I get ansy. Forget the vegetables. Give me Cheerios several times a day, stick to boring foods thank you. Feed me icecream, icecream, icecream. And don't forget that I need lots of naps, sunscreen, and attention!
- A story from the computer work perspective: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-6094958.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed
- Not bad for CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/blog/.
- Sort of good news: Lebanese PM tells Italian daily that Hezbollah must be disarmed. What the article fails to point out is that "civilian" casualties are often living in homes that house Hezbollah weapons caches. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/740875.html.
- A better way to get your prisioners back?http://www.10million.org/Default.asp?LangCode=Eng
- And a little tidbit for those of you who think I'm crazy to live where I do: Police seek clown-face robbers after rampage. At least there are no juggalos here yet.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Table to Table trucks delivered packages to
soldiers on the northern and southern fronts, including the units of kidnapped
and injured soldiers. They were very grateful and pass on their thanks to you!!
We are continuing the collection!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
And it's natural to crack. J. called from Jerusalem today where she'd sought refugee at a friends. As soon as her husband had taken the kids to the zoo and left her at Hebrew U. for the day to work, she admited to me that she burst into tears. "It was probably just that I'd been holding it in, being strong in front of the kids and I could finally let it go. It was good."
I must note that for those of us who live in Haifa, there's a certain irony to the fact that friends in Jerusalem and Haifa are calling to see if we're OK. Traditionally, it is we who call them after suicide bombers attack. And now they are offering us refuge!
Before leaving Haifa we had a call from Jared, our very kind wedding photographer who lives in Jerusalem. And Graham in Tel Aviv was one of the first to call and offer us a place to stay.
Work concentration was not too high today, though I tried. I did make some progress clearing out backlogged emails in the morning.
Adi went to Haifa to see his parents and pick up stuff from home and check on the cat. We made detailed lists, room by room, so as to minimize the time he'd need to spend in the apartment.
By the time he should have reached his parents, he hadn't called. I called him, no answer. I tired his mother who told me he was stuck with car trouble in Issifiya on the way.
Meanwhile Elah came home and we made lunch. We were both very hungry, me from Cholent, she from teaching dance all morning. We heard a boom in the distance. Not a plane breaking the sound barrier boom, but yes, a katyusha boom. We looked out over the balcony. Nothing. Not for a few minutes anyway. Then we could clearly make out a triangle of thick grey smoke that hadn't been there before.
How did it feel? Not as scary as you might think.
"You know," I said to Elah as we continued to plow through lunch, "after having seen so many on TV, it's kind of familiar." She agreed and we turned on the TV, as much for confirmation as to pinpoint the exact location. It turned out to be at Ramat Ishay.
So yesterday I did manage to work pretty well in the morning. There were sirens in Haifa. And at some point there was a hit. They didn't want to say exactly where on the news, but the reporter stood in front of it and I could easily identify the road I take every day to work. Luckily it fell not on the road itself, but in the brush below the road, starting a little fire but not causing any other harm. Real close to my office though...
We went to lunch at kibbutz, guests of Iris S. For me it was a huge treat to be back in the "chad", aka the chadar ochel or dining room and on a weekday no less. I made a nice meal out of rice, sweet potatoes, and beans. Iris treated us on her account. The chad is no longer a free for all. Yossi L. came up to Iris and semi-discretely told her that a new account had been started for the refugees and that she could charge our meals to that. Refugees! We now have official status.
I felt more like a returning daughter than a refugee though. We received wedding blessings from Iris's mom, Ofer's mom, and Talma, plus extra blessings when we pointed proudly to Cholent.
After lunch we walked to pick up our beautiful kettuba which has been waiting for us for some time at Yonat's studio. We also had a peek at Danya C.'s beautiful kettuba. We went back to Elah's and I worked some more before being overcome by a serious nap. When I woke Adi was gone, went to the gym with Jeremie. We all showered and got ready to go to a performance by Elah's dance class.
15 cute little girls performed several dances choreographed beautifully by Elah, each with it's own corresponding costume: a moving yoga, a saviyana, "lyrical jazz" (accompanied by sappy music that made me cry!) , and a hip hop number. They also did body drumming accompanied by a message related to helathy nutrition ("Calcium is good for you, uh huh, uh huh!"). You could tell that the girls were enjoying themselves. We had fun too.
The show was in a local community center in a town near where we're staying. There was nothing that spoke of the "matzav" - the "situation" except that the event hadn't been advertised. Only family memebers were there. We felt very special to be a part of the exclusive audience!
After the show Jeremie went to visit a friend in the hospital who is recovering from a serious operation. Adi and I took Elah out to dinner in a cute little cafe near the community center.
It was when we got home and watched the news for a while that things got tense. I should have gone to bed earlier. Instead, after the news, Adi and I argued. The general cause was the underlying fear and stress of which we've each been harboring differently. He wanted very much to go back to Haifa to check on our house and get some things and most importantly to visit his parents. Given the current recommendation to stay in a safe place, I wasn't so crazy about the idea. In fact, it made me quite scared. The secondary dispute was due to the building stress that comes from not being in your own house for a while, about worrying about overstaying your welcome, about where you do or don't feel comfortable, and about where it's really safest. I'm sorry to say we went to bed grumpy and I slept awfully.
I'll give a more personal and detailed update later. Meanwhile, another thing you can do is vote in these online polls:
CNN is having a poll: Is Israel justifed in its use of force. Presently 52% think that Israels response is NOT justified.
Sky News is having a poll: Middle East Crisis---Who's to Blame? Currently the vote is 82.31% blaming Hizbollah. It's important to keep checking for new polls and voting!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Last night after working we took a short drive to my old kibbutz to pick up some supplies at their little supermarket. Adi needed a toothbrush, Elah needed safety pins for dance costumes for her student's performance today. We also bought more of the beef (this time they only had lamb) proscuto that Cholent loves, real Coke (a treat for Adi), pita, deodorant, herring (a comfort food for Adi, apparantly, though I had to stay clear of its smell), a natural olive-oil soap made by "savta Jamila" that I'd been hunting for in Haifa, and of course more ice cream.
We also ran into lots of old friends. Iris (M.) S. was working the cashier and invited us to lunch tomorrow, a woman I don't even know congratulated us on our wedding (having heard from Elah's mom, who runs the super when she's not on vacation in S. Africa), Gidon B.B. looking well and doing his shopping, and a very happy newlywed Gali exchanged congratulations with us and gave my tummy a kind pat. With everyone we joked that we were refugees from the North. I guess we are actually. The kibbutz has also absorbed real refugees from farther north who I'm sure are happy to have access to a pool and peace and quiet.
We took a little walk towards the ulpan. Lots of big pink flowers on the way along with the familiar smell of the refet, the cowshed. To me kibbutz is comfort, my frist home in my homeland. I wish it had the same effect on Adi.
Adi was a bit tense, eager to get back and call his parents, and unsure of our plans. We learned that his sister and her husband had gone south to stay at his brother's in Herzelia. Adi's parents were pretty chill, his father boasting of having lived through worse wars. I told Adi it was doing me good to be here, that I wanted to stay. We can make the best of it if we get some work done then go have lunch with Iris, visit the pool or the gym, work some more, then go to Elah's dance show in the evening. Why not? So that's our plan for the day. No point staying glued to the news.
How You Can Help
Meanwhile, if you're feeling frustrated by the situation, here's something you can do. Check out this worthy cause: http://www.apackagefromhome.org/. They prepare and send care packages to "lone soldiers" (soldiers who do not have families in the country) and other soldiers, packed with treats and practical items. I can tell you from our little trip to the kibbutz store last night just how much little things like having a new toothbrush or favorite snack can mean in times of stress: a LOT.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Frustrated, we tried to figure out what neighborhood it was in. Just heard it was in Bat Galim, an old neighborhood down by the sea.
Mayor Yonah Yehav was on the scene, sweating like a lesser, bloated Guliani. But there, telling us to stay indoors. The news reporters pointed out that if God forbid someone had been inside, they'd be pancake city now. But he pointed to the neighboring building, pockmarked with wounds from little bullets. The biggest danger with these Katyusha rockets is from fall out really. They're not strong enough to take down an entire building.
OK, enough news for me, I'm going to get lost in work again.
Cholent food update: Cholent was very excited by some beef "Proscuto" that Elah offered us. YUM. I snuck some salad down along with it, rolling it in the thin strips of fragrant meat. Also ate some iron and vitamin B rich tahina, served in one of Elah's beautiful ceramic bowls.
"Since your baby's hearing has become more finely tuned, he or she may respond to loud noises and you may feel movement at the sound of large trucks passing or a slamming door. "
How about Katyusha booms and fighter jet roars?
We all watched the news for a bit. It wasn't as stressful when watching it together, joking about the different reporters. One poor reporter looked totally exhausted, stoned even. We half expected the other guy to tell her, "OK, thanks for your report, now go home and get some sleep!"
My heroine reporter is a pregnant woman. She has some nice shirts.
We swiched to a movie and I promptly fell into a relaxed sleep. It was about 11:00. I went to bed in the comfy futon in Jeremie's office which had been fixed up for us with bright sheets, folded towels, and personalized soaps by our generous hosts. I had some trouble falling back asleep after the move. I tried meditating to quiet my brain as planes roared above.
Adi came to bed around 1:00 AM. He murmured comforting words and held me tight. Little did I know that he'd spent the last two hours feeling quite nervous, as many, many planes thundered above us and reports came in of strikes in Afula, Givat Ela, and Nazereth. All relatively near, all clearly missed attempts to strike the air force base. I only learned that news around 6:00 AM, over fresh squeezed O.J. with Jeremie. Cholent had woken me earlier and I had enjoyed watching the sun rise over Yokneam. The only noise on the little porch was the sound of birds singing and the loud buzz of the nearby electric wire.
"We'll have to think about moving again," Adi told me when he woke. The planes had distrubed his sleep. He's napping now, after reading a chunk of James Joyce's "Dubliners". He only has one more exam left at school, but it has been postponed until further notice.
It's quiet outside now, save for an occassional rooster's crow and the song of cicadas. I can see tractors working in the field. Jeremie went of to his job, taking care of kids on the kibbutz. They were supposed to do a treasure hunt today but will have to find an activity closer to home. Elah went to a nearby moshav to teach dance.
I will try to work now on my laptop. Business as usual. The distraction of updating the current "Getting Started Guide" will be welcome.
Until we blog again...
The Toll on Animals
There were reports from the national Vetrinarian's office yesterday urging owners to check their pets for signs of stress following bombings. One of the victims of Saturday's bombing in Tiberias was a dove. The news cameras captured it, injured, frightened, dirty, and symbolic.
Yesterday I said Nasralla called us Nazis after denying the Holaucaust. In fact it was monkey-faced Irainian President who made those incompatible statements.
Nasralla, while sadly alive yesterday to spew his lies, was not flailing his arms as he usually does when speaking. Many analysts take this as a good sign, an indication that he may be injured or partially paralyzed.
Back to Us
Tears still streaming, we loaded up the car and hit the road. Adi tried to comfort me: "You've been after me to spend time with Jeremie and Elah, to get away, here we go! This is just a nice night in a Zimmer." And as we drove, "See, there are people jogging. That's good, Exercise is a good stress reliever. And there's a baby in a stroller... see, everything's fine."
When we reached the Carmel forest and the piney air hit my nostrils, I did feel better. Nature, nature, calming nature. Adi told me bits of the Nibelungenlied adventures he's reading, the German folk tales of Gunter, Sigmund and Zigfried.
"Like Freud?" I asked. Yes, in fact, so popular were German folk hero names amongst German speaking Jews, that the Germans stopped giving them to their kids! Kind of like how the Lawrences and Sheldons of my grandparents generation failed to fool anyone.
Driving along the familar route through the Druze villages of Issifiya and Daliyat Al Carmel (now officially united as "Carmel City") I felt even better.
We passed a kids store called Baby Garden where it turns out we qualify for an employee discount.
"Yes, we can go there," said Adi obligingly. That sounds fun. I've been too exhausted to shop for baby things.
We arrived at J&E's shortly before sunset. The boys went off for a run, the girls for a walk. We talked about our days as normal life continued around us. Families walked barefoot in casual clothes, kids circled around on their bikes and played with walkie talkies. At the end of the settlement, there was a tennis court that had been converted to a soccer field. There was no net, and goal nets were set up at either end. Two kids were practicing their goal shots.
"You see," observed Elah, "You can't use it as a tennis court. Normally you need to be able to run behind the line. But here, they put a fence!" It was true. Oh well.
The door to the communal bomb shelter was unlocked. I took a peek inside. It was dark and musty but big.
I tried to take comfort in interesting plants and houses along the way.
At home, we set to making a nice meal of pasta. Elah diplomatically prepared sauce and tuna separatly, so everyone could doctor his or her pasta as he or she saw fit. For me and Cholent of course, that meant as bland as possible: butter and parm, a combination I don't think I've relished so much since I was a kid.
"We got TONS of food," Ela reassured me when I explained that I'd brought cereal. "I'm a Polish mother, can't help it. Plus Jeremie worried about you because you're pregnant. He told me to get icecream and treats for you." I was touched and happy. :-0
After dinner I took a shower, taking care to use the "STRESS RELIEF" shower gel, inhaling it's fragrance deeply, and believing in it's powers. I joined Jeremie on the porch where he took his evening smoke. We watched the planes take off every few minutes from nearby Ramat David airforce base to the east of us, heading straight north, very fast. We used to enjoy the disco near that base when we were in Ulpan, the Vertigo.
"Well, if their pilots kick ass like their disco does, we're in good hands," I told Jeremie.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
He claims the IDF did not target military targets, only families. Wrong! Of course it doesn't help that Hezbollah stores rockets in peoples homes.
Oof! I'm furious. The lies continue to flow from his corrupt mouth.
It's close enough to from home or to return without being too big of a shlep. And it's a low-population density area, not one I'd target if I had rockets with mediocre aim.
Above all, they're close enough friends who will understand my never ending desire for sleep and breakfast cereal and being around them will calm rather than stress us out.
We're taking our cell phones, leaving the cat, and should have internet connection after I set up my wireless router there.
We'll try to think of it as a nice night away in the country. Hopefully, we'll be back soon.
My work announced that we are to work from home until further notice, but we're still expected to call into meetings as usual, and we're not to update our American colleagues about our status.
Nasrallah interestingly has called us Nazis. I suppose he has forgotten his earlier claims that the holocaust never happened.
Oddly, I found myself agreeing with a simple statement made by George Bush. The gist of it was that to stop the violence, you have to look at the source of violence and that the source here is Hezbollah. For the violence to stop, they have to stop sending rockets.
Interestingly, Israel is communicating with Lebanon through Italy. A novel approach. I wonder if it has anything to do with Italy's stunning monthly win.
What was it like? Not scary. More boring. Like waiting at the airport for an indeterminate amount of time, with crappy cell phone service and only old New Yorkers, dug out of the trunk of my car, for company. Well there were co-workers too and for the first hour or so Ariella and I amused ousrelves with pregnancy talk.
Someone brought cake, water, and soda. It wasn't exactly festive but it wasn't terrible either. A group of people played cards. Those with laptops tried to connect via their cell phones. Some people just left to be with their families.
At some point people started drifting upstairs. Ariella and I couldn't take it anymore and went up to the ground floor to use the bathroom. The lobby was full of people sitting at cafe tables. More were outside. We went to the cafeteria to get cold water and snacks. Lots of people were there, eating and working.
The best part of that trip upstairs (besides getting some cooler air and relieving my bladder) was that I was able to reach Adi at home on the cell phone. He sounded much more relaxed than when I spoke to him for a few minutes at 9AM when he was rushing down to the shelter in our builidng. He was back at home, feeling better. The workmen were back at work on the apt. next door and their noise had scared him at first, each bang sounding like a rocket boom. He talked to them but eventually got used to it.
Then a security guard came into the cafeteria and told us to go back down, because the cafeteria is all glass with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, facing the beach. We obeyed.
Shortly after that, the head of the whole campus came by. He said to stay where we were or go work in a protected room, but to make sure to take the stairs to get there. We just stayed.
The wierd thing in all this is that usually work is really, really top notch excellent about telling us what to do but here there weren't really any formal announcements except that first one at 9AM over the loud speaker telling us to go down.
I just feel really tired now and bored. I'd like to be home but I'm not sure I want to be alone on the road.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
There was the usual Friday morning traffic, it seemed business as usual. I went home and slept all afternoon which is also business as usual for me now.
Saturday Adi gave me permission to go for a swim. I called the Sportan to make sure they were open. "k'ragil, k'ragil" - business as usual the gruff voice told me. Sure enough, the pool was full. I had a lane more or less to myself though and it felt great to swim. I had to take a pp break half way through, but I did my full 20 pools as planned. Actually maybe more because I got confused and lost count.
I was so exhausted afterwards though that the gym showering (usually my favorite part of working out, always makes me feel like a super jock) seemed like a huge, huge effort. I was worried I might fall asleep on the way home. I stopped for gas (seems like a good idea to have a full tank now, just in case...) and bought an icecream for sustinance. I asked the cashier girl if today was slower than usual.
"Too quiet," she said. "Not like Thursday. When the rocket hit Haifa, it filled up here right away, with people on their way south."
Rested at home, ate some more then threw up. Yup, still throwing up almost every day. Usually in the afternoon or evening. It's not fun but much better than the nausea AND vomiting of the 1st trimester. Now it's just a few moments of unease followed by an efficient if body wrenching BARF. Then I get hungry again.
Jeremie and Elah came to us to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary. Cautiously, we walked a few blocks away to a newish restaurant called "Christian". I assume the owners are Chrisitan Arabs. It has a very elegant, European-style decor and a real restaurant menu. Deciding we felt best sitting in their side garden, we settled in. What are the considerations? Well, first, we made sure they had an alert guard at the door who really checked bags. Next, we stayed clear of glass windows. Also, we considered where would be the most smoke free. I don't usually care too much about smokers one way or the other but since pregnancy, I'm REALLY sensitive to smoke. I can tell when the downstairs neighbors are smoking. Anyway, it was a very pleasant meal.
Friday, July 14, 2006
I was at my friend\neighbor\colleague Esti's house getting cat feeding instructions and admiring new window seat cushions when Adi called my cell phone to tell me Haifa had been hit. He knew because Katus had called from New York after seeing it on CNN.
"Come home," Adi urged. "They're telling Haifa residents to stay close to home." I promised to wrap up and come over.
Esti walked me home, taking her dog Shoudu out for a walk. I was more afraid of Shoudu's forceful jumping paws punching at Cholent than of any Hezbollah rockets, but Esti kept him under control.
At home Adi hugged me tight and we watched the news as the phones started ringing with concerned callers. We learned that the rocket fell at Stella Maris, along the ancient Roman road now best known for the Carmelite Monastary and being the top stop on Haifa's famous orange balls cable cars. We saw big flames in the Lebanese night, the IDF response.
The funniest thing was that Hezbolla was initially denying that they'd fired the rocket on Haifa. Who then? Our enemies in Cyprus? Israel had promised to bomb Beirut and "set Lebanon back 20 years" if they hit us here, so I guess that was what they were trying to avoid.
We had generous offers to come stay in Zichron Yaakov and in Ein HaEmek. The most tempting offer came from Ben, "Hey guys, I'm still here in Cyprus for 3 more weeks. I have an extra bedroom and you guys are more than welcome if you want to come chill at the beach for a couple of weeks." Sounds good to me! Not that I feel afraid, just that a vacation at the beach hangin' with Ben sounds fun.
After an hour of phone calls and news, I told Adi it wasn't doing me any good. My belly hurt from the stress. Watching the same clips over and over wasn't helping. He relented and we watched an old episode of the BBC series "Coupling". It was a good one too, about solo whistling and parents who are too open about sex.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
So I don't usually get too excited about potato chips. But last night I was overcome by a craving for them so powerful I nearly cried. Adi, my prince and savoir, went to Fooksy's to buy me some.
(---> Photo of Fooksy's. The chips are in a line with that person's head)
"But I'm not going all that way for a pitzkele little bag!" he insisted.
"No, no. Better get the big one. No, better get two big bags, just in case. And a bottle of Sprite or Fanta," I told him.
He came back with two bags of Tapuchips (elite's incarnation of Frito Lays), a small bottle of Sprite and one Fanta. Smart boy was covering all bases.
"I got you 'classic' and 'extra crunch'." He announced as I danced for joy for several minutes.
"I didn't even know there was such a think as 'extra crunch'. But I think I want it!" I opened the noisy red bag and found what we call Ruffles back in the old country. Excellent.
I happily settled down for the next installment of "I, Claudius" (a good one, they finally kill Caligula) and ate the entire bag slowly but without pausing. I sipped bits of the Fanta.
It's not as bad as it sounds. One "big" Israeli bag is about the size of an American "big grab" bag intended for one mortal.
I was so completely happy.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
They delivered big time, providing hugs, warmth, advice, and a gift tin of luscious L'Occitane Mamman Bebe Baume. Key take home points:
- For the first two weeks after her C-section, Lili limited her activity to eating, sleeping, and breast feeding. Intensive help from hubby and mother was critical.
- Birthing class probably would be a big bassa for me, since I am 99% sure I'm not facing a natural birth. However,
- Wonderful nursing coach Heddy was priceless and can be consulted ahead of time.
- Yael agrees that no expense should be spared hiring post-partum help as needed.
- My supplemental health insurance may give me some "Sorry you had surgery" compensation. Worth looking into.
The Tough Part
In addition to begin tired, there was the "negative energy" of the day's news. I try to avoid the news more religiously than usual now. But standing in line at the post office, I overheard talk of the Katushas falling in the north. Later I learned of the kidnapped soldiers. As she IM'd me, Shirley wrote "F*ck, choppers". It took me a minute to realize she meant army helicopters were flying by the beach near our work. I was working in a cafe and it was funny to look around at people happily talking sipping Cappuccinos or working, knowing that a short distance away rocket bombs are falling and soldiers are defending us.
But I try to think "happy thoughts". Flowers and rainbows, flowers and rainbows.
My boss who is a very spiritual Hindu told me it is more important than ever to avoid "negative energy". I agree, I don't like negative energy. And I can tell Cholent doesn't either.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Bro points out that as a Barnard graduate, I should remember that "These tests can only tell you the sex of your baby - their gender depends on far more than simple anatomy." True, true, as the wonderful book Middlesex observes.
Carlito adds: "But you know, does it really matter boy or girl. It not like you were going to go out and buy only pink dresses for a boy and little construction worker jeans for a girl." To which Bro suggests: "If it is a boy, I say you get him one of each Village Person outfit and see which ones he takes to."
I very much like the idea of baby-sized Village People outfits.
It really doesn't matter, especially with a first child. Both are good. It's just a matter of curiosity and the fact that everyone wants to know.
Post your vote: Is Cholent a gurl or a boi?