Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I've been told that my font size has been too tiny so I've moved it up a notch. Is this better?

Happy 4th of July! And Happy 27th birthday to my older son! I spent practically two whole days trying to find him a present online. All he wanted was $$$ but I'm fresh out of that these days. Besides, I wanted to get him something just for him; not for his family. In the end he got a cookbook. He enjoys cooking and is good at it, so I hope he likes it. I haven't gotten in touch with him yet. With the 8 hour time difference and him working nights, I have to wait until it's late at night for me to call and be able to reach him when he's not working or sleeping.

And we actually had a 4th of July celebration here today. The transcription company I work for invited all the employees to a baseball game and BBQ. This is the first year Israel has had a national baseball league. The baseball park we went to (one of three in Israel) looked literally like the one in the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. It was way off the beaten path, near a kibbutz called Gezer, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wheat fields. We watched the Modi'in Miracles beat the Netanya Tigers 6-1 in a crushing defeat. Our office manager did a great job of setting everything up. We and our families (David couldn't take off work so he didn't get to be there) got one set of bleachers to ourselves. Thank G-d there was a tarp over it because it was pretty warm today. We all got vouchers for one free ice (like a popsicle) and one free bag of chips. Our company also brought bottles of soda and water for us. After the game, when all the other spectators had left, we had lunch sponsored by Burgers Bar, a well-known chain of restaurants here in Israel, consisting of burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken fillets, fries and onion rings. Then whoever wanted to get on the baseball field got out there with some of the players who had stayed and played a little ball. They had a clown there all afternoon for the kids who painted their faces, made balloon animals, read them stories, did some arts & crafts with them, and played with them on those huge blow-up things that the kids go inside of and jump around on. So, all in all, it was a very nice day!

Earlier this week we had another first, although one I could do without. Someone we knew from St. Louis was נפתר (died) at the end of last week, and her husband and family flew with the body to Israel to bury her. The plane landed at Lod Airport near Tel Aviv at around 7 PM on Monday night and the לוויה (funeral) took place at 9:30 PM in Yerushalayim. It was nice to see so many St. Louisans there; people who just happened to be in Israel visiting as well as people who live here now, who were able to be there with the family. The family then got on a plane the next morning to go back to St. Louis to sit shiva. I can't even imagine how exhausted they must have been, flying for pretty much 36 hours with little more than half a day here inbetween.

What amazes me so much here is the "connectedness" we all feel. Even meeting all my fellow employees today (we all work from home so it's the first time most of us have ever met), we all spoke with someone who knew someone we knew. For instance, there was an older couple there who have lived in Israel for several years whose son and daughter-in-law had lived in St. Louis for a short time, and I knew the young couple when they were in St. Louis. Another person who had been at the training session several months ago was originally from St. Louis and is even related to a good friend of mine. I could give you example after example, and it happens every time we go anywhere. A couple weeks ago David and I were sitting at the license bureau and met the sister of a rabbi who had worked with me at Aish in St. Louis. It's like being part of one family that reaches across the globe.

It looks like I'll be making a two week trip to St. Louis at the end of the month. It's not that I want to leave my home and it's not that I feel an urge to see the good 'ole US of A again. But I miss my boys and my granddaughter, and my grandson turns two this month and I haven't seen him since he was 11 months old. And the daughter of my close friends is having one heck of a bat mitzvah celebration. And I do feel the need to see all my friends and play mah jongg with my group and even to get a Slurpee. I think leaving Ramat Beit Shemesh even after only being there a year was kind of traumatic for me, after just leaving St. Louis a year ago. I think I'm the kind of person who likes roots; I need to feel settled. Packing and unpacking, and then packing and unpacking again eleven months later... As much as I've grumbled, I see that Kochav Yaakov is a good place for us to live and a good fit for us. And yet, the move was overwhelming for me. Now that the unpacking is finished, it's time to find new doctors, new pharmacy, new hardware store, new places to buy all the things we need. I had just figured out where to do all those things in Beit Shemesh, but living here, one has to go into Yerushalayim for most things, so it's time to figure it all out all over again. I don't want to do this time after time! In Beit Shemesh we had that "softer landing" -- many things were in English, like the phone book and advertisements. Here it's all in עברית (Hebrew). We can't read a single thing in our mailbox. Obviously we'll be forced to learn the language quicker, but it's very isolating not to understand a lot of what's going on. At least we're meeting people in the same boat we are, so I don't feel quite as alone as I did a month ago. I just have to give it time. Baruch Hashem there are English speakers here, and people our age, and we have a car. Baruch Hashem for so many things! Our health, our ability to pay our bills, our cute little Emma, our computers, our yard, etc., etc., etc. So many, many things to be grateful for! I know I'm going off on tangents, but I think I'm giving myself some חיזוק (reinforcement?) here. Okay, let me think this over for a few minutes and try to rephrase what I think I've been saying.

(brain working overtime ... okay, just working)

So here it is: I'm going back to something familiar for a couple weeks to give myself some נוח (strength) to get through this point in my life. There it is, David. I didn't understand it myself until I wrote it all out. I know you'll need to do this, too, when the time is right for you.

Did I mention that next week I'm going to another writing seminar? Miryam (who lives across the street from me) is going with me. There will only be about 35 women there this time, and it will be more writing than listening to speakers. I'm looking forward to it.

We're having guests for the first time this Shabbos. Last week we went out for dinner and lunch, and this week we're invited out for dinner, but we're having twelve people for lunch. Unfortunately, our salon won't hold more than eight, and that's pushing it, so we're going to set up tables outside. David is going to put up a tarp so we'll have some shade. We invited the family who lives here that we know from St. Louis (four of them), Shaya and Miryam from across the street (that's two), and their daughter and son-in-law and four teenagers (six altogether), so it should be an fun afternoon. David wanted everything I made to come from a Mediterranean cookbook he had given me, so we're going to have some rather interesting dishes. Miryam's daughter, Pnina, plays mah jongg (as do all four of her kids). Actually, Miryam, Pnina and Rochel are coming over tomorrow for a game or two. At least it only took a month to get a group together here as opposed to about three months in RBS. Yea!

Well, David's been asleep for awhile now and Emma is asleep on the bed behind me (my desk is in the guest room), so I think it's about time to get there myself. A handyman's coming in the morning to put up our ceiling fans which should help with the heat. See you next time!

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