Saturday, May 24, 2008

What a great Shabbat! Nothing exciting - just relaxing, enjoying friends, great weather, playing some mahj - what could be better?

And tomorrow starts another work week. I have to be there at 1 p.m. for a two-hour staff meeting. It's actually nice to get there later in the day. After everybody leaves I have the office to myself. The only thing I don't like is that only two computers have the database on them, and mine isn't one of them. Hopefully in June we'll be getting a third, updated copy of the database so I can stop "computer-hopping."

Lat week I went to Curves four mornings; hopefully I'll do the same this week. With four of us going from our yishuv, it makes it easier to get out of bed and go. I usually get to work between 10 and 10:15 a.m. which works out well, because then I only have to wait a couple of hours for someone to go home so I can get on the database on their computer.

Last week I went to the Writer's Seminar. It was pretty inspiring to have so many published writers there; some of them were speakers. There were writers and editors from Hamodia, Binah, Mishpacha, Feldheim, as well as other publishing houses and women who have written books. I really need to sit down for an hour every evening and work on my writing; I have so many ideas but no energy at the end of the day to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The Writer's Journal they published this year was awesome; they're selling copies of it for $50 in the states. The book had different sections in it and two of my pieces were the first ones in each of their sections. I haven't even had a chance to read the whole book yet; it's pretty thick. Leah, the organizer of the seminar, was taking submissions for several months. I think the booklet is twice as big as last year's.

We're talking about selling the car. It's a big expense and we really don't NEED it as much as we just like having it. It's not a decision I want to make right now. Just knowing we have it is such a comfort. I always worry that if we need to get anywhere in a hurry (like a hospital, chas vashalom {G-d forbid}) we'd be lost without transportation. Lots of people get along perfectly well without one; my mind just has to get used to the idea for awhile.

Shavua Tov (have a good week)!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shavua Tov!

The strangest thing happened over Shabbat. David always fixes my Shabbat lights for me before candlelighting on Friday afternoons. First he fills seven little glass cups halfway with colored water, and the other half he fills with olive oil. Then he puts them on the candelabra, adds the wicks, and I'm ready to go. Usually the candles burn anywhere from four to six hours. This morning when we sat down to lunch around 11 AM, David noticed that one of the candles was still burning. It stayed lit until 11:30 - almost 16 hours!

That would seem to be almost impossible. What would keep that flame going for so long? It didn't have any more oil in it than any of the other candles, or for that matter, any more than it usually contained. How could it possibly have burned for so long?! Burning sixteen hours isn't even close to burning for eight days, but still ... very strange, indeed.

Today was also my husband's English birthday. Happy Birthday to David! We didn't do anything special. The two of us had Shabbat lunch at home alone, which is what he wanted, and then David took a long Shabbat nap while I went down to Penina's to play mahj. I came back in time to share Seudat Shlishi (the third meal) with him.

Mahj was really fun. It was also the second time this week we played. Thursday was the celebration of Israel's 60th birthday, and Yom Hatzmaut is a very important holiday for most Israelis (Hareidi Jews don't celebrate Israel Independence Day because they don't believe that we should be celebrating a state when 1) Moshiach hasn't yet come and 2) there's a secular government not based on Torah values. We personally celebrate because Jews have a homeland to come home to IN SPITE OF having a secular government. So David, Miryam, Shaya and I planned to go to Migron which is a settlement on the next hill from ours. It's basically home to about 60 families, most of them living in caravans (trailers). Migron is in the news frequently because the government is always threatening to dismantle it. Someone planned a whole day of festivities there, with moonwalks and activities for the kids, booths, speeches, the whole bit. They wouldn't let anyone drive up there because there's nowhere to park, so we went to the shopping area where the shuttle buses were leaving from. There were hundreds of people waiting for rides; families with strollers and a million kids with backpacks and coolers. After half an hour of milling around and not making it onto any of the buses, we finally left. We old folk just aren't up to
all that excitement anymore.

So we headed home, picked up Emma and some food we had waiting, and headed to Penina and Pinchus' where we were expected for a BBQ. Pinchus and David barbequed the chicken and we got the rest of the food ready. It was just like the 4th of July (although if it was really the 4th of July, I'd be sad that I wasn't celebrating it with my older son back in chutz l'aretz whose birthday happens to be on that day). After we cleaned up the tables, we women pulled out the mahj game, while the menfolk were at the next table playing Spades. Emma had fun playing with Choco, even though Choco wouldn't let Emma have one of the two rawhide bones I brought for them. We didn't come home until late that evening.
What a fun day!

And tomorrow starts the work week. I have an office staff meeting at noon, and then another meeting with the fundraisers at 1 pm. Tomorrow's my day to work in the evening, but if I have to go in early I don't think I'll stay until 10 PM. I'm looking forward to Tuesday - there's an all day writer's conference in Bayit Vegan that I signed up for. I went to this last year and really enjoyed it. Plus - Leah, the woman who organizes it, puts out a Writer's Journal and I have two pieces that are being published in it. I can't wait to get my copy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What a day! I'm emotionally and physically just plumb tuckered out.

David was told our car would be ready today - new windshield, new driver's door, plus all the things we needed to have done to pass inspection: new back bumper, new brakes, new battery. We also had a total tune-up and oil change. Then there was the cost to re-license it for another year, plus the inspection fee. PLUS - we had to pay the deductible on our insurance and supposedly it's our insurance company's obligation to recover that money from the guy who hit us. Total bill? Over 4000 shekels!! We weren't expecting that!

So we drove in together this morning in the rental car our insurance company has supplied us with and David dropped me off at a bus stop near where he works so I could catch either the #35 or the #11 into Givat Shaul for a doctor appointment. We left our house at 7:30 am and I didn't get to my 9:15 appointment until 9:25. I don't know where all the traffic came from but it was horrible; it took us over an hour to get into town. I rushed into the clinic only to wait over an hour until I was seen. Apparently they scheduled THREE people for 9:00 appointments and two of us for 9:15, and the doctor wasn't even up to the 9:00 appointments when I got there.

Yesterday morning I also left the house early (by bus) to get to a 10:00 therapy appointment, and didn't arrive until 10:15. The funny part was, the appointment was for today, not yesterday! I told them I didn't think I'd be able to make it because of my 9:15 appointment fairly far away but I didn't actually cancel it (because they told me to "try" to get there). So when I called them at 9:45 this morning to say I couldn't get there, the receptionist yelled at me and told me they were going to charge me for the appointment anyway. When I tried to explain my position, she just kept saying, "Ani lo mavina" meaning "I don't understand" (I use that phrase a lot). So that's another 75 wasted shekels.

By the time I got to work it was 11:30. I spent the next 5 1/2 hours sitting in front of the computer entering donations that had come in in April. I've been the only person there for the week before Pesach and the week since, and there's a HUGE backlog. Tefilla, the director of the department, was in today and she apologized a couple of time to me for having me do that kind of "grunt" work (should I have told her that I actually like doing it?). She told me that she has other plans for me that don't include data entry. Last week she spoke to me about taking over the office manager's job so she can concentrate on fundraising, but I know Bassya doesn't want to do that. She also wants me to work with the fundraisers by doling out who gets which donors and keeping them organized. On Sundays I'm going to work in the evenings when they're in the office making calls, which works out great for me because David has a shiur that he goes to on Sunday nights. Actually, I just found out that the shiur is for both men and women and I'd actually like to hear this rabbi speak, so I may have to work that out sometime.

Tefilla and Bassya are pretty laid back kind of people. There are three other young women and me (I'm young at heart) who work there, and everyone pretty much makes their own hours as long as the work gets done. I already told Tefilla that I wouldn't work on Thursdays. I really need a day to catch up on laundry and straightening up the house and getting ready for Shabbat. I love the job, though. My coworkers are great and the work is right up my alley.

I didn't get home until 7 tonight (long story having to do with waiting 45 minutes for a bus that never came) and for some reason I decided to call my old office manager at Aish. I rarely call Aish any more; I don't know why I decided to tonight except that I wanted to tell him I wrote my first Thank You donation letter today and started it off with "I hope this letter finds you and your family in the best of health" which is how he starts off every single letter he ever writes. I was going to tell him that he taught me well, but when I called I found out his wife, Shifra (my very good friend and longtime mahj partner), lost her father yesterday. And to make things worse, as she was checking in her luggage at the airport today to go to her hometown for the levaya (funeral), she got a call that her 16 year old, who's developmentally disabled and living in a group home, needed emergency hernia surgery. I felt so bad for her! We who have made aliyah know all too well the pain of not being able to be there for our loved ones or feeling like we need to be in two places at one time. Of course she had to be there for her son, and her mother understood. I called Shifra at her son's hospital room and we talked until it was time for them to take him down for surgery. The operation is only supposed to take an hour, so I'm going to call again before I go to bed. Bli ayin hara, the surgery should go well and have him feeling better quickly.

So, back to the car business. David had to lose a few hours pay when he took the paperwork to the garage after they towed the car in last week. The car rental place they sent him to wasn't easily accessible and he had to take a cab (the buses cost us practically nothing so this is probably the first cab either of us has taken since we moved here) to pick it up. So he missed several hours of work that day. Today he left work in the middle of the day to take the rental car back near the Old City and then take another cab into Talpiyot. There was a whole balagan with paying for the car because he didn't take a check with him (we've probably written 10 checks since we've moved here; everything comes off the credit card that gets paid off each month - as per bank rules) and the credit card company wouldn't let him put the whole amount on the card. He finally got all the financial stuff taken care of and went back to work. Except the car overheated on his way back! He called the garage and they told him to bring the car back tomorrow. David was ready to pull his hair out (the one or two that are left - sorry; couldn't resist).

You see, tonight started Yom Hazikaron (a holiday commemorating Israel's fallen soldiers and the victims of terror), and tomorrow night starts Yom Hatzmaut (a holiday much like the 4th of July, celebrating the state of Israel) - so David will have to get the car there first thing in the morning and probably wait until they can find out what's wrong with it. He left it at work and took a bus home tonight, so he's going to have to leave pretty early in the morning to get there when the garage opens. And he only works 5 hours tomorrow because of the holiday. When he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. It's not fair that this kid negligently left the back doors of his truck unlatched which then crashed into our car - and he drives away while we have to suffer the lost wages, the time spent dealing with the garage and the insurance, and the outlay of cash that we may or may not be reimbursed for. Again, there's a lesson in this for us, but right now my head is spinning from exhaustion so I'll have to figure it out another time.