Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today Ford launches the new Focus in Israel.  Unlike in the U.S. where new models are released every year, they haven't had a new Focus here in something like five years.  So they make a slightly bigger deal about it.  The press is currently on a cross country test drive.  They were flown to the north this morning, and will return tonight from Eilat. 

I woke this morning to this picture in my email from Dan.  It is hard to read, but this plane says Air Seychelles on it.  We flew this little arline the day we got engaged, in the islands of the Seychelles, just over four years ago.  Today is our three year wedding anniversary.  And Dan went up in the air on the same plane (it obviously was sold from their fleet, but has not been repainted since arriving in the little local airport north of Tel Aviv).  It was chartered for the Focus launch event.

Happy anniversary!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Somewhere warm for vacation

In August we flew to the Greek Islands of Mykonos and Santorini for a week.  We spent four nights with six friends from Toronto and Ottawa on Mykonos first, where we shared an apartment, worked on our tans, drove ATVs around the Island, and enjoyed the nightlife. 

Then we took a 2 hour ferry over to Santorini and met up with 30 others for the wedding of a friend from Canada/NYC.   

Their ceremony was held at the Captain's House at the northwest side of the Island, overlooking the white-washed cliff houses of Oia. 

On our last day, we took a catamaran cruise to the volcano, sulfer hot springs, and beaches around the Island. 

When we landed in the Tel Aviv airport at 4am, we were greeted by fans of the local soccer team, who were drumming, waving flags and chanting in the arrivals hall so loud that we could hear them throught the walls in the baggage claim area. 

Everyone else went home to northern climates, and we returned to the heat and sun of the middle east.  Strange feeling....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gettin' out of Dodge...

I received this update from the Tel Aviv US Embassy this evening.  It seems like a good time to get on a plane to go to Greece for a week.  We leave at the crack of dawn for Mykonos and a wedding in Santorini.  I hear it won't be much of an escape from Israeli's, but it will be great to see friends from the States!

Emergency Message to U.S. Citizens Regarding Attacks in Eilat, August 18, 2011

An armed attack on a public bus occurred shortly after noon local time in southern Israel, north of Eilat near the Ein Netafim junction. Separate attacks on another bus and on a private vehicle, as well as a roadside explosion, have also been reported in the area in the same time period. Additional incidents have been reported in the press, but remain unconfirmed.

According to reports, Routes 10 and 12 leading to Eilat have been closed and the Ovda Airfield has been closed to all flights.  Police have reportedly established several checkpoints along Route 90, which remains open but is experiencing heavy traffic.

Emergency services and security forces are currently in the Eilat area to respond to the attacks and the Government of Israel has placed the country on its highest state of alert.  An Israel Defense Force public announcement has also recommended the public avoid the area to allow security and rescue services to respond to the incidents.

Until further notice, Mission employees and family members are required to receive approval before traveling south of the Be’er Sheva area. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel in this area until further notice.

U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found.  U.S. citizens are also encouraged to review "A Safe Trip Abroad", which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad.  In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747  toll-free in the United States and Canada, or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

U.S. citizens are advised to maintain valid travel documents. U.S. citizens living or traveling in Israel are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate General to contact them in case of emergency
For further information, U.S. citizens may telephone the Consulate General in Jerusalem at (972) (2) 630-4000 or the Embassy in Tel Aviv at (972) (3) 519-7575 during working hours. After hours (for emergencies), U.S. citizens may telephone either the Consulate General at: (972) (2) 622-7250, or the Embassy in Tel Aviv at: (972) (3) 519-7551.

Current information on travel and security in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or, from overseas,  a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be accessed at  or  You can also download our free Smart Traveler App for travel information at your fingertips. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Several Times in the Past Decade - and it happened today

I woke this morning and looked out at the patio before heading out the door to Tel Aviv Medical Center for my allergy shots.  It was overcast, which is in itself unusual.  But wow!  It was wet!  Uncle Igor would have been very unhappy if he had put his old TV in storage on his patio this summer instead of last!

In the year that I have been here, Israeli's say I have seen the hottest summer on record (last year), the strongest winter storm in 25 years (last December), the most pleasant spring in a very long time, and now rain in August!  Interested in why?  Check out the book I am currently reading, "Changing Planet, Changing Health," by Paul Epstein and Dan Ferber. 


Rain falls in central Israel in surprise summer shower

Light drizzle falls in Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, near Ben-Gurion Airport, in a few other central cities.

Published 10:03 14.08.11Latest update 10:03 14.08.11
By Haaretz

Rain fell in central Israel Saturday night and Sunday morning, an anomaly for the usually arid month of August.  A light drizzle was reported in Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, near Ben-Gurion Airport and in a few other central cities. The precipitation may spread to north Israel on Sunday afternoon.         
It rarely rains in Israel in August, but this is not as unheard of as one would think. Although it does not happen every summer, rain has fallen in August several times in the past decade.   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Project #2

This ring took me three classes to make.  It involved calculating the size, sawing the metal, saudering, using sanding, polishing and texturing tools, and finally stone setting. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It's the 1960's in Tel Aviv

The tents have not disappeared. They have multiplied. And the movement has too. Last night hundreds of thousands of Israeli's peacefully gathered to speak out for a more balanced dispersal of country resources. It seems Israeli's have caught the Arab spring fever. 
We have been out to see the tents, but have not attended a rally. We have heard from our cousin that the rallys have been inspiring and motivational gatherings. And they have captured the nation's attention.
Much of what the Israeli's are looking for from their government can be broadly translated to the needs of the American people right now. Some of the particular issues are different (the USA would benefit from a national healthcare plan, while Israel could benefit from a reset in housing pricing). But the general concept of a government that serves the people, not just the rich and the corporations, resonates. What would it take to get Americans out in protest like this?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Israeli concerns about the U.S. debt crisis

I follow a discussion board here in Israel called Digital Eve, which exists to support professional women.  It's a networking resource.  The U.S. economy made the list of topics this week.  I found this post and reply particularly interesting, as it is a discussion on what Israeli's should do with their retirement savings. 

INITIAL POST:  "A question for the independents on the list: Have you or are you going to move your money to a safer fund(s) in the next couple of days? A fund or funds not linked to the US economy
For the people who are employees: I'm 90% certain that according to the law, you're allowed to request that your individual money be moved wherever you wish.
I was listening to the CNN financial commentators and of course, they couldn't determine which way the stock market will go when the debt crisis is finally voted on."

RESPONSE POST:  "I follow the global economy and stock markets very closely. Even though the US will probably pass the debt ceiling, it won't help with the economy, just avoid a big crash in the markets and be followed by a temporary spike. Its difficult to know what will happen in the markets because the US and other governments are directly intervening in order to keep the markets up. And subsequently its difficult to know where to invest your money.   After the stock markets (and my funds) had recovered,  I moved my Kranot Hishtalmut [retirement funds] to very stable funds.  Again, they haven't performed nearly as well as stock market based funds in the past year. But that's because the American government has been pumping hundreds of billions of dollars through Quantitative Easing to keep the stock market up. If they can keep it up is anybody's guess."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why we need A/C here...

Because when it is off, it's hot enough to melt candles in our apartment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fruits of my labor

Peak flowering season has come and gone - months ago.  My nasturtiums and sweet peas were already going to seed by the first of May.  (Back in Michigan I couldn't even plant them outside until then, as there was still a risk of frost).
Our fruit trees are showing mixed success.  The lime doesn't seem to be developing any limes.  I think that is because it flowered back in winter while the storms were still ripping through town.  Interestingly, the large citrus trees downstairs at the front of our building don't appear to be producing much this year either.  My pomellos finally made a comeback, so I guess they needed the hotter weather to finally revive.  I tossed the dy chezic, a casualty of the winter storms, and replaced it with a plum.  The jury is out on whether that was a good idea or not.  There is new growth, but also brown leaves.  Of the trees, the olive tree is the most impressive, now doubled in size, but with only 5 olives on it this year.  Pictured here is my fig tree which has produced over a dozen figs this summer.  The taste is almost as sweet as dried figs.  What a treat! 

I have so many cherry tomatoes that I have been slicing them open and drying them on the patio table.  It's working!  I cooked my first batch up in a white wine, sun-dried tomato, mushroom, artichoke, chicken pasta last week. 

Now I need to start using my lemongrass, which has tripled in size in 2 months - want to join us for dinner?