Archive for December, 2010

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

With Gobie

John and I thoroughly enjoyed a very lazy day on Christmas Day. We had great lattes and omelettes for breakfast and opened presents. We spent the morning and early afternoon reading, then popped the champagne and drank mimosas while we watched “Love Actually,” a great holiday movie. Later in the evening, we watched “Please Give,” with Catherine Keener, one of my favorite actresses.

I Skyped with cousin David in Diego Garcia, which I hadn’t done before, and, of course, we talked to our families.

The two nights leading up to the holiday were busy. On Thursday night, we went to a party at my boss’s house. The next night, we went upstairs in our building to a birthday party for Roya. Both were lots of fun, and we especially enjoyed the Mexican food at Roya’s. Click to see photos from the birthday party.

Tuesday at work, we had a “stairwell party.” Each floor set up tables on the stair landings and put out food and drink. It was very festive way to end the day.

Last Sunday, John and I, along with Melissa, Ann and Naz, trekked an hour or so north to the Carmel Winery for a nice wine tasting. It’s in a cute little town, and afterwards we went out for dinner there. The winery was the first one in Israel, and was started by Baron Rothschild in 1882. Interestingly, they had the first electricity and telephone there. It was very nice, and we brought home lots of wine. Click to see photos.

At Carmel Winery

John, Zvi and Charlie at Roya's party

Holidays? Really?

Sunday, December 19th, 2010
To be living in the Holy Land, it sure doesn’t feel like Christmas. It’s a little cooler, actually cool enough for a sweater and a scarf, but there are no signs of the holidays. I know that Judaism doesn’t exactly celebrate Christmas, but even Hanukkah came and went without fanfare (aside from the doughnuts in the lobby of our building).

The week went by in a blur of visa interviews. We both went in to the office today to try to get caught up – I don’t know where the days go.

Friday night was a treat – some friends of our manager in Juarez were in Tel Aviv, and we all went to dinner together. Bill and Jane were very interesting to meet and get to know. Bill was a neurologist in Oregon until he decided to devote more time to writing. He has written a financial book on asset allocation (that John read many years ago), among others. We went to The Old Man and the Sea – it’s south of Jaffo on the ocean and sort of a local institution, very colorful with large groups of families. The food is not spectacular, but it was a lot of fun, and our guests seemed to enjoy it.

Bill and Jane at The Old Man & the Sea


Flavie on her climbing tree

Winter’s here

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Just a few days ago, people were still on the beach…not anymore. Yesterday a storm moved in – the ocean is white and rolling, and the wind is incredible. I was crossing a street today and for a few seconds couldn’t make headway against the wind! It’s chilly, raining and thundering.

This was a tough week at work. We had a couple of  people out, and I caught a cold, so I felt pretty miserable (feeling on the mend now). John went to the DCM’s house on Wednesday to hear an expert talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process – he said it was really good (sorry I missed it).

Last Sunday, I scored another bureaucratic victory: I took the Corolla in for its annual inspection – success! It’s a funny process; you drive the car through a chute – sort of like going through a car wash – and along the way, they test your car for different things. You even drive over a pit with men underneath checking things.

I was so elated about surviving the process that I ventured to a grocery store I’ve been wanting to go to. I was in heaven – it’s the closest thing to a large American-style grocery that I’ve found. The selection is incredible! I think I spent over an hour just wandering around shopping.

Today I spent most of the day in the office working on some emergency visa cases. One of them was a young man was trying to fly out tonight for surgery in the US, so I went in to take care of him and his family. It was the first time I had done the visa process from start to finish by myself – it was a little scary, but it all turned out OK. Now, I just hope his plane can actually take off tonight in this weather.

I had a nice long chat with Dail and Nancy tonight; Dail seems to be recovering from his surgery. It was great to hear their voices!

Happy Hanukkah

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Here's Arkansas!

This week was busy, but a lot of fun! On Wednesday, I went with a woman from the Public Diplomacy section to visit two primarily Arab schools about two and a half hours north of Tel Aviv. At the first school, I gave a presentation to one of the English classes about American holidays. The kids there were Muslim and Druze, with a few Christians. The second school was a Bedouin school, and I talked about volunteering and social responsibility. The kids were amazing, and especially friendly and outgoing.

Our friend Israel left last Monday morning. Before he headed back to Amman to catch his flight, he came into the office with John and me for a quick tour and to meet some of the officers and LES.

Thursday night, I went to a party at a nearby hotel to celebrate the 83rd birthday of the Thai king, given by the Thai Embassy. It was fun – lots of people. I visited a long time with a diplomat from Costa Rica.

Friday night there was a fun Hanukkah party at our friends Katie and Charlie’s apartment, just down the hall from us. We did a Dirty Santa gift exchange – I got an Israel snow globe with camels inside – love it!

Saturday night was the annual holiday party at the Ambassador’s house. John and I volunteered to tend bar, and we had a lot of fun. His house is amazing. The house overlooks the pool and the ocean, with a huge back yard. Everyone from the Embassy was invited; there were lots of kids there, along with Santa and his elf.

The Bedouin Kids