Archive for March, 2011

Moving into spring

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

We passed the equinox this week, and it is starting to feel like spring here in Tel Aviv, despite a couple of rainy days earlier in the week. The weekend has been gorgeous.

Tuesday night, I went to the DCM’s residence to hear a talk by Israel’s first Bedouin (i.e., nomadic, Muslim, Arab) diplomat, Ismael Khadi. He was fascinating. Click for more information about him.

Thursday night, I went to our girls’ book club where we discussed Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, as best that seven working, child-free women could do.

Friday afternoon, we had a small happy hour at work, then, John and I had dinner with Petite and Howard, and Mike and Katie at a nice Italian restaurant.

The rest of the week was pretty low-key. I made a trip to the “big” grocery store last Sunday. John took me out to dinner to Whitehall on Wednesday. Saturday we got caught up on some “Mad Men” episodes and I started reading “She’s Come Undone” again.

I also came across an NPR review of a new Broadway show about Mormons, written by the South Park guys. It looks delicious!

All good things

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

With Cathy at Tzora Winery

All good things must come to an end: we took Cathy to the airport last night. From here she is headed to DC for a class before returning to Burundi. We really enjoyed having her here in Israel!

Last Monday, while Cathy was touring in Jerusalem, John and I went to the Ambassador’s residence after work for an “Art in Embassies” reception. The program director was in Israel and she spoke to us about the program, and a local artist also spoke.  The Ambassador and his wife worked with the program to pick art for the residence; they chose the theme “Couples,” and chose art from couples who are both artists. It was interesting to see the difference in styles between the members of a pair.

Thursday night, Cathy, John and I had dinner on the beach – the weather has been perfect this week, so it was nice to sit outside.

Friday I took the day off so that Cathy and I could go shopping. We started with a wonderful breakfast at Benedicts, then spent the day wandering around the shops in Neve Tzedek, as well as the Friday crafts fair at Carmel market.

This weekend is Purim, a Jewish holiday that is celebrated with costumes and celebration (i.e., lots of drinking). It was fun to see all of the costumes Friday and Saturday – from kids to young folks to the very old – everyone seemed to get in the spirit.

This past weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the death of my friend and co-worker Lesley in Ciudad Juarez, along with her husband and the husband of another Consulate worker. While several gang members have been arrested for the murders, there still doesn’t seem to be a clear motive.

Click to see more photos from our trip to the Judean Hills from last week.

Click to see more photos from our trip to the Golan and Galilee with Cathy, including a photo of the original Mt. Tabor – my mom was born in Mt. Tabor, Arkansas.

Back to the Galilee

Monday, March 14th, 2011

At our cabin overlooking the Sea of Galilee

We headed out with our guest Cathy late morning on Saturday and drove up though the Golan Heights and down into the Galilee. Unlike our last trip, we only had a little bit of rain, and we were able to really appreciate the stunning views. The roads are steep and winding, with a lot of switchbacks.

We made a great discovery Saturday afternoon. We found a family olive oil business, located on a kibbutz. They showed us their operation and how they pressed the olives into oil. They also make tahini, which is like peanut butter but made of sesame seeds. We walked out loaded with goodies, including handmade olive oil soap.

We were rewarded at the end of the day with a pretty sunset and nice glass of wine on the deck of our cabin at Vered Hagalil, overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Sunday morning we went back to Galil Mountain Winery where we were treated to a tasting by their winemaker Micha. Micha is very laid-back and we really enjoyed his take on the various wines.

After that, we went to Dalton Winery where we wanted to buy some dessert liqueurs they sell, as well as some of their wine. Edna, who helped us the last time we were there, caused us to drop our jaws when she casually said, “You know, I used to teach Hebrew at the Foreign Service Institute back in the 70s.” Small world, hmm?

It was our second week in a row for winery tours. Last Sunday, Cathy and I went with Wendy and Colin, along with our co-workers Steph, Abram and Jason, to the Judean Hills. We had a wonderful tasting at Clos de Gat, one of the more picturesque of the wineries, and also stops at Tzora and Flam. We had a picnic together at a little spot on the side of the road filled with wildflowers.

Thursday night was book club at our house. Like he did in Juarez, John has started a book club here, focusing on diplomacy. We had a nice group to discuss Kai Bird’s “Crossing Mandelbaum’s Gate.”

Friday we had another in-house happy hour at the office, with Cathy as our guest. Afterwards, Cathy treated me, John, Wendy and Colin to dinner at Whitehall. (I have fallen in love with their pork ribs!)

We had another special treat this week when Dave E. from our A-100 class, who is posted in Jerusalem, came over Sunday night. We had a great dinner at Manta Ray on the beach, then Dave took Cathy to Jerusalem for a couple of days.

As we were walking home in the dark and rain, we saw a man fall on the sidewalk in front of us. He was a businessman from Baltimore and had a terrible bloody nose from the fall. I ended up taking him in a taxi to the nearest ER and stayed with him for a few hours until I felt he was stable enough to leave (he ended up with a nose broken in five places and 14 stitches!). It was a good experience for me to get familiar with the ER system in Tel Aviv, and the U.S. traveler was happy to have some help navigating the ER.

With Cathy and Dave at Manta Ray

Picnic in the Judean Hills

Good to see old friends

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Our good friend Cathy from A-100 flew in Thursday night to spend a couple of weeks for R&R. It’s so fun to have her here – we’ve been talking pretty much non-stop since she arrived!

We walked down to Jaffa today – it’s a beautiful sunny day outside and perfect day to be outside walking along the sea. We walked around the old port city, then found a good Arab restaurant for lunch. Unfortunately, the flea market and most of the stores were closed for Shabat.

Yesterday I went in late to work so I could have breakfast with Cathy on her first morning in town. She came to the office at the close of business and joined the officers for a bottle of wine before we went home for the day. It was a good to have some relaxing time with my co-workers at the end of the week. Although we have only been taking emergency visa cases while our office is being remodeled, we’ve kept busy getting caught up on desk work. We’ve also done a “mini-management school,” where we read and discuss books and articles on management.

Last Saturday night, John and I met several friends at a good restaurant to celebrate Ben’s birthday. It was fun to go to a new part of town.

Sunday we went back to Hertzliyya for an appointment, then went to brunch overlooking the marina. We hit the grocery store, then made our way back to Tel Aviv. I had a nice manicure and finished reading Hurting Distance, by Sophie Hannah.

Thursday, I went with some co-workers to represent the Embassy at a career fair for young Israeli soldiers who are about to leave their mandatory army service. We were there to talk to them about the danger of working illegally in the US. Lots of young Israelis have gotten in trouble by selling Dead Sea products in mall kiosks, while they are in the US on a tourist visa (you’re not allowed to work on a tourist visa). It was a fun day, seeing these young kids in their uniforms.