Archive for September, 2011

Friends in town

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Another good busy week. The highlight of our week was having our friends Billy and Debbie come to visit this weekend. They arrived late Saturday and head out tomorrow morning. We visited with them on Saturday night, and had a great breakfast at Benedict’s this morning.

While they walked around town in the late afternoon, John and I went to the Newcomer’s Fair at the Rec Center. We were there to get the word out about John’s book club and had a good time visiting with folks.

Afterwards we came back and had dinner with Debbie and Billy at Mitzada across from the beach – good food and a good atmosphere.

On Saturday, John and I finished watching “Wall Street” and its sequel – it was fun to see the dated “Wall Street” from the 90s. Afterwards, I spent the next 10 hours, until 2 AM, working on getting an emergency message out to U.S. citizens. Bye bye Saturday!

Last Tuesday we were invited to the Ambassador’s residence for an outdoor world music concert – beautiful night and interesting music. The guest star was Peter from Peter, Paul and Mary.

Friday night we had a good dinner with Ben and Jen at Cafe Nana in Neve Tzedek – pretty place.

We also watched “The King’s Speech” this week – excellent movie!

Remembering 9/11

Saturday, September 17th, 2011
Last Sunday, John and I went to a 9/11 ceremony in Jerusalem where our Ambassador was among the dignitaries who spoke. It was a respectful, solemn affair, held at a beautiful memorial site on a hill. Five Israelis were killed in the 9/11 attacks; the widow of one man spoke. They also had a choir made up of elderly gentlemen, all of whom had lost sons in attacks or combat in Israel.

We attended another official event on Thursday night – the Ambassador’s official welcome reception, held on the lawn of his residence. It is such a beautiful venue, watching the sunset over the ocean. There were several hundred people there, and John and I enjoyed mingling.

We’ve had several other fun events this week. Last Sunday, we went down the hall to Bill and Diane’s, where they had a big cookout on the balcony.

Tuesday night, we went to the DCM’s house to hear a reporter from the Financial Times speak and answer questions. His main point was that, given the current birth rates of Israeli Arabs and ultra Orthodox Jews, by 2040, those two groups will make up 78% of Israel’s population. Interesting, with lots of political and economic implications.

Friday we had a happy hour at work to say goodbye to Solange, our TDYer from DC. She, Juan and I went to Hotel Montefiore afterwards for drinks. She has really been a big help and I’ll miss her!

Last night, we went upstairs to Rob’s apartment for an open house. We met a lot of people from USAID and had a good time.

We watched a great movie this week, Temple Grandin. I really enjoyed the story (based on a true story) – Temple grew up in the 50s, is autistic, got advanced degrees, and went on to design humane cattle feed lots and slaughter houses. Fascinating. Here’s a link to a great TED talk of hers.

We had to say goodbye to our great TDYer Solange – she is a great person and was a huge help in ACS for the past six weeks.

Saying bye to TDYer Solange

Relaxing in the Galil

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Harvest time

So John and I drove up to our favorite cabins at Vered Hagalil last Saturday morning to enjoy the three-day weekend, and enjoy it we did! We had a late lunch when we arrived with a nice bottle of wine, then watched the sunset over the Sea of Galilee and played a game of Scrabble.

Sunday we visited our two favorite wineries in that area and stocked up on some of our favorite white wines from Galil Mountain and Dalton. After a great lunch at Doris the Butcher in Rosh Pinna, we came back to Vered Hagalil and had massages, followed by another pretty sunset over the Sea of Galilee (known locally as the Kinneret, which translates to “harp” because of its shape).

Vered Hagalil is sort of a resort and sort of a ranch. Not fancy, but very relaxing. After breakfast Monday morning, I had my coffee while watching the horses being exercised in the ring, watched a horse getting shod, said hello to  my favorite “paint pony,” and petted the foal who has grown since the last time we were there, and watched a litter of six kittens play, jump, hide, attack and otherwise torment their mother. (The kittens were the funniest thing I have seen in a very long time!)

I bugged John until he drove me down the hill from our cabin to the Mount of the Beatitudes. We may have spent 10 minutes there. There is an Italian chapel on the site; we searched for the plaque that says it was built by Mussolini but couldn’t find it. Amid the swarms of Chinese tourists, we did find this:

Why is it that a four-day week at work feels like a six-day week?

Yes, back to work on Tuesday. It was a super-busy and interesting week. And emotionally exhausting. And fun. We have a fantastic group of local staff in our section and I really enjoy working with them.

It was nice to top off such a crazy week with a glass of wine upstairs on Petit and Howie’s balcony (until the phone rang and had to be on the phone the rest of the night with police and hospitals, anyway!).

Our new American Citizens Services chief arrived on Friday. John and I had breakfast with him and his partner at Benedict’s this morning. He’s a great guy, and I look forward to working with him.

We continued our visit with Petit and Howie on Saturday with lunch down at the renovated old Train Station. Petit recommended a wonderful Italian place and we sat outside and enjoyed the food and the fan blowing on us.

Howie and Petit



John at the Train Station

Inside a shop at Old Train Station




Ready for a break

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I’m posting a little early this week because John and I are going out of town for the long holiday weekend. Boy, do we need a break. This week was a roller coaster.

The week started off pretty slowly. John and I ran an errand up in Hertzliya (which involves getting the car out of the garage), then we stopped by the duty free store to pick up some things.

Tuesday night I went to a ladies’ book club at Jen’s apartment. We read an interesting book by an Arab Christian woman from Lebanon. It’s a good chance to visit with some of the girls.

Thursday night was book club at our house. It was our largest group yet, with a lot of new people. John was able to barely get it started, then he had to leave to do something for the Ambassador and didn’t get home until 11 PM. Meanwhile, I was on the phone with a severely disturbed young American woman (juggling talking to her and with her family back in the States), while people were coming in and enjoying book club. Luckily we have a good group of regulars of were able to make themselves at home without John and me!

It was an emotional week in ACS. The young woman I talked to at length on Thursday night came to see me Friday at the office so we could talk to her in person. I had another case of an American-Israeli who renounced his U.S. citizenship  – he was so eloquent talking about loving two countries and what a difficult decision it was for him.

And there was the guy who came to  complain because the Israelis confiscated his poker chips when he flew into the country.

You just never know who is going to walk up to your window!