Archive for December, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Christmas morning Sea of Galilee

Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s such an odd feeling since Israel by nature doesn’t celebrate Christmas. The weather is still pretty warm, people are still playing in the ocean and walking on the beach and the sun is shining – hard to believe that family and friends are bundled up back home!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in the Galil – we stayed at our favorite Vered Hagalil cabin overlooking the Sea of Galilee. We had lunch at Doris, our favorite steak house in Rosh Pina, then checked in the hotel. We enjoyed our newest Christmas tradition – watching “Love Actually,” just a great holiday movie.

We really enjoyed the thunderstorm that crossed Israel last night – it was such a treat to wake  up to hear rain pouring down on the rooftop of our cabin. Here’s another shot of the Sea of Galilee – the light was beautiful and changed repeatedly due to the rain.

Sea of Galilee










The week leading up to the holiday was fun. Last Sunday, my photography class did a walk-about around Rothschild Avenue, photographing historic buildings and other goodies, like this cute puppy sitting outside at a cafe.

Puppy -n- boots














Work was pretty low-key, and we got off early on Friday. We had our annual “stairwell party” at the Embassy, where each floor hosts goodies in the stairwell.

And again, we’ve been enjoying having the kitten down to visit us this week – she is such a doll! Here she is helping John read!

John and Tikka


With Tikka

Rock on!

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Dome of the Rock

John and I were very lucky to go on a tour inside the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Muslim quarter of the Old City, something that most non-Muslims don’t get to do. They are both very ornate and beautiful. After the tour, we walked through the Old City with a couple of friends and stopped to have lunch at a well-known little diner – we were squeezed into one of the four tables in the tiny space, and really enjoyed our hummus and pita bread. Click to see more photos.

On the way back from Tel Aviv, we stopped in Abu Ghosh for lunch at Rama’s Kitchen, a place that our Jerusalem friends rave about. It was delicious and a very pleasant environment. It’s basically an outdoor restaurant out in the country on a hilltop with a gravel floor, winterized with space heaters and temporary walls. Neighborhood dogs mingled with guests’ dogs under the table, and yummy dishes were scooped out of the open oven.

On Wednesday, the American Citizen Services group took a road trip to Bet Shemesh for a passport outreach. There’s a large American community there (almost 5000 people), and they were so happy for us to be there. It was a good trip and nice to get out of the office.

While we were on the road, the Embassy held its semi-annual awards ceremony, and I am happy to report that John got a Meritorious Honor Award for his outstanding work as the Ambassador’s staff aide! I was especially proud because he has only been in that role for five months, and already has improved the constant and complicated workflow of information for the Ambassador. Good job! We went out to dinner to celebrate.

Thursday night we went to the Ambassador’s holiday party at the Residence – John and I volunteered to tend bar again this year. The house was brimming with people; when we arrived, there were kids running all over the place, then the party transitioned into an adult’s cocktail party after the kids went to bed. The Ambassador and his family do an excellent job of making folks feel very welcome in their home, and this party was no exception.

This week has been a lot of fun because we have been helping to cat sit our neighbor’s kitten. She  is so cute and playful, and just makes us laugh with her tumbling and running. I’ve been bringing her to our house in the evenings and on the weekends – she is just a hoot. (Flavia is not so thrilled and appears to be intimidated by her – she pretty much runs to hide when she sees the kitten.) Here she is in a quieter moment:

Tikka in a quiet moment





December already?

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Tel Aviv Bicycle

It’s hard to believe we are almost two weeks into December. Aside from a few rainy days, the weather here is still gorgeous. I went out this morning for a manicure and to do some shopping and almost got hot in my sweater before I got home. It was a beautiful day.

Last Sunday, I felt a little bit more  like it was fall or winter because we went to a chili party – yum! I had a delicious bowl of chili that the hostess said was made with ground beef and Pace picante sauce. It was yummy.

After the party, John and I watched a National Geographic movie, “Arctic Tale,” a beautiful movie that chronicled the life of polar bears and walruses in the Arctic.

Tuesday after work, we rode the shuttle to Jerusalem to meet the Assistant Secretary for our regional bureau, a very personable fellow. The reception was held in the Consul General’s residence, which is really old and beautiful.

I was glad to have my boss return to work on Wednesday – he had been on vacation for a week or so. He arrived in Israel in August, and I am really enjoying working for him. He’s smart, does things by the book and is super-nice, to boot!

Yesterday morning John did a coffee roasting demo for Emily, a friend of ours. Afterwards we had an omelette and talked for a while. Last night, we went out to dinner with Howard and Petite – always good to visit with them.


Where did everybody go?

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Synagogue cat on Bialik Street

After having so much company in November, December seems a little lonely! It’s hard to believe we are at the end of the year, especially since it is pretty warm here and you don’t see any signs of the holidays.

I started taking a photography class, and last Sunday morning our little group went for an outing to practice taking pictures. It was a beautiful morning and we had a fun time.

Thursday night was book club at our apartment. We had a big crowd and the author of  this month’s pick, “The Israel Lobby,” Skyped in for the discussion.

Friday night was dinner at Whitehall with John, then home for a movie.

Yesterday was busy – I spent the afternoon at Petit’s for a baby shower for Rosa, then John and I went down the hall to Bill and Diane’s for a party/piano concert. The pianist is a woman who actually works in our cafeteria at the Embassy and who plays the piano beautifully – nice evening!