January 2004 Archives

Oven Frustrations & Kumquats


1. Having just moved, I have to get used to a new oven, which of course, is anything but new. I baked some cookies, which I've made tons of times back in the States, and this time they were nearly black on the outside & still mushy on the inside. Yes, I know "you had the heat too high". But then, I have 10 oven settings (1-10). My guidebook says that number 6 is 325-450 degrees Fahrenheit. Uh, what?! How am I supposed to accurately cook anything that way? How does anybody do it? Well, so, needless to say I have a lot of experimenting ahead of me. I've managed to make shortbread, yogurt cakes and other food with decent results, so I suppose I'll figure this one out eventually, too.

2. Kumquats. Ever had one? They are small orange citrus fruits with a sweet exterior (contrary to any other rind I've ever come into contact with) and a rather acidic interior (similar to other citrus fruits). The first one I ever tried, I peeled. WRONG. Do not attempt this at home. You get all the acidic part, with nothing to cushion the blow. And mind you, the fruit is roughly the size of your thumb - why bother with a thumb-sized fruit you have to peel? So, someone convinced me to try eating a whole one, and I love it! They are quite scrumptious, and are currently my favorite fruit (especially considering that not much else seems to be 'in season' at the moment).

So, if you can get ahold of a kumquat, after washing the skin off, go ahead and try it. If not, yet another reason to come visit us!!!


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I always thought a sandstorm was when there was a terrific amount of sand blowing about... well, I suppose that is one form. Friday I discovered there was also another form: the one when it is mixed with rain. It was, literally, raining mud on Friday. I didn't realize it at first. I thought we were just tracking the dirt up onto the steps, hence the mud on the steps. But the mud was also on the gates, my umbrella, my coat, the cars, the houses, ... you name it, it's filthy. Thank goodness it kept raining for the next two days - without the mud. I found out later they closed the Suez Canal because of the storm! Yeah, but me, I walked to work that day. Even worse, I walked to work alone. I had traded Fridays with my co-worker, so was working on a Friday I would have typically had off [don't forget, I work on Sundays], which meant that Mark did have it off. Translation? Mark was home, cuddled up in a warm bed while I was walking to work in a mud storm, getting soaked up to my knees... Sigh...

I must admit, I really didn't mind it. I love the rain, it wasn't too cold, and heck, walking through the terraced gardens any day is beautiful! [and besides, I wasn't back in Ohio where it's mighty cold & snowy!!]

Settling In


I've been in Israel for six months now. Mark has been here three. And I finally feel like I'm settling in and fitting in. We've moved into our new place, which is where we'll be for the next two years. We've managed to redecorate the place for very little. The white walls have been transformed into beautiful colors - so important, especially to Mark - and we managed to do it without painting a single wall! (I'll post pictures once we have some!) Now that we're in our place permanently, we have people over at our place at least twice a week - dinner, movies, etc. At our old place we were so far away from most people that we hardly had anyone over. We both were struggling trying to fit in, and it felt like we were really out of joint with everyone else.

We talked to the woman here who devotes her time to figuring out what our culture is here (and how we'd like to improve it), and she said that this feeling was fairly epidemic here. Once we knew that, it freed us from trying to 'fit in'. Obviously, there was no place to 'fit in' to. So now we've simply created our own life, being sensitive to the fact that so many others feel like they don't fit in as well.

Some of the ideas we have for creative community events are to have an open mic/ cafe night at our place - for music, poetry - whatever people feel like sharing. We'd also like to have prayer gatherings on a theme (unity, family, justice) - and then watch a movie, serious or silly, related to it. Please feel free to give us ideas about what we could do to have fun and include people!

Today it is raining here. The past three days were so beautiful, though; during the day we could leave our coats at home! What's the weather like where you are?


Yesterday I interpreted for a group of newly arrived French pilgrims. It was amazing. I met them at their orientation and stayed with them until they had finished meeting with the Universal House of Justice (the highest authority in our administrative structure). I've been working here for 6 months now, but I felt like I was seeing it all over again for the first time with them. After their orientation they all (167 pilgrims) went to the Shrines of the Bab and Abdu'l-Baha for the first time. Ever (for many of them). I just stood outside and distributed tissues. And tried really hard not to cry myself. It was so amazingly touching to see these people experiencing what they have been waiting many years to do.

Afterward, we all walked up the terraces to the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, were served tea and cookies and were then greeted by all present members of the House of Justice (2 are away at the moment). I also interpreted this for the pilgrims. Want to feel inadequate, and yet wholly loved? Try doing this for an afternoon. I was so afraid, thinking how could my words be adequate? And yet, once it started, all my fear washed away and I just did it. I actually used the word "exaucer" (to grant/fulfill)- hahaha, not exactly a word I use in general conversation. Thank goodness I read from the Holy Writings in French everyday - I think some of it is actually entering this brain of mine. And then! the House members went around and met every single one of the pilgrims - every single one! I can see why, too - it just fills your heart with joy to be with the pilgrims. It is so refreshing, and it definitely helps me to remember why I am here. I'm so glad this is part of my job. It is such a joy, even if it is draining. It's like a really good workout - you're exhausted afterward, but you feel really good at the same time - healthy and rejuvenated.

I'm also glad that I did it because I was so afraid to do it. Now it's one less fear, which is always liberating.

Worth Reading


My brother Nathan just posted a beautiful article entitled "A short essay on dissent - and also I'm moving". I highly recommend it for anyone committed to making this world a better place. When I started reading it I thought - yeah, this is what we've been doing! - with which he later concurred.

Nathan and I don't always agree on issues. It is perfectly possible that we are each becoming a bit less radical and polarized; that we as we learn more about the world we recognize the validity within the other's position, and that without a vision of unity nothing will work or change. Whether we agree on the details, if we're willing to not have complete control over everything within our reach, doesn't matter. In fact, we've had some real doozies of an argument. However, on this I agree with him. Wholeheartedly. I don't see why someone would not, unless they were invested in the current political situation in the U.S. (ugh).

Check out his article - his name above will take you to it.

Philippine Study Group

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The Philippine Study Group (which is often an excuse to socialize) recently met with Dr. Mohajer and his family (his wife works as a Russian translator with me from time to time). It was a wonderful evening with wonderful food, friends, and fellowship.

Catching Up

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I have been a bit remiss in responding to those of you who have been reading and responding to my entries. Thank you for the notes - I love reading them! Of course, when someone's going to go and call you a genius that always helps, but nevertheless. But then, it runs in the family, now doesn't it, Nathan?

We moved into our new flat on the 6th of January, and we are definitely happy with the move. It makes us so much closer to everything. Since we are now within walking distance of everything we are walking much more, and we are even happier about that. We actually walk through some of the terraced gardens to get to our offices in the morning - beautiful! It can definitely help put me in a good mood about the work that I am about to do.

We've started a course, Ruhi 2 - Arising to Serve, which is wonderful. We have a very dynamic and musical group. Last night we had the group over for dinner and had a lovely evening eating, studying, and singing together.

Let's see, what else?... Mark and I both got our hair cut recently. Our hairdresser loves chocolate, particularly the Dove dark Promises, so she is more than willing to come and cut our hair if she can have a few Dove chocolates :-).

Mark and I will be helping to facilitate a course on moral leadership during the Fast (in March). I am really excited about this. I know I have the inklings of good leadership/management skills, but I don't have much training in the area, and haven't exactly been able to learn by someone else modelling it. This course, from what I've seen of it, gives me hope that I may be given practical, concrete methods for leadership, which in essence may be practiced in all spheres of my life: child-rearing, friendships, work, family, etc. I may write more on this later as I study more.

Mark and I are also going to start working our way through the Virtues Guide. If you don't know what it is, check it out on the Web. It's wonderful for anyone who is raising or planning on raising children as it gives you concrete ways to teach children (and therefore yourself) a number of virtues (52 specifically, as they take one a week for a year). The authors looked through all the holy texts of the world's religions, and chose these 52 universal virtues to focus on.

As you can see from this entry, I am very interested in making dynamic changes to the way I think and interact with others. If you have any thoughts about it, I'd love to hear from you. (note - this is not an invitation to expose my faults, as I am aware of a good number of them, but thank you for thinking of me :-)...)

Please write and let me know how you're all doing! Cheers, moi



My brother and I have figured out how to debate across continents - for free. If you'd like to get in on the lively discussion about feminism, classism, and commas, check out Nathan's blog.

This morning I saw something I have to share. I was on my way up to work when I noticed a small truck trying to park. Whether it was a parking spot or simply a free bit of space on the sidewalk, well, doesn't matter to Israelis. Anyway, the truck was waiting for a man and his dog to move. Why weren't they moving? Well, because the dog was taking a dump. It almost seemed like it was happening in slow motion, the way everyone seemed to be taking it in stride, waiting patiently for the dog to finish... ugh. What may have been even more surprising was that the man actually cleaned up after his dog - truly amazing here in Israel.

This afternoon we are moving, which hopefully won't be too rigorous considering that Mark is getting over the flu. Fortunately, we have several friends who will be helping us.

I hope everyone had a Happy Gregorian New Year! Once again, I was surprised at how much it was celebrated here, fireworks all the way up the side of the mountain, ships blowing their horns, people fighting and breaking bottles in the streets... Of course, I was at home trying to sleep, as I had work the next day :-).

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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