Recently in Funness Category

Deodorant

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Dear Mama,

You once said putting deodorant on without showering first wasn't good. Do you remember the context? And, umm, not good in what way?

Just asking, 'cause, you know, as a young mother ... well, I don't necessarily get a shower in every day.

Thanks!
Love,
Mara

Storytime

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We're in our new house now. We all love it. Liam will ask, "where's Daddy?" when he wakes up. Mark is often already up, in the bathroom, or whatever, so I ask him, "where is he?" His response, "in our new house."

I was telling him a story about a young girl, mentioned she was a 'big girl' and I asked Liam whether he was a big boy? His response: "girl, actually." Wow. I stand corrected. Now, before you go reassuring me that this is normal, let me reassure you, I know. I think Liam is hysterical. I am loving his pink princess style.

Word I most frequently hear Liam say in his sleep: Thanks. So sweet.

And now he is awake, so off I go.

Timeless

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Liam asked for my watch. I put it on his wrist. He proclaimed it to be nine o'clock and started walking out of the room. And then he said, "have to get ready to go!"

Figuring it all out

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Lots of updates to the blog. Just trying to figure it all out. Nae, I don't see Ingrida's template as an option - or anything else nearly that cool...what do I have to do to find the cool ones?!

Voting

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I realized that, although I have been voting for ... umm, let's see ... 14 years, yeah ... this is the first presidential election for which I have been in the United States! Probably means it's the first time my vote actually counted. In any case, I had fun. I hope you (who are US citizens) did, too.

My Future

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Oh my goodness. Mendon, I know you'll find this funny, as Zits was sort of a 'thing' with you and Maman.

To see my future, click here.

And if you're not checking this on Monday, 11 February, scroll to the bottom and click on 11.

The Zoo!

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Making good use of our brand new zoo membership card, gratis Uncle Nathan!

Thanks so much, Nae! So thoughtful. I was near tears. Of course, life is sort of emotional at the moment, but all the same, thanks Nae! Mark is using the card as I write this. (we were invited to the zoo with his brother, Fred, but it was too late in the evening for Liam, so Mark went alone.)

Liam and I will find other uses for this card soon, I'm sure!

Who Knew?

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The other day, Mark's classmates discovered he's married. One young woman replied, "I didn't know there were real adults in this class!" They started guessing how old he was, and one young man decided to really stretch ... "man, I bet he's like 26!" Heheheh. Oh, to be 18 again.

This movie is Liam's birthday gift to my mother. Happy birthday, Maman!

I've Been Tagged!

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Okay, so it's silly, but for whatever reason, it's like I'd been left out... well, Leila tagged me, so I guess I'm it.

I am to relate 7 things that are weird and/or random about myself.

I'll start out with my standard weird thing:

1. I have 4 birth certificates. Okay, previously, my standard was 3, but last year I discovered I had a 4th, so now it's 4. (2 from the Falklands, 1 from the US consul in Argentina, and 1 from the US [signed by the Secretary of State].

2. I've lived in 5 countries outside of the US. However, inside the US I have only ever lived in Ohio.

3. I despise cutting nails. And now I have another set to tend to. It's actually the one thing about motherhood that holds absolutely no attraction for me. I don't even just feel neutral about it. I actively dislike it.

4. I bought a car once. I had it about 2 weeks. By the time I got rid of it, I had involved the police and paid about $100. I put a stop on the check to the "owners" because it turned out they weren't the owners as they'd never signed over the title. That made them sort of angry and they threatened to send over big nasty boyfriend - at which point I called the police (only myself and my younger sister were at home at the time). I took it to a mechanic who made it clear it wasn't worth my time. So I paid for someone to haul it away. A pretty inexpensive lesson all in all.

5. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I found out not all families grew up making their own pies. It blew my mind so thoroughly that I asked my mother whether this was indeed true amongst her own friends. I was truly shocked.

6. I like to eat day old popcorn.

7. Sometimes, I forget my son is a boy. I actually think "she" and have to correct myself.

I'd link people to tag them, but writing the code takes time and Liam is napping and I'm afraid he'll wake up and I won't have finished, so:

Rae, Maman, Mensch, Kristen, Nathan, and yes, even you Papa, consider yourselves tagged. Oh, and I love you!

Good Thing We Live in Ohio

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Because the label on Mark's shampoo states the following:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.

You know what's particularly comforting? They don't tell you which ones!

Three Cs and Daddy

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Blankets for Liam, all made by women whose names start with C, oddly enough. We took these before I delivered, not realizing I was about to be induced.

Cindy's quilt - freaking awesome, no? This woman's mad skills blow my mind. She then went on to make two little mini-quilts the perfect size of our bassinet.

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Candy's funness

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Cathy's blanket

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I know of more coming, but they aren't in my possession yet :-)

And the photo everyone's been asking for, Mark and Liam. It's hard when Mark is usually behind the camera! We'll work on this.

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Good Day

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Yesterday was a good, exhausting day.

First, it was gorgeous. I'd say we went hiking, but these days it's more of a stroll.

Secondly, I found nursing bras on clearance. Yes, that passes as excitement these days.

Thirdly, we finally found an inexpensive solution to a diaper changing station.

Finally, last night at Lamaze I realized that the coach is the mother of my friend from high school! We were on the floor, having just finished our exercises, and she was standing right in front of me. I was staring at her hospital ID and it finally dawned on me that she shared his rather uncommon last name when I tuned in to her saying "...my son, 31 years ago...". Seeing as that's how old I am, I knew I was right. She was truly surprised (and I think slightly incredulous).

Farewell & Ayyam'i'Ha

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Last night we got together with my father's family to say good-bye to my Aunt Suellen, who heads back to Argentina tomorrow (she's standing in the center).

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Then, today we decorated for Ayyam'i'Ha! My mother has developed several themes, which I suspect you'll be able to devine. First, the dining room:

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Then the fireplace mantle:

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Here are some close ups to further aid you.

Left side:

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Right side:

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And finally, the front room bookcases:

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and

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In with the decorations, we found a dismembered Lego creation that Mendon made some years ago. Realizing my mother's attraction to birds, Mark revived it by reassembling it as this:

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A "red-necked honey sucker". My mother wasn't impressed.

See for yourself:

And no, Mendon, this wasn't your whale. :-)

Snowy Valentine's Day

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Yesterday, the news was nothing but coverage on our "winter storm warning". Snow was falling and it was very blustery outside (i.e. couldn't see much o' anything). It took my mother over an hour to get home from work - 7 miles away. They were predicting 8-16 inches of new snowfall over night. Well, we got all of it, if not more. We had to push snow out of the way just to get the door open. It looks beautiful and my mommy doesn't have to go to work today!

Here's my father, after having shovelled for about 2 hours. Those mounds of snow? They're much closer to him than they are to the camera, just to give you some perspective on how big they are.

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And this is out the window. I love the snow on the window. As you can see, the entire tree trunk is buried under snow.

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Fortunately, it's nice and cozy inside. We all sat around and had our morning tea together.

P.S. This past weekend, Mark and I went to his nephew's 1st birthday party (a big event in Korean culture). You can see some lovely photos of what this entailed at his Flickr site. The food on the table has significance, though, umm, I don't remember what.

Aliens Amongst Us

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I did tell you how cold it was around here.

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These are some aliens I discovered in our driveway this morning (aka Maman & Papa heading out for their morning stroll). At least they came prepared for the weather.

A Wee Bit O' Snow

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Now that we've got a proper winter going on here, I thought I'd share with you what it looks like out our back door. Any further and I'd actually have to go outside, which takes way too much preparation at the moment. It is currently a cheery 21F/-6C degrees outside. The wire fence and posts you see is my parents' vegetable garden.

Our shipment did arrive yesterday. The poor shipment delivery guy was from Tel Aviv - traveling in horrid driving conditions (much of the snow in the photo fell yesterday) and on one of the coldest days this winter. I think it was down to 18F/-9C.

For Melanie

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Last night, our family went out to see Stranger Than Fiction together. We all really enjoyed it - from age 22 to 58 (ok, I'm not sure everyone stayed awake thru the whole thing, but what was seen was enjoyed).

On the way out, I stopped in the ladies' room. Two cinema employees were in the stalls next to me. As one young women stepped out of her stall, she must have checked herself out in the mirror because the next thing she uttered was, "I have Texas hair." I immediately thought of you, Mel, and then she followed up with what really made it funny, "My head is three times bigger than it should be."

Oh, p.s.: I (we) went to my first midwife appointment this side of the Atlantic this morning. I'm so happy I'm going to be giving birth with this practice. The midwife was awesome. Not only was she professionally capable, but she grew up in Evanston (which is where the Baha'i house of worship is in the US), has hosted midwives from Israel and totally included Mark in the meeting. She also informed us that I could even do a water birth at the hosptial, which I think is pretty cool. It is such a relief to know I like the people who will be with me during the labor and delivery!

Horoscope

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Okay, I don't put particular stock in horoscopes, but they're fun to read.

Today, mine was: "When condensed into story form, today's events are downright funny. Get your facts straight so that later, around the dinner table, you can sufficiently distort them." (I guess you're my dinner table)

I groaned when I read that, considering I had decided to apply for Medicaid today. This meant I had to go to a government office today. Groan.

And still I went. I grabbed a book, a banana, dropped my mother off at work and headed over to the "Department of Jobs and Family Services". I expected agony, pain, torture and disappointment. You know, the usual when encountering government bureaucracy.

Nothing. I walked in, turned in the application and walked out. No lines. NONE. Not one! They even copied documents for me so that I didn't have to hand over originals. They assigned me a case worker, and I even have her name and phone number.

I was almost sort of disappointed by the experience - or total lack thereof. Bizzaro-world. (and what a massive, massive relief that it is over!)

Iroquois

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I started walking today, being the good pregnant woman that I am. I'm back in the house I grew up in (from age 2 onward), so I thought I'd share with you what it looks like - in autumn - where I am from.

This first photo is my parents' house (re-sided and roofed by my father). Check out the beautiful maple tree that has yet to lose its yellow leaves.
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I believe all of my siblings and I were newspaper carriers for the street at one time or another (Rae, were you?). My parents still get the newspaper.
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I delivered the papers - from age 8 to 12 - on this side of the street. I must have been a sight to behold, being the little wisp of a girl that I was, with the big brown carrier bag slung around me, hanging almost to my knees.
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This side of the street is also in another city, which means we didn't go to school with the kids living across the street from us.

This side - note the recurrent yellow-leaved maple tree - is our side of the street. My brother and I had split the paper route, so he had this side of the street while I did the other. It's the fire hydrant side of the street, so don't park on our side of the street!
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As you look down the street, you can see it is lined with (bare) trees. It is lovely to walk down in the spring and summer with all the trees in bloom. I used to zig-zag down it as I delivered newspapers to stay in the shade as much as possible. You can see almost to the end of the street (in the other street shot). There's just one little final bend at the end before the street ends in Lake Erie. I always loved the end of my route, with the houses on the lake. I would finish my final papers and just stand in their yard for a few minutes looking out at the lake - usually trying to see Canada, even though my dad told me it was not possible with the human eye (not that I'm stubborn or anything!).

Finally, for those of you from more tropical climes (say...Brazil?). Here's what I wore out for my walk this morning:
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Fortunately for me, it is one of the warmer, sunny November days. It's only getting colder from here. Our thermometer, which is in the sun, says it's all the way up to 50F/10C - and that's warm! :-)

Top 25

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No, I'm not referring to my high school's performance choir.

My father (Dustin) has been nominated as being one of the top 25 in the field of therapy!

Check out his radiant face and the accompanying article in the link below:

Congratulations Papa-bear!

And on my Maman's birthday no less! Happy Birthday, Maman!

Cumin or Cayenne?

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The weather forecast for today states: "mostly cloudy skies and seasonable."

Not That I'm Competitive

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Now we all know what some of the biggest stressors are in life, right?

So, let's see:

Pregnant - check
Moving - check
Jobless - check
Loved ones dying - check
OH! And HOUSE FLOODING (again? yes! again!)- CHECK!

So, you know, if you think you're stressed, well, I've got you beat this time!!!

That's me. I'm a winner.

(laugh and laugh with me, I promise. It's just too absurd to be reality....)

Roi

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There's a hairdresser here that some of us have followed for a while as he graduated, started at a salon, etc. He's now currently salon-less, but he'll come to our place and use it as a salon if we organize a few friends together for cuts, dye, etc. So yesterday, one of our friends did just that.

We all went over to her place for our appointments, chatted and goofed around. Mark and I stuck around for a while as sometimes if we left that would have left the hairdresser alone in the flat with just one woman. And we got hungry. So we raided the kitchen. We first ate chips (I know, nutritious, hello!). Anyway, the bags each had a tattoo in them!

So yesterday, Mark and I got haircuts and tattoos. Mark has a cobra which we put on the nape of his neck. He thinks it's very cool. I have a rose on my wrist- THAT GLOWS IN THE DARK. Yes. I think mine is cooler.

Halloween

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What are your plans for Halloween?

Well, don't forget to include your Ipod!

And yes it is real. They get better - so make sure to check out the links on the left for the specific sizes (Ipod, Nano, Shuffle...).

And your Mac? What will it wear? Wouldn't want it to feel left out, no?

Keyword: French

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I've started looking for work back in Cleveland near my parents.

Just for kicks, I typed in "French" as my keyword. You know, just to see.

I got one hit. "Wow," I thought, "that's more than I expected." So I clicked on it to see what the job was.

What was it?

And I quote, "Tired of smelling like a French fry?"

Guess I won't be using French in my next job...

I Miss Clipper

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As I mentioned, I haven't had hot tea for a while. Mark made some cinnamon buns this morning, and so I made some tea to go along with it. And then I looked down at my mug and thought, "why is this tea black?!"

Back in Scotland, Nathan had a big box of Clipper brand tea. It made these lovely golden brown cups of tea with no trace of bitterness after 5 whole seconds of exposure to water. Sigh. I miss Clipper.

Normal

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A friend of mine, who just recently gave birth to her second child replied to my woes with this statement:

"Your head could fall off and they'd say 'that happens sometimes during pregnancy'."

It's the little things that get me through the day!

Sweet Land

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I really want to see this movie!

That's all. ;-)

No, it's not - I want the collection of short stories it's based on, too: A Gravestone Made of Wheat by Will Weaver.

Homemade Applesauce

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Last night, Mark and I made applesauce.

Just so you know, to me, homemade applesauce is better than chocolate. I *heart* homemade applesauce. And the very, very best is that first bowl hot off the stove top.

I first made my return to homemade applesauce when I went back to parents' place last November to be with my mother through her surgery and recovery therefrom. It was one of the foods she could, and would, eat. Because it is so good, we couldn't keep our hands off of it, so I was literally making applesauce every day - sometimes twice daily. Yeah, it's that good. Good thing apples are native to our neck of the woods!

Once I returned to Haifa, I was hooked. I craved the homemade applesauce. However, I lacked a food mill, which meant I had to peel and de-seed all of the apples prior to cooking them. Hello, labor intensive! I only did that once or twice.

Then, in a most mysterious fashion, when we moved to our new flat a food mill suddenly appeared on our table. Happiness!

We've been away for a while, but now we're back - and thoroughly enjoying the fruits of our labors!

Accent

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After a lovely final evening out with Nathan (again!), his friends and their parents ... I can't get the blasted accent out of my head! That's right, I am thinking in a British accent! (I say British because the people we were with tonight had sort of an English/Scottish medley accent, I think).

In any case, Mark and Nathan are out playing Magic with some friends. I headed out with the 'girls' to do things which are strictly taboo in Israel. I'd never met them before, and they are good friends, but they totally swept me into their circle and we had an absolutely fab evening. They're off to dancing now, and I'm an old fuddy-duddy, so I'm off to sweet dreams.

Sigh. I will miss Edinburgh greatly. The people, the places, the weather. Ahhh, the weather. I'll miss you cloudy, drizzly, chilly sweater weather!!!! I will think fond thoughts of you as I sit, limpid, not wanting to move a muscle because of the amount of sweat it will produce, back in our cozy little flat in Haifa.

Jellies

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Anyone, particularly female anyones, within about 10 years of my age, remembers these fabulous shoes from her childhood.

You might have noticed a recent renaissance of these wonderful waterproof summer shoes. They were the shoes that were so cheap, I could buy myself 3 pairs with my babysitting money from just one evening. They ran about US$5 a pair. Really expensive ones might be $6.99.

Whehehehehelll! I tell you. Haven't times changed. I know inflation happens, but I just saw a pair of jellies - mind you they had rhinestones, but I'm pretty sure they were just rhinestones - that cost...I kid you not...£69.99. Yeah. That's ££££. Not $$$$. In US$ that is roughly $120. Give or take a few bucks. Seriously. No joke. Who BUYS that?! Who are they kidding?! I can not imagine a point of wealth that would not see that as, well, unholy!!!

Entry-Worthy

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Photos from the trip to London by Melanie!

Edit: (13 August) this link is even more applicable now, as Melanie has uploaded more photos of our trip to London.

We'll have to take some photos of Mark post-haircut. He was getting quite a mane in these photos :-)

For the uninitiated, Shoghi Effendi, whose gravesite we visited in London, was the great-grandson of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith. He was instrumental in developing the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha'i Faith, which is Haifa, Israel, where Mark and I are currently working. [we're still in Edinburgh visiting my brother, though] Okay, instrumental is sort of an understatement. After his grandfather's passing, and for the rest of his life, he did this very nearly single-handedly. And now there are over 600 staff members doing what was once 'his' work. He passed away in 1957.

Falkland Palace

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About a week into our trip here in Edinburgh, Nathan took us to Falkland Palace. It's about an hour north of Edinburgh and used to be the capital of Scotland. Which is pretty cool to me.

Okay, so we paid a slightly irrational amount of money to see the palace for a brief visit, but I know my attention span and 40 minutes was really about all I would have spent in there anyway. We saw the whole palace (not including the 'unofficial' tour Nathan would have been happy to initiate, ahem), got information from guides-in-costume and then spent a very enjoyable time in the gardens, which were open after the palace closed. The guides even knew how the Falkland Islands got their name, which was pretty cool for me. I admit it, the entire intrigue of the place has to do with the fact that I was born in the Falklands, but it was special for me and I appreciate that no one made fun of me for finding it special when clearly it's a bit flimsy.

Afterward we went to dinner at a homey place in the village of Falkland, which made very yummy veggies and desserts (yeah, the mains were, well, err - passable).

I also met a young man at the devotional we went to the other night who grew up in the Falklands. I'd met his parents a few months ago while they were on pilgrimage in Haifa. Coolio!

Oh, the name. I figure some of you might want to know: so, one of the kings wanted one of his friends to be more important, so he made him the Earl of Falkland (or maybe duke, but I think it was earl). Anyway, it meant nothing, but it was a title. Now this Earl of Falkland (meaning 'hunting land') was in charge of the seas at the time, so when the islands were 'discovered', either he named them after himself or someone else did or whatever. Oh, and it wasn't his palace. So there you go, unrelated, except for the king part - he would occasionally live at the palace.

Happy 6th Anniversary

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To us!!

This isn't exactly what I thought I'd be doing for, well, any anniversary, but we did take a moment, put a moratoreum on anything warlike, and 'celebrated'. We found a tiny little restaurant we could afford and just generally had fun and washed some clothes (heheh - actually being able to do laundry at home is such a luxury!

We've also now managed to connect with the Baha'i community here and have plans to join them in more activities as well - including a first birthday for a baby! What fun!

Today we are totally vegging out watching Buffy, Season 2 (thanks Nae!)

Here's to being ... stable ... on our 7th anniversary.

Our friend Melanie is with us now. She's been fascinated with the food here.

Her blog features many photos, including me. Her blog is here.

Photo Booth Addict

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I just can't help myself.

Sometimes I feel brutish.

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And sometimes, Mark is an alien.

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Leili, this is an order: Get out of my head! (Mark! Help me out here!)

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People have said that I eat like a bird before. Do birds eat Filipinos? (heheheh...)

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Girls, this is what can happen when you kiss boys.

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Get a load of my man's muscles!!

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Nothing but capris.

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To My Nieces and Nephews

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If I could
I would mail this ice cream
- Or maybe frozen yogurt? -
Just to you.

It might be ice cream,
But I think it's frozen yogurt,
Which is better -
In my humble* opinion.

One is star-shaped
And sprinkled with Pop Rocks
- Yes! It pops in your mouth!

Another has bubble gum
As its popsicle stick.

I haven't tried
A third kind
But it's shaped like a slice
Of watermelon!

*that's French for "humble"

2,088 Days

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This is for all of you who may be inclined to ask us how many days Mark and I have been married.

I know, I know, crazy, but it really is accurate give or take a few days. I calculated it last night.

Anywho, remember the photo of our dear friends Takhmina and Amir who recently got married? Well, we apparently resemble them (we think it's the happy smiley Filipino-ness) because yesterday we got asked "how many days have you been married now?" Hahahahaha! I don't think anyone ever confused me and Taha before her wedding!!!

Chag Sameach!*

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Happy Holiday! Pesach (Passover) started yesterday evening.

I didn't think about it particularly. In fact, I was trying not too think too much at all as I recovered from a migraine. Mark wanted to pick up a fuse for our lightning-struck computer, so I stopped off at the Clothing Exchange whilst he did his technical duties. Lucky me! I found several summer items (hallelujah) and ran into Ana Gerda (the 'crazy Brazilian' as my family fondly calls her). So we tried on and swapped some clothes and then I headed home for dinner. Mark got home shortly thereafter and we settled in for some yummy leftovers.

Then, rather unexpectedly, our doorbell rang! After looking quizzically at each other, I went to see who was at the door [sometimes people will come to random doors in Israel to try to get you to open up so they can steal stuff, etc. - no seriously, I've had people try it on me before - and no, I didn't open the door]. Well, wasn't I in for a surprise!?

It was our neighbor! And he had flowers?!

You know - the one I have complained about rather relentlessly for the past month or so? Yeah, that one. Yeah, mean ugly dog. Yeah, snatching flowers. Well, Mark spoke to them and they apologized.

And for Pesach they brought us flowers and wished us Chag Sameach! And the world was wonderful! And I feel bad for being for wretched.

It's so nice to have my faith restored in humanity. (at least a little bit) :-)

Oh my goodness! And now I can't get "Good neigbhors come in all colors..." out of my head!

*(or, for the Anglos, phonetically speaking it sounds like "hog samek" to me)

Miracles Can Happen

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I know; I've seen it happen a time or two.

In other news, Mark has posted the photos of our Galilee camping trip! Click either here or on the sidebar for his Fojalicious fotos!

The Shuddering Refrigerator

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For those of you who have visited or stayed in our flat I would like to inform you that the shuddering has ceased. It will no longer sound like someone is trying to break into our home every time the refrigerator is powering up/down.

Yay!!!

This weekend, all weekend long, we deep deep deep cleaned - with respites only for a brief visit to Baha'u'llah's first residence once released from the prison-city of Akka (the home is in the nearby village of Mazra'ih) and a birthday party for Ati Nanay, who is sort of a matriarch of the Filipino community here. I ate far too much biko - a Filipino rice/coconut cream dessert. I'd never had it with jackfruit before!

And finally, a visit to IKEA to organize our freakishly clean apartment. It's a phenomenon I don't understand, but commercial/retail centers are apparently the place to be at the end of shabbat. The malls here are madhouses, and the same can certainly be said of IKEA. Particularly if you have very, very young infants/children - don't they want their kiddos in bed?! It took us half an hour to get through the checkout line - could you imagine trying to keep an infant from raving lunacy as you wait? And yet so many people were doing just that - or, and I swear I am not overexaggerating - if someone wasn't trying to keep their infant from absolutely losing it, there was a pregnant woman involved. Clearly, IKEA is a favorite of the young family set. The bazillions of people were crazy-making enough as it was, but do they all have to be either carrying a baby on their arm or in their belly?!

Warning: don't place a drink on the left side of your computer and drink from it while typing - if it hits the escape key on its way back down, you lose everything! Indeed!

South Park

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I know you're all dying to know what I'd look like as a South Park character.

So here I am. You can create your own South Park image here.

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We're Going Camping!

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I am so, so, so excited! We're going camping this weekend. I'm just thrilled at the prospect of a bit of a change. Mark and I have been in a bit of a funk lately, just no energy to do much of anything - and getting out of town is exactly what we want to do.

Mark and I have never gone camping together before. I come from a family of hard core campers - I've dug my own latrines. Mark's camping experience, well, let's just say I'm hoping to introduce him to proper camping. [Rae, you were with him at the camp-out at the Columbus Baha'i Center. I heard it involved him bringing only a spray bottle of olive oil as his 'gear'?]

My Scanner is Not So Good

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However, my sister is a cutie patootie!

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This is a picture that was taken at least 3 years ago by our friend George, who arrived at the Baha'i World Centre at the exact same time as me. Know how I know? We drove in to Haifa from the airport together!

And he's been promising me this photo ever since!!!!

"Open Up! This is Daddy!"

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This is me as a chubby little cherub.

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Juxtapose that with my dashing young father.

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Okay, keep those pictures in your head. When I was not much older than this, about 5 really, my older brother, Nathan, moved into the habitable half of the attic as his bedroom. Our younger sister, Rachael had been born, and so our parents decided it was time for the boy to have his own bedroom and the girls would share the 'real' bedroom [there were only 2 in my parents home - they getting the other 'real' bedroom]. The attic has a door on a pulley system, as the door closes down onto the set of stairs leading up to it.

So, one day, our mother was having a private conversation with Nathan in his bedroom. The door was closed. I suspect that one, if not both, were also sitting on the door to further insure no interruption. Although maybe not, at the time the door was crazy heavy with a crazy heavy weight on the other end of the pulley and I doubt that at 5 I could have opened the door on my own.

Anyway, I knew I wasn't allowed to join the conversation. But who could? I bet Daddy could....

So, the big, scruffy 5-year-old girl that I was (I can actually picture myself in some cute dress, too - I adored them at the time), I bellowed out (or so I thought)"OPEN UP! THIS IS DADDY!" Which was quickly followed by a somewhat stunned silence that devolved into obscenely amused laughter. [and "Mara, go away, this is private" - or some such thing]

I still remember thinking, "how do they know?" Maybe that's when I started stealing nickels from the steps up to his room....[um, very, very, very belated apologies, Nae - I know you hated it, accused me of it, and I totally denied it, ahem. as I said - sorry!] Don't know why it was just nickels, but it was.

The World Must Know

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I believe it would be downright criminal not to publish this photo. It would be misinformation. You see, I know full well that you think we've gone all holy on you, giving up a life of chasing the dollar to devote ourselves to the divine and sacred.

Well, there are still weekends, you know.

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Here, Mark is "helping set up" for the largest social event of the year at the Baha'i World Centre - the Arts and Crafts Show. He was setting up the cafe - or so he says. We both helped set up the gallery of artwork. Mark helped work the kitchen of the cafe the day of, and I submitted jewelry for the show. Mark helped clean up afterward (he's on the organizing committee), while I dashed off to Tel Aviv to pick a friend up from the airport, as we had been borrowing his car while he was on vacation.


Quotabie Babies

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If you don't know what on earth I'm talking about, well, you're not Nathan.

When we were kids, personal computers were born [when Rae was a kid, programmed disks were already for sale, and by the time Mendon hit the streets floppy disks were already passe]. Nathan, much to his good fortune, as witnessed by his current line of work, was fascinated by them. He built our first computer from a kit from Radio Shack, and then, of course, there was the Commodore. He would get programming magazines, hand them over to me, I would read them to him - line by tedious line - and together we would create some all-text game to play (i.e. Zork). I would be outright lying if I said I did not enjoy this process as much as he did. Maybe our roles then explain our jobs today - I dealt with the words on the page, he dealt with transforming them on the computer.

I was 8-years-old when we did this. I know, because I remember misspelling "go to" in an assignment in Mr. Harris' 3rd grade class and thinking, "but 'GOTO' is one word!!!" At eight, I was still learning complex words like brackets, parentheses and quotation marks. So I made up "quotabie babies" (pronounced "ca-tay-bie bay-bies"). For some inexplicable reason, I remembered this when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom last night.

Nae, would there have been a reason I would have said "quotabie babies red" - or green - or any other color for that matter? Or was that just middle of the night muddling - perhaps with "slug-a-bug red" or some such memory?

And yes, this fretful question is partially responsible for my over-tiredness today.

I’m not evil, you’re just weak:

Whoever lives only for pleasures,
with senses uncontrolled,
immoderate in eating, lazy, and weak,
will be overthrown by Mara,
like the wind throws down a weak tree.

(Buddhist Writings, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

Ironic, really, since my nickname as a kid was “Mara the Perfect”:

Perfect of virtue, always acting with recollection, and liberated by final realisation - Mara does not know the path such people travel.

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

Ex-boyfriends (you know, all...umm...never mind):

This is what I say to you - Good luck be with you, gathered here. Dig up the root of craving, as one does a weed for its fragrant root. Don't let Mara destroy you again and again, like a stream does its reeds.

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

Whoever lives not for pleasures,
with senses well controlled,
moderate in eating, has faith and the power of virtue,
will not be overthrown by Mara,
any more than the wind throws down a rocky mountain

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

Follow this path, and Mara will be confused.
If you follow this path, you will end your suffering.
This path was preached by me
when I became aware of the removal of the thorns.
You yourself must make the effort.
The perfected ones are only preachers.
Those who enter the path and practice meditation
are released from the bondage of Mara.

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

Ex-boyfriends, this is how to get over Mara (yeah, yeah, we know I don't really have any who need this advice):

When a man is stimulated by his own thoughts, full of desire and dwelling on what is attractive, his craving increases even more. He is making the fetter even stronger. But he who takes pleasure in stilling his thoughts, practising the contemplation of what is repulsive, and remaining recollected, now he will make an end of craving, he will snap the bonds of Mara. His aim is accomplished, he is without fear, rid of craving and without stain. He has removed the arrows of changing existence. This is his last body.

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

I agree with this one:

Mara never crosses the path of those who are virtuous,
who live without thoughtlessness,
and who are liberated by true knowledge.
Just as on a heap of rubbish thrown upon the highway [okay, maybe delete this line?]

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))


Pittsburgh Steelers

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Okay, I admit it, I'm a Steelers fan. [I'm talking about American football, by the way] I tell people it's in my blood - my uncle played for them in the 70s and went to 2 Super Bowls with them. [the US football championship game]

So, when I found out they'd gotten to the Super Bowl, and I might be able to watch the game...I made an effort to do so. I must admit though, I did miss the commercials. Bummer.

Unfortunately, and this is where it gets really interesting, the tape we got of it ... lacked sound. We watched the game on silent. One of our friends gave a great commentary (thank you, Howard!) - really, I finally think I understand the game enough to possibly remember the position my uncle played [my guess is offensive lineman]. And since watching a game on silent is sort of eerie, well, we needed music. So, a Mozart opera it was! I gotta' admit - it fit perfectly!

I highly, highly recommend watching Mick Jagger - and the entire Rolling Stones - "sing" to a Mozart opera. It's amazing and hilarious and just an all around great experience. Of course, you may never want to watch them again after that.

And it didn't hurt that the Steelers won. I bet that if you go to Leila's blog over there on my sidebar, you'll find a rather humorous commentary of what my dear Kiwi thought of the experience - and photos of us enthralled in the game [ok, as of 7 Feb. morning it isn't there, but check back tomorrow] :-)

Arr. Pirates.

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Don't ask. All I can say is that for some reason, this was fun. And, somehow, eerily accurate.

My pirate name is:
Bloody Mary Kidd
Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. Even though you're not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from fidius.org.

KFC

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(or PFK if you're from Quebec - pronounced "pay - ef - kah")

Why does my office suddenly smell like Kentucky Fried Chicken?

Stream of consciousness ... last night, we were looking for curtains about 80 cm long and the lady told us that she "had kinder but no chicken". Fortunately it took us long enough to figure out what she was trying to say so that we didn't giggle about it until we'd left the store.

[translation: she had curtains for children's bedrooms, but none for the kitchen]

Which leads me to:

If we do end up staying for another year we are going to finally start studying Hebrew, that way we'll have stories about stupid stuff we say.

And that's the end of my thought process for the mo'.

Ethereal Addict

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Hello, my name is Mara, and I am an ethereal addict.

Betterhuman.org sounds good (in a "hey would some of my athiest friends be interesed in this?" way)- until you start getting in a bit deeper and suddenly feel an overwhelming wave of creeped-out feeling for having somehow crept into one of your favorite distopia novels. Like, at one point, the guy* says that tolerating other peoples' beliefs is problematic. Yikes!

*Ironically, the guy who started this movement based it on a science fiction novel he wrote. Hmmmm.

[Actually, I have this crazy fear that they'll find this blog entry, hunt me down and attack me for my subversive comments, and I'll have to go into hiding just to stay alive.]

Goggles

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I wanted to write about this a while ago. I was cleaning out my desk, and I found a note reminding me to write about it. At first I thought it was too seasonal and would be too out of context, but in the end, well, you can see I decided to do it anyway.

Back in October we had the use of a car for a month. Every weekend we drove out to a better-than-Haifa beach. There's one in Atlit where you have to pay a few dollars to get in, but considering how much less filthy and obscenely overcrowded it is in comparison to Haifa's beaches, it's totally worth it. It is a rather shallow, protected beach, so you'd have to get pretty far out to worry about the current. One side of it is a huge sandbar so a person can go out rather far - and then there is actually a 'sub-beach' sandbar out a ways that you can go out to and laze around on, too.

One day, we wandered over to an area no one was exploring. We noticed that, if we weren't imagining things, we were getting nipped by some little critters. Mark put on his goggles and did a bit of exploring. If we didn't stand, but kept moving, the fish left us alone. Eventually, Mark discovered a bit of a coral reef (no, that's not what we were standing on - totally unrelated, I guess). Anyway, we all took turns putting on the goggles and hovering over the coral reef. The others would stand at the edge and pull the goggled person back if they were floating too far out.

It was pure magic. Once I put the goggles on, it was like I'd disappeared from the planet. I hate to sound obvious, but it was an other-worldly experience. I hung out over the reef, looked at the beautifully colored fish and then I went off and explored other areas, diving a bit deeper to look at the bottom of the sea. Of course, it was rather shallow, so I rose back to the top pretty quickly. It was such a reinvigorating experience.

I definitely need to get myself my own pair of goggles.

Frappr

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You may have noticed the map to the side of my blog that has appeared recently.

We Dornbrooks are curious folk. We'd like to know where in the world our readers are. We're not looking for street address, eye color and DNA prints, just the city you live in - and in which country. So when you've got a moment, mosey on over to the link and let us know where in the world you are!

Thanks!!

i ROCK

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I rock. Oh yes, I can see the doubt in your eyes, but it is soooo true.

I went to the Clothing Exchange tonight. It is the Baha'i World Centre's response to Goodwill - except it is free. Any clothes (or books, shoes, dishes, etc.) that we don't want - or don't have room for when packing to return home - we can drop them off at the CE so that someone else can use them. This is especially useful for people who come from places which do not have the same climate as Israel. So, I was looking to either supplement my winter stock or find something I might need for the summer that I might just end up staying for. And I did find a few things.

But the queen of all finds was for Mark.

I can't even believe it. I almost didn't look through the piles of men's pants for him; he's not the most typical size, so even finding his size in shops is difficult. But I thought, aw, what the heck, there are only a few pairs as it is. Well. Whehehelll. Second pair of jeans I picked up turned out to be a brand new - all labels on - pair of GAP jeans in Mark's exact size already hemmed to his exact length. Can you believe it? I could barely believe it - I had to check the tag - this really is men's, right?

It is worth mentioning the way pants are typically made for men in Israel: they are low cut in the waist and high cut in the inseam (polite speak for "crotch"). So, if you get the picture ... there must be a lot of uncomfortable men out there. Well, not so with the jeans made by the semi-slave labor of GAP! And to get a solution for free was even better.

Here's a photo of the happy customer. Not the best shot of Mark, but the jeans came out perfectly. :-)

[and when Movable Type is no longer being snotty I will share that photo with you - err, Nae, why can't I upload photos when on a Mac?!]

In any case, to know that I was able to get a good pair of jeans for my rather agonized husband was very gratifying and his overwhelmingly happy response was the perfect icing on the cake!

Surprise! I Will Never Do This To You Again!

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So, as I sat here chatting with my mother, whining endlessly to her about my husband who had seemingly run out on me on my birthday, he was hauling bum to set up a surprise birthday party for me.

Which really was very special. And I really did enjoy it all - the food, the people, the gifts :-)

And I think we have been thoroughly convinced that we never want to do it again. He really did get me. I was had - hook, line and sinker. But you know, the moments before you learn about the surprise, when the world has seemingly forgotten about you, are not fun [and sorry, my emotions are so discombobulated right now, that probably really didn't help my neediness].

We even had some pilgrim friends who were able to come! That was really special!

[Some people even accidentally came to my house as I was whining at my mom - heard me (yikes!) - and were ushered back out to the correct location, without me knowing!!]

Honey, I love you endlessly and forever. Thank you for devoting so much time and energy to the happiness of this day for me.

Can't Fight It

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Somethings are just too bizarrely irresistable. Like this. I mean, my immediate reaction was, "you actually take the time to not only do this, but to blog about it, too?" And yet, it's so curious, I felt compelled not only to read on, but to share it with you.

Somehow, I don't think I'll be that sort of mother (no offense to those who are - Lord love you - it just ain't me and I know it).

Inappropriate Weblog Templates

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a.k.a. My Brief Flirtation With Girliness

Okay, so it's not like this template is inappropriate, there's just about, oh, no aspect of it, that conveys my personality to the reader.

However, I think my mom would like it. Maman, being the knitter that you are, I think you'd like this template. What do you think?

Molecular Biology

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I don't know about my siblings, but all my life I have keenly felt the absence of my grandmother Mimi - our mother's mother, who passed away at age 56 (right?) after battling breast cancer for 13 years. Oh that my mother may battle her cancer for that long.... Anyway, at a young age I decided that the thing to do would be to grow up and find a cure for cancer. And that's what I told people I wanted to do when I grew up. Then my smart older brother told me that it meant I wanted to be a "molecular biologist". I remember repeating the words, trying to get my mouth around the rather large terms.

I was young - young enough that the course to follow to achieve this goal never entered my thoughts - the sciences, the years of study, etc. By the time it did, my thoughts had gone in a different direction, still linked to my French grandmother - studying French as a way to know her better. It is interesting to me to see how much the one grandparent I've never known in this world has influenced my life.

So much for my childhood dream, though. Talk about missing the boat.

#1 Reason for Not Leaving Home for One Month

Umm, I can't remember which toothbrush is mine.

I should stick to the childhood tradition that everything of mine was blue (toothbrush, towel, napkin ring). Heck, I do like blue.

Grandma's Session

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I got my grandma to grr! I'm so proud. :-)

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Here's another fun one we took.

New Haircut

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I got a new haircut!! It really was time. I was a little nervous, because I love my hairdresser in Israel, but my mother's hairdresser did a great job.

Today is my parent's 34th anniversary! Congratulations Maman and Papa!

Oh yeah, and my brother got married yesterday. It was beautiful. Everything went really well. Our mother was able to join us and even participate in the ceremony. The only snags: well, I forgot to bring my dress to the hall (oops, thankfully my mother didn't come early so she was able to bring it), the funniest one by far however, was that Mendon did not have his suit pants! HAHAHAHA! He had to run home to get them, which somehow became a rumor that he had to go out and buy them, which I'm sure would have been truly awful since he is 6 foot 6 - finding pants on the fly would not have been speedy.

And that jacket that the lovely bride is wearing is floor length. It's gorgeous. It was made from some beautiful fabric that she brought back from India this summer - and yet, somehow, in the Henn Mansion she looked rather Victorian.

My Marcus Brody

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My 'husb', as one of my one of my friend's says, arrived last week. Ah, what a refresher.

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Ruth and Ban

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Ruth and Ban were the hippies back in the day that taught my parents the Baha'i Faith (okay, there were others) and they became our godparents (and thus potential guardians).

I missed their visit today, but Maman dutiful took up the ritual and it looks like they had fun with Photobooth.

Heidi (and Kristen and Mendon)

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Heidi is my hero. Our family owes her an unrepayable debt of gratitude.

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Heidi is a wonderful friend, has been my mother's travel companion, and they have been mistaken for sisters and lovers both (hehehe - different circles). Anyway, she is an ICU nurse. She came over today and finally was able to help us figure out how to really help my mother recover. My God, it is such a relief. My mom says she feels like she turned a corner. That's not really true: we all feel like we turned a corner today. Today didn't start out so good, but damn, it feels good. It was a good day. And another trooper of a woman brought over enough pasta (finally! not soup!) for an army. Woohoo.

And then to end the evening I picked up Mendon and his fiancee, Kristen from the bus station. Here are they're pictures. Oh, and I've added another element: GRR photos. Just for you, Val! :-)

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How do I spell relief? P-H-O-T-O-B-O-O-T-H!!!

Aunt Cindy

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Aunt Cindy has been in my life almost since I was born. She's a close friend of my mother's. When a Nigerian man moved into our community and started calling all the men "uncle", we quickly transitioned into calling everyone aunt and uncle. Hence the 'aunt' in Aunt Cindy. She's just a few blocks away and is very close to the family. When each of us gets married, she's the one who has made us a quilt.

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Aunt Cindy was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 days before my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She's getting an amazing new radialogical treatment twice a day for a week - tomorrow is her last treatment! The differences between her treatment and my mother's are so striking I'm sort of jealous, but so happy for her too. To have them both going through cancer at the same time is bad enough, but having Aunt Cindy (and her husband, Uncle Ev) still be able to come around and support my mother and us is infinitely better.

Aunt Cindy came over to visit with my mother while Nathan and I went to The Gathering Place, a resource center for cancer patients and their families. I'm so glad we went, they were able to tell us a big thing: BACK OFF. Nathan and I, having watched the nurses push our mother to get up, drink, eat, walk, etc., were being a pushy about that at home as well. The woman we talked to at The Gathering Place was able to say, yeah, make sure she's hydrated, other than that, let her sleep, "cocoon", heal and simply get used to how this new body of hers is going to work. It was so reassuring to hear that what she's going through is normal - both us and our mother. And the lady there was finally able to give us a clear idea about how long this period should take - 6 to 8 weeks. Finally. Well, she's 11 days in.

Gloria, Victim #1

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I think I'm going to submit all of my mother's visitors to Photobooth! And hopefully, it'll eventually be photos with my mother instead of me.

Want a picture? Come visit!*

*Just call in advance, wash your hands, be germ-free and get the hint when it's time to go. $19.95, while supplies last.

The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia

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To get everyone up to speed:

Kevin Bacon is a well known actor and has inspired a college movie trivia game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which is intended to find the Bacon number of an arbitrary actor or actress. The Bacon number of an actor or actress is determined as follows:

Kevin Bacon himself has a Bacon number of zero.
The Bacon number of actor or actress A is defined to be the minimum of the Bacon numbers of all the actors or actresses with whom A appeared in a movie produced by a major studio, plus one.

THEN:

The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia computes the Bacon number of any actor or actress from IMDb data (Internet Movie Database).

So, why do I care?

Because I'm related to a woman who has a Bacon number of 3 (that's the average number of a Hollywood actor!).

Folks, tante Corinne was in a film in 1981 (L'Amour nu) as an interpreter (appropriate, since that's her job), and according to the Oracle of Bacon at Virginia, she has a Bacon number of 3.

I kid you not.

Here's the trace:

Corinne de Longevialle was in Amour nu, L' (1981) with Vernon Dobtcheff
Vernon Dobtcheff was in Hamlet (1990/I) with Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter was in Novocaine (2001) with Kevin Bacon

And for our purposes, tante Corinne is the daughter of tante Mona, who was Mimi's sister. Tante Corinne was very close to Mimi and thus knows Maman, Uncle Christophe, Uncle Claude and Uncle Philippe. I met tante Corinne when I was in Paris back in 1996.

Does this mean I have a Bacon number of 4?

Last Night: It Dafoes Reason

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Where to begin? Every once and a while an evening so bizarre comes along that it just defies reason (the title will make sense to you eventually).

A dear friend of ours, who after 16 months had still not made it to the cinema here, asked if we'd join her for a movie last night. It was the last evening of the Haifa International Film Festival, and she didn't want to miss the festival once again.

So, even though my plans for the evening largely consisted of scouring the walls of our shower, we agreed to joining her for her first theater experience in Israel.

She ordered the tickets in advance, as tickets sell out - especially on this final evening. In fact, we were going to see "The Wedding", a Polish film, but it had sold out, so instead she chose "In Her Shoes", showing at the Haifa Auditorium at the same time.

Now, the idea of getting tickets in advance is twofold:

1. You're ensuring you get a ticket when it might otherwise be sold out.
2. You're saving time later in the evening so that you don't have to go through the process of buying them right before the show.

So much for that.

We got there at about 8:10, after a ride with a taxi driver who proposed marriage to our friend. We made our way through the people milling around outside (and watching what I suspect was a fairly popular Israeli band - everyone seemed to know the words) to get inside and pick up our tickets. After being cut off while we were in line for our security check (yeah, sorry, but that's pretty typical behavior here - I hope I can break that habit when we leave here!), we discovered the box office was actually back outside. So, out past everything again, to stand in line at the box office - with three of us it was easier to defend our place in line (anyone who denies the validity of this statement in Israel seriously has their head in the sand). When we asked for our tickets, we discovered that, despite calling to reserve tickets at 4pm, our tickets were for the 2:30pm showing earlier that day. When the ticket kids explained this to the boss, he actually started yelling at our friend, telling her that there was no way you could have bought tickets after the movie had shown. Which she agreed with, and forcefully stuck to her guns that she had in fact bought them AFTER that showing had occured.

The guy was really rude, went off to "help us", basically walking away hoping we'd just never find him again. Seriously.

So, after waiting about 5 minutes, we went back to the ticket booth kids and asked what was up. Good ticket boy, versus mean manager boy, offered to help us find mean manager boy and a solution. He found mean manager boy, who used his cell phone to wave us away. Good ticket boy took us to the ticket-takers and they basically said we could go in, but seats being reserved, seating wasn't guaranteed.

Oh, and there was a 1 hour closing ceremony before the movie started.

Eh? That was definitely not advertised. So much for our early evening. But by this point we were getting pretty determined to see the d*&@ movie. So we went inside, got seats, hoping no one would kick us out and sat down to wonder what the heck was going on.

And then we realized that mean manager boy had whatever thread of proof that existed that we had a right to be here at all. So, out went our friend to figure the puzzle out a bit. She missed a riveting awards ceremony in Hebrew (think the most casual, laid back Academy Awards show you could conceive of - in our jeans and sandals we fit right in). She came back to tell us what had happened, and since someone had taken her seat while she was gone (what right did we have to stop him?), she had to squat in front of us to tell us what happened(we were in between sections of the theater, so there was a wide aisle), some well-intentioned but completely incompetent usher came to tell her to sit down because there was an awards ceremony going on (yeah, right, we were whispering and so far back I'm pretty sure no one noticed) - and since this decided whether we were staying or not, she could just shove off, except she kept repeating herself so that our friend couldn't simply finish her sentence and find a seat. Silly usher girl drew more attention to herself than anything. But we did discover that there was very viable proof in the theater's records that we had indeed ordered the tickets at 4pm. Twits.

So, at this point, we decided to stay, at least a while longer - until our friend hit her breaking point and decided to leave. At this point we were there as her moral supporters. We watched the end of this rivetting ceremony to discover that the guest of honor, Willam Dafoe, had also sat through this painful, agonizing event - except that he had translation! So they brought him up to present some silly prize - I know it wasn't the biggest because some people had received boxes and others only received a certificate and he was just handing out a certificate. So yeah, they bring him up on stage, immediately thrust him into a corner behind a big bush of flowers - all I saw was the toe of his shoe. The award winners jabbered a bit, and then they all got off stage. Ceremony over.

Sorry, but what's the point of bringing in Willam Dafoe if you don't use him? Really now? Still, it was somehow comforting to know he'd had to sit through this, too.

And then, at 10pm, the movie finally started. (I don't know about you, but when I go to see a movie starting at 8:30, I usually think the movie will be over shortly after 10pm, not just starting!)

Thankfully, it was good. "In Her Shoes". I recommend it (not to kids, though). This must have been the most convoluted way to watch a film!!

Casshern

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Yesterday, we had a lesson - a two hour lesson no less - in English.

Do you know the difference between a title and a subtitle?

Well, briefly, here it is: if the title is in English, I know what the movie is called. If the subtitles (note the plural) are in English, I know what the movie is about.

So, Haifa Film Festival, please take note: a Japanese film with an English title is not a Japanese film with English subtitles.

Well, it was fun, we all just sort of made up our own subtitles for what the characters were saying in Japanese. Too bad the movie started at midnight. I should have known something was wrong when the website referred to it as "midnight medness".

Know how I know?

Well, I like to read. I'll read just about anything. Which is sort of hard being illiterate in Israel.

So I got a toilet Duck for my toilet and was installing it. The photo instructions of which were in the wrong order (and yes, I'm fully aware Hebrew goes from right to left).

But anyway, so the only thing in English, other than "Toilet Duck", were the ingredients.

Yup, you guessed it. The second ingredient in my Toilet Duck is "non-ironic surfactant" (actually, it was "non-ironic surffactant", but whatever).

I love it. I'm using non-ironic surfactants. I'm going to continue buying it just for that reason alone.

Bad Joke

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Bear with me. I know this is going to sound like a bad joke. But it really happened:

Two young Baha'i women were at the beach and decided to go to the bathroom.

As they approached the bathroom, two Muslim young women appeared and headed to the bathroom in front of them.

The Baha'i women, dressed only in bathing suits, noted to one another that they suddenly felt slightly underdressed - seeing as how the two Muslim women were wearing black pants, shirts and sweaters with light-colored head scarves.

Then before they knew it, the whole situation was rocked on end when they entered the bathroom to find an older Jewish woman changing completely.

You know, I respect this Jewish-Israeli culture of comfort/unconsciousness of body, but there is definitely something to be said for a degree of modesty beyond "hey, I'm in a room designated for women". [especially when there's a much larger shower/changing room right next to the bathroom.

In any case, WOW, major culture clash!

Ah, Babelfish

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"Any type of aid of the bottoms will not be precise."

Yeah, me too.

I love my job!

Fire Holiday

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September 14th is a Christian feast day - it marks the finding of the True Cross (in Jerusalem), by a party of Christians including St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. There'll be fireworks in the Christian areas of Israel - this evening & probably tomorrow evening.

That was sent to me last night. Only, two years ago after having been here just over a month, I didn't know about this holiday so I promised I'd call my family (grandparents included). I remember my grandmother was rather concerned. Because, you see, it's not just fireworks they set off, but firecrackers, too - ones that sound like rifle shots and small bombs. Yeah, I know. I live in Israel. It's really sort of creepy. It's one of the few nights that I think "I live in Israel, and it's scary." I know it's just celebrations, but somehow it just seem so ... inappropriate. I mean, they love their fireworks - we've gotten used to that, but these sound much more like actual fighting. Why do that to yourself, you know?

There's a new orientation group that started arriving yesterday. I can't imagine - your first night here! I'd have been like, "I'm outta' here - first plane I can get!" Poor things, I hope they all had roommates to explain to them what was going on.

Happy Birthday, Rae!

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I have way too few pictures of my sister. I actually had to pilfer this off of her blog - the only other photo I had of her was one where she was stuffing her face with crepes (lovely, actually). I love this one, though - her smile, the way her hair falls, the direction of her eyes, her skin - everything!

Anywho - happy birthday to my sista'!

A big dollop of congratulations and good luck as she is just about to start her first ever teaching job! Yahoo! My sister is a teacher! (this has been pre-destined for, like, ever, so seeing her finally achieve it is so totally awesome and cool!)

As a child, school always started the week after Rachael's birthday. When, one year, it turned out that we started back to school before Rae's birthday I nearly had a heart attack. It totally set my universe into a tailspin. I mean, seriously, Rae's birthday was a sign that school was to start! Talk about sacrilege!

Sjona's Gettin' Hitched!

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I first introduced y'all to Sjona last year. Well, well, well, much has happened since then - even unbeknownst to me [I know, shocking really]. Like she took a trip back to visit her family in Chile. Now, why would she do that?

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That's because, former Spanish translator for the Universal House of Justice, Ms. Sjona B., is getting married!!!!!!!!

Congratulations, Ms. Sjona.

Dear Jason,

We, your intended's beloved friends, wish you to know - from the bottom of our hearts* - that if you inflict harm upon her in any way, shape, or form we will hunt you down. So don't. Got it? [several of us have a hunting license] :D

Greeeaaat! Well, then - party on! YAAHOO!!!

And umm, has anyone noticed that your names are rearrangements of the other's name? Freaky!

*not, however, from our bottoms

Garbage Disposals and PAM

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I have some consultants here for a visit. It's absolutely wonderful to have a office full of people working on our backlog of translations - which occurred when I was literally alone in the office for a week (plus training time).

They're European. Western European. I guess I'd assumed that we, as westerners, were pretty much familiar with the same things. These past two weeks have proven me wrong.

I had the consulting couple over for dinner one evening. Among other things, we had pasta. After dinner, we went in to the kitchen to clean up and the wife, discovering there were about two bites of pasta left, teased her husband a bit about finishing it up. With a sigh, he said, "I have a reputation on three continents, might as well add a fourth", and ate the pasta. I mentioned that in my family, we would refer to him as "the human garbage disposal". Being British, he replied, "Yes, but in my family we call it a 'rubbish bin'". In my innocence, I said, "oh, I thought that just meant the trash." Which he confirmed, so I explained that I meant a garbage disposal system. They both sort of shot each other a look, and he said in astonishment, "You mean, those things actually exist?!" Apparently, they'd only ever seen them in horror films - a genre I largely eschew. They spoke of people being ground up by these things, to which I replied, "well, I did say it was for organic materials"....

Another evening we made pizza together and I sprayed PAM on the pan before putting the dough on it. Again, "what is that?!"

I must admit, I thought, "wow, are we Americans totally gadget obsessed or are they just SOOOO behind?!" I suppose that with what can be very old systems in Europe, one never knows whether organic materials would simply clog up pipes that were never meant to hold anything but water? And even if PAM is somehow problematic for someone, Misto just ROCKS (you know, the pump spray bottle that you can put any oil in). Wow, Europe is missing out.

By The Way

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Our friends, Shingo and Amelia, have created a great list of some yummy places to eat in Haifa. We have our own, of course, but they've hit most of the big ones. [excluding, for example, Fresco - the best place for both pizza and gelato]

If you'd like to check it out, it's here.

I'll also take this opportunity to give my props to them. They're expecting their first child soon and have chosen to return to Australia briefly to be with family for the birth of their child. I think it's absolutely brilliant. Being with family when you're creating your own is such a high priority for me. It's like it's an animal instinct my body refuses to let my brain suppress. Granted, different people make different decisions and whatever is best for you is best for you, but I know this wasn't necessarily an easy path to choose for them. So again - my props!

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The explanation of the photo: I'm in the center with the hot pink shirt on. We were at the home of the blond guy on the left. We were saying goodbye to Andre, a short-term French translator and Hediyeh, an Arabic translator.

My husband, aforementioned blond guy, and several other guys decided the picture taking was getting a bit out of hand (which it was, in my opinion). So they set this up as a distraction. Went up on the roof with some water and dumped it on the crowd below - and most directly on me. And that is what my oh-so-innocent husband caught on film.

Really, the picture says it all!

Below you will find most of the offenders up on the roof where the crime took place - and some of the unassuming victims-to-be!

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Polenta

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Okay, I haven't shared many recipes on this blog.

I've been researching recipes a lot lately for two reasons.

1. Cooking in a poorly ventilated kitchen in Haifa heat is no fun, so I've been collecting easy summer recipes. [we tend to eat out more during the summer because of this and we're looking to cut those expenses in at least half, so need some real options!]

2. With no gas, we have no stove [see below]. This means that many of my easy recipes are not options at the moment.

So, I just found a recipe for microwave polenta at www.epicurious.com. I could href that, but hey, I'm on a lazy roll.

It consists of:

2 cans (or 2 cups) of broth (choose your poison)
3/4 cup of cornmeal

Mix in a bowl and microwave for about 15 minutes on High, stirring every 5 minutes.

At the end, add 3 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. (the recipe also suggests bacon & Romano cheese, as I don't have them, I didn't. I wouldn't add bacon anyway, though.)

Ta da. Done. The possible variations - with spinach, mushrooms, spices, etc. - are practically endless.

It's so good to have a feel good, tasty, healthy dish that is just so durn easy to prepare - I just had to share!

If you have any easy summer faves of your own, I'd love to hear from you!

Out of Context

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I say this is out of context because of the tragedy our world has just witnessed. I'm simply not going to comment. You can read the news, you can talk to friends and family, you can read other blogs that have felt the effects perhaps more personally and profoundly than I have. I'd feel like I was leeching on the catastrophe to comment. That is not to say my brothers are incorrect to comment - Nathan is in Edinburgh, so feels this much more than I do, and Mendon has friends closely effected. I understand that they saying something is more appropriate than me doing the same.

Wow, that was quite the disclaimer.

I'm currently listening to Jolie Holland, a singer Mark recently 'discovered'. He's described her as melancholy, dreamy and bioluminescent. You decide.

We'll be hosting a BBQ this evening for some friends - both staff and pilgrims. It's kind of interesting, as we have no gas. It has forced me to step back and do less than I ordinarily would. I can't prepare a pasta salad or make yummy channa (an Indian chic pea dish) or heat up the kitchen by baking dessert. So, Mark, of course, is taking care of all the barbecue-related activities. Other friends are bringing all the sides and dessert stuff. We'll see how long it is before I actually feel restrained by not having a stove, heheheh.

The lack o' gas story: most Israeli homes have 'gas balloons' (tanks of gas). You get two at a time: one to use, and one to use when the other runs out and you're waiting the few days it takes to get a replacement balloon. When the gas company brings the tank, it also checks to make sure all your valves, regulators, etc. are in good working order. Typically, the system works.

So, a little over a week ago, I was cooking scrumptious pasta dinner (with shrimp, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes & garlic sautee as the 'sauce'). Mmm - a favorite I recently invented. Yeah, so I was cooking that when - poof - all gas was gone. We switched tanks (after we'd gotten ourselves an alternate dinner) and went on our merry way. Now, I took my good sweet time calling the gas company. I thought, "what's the rush, I have another huge tank?" I procrastinated for about half a week I think. Then, I was cooking another yummy dinner of soy hash, potatoes & green beans when - poof - it went AGAIN!!! Fortunately, that dinner was far enough along that we were still able to eat it. But no more gas.

And, unfortunately, to my disappointment, when I called the gas company it turns out that two years ago - probably when the gas tank first went empty - they had said that some repairs needed to be made before they'd install a new tank. And somehow that didn't happen. So no new tank. Hence our current predicament. I think we, unknowingly, had the problems fixed of our own accord, but I can't be sure, so we have to wait for repairmen to come out and check it. Except, err ... we forgot to leave our door in the particular manner necessary for our repairmen to be able to enter our flat (the BWC has its own repair people). So, umm, they weren't able to get in on Thursday. Which means they couldn't make the repairs and tell the gas company to come out. We probably won't have gas again until at least Monday, and quite probably later than that. Oops.

What I wouldn't do for a toaster oven. Over the years I have missed a toaster oven on a number of occasions. We should have put it on our wedding registry :-)

Cutie Patootie

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Yesterday evening Mark and I decided to go up the mountainside to the Merkaz, which literally means 'city center'. I needed to go to the pharmacy, Mark needed to take clothes to the dry cleaners and if we were going to do that we might as well grab some dinner, too.

So we headed out to the bus stop near our home. We waited a few minutes.

Now, we take public transportation here. Sometimes that means we take the bus (not crowded ones, though - and we've passed those up a couple of times), taxis and what are commonly known as 'sheruts'. A sherut is a van taxi that follows the bus route but lets you get on or off anywhere you like, not just the bus stops, and it can actually be the cheapest form of transportation at times.

When you take a sherut, you don't have to pay the driver as you get in. You can sit down, get your money out, pass it to the nearest person and they'll pass it forward so that it gets to the driver. The driver will then send you your change back via the same system. Usually it works. (and generally, the introvert that I am, I try to avoid sitting up front behind the driver because that means you have to communicate with him about where everyone is going - a time Hebrew would be a major advantage)

So, we were at the bus stop. Knowing that the bus we wanted wouldn't be along for a while, when a sherut bearing the same number came by, we took it. We got in and went all the way to the back, as that was the only place where two seats were available next to each other. I got NIS20* out and started it on its passageway forward.

By now you're wondering why on earth I chose the title I did, no?

Mark handed it to the lady in front of him, indicating it was for two people. This meant I should get NIS10 back. The lady was with a young girl, no more than 8 or 9 years old. She handed the young girl the NIS20 bill and told her to pay. At first she just handed it to the lady in front of her, but her mother/aunt/grandmother/babysitter told her to hand it to the driver directly, which she did.

She got the NIS10 coin back from the driver. And returned to her seat. Heeheehee. End of story - or so she thought. She was going to keep the change! So cute. The poor lady she was with was so embarrassed. Mark and I couldn't stop laughing. She told the girl to apologize to us, I think, but the sweet thing was so embarrassed herself at this point that we didn't see her face again until she was off the sherut.

I turned to Mark and said, "Oh this one is definitely going on the blog!"

*NIS stands for "new Israeli shekel" which seems to have been what it's been called for quite some time. There are about 4 1/2 shekels to the dollar.

Yehudiya National Forest

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Yeah, um, so, the insect discussion was sort of making me nervous, so I'm moving on.

Last weekend we took a long, difficult hike in the Yehudiya National Forest. We walked down into a ravine (as seen here), hiked along side it until we couldn't ignore it anymore, jumped in, swam across (yes, gear and all - that's why the pic isn't great & I don't have much more to share), hiked some more, swam some more, saw beautiful waterfalls, and then, when we were exhausted, sore, and some 'slightly damaged', we had to hike back up and out.

Wow was that hard. And at one point I walked - head first - into an overhang because I was so concentrated on my footing on the rocky terrain.

But we did it and we survived. It'll be a while before I think of doing something like that again.

Patience is a Virtue

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I believe someone once said "revenge is a plate best eaten cold."

Well, I have bidden my time. In fact, I didn't think I'd get this chance.

But it has come. She has forgotten what she said.

*evil grin* heheheheh.....

For those of you who have been around my blog for a while remember my encounter with a tarantula in my bathroom.

Yes, a tarantula. In the bathroom. You can check my entry from 9 June 2004 for the full story.

And make sure to read the comment from my sister teasing me for freaking out over a tarantula.

Only, see, she has apparently found a few cockroaches in HER house and now that is a big deal.

Well, darlin', it seems what goes around comes around.

Happy killing!

p.s. if you don't know me as well as my sister does, I love her immensely and am fully aware that having cockroaches in your house is a major bummer.

The Fam

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Great looking family, no? This, I assume was for Mark's father's birthday - it appears just about everyone but Mark and me were there.

Oh, and yes, that is Matthew...! Of course, he has at least one uncle that I know of who went through a similar 'skater dude' phase back when he was that age. In fact, Mark didn't stop with the long hair, noooo, he permed it too! [to his credit, he swears it was one of his brothers' idea.]

Disorientated

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First of all, why do people actually say that? It's 'disoriented', okay? Sorry - pet peeve. (except that somehow it's become acceptable in British English - gah!)

Anyway, what this is really about is the fact that I'm clearly confused about the day of the week.... We do our laundry every Thursday. Yesterday was Tuesday. Before we went out for dinner, I sorted the laundry so that I wouldn't have to do it when we returned from dinner - except, we don't do laundry until tomorrow. Whoops.

Extreme Sport: Gardening

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I did it. I went all out with the garden this weekend. And I won - sort of. Actually, maybe Mark is more of a winner than I am. Friday morning Mark and I worked in the garden for 3 or 4 hours. I tore out the wall of nastertiums (sp?), trimmed lavender, lemon verbena, and did a bit of pruning - all in the back terraced garden. Then, on Saturday, Mark had to go into work, so I had some friends come over. God bless Selvi, Amelia, Dean & Jeanne (last two being the former residents of our flat). They all came at some point during the day and helped me out. Dean cleared out all this nasty brush we had in the back and Jeanne cleared out a bunch of nasty debris that the neighbor had been busy denying was his (he swore Jeanne & Dean had left it there - ha! I highly doubt it). Selvi & Amelia cleared out the beds near the steps leading to our flat and got me started on tearing all the tall grasses that everyone is so afraid would allow snakes to lurk. I tore out so much high grass (and yes I used gloves) that my fingernails hurt. Yes, you read that correctly. My fingernails hurt.

But it's done. Thank heavens. And although I am in quite a bit of pain (I went to bed at 10 last night and didn't wake up until 11 this morning!), I feel so much freer now that it is d-o-n-e. Our garden looks good, we can picnic there, and our neighbors don't have anything about which to give us disparaging looks. Phew, what a weight off my mind.

In any case, I'd like to close with one of my favorite prayers. As some of you may see, it's full of stuff in there that I can spend some time working on myself, but it is such an uplifting prayer - suggesting to me that a lot of the problems I have are only problems because I let them be and that God's counsel is to let go of them, that I am too hard on myself. I also learned how to say this prayer in sign language when I was about 15 and have 'performed' it for various events & prayer gatherings in a number of countries over the years. Even those who don't speak English find the sign language version very accessible. In any case, here is the prayer:

"O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God, Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord."

I suppose this could also explain many of my decisions throughout my life to some of the people in my life. This is where I find my strength, and therefore it is where my allegiance lies - if that makes sense.

Musical Revival Fest

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Well, here we are at the Music Revival Fest - the first pictures taken of us with our brand new 'dos [we'd gone to the hairdresser's that day].

This was an awesome idea!! It was our friend Danielle's idea [I think she & Ginger actually did a lot of coordinating]. So, here was the deal:

She had each of us (there were 15 or so of us) bring a song that we loved, had some special significance, etc. that we wished to share.

Then we had a little form to fill out: artist, album name, song name & why we thought the song rocked.

We turned our forms in and started listening. Each song played was accompanied by a brief explanation from the person who brought it, which made you really listen because it had become personal. We had yummy food, great back rubs, good conversation ... and at the end, two new CDs a piece of all the music we brought!!!

Isn't that awesome? Wow, so awesome.

p.s. my earrings? yup, that's a pair I made!

Mara Madness

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Seeing Double

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Here we are - on your left is Mara and on your right - Mara!

One of our friends is organizing a Mara art extravaganza: I'm going to teach jewelry-making and Mara is going to teach decoupage. Cool, eh?

Maras Unite!

p.s. this is before my haircut...

Cartoons are Fun!

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Hey folks, I wanna' tell you about a totally cool development over on my brother Mendon's blog.

He's started drawing cartoons and posting them on his blog!

I think this is very cool. I am, as you may see in his comments, duly impressed. And I think he should be encouraged in his endeavor, so please, comment on his creativity!

See you on his blog!

Graham Crackers

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I'd forgotten how much I loved graham crackers.

Now some may think this is related to my previous entry mentioning the making of cheesecake, but it actually only has a passing correlation. You see, I bought the graham crackers for the cheesecake, but then decided not to use it (so the cheesecake-loving-gluten-intolerant friend could have some).

Which left me with a box of graham crackers. To eat, of course.

Mmmmm. I love graham crackers. And you'd have to work pretty hard to convince me that I'm going to kill myself by eating graham crackers.

Naw Ruz

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Here's a picture our friend Edward snapped of us after the Naw Ruz [new year] celebration last week. Behind us is the Shrine of the Bab. That bindi was a gift from Kristen, who sometime in August is set to become the newest addition to this Dornbrook clan! Hopefully, sometime in the near future someone in this great clan will have the resources to upload a picture of the two of them - together - alone - smiling (ahem, hint, please?).

Also, I would like to direct you to my mother's blog where you can view a picture of my oh-so-cool father in his brandy-new scrubs as he has begun his clinicals to become a respiratory therapist!

Happy Birthday, Rahmat!!!

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Oh yes, you think you're safe down there in Argentina, but I have connections!!

Hope you had a great birthday, cus!

Happy Ayyam'i'Ha and Happy Spring!

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Happy Ayyam'i'Ha!!!

This is seriously my favorite holiday. Here's a useful little blurb about the Baha'i holiday [from BWNS]:

Baha'is throughout the world celebrate their annual festive period with hospitality, gift giving, charity, and social gatherings. These activities, which run from the evening of 25 February until sunset on March 1, serve as a spiritual preparation for the annual Baha'i fast, which begins on March 2 and ends on March 20.

Of this period, known as the "Ayyam-i-Ha," Baha'u'llah wrote: "It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name."

Just a note: Ayyam-i-Ha means, literally, "Five Days". I thought I'd point that out just to make it clear that there isn't really a religious significance to this holiday. In this way, it differs dramatically from Christmas. Clearly, it embodies what people refer to as 'the spirit of Christmas', but Baha'u'llah's birthday is in November. It is a wonderful holiday given to us simply to be happy!

As for spring, I imagine most of you think I am absolutely insane, however it is clearly spring here! The raining is largely done with, which sort of depresses me. We probably won't see rain again until October - ick. It is gorgeous out now though - sweater weather - my favorite! And I love the smell of spring - of fresh soil, blossoms, and a hint of rain. Mmmm!

Have a great weekend!

Stories About Clothes

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Anyone else got stories about their clothes?

I seem to have a story about almost all of mine. Seriously. Here's a sample:

I don't just have combat boots. I got them while taking classes with the Army. And when those died, my brother (in the Marines) got me another pair.

Trench coat: It's over ten years old - I got it for the World Congress!

Jeans: well, after a harrowing search for jeans in Israel that covered the nether regions of my body, I made a pilgrimage to the Gap Outlet at home and got myself a respectable pair for a cool $15 (clothes in Israel tend to be expensive!).

Socks: some are pairs I 'inherited' from my grandfather.

Wedding ring: family heirloom - my great aunt made it, my mother gave it to me for my 21st birthday and I decided then and there I wanted it to be my wedding band (had a duplicate made for Mark to match).

Scarf: my mother made it for me.

Black shirt: went shopping w/ roomie, she chose the shirt, didn't fit her, threw it over the stall and said "Put this on, it'll look great on you" - and it did. I'd never have picked it up myself.

I can go on forever. And I have a feeling some people think I do. I don't just say "thanks" when someone says 'I like your...", I have to tell a story. Sometimes, on the rare occasion that I don't have a story, I feel bummed. Maybe I'm just totally self-absorbed, or materialistic - but heck - clothes stories are fun. I suppose that's why I collect them. Anyway, have any that you'd like to share?

Armpits

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Okay, granted I imagine only people who shave their armpits could relate to this.

But anyway, have you ever noticed how sticky armpit skin feels?

I'm talking about clean armpit skin. You know - wash the armpit with soap, scrub with a sponge/washcloth/puff thing - randomly touch skin. I swear, it's sticky. Why? No other skin on my body feels this way. Is this because of the glands that hang out there (subaceous?)? I know it's not the hair - for example, my legs don't feel like that.

It doesn't matter the kind of soap. It doesn't matter if you wash with the soap for 30 seconds or 10 minutes. It doesn't matter how long or hard you scrub with whatever you may or may not scrub with. Armpit skin is sticky. Without deodorant (or anti-perspirant, I'm using the term to encompass both), it remains sticky and usually gets stickier throughout the day.

And don't go telling me its the deodorant I use or do not use. I've used the 'crystal' deodorant, and frankly, other than possibly being a weapon of mass destruction it is useless (at least for me). I've gone without deodorant, and for that I apologize to everyone who had to be in any confined space with me for any amount of time.

I've taken human genetics, I've taken chemistry (and studied deodorant & anti-perspirant in the class) - I know the science behind our armpits and the products we use on them. I still don't understand why they have to be sticky. This is not skin you would wish to run your fingers over in a distracted manner. They might get stuck.

Anyway. Armpits.

Mother and Daughter

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While my parents were here, our friend Nancy took some wonderful portraits of myself and my mother for a photo class she was taking. Here are some of my favorites. However, I still don't see a similarity so stunning that you can immediately tell we're mother and daughter.

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I'm editing [by adding the one below]: I think this one is actually my favorite, although the first one I like for more artistic statement type reasons. If I had to title it, I think I'd title it Eye Am.

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Sufficient?

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A personal aside to Mendon, is this prolific enough for you?

You best be prolific in your comments, otherwise, is it worth my while? Hmm?

Professional

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Every once and a while, I show up at work with a suit coat on and people say "wow, Mara, you look so professional today!" I won't comment on how silly I think that comment is, just know that I think that's silly.

The other day, I don't know, I think I was wearing some black/white plaid pants [that don't look as bad as that sounds], a purple sweater & a scarf of various muted pink hues. In fact, I had pink barrettes in my hair, too. Someone commented that she thought I looked professional. I smiled and thought "even with these silly pink clips in my hair?!" And then she added, "I feel like you should be carrying a violin case."

She made my day. I think I started channeling beams of sunshine throughout my body. I was glowing - a professional violin player? - I'll be happy to look like that any day. From now on, I think I'll just assume everyone is saying that I look like a professional violin player every time they tell me I look professional!

I live on the side of a mountain. I have a terraced garden as a backyard. I have at least 3 olive trees in aforementioned backyard. Now picture this: those three trees are nearly perfectly placed so that only that really tall guy in Middle America could actually REACH said olives. They're not just out of reach in that if I stood on my tiptoes I could reach the branch, hold it and pick the olives. No, they are about 2 - 3 feet away - just close enough to see every luscious olive that is completely, totally, 100% out of my reach. And remember - it's terraced, so after a few feet it becomes twice as far away... sigh. Today Mark and I tried to pick 4 pounds of these olives. We might have gotten one pound. Mark tried shaking the tree, at one point he stood on the steps and gently hit the branches with our broom - plunk, plunk - so much expended energy for such a miniscule return! By the end I was laughing so hard. Here he was, with the broom straight over his head - bobbling it up and down - to get _plunk_ one olive... At one point I was picking olives and because of the angle of the sun I couldn't see what I was doing really well - twice I got branches stuck in my glasses. What geeks are we?!

This was sort of my parents idea - they really encouraged us. We really should have done this while they were here. I know they would have thought of some crazy successful way to get the olives. But we didn't. I guess I felt like I'd be disappointing them if I didn't try.

Well, we tried. And I'll be first in line to pay for premium olives in the future. We will try to do something with the olives we picked; however, I don't think we'll try again next winter. Unless we get really desperate for exercise or something :-)

I Have A Book In My Head

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Is that a disturbing thought for you? It is for me.

Mainly, because I don't like to write. I certainly don't have a flair (Violetta has flair, so does my sister, Rachael). And yet, as much as I encourage others to write, and swear up and down that I can't write well - okay, I can but it it sheer torture to all involved - I get the sneaking suspicion I have a book in my head. And every day is a step closer. Granted, at that rate I figure I still have about 10 miles to go. Let's see... 1 step a day x 10 miles = a really long time. We'll see where it leads. I wouldn't stay tuned or anything, as I said, it's not developing quickly, but on occasion I feel like I'm on the verge of something big and I just happen to be in one of those moods. Mental and spiritual growth spurt, I guess.

Kua Bol

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More proof that I can dance. This was a super fun dance, and thankfully the beat was obvious and easy to follow. Fortunately, you cannot tell that my face was spasming in this picture! The others in the picture are, opposite me, Canan (Turkey), front left Tamila (Kyrgyzstan) and opposite her, Tahmina (Kazakhstan), who taught us the dance.

After this performance somebody asked Mark where I had trained... heeheehee. That was a good feeling compliment. I'll just bask in that for a moment, if you don't mind.

Andre & Mommy

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Maybe you can't tell here, but Andre has the same beautiful smile and cheeks as his Mommy. He's so cute!!!

Beautiful Happy Child

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Alright, I want to write about the virtue purposefulness, but for right now I will simply leave you to mull that over, because I just got pictures from my good friend Char, of her beautiful family (with more of it on its way - 3 weeks!!) and I must share them. Not to worry, Char, I won't share the very pregnant picture of you, but I'm so excited for you. My parents will be arriving here for a visit the day you're due!

Is This Me?

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Is me questioning this exactly what it's saying about me? How can 12 questions (or something like that) really tell me who I am? Why do we do this stuff? Is that last one true? I don't know what I told them to make them think that... whatever.

You Are the Reformer
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You're a responsible person - with a clear sense of right and wrong.

High standards are important to you, and you do everything to meet them.

You are your own worst critic, feeling ashamed if you're not perfect.

You have the highest integrity, and people expect you to be fair.

Begin the Countdown

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Today is 1 December.

My parents arrive here 29 December. Since it is December, I now permit myself to start an official countdown until when they arrive!

28 DAYS!

That's Me...

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I was never a dancer. Mainly because I couldn't get the rhythm. And now I've moved on from this, a Balinese dance, to a Kazak dance - a waltz. Crazy. I can't believe it. This is partly why I'm putting it on my blog. Maybe that'll help me believe it.

Title

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As you can see, I'm working on a new title to my blog. No offense, Nae, but I discuss more than simply life in Israel. In fact, it's sort of rare that I discuss life as it is particular to Israel. So, I'm working on a new title.

I'm open to suggests, too.

Maybe I'll make a tradition of it and change the title once each year (I've had this blog a year now!).

Online Texas Holdem

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I wonder, will those three words now become a part of my family's jargon? Will it be a euphemism for ... for idiots? For annoying bits of flea-ridden junk in your life?

Also, am I the only one who knows that my mother would really like to be called "Nannie", not out of any cast-off yearnings about our younger years, but of her younger years, when her siblings (and she, I believe) shortened her name, Stephanie, to Nannie? And she'll tell you, it's 'ie' not 'y'. Should we simply make the switch - how fast could we do it? It tooks us all a while to find an alternative to Mommy that we all liked (including her!). But if she'd prefer to be called Nannie, why not?

So, here's the test, how quickly will we start seeing signs of her being called Nannie? I'll start the clock now.

Happy Birthday!

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Today is my only sister's birthday. I was looking through my pictures, and I found other pictures of her, but when I saw this one I sorta' got stuck.

It's not a particularly stunning picture, though Rae is definitely stunning in it!

But I see this kind of picture and it just makes me ache for home. Of course, "home" is a rather relative term. My home is in Israel. I have no permanent residence in the States. Other than my parents house - according to my driver's license. It's sort of weird to see my childhood address on my husband's license, too!

But I do miss it. It's quickly becoming time for a visit back to the families....

How Cool Is That?

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So, yesterday I got an email saying I had received a package and that it was waiting for me in the mailroom. Now, small to medium size packages (anything in an envelope - as large as envelopes can get) will be delivered to your desk.

I have not been expecting a package, so I was a bit surprised.

I went done to the mailroom, and here was this big box waiting for me - as stated, from an unexpected sender.

Some of our friends came on pilgrimage back in May, I think. She works with Mary Kay, so I asked her if she'd bring me a particular make-up item I like and could not find the equivalent of here.

She kindly brought it and I thanked her, of course, explaining that make-up was pretty expensive here (ever pay $12 for clear nail polish!?!), and that in general there isn't much selection either.

Lindsay, Mark, and Krisia

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This is at Krisia's farewell party. I missed it, and I have pictures of the two of us together, but they're not this good. Krisia has an amazing voice. She sounds like Tracy Chapman. Especially when she's singing Ms. Chapman's songs :-)

Oh, and Lindsay's another good friend. She's leaving, too. She's an actress from Alaska.

Krisia

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My dear friend, Krisia, posted a link to my blog on her's.

Now I feel obligated to have something here, in case someone actually clicks on it!

So. Here I am. I suppose I may have been more interesting in the past, so feel free to rifle through the records of my life for the past year. Just, please, don't expect me to actually see your comment on something from April. I'm anal, so I'll probably go searching (I can see whenever someone posts a comment), but I usually only look for comments in the current or most recent month.

Welcome and happy reading.

Hey, why don't I tell you how I know Krisia.

Krisia is an absolutely stunning woman [in every way imaginable] who was serving at the Baha'i World Centre with me. She worked in the gardens. Have you seen pictures of the beautiful Baha'i gardens in Israel? Well, she was part of what made them beautiful. We really got to know each other when she became my Ruhi book 2 tutor. She's the most amazing tutor I've ever had. People have said it's their least favorite book - I can't imagine it! With Krisia, everything was wonderful. She started teaching me how to play the guitar. She cooked chocolate fondue for us. We went to Hamat Gader together (hot springs). She single-handedly fed the World Centre at the Arts & Crafts Show in February, and managed to have time to sing at the cafe while she was doing it. She knits. Mark has a beautiful hat she made. She rocks and I really miss her, but I love that I can still be a part of her life and that she can still make me laugh so hard. She has moved to Spain to open up a cafe there. I can't wait to visit her and have some of her scrumptious food!

Katydinkers & Brumbershoots

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I almost forgot about this entry...

I threw the title onto my blog, left it as a 'draft', and nearly forgot about it.

Any ideas about what these two words mean? I will reveal the true meanings in a few days.

Six Rolls of Toilet Paper

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There are 6 rolls of toilet paper on the back of one of the toilet's here at work.

Violetta and I have struggled to understand this situation for some time now.

Because, you see, despite the fact that there is a plethora of toilet paper rolls to choose from, not a single one has managed to make its way to the toilet paper dispenser. Not one. Why?

Now, I could accept that occasionally someone uses up the current toilet paper roll and forgot to replace it. However, this is a near daily occurrence for both Violetta and myself [to encounter an empty dispenser].

What's going on here?

Mara, thy name is boring

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I can't think of anything to say.

I swear I wanted to put something up on my blog, but my mind is a blank.

It's so blank it's embarrassing.

Enh, well, you get the idea.

Mara or Violetta?

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For your comparison, this is me. See Violetta below.

Mara v. Violetta

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Me, me, me, me, me. Not that I'm taking this personally or anything. For those of you who are wondering what this is all about, both my mother and my older brother saw pictures of my friend, Violetta and said that not only did she look like me, but that they thought she was me. I'm just helping them remember what I look like.

Model Mark

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I called this one Model Mark for two reasons:

1. He was an exemplary model, patiently allowing me to shoot about 30 pictures of him to help me practice taking pictures for class.

2. This looks like such a model pose to me! I could totally see this going in some magazine or something. Not that the picture is that fabulous - just his pose.

Shallow

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I took this picture to show shallow depth of field. [it's of Mark ... or Mark's hand]

Me

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This is me. Not that it shows how Violetta and I are different. But I was asked to post more of the pictures I'd taken for my photography class.

Ice Cream

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I simply couldn't resist this little boy! We were in one of our favorite cafes, Fresca, and this boy and his mother and sister were sitting next to us. We had ordered pizza, and when he saw our pizza he wanted some, too ... I think. He saw the pizza, started whining, I heard "pizza", and then about 15 minutes later they got a pizza, too... hmm. But this place has got to have the best pizza in Israel. It is amazingly delicious. Everyone we take to have pizza there raves about it. It doesn't hurt that they also have gelatto - which may very well mean they have the best ice cream in Israel as well.

For a Change

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I really wanted to share this picture. I took this picture with our fancy shmancy camera. I didn't think I could take a good picture with it 'cause I didn't know enough - but, tada! This is a kitten that is a month or two old on the stairs behind our flat. He was born to a white cat, with two white siblings ... so, I guess we know what the Daddy looks like, right? They were all so adorable! One of the white kittens kept trying to clean himself with his paws, but he'd push himself with his paw and just fall over! Oops! He'll learn eventually how to do it without falling over... heeheehee!

Small Pleasures

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Have you ever forgotten about something and then when you rediscovered it you were all happy inside?

Irresistable

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Okay, so I haven't gotten mum and dad's aproval, but isn't she absolutely adorable? She is the daughter of my good friend (we were college roommates). Daddy's a good friend, too :-) I put her picture up as the background of my computer and everyone - everyone - who walked by stopped and commented on this adorable sweetie. So, since she has made a definite contribution to the happiness of my day, I thought I'd share. Here's to Sadie :-)

The Puppy Show

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The wall of our apartment which faces the the street is made up entirely of windows. Our dining table is situated so that if we wish, we can sit at it and look out the window at the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains across the bay.

However, there is also a several story home (perhaps apartment building) in our view. The family whose doorway is directly opposite us got a puppy this past Christmas. I'm pretty sure it was Christmas because they had a pine tree draped in colored lights in their house - I'm pretty sure they don't do that for Hanukkah.

Hamat Gader

Thursday night was awesome! Some friends and we went out to Hamat Gader, some ancient natural hot springs. It was loads of fun, though if you're imagining us in nature, well, think again. The water was piped into pools, and when I say "pool" think the city's public pool you paid $1 to get into during your childhood. Granted we paid more than that, and granted in some ways it was nicer, but not by too much.

HAPPY AYYAM'I'HA!!!!!!!!!!!

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Literally, Days of H (i.e. the letter Ha, which in the abjad system has the numerical value of 5). Intercalary Days. The four days (five in a leap year) before the last month of the Bah' year, 'Ala', which is the month of fasting.

Bah'u'llh designated the Intercalary days as Ayyam-i-Ha in the Kitb-i-Aqdas (our most holy book) and specified when they should be observed; the Bb (Forerunner to Baha'u'llah) left this undefined. The Ayyam-i-Ha are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, hospitality, feasting, charity and gift giving.

Grampa D.

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For your viewing pleasure, this is my Grampa Dornbrook, on the occasion of his 85th birthday (wow!). Nice shirt, Grampa! :-) (big Ohio State University fan...)

Basking in the Glow

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Yummy! Happy, happy birthday! I wasn't there for the party (obviously), but my maman sent me the pictures to share with all of you lovely people. Thank you, Maman!

My Grandfather's 85th Birthday

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These are our very dear Gramma & Grampa Dornbrook! Happy Birthday, Grampa!

Diddly doo

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Sorry about the title. Basically it is non-sensical because there isn't really a topic. I don't have a whole lot of anything new or interesting to say.

At least I don't think so. I mainly just want to keep writing so that you keep reading, and keep responding to me because I thrive on hearing from all of you.

Oven Frustrations & Kumquats

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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!!!

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.

2004

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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 :-).

Birthday dessert

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My Birthday Dinner at Giraffe

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A cool picture of the author (hahaha)

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Surprises

I had a wonderful birthday surprise last night. Mark and I had sworn off surprises (if you know how miserably previous surprises have failed, you understand why). This actually worked in Mark's favor, as I was expecting nothing. Also, we have a dinner the night of my birthday, so in my mind my birthday was set. Well, we have some friends who are engaged, and the fiance is currently away, so the fiancee had planned to set up all these pictures and send one a day to him - of her totally dejected without him. She and Mark told me that Giraffe, an Asian restaurant here, was one of their favorites, so it would be perfect to take a picture there of Mark and myself totally engrossed in each other, ignoring her ... her missing her other half... I went for it. She even made sure I was going to be really dressed up - it would make the picture better. Again, I bought it. When we ran into a few friends at the restaurant, that was normal - you can never go somewhere in Haifa without running into other Baha'is basically. I had no idea - other than I thought their responses to the question of 'may we join you?' were odd. Then, when Mark told me it was my birthday he brought out this beautiful diamond necklace (see photo) that he'd bought out in Oregon (thank you, Beth and Ramine!) for me to wear (he'd given it to me previously, but it's a 'special occasion necklace' and he wanted to make sure I had an occasion to wear it!). So, I had a fabulous evening last night - and we even managed to do our laundry last night, too! Amazing.

One of my friends from Fiji sent me this email (he arrived at the same time I did, back in July) today. It's so beautiful I wanted to share it:

what a beautiful day will it be tomorrow when you wake up and realize that you are another year richer in character, friends, wisdom. what great opportunity time gives you as you follow its path as it slowly unwinds. anyway I will stop this nonsense and say what I sat down to write. have the most fantastic day of your life from tomorrow onwards and happy birthday to you. may you and your family be heaped with blessings.

eminoni raivoka

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Funness category.

Deep Insight Label is the previous category.

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