Recently in Updates Category

Home Repair

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Dear Mama,

Liam is busy being super cute lately. I am mostly enjoying what I see in him as he gets older - as opposed to being frustrated by the challenges. The other day, as we were waiting for Mark to get out of work, he argued with me that Mark was his husband, not mine. This morning, he found one of my silk scarves, put it on and proclaimed himself now a girl.

We are making progress on him sleeping in his own bed, too. Slowly, for sure, but I can't take him crying for an hour now any better than I could two years ago. There is an element of sadness to it for me, as I am essentially extracting myself from physically being present for him as he falls asleep. I don't rock him to sleep, I don't pat his back as he falls asleep - I simply sit next to his bed and sing to him. If he talks/sings/whines then I move to the chair in the opposite corner of the room. That currently is enough to generally keep him quiet, though he has started asking me to "be gentle on my back" - and when he asks for that, well, thus far I haven't been able to refuse. Regardless, he has started falling asleep much faster and that is reassuring. He still wakes up in the middle of the night, though less frequently, and occasionally he actually stays in his own bed all night. So we're getting there.

I'm not focusing on potty training at all anymore, as I've chosen bed issues as our focus for now. But yesterday he spontaneously asked to go to the bathroom - and did! We encourage that, of course, but there is no pushing on our part for now. There's time.

In buying this house, Mark and I knew we wanted to add a half bath. It's turning out to be a rather involved project. Yikes! I am trying to be calm about how much we are going to have to do to the house in order to add a freaking toilet, but I know it's the right thing to do, so I am trying really, really hard not to completely breakdown over the fact that we have to spend money on something other than groceries. Unfortunately, it is complicated enough that we really can't do it ourselves with any amount of confidence.

I've got the morning to myself today. Mark and Liam are over at the Baha'i Center for a meeting. I have a bridal shower to go to soon, so I stayed home. It's been very nice (and productive, of course! ha!). But it would've been even nicer to have had you here to share it with me. Thank you, Mama, for everything you gave me.


On My Mind

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Well, I'm frequently awake at about 2 or 3 a.m. these days, and script wonderful blog entries in my head instead of falling back asleep. Last night, I waxed poetic about my memories to 'Littlewoods', my mother's parents' property in Maryland. I do have wonderful memories of my 'PopPop', his home, and all the wonderful stuff we did while we were visiting down there as kids. One of my favorite memories is of my youngest brother, at the age of about 4, trying to get a lunch order out of our grandfather - who couldn't hear the higher pitch voice tones. "SALAMI, HAM OR CRAB" Mendon tried again. PopPop's response was to pat Mendon on the head and reply, "oh, yes." Mendon was soooo frustrated.

But anyway, I thought I'd share a few photos of Liam with you.

Oh, and if you don't know by now. I'm three months pregnant. And we're house hunting - in contract, in fact. It's all around Columbus, so not a big move. And Liam is having stents put in his tear ducts to open them up so that they drain properly. Not a big surgical procedure, but no fun all the same.

On to the photos. Or photo. Apparently, on this new version, I can only upload one photo at a time without it getting messy. So, here's Liam playing the piano with his cousin. And wearing his beloved wristbands.


New Year's Resolution

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My new year's resolution, if you want to call it that, was that I this is the year I would focus on regaining my health. Okay, it wasn't much of an option, but I guess I was admitting that this needed to be done and that I would submit to it and not, you know, gripe about all the doctors appointments.

Well, this is what you get when you submit to the doctors appointments.

I have to have my gall bladder removed.

My first surgery ever.

However, this is to address the nausea and abdominal pain I've had ever since, well, really, ever since I got pregnant. Having put up with that - worsening - over the past two years, this will be a welcome change. I'm not thrilled about the surgery, but I'm relieved to know there is a solution and that it will come soon. I meet with the surgeon on Friday, at which point I imagine we'll set a date.


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Sorry it's been a while.

Liam, is as custom, has lots of new and fun stuff going on.

In the meantime, we've had our power out because an entire block of shops near us burnt to the ground. And then, the next day Liam came down with a NASTY stomach virus. Okay, so when is that ever not nasty? Now Mark and I are feeling the consequences.

We do have some hilarious videos and photos of Liam. When we all have the energy again, I'll post them.

Take care of you and yours. You do NOT want this stomach bug!


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I saw this greeting card and it made me think of my somewhat cheeky grandmother:
Two elderly women are looking at menus. One says, "I'm in the mood for a quickie." The other replies, "it's pronounced 'quiche'". The first replies, "then I'll have the salad."

For you, Grandma.

In other news. I have a job! I will be the business manager for my friend's start-up. She has the product, I've got the organization...together we'll make it happen - I'm so excited!

Liam is, of course, growing and changing in a bajillion different ways.

He has started speaking in phrases. Not all the time, but he does. "Daddy go buh-bye. (followed by kissy noise)", for example.

He says please when he wants something, but now he has started saying, "please, oh, please, oh, please!"

He L-O-V-E-S socks. I have to hide them from him. Otherwise, he'll put them on his hands and suck on them. Last night, he slept with socks on his hands. When he pulled them off and threw them out of his bed, he started crying. I came in the room, to a very sudden "SOCKS!" which I translated as "thank god you're here woman! sock overboard! sock overboard!" He went back to sleep once the socks were safely on his hands again.

He also loves reading. Tonight when I asked him if he wanted me to read him a book he brought to me, he replied, "no." He sat in my lap, turning the pages and occasionally commenting on what he saw. Three books later he let me read.

This has been a crazy week. We are all now in the care of a chiropractor - yes, Liam included - due to the car accident we were in on Sunday. Someone rear-ended us. Thus far, their insurance company has been blessedly agreeable. By the way, all injuries are minor. Liam has nothing but a bit of a kink on the left of his neck - as that's the side his face was turned to when the accident happened (he'd been asleep).

And tomorrow he head out for Chicago. I can scarcely believe it. A part of me wants nothing more than to curl up into a ball and do nothing for about a month. The best suggestion I heard was to throw on some fuzzy pants and curl up on the couch with a good book and hot tea.

Oh! And my awesome sister created a calendar of ways to remember my mother during this time, her dying season. Everything from drinking a cup of tea to spending time with a child to tending a plant. It's awesome! Thank you, Rae, for this incredibly thoughtful gift.

Happy Birthday, Maman!

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Yup, you guessed it. It has begun.

What is 'it'?

It is the beginning of my mother's dying season. We joked about it when she was alive, and my dad has talked about all the 'firsts' without my mother, and my sister has talked about remembering all the 'lasts' with my mother.

But here I am, as I think of the next couple of months - formerly some of my faves - all I can think of is "dying season".

And I have to get a mole on my foot removed because 'it could be cancerous', and I have to have a cyst looked at on my ovary ... 'cause it could be cancerous' ... and, for some reason, when I was referred to a psychologist, it wasn't for "GRIEF", it was for "anxiety". Huh. Wonder why. Somehow, I thought the cancer was going to die with my mother.

However, I am trying to be happy and think about stuff my mother loved to do - we're having a finger painting party tomorrow to celebrate her birthday. And now it makes me think how my mother managed to inform me of her cancer - literally - as I was welcoming guests into our home to celebrate Mark's birthday [here's where, if she were still alive, she would say, "guilt, guilt, guilt".]

Maman, happy 57th birthday. I'm pretty sure you're enjoying it more than I am.

Updates. Glorious Updates.

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Okay, so I have to tell you about the wedding. Who else will listen to every single little detail?

Nathan and Ingrida got married last weekend. It was awesome. I certainly hope they feel the same way.

The immediate family was all in town by Thursday and we had a fabulous barbecue to celebrate my father's birthday. He got a big flat screen television. I'm pretty sure he's stoked. Nathan was handing out gifts for his wedding. Mendon got a leather-bound journal with his name engraved in it. Rachael got a treasure chest. I kid you not. Everything that it sounds like that might entail, it does. Let your imagination go wild, yup that's in there, too. Seriously, it was freaking awesome. Even Liam thought it was awesome.

Friday, the sisters-in-law all went out for tea. Again, awesome! I had (homemade) mint chocolate chip cheesecake. Need I say more?!?!?!

Saturday morning, we all dashed off to do the obligatory hairstyling. In the rain. Ehn, whatever, it's fun to be fussed over. Nathan got a massage and was MUSH.

We got over to the hall and started setting up. It took quite a while, but seriously, I think the plates were my favorite part. Oh. My. Goodness. Freaking awesome. Does anyone have photos?!?! That's one of the best darn ideas I think I've ever had. (random plates from thrift shops I spent the summer collecting). Lots of people took their plates home. It was grand.

Glitches: forgot to give Ingrida her bouquet before the ceremony (oops!), forgot to tell Nathan that, if he wished, he could back out, I would take care of everything (family tradition), forgot to bring Latvian wooden spoons to ceremony (favors - oops!). Umm, that's pretty much it! Oh, Mark forgot his camera. Too bad.

It was SOOO humid, I mean SOOOOOOOO humid. The floor was sweating. Seriously.

Ceremony: Glorious. Just. Freaking. Glorious. Is everyone agreed? It was beautiful. Perfect. I loved every minute of it. My uncle wrote me a note thanking me for it (I emceed). I think he put it really well:

Dear Mara,
Just wanted to thank you so much for including your mother in the ceremony in such a meaningful way. [I dug up an email from my mother to Ingrida welcoming her to the family]
There were few dry eyes in the salon at that moment and our awareness of your mother’s presence was greatly heightened.
Great ceremony. Mendon read so well. Wonderful humor. Rumi. Dancing by the light of the moon. Latvian tradition. Even science and religion. My goodness.
Congratulations to all.
Uncle Gene

So, yeah, it was awesome. It was potluck. The food was delicious. And Nathan and Ingrida went home with all the recipes as wedding gifts!

Many went on to the 'after-party' at a nearby brewery. I went home with Liam and a migraine (shocking, really), but so happy. There were some superstars that helped clean up after the reception. You know who you are. You are ROCK STARS. I'm sure Nathan and Ingrida will thank you appropriately ;-)

The next day, the party continued with a barbecue, mostly with family, which was really wonderful. Finally, the few remaining went to the beach, and then we headed home.

In the middle of the remnants of hurricane Ike. Oops. We came home to no power. The city is still recovering. Five days later. I have relatives in Houston with power. I have friends here in Columbus who won't have power for another 2-3 days. Crazy. I tell you what, when you can't go grocery shopping, it really sets you thinking.

Finally, Liam.

He's exploding!! His vocabulary is all over the place. His farm animals are now "ous" ... that'd be "horse". When I'm putting him to bed, he now asks for "bed", which, quite honestly, is a testament to moi. With much work on my part, he now falls asleep in the bed, as opposed to my arms. Yippee! Tonight, our friend babysat him. When she left, we were saying goodbye. Liam was waving his hand, saying "bye-bye" and something we couldn't catch. Finally, we realized.

Oh! My! Goodness! What a milestone!!

He was saying "Bye bye, Liam!" LIAM! He said his name!!!

Now, wasn't it worth reading all the way to the end? Well, melt my heart and call me goo!

p.s. today I received a beautiful card from my former co-workers in Israel conveying their personal condolences to me. It was beautiful. Thank you, dear friends. It is something I will cherish the rest of my life.

p.p.s. as great as the weekend was, my mother is still dead. and now my brother is married. I am now seriously struggling to find energy to get through the day, let alone figuring out direction, purpose ... life is definitely a struggle right now. But I do love my family so very much!

Life at the Moment

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I don't feel like anything stunning has happened lately, just lots of little things.

I'm hemming curtains for the kitchen in between thoughts.

Our kitchen is now full of our kitchen stuff - stuff we'd totally forgotten we owned (it has been 5 years).

Nathan's wedding is coming together. Good thing, as it is in less than a month now!

I miss my mother a lot. Leroy Seivers died on Friday. He may mean nothing to you, but he had a blog, "My Cancer", on, my mother was a regular and that is what got her featured on Ted Koppel's show about Leroy and cancer. It just absolutely tickled her that she was a part of that show. It was a rare happy spot in her final years. Really, really happy. She wore purple for every part of the show (3 parts). Leroy dying means something to me. I can't even tell you what. A closing of a chapter? A reopening of a wound? I can't say. I cried. But on the other hand, it was certainly no surprise. Both he and my mother were supposed to be dead years ago.

I realized the other day that I'm not sure that I have the emotional strength to have any more children without my mother around. Anyone know what I'm talking about? (Ironically, I'm pretty sure my mother would.) I don't know who knows this, but I very much had Liam for her. She certainly knew it. Without that impetus.... it's a much scarier proposition.

On a lighter note, Liam is big into wearing shoes right now and is definitely showing signs of potty-readiness. We'll see. I don't have any expectations. He's also really mastering the sign language. I need to look into more baby signs. I could do random signs, but I realized that if there are books out there on "baby sign", they're probably geared toward the things babies are interested in, which in my mind, simply saves time. Why teach him the word for sunrise if he simply doesn't care right now?

Well, I'm going to go finish these curtains. Cheers... or put a crying baby back to sleep...sigh...

We're Moved!

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Moved! Moved! Moved!

We're finally back in a space all our own, and boy-howdy does it feel good!

Don't get me wrong, there were very real perks to living with others (free/cheap rent, sharing chores, company, etc...), but it is so nice to bring out our artwork again, and choose our own furniture, and let Liam roam into whatever room he wishes because it's all (fairly) childproof (or will be).

Not to mention the fact that we can walk to just about everything. Everything! Okay, Mark has to bike to work, but groceries, pharmacy, hairdresser, bank, dry cleaners, chiropractor, library, coffeehouse, gelateria, pizzeria, post office, park, pool, second-hand kids ship, second-hand furniture shop, ... yeah, see what I mean?

Feels good.

Today we were introduced to some folks in town from Kenya. It was a nice little slice of what it was like to live at the World Centre.

Oh, and Liam? Has taken to mimicking just about every sound he hears. For example, when Mark carries him, as Mark takes steps Liam says, "boom! boom! boom!" Hahahaha!

I was telling a story about how he got up the stairs and I listened to him running across the kitchen floor, pitter patter, pitter patter, and then running back to the stairs. Next thing I know, Liam is saying, "pitter patter, pitter patter" (sounding a lot like, "batter, batter, batter" in baseball).

Hopefully before too long I'll get around to photos of our little slice of half-a-house.

Life in a Nutshell

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Okay, so maybe video isn't coming soon. It'll come eventually, when it's almost irrelevant, I suppose. I've been busy packing, moving, oh! oops! no not moving yet!, planning my brother's wedding, cooing over friends' new babies (yes, multiple friends have new babies), and generally trying not to come undone at the seams.

I was very nearly there. Fortunately, when I texted my bro' Nathan, he had the good intuition to pick up the phone and call me back. I really needed that call. Thanks, Nae.

Today is our 8th anniversary. Funny, but I just sorta' thought, "8 years? That's all?" I mean, I've done a lot since I got married. It just seems a bit amazing that it only took 8 years.

Here's a tally:

Lived on 3 continents. (moved 7 times, this'll be the 8th)
Wrote a master's thesis (got a master's degree).
Lived in Haifa, Israel working at my dream job.
Watched my mother die from cancer.
Gave birth to a son.

Wow, yeah, these have been some weighty years. Last night, Mark said to me, "you should get your PhD." Ha! I think I've had enough weight this decade.

As we're about to move, Mark got permission from our new landlady to move a few items into the house in advance. So, he sent me a menu for a restaurant, got me to tell him what I thought looked good, ordered it, got our dining room set over to the house, and we ate dinner in our new apartment and then walked around the house talking about what we might want to do with each room, how to childproof, stuff like that.

It was very sweet, and helped gel in my mind that it's really happening.

Final Moments?

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Are these her final moments? She's lucid enough to ask us all not to leave the house... but not much more.

This is how I prefer to remember her. Isn't this a great shot?


Ah, Maman, you know better than anyone how much I love you and don't want you to leave. The hardship is that you're also the best person to understand how hard it is to go forward without your Maman. Well, now you get to be with your Mummy again. I am sure she anxiously awaits you, to share with you the many splendors of the next realm.

p.s. just in case: please no visits, phone calls or food. thanks.

Two Weeks

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That's the 'diagnosis'. Two weeks or less. Hospice would be surprised if it's more than two weeks.

Silk - check
Burial ring - check
Casket - check
Burial plot, funeral home - check
Handsome, touching photo - check

Maman still knitting? - check

Yup, she's still knitting. Go figure.

Update: Maman

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I haven't really updated about my mother recently, and it is time.

From the top, after Thanksgiving my mother stopped going to work. Physically, she couldn't do it anymore. She called Hospice back in.

She can no longer walk on her own. She is eating very little, and signs of organs failing are beginning to show. We no longer feel like we're crying wolf.

My brothers and I are here with her, and my sister will be joining us shortly. My brother will be getting married, here in her home, in a month. Her goal - at least a few days ago - was to make it to the wedding. It's been a rough few days, though my father said last night was better.

My cousin and his family came out yesterday. His daughter (8 years old) walked up to my mother, put her head on her shoulder and asked my mother how she was. My mother replied, "I am very sick." Isis simply replied, "I miss you" and my mother could feel the girl's tear running down her own cheek. My mother was so touched, feeling that here, finally, was someone who understood.

Thank you for letting me share this with you. Despite the impending grief, there is a peace to this I simply cannot explain.

We're Baaa-aack

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We're back from Chicago. Liam Bean got introduced to another bean, visited with cousins and generally had a good time.

We also got to visit with Grannie Nannie and Goompa for a bit. Thank you to everyone who hosted us! We're home now, and discovering that the Liam Bear should pretty much never be in the car around 5pm. Ever. Ugh.


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Yeah, so, my absence is due to the fact that the past 3 weeks have been taken up with packing, moving to the land of the devoted Buckeye and then, heading out to Chicago for a wedding and some good ole' family time. We'll be here for a few more days and then head back to Columbus. Possibly to then head back up to Cleveland to see my parents again, then Mark will start school, and then we'll head out to LA for another wedding. Oh, then we'll head out for another family shindig. I could keep going. Basically, I figure around January we have nothing booked. Seriously.

There are some great pics. Maybe someday I'll get around to posting them.


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I admit it, I'm exhausted. It's allergy season. I've got headaches. We're in the middle of moving. Life in general is tenuous, and it doesn't really matter what I think.

Did I mention that I'm tired? Mark just got Liam to sleep. I'm going to go join him.

Not the Baby

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Liam is trying something new: sleeping in a bed and not on me. That said, I thought I'd try talking about something other than him.


My mother has just returned to work after taking 4 weeks off for her recent surgery. Sigh. I miss having her around all day. We did nothing. Together. It was delicious. Especially the raspberry part.

I even went to book club with her - sort of, turned out we had the wrong date. But we still discussed the books. Made me think of starting a book club once we get to Columbus: the Breastfeeders' Book Club. You know, not much else to do when you're breastfeeding but read.

And this is exactly how long Liam stayed asleep in a bed and not on me.

Maman's Surgery

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Is over. Went fairly well. They removed tumor, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Tumor was malignant, and they did find evidence of disease elsewhere. Makes my stomach hurt, but at least she didn't have to have a bowel resection, right?

Note to Self

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For future reference, Mara, don't try to organize a large party as your mother is going for surgery shortly after you've given birth and just decided to move to another city.

Back to Reality?

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My mother is having surgery on Thursday. They found a mass that is encompassing both her ovaries. My parents measured a pineapple - it's about that size (yikes!).

We all seem to be handling it pretty well - on the outside. If everyone else is anything like me, our insides are screaming "NOOOO!" We all talked about my mother having a reprieve, and that this might make it even more difficult if/when cancer returns. I suppose we're all holding our breath - super, super hard - hoping that her surgery will come and go and we'll just go back to happy normalcy, and fearing that this is simple futility.

With my schedule (10 hours of nursing, 8 hours of burping/rocking, 6 hours to sleep, eat, shower, etc.) I have A LOT of thinking time - too much, I'd say. I often sit on the couch, nursing Liam, and think (or perhaps "sit stunned" is a better description) "she's 55." You'd think that with all the time we've had since my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, that I wouldn't be so stunned and so completely confounded by how this became our reality.

I watch my mother holding and enjoying Liam with a certain sadness. I know she's thinking that this is for all the future moments when she won't be able to do this - with Liam or any of her other (hypothetical) grandchildren.

And on that happy note, back to life!


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I have lots of time at night all to myself with not much else to do other than think about what to write about on the blog. But as witty as it seems at 4 a.m., it seems just as tedious now.

I'm on an elimination diet to figure out whether Liam has any food allergies that might cause him to be as cranky as he is. I sort of doubt it, though I've discovered I have a mild allergy to raspberries. Of course, Memorial Day weekend - full with a wedding, a graduation party, birthday party and the requisite BBQ - falls smack dab in the middle of this diet in which I can eat no wheat, dairy, sugar, etc.... I think the only place I feel truly weird is bringing my own food to Nadine's wedding. Can you picture whipping out Tupperware at a formal sit-down dinner banquet? Heheheheh.

Okay, the required photos, before my son dies of (supposed) malnutrition:

Asleep on Daddy

Asleep (and adorable - look at that arm!) on Nannie

Good with Goompah

Cool Cucumber

I love this shot - all cosy with Nannie.

This looks so posed to me! (peaceful, though)

And now you've seen just about every outfit he owns, too, heheheh. [No. That is NOT a plea for clothes. We have plenty, I assure you!]

15 Minutes

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Everyone gets theirs, no?

Well, my mother's will be shown on Sunday evening at 8pm (at least, Eastern Standard Time) on the Discovery Channel.

Ted Koppel is doing a special entitled "Living with Cancer" and my mother is one of the features! We'll see whether I ended up on the cutting room floor or not (they came out to film her this past winter). There's also a live portion - my parents and my sister will be in the audience of that.

All of this takes place the day after my cousin, Celeste, gets married. We're missing the wedding, and I'm bummed. Best wishes, Celeste! I can't wait to meet your hubby!

Hangover? Monday? Life? Poop?

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Those are all possible titles for this entry. None really capture the essence very well, though.

I really want to emphasize that I had an absolutely marvelous weekend. I did. I swear (see, I told you the titles aren't very good at indicating that). My family (most of it) was together to celebrate Ayyam'i'ha. We had loads of yummy food (bao, best pancakes ever), fun gift-giving, overloaded on Pinky and the Brain and gobs of superb chocolate. We partied with friends. Found out my longest-time friend (how do you say that?) is engaged - yay for her!

Sunday, my sister (with assistance) threw this fine baby of ours an "early birthday party". Wow, Mark and I were overwhelmed by all the love, support and beautiful gifts we received. Thank you to everyone who planned, coordinated, came, partied, gifted and loved. Party-goers each decorated a onesie for the little one to eventually wear. They all seriously rock. There's everything from "I (heart) M & M" to pastoral scenes to Mondrian to storybook classics.

A photo, as promised, of a sampling:


See? I had an awesome, exhausting weekend.

Then came Monday. I had two doctors appointments. An ultrasound, since all previous ultrasounds had been done in Israel, and then on to see my midwife.


I've had a pain in my left side for a week now. Figured it was ligaments stretching in combo with the baby kicking that very region, which some of it certainly is. However, it turns out I have a VERY SMALL ovarian cyst. Not quite half a centimeter. But there all the same. "Must be monitored". Of course, I know a thing or two in tumor terminology - that's called "watchful waiting". I ain't, unfortunately, ignorant. Largely, I think I reacted so emotionally to this news because of dealing with my mother's cancer for the last year and a half. It's so likely to be benign it's ridiculous, but it's simply over the top, in my humble opinion.

Oh, and that's not even what the midwife is worried about. No. Not going to even think about it again until after I deliver the baby. Her beef? (pun intended) The baby's too small. I need more protein in my diet. Could be I just need more protein in my diet. Or it could be a problem with the placenta and if that's the case, they may want me to deliver early (as in 38 weeks, not 40 - nothing extreme).

Somehow, something with a clear and obvious solution with very few possible repercussions, such as a baby who is only in the 32nd growth percentile, is much less concerning to me than anything related to cancer, however remotely.

But today is Tuesday. Today we have other things to do. And if the weather is nice to us, we will be able to go hear our friend Dick talk about his recent trip to Ghana, which I am very much looking forward to (BWC peeps - he was part of the crew that visited Haifa after the Black Men's Gathering in Ghana).

Dornbrooks South


That's how my aunt and uncle, who have lived in Argentina my entire life, have referred to their branch of the family. They are the southern contingency. My uncle has been here for a while to help my grandmother care for my grandfather, and now my aunt is here visiting. Last night was Feast, which Mark and I hosted. After Feast, they hung around until my parents returned from their cancer support group weekly meeting and we took a family photo.


I was all excited thinking I could show Rae that I was wearing the (maternity) corduroy skirt she got me, but it - and my belly - are totally blocked. Oops! Rae, it's so comfy! I love it!



Our shipment from Israel is due to arrive in about an hour.

It's a good thing we've been cleaning out the house, but I still don't know how we're going to fit it in this house. As my mother told the crew from Discovery Channel - the house, the whole house, is 20 by 40 (that's feet). At least it's mostly small items, such as books, blankets, and artwork - no furniture.

30 January. Update: After a day of trying to track down our shipment, it has been revealed that the truck broke down yesterday. We don't know where, but not here that's for sure. I'm a bit irritated that we had to track them down and not vice versa; however, I have to think back to Israel - my point of view if this had happened there, well, probably would have been a ... shall we say, "different". Too bad. I was beginning to have visions of supporting ourselves off the money from the shipping company after their employee ran off with our valuables.

You'd Never Know


You'd never know that I was 6 months pregnant and she had cancer, no?


We had our haircut yesterday, so we figured this would be a good opportunity to show the world just how well my mother is doing. For a more in focus photo, check out my mother's blog.

Today is a Baha'i Nineteen Day Feast, which I'm still getting used to again (since they don't happen in Haifa). We're hosting and it's potluck! Yum!

Tomorrow Mark and I will be heading down to Columbus for a New Year's party and to take care of some other business as well. I cannot even begin to express how old all this travelling is getting. Well, I guess I best enjoy it while I can....

Which brings me to my final topic. Pregnancy, I think, is just about the weirdest thing that has, or probably ever will, happen to me. I have another human growing inside of me. Inside. Of Me. It's rather difficult to wrap my head around it - to really convince myself it is for real and happening to me. Not that I ever had difficulty believing it was happening to someone else. Weird. That's as far as I've gotten.

Life On The Run

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Hmm, appears it's been a while. Well, since Mark arrived, we have spent a lot of time visiting family and friends. And I got a mighty chest cold. Not to mention Christmas.

However, I will mention my birthday. Which was fabulous. My parents, Rachael, Mark and I went out to the Cedar Lee (the art house cinema in the area) in Cleveland to watch Sweet Land. As you may or may not recall, I have wanted to see this movie for about three months, ever since it came to the Haifa Film Festival, which I missed due to some serious nausea.

The movie was absolutely wonderful - so wonderful that every single one of us enjoyed it! I would recommend it to everyone really. REALLY. After the movie we went over to the Mad Greek, which, for some reason, specializes in both Greek and Indian food. Whatever. But it was yummy and fun and we all had a good time.

Finally, my mother just finished knitting me a "Mommy Snug" sweater. She put the buttons on that I chose and then we had a photo party, so go check them out at her blog.

Birth of Baha'u'llah

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I'm a big girl now! I'm back out in the 'real world', and I've just celebrated my first holy day in my parents' community - which we hosted. It was a potluck. Here's some of the folks and the mass amounts of food we enjoyed!



My mother's entry is rather sedate, but we recently learned that she has the genetic marker needed to enter the clinical trial at the National Cancer Institute. Now they will check that her tumor has the same genetic marker and she is also making an appointment to rule out heart disease (indicating she's healthy enough to participate in the trial).

It's advancement and is definitely exciting! (in that roller coaster type of thrilling way)

Time To Go


In one week, I will be back in Ohio.

And you know, nothing says "I'll miss this place" like a cat peeing all over your freshly cleaned laundry.

Comfy Cosy


I had my ultrasound this evening and I got the all clear - no gallstones. (PHEW!)

The technician, who also happened to be pregnant herself, printed this little gem out for us, too. Very kind of her - she tried to look for the sex, but we clearly have a very modest baby :-)

I think the photo is pretty clear, but just in case, the head is facing downward on the left - the baby just looks so cozy, no?

Photo 167.jpg

Physical Feeling

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Thought it only fair to let you all know I am beginning to turn a corner and feel a bit better. I ate potato latkes last night (and oh my goodness I could eat them all day again today, they were so good!!). Okay, they weren't quite potato latkes - they were a Kazakh variety, but still.

And today I ate cinnamon rolls and had my first cup of tea in 7 weeks!! I know this seems trivial, but it's pretty big to me, seeing as how I unwittingly lost 10 pounds in those same 7 weeks.

Now I patiently (ha!) wait for an ultrasound on my pancreas. Know what? I hate prancrea-i. HATE THEM. Do you hear me?!?! Oops. I guess I'm slipping into my emotional feelings. Didn't mean to do that.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Nash! Nash! Stomp around the room tearing things to pieces!


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I realized something recently.

It's been 20 years.

20 years, pretty much to the month, that I met Crystal C. Fortunately for her (and me, really), all my incriminating photos are stashed somewhere back in the States.

We met in 5th grade, and became friends pretty much immediately. We were both outsiders. She'd just moved to the school, and me, I'd been labelled a nerd long ago. Fortunately for me, she was a geek, too. I remember Mrs. Roberts, our 5th grade teacher, praising her for pronouncing difficult words correctly.

She only lived a few streets away (our parents still live in the same houses today). I can't tell you what her phone number is today, but I do still remember her parents' phone number. We often rode our bikes over to each other's home, we had sleep overs, I remember numerous Italian family gatherings at her place (I got a number of lessons on how to spell the difficult Italian last name). We played softball together for years. We sat together on the school bus - usually talking about our braces (seriously).

The first time I kissed a boy was at a Halloween party she held. At 15, when my mother gave me permission to get my ears pierced, it was Crystal who came with us - on Christmas eve no less. And at 17, we both signed release forms swearing we were 18, and shared a second piercing between us (left ear).

It was she and I who slipped down to the Flats one night, in disobedience to my father, and we and our daring selves ate at TGI Friday's there on the riverbank. (I know, big risk takers, heheheh - the Flats is a hot spot for night clubs, etc. in Cleveland and at times has been pretty rough).

In college, after she'd moved to Rhode Island, she would drive the 12 hours out to pick me up, turn around and we'd spend the weekend together in Rhode Island, just to turn back around and drive back to Ohio again. In those brief weekends, I was introduced to many of the wonders of fresh seafood - clam chowder, lobster - and another crazy Italian family (her now in-laws, heheheh).

I flew back from Quebec to be the maid-of-honor at her wedding. She did another crazy driving stint to drive out to Ohio for mine.

And now, 20 years later, what are we talking about? Having babies. We've gone all the way from orthodontia to obstetrics - and pretty much everything in between. Here's to you, Crys.

(and yes, we had the split heart Be/Fri and St/Ends necklaces)


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I was reading a review of Broken Wings, an Israeli film (from 2003) set in Haifa about a family who lost its patriarch (to a non-war related death) and is trying to deal, both individually and collectively. One of the reviewers dismissed it as 'unrealistic' asking: "where are the Palestinians, the bombs and the soldiers?"

Now, I hope that in the past 3 years I've helped those who haven't been to Israel to understand our daily life, the beauty surrounding us, and well, the normalcy of our lives. But that question made me realize that it would be very easy for people to think that all of Israel can be incapsulated in what they see on the news.

And I am aware of how much Haifa has been in the news as of late. But our life is simply not portrayed on the news. My daily concerns involve the fact that I live on the side of a mountain, where everything is either uphill or down; the fact that I live in a climate that includes a summer that is about 3 excrutiating months longer than I care to endure; and the fact that I live a lot further away from family than I care to be anymore.

We're not trimming unpleasant things out of our photos for you, this is our life, in peace-loving Haifa.


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There are photos of Edinburgh, there are photos of London, there are photos of Prague!

Go check out Mark's (and some are mine, too) Fojalicious photos on Flickr! (this is also your friendly neighborhood reminder that he loves comments) :-)

Update! Update! For those seeking a Nathan extravaganza, there is now a veritable cornucopia of Nathan photos over at the Fojalicious Flickr site.

Chapstick Reunion

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Blarg. Snarg. La. Pfft. Grog.

We're here. We're safe and sound...zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

And I've been reunited with chapstick. Ahhh.

Foiled. Again.

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No. Seriously. We have postponed our flight, again. This time it is because of the situtation in UK (I'm sorry, travel without a book or water? Hmm...). You can get the story at the BBC.

This makes two strikes. The first time we were supposed to fly was 13 July, and now again today. Nathan says "it's like someone is trying to tell you something". Sorry, Nae, either way, I'm pretty sure we're not staying in Scotland forever.

In other news, we took a trip to London recently. We stayed with the lovely Vince and Manijeh, went to Shoghi Effendi's gravesite, the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, Green Park, and, the piece de resistance for me, the Royal Gallery of Art to see an exhibition on Modigliani, whom I loooove. I got home and promptly got super sick with what we suspect was food poisoning, though from what I'm not sure.

An extra super huge thanks to Vince and Manijeh, who not only let us come and stay with them, but allowed us to bring a houseguest (Mel), and when she returned to Glasgow, allowed us to switch in Ksenia. Mel and Ksenia never met, but as I was dropping Mel off at the bus station, Mark waited for Ksenia at the underground (all part of the same station though, heheh). In addition - yes, there's more! - they drove us out to Oxford on Saturday, and we spent a lovely day there as well.

Anywho, I'm recovering. Yesterday we went to see an exhibition by Ron Mueck here in Scotland. Haven't heard of him? Click on the link! Very cool. Then we had a beautiful 'farewell' dinner in the evening, at which loads of fun was had. And well, I guess we can do it again next week - hahahaha!

Once Nathhan downloads the pictures, you will be able to see rapturous pictures of such things as Mark eating a deep-fried Mars bars. No seriously. I'm not kidding. Ugh.

Arthur's Seat

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Yesterday our adventure (we keep it to one a day - sometimes the 'adventure' is going grocery shopping), was to hike Arthur's Seat.

From Nathan's place, we walked up to the Royal Mile, which in and of itself is worth visiting, so just the pre-walk to Arthur's Seat was quite enjoyable as well. The Royal Mile in the opposite direction leads to the Edinburgh Castle, which again is also definitely worth visiting (but skip that war museum-thing they've got, ick!!).

So we went down the Royal Mile, past the now completed Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Palace (the Queen's residence when she visits Scotland), and then just round the bend is Arthur's Seat. We left after 7 p.m., so we got to Arthur's Seat shortly before 8. We hiked up to the major plateau, had some water, apples, got totally gnat-infested and decided we'd gone far enough, hiked down the other side, and headed home. We got home shortly before 10, had some dinner and crawled to bed!

I included the links for two reasons. The first is that I think all of these places are worth at least seeing, if not visiting. The second is that I was the only one without a camera last night. I bet Melanie will have pictures up shortly, though. (Mark can take a while to fiddle with his photos sometimes, but they willl be beautiful once he does finally put them up on Flickr...)


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Well, I have a feeling people may be checking my blog to check that Mark and I are intact, so here's a simple update.

We're fine. In fact, we're doing pretty darn well. We're in Edinburgh, Scotland visiting Nathan. We'll be here another week. It's gorgeous weather, we're being spoiled rotten, and generally not overexerting ourselves.

Today, Nathan's girlfriend, Ingrida, took Mark and me to the weekly farmers' market and then on to a French market that is on this weekend. The French market was, well, like the market I used to go to when I lived in France. We bought loads of fruit, veggies, fresh bread, pain au chocolat, cheese and saucisson - all from Frenchies. I was actually a bit surprised that the vendors were indeed French. I didn't expect that much, so it was handy I knew French :-)

Then we worked our way over to The Meadows, a lovely park, and made and ate our lovely lunch. I know, life is rough. Afterward, we came back to the flat, Mark took a nap and Ingrida and I did mud masks. So girly. So fun (oh, and I told her stories about Nathan as a kid, heeheehee). Now this is what I call a [well deserved, thank you very much] vacation!


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We got our tickets for Scotland - yay! I'm very excited about vacation, clean air and cool temperatures.

We leave Saturday and will be there for two weeks. What are we planning to do, you ask? Nothing. Glorious Nothing.

[well, okay, we do hope to see Liam for a wee bit, but then, Liam's pretty good at doing Nothing himself]

Mitzpe Ramon & Kiryat Tivon

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I'll write more later, but we went to Mitzpe Ramon this weekend. It is the largest crater in Israel. It is in the Negev desert, and it is not from an asteroid.

Fojalicious has a few pictures up.

He also has pictures up from our friend Ania's birthday party, which served as an excellent excuse for Mark to take photos of little tykes. It was in Kiryat Tivon, a suburb if you will, of Haifa. The photos will make the most sense to you if you click on his 'Kiryat Tivon' and 'Mitspe Ramon' slideshows. Make sure to check out Layla Lee's love for water in the Kiryat Tivon series!!!

Edit: Mark has updated his Flickr account and added "Ania Taller" as a set. They are photos that our friend Ania took. That's where you'll find more Kiryat Tivon/Bet Shearim pictures and the Layla Lee water series. Enjoy! [p.s. feel free to comment on his photos - he loves comments!]

Sitting in Israel, as I am, trying to find a simple, basic bread recipe, I want to tear my hair out. Seriously, people, S-I-M-P-L-E and B-A-S-I-C. That does not include evaporated milk, two days, potato flakes or a bread machine. Yeesh.

And seeing as how I'm 7 hours ahead of my mother, I don't think she'd appreciate a phone call at 3 a.m. for a bread recipe. Which is, um, what I'd normally do. She's begged us to look for good recipe software for her before, so here it is - what my research has yielded. Maman, I hope this helps. I can't live without your recipe brain for much longer.

Seeing as how you have an iMac now, your software must be Mac-compatible, so I checked out what people were saying about what was available (MacRumors).

MacGourmet, Cook's Books and Connoisseur all got approvals, in that order. (on Version Tracker (scroll down), there was a review in this order: Connoisseur, Cook's Books and then MacGourmet)

Mastercook and Cookware got big no, no, nos. (I think Mastercook only runs on older Macs, in fact). Cookware got blasted for small font, which I imagine you wouldn't like either.

They can all be downloaded for free in order to test them, but all must eventually be bought for about the price of a cookbook.

Connoisseur is $20 and comes with a mere 50 recipes - 'cause I know you don't want a ton of recipes you'll never use!

A Cook's Books Beta version is $25 and version 1.0 "will cost?" $39.95. Whatever - I think only beta is currently available and people seem to be raving about. It also comes with few recipes.

MacGourmet is $24.95 and comes with ZERO recipes.

They all look to be really good. I think if you demo them all you'll probably discover which one has or does not have the quirks you prefer. Let me know how it goes!

Oh, and remember: the most important feature is being able to share your recipes with your children!!!!!! (I suspect MacGourmet is the least friendly about this, but check for yourself)


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A Few Things That Have Made Me Happy Today:

1. The raging migraine I've been battling for a week seems to have faded today. I didn't even take my morning dose of 'attack-only' meds. Phew. I thought I was going to have to kill something soon.... (if you haven't had a migraine ever, don't judge me).

2. I cleaned out the bedroom. Of everything. So when the workers come (ahem, ahem!), it is ready to be repaired. And know what? This means I am Wonder Woman. Know why? 'Cause I fit everything - and I mean everything - into our much smaller spare bedroom. And the spare bedroom still has room to move, is orderly and tidy. I previously did not think it possible. Props to Papa for teaching me how to streamline. (unless I'm just mis-remembering)

3. I think we're on a path that may actually lead to the workers coming to our house some time in the foreseeable future. That knowledge alone brings relief to my migraine.

4. I happened on to a blog the other day (via one of the dear hubby's geek blogs, no less), called Inspire Me Thursday. It is two artists, young women about my age (yes, I still consider myself young), who simply offer some creative inspiration once a week to anyone who'd like to participate - no competition, no judges, just sharing art. And know what? It is inspiring! These women are inspiring. Their lives resonate with mine (and they have cute kids). And I am enjoying checking out the artists who have participated. Gets me thinking about my jewelry. I just had to pack it all up (see #2), but I need to think about a direction for my jewelry and this is definitely getting me to think.

Unrelated sidenote: having grown up without red M & M's, I find myself afraid of them - that they'll make me sick, not just 'give me cancer' sick, but migraines, for example. No fear of the other colors, but I leave the red M & M's to the very last and then I only eat them begrudgingly. Heheheh...quirks.


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We're going on pilgrimage! Many of the people joining us (roughly 200) may start traveling today, so our 'trip' will be to head up into the Merkaz (city center), plop ourselves down at a comfy cafe and read, read, read in preparation.

I am sooooo excited to be going on pilgrimage - mainly because it is so very special, but a small part is relieved to have 2 weeks of vacation. We were originally scheduled to leave the Baha'i World Centre now and I think we just really need this break before we dive back in for another year of work here.

A little bit about Baha'i pilgrimage: at its very essential, pilgrimage consists of visiting the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, just outside of Akka, Israel. However, there has developed, over the years, a formal program of pilgrimage which graciously allows us to visit the shrines and other holy places over a period of 9 days with the help of a guide, who may know a few more details than ourselves (hence the reading!). There are a number of guides, so we don't do everything with all 200 other people (i.e. no hoards of people crushing us). The places we are visiting are all associated with the Baha'i Faith due to the banishment of Baha'u'llah from Adrianople (Edirne, Turkey) to the 'prison-city' of Akka as it was at the time. So we will visit the prison as well as the eventual residences that Baha'u'llah lived in during the gradual relaxation of His imprisonment, as well as the Shrine where Baha'u'llah, His Son and His Forerunner are buried - not to mention the site where His wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and other son are also buried - which is on the grounds of our workplace.

Life - Interrupted

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I wandered onto a woman's blog the other day - a woman about my mother's age, with her own gaggle of grown children - and read as she spoke of memories of her children, gardening, the Baha'i Faith and just random moments in life.

Suddenly I found myself feeling all sorts of odd emotions - anger, frustratrion, resentment. I wanted to scream "that's my mother's life!" You know, the one that has been hijacked by cancer. You know, the one we were all enjoying with her. You know, the one we were all taking for granted and didn't know we'd miss so much. Oh, to recapture the feeling that life was simply 'normal'.

I went back to my mother's blog, surfing in different directions and found this gem. In many ways it embodies so much of who my mother is to me.

Now we're in a new place - not completely unrelated to the old place. A bit more tenuous, but then maybe that's just realism that we were all simply ignoring before. My mother's no less alive than she was before - we're just all that much more aware of mortality. Life, life, life. Tricky thing, it is.

[that night I actually dreamt that my mother knew this woman and she threw us all in the car and we drove out to see this woman and her family. when we got there, I thought, "oh! they even know each other!" The woman didn't know we were coming; my mother simply said "I had to get away, so I decided to visit you!" and we all crowded into their house to crash on their living room floor. Huh.]

Taha's Wedding!

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Kristen & Mendon aren't the only Dornbrooks to go to a wedding last weekend, although Rahmat topped us all by actually getting married (Congrats, cuz!)!

We attended Takhmina and Amir's wedding, and Mark also served as their photographer (ahem, with the help of his skillful and talented wife). Takhmina is from Kazakhstan and Amir is from the Philippines. Both of them were able to have relatives come for the wedding - it was so beautiful and touching to see the families together.

I really love this photo, especially as it's not one you usually see - despite the number of weddings that happen at this locale each year.


Congratulations to two beautiful people! We had a blast (and were exhausted) photographing your wedding! Mark has posted a few more (very touching) photos, so check out the Fojalicious Flickr Fotos to find out which one is his favorite photograph!


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If there was a day I hated our flat, if there was a day I was fed up and just ready to throw in the towel, well, I think it would be today.

Today, we discovered there is mold growing on one of our bedroom walls. We presume this is from when our back room flooded due to the neighbor's boiler exploding (repeatedly). It just so happens that the wall it is growing on is behind cupboards - which is why it took us so long to find. I kept smelling it and thought I just had to keep the windows open and the fan on and everything would air out and be fine. Drr. Summer shoes? Molded. Every last pair. Every last pair!

And this might explain headaches and exhaustion despite increased sleeping (for both of us).

On top of this, we live upstairs from a nasty bulldog we have to bribe with treats in order to get past and I just discovered our neighbor has been helping herself to our calla lilies. I want to scream. I want to go on vacation and have it all gone when I return. I want to change my name and move to Australia.

On the other hand, we spent a beautiful morning with Melanie (and others) for her birthday, got our hair cut, and have just two weeks until pilgrimage. Life is gorgeous...sort of.


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Ever since Mark and I got word that we would indeed be staying in Haifa for another year, we've been, well, the only way I can really describe it would be 'out-of-sorts'. I'm sure plenty of others have experienced this - a bit of buyers remorse, I suppose. It's not that we have some other fancy plans we've ditched along the way. More that I think we'd just set our minds on "next". I do remember thinking after we found out that of course we were staying - how absurd to think otherwise. It's just, it has somehow sapped our energy a bit.

In any case, in an attempt to abate this a bit, I thought I'd first mention some of the things I miss from "home" [referring to the States, mostly] and then state some of the things I'd miss from "here" [being Israel].

Okay, let's just get the obvious out of the way: family and friends, yeah, duh!!

The little/silly things:
Pizza - what I'd give for some Adriaticos!!!
My clothes - seriously, I sent so much of it home thinking I wouldn't be here next month!! Agh!!! [believe me, being clothes-less in Israel is serious - yikes!]
A flat surface that lasts more than 50 feet. Living on the side of a mountain can get old.
English-language ... well, I was going to say libraries, but really - English-language anything at this point!!
Central heating - what a luxury!
Our car - sigh...
Snow! I really enjoyed the snow we had while we were home in November. Yay, snow!
My clothes - did I mention my clothes? Lest I forget, my clothes!

Again, obvious things first: the Baha'i Shrines and the best freaking work environment with the best co-workers and the best boss I've ever had, and of course, all of the lovely friends I've made here.

The little things:

Admittedly, most days Fresco Pizzeria & Gelataria make up for a lack of Adriaticos (most days)
My dear pharmacist - the only one I've learned Hebrew from!
My view of the bay
An extraordinary community - a real experiment in sustainability
The ability to go to a restaurant and never be distracted by another table's conversation - because I don't understand them! [I found myself very frustrated back in the States! I just wanted to tell everyone to shut up! yikes!]
The continual blossoming of verdure year-round
The fact that everyone is aware of the Baha'i Faith in this country - and in some cases there are discounts just for being a Baha'i! Rock on!
And along that line - the occasional taxi driver who says, "you are Baha'i? I grew up next door to Ruhiyyih Khanum. She told me the history of the Baha'i Faith. You want to hear it?" heeheehee
The olives, loquats, kumquats, mandarins, pomellos, avocadoes...mmmmm
And finally, Fattoush, for without Fattoush I would not have discovered two things:

1. hummus with hot paprika is the best!
2. chocolate ginger rooibos tea is so good I am willing to hunt it down on the Internet, pay a silly price for it and have it shipped to me. Yes, it is that good. Chocolate mint is yummy, too - as is Mexican Winter rooibos, but I digress.

Too Much Information

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The day you forget to put deodorant on - that never turns out to be a good day.


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At 3:55 this morning (I looked at the clock, yes), I woke to the sound of ... my air conditioner turning itself on? What is that noise? Where is it coming from? Are we being gassed? (remember, it was 4 in the morning!) I was freaked out by the noise, and I have to admit to being a bit nervous about opening the windows to find out what was going on. Mark, well, it was 4 in the morning. He didn't even sit up. He figured someone was 'doing some cleaning'. Hey, it was 4 in the morning.

I did open some windows and I could tell it was definitely louder on one side of the house, but since it was definitely external, I let it go at that.

Then, at 5:40 this morning, Mark got up to eat breakfast before the sun came up as he is fasting. He went to get his sweat pants, which were in the back room. And there he was greeted by .... wet sweat pants, not to mention wet carpet, wet wall, wet weight set, etc. We called folks about it. I found the source of the problem - pipe to the hot water heater - and turned off the water main. All good. Problem is, turns out it isn't our hot water heater, or even our water main. Which means we can still take a shower, thankfully, but that we have to find our neighbors so that they can rectify the situation.

Oh, and not to worry, it is not a flood in the sense that things were floating around a seemingly contained back room. There is some damage to the roof/ceiling, I'm sure, but we were able to lay the rug out to dry and mop up most everything else. And hopefully the warm air and sunshine will keep the (rock) wall fairly dry, as there are occasional drips still happening.

Secret's Out

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Okay, I figure all the essentials know (i.e. our parents), so it's time for my blog to get the update.

Though if you're like everyone else who heard the news, it'll be rather anti-climactic for you. I think it was bigger news to Mark and myself than anyone else.

Mark and I have extended our term of service here in Israel. As of now, we will be here until May 2007 (so you have until then to visit us). Since the big question seems to be about Mark's medical studies: he is gathering the basic A&P, biology, chem & physics books to study for the MCAT, since that's what he'd need to be doing regardless.

Also, we will be going on pilgrimage at Ridvan (the festival in which we celebrate Baha'u'llah's announcement of His claim to be the Messenger of God for this day). We are so, so, so very excited!!!


End of blog update.

Who Does This Happen To?

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Amina once told me about her aunt who, after quitting her 3rd job (as in, she was working 3 jobs), her eyesight improved so that she no longer needed glasses and her hair went from gray to black. You read that correctly, gray to black.

I always thought that that was a bit extreme and probably temporary at best.

So, here's what I want to know: did my eyesight really improve? really? I guess I'll find out shortly - when I start wearing my funk fresh new glasses! Can't wait!


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I knew it was bound to happen. I was just waiting for it, really.

As staff members of the Baha'i World Centre, we have the special privilege of visiting each Holy Place in Haifa and Akka once in a year. And if you can't make it the day you've scheduled your visit, too bad, no changes made. Considering most Baha'is will only visit these places once in a lifetime, during pilgrimage, that's not too much to ask of us staffers.

And I've visited every holy place now - some several times.

Except, that is, the House of Abdullah Pasha, a residence of Baha'u'llah's family for some time in Akka.

Not once. Every single year something happens to keep me from it.

Year one: a migraine that sent me to the ER (it was stupid - I'll never do that again)

Year two: we were visiting Mark's family in Spain

Year three ... this year: my dear, dear friend Takhmina is getting married. Not only that day, but that hour. Can you believe it? Well, heheh, I can. (Takhmina is the one who taught me the Kazakh waltz that I performed a year or so ago, Kua bol. And no, I didn't misspell her name, she changed the transliteration of her name recently.)

Working on a Sunday

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It's so normal to me now, I forget sometimes that I'm "working on a Sunday" and what that means to people who are not living in Israel.

Here, it is the beginning of the work week, so we start on Sundays. I do not, however, work on Fridays. Or, at least, most of them. I work 2 Friday mornings a month. Not bad, though I do definitely enjoy my two day weekends when I get them!

So, here's me working on a Sunday. And it means exactly the same to me as it does to you to go to "work on Monday".


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So, Mendon and Kristen have returned to Ohio. We had a wonderful time with them. We drove them to the airport on Thursday night (no, not 'evening' - night), and as a result our sleeping was knocked out of whack a bit. Yesterday was blissfully vegetative. Our accomplishment for the day? We put our living room furniture back to normal - since it had been rearranged for the lovely violin concert Kristen gave us last week.

I can feel the fog lifting - slightly. Agenda for today: more nothing!



My office gets as busy as it currently is approximately once every two to three years.

With Mendon and Kristen here with us on their honeymoon, I am:

a) bummed because I'm working 8 - 12 hour days, with no chance of a day off and can therefore spend limited time with them,

b) feeling guilty because if I were able to spend more time with them I could take them around Israel a bit and show them some of the cool stuff that is Israel,

c) holding onto my sanity with a bare thread because the volume of work we have is dizzying! [not to mention, you know, all the stressors that have been dominant within my blog for the past, oh, two months].

That last one isn't related to Kristen and Mendon. I got distracted.

It feels like this is one of those moments when I think, "if I can get through this I can get through anything." The last time I thought that I was writing my master's thesis and studying for my oral and written exams (I hate orals, just so you know, in my opinion they are evil).

I suppose this would be an appropriate time to think that.

All The Photos In The World

edit: the photo link now works

Alright, folks, if you want to waste an hour looking at wedding pictures of someone you may, or may not, know you can find some of the photos that Mark took for Mendon and Kristen's wedding here.

Just a note: the first photo is a daughter of a friend of ours really enjoying her cereal. :-)

And now, an update on my mother. We now have the results of the pathology. Briefly, the tumor was on the tail of her pancreas. It was blocking the splenic (sp?) vein, making it rough for blood to get out of the spleen. Tumors are apparently sticky, so part of her small bowel stuck to it, which was why that part had to be removed. Anyway, all margins were clean except the one around the kidney they removed.

So, stage 3 cancer - no metastatic disease. I'll let you decode that. Chance of diabetes is low.

She begins chemotherapy in 2 weeks and it goes on for 8 weeks, then 5 weeks of chemo and radiation with another round of 8 weeks of chemotherapy to finish up.

I'm here for questions.

My Take


Day before yesterday, Monday, was a really good day. My mother was wiped out because of going home - that's a lot of activity - but she was so happy to be home. She had a good day.

Yesterday, in her opinion I'm sure, was crappy. At least, that's what she conveyed to us.

First off, what I saw: my mother slept a lot, drank some, ate 3 meals (albeit small), and walked a bit.

What my mother saw (in my opinion): I'm weak, I hurt, I'm not hungry and the people around me are showing signs of distress. (i.e. I got a migraine, my dad blew off steam at the Clinic for messing up our doctor appointment dates)

My thoughts: my mother is not only recovering from major surgery. She has cancer. One way or another, the surgery was not the end of it. We are, all of us, dealing with this. And as we try to help her heal, inevitably, with the diagnosis death has come to our home. It is not being mean, but it has asked for a seat at the table. And we have no choice but to give it a chair. It may be here a while before it leaves - who knows, it may be 15 or 20 years, but we are aware of its presence. Which means we are all sort of starting to go through the process of dealing with it - and the stages of emotions that go with it. There's no fighting it, we just are. It just means that these emotions are another thing we have to deal with along the way. Winning, for me, means we go through that process, my mother recovers, and when someone does finally die, we can all say good-bye in a manner that reflects us having accepted it.

That's my take, anyway.

Bound to Happen

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Well, I suppose I was sort of waiting for this to happen. Knew it would sooner or later. But it's still tough to watch, and apparently I wasn't there for the worst of it. Nothing too horrible, but my maman simply didn't have a good day today. She went to soft solid foods today and her body told her in no uncertain terms that it was too soon to do so.

Here's to tomorrow.

Day 6


Several sources have sent my mother cards and gifts to be opened each day she's in the hospital, since she was told she'd be there for 7 - 10 days. Right now, it looks like she might be going home on Day 7 or 8! We've started bringing home all the flowers and gifts she has been given over this past week.

She is recovering so well at this point that she's getting antsy in the hospital, feeling badly for the other patients who are, as she says, "actually sick". Folks, I'm still completely aware we are not yet out of the woods, but it is good to hear my maman talking this way.

I'm going out to breakfast with some of my friends (college roomie!). I feel a little guilty for not heading right back to the hospital room, especially because now my mother is able to really appreciate company, but I also know I need a little self-time if I'm going to be able to really focus on my mother when I am with her. My dad has already headed out to the hospital and Nathan will head in soon, so I know she's covered. And if today is anything like yesterday, she won't be alone. At one point yesterday she had S-E-V-E-N visitors in her room. Oops. (normally restricted to 2) But you know what? She had the 4th most difficult surgery performed on her. Yup, that's right. 4th. She's entitled.

Taking the Increments


Well, my mother has now gotten up out of bed several times. She sat in a chair with me yesterday for about 20 minutes. And since she's going to the bathroom on her own now, too, I imagine she's gotten up at least once again since we left her yesterday evening.

Soon they'll take her off her morphine-derivative access (she pushes a button to get more), so I imagine the next couple of days are going to be just oh-so-much-fun.

Nathan arrives today - the sooner the better for me. We need to get some groceries. I just can't do the cafeteria food and $2 for a bottle of water, and all I seem to bring with me is applesauce and a banana. It's my mother who's on the liquid diet, not me. I need to start eating, but complex mealish stuff doesn't look very appealing to me right now. I've been eating salad in the cafeteria, but that really only goes so far.

I also should find myself a sim chip for my cell phone so that I can use it locally. I went to Radio Shack yesterday and they clearly didn't have a clue that you could buy a sim chip without the cell phone.

Well, I best be off.

Cheers to another day.

Just Another Day

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Yesterday was a day of more improvements. My mother sat up in bed for the first time, and by the end of the day it was her own idea to try to do it again. As you might imagine, the first time wasn't very pleasant for her as this is to essentially get her remaining organs to figure out where they want to lay. She was also feeding herself by the end of the day - just ice chips, but she was doing it herself.

Thanks for commenting, folks. I can't tell you why, but it's so very reassuring to hear from all of you.

Well, it's another day, so I best get ready to head into the hospital so that I can keep you all posted!

Just This


Not much to say really, other than the Dornbrook and Dean families are probably up in the 5th percentile of the top most relieved human beings in the world today.

It's indescribable. Simply put, my mother's surgery went well. They were able to operate and they found no "floaty bits" as my mother called them.

We all simply cried and cried and cried yesterday we were so relieved. I'll still cry if I think about it for too long.

Damn, it feels good to be alive today.

We're not exactly out of the woods, but the first hard part is over and now we can focus on her recovery and Mendon's wedding at the end of the month. Oh, and her birthday on Monday - WOOHOO!

Mt. Hermon


I saw Mt. Hermon a few days ago.

Now, if you look on a map and check how close Haifa is to Mt. Hermon, you'd think "big deal, duh, you live pretty close to it!"

Yeah, well, many days of the year you can't see it from Haifa due to the smog and dust/sand storms called "hamsim" or "sharaf" (Hebrew/Arabic).

That means that you pretty much can't see Mt. Hermon all summer long (read "May through September"), so the fact that I saw it the other day is very exciting. It might actually start cooling down and - heaven help me - R A I N. Oh, just writing that thrills me. Yes, Israel has definitely taught me to appreciate rain. Oh, how I miss it.



I can't really say much more than that right now, but it's good - so good, and probably much more exciting to me than to you, but I will tell you more soon. I just have to put something down or I will burst I'm so happy!

By the way, I had another excellent homecoming dream last night where I hugged every member of my family and Mark's as well and it was so incredible and I was so happy. I remember I got to see Mercy and meet her daughter too. There was some good news from unexpected corners of my family, too - totally unrelated to my abovementioned excitement.

Okay, phew, I think I'll be okay now.




If you want more, they can be found at my Flickr site.

And now that I finally got a hold of the camera, I'm addicted, so hopefully I'll get and take more opportunities to take pictures.

All sorts of things are going on now in my life. My completely empty office is now bussling with three more people, and we're due to get more in the coming months. Now I'm trying to balance what was a whole lot of silence and alone time I had with the pleasure of actually having people around to do the work (but less alone time). Now that they're a bit trained, I am feeling less claustrophobic.

We have a CAR! It's temporary, but wow - what a difference it makes to live in this crazy heat when you've got a car. And we're doing all sorts of fun things with the car - errands we've avoided for a milennia, helping people get places, etc.

22 July was our 5th anniversary. That weekend was a total blast. Thursday evening we did our 'joint haircut' ritual, where we go to the same place and get our hair done together. Friday we stuck around Haifa and did things we have wanted to do but haven't had an opportunity. So we went to the Tikotin Japanese Museum, which is actually a fairly decent place. Small, but what they've got is very cool. That evening we had a dinner with some friends, who introduced us to some very cool pilgrims from Chicago - which is great since it looks like we'll go to Chicago (at least for a year) once we leave here. On Saturday we headed down to Herzliyya to the Chocolate Bar, had a relaxing brunch reading The Priceless Pearl and then picked up a couple who is now here translating for us for the next three weeks. All in all, a good weekend.

This weekend, the agenda: NOTHING! Also an excellent weekend.

The Proud are Humbled


The weather has been absolutely beautiful this summer.

Until about a week ago that is.

Stunning, really. It was in the low to mid-eighties (26 or so for you Celsius types) with cool breezes and even cooler evenings and very low humidity. I started wearing my summer hats a while back, but I could still wear shirt sleeves without being carried away by uncontrollable urges to randomly wrench my clothes off my body in public places.

I thrilled at this beautiful summer we were having.

[cue appropriate music, perhaps w/ a rain stick, sounds of waves pounding the beach & steel drums in the background - all cut short with, hmm - one harsh beating of deep piano keys just left to echo and fade....]

And then it was over. To be over until, unfortunately, the end of October really. It's now hotter'n'hell. Over 100 degrees in the afternoons. And it's humid. Absolutely gross, I can feel this heavy air hanging in my lungs, pressing down against my body as if it wanted to physically depress me. It's a third entity in our home now; a child really, that we must somehow appease in order to make life bearable.

Ah yes, I enjoyed my summer of open windows and beautiful breezes. Now, just as proudly as I opened the windows previously, I walk in my door, throw down my keys and humbly flip on the A/C.

Of course, the A/C only works for the room that it is in, constraining us further not to leave the one chosen room of sanity.

Nature, I'll see you in October - once you're finished with your temper tantrum.

Raw - Evolution - Hell


Okay, so I've mentally rewritten this blog about 10 times. I have several different names for this entry (How's about "Phoenix Rising"? I decided it was a bit dramatic...). The one I chose would be more complete as a sentence: I am raw because I have survived an evolution which entailed my own version of a wee bit of hell. You know how after a bad burn, your skin heals and you know you're getting better but you're still a bit hesitant about actually touching things? I guess I feel that way emotionally.

I know it's better. "Phoenix Rising" came about in my euphoria of 'I've survived the worst and can see a better place on the horizon'. Of course, the imagery is the same: my former self has been destroyed and my new me is better than ever.

So, what on earth am I rambling about?

Well, you all know Mark and I recently decided he would go to med school once we left Haifa, which will happen in about 10 months. And then things sort of crumbled. Of course, that's hindsight speaking. We didn't realize that was why things were crumbling at the time. Not that our decision was bad - we're thrilled with it, but actually deciding brought residuals, like having other options we'd explored be closed to us now. We both had things we'd been considering (restaurant, staying here) that we were ... well, mourning. Except, you know, emotions can be confusing and messy. So we were both sort of hurting inside and then hurting that the other was "just so not supportive" which became a bit of a vicious cycle.

And since we both had the emotions previously described, communicating our hurt seemed to make things even worse than before. Like, really. Of course, that would be because we really weren't communicating. Oh, maybe we were, and maybe we would have figured it all out on our own eventually.

I remember in college I had a staph infection in my toe. I was told at our health center to soak it every night and some other stuff. It was Thanksgiving, so over break my mom took me to my childhood pediatrician. They gave me some antibiotics. When I told them what the college clinic had me doing they were like "well, that would have worked eventually".

I feel the same way about what I just went through. This was probably the hardest thing Mark and I have done together in our 5 year marriage. I mean, we've had disagreements and 'big discussions' and stuff before, but wow this was hard. And usually we can work stuff out together but this just wasn't working.

So we went to a therapist. And thank goodness. She managed to get us to say the stuff we'd been saying in a way that wasn't confrontational, as well as getting us to really listen to what the other person had to say and to realize that the other person was going through stuff as well (as opposed to "their doing something and it hurts me").

All of this, of course, has an end result of us being able to recognize and name the pain that we had, which allows us to know how to deal with it, and to improve our communication with one another over all. Like, better than ever before because the more we become sensitive to the unique perspective that the other individual has we can better respond to them as an individual instead of being wrapped up in our own perspective (and imagined perspective of the other).

That said, I do still feel raw. Like a snake that has just shed its skin. I'm not exactly feeling ... extroverted. Or maybe more exactly I don't feel like initiating something. Being with people, talking to people, I'm fine, but initiating just feels like an excrutiating lot of work at the moment, so if you're not hearing from me personally, please understand it is not personal, right now it's just easier to focus on me and Mark. Please reach out to me, though. I care about you all.

And to those of you who were supportive of me this past month, even though you didn't really know what was going on, thank you. It meant the world to me, and some of you, giving me the support that you did showed me I could depend upon you more than I thought I could in the past. It taught me a bit of a lesson in family unity, and how much parental consent means to me. I think it would have been, well, simply not an option for me to reach out to my family if I hadn't known that they supported my marriage. In fact, it was still sort of hard for me to reach out to my parents because sometimes it feels like they appreciate Mark even more than they do me - and being especially sensitive emotionally, that feeling ballooned, of course. But them reaching out to me, across the miles, meant so much to me.

Thank you, Maman. Thank you, Papa. Your words of encouragement meant so much to me (you too, Rae, Mensch and Kristen). Rae, I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't just popped up on MSN that day. You got me to open up a bit so that I could even consider getting out of my funk.

And to those of you who are thinking 'uh, this is sort of weird and personal', well, this is me. I can get intensely personal sometimes. Yeah, I could have not shared this, or just written my family. But my suspicion is that other people feel like this sometimes, too, and I think sharing stuff like this can help people know that this isn't crazy abnormal - it's okay and with a little bit of support it can be dealt with. My family isn't perfect. We have warts and skeletons and the like, but we're still talking to each other and care about each other and the more we can reach out to each other I think the stronger we become as a family.

Again, thank you all so much. Big squishy e-hugs to you all!

Costa del Sol


So, Spain. Again.

Southern Spain is gorgeous. I know, it's a shocker. You can find a few pictures here - especially of our nephew at the moment, though there are more pictures to come.

We first met up with Mark's sister, Melissa and her son, Griffin in Torremolinos. Very touristy, but frankly, who cares? We had fun just bumming with Melissa and Griffin. It gave us a great opportunity to bond with the little 2 year old, seeing as how he was born only shortly before we left for Israel. Apparently, Griffy is a bit of a masochist. The story:

The weather was nice in the Costa del Sol, but it was balmy. And with a little wind, it was chilly. So, at its warmest - after lunch I believe - we decided to go swimming. We went to the pool, figuring it would be warmer, and easier to control Griffin. Problem? The water was freezing. No one wanted to get in the water. Except Griffin. So, I bravely volunteered. Having grown up in Cleveland Ohio, I know full well that "if you just keep moving, the water will warm up after a few minutes". At first, Griffin was in a little boat-type floaty, so he wasn't wet, though he was very amused by me going under water repeatedly. So, eventually, I got him in the water - bobbing him up and down. I thought he was cold, since he was shivering, so I put him out on the edge of the pool. This turned into the very obvious game of "I jump in and you catch me". Repeatedly, of course. The thing is, the air was nippy, so this poor little boy was shaking and shivering. We couldn't stop laughing at the sight of our nephew, shaking and shivering, with arms outstretched, ready to jump back in. Eventually, my guilt got the best of me, and I had to stop the insanity and dry him off. So, I had a big towel wrapped around him, drying him off as quickly as I could as he was still shivering and he was begging to go back in. Finally, he stands up tall, looks as officious as he can, takes a deep breath and pleads, "PWEASE!!!" Well, who could resist that? So, we went back in. Eventually, he did have enough of that. So, he got out to play in the poolside shower - guess what? Even COLDER!! So, he again asked to go in repeatedly, and each time the water went off, he ran out and said, "HOT!" ?!?! Who knew he got sarcasm? Heheheheh, well, he kept us in stitches for the duration of the visit, for sure - not to mention everyone else at the pool!

So, from Torremolinos we headed out to Marbella to join up with the Fojas parents (they arrived 2 days after us, hence Torremolinos first). Quite the swanky place, but I was actually pretty surpised at the economic diversity of the people there. Anyway, what to say? It's swanky, right on the Mediterranean, we walked on the beach quite a bit. We also went up into the mountains and visited Ronda, one of the white villages - you'll recognize the pictures of Ronda by the gorges. It was beautiful.

Oh, and there was a pool where we were staying in Marbella, too. There, Griffin would stand at the edge of the kiddy pool (thankfully a few degrees warmer than the other pool), with his back to me, count "one, two, twee!" and just lean back for me to catch him as he fell into the pool! This boy will apparently have no trust issues when he gets older! There were also a few jet streams at the side of the pool, which he loved. He would position himself to jump into one of them, and then, instead of putting him right back on the edge of the pool, I'd let him hang there a bit - he loved sitting right on top of it and letting it go up his diaper, heeheehee. He'd also try to drink it like a water fountain - ewwww!!!

And, of course, Mark had the requisite conversation with his parents, mainly his father, about coming home, going to med school, etc.

And it's a go. Mark is really excited, actually, for those of you who may have had your doubts. The decision is a result of prayer, and he feels this is what he is meant to do at this time. Additionally, his father, bless him, made a point of telling Mark that he hoped he was doing this for himself, not them [his parents]. That was really important for me to hear - probably more so than for Mark.

So, expect us home by next summer so that Mark can start school in the fall.

No Dead Fish


This is a public notice that Mr. Ryan did a fabulous job of flatsitting and I highly recommend his services. There were no dead fish - or anything else - as a result of his time in our flat. We came home to a very clean apartment - cleaner than we left it - and Ryan had clearly remembered when we were arriving home, as he was scarce. I imagine he'll never forget again, after all the jabbing he got from us and the Ishikawas.

So, we're home. We're exhausted. We'll share more later.

I'm Going to Spain - Part Deux


Yup, we're heading out to Spain again. This time we're going to the South - Malaga, Marbella, Granada, etc.

Mark's parents have a time share there, so we're going to spend the week with them and his sister, Melissa and her son, Griffin.

We leave tomorrow and I suspect it will probably be radio silence from me until we get back.

The second category for this entry is "My Future Life" because this time spent with Mark's family will definitely contribute to our decision as to whether to stay in Israel longer or not.

Take care all, and Happy Ridvan!

Deep, Meaningful...


Hmm... not a whole lot of anything new going on in my life - internally or externally, as far as I can tell.

I've talked about decisions Mark & I are trying to make, our visit to Spain (we leave in 2 weeks to spend a few days with his parents & his sister's family), spring, our garden (a.k.a. 'the jungle' - which we're going to try to remedy later today apparently), swimming (which I am sacrificing today to work in the garden ... not so happy about that), books I've read, jewelry I've made... do I have anything left to say?

The jewelry thing is actually taken off quite a bit (about 25 sets of earrings now, must start selling some). I gave a jewelry class back in March and it was so popular I have people clamoring to get into another class - except, I don't really want to do it. The beauty of doing it in March was the Fast. I taught the class during lunch hours at work. Now, I would have to give it in the evenings or weekends - trying to coordinate people's schedules, blah, blah, blah - and I have absolutely no desire to do that. So, here's my alternative: you cook for me (and Mark) - dinner or otherwise, and I'll give you a lesson. Want more? Invite me back for dinner again. Yup, you heard it here - I'm greedy and selfish and keeping my sanity, thank you very much.

I did something extraordinary this morning. I made a cheesecake. I think it's the first one I've ever made. It's my grandmother's recipe - Philadelphia style - none of that "New York style" business for me! No thank you! Food of the gods - mmhmm. I can't wait to try it. I made it gluten free, too (so no beloved graham cracker crust for the time being), so that my cheesecake-loving-gluten-intolerant friend can try it out, too. And you know what? Danged if I knew that cheesecake was so easy to make!



Where are my thoughts?

Well, I'm definitely happy it's still cool here. We just had a hamsim (hot dry dustcloud hanging in the air) followed by a nice cooling rain ... ah. I know it'll be over soon, but I'm gonna' milk it for all it's worth.

We've started swimming - woohoo! Such a wonderful, healthy, healing, easy-on-the body workout. Very, very fulfilling.

I just finished reading the book Roots by Alex Haley. Wow. It was made even more personal for me because my brother Mendon did a year of service in The Gambia. He has been called a toubob, as he is - reading this book brought all sorts of implications to that word crashing into my head. [toubob meaning white folk, and in slaving days, clearly referred to slave trappers, slaveowners, etc.] What does toubob actually mean in Mandinka? I should find that out... Mendon, have you read the book? It just makes it so clear to me - nothing but Baha'u'llah's message could ever possibly heal wounds like those.

Blog Mode


You know, I keep thinking I've got something to say to find that, even if I do, I simply haven't had time to do much blogging. For example, on ... I don't remember - Tuesday, maybe? - was International Water Day [as proclaimed by the UN]. I thought that was cool and thought "this would be the perfect time to blog about my growing addiction to water". And it would have, wouldn't it? Except, I didn't.

It's been hectic at work and hectic out of work. Of course, there was Naw Ruz, which is enough to make things vaguely hectic because it's a holy day. Then we rented a car and travelled a bunch during the weekend and the day off that we had for the holy day. On top of that we had two dinners, in a row, of making bao for like 10 people each (Oof!). And work was busy because two new Universal House of Justice members were being elected [my small contribution was make sure the announcement got translated into French and Spanish]. And since both of the new members were formerly Counsellors members of the International Teaching Centre, well we can expect that message to go out soon, too.

And now my brother is getting married in August! And we might be going to Spain to visit Mark's parents next month! And who knows what we're doing in 10 months time!

I suppose that's a bit of it - I'm at loose ends right now, at least a bit. I don't do real well not knowing sort of what my life plan is (I know - control freak). And we do have two wonderful options: A) stay here in my dream job and have children or B) go home and have babies. Of course, it's more complicated than that, but I would be happy with either decision. And I think it would be inappropriate to say anything more that is obviously work-related in this format.

Anyway, I need to go to bed. But I'm still alive, if there were any doubts.

Oh, and for those in the States - I heard there was a bombing in Texas. I don't know why you choose to live in that dangerous country. You need to start thinking about your future. :D



This past Friday we broke the fast with another couple, Vaishali & Vijay, by having a BBQ on the beach. Now, before you go and get all jealous about how warm it is here, well, it isn't - maybe in the low 60s - maybe. In any case, we were all wearing coats, hats, etc. and at one point my fingers went numb. And we were on the beach - the wind was raging. However, we had a blast (literally and figuratively, hehheheheh)! We introduced them to s'mores and had tandoori chicken kebabs (OMG! Awesome!). And we laughed endlessly about how ridiculous the whole situation was. It will definitely be one of the wonderful memories we take with us when we leave Israel.

Saturday we spent the day at Bahji. We went specifically to pray about what our 'next step' should be. We then had a very productive discussion about what our most preliminary step should be...but of course, we had prayed our hearts out to Baha'u'llah to guide us. Those prayers have an effect, and well, we're still rather undecided, but now we're thinking of a whole new direction. One I don't think we had ever seriously considered before. Not that I'm going to say what it is. Obviously our lives have been changing quite a bit lately - no point in telling you every notion that enters our mind. [so, basically, I'd be willing to discuss it offline, if you wish]

In any case, I think Mark and I are more convinced than ever that prayers work, are powerful, and God is occasionally willing to be hit-you-over-the-head obvious. Because at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday morning we think He was. [it was a phone call, don't go looking for major events on the Web or anything]



Well, my attempts to fast lasted approximately 3 1/2 hours (before those of you fasting even woke up for your first day of the Fast). Then the familiar pulsating feel arrived in my cheek - and without water (and food) it would have quickly deteriorated from there. No point in fasting if I'm inoperable...

Just so you know, comments are suspended at the moment due to the mean, ugly boogeyman (spammer [hacker?] extraordinaire). They should be available in a few days.

I'm glad I don't work this Friday. We have a number of pilgrims here that we know and must tend to because

1. Anne would kill us if we didn't
2. Well, Rich is a bit sick - we can't abandon him!
3. Gosh darn it! We like 'em!

Brief Thoughts on Life and Gardening


1. While I was reading some of my earlier blog entries (i.e. Nov. 2003, etc...) I suddenly realized I felt like I was reading someone else's blog. Huh. Weird.

2. I am SOOOOO excited about the Arts & Crafts Show on Saturday!! I submitted the first ever scarf I knit (okay, I knit one way back when I was like 14, but I totally had to relearn). And it's beautiful and cool - and I managed to not drop or add any stitches. I've learned that no matter how meditative knitting might be, I absolutely cannot knit when I have a migraine coming on. Nope, nope.

Anyway, the Show will be so awesome! Oh, I submitted some rice bags, too - and it seems everyone is pretty psyched about them. Too bad I couldn't get my act together to make more. (sigh)

3. The people who lived in our flat before we did have returned for a few months. They love the garden, so in exchange for their gardening services Mark is going to help them get their laptop set up. Woohoo - we all feel like winners. Getting others to barter comes so easily to me :-) I wonder if their reappearance will strike fear in the heart of our downstairs neighbor. They never really got along (go figure).

4. I've been asked to teach jewelry making to a few people - exciting! I haven't done it in awhile, but I've been wanting to do it and simply was not motivated... (see n. 2 - is this endemic?)

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.

Newest Baha'i

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Kristen in a sari.jpg

Kristen is the newest Baha'i in our family. My mom just called me, and at first I thought the line had gone dead - she couldn't speak she was so moved. All our love to you Kristen, as always. When we're in the Shrines next I imagine we will all take a moment to request that Baha'u'llah, the Bab and Abdu'l-Baha guide and assist you.

101st Entry

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Congratulations! You are now reading my 101st entry. Sorry. If you haven't noticed, sometimes I'm not so original.

I had a great weekend. It was such a beautiful weekend. The sky was blue, the bay was green (and blue), and the sun was shining. It really was quite enjoyable. At one point I opened all of the windows in our house. I figured it was a great opportunity to let a little breeze run through the house. Delicious.

It was also my first sighting of Mt. Hermon "the" snow-capped mountain across the bay. People had told me I could see it on a clear day, but I hadn't. Then I looked up on Saturday and went "OH! That's Mt. Hermon!!" So when I got home from rehearsal, with the sun shining, Mark and I opened all our windows, made ourselves some yummy Kenyan tea from our dear friend Auntieclare and sat down to enjoy the view. DE - VINE!

I also performed in the Sounds of the World in a Kazakh dance (waltz/ballet) and it was fun and beautiful and for some awful reason my entire upper lip went into spasms when I went on stage!! AGH! I tell you, it is nigh unto impossible to smile when half of your face is spasming! And no, I don't mean a 'twitch'. I mean a SPASM! It totally freaked me out. I had trouble smiling for the rest of the evening.

I was also working behind the scenes, stage left, and I loved that too. Much less spasming there :-)


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This year's festivities started out with a bang ... or perhaps it'd be better to say they were "electrifying". As we were getting ready, I went to turn the lights on in the living room and the bulbs blew out. So, in an attempt to get more light, I unplugged the lamp in our bedroom ... except, I didn't. I just took the cap off the plug, leaving the live whatevers-they-are exposed. I started to pull them out, realized it wasn't even the plug I needed & went to push it back in.

Need to think about the consequences of that action?

I apparently should have.

I can't remember ever being electrocuted before, but then maybe that's an effect of being electrocuted. Wow. My hand trembled for a good 20 minutes after that.

Maybe this should be listed under "Stupid Things Mara Does". Under the category of "Stupid Things Mara Says" can be included "I sunk my Palm Pilot". Yup - the updated version of a battleship, heheheheh.


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In brief, check out the pictures if you haven't seen them:





We loved our trip. In Barcelona we stayed with friends - the ones you see in the pictures. Vicenc cooked us paella - mmm. He is by far one of the best human beings I ever met. He is kind, sincere, humble, loving, gentle ... and if all goes well, he should be a daddy by tomorrow! I hear his wife, Shannon just went in to labor...

In Zaragoza, Hector very generously opened his home to us and made himself completely available to us. He gave us a guided trip around the city. We probably would have found it boring if it hadn't been for him. And Krisia - she came and joined us in the touring. Funny story: we decided to have Chinese for lunch one day. BAD IDEA. Everything was fried, we were so sick by the end. One of dessert options was pineapple, so, naively, we picked that to have something "fresh". It was STRAIGHT from a can. One slice on this pitiful plate. Krisia took a picture it was so pitiful. At least the lunch was cheap...

Then we went to Toledo. I cannot rave about Toledo enough. The city is beautiful and the people are wonderful. And if you use Fodor's instead of the Lonely Planet, we know where the bingo hall is :-) Okay, so Fodor's is a bit tamer than Lonely Planet ... a bit more "middle class traveler". It actually tells you where to find a bingo hall. In Spain? You're in Spain and you have a hankering for BINGO? Whatever. We thought it was hysterical and then ... it was there. The bingo hall! So, that explains the bingo picture in Toledo. (not that you've seen it yet - sorry)

Madrid - enh, we started out by walking into a museum exhibit that turned out to basically be pornography. No, that's too gentle. It WAS porn. Period. That seriously pissed me off. Sorry, I know that's not a nice word, but I was. Anyway, there were better cities.

Like Bilbao. The Guggenheim ROCKS as a museum. Now there's a museum that knows it's all about the presentation. And the old city was fun, the food was great, Krisia was there, and so was a Mango outlet. I couldn't resist, but Mark and Krisia will both attest that I was in and out in 30 minutes at most.

Or San Sebastien - another beautiful city. It was cold, gray and oh-so-perfect. We walked along the boardwalk from one side of the city to the other. It was beautiful - very picturesque. I think it's how I imagine European cities when novels say they went to "summer" somewhere. Which makes sense because that is apparently what people have been doing there for 200 years or so.

San Sebastien has both the coolest and worstest bathrooms. Coolest: translucent (but not transparent) sliding doors conceal the sink area leading to both the men's and women's toilet. If you stand at the mirror and do anything you give the people outside (us, as the case may be) a show. Mark did a whole puppet show for us :-) It didn't have soap though. On the other side of town, we went for tea & waffles (dessert waffles). Worstest toilet: this tiny space COULD have been used effectively. Instead they placed the toilet paper roll on the wall next to the toilet that was so close to it that in order to get the TP you banged your arm against the big metal cylinder containing the TP like 4 times. Huh? Then when I washed my hands, with soap, but sorry this was still unforgivable, the faucet was wrong for the sink, so I banged my hands against the sink. Grr. And the women's toilet was out of TP, whereas the men's had extra... I stole the extra from the men's. Anyway, frustrating. We laughed.

By the way, don't try to watch "Out of Africa" in a language you don't understand. It makes no sense whatsoever!!!

I Needed That

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I think that's the best way to sum up the past two weeks. I needed that.

Okay, I would have survived, but since I have such a luxury of taking a vacation, I'm glad I was able to because it totally rejuvenated me. It was exciting, fun, relaxing and so very not Israel. People dressed well in a variety of ways. Superficial, I know, but it feels like such a radically high percentage of Israelis dress so poorly, it was nice to see a diversity of clothing styles that weren't offensive. And yes, wearing your clothes 3 sizes to small is offensive to me.

But that's just the beginning. Despite rumors, the food was awesome. Sorry about the people who got bum deals and had bad food - the food we had was great, and we do not lack good food here amongst the diverse peoples found at the Baha'i World Centre.

Plus, we stayed with friends - or friends of a friend who became our friends - the whole time. That rocked. We met tons of wonderful people all the way along. The Baha'i community of Toledo will remain particularly clear in my memory. They were exuberant, cheerful, loving and patient. We had a wonderful holy day celebration with them (the Birth of Baha'u'llah). The children performed a skit, we played games, Mark & presented a slideshow of Haifa and Akka - and we had yummy food from Peru, mmmm. Good stuff.

Then we headed out to the Basque country, which was beautiful (like the rest of Spain) and restful and fun because we were with our friend Krisia. Yay!

I will tell more, I swear, but I have to run to rehearsal.

By the way, I had a life changing experience last night. If I don't write about it eventually, nag me :-)

And Rae, you (and you alone) are allowed to nag me about definitions of success and failure. I have thought about it, though I don't know if I have definite conclusions. I do like some of my thoughts though :-)

And Sjona: I LOVE YOU!!

I'm Going To Spain!

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Woohoo! We leave late Thursday evening (ick) and we'll be there two weeks. We'll be staying with Shannon and her husband (who are very expecting, and for the context of my family: she is the daughter of Judy & Don, pioneers to Uruguay, who know my aunt and uncle. She also served at the BIC in Geneva with Mark.). After visiting Barcelona for a few days, we'll go to Zaragoza - and stay with more friends, and then move on to Bilboa to see KRISIA! Whom we love and adore oodles! We'll stay there about a week before heading south to Toledo. First time in my life I've been excited about heading to Toledo. Okay, second. When I was in ninth grade I went to the University of Toledo (Ohio, USA) for a summer session on film - that was awesome! But Toledo Ohio isn't exactly the most riveting place on the planet, let alone in Ohio. That's beside the point, really, 'cause we're going to Spain!!!


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Today is my brother Mendon's birthday, so to you dear brother: Happy Birthday! :-)

To Nathan, well, I'm sort of jealous of you. I wish I was sick as a dog, like you, then I'd know I could get better. Instead, I've been hovering on the brink of a migraine (except the times I jumped off and drove right in) for the past two weeks. No reason. Just have. And I'm sick of it. It's driving me mad, in more way than one. Now, I know everyone has their theory and their ever-so-helpful advice, but if I can't actually take that advice here, well, I'd prefer you not give it. I find it just makes me even more irritable. I've got migraines and it appears I will simply have to suck it up. Of course, back in the States I'd have been fired from my job by now for missing 2 weeks of work.

Fortunately, I've only missed a few of my rehearsals for my upcoming performance in a Southeast Asian performance evening. I'll be in an Indonesian dance, based upon the Legong dance from Bali. Here's about the best site I can find for it:, if you're interested. I'm really excited about it. I wouldn't have thought I could do it. We perform in a week! (I hope I'm feeling okay that day ... gah!) And now I've been asked to be in a Russian waltz dance in December! This will be at "Sounds of the World" - basically the most spectacular performance evening of the year, where the best of the best perform. At least, that's how it was last year.

In My Absence

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I've been sort of quiet lately. I've had lots to say, but when one does not go to work one generally has no acess to a computer. But here I am, logged in on my dial-up at home.

Last weekend was a super blast. Friday evening we went with some friends to Herzliyya. It's a suburb of Tel-Aviv where many of the diplomat families live (the American school is there...). There are tons of cool restaurants there. Basically the only reason to go there. So, we went to Zozobra, a pan-Asian noodle bar and then --- Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar. Yes, you read that right. A chocolate bar. With unrefined cacao being churned in huge vats and then piped, yes piped, over to where they are serving the chocolate dishes. Oh yes, even this chocolate snob totally loved it! For some pictures, check this out: I'd give you the link outright, but for some reason my ability has been revoked temporarily. Maybe because I'm on a Mac? I don't know...


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I just found out for sure that my parents are going to come visit us in December/January!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! That's soon!!!!!!!

By the way, if you happen to be one of the aforementioned parents coming to visit, permission is being sought.


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I had a really good weekend.

First, I would like to thank my father for getting us the book on massage. Before we left the States we got some lavender essence, and this weekend I got a foot massage & Mark got a back massage. What a difference a little massage can make! Ahhh....

Secondly, we got back to the Shrines, and that's like a massage for the soul. Ahhhh....

Thirdly, Mark and I had rehearsals for the upcoming southeast Asian dance/music night and are getting excited about that. Yay! I'm doing one of the most difficult Indonesian dances from Bali - apparently by the age of 15 girls are forced to 'retire' from the dance. Err? Whatever, it's fun. The really scary part is that you know I don't have rhythm - agh!

Yesterday evening Mark and I went to a dinner for his office. It was a really good time. Afterward we watched Changing Lanes (w/ Samuel Jackson & Ben Affleck). It was really good. All I can say is: don't let Ben scare you off. He performed really well in this movie. Really, I swear. Of course, I think it has pretty much killed Mark's desire to become a lawyer. Not that he was very serious about it, but he's played with the idea for years.

Irritated, Confused...

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First, I would like to say that I am irritated beyond belief with these websites that somehow figure out how to get comments onto my website. Online Texas Holdem? Online Casino? Grr!!! Agh!! Not only that, but they've started putting "viable" comments. And today, I found one that was sexist! And I have no one to STRANGLE!!! So not fair. So, needless to say, I'm irritated.

Inner Me

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It's for me to doing some ruminating.

Actually, I do it a lot. You just don't always see it, but it's 9:30 on a Friday night and Mark has some work to do, so I'm here at the computer with some free time. Of course, now he's done... so I'll do it later.

Ode to Sjona

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This is Sjona (and me).

Sjona is the Spanish Translator for the Universal House of Justice (my employer as well).

Today is Sjona's last day at work.

I am going to miss her very, very, very, very much. Mucho...

I Just Have a Few Minutes

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So, just some random thoughts :-)

I love my job. Yay. Just thought I'd share.

I think I broke one of the washing machines. I put my backpack in it & I broke the water dispenser. It still works, but now it can move - not good. Oops. Not to worry - 'they' know about it.

Saturday we are hosting a BBQ for Mark's orientation group. It's been 9 months. He's calling it the "We've Been Here Long Enough to Have a Baby" party. Hmm... no idea where his mind is....

Okay, ciao - off to lunch! Today I get an hour and a half lunch instead of an hour - yippee!


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This is what Violetta looks like. It's out of focus [yes, one of my photo class pics], but it's her. Not me :-)

Mara is an Abandonned Child


Not to worry. That's what it means to the Sarha tribe in Chad. When a family abandons a child, the child will say "mara", which means "where will I go now?"

Sad, eh?

But then, who isn't in the process of asking that question?

I Met John Leonard


Yes, you read that right.

I met John Leonard.

Who is John Leonard? Well, he happens to be the Knight of Baha'u'llah for the Falkland Islands, which, in brief, means he was the first Baha'i to have gone to the Falkland Islands.

I was born in the Falkland Islands.


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Okay, so an explanation. I volunteered myself to teach a laundry class. I approached the Youth Committee after seeing one of the youth completely destroy a load of laundry by mixing a new tie-dyed dress (brown/green/yellow) with her towel, sheets, shirts, etc. Everything was brown & green. GROSS!!!

I know I'm no expert, but I do know how to wash my laundry and manage to not ruin most of my clothes. Many of the youth who arrive here either have never had to do their laundry, or they come from a place where a washing machine is a major luxury. I've had all sorts of responses here about it. Some people think it's absurd (all westerners), but most people think it's a great idea. As for the westerners, I used to regularly teach my fellow college students how to do laundry, so I don't know why they think this is such a universal thing.

Good and Busy


Things are so, so, so busy and so, so, so exciting right now.

I am finally in a photo class. I can now pick up our camera without having spasms. I won't be able to attend all of the classes because of some of my other busy-ness, but this is very empowering for me.

Some consultants are coming soon for whom I will be translating (so is V :-)), and I am majorly excited (and nervous) about this. This is one of those occasions that in the outside world would be referred to as an opportunity for advancement in my field. I feel myself slowly making steps towards translation becoming a part of my life past my service at the World Centre. This is definitely a step in that direction.


We've been hanging out recently with the Twaddells and Malakootis and it has been so much fun to see friends from home.

It's also been a nice, reassuring reminder that home still exists and my family hasn't just floated into cyberspace to chat with me on our blogs on occasion.

Tomorrow we're going to host a brunch with them all and Quddus Nasseri, who also serves here, and with whom, it turns out, I drew on my parents' walls with BIC pens when we were itty-bitty. I don't know, but I think my Maman might just have a wee grudge still about that :-)

Mark, by the way, swears he never did that as a child. Anyone know otherwise? :-)

A Quick Thought or Two


I am happy.

And oh-so-busy. None of the other French translators are around this week and boy do I feel it!! Though I do love that I get to do nothing but translate for a few days! :-)

Gotta' run.

Insects, Landscaping, and Thought


Sometimes I feel very conflicted. I'm here, in the Holy Land, at the Baha'i World Centre ... and I don't seem to have the time to do anything meaningful outside of work because I'm so busy just trying to live - kill ants & tarantulas, make sure our neighbor isn't encroaching on our property, mopping the floors [of all the house work, I dislike that the most!! Darn Swiffers really spoiled me!], etc.

Kibbles and Bits and Bits and Bits


First off, we have a new camera (though I've only taken 4 pictures on it, compared to Mark's 400), but anyway, for all who'd like to check out pictures of our visit to Scotland, as well as Haifa, he has a gallery here.

I've been reading quite a bit lately. Nothing profound, of course. It's been wonderful not to have to read something that was assigned to me! Plus, good, English-language novels aren't exactly falling off trees here, so when I got my hands on some, I devoured them. Yummy. :-)

And yes, this is a cry for good books, namely fiction.

A Brief Summary


I realize my descriptions have been fairly thin of recent events, so:


Scotland was a wonderful little getaway from Israel - especially as the weather is getting hot and dirty. Yes, dirty, but that's beside the point.

We got in Thursday evening (Friday morning?), and thankfully Nathan met us at the airport. After travelling for quite some time I really didn't feel like trying to figure out where to get money and how to get a taxi to his place. Thanks again, Nae. During our whole stay not once did we leave the house before noon. However, we did do plenty.

On Friday, since Nathan was working and had no desire to visit the castle, Mark and I wound our way up to the castle, looked around, Mark took some pictures and then when it got so cold that even being inside didn't really warm us back up, we headed back down. Friday was the only day it was really cold and bleary. There was a mist up in the castle - we could literally see it moving in front of us - cool, but cold! There was a couple getting married while we were there and I felt so bad for the poor woman - freezing! So, anyway, we headed back down the hill, had some great tea, coffee and sweets and headed back to Nathan's place.

That evening he took us out to Rogue - and the food, of course, was scrumptious. Ahhh ... there just aren't restaurants that good (that I have access to) in Israel. Yum. And the place was cool - a seamless wall led to the bathrooms. It took me a minute to figure out where the door to the toilet was! I felt like I was in a James Bond film or something.

I'm Baaaack!

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We're back from Scotland - which was a total blast. It was so nice to relax, not work, and just have fun for a few days.

It was also so great, wonderful and beautiful to be in a city surrounded by green hills. It was very refreshing.

Now I'm back in Israel and busier than ever. Partly because I missed two very busy days at work. One of the other French translator's was out translating for pilgrims, so that left one poor, inundated French translator left to do it all! As soon as she saw me she got up, gave me a big hug, and said "Am I glad to see you!" Always nice to feel appreciated :-)

Journey Not In Israel


That's not a directive, just that right now I am travelling outside of Israel.

And it feels so good.

We didn't have the greatest flight from Tel-Aviv to Frankfurt (some of the most self-absorbed, bratty, catty women I have ever met were sitting in front of us), but then, who does have good flights? From Frankfurt to Edinburgh we flew with the 2004 Brandenburg Women's Soccer (sorry, 'football') team - that was pretty cool to see. (a lot of blond women!)



I keep going to other people's blogs and wondering why they haven't written in them lately... hmm... so I guess I better update mine!

In Israel, Memorial Day and Independence Day fall on consecutive days, and they just occurred. They were supposed to be on Sunday and Monday, but because Sunday is the day after sabbath/shabat ... they made them Monday and Tuesday. I don't quite understand that, but then I haven't exactly asked anyone about it either (see title of blog entry!). Anyway, that meant that the first holiday started on Sunday after sunset, which randomly coincided with me and Mark having no desire to cook or eat the food in our house ... the ONE day we want to order a pizza and nothing is open, hahahahaha! Back to spaghetti!

We did have front row seats (our great location and wonderful windows out to the bay) for a spectacular fireworks display, though. Since we're in the middle of the mountain, it was perfect. Of course, we'd closed the blinds and were watching a movie (Miller's Crossing - a Coens brother 'gangster' movie - plenty of similar sounds coming from the movie...).

I've had bad nights before. We all have, right?

Few nights, however, are so bad that ... well, I'll let you judge for yourself.

There was a lot of carnage last Thursday evening. Now remember this was the beginning of my weekend. And it was supposed to be a pretty good start at that. The French Speakers' Group had organized a talk with one of the members of the International Teaching Center, Joany Lincoln - a very cool woman, in my humble opinion. She and her family lived a number of years in French-speaking Africa before she was appointed to the International Teaching Centre here in Israel. She recently spent two weeks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is one of those French-speaking African countries (formerly Zaire). And the plan was for her to talk about her trip.

Cost of Living


Now, granted, I don't have to pay for a number of things usually associated with cost of living expenses (but then, I also don't exactly receive a salary, either).

However, I would like to see a show of hands of all the people who think US$20 is NORMAL for a bottle of contact lens solution. Now, I am talking normal, run of the mill, not even Bausch & Lomb brand contact lens solution. I think in the States I normally paid $7 for a bottle.

Whoever thinks that living here is cheap - think again. Even for those of you who are coming here on pilgrimage ... start saving your pennies, this place ain't cheap. Of course, you can find things for cheap ... but then, they're cheap.

Random Tandem


I just found out that the French aunt with whom I am in contact (for the first time in 27 years)... her husband will be going to visit Iran. Pleasure trip. My mother said "wow, foreign concept." That's putting it lightly. I may never be able to go in my life time! Uh, now, why would I want to go? Well, that's where the Baha'i Faith started. And, once upon a time, there were Baha'i holy places there - though most have now been desecrated and demolished by the State, including homes, temples, and cemeteries. Yup, cemeteries - bulldozed and replaced with a parking lot... Not a very nice thing to do.


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Want to know what I'm thinking? Me too...


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It's been a while, eh? I know, I know... and I need to perk it back up again, no?

Well, my mother is off to Mexico for two weeks and I am thrilled to bits for her. I really can't wait to hear about her experience. I realize now that she went last year and I never got to hear about it. We were busy selling our house and getting out of the country ourselves.

It looks like Mark and I are going to take a brief trip to Scotland in April to visit my brother, Nathan. I can't WAIT to get out of here for a while and just hang out in Edinburgh - a city I fell in love with the last time I was there!

Day Number 1


It is the first day of the Fast. 3:23 in the afternoon (duh)

2 hours and 15 minutes to go... actually, it's not so bad. As usual, we get all het up about it - dreading it (at least to a certain to degree: "how will I make it through?"), and then, well, you just do. It would be better if my throat wasn't sore, but I'm told I don't have strep - what can you do? Gargle, gargle, gargle.



It's stressful just to come up with the title sometimes, you know?

Anyhow, life is a bit busy at the moment. We just had a long weekend. Sunday and Monday were each a holy day, the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha'u'llah, respectively, as celebrated according to the lunar calendar - whereas most other places in the world celebrate them according to the solar calendar.

Rock My World


Sorry, I know it's lame, but I couldn't resist...

We had an 'earthquake' here a few hours ago, which I'm sure you can find on the news, and it will sound much more exciting because they will sensationalize it. It's funny because the first reports called it a "minor earth tremor". Of course, it did register 4.5 on the Richter scale.

So Many Things!

This week has just flown by! I've had a lot of fun ... and, oh! so many things!

First: an update on the art show. It was amazing. We got some very yummy foods from the bake sale for people back home (therefore I cannot reveal what they are :-)!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bars

Please note that this recipe is from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook ... and it's very yummy!

And yes, Maman, I would love an oven thermometer. My basic solution was to turn the oven down and bake it for about 40 minutes instead of 25. Of course, I would prefer to bake it at the correct temperature ...


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

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

Settling In


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

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

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

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

Catching Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whose life isn't hectic?

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Well, I apologize to everyone for not writing personally to you all. It has been fairly hectic lately. I've been working on a translation this week that probably qualifies as my first real professional translation - somewhat more academic than I'm used to seeing. It was a challenge (and I still need to proofread it), but I enjoyed it and besides, it's makes it all that more satisfying to see the accomplished work.

Also, the woman I am replacing will be leaving soon. Thankfully, I came early enough to get a very thorough training from her, but I will still really miss her when she leaves. Mark and I are hosting her going-away dinner this Friday. Then Saturday morning is a breakfast for some visiting friends, and Saturday night is a "French Speakers" dinner... Plus, in 3 weeks we're moving - ahhh!

Mark got his first haircut here last weekend - we found this little place [in the "Hadar"] and this guy was a real work of art. First his apprentice made a feeble attempt at cutting Mark's hair. When the barber was done with his other customer, he came over to Mark, shaved a bit of the bottom, then cut some more of the top, then shaved a bit more off the bottom, then cut a bit more off the top... and whenever he had the scissors in his hand they were moving - like Edward Scissorhands or something, continuously snipping - even if they weren't actually cutting any hair! It was very entertaining, and he actually got a pretty good haircut, too.

We have just kicked-off what is called the "Extra Year of Service", where we volunteer in offices/departments other than our own, in our off time. Then, in February all of the hours are compiled and given as a gift to the Universal House of Justice [for whom we work] as an Ayyam'i'ha gift. Mark and I are volunteering in the Archives. It'll be fairly routine work, but then the Archives is an exciting place to be. And besides, once we move we will be about 3 minutes from the Archives Building! :-) so much for purity of motive...

I would like to make a request: I have my recipe box here, but none of my cookbooks. I do go on the internet for recipes from time to time, but I'd love to get recipes from you, too! I am especially looking for ways to make tofu yummy (please, no dissertations on the impossibility of this task!), vegetable casseroles, and especially heart-healthy dishes, especially desserts. Mark and I both need to make an effort to keep our hearts happy. Anyone have a recipe for Indian Satay w/ tofu? I had one in my 1,001 (low-fat?) Vegetarian Recipes cookbook that we loved. Also, as "winter" descends on us, I'd love bread/biscuit recipes.

Well, my dear ones, you are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. Please, please remind your children that we love and miss them. Take care of yourselves and have a wonderful week as you gear up for the Christmas holidays. I've been surprised to see as many Christmas trees as I have here - not a ton, but you do see them here! And Happy Birthday to Trang!

Our Israeli Thanksgiving



Just an update on life

It's been about a week since I last wrote, so... I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We had a nice Thanksgiving with some friends on Friday, as Thursday evening was a Baha'i holy day. It was nice to have something familiar - including the food, though we missed our family. However, we did buy some beautiful pottery made my our host's mother!

Things are a bit hectic, somber ... different... here as one of the Hand's of the Cause, Mr. Furutan, passed away last Wednesday. For those of you who are not familiar with that term, he was one of the few remaining people who had done an enormous amount of work to bring the Baha'i Faith to the world when it was still unknown to most of the world. He was 98. In any case, hopefully this will be our one and only funeral while in Israel.

We took a bit of a walk through Haifa this weekend trying to find the main post office - oops! the lady told us 18 instead of 19 Palyam Street, oh well. We found an awesome bead shop - yay!, yummy ice cream, and had some great pizza on the way home.

We'll be moving in a few weeks, at the end of December, so if you don't hear from us for a bit - don't despair!

Mara at Caesarea

Mark at Caeserea

Mara & friends at a dinner

Mara Sisay Mom  Lindsay.jpg

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So, here I am, in my new home - Israel... at least for the next two years. My hubby has just joined me - yay!

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