Saturday, December 30, 2006



For weeks and weeks into the winter we had warm weather - not that it was officially winter according to the calendar - and then...SNOW. Snow in December? It usually snows- when we do have snow - in February or March - but December? And on the day that my friend Riva's granddaughter is to be married? And with the need to drive down hills and up hills in a country where the drivers don't have the first clue about how to drive in snow? Feh! Fie!

I was absolutely not about to take my car
- but my friend Joey's driver was going to take both of us. So there we were - all dressed up and no place to go - because Sharif couldn't even get up the hill from Joey's house to my house - and of course there was no way we could get to the wedding. Even taxi drivers refused the trip. And it was one of those times that I looked terriffic - hair and makeup perfect - a lovely dress - broke out the jewelery and all - and so we - and a lot of other guests - stayed home and wished the bridal couple well in absentia.

The next morning I laughed and laughed at myself. There I was - in the middle of what everyone always thinks of as the warm and sunny Middle-East - dressed in my waterproof Timberland boots - a big puffy "dubon" (anorak) - fleece-lined gloves - trying to get the mountains of snow off my car so I could go out and do my errands. I'll try to think of that when summer comes and I am melting!

One more day and 2006 will be finished. It's been a good year - and a horrible year - and I'll be glad to see it go. I had some wonderful times - and some terrible times. But - my friends and I will see the old year out and the New Year in - in style. Joey is throwing a New Year's Eve (here we call it Sylvester) party and I'm having a dinner on New Year's Day. And what would my life be without cooking?

He has a fabulous menu planned - but called the other day with - "Rena - HELP". He doesn't know what do about the potatoes. Goodskeit that I am I offered to make the potatoes - mashed potatoes with schmaltz (faux - ask and I'll give you the recipe) and fried onions and baked in the oven - DELICIOUS - and what I was going to make for my dinner party on Sunday anyway. 18 people? Sure! Well - the 18 people have become 30 people - plus my twelve - that's a lotta potatoes. And somehow I think I'd better make more - just in case.

So now - I'm off to begin my cooking - I can do the ice-cream cake now (parve and also delicious) and also the pate. And tomorrow I have got to get these potatoes out of my kitchen - my counter looks like the invasion of the Potato People.

2007 will begin well - let's hope it goes well for the rest of the year...and to all of you - a very happy, healthy year filled with all that you wish for yourselves.

Stay Safe.


Friday, December 22, 2006



Once again, the dog ate my homework!! I know you will hardly believe this - really, have I ever been known to lie to you? - but my computer did its own thing - yet again.

- Whoever says that computers don't "think" - doesn't know what he is talking about. My computer knows - knows - when my CM (Computer Mumche) is out of the country or is otherwise engaged - and promptly proceeds to go crazy. So - last week when I tried to write my blog - I discovered that none of my passwords - "passed" - so to speak. I tried every word I might conceivably have used - no go. I called my CM - got voice mail. I SKYPED - no answer. Couldn't send an email - no email. So I called Marallyn - and she emailed my CM - only to find that he was in Switzerland!! How did my computer know that?

So as you can see dear readers - my CM returned - I'm back on line - and writing my blog.

- If it ain't broke don't fix it....I always say. I was perfectly happy writing my blog on my original blog site. It worked for me. Then the ubiquitous "they" decided to upgrade the blog site to Beta - whatever that means. My CM said - go ahead - upgrade. So I upgraded. Then - unbeknownst to any of us because the "they" didn't bother to tell us - "they" decided to "up-upgrade" (is that a word?). When I opened my site today "they" welcomed me to the new new Beta. Nice - huh?

- When my newspapers come on Fridays I always check to see what time Shabbat comes in so I know when to light my candles. (How many of your local papers tell you when to light your candles? On the front page, noch.) Today candlelighting time is 4:00 PM - and although you can't prove it by me as our winter has hardly begun - the days are already getting longer. How do I know? Last Friday we had to light our candles at 3:57 PM.

- You never know where help will turn up. When I complained about not being able to find the proper bulbs for my chandelier - my friend, Eugenia, in Florida - wrote to me and offered to help get the bulbs. Will she succeed? Will the company be nicer to her than they were to me? Stay tuned for further developments.

Shabbat Shalom. Stay Safe.


Thursday, December 14, 2006



...or "al ta'am v'rayach ain leheetvakayach" - which simply means to each his own - or tastes differ.

Today I called my friend, Myra, and when she answered the phone she said "a million dollars" - which means that she was just going to call me. Why? She opened her refrigerator door and saw two fish heads smiling at her and she knew she had to bring them to me.

She made gefilte fish for the Hanukkah party she is throwing on Saturday - yes, I'm invited - and she used the heads and bones to make the "rotev" - what the Ashkenazim call "yoich" or broth. She ate all the fish from the bones - cook's "tchupar" (treat) - and she saved the heads for me! What a treat indeed. [My mother, my grandmother and I used to fight over the heads so my mom always had to be sure to make gefilte fish using at least three heads.] And that is what I had for dinner this evening - two absolutely delicious fish heads.

As Ilanit says - funny people eat funny food. I wonder whether she means funny "ha ha" or funny "peculiar".

I think I've always had strange tastes in food (pun). Maybe it's because I grew up in a very European household where there wasn't lots of money - we never starved, mind you, and there was plenty of money for music lessons and drama lessons and dancing lessons and going out to dinner on Sunday evening - and so we ate foods at home that were delicious but not very expensive. We never had standing rib roasts or rack of lamb. No - we had things like fried brains, and chicken fricasee made with the necks and gizzaards and hearts and feet. Not drumsticks - feet - those things the chicken walks on.

And what else? Lungen stew - a goulash made with a "shlung" - the heart and lungs and "miltz"(spleen) of the cow - and we ate skirt steak - very cheap then and today very "in" - and still my favorite steak - and tongue - and sweetbreads - and stuffed cabbage (made the meat go further). And my Dad - the feinschmecker - taught me to eat raw oysters and frogs legs.

And shredded black radish mixed with "shmaltz" (rendered chicken fat) and coarse salt and spread on Jewish corn bread (sort of a heavy rye bread) - and to this day I like anything made with ground beef.

And good thick hearty soups. And pot roast and kasha varnishkas. And I'm getting hungry - and nostalgic - just talking about the foods of my childhood.

As I said - "al ta'am v'rayach......"

Stay Safe.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006



About four years ago my friend, Myra, called me one day. "Do you want to go to India?" she asked. "Sure", I replied. I mean - what do you say to a friend when she asks you if you want to do something? "Do you want to go for a coffee?" Do you want to go out for dinner?" Do you want to go to the films?" I don't know about you, but if I'm free I say yes.

Well, I looked at my "yoman" (daily diary), saw I was free and said a resounding yes. And so that April Myra, her husband, Arnon, and I went off to India. We had a marvelous time. Her cousin, Guy, was just finishing his tour of duty in the Diplomatic Service of Australia - so we were royally hosted in Mumbai - complete with driver - and car with diplomatic plates so that we could park where ever we wanted to in a city that has almost no parking places let alone places for the people. Then we went on a tour of some of India - only some as India is enormous and you can't manage to see it all in one go.

A year later I was on a long trip and found myself - once again - in India - although only for a few days that time. And last year Myra and Arnon and I decided that as we hadn't been to the South of India it was time to do that....along the way meeting up with their son, Barak, who was doing the usual Israeli backpacking through India.

As time went on our friends said to us that as we seemed to be old hands at the India thing - and as we had such marvelous stories to tell - and as we had such good times - they wanted to go along with us the next time.

So - this coming February is "next time". But this time we're doing it a bit differently. Arnon is staying behind and Myra and I are leading a group of eight women - count 'em, eight - to India. Each of us knew some of the women but all of us didn't know everyone. Which led to meetings to see if the "chemistry" was right. And after we all put our cards on the table - so to speak - I think we have a group. A group of highly educated women - well travelled - at least bi-lingual in Hebrew and English - and excited about our trip.

We are comprised - as far as I know at the moment - of native-born Israelis, one Russian-born living here since childhood, one American-born and one Canadian-born. A typical "Israeli" mix.

I have absolutely no idea how this will work out - but I have high hopes. As one of the women said - either we will hate each other at the end or will want to travel together again. And in the meantime - we have other friends who want to go with us to India -- soooo - if this works out we just may do it again. But - first things first. Stay tuned,

and Stay Safe


Friday, December 08, 2006



Sometimes people - or businesses - do something so wonderfully unexpected that you are taken aback. Let me tell you about two experiences I just had - one terrific and one - well, not so terrific.

I have a beautiful Baccarat chandelier which hangs in my bedroom. When I installed it about eight years ago it was possible to buy bulbs for it in Jerusalem. But - as so often happens here - with time the product you were so happy with disappears from the market. I bought lots of extra bulbs; however , with the passage of time, I am left with only the six bulbs in the light fixture. What do do?

As I still had the box from the last bulb I went into the trusty internet, found the manufacturer and the address in New Jersey, and wrote to them explaining my problem in finding the bulbs and asking if they would ship me at least a dozen - I would pay,"kamuvan" (of course), for the bulbs and any shipping and handling charges. An American company, mind you, where you would expect courteous and prompt service. Not at all. Have you heard from them? Neither have I. One would expect such a large company - for they seem to be quite large - to have an active Customer Service Department - to whom I addressed my letter.

Shame on you BULBRITE in Moonachie, New Jersey. Not even a reply to say you couldn't - or wouldn't - sell retail - not even a reply to tell me where I might find the bulbs - not even nothing. No answer - zilch - nada.

But - all is not lost. My friend, Roz, is going back to South Africa in January and she will look for the bulbs for me. Can't ask anyone in the States for help as these are 220v bulbs and the States uses 120v. If anyone in Israel is reading this and knows a specialty bulb store - anywhere in Israel - after all, I now have my new GPS and can find my way around - please let me know....then I won't have to bother Roz.

And here in Israel - where we are definitely not known for any kind of "service with a smile" - I had the most wonderful experience. I had to pinch myself to believe it was really happening.

I was sent an enormous bouquet of roses as a gift - two dozen of the most gorgeous roses I have ever seen, from one of the most expensive florists in the city. Within one day they died. I certainly wasn't going to call the friend who sent them to me - he would have been mortified. Again - what to do?

After much thought and discussion with my "parliament" - the group of friends who discuss everything - well, not everything but you know what I mean - I stopped in at the store and told the owner what happened. She was horrified and insisted on preparing for me the largest bouquet imaginable. She felt terrible - and I felt even worse for making her feel so bad. I explained that I didn't wanted anything from her - I just thought she should know what happened to her flowers - after all, she has a reputation to maintain. No, no, no - she thanked me for telling her - she said that is the only way she knows what is going on with the flowers she sells....and insisted I take the bouquet.

Which is why I am giving a great big rave to ORCHIDEA Florists in the Kanion Wolfson. She could not have been more gracious - and that was before we discovered that she was a neighbor of my friend, Marallyn! Jewish geography, you know.

As I always say - one of the things I love about living here is that everyone knows everyone else.

One request to my readers who do not already do so - please post any comments you may want to make regarding my Blog directly to my Blogsite. Just go to the end of the Blog - click on "comments" - and write in the little window that pops up. Don't send them to my email. I haven't yet figured out how to transfer the "comments" from the email to the Blog.

Stay Safe.


Monday, December 04, 2006


Now I THINK I'm Found

For all of you who have been wondering what happened with my new GPS thingie - tonight was the night guys.

Ilan - the man who was promised to me by the shop where I bought the GPS - called me at about five o'clock to ask if I were available for my lesson in operating the GPS. After many tries to get together - today worked for both of us - and so I had my lesson - which lasted for almost two-and-one-half-hours! And he said it would only take about ten minutes - which just goes to show that he didn't know me at all. Actually - anyone who knows me knows that I can't say "hello" in under half an hour. So - ten minutes to master something technological? No way, Jose.

Let me tell you - it ain't all that easy. But - it ain't all that difficult either. After not understanding a single thing for the first hour I said - "Go step by step and I'll write it down". That's how I learned to use my computer, by the way. Do you know those books "something something for DUMMIES"? I wrote my own - and it really is for dummies. In fact, someone once told me I could get my credit card information on-line. Just type in "" - and it's all there on the screen. I typed it in - literally thirteen times - and nothing happened. Absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g. And so I gave up and called AmEx on the phone. Sometime later I was telling my brother about it and he said "Did you press ENTER?" Press ENTER? No one told me to press ENTER. You see - if you don't tell me every little step - I don't know what to do. Anyway - how cleverly is a computer designed if you have to click START to turn it OFF? I rest my case.

But - I digress. The GPS has to "see the sky" I was told - and there we were sitting in the house - no sky. So - I opened the front windows and we hung out of the window while I had my lesson. It's cold this evening - but there were these two idiots hanging out of the window having a lesson. Weird.

Did you know that if you are in another city and you want to go home you press "HOME" and the GPS knows just where you are in the other city and - assuming you have your home address in the GPS - it will get you home from anywhere in the country? How fabulous is that? In theory - I'll never get lost again. In practice - I'll let you know - if I ever get home from - wherever.

But just in case - I have Ilan's cell phone number - just in case.

Stay Safe.


Sunday, December 03, 2006



I have really been trying to stick to my diet - I promise you - I really have. Even yesterday, when some friends and I went to a concert at the Dormition Abbey and there was that ever-present Arab selling Arab Bagelach (than which, I promise you, there is no better smell and taste) - I just drank my water and sucked on my sugarless candies. Booor-ing! But I felt so virtuous - and thin.

So today - not only was I dieting - I was also working at my desk trying to clean up all my paperwork (I tell you - my papers have babies even while I sleep - sort of like wire hangers which seem to proliferate in the clothes closets overnight). My phone rang. My friend, Joey. "Do you want to go out to lunch?" "No" I said - "I'm doing my paperwork" - feeling very virtuous yet again. "OK - I'm bringing lunch to you - I found us a great treat."

And a short time later my doorbell rang. "Meals on Wheels" announced Joey. And then we went to town. Joey and I both keep kosher - at home. There was a time when we didn't keep kosher - so we know what non-kosher tastes like. Well - I still know what real non-kosher tastes like as I eat all kinds of "treyf" outside (things like bacon and prosciutto and shellfish). Joey doesn't.

So what did he bring for lunch? Kosher bacon. It's really veal - but - I swear - it tastes like bacon. We never even bothered to sit at the table. We just scarfed down bacon and mayonnaise sandwiches while standing over the sink. Not even with lettuce and tomato. And Joey - what a goyishe thing to do - he brought a loaf of white bread which he didn't even toast! I, of course, was semi-good and ate my sandwiches on seven-grain "leham kal" (diet bread). Toasted.

I'll tell you the truth - it was as good as any meal we eat at the fanciest restaurants around. And - there went the diet - again.

Stay Safe.

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