Tuesday, February 28, 2006


This is my boss while I am in Tel Aviv. So cute!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom's birthday was the other day. She got a special call all the way from Israel! Happy! Happy!

Not in Kansas Anymore

I'm in the big city of Tel Aviv for the next several days house and dog sitting. Y will be hanging out in JerusaLAME and joining me from time to time here.

Anyway, I just stopped by a little super market to pick up some basics - cereal for breakfast etc. When I went to check out, you'll never guess what happened - you Israelis are in for a shock - the clerk BAGGED MY GROCERIES! That hasn't happened since I lived in the US. I am ready to move to TA!

Check out these links for more info on Tel Aviv:

Read about Adam's recent trip to Tel Aviv here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sad News About My Dorm

For three years I lived at 119 Stacy Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I loved my time there. It was a coveted North Campus room - with air conditioning! Stacy is a small all-male dorm. Only 93 guys lived there. So we kind of got to know each other - especially the guys on your floor. It's super convenient to class but situated among the tall trees that make Chapel Hill so beautiful.

This is a picture of Stacy Hall form the side. I lived in a room on the first floor to the left of the white door.

A couple of days ago a Stacy resident died from a fall from a third story hall window.
Another student also fell. They were just horsing around. Apparently, no alcohol or drugs were involved. It makes me sad to think that a place where I had so much fun could also be a place of tragedy and grief for others.

Here's a picture of Stacy from the UNC Housing Dept. website. Summer in Chapel Hill...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Today in the Park

Y and I went to a nearby park to hang out a little this afternoon. The daylight is getting longer and the sun's rays are getting stronger. It's beginning to look like spring in Jerusalem!

Here cyclamen flowers are growing out of a rock wall in the park. Cyclamen is blooming all over Jerusalem right now. They come in many different colors. I had only seen them as a houseplant in the US but here they grow outside. The Hebrew name is rekefet.

Can you see my cute shadow in the photo?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In My Neighborhood (part 3): The Owl Edition

We have owls living near our house. Just once, I actually saw an owl swoop over the street in the orange light of the streetlamp. However, owls are very Israeli and they leave other evidence of where they've been all over the place. This evidence is in the form of owl pellets. Owl pellets are compacted indigestible material that an owl regurgitates. They're composed of things like the teeth, skulls, claws, and feathers of the animals the owl has eaten. They give clues to the diet of the owl. (You can read a great article about owl pellets by following this link.)

You should have seen me when I first saw these pellets. I am just fascinated by nature in the city. Y and I were walking and I made him stop and check out the pellets with me. He had never seen one before. We took a minute and pulled one apart and found big rodent teeth and a skull. Cool!

There are two pellets here. One is brownish and left of center and the other is grey with white bones in it.

Here are some small bones (the white pieces) next to a fence post. The winter rains washed away the other part of the pellet.

Here are two pellets by another fence post. You can also see some white bones sticking out of these pellets.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More Goats

Y and I got to hang out with more goats during a recent walk near the Old City. You can click on the images to enlarge them.

These pictures were expensive. I took a couple of shots and the shepard came over with his hand open asking for money. I said, "No, no, no!" He kept asking so finally Y gave him 20 nis - about $5.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jerusalem Morning

Well, it's about 8:30am over here in the holy city. I've been up for about 40 minutes. I no longer need an alarm clock to wake me - my bladder does that job now. I hope that this isn't foreshadowing.

The sun is coming in strong through our white translucent curtains. It makes me want to be a cat and find a warm spot on the floor to take in all of the sunshine. There are birds chirping outside - doves cooing too. My upstairs neighbor has been washing this morning. I know because I heard her string the damp, clean laundry on the line. Her line stretches all along the side of the building. She clips her sheets and undies on the line and the hoists them across our Jerusalem stone building like a perverted sail. I can see the toes of her pantyhose dangling outside the window above my kitchen sink. The pulley squeaks and cries as she tugs on the line. It's her Shabbat morning protest.

It's been a busy week. I've volunteered at the Rockefeller Museum. I've had my therapy session, pilates class, and yoga class. I met with friends for ice cream. I got a hair cut that isn't short enough on top. I've been to a dinner party. I had dinner at a new-to-me cafe. I've worked out my chest and legs. I read lots of blogs and newspapers. Haven't finished Money.

Well, time to eat something.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vice President Shoots Man

God, what a great headline - and it's true. You've probably all heard this story by now. Here are some yucks courtesy of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS:

"You can understand why this lawyer fellow let his guard down, because if you're out hunting with a politician, you think, 'If I'm going to get it, it's going to be in the back.' "

"The big scandal apparently is that they didn't release the news for 18 hours. I don't think that's a scandal at all. I'm quite pleased about that. Finally there's a secret the vice president's office can keep."

"Apparently the reason they didn't release the information right away is they said we had to get the facts right. That's never stopped them in the past."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Equal Opportunity Eaters

Y found this cucumber in the shuk this weekend. It's two cucumbers that grew together and it kind of freaks me out.

Being a good lawyer, he made a good non-discrimination case against this poor, weird cucumber. We still haven't eaten it though - or if it has made it's way into a salad I don't know about it. I prefer it that way.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Operation: Cooperation

Y and I took a walk in and around the Old City today. On our way back home we saw this in a park just outside of the Old City walls:

Here two guys are helping each other spread out their homemade Danish flag. Another guy is taking a leak - very Israeli!

Here they've spread it out carefully. They're applying white tape stripes to red fabric to make their flag.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Eat Dirt

Yesterday we had our end-of-the-semester party for ulpan or Hebrew class. We all met at the Jerusalem City Hall and soon we were on our way to a Benetictine nunnery. One of the students in my class this semester is a nun in a convent on the Mount of Olives. We had our party there!

It's a small convent. There are only 11 sisters there. They all do the typical nun-ish things. Their life is a cycle of work and prayer. They all look very happy and healthy though. It's a sweet, clean and neat place. The convent is built of Jerusalem stone and is surrounded by high rock walls. The atmosphere is that of a fortress - but with a sweet, kind center.

Our host told us that they don't have a TV, although the superior listens to the radio every morning and passes along news announcements. There is a nun affiliated with the convent that lives down the street and she has a TV. When the Pope makes a public address, they are allowed to go watch it on TV. They can talk to their families by phone during their limited free time. They even have internet access with a video chat set up!

Here are a couple of pictures from their roof-top patio. It was so cold and windy out here. One of my classmates, noticing the kite action of the nun's habit, commented on the inspriation for The Flying Nun.

You can see the Dome of the Rock and the Old City walls.

I panned to the right and got a view of the "Golden Gate" and the graves surrounding it.

I moved to the left and took a picture of the promenade where I was the day before. It's the green space on the upper left of the hills.

We got to take a tour of the chapel too. It was neat as a pin. There were huge icon paintings on the walls. I felt like it would have been impolite to take photos inside of the church - so just use your imagination. The nun that was in our class is a painter and one of her works hangs in the chapel. It's amazing! It's about the size of a car in and looks like a classic icon - lots of gold and jewel tone colors. To the left of her painting hangs one that depicts all of Jerusalem. There are images of the various places of worship in Jerusalem - mosques, a synagogue, and churches. Surrounding them are the people of Jerusalem - even a guy wearing a kippa! It was exciting to see this pluralism in this church.

At noon, the nuns gather for prayer. A nun walked into the chapel and began ringing the bell to call the others to prayer. At the same time, a mosque nearby also began their call to prayer.

It was a really windy day and shortly after we left the convent, the sky turned a reddish-brown color and was filled with dirt/dust. It was gross - hard to breathe and see. My hair was covered with dust, my eyes were scratchy, and you could even taste the dirt in your mouth. I tried to take pictures of it, but it just looked like dusk.

The wind storm lasted all night and this morning I awoke to the sound of chain saws. I threw on some sweats and headed out to see what was going on.

Down the street a tree had fallen in the storm.

And dirt covered anything that was outside. Now, we need some rain to wash this all away.

More Tayelet Photos

I promise that this blog won't become like flipping through someone's photo album after their trip to wherever. But there have been several special requests from my dear readers for more photos...and I am happy to oblige.

This is a photo from the tayelet of west Jerusalem. This is the "new city" and downtown. These are predominately Jewish neighborhoods. If you use your imagination and pan with the camera to the right, the Old City is just cut off of the picture. I live near between the tallish building on the far left and the wide, tall building in the center-left of the photo. Click on the image to enlarge. See, Jerusalem isn't just old stuff. Jerusalem also sprawls out over the hillsides to the west from this photo. All of those suburbs are hidden by the hill.

This is a blooming almond tree. It's just on the other side of the wall of the old Jerusalem Leper Hospital. The almond trees are the first to bloom. They're blooming a little early this year though...but definitely a sign that spring is around the corner.

Here's an almond from last year on the sidewalk under the tree.

Lots of little pine cone-ish things. Some botanist please write me and tell me the correct name for this seed distribution device.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pride Parade Stabber Gets 12 Years

From the Jerusalem Post:

An Israeli man who stabbed three participants in last year's annual Jerusalem gay pride parade was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison by the Jerusalem District Court.

Yishai Schlissel, 30, of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Sefer, was convicted of attempted murder last month for stabbing and lightly to moderately wounding the three revelers with a knife during a boisterous haredi protest against the central Jerusalem parade.

Related posts: Pride Parade Stabber Convicted.


Yesterday my friend M and I went for a walk on the "tayelet" or promenade in East Talpiot, Jerusalem. The tayelet is a collection of parks created through the donations of several families. Parts of it are better maintained than others due to the economic situations of their respective foundations. In any case, the view is incredible.

I am going to post a series of pictures. I'll try to explain what you're looking at the best I can. I've got some other pics that I'll post later on too.

This is a view of neighborhoods to the Southeast of Jerusalem. The redbuds are blooming but it's definitely not spring yet.

Here you can see the Old City, its walls and the Dome of the Rock (gold roof).

Here's a shot of the Old City framed in one of the garden structures at the tayelet.

This is a broader view of the Old City and surrounding areas. The Mount of Olives is the hilltop on the far right side of the photo.

There was a guy herding his goats on the tayelet. The goats wear bells that added a nice tink-tink sound to our walk. The shepard carried a cell phone.

This is another view looking Southeast from Jerusalem. I forget the names of the towns and neighborhoods. You can see the grey concrete security barrier winding through these neighborhoods. Click on the images to enlarge. There is a dark grey band on the lower horizon. It's the hills of Moab - in Jordan.

More images of neighborhoods and the security barrier.

Some graffiti - it wouldn't' be Israel without it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bug Sex

Last night I met Olivia Judson, the author of Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation. She's visiting a good friend of mine here in Jerusalem. I first heard of her and her book via an interview on Fresh Air. It feels like meeting a movie star to me to meet people interviewed by Terry Gross.

According to www.bn.com, Olivia's book is "An uproarious and authoritative natural history in the form of letters to and answers from the preeminent sexpert in all creation. This bestselling guidebook to sex reveals, for example, when necrophilia is acceptable, how to have a virgin birth, and when to eat your lover. It also advises on more mundane matters--such as male pregnancy and the joys of a detachable penis."

Olivia and I had fun talking about ants. Yes, I used to work at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC and know a thing or two about ants and other arthropods. I know nothing of detachable penises. Well, on second thought...

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Betty Friedan has passed away.

A guy suspected of attacking people in a gay bar has been killed during an attempt to capture him.

I am adding links to my blogroll. Be patient, I'll add you. (If you don't see your blog in the blogroll in a couple of days email me and I'll add you - if I am feeling nice.)


I've always been a big nerd. I made good grades in high school. Went to a good college. Blah, blah, blah. Today is the end of the semester test in Hebrew class. I know that I have no idea how to do the things that they will ask of me. So, I have been practicing how to write a little essay on how I can't complete the exam. My Hebrew keeps improving, but just not the parts that will be tested this morning.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tagged Tagged Tagged Tagged

The meme for fours via Noorster.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Kindergarten teacher
2. Billing Quality Specialist at IBM
3. Grocery store check out clerk (I can smack gum.)
4. Golf cart boy - you wash them and put them away after use.

Four movies I could watch over and over again:
1. Cabaret
2. Steel Magnolias
3. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
4. Any Indiana Jones movie

Four places I have lived:
1. Jerusalem
2. Chapel Hill/Durham, NC
3. Kings Mountain, NC
4. Memphis, TN

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. Six Feet Under
2. Sex and the City
3. Simpsons
4. Amazing Race

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Paris
2. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
3. St. John's USVI
4. Charleston, SC

Four websites I visit daily:
1. cnn.com
2. heraldsun.com
3. johnhleonard.blogspot.com
4. and lots of other blogs...

Four favorite foods:
This is super hard - no favs here - but I do LOVE good ol' Southern home cookin'

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Some place warm and tropical where they speak English
2. In bed
3. on the sofa
4. visiting w/ family and friends

I am not tagging anyone. I am killing this branch of the meme. My bad. But you have to threaten that something bad will happen for me to feel motivated to pass it along.

According to blogger, this is my 400th post!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I volunteer at the Jerusalem Open House. It is the LGBTQ community center in Jerusalem. Rina, the program coordinator there, asked me to speak today to a group visiting from Hong Kong. The group was visiting from the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship. It's a LGBTQ Christian group. They have services every week and have a great choir - they made me sing 4 times. Their church in Hong Kong has over 200 members and 40 of them came to the JOH to visit. Yeah, let it sink it - a group of 40 gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians from Hong Kong came to visit Israel...and the world didn't come to an end!

Although last night there was a big storm with lightening (which rarely happens in Jerusalem) and hail!
This is the doorway into our apartment building. The roads were covered with hail. The air smelled like pine from the hail stones beating the pine trees.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Love/Hate (for today)

I love (sometimes) TV in Israel. We have lots of English TV here in Israel. It isn't dubbed over in Hebrew either. I remember watching The Fresh Prince on my first trip to Paris - hearing French come out of Will Smith's mouth freaked me out. Can French people even sound like they are from the 'hood? Anyway, the Hebrew translation is at the bottom of the screen of programs in other languages - here that's mainly English, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic. This feeds into my skewed logic that if I watch Oprah, that I am practicing my Hebrew reading. The funny thing is that a lot of programs that are in Hebrew also have the Hebrew text at the bottom of the screen. It really helps me to follow what people are saying.

Sometimes there is nothing on. But the other day I turned on the TV and Pirates of the Caribbean, East of Eden, Lost in Translation, and Cool Hand Luke were all on. I had a choice of some really good movies (to practice my Hebrew reading). Just about all of these movies were shown without commercials. Many movies and programs that would not be shown in the US on basic cable TV are shown here.

I also get my fix of reality - The Biggest Loser and Survivor. We get them a little late, but we watch them without commercials. It's shocking how much of a program is wasted with applause, leading into a commercial, and reminding viewers where we left off before the commercials.

I hate music on websites that is screaming at me when the page opens. Stop it!

Update: I can't believe I forgot my fav reality show: The Amazing Race. I really love this show. I really hate the mean ones (especially when the partner doesn't support their teammate) and love the nice ones. Of course, we have our own version of Israel-based reality shows. We've got "A Star if Born" (the Israeli version of American Idol), "Born to Dance" (Idol but a dancing competition), and "Race for the Apartment" (The Amazing Race, but you win an apartment in the end). I'll blog about these soon.