Monthly Archives: June 2013

A little mouse with clogs on

Standard

Mickey MouseYou’d be forgiven for thinking my home is infested with vermin as there are days when I believe it to be true. If it’s not the cockroach colony raving in my back garden at night, it’s the ants that appear from nowhere and form lines across my work surfaces if I don’t disinfect them every 3 minutes. The latest visitor to my house was a mouse. We’ll call him Mickey.. Mickey made a brief visit to my kitchen a couple of days ago and yet again that deep-throated, strangulated scream was emitted from my mouth.

After waiting half an hour for him to re-emerge from underneath the fridge I had devised a plan. Husband had confidently told me to block the fridge and wait until he got home to deal with it. He really thought I was going to hang out 8 hours with a mouse. His other suggestion was whacking it on the head. Neither suggestion appealed. Having watched enough survivor programmes on Discovery and being a big fan of Bear Grylls I formulated a plan to release Mickey back into the wilds of the garden without a scratch.

This was no ordinary mouse. Oh no, Mickey was one smart SOB and when he appeared in the living room – how did he get there? – I herded him with the aid of a washing up bowl to an open space and captured him underneath said bowl. How about this for genius, I pushed the bowl complete with Mickey underneath out the front door and out of the main door of the building. What did clever clogs do next? (the mouse that is, not me). He tried to get back in. In fact it was a good 5 minutes before the plate-glass finally defeated him and he ran off.

3 hours later and through the closed screen door I saw him ambling passed. Yes ambling, no scuttling or running as mice are want to do. Oh no Mickey the coolest mouse on the block was casing the joint. My joint. He then started to climb the screen. So determined to hang out chez nous he was vertical up the screen looking for the hole through which he probably entered in the first place. Cue strange strangled yelp from yours truly and a whack on the screen door to dislodge him. He hung around for a bit and I haven’t seen him since – truth be told I’m rather hoping the neighbourhood cats or the local barn owl got him.

So now in amongst my night-time fears of mice sized roaches running across the bed I now have to fear actual mice. I have sealed the house and man is it hot in here, our a/c bill will be huge, too afraid am I to let fresh air in.

Someone I know recently found a scorpion in her washing basket, someone else has rats running up her palm trees so I should consider myself lucky that it was Mickey who paid us a visit. Lets just hope she didn’t have some babies whilst she was here…

Advertisements

How much is that doggie in the window?

Standard

IMG_0318
It’s a sad day in our house today as we are recovering from the news that our dear doggie has died.  I chose Jesse from a shelter when he was around 6 months old and I was around 6 months in Israel.  We were both struggling.  He was flea infested and his ginger hair was a mass of dreadlocks, I was sunburnt and culture shocked. He had a nice face, was quiet and waited to leave his kennel before doing his business, I was already house trained.

I wanted a spaniel as that’s what I’d had as I was growing up and Jesse was the nearest thing, half spaniel, half golden retriever (or so the vet told us).  Over the first few months Jess and I were inseparable, I was not working, in a new country and pretty much friendless and Jesse was a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  The sun was still a novelty to me so we went on gigantic walks in the boiling heat, hanging out on beaches and parks, drinking water from fountains and collapsing in the air conditioning when we got home.

Jesse was not allowed in the bedroom or on the furniture, in fact for the first few weeks he slept on the balcony, but as time went on and the more attached I became Jess learnt to push the boundaries and would sit on the doorway of the bedroom, half in, half out.  A few months later he was sleeping on the end of our bed and much to my husband’s chagrin that became his unofficial place.

When number 1 son arrived Jess became depressed, he had been the spoilt only child for so long, his wet nose was well and truly pushed out of joint.  The walks were shorter and the attention not so centred on his floppy ears.  We lived in an apartment in Tel Aviv with no lift and no parking space so every morning before work I took baby and dog down, found the car on a side street, took the pram out of the boot, put baby in pram, walked 20 minutes, took baby out of pram, put pram back in the car boot, climbed the 3 flights of stairs with dog and baby to put dog in the flat and then went back down to strap baby in the car to head off to work via the nanny.  Phew, hot work. In the heat of mid summer I used to leave the pram and the baby in the corner shop opposite whilst I ran the dog upstairs (we knew the shopkeepers very well!). Then we discovered I was pregnant with twins.

Apartment, no parking space, no lift, a 2-year-old, twin babies and a dog and then my brother-in-law told us they were going to get a rescue dog…  Hmmm.  At this stage we were pretty much set on returning to the UK and so after a lot of soul-searching we decided that to give Jesse to a good home where we could visit all the time and where there wouldn’t  be 3 small children bugging him would be the best for everyone.  It also meant that if we were to leave we wouldn’t need to give him to a stranger.  So with heavy hearts and some relief Jesse moved to a new home.  We also moved, to suburbia and life became a whirl of nappies and baby equipment.  We saw Jess regularly and he was certainly happy in his new child free home.

Fast forward a couple of years and Jess became a regularly guest chez nous.  The kids adored him and his visits would prompt long beach walks and daily fights as to who held his lead. He slept on the floor next to number 1 son. His last stay was only a week ago, his death quick and surprising.  We can rest assured that he had a good life.  Adults and children alike adored him, he was patted by everyone who passed him.  He may have been ill at the very end but I like to think he is chasing waves on a beach in doggie heaven now  Rest in Peace baby dog.  We love you.

Sentimental Journey

Standard

Pops

Today is Father’s Day in the UK and it would be a bit remiss of me not to dedicate today’s ramblings to my Pops.  This year Pops is celebrating his 75th birthday which I can hardly get my head around so I’ve no idea how he is taking it.  He is blessed so far with good health and all his faculties intact (not counting the loss of hearing in 1 ear).You will however know from previous posts he is definitely way more grumpy than he used to be – or maybe I just didn’t know him as well when we lived in the same house as I know him now.  Rather ironic that now we live a 6 hour flight away from each other our timetogether can certainly count as ‘quality’ time’.  This is opposed to when we lived in the UK and I would hop back at weekends and the parents were just 2 on a long list of people to see.  I sent him a card which miraculously (through the joys of Moonpig.co.uk) arrived in time and I told them to go out for a pub lunch today to celebrate.  After I hung up I thought that perhaps it would not be fun to be in a pub full of families celebrating together, just the 2 of them, with their family scattered across the country and the globe.   We are there in spirit and as I told him this morning the Israeli crew will be doing everything we can to come back in the summer to celebrate his 75th with him.

A good friend recently reminded me of the importance of not missing celebrations and milestones with loved ones.  Life is short and memories can only be made in that short time. I have already missed so many events because of money or time or simply because I live too far away.  So it was this piece of advice plus the never fading homesickness that has sent me onto the internet to try to find a flight that will get us back to the grey skies of Manchester this August.  I can’t think of anything nicer.

I also want to extend today’s UK Dad celebrations to my own kid’s Dad aka Aba aka husband.  There is no specific Father’s Day in Israel, there’s a Family day but it’s really not the same.  As someone who shirks all kinds of celebrations, especially his own birthday, I will not be splashing out on a present or even a card – he puts them back in the envelope and leaves them on a shelf (what’s that all about?). On the vague chance he figures out how to open a computer and read this I want to tell him thanks, on behalf of the childers and from me.  There is not a child in the world who would not be lucky to have a father like him; ever patient, interested, kind, loving.

So for fear of slipping into soppy sentiment…oops too late, Happy Father’s Day to all Dads, here and departed. If you are as lucky as I am, take my friend’s advice too. Don’t miss a moment, life is too short.

Dedication, that’s what you need

Standard

Bureaucracy stinks.  There is not a country in the world that does not have its own set of bureaucratic problems.  However, I don’t live in another country in the world, I live in Israel.

Here is a quick guide on how to answer questions, fill in forms and deal with bureaucracy, Israel-style.

1.  A straightforward question on a form is not straightforward.  Think as far out of the box as possible eg. are you married, single, other? answer, fish.  That way your water bill will be cheaper.

2. Do not expect the representative of the government department you are speaking to by telephone to tell the truth.  Rather than say, ‘I don’t know’, it is more than likely a fabricated story will be offered or you will be yelled at for not knowing the answer yourself.

3.  Have access to a fax machine and printed off forms.  Internet access or call centres do not a department make, this is 1985 you know.  Pen to paper all the way.

4. A visit in person to the main office is oftentimes the most productive way to deal with a query.  Take with you; your employer’s blessing to be off for the whole day, packed lunch, warm clothing for the air conditioning, a book, all the relevant documentation in triplicate, ID (with photocopy), patience, throat lozenges to soothe your voice box after the meeting and a tasty bribe for the clerk (homemade pastries work well).

5. Do your research.  If you want something done fast try to get hold of the name of someone in the department and then check them on Facebook, Linked In, outlook address book etc. until you find someone you know, who knows them.  Then get your friend to speak to their friend/family member to ensure the desired outcome. (In Israel this is very easy as there is only 1 degree of separation not 6)

6. Personal stories always help.  “I couldn’t register my car/pay my fine/make that court date because my mother has been sick, I have been sitting shiva (7 day mourning period), my son just went to the army, I was in miluim (reserve duty), I have just moved here from [insert country] and don’t understand.  Feel free to embellish (make up) for the human connection.

7. Do not expect the same answer to the same question from 2 different people in the same department. For example?  What colour form do I need?  Answer 1 – pink, answer 2 – green.  Fill in the blue one.

8. Don’t take it personally.  If you follow the last part of clause 4 you will discover that the clerks are indeed human and welcome some interaction that doesn’t involve raised voices, spittle and empty threats.  So try to remain calm, persevere and a little dedication to completing the task in hand should stand you in good stead.

computer says no

Do you want to come to a party?

Standard

16344-colorful-balloons

It’s been a weekend of parties.  Unfortunately not parties of the adult variety but 5-year-old birthday parties.  A strange phenomenon of my eldest’s nursery is that all the kids seem to have birthdays from May to July.  Must be something in the water in the autumn here.  Anyway every week I duly head off to the toy store and buy the most appropriate non-bank loan inducing present or 3 and every weekend my son comes home high on sugar and over excitement clutching a plastic toy which invariably is broken by the end of the evening.  I am currently taking notes as in a month’s time I will be the hostess to 35 five-year-olds.

Luckily his best friend shares the same birthday week so the 2 families are combining to provide a party in the local park complete with entertainment, balloons and due to the extreme heat no jelly and ice cream.  When investigating the party jolly rogerentertainer I discovered a few facts I, as a new children’s party organizer, had previously not contemplated.  Firstly, I am in the wrong business.  For an hour and half or two Coco the Clown and the like earn an inordinate amount of dosh.  One entertainer quoted 2,200 shekels ($600 or £400), obviously we didn’t hire him.  There are circus acts complete with acrobats hanging from sheets, magicians and my personal favourite, Roy Boy (yes really) who dresses like Tarzan and does the most incredible one-man theatre show complete with live animals – I didn’t call him, I figured the cost may outweigh the occasion. We decided on a pirate party entertainer who does magic, I have absolutely no idea what he will be like but pirates and magic seems like a winning combination for two small boys.

Then my thoughts turned to food.  Children like to eat rubbish, period.  By rubbish I mean anything that is brightly coloured MelonSlicesand/or loaded with sugar, salt or monosodium glutamate and although I have been known to let my children indulge on occasion I do feel a real sense of guilt (or is it fear of the highs) at providing 35 kids with a sugar fest.  So for the past few weekends I have been eyeing up the party food on other’s tables and surreptitiously watching what the kids eat and I have discovered to my joy that if you provide vegetables (the Israeli child population is brought up on cucumber and tomatoes), watermelon and the ever plentiful at this time of year, grapes then the kids eat them.  So not to be seen as the crazy Yma (mummy) I will of course bring some kind of crisps or pretzel type snacks and as I noticed at the last party the genius idea of popcorn (cheap and tasty) will also be making an appearance.  Having seen full pizzas being tossed at the end of the party I think going back to old skool and providing a Israel-style sandwiches ie.  Pitta and hummus could be the way forward for something more substantial.

Daddy is a baker so no.1 son’s cake will be taken care of by someone other than myself.  He has requested a spider web withspiderman a spider and spider man.  I may try to encourage a pirate ship, want to keep the occasion themed right?!

Last thing on the list then is the goody bags.  So far we have received whistles and water pistols, beach balls and swimming goggles that I can remember so when browsing the local dollar store I had a peak for inspiration.  I’m thinking eye patches or is that just too weird?  It is a pirate party after all, parrots are out and cutlasses and a bottle of rum not really age appropriate (good perhaps for the parents).  Maybe I should stick with bubbles.

rumI must admit I am really looking forward to it – I don’t get out, ever – just to see the excitement and un-paralleled joy on his face when he realizes it is his party and he and his best friend are the magicians assistants. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.