Friday, December 14, 2012

Dodging the Drafts

Shalom, chaverim! All's well here in lovely, placid Nahariya, and as the temperature has finally begun to drop on a somewhat regular basis, we've broken out the extra quilts, new long johns, hats, gloves, and umbrellas. In short, we're now using all the cold-weather equipment I'd been stockpiling since last winter, through which we suffered from our being woefully unprepared. It feels great to have it all readily at hand.

In addition to winter clothing readiness, ever attentive to my public pleas, my mother was kind enough to make and send us several "draft dodgers."  Elul promptly filled them with dried navy beans, sewed them shut, and stuffed them around the apartment doors. This one technique has made an enormous difference in the feel to the apartment, since now we're not subject to screamingly cold drafts nipping at our feet at every turn. We've had to turn on the heat on a more regular basis, of course, but now that we've blocked the drafts, we're able to heat up the room more quickly and thus save some energy. Elul's hours at work were cut by 50% last week, which puts a cramp in our style, to say the least, so every shekel counts right now.

The mouse cat toy keeps the draft dodger company while it protects our home from stealthy drafts that seek to increase our electric bill.

Speaking of cramps, my mother also was kind enough to construct a microwaveable heating pad for me, which consists of two flannel pouches. The idea is that you fill the pouch with uncooked rice, sew up the top so the rice doesn't leak out, and then microwave the whole thing so it all heats up. Apparently, there is enough water in the "dry" rice that it will maintain heat for quite some time. The "ricepad" is more malleable than a typical hot water bottle, and so you can use it on your neck, lie on it comfortably, and so on. As I am not a sewer by any stretch of the imagination, and didn't even think of asking Elul to do it (duh), I took the pouches and the rice to a local Russian seamstress to do the job. My Hebrew wasn't up to explaining that these pouches were a "non-electric alternative to an electrical heating pad," but she immediately understood the concept when I mimicked being doubled over with period pains. Some things are just the same the world over.

This week has been especially nice because it's Hanukkah, and that means lots of parties. Nahariya is a very sociable town, and individuals and organizations have been having latke parties, concerts, plays, dinners, and all sorts of other fun events. Party pooper that I inevitably turn out to be, despite my most sincere intentions, I've missed two such events already due to getting last-minute work assignments. Worse, I'm going to miss another one tonight. Such is life when you build your career around what's happening in North America, which, because of the time zone differences, is still in the throes of the business week just when everyone in Israel is winding down for Shabbat. On the other hand, it's hard to feel festive when you're stressing about money and work, so, as the Israelis would say, "mah la'asot?" Translated, this means roughly, "whaddya gonna do?" Or, as Roseanne Roseanna Danna would say, "if it's not one thing, it's another!" Still, it's all good. We are in Israel, and we love it here.

The first night of Hanukkah. Note the ice cream tub lid serving as the wax catcher. Seriously, we need to make just a little bit more of an effort!

Shabbat shalom and chag Hanukkah sameach!


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