Friday, June 21, 2013

Caternal Instinct: What Not To Do When Your Husband's Away

Shalom, chaverim! Well, I've finally made it to the end of my first (partial) year of teaching in the Israeli public school system. The past few weeks have been an absolute blur of meetings, report-generating, parties, assemblies, excursions, and general fretting about "THE COURSE." (If I spent more time working on my assignments, however, and less time worrying about having to do them in the first place, I would probably be done with them by now.)

Elul is back from his trip to America, where he was able to visit family and friends in North Carolina and Florida, and also see the youngest of his two sons graduate from high school. His boys have grown up to be fine young men with a good work ethic and good grades, so there is a collective sigh of relief going around the family network. We hope they will be able to come visit us in Israel soon.

I have been wrangling with a series of low-level flu bugs. I've even had to miss some work and a singing engagement at Emet Ve Shalom, the Reform synagogue in Nahariya--much to my disappointment. Perhaps my immune system is still getting used to Israel, and its local pollen and seasonal allergies, or perhaps I'm catching new bugs from being in contact with so many different groups of people (i.e. students) in close quarters. The body space ratio between people in Israel is much smaller than it is between people in America. Meaning, people in Israel are literally more "in your face" by standing closer to one another in conversation. When you have a group of middle school students surrounding you at your desk and literally breathing down your neck, plenty of bugs go around fast! (Note to self: start using homemade immune-booster poultice* again on a regular basis.)

Elul's ten-day absence did not lead me to start partying into the wee hours of the morning, nor did it result in my going on a monk-like retreat filled with detoxifying diets, intense journaling, illuminating personal growth experiences and marathon meditation sessions. Rather, I spent most of the time just sleeping and trying to ward off a series of debilitating headaches and flu bugs, as mentioned above. However, impulse did get the best of me on one of the few days I was feeling great.

A week ago Wednesday, I was coming home from the Druze school, happy and relieved to have made it through the day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, etc. I wasn't on my bicycle, which allowed me to slow down and take in the view. However, just two buildings from ours, I heard one of the loudest kitten cries I had ever heard. This kitten, wherever it was mewling from, was loud.

Thinking that a brick had fallen on it, or that it was trapped somewhere, I stopped and called out to the kitten. To my surprise, from almost twenty feet away, a tiny lone kitten came tottering toward me, bawling its head off. I could find no mother or other members of its litter anywhere. So, in a silly fit of non-thinking, instinctual, "caternal instinct," I scooped the kitten up in my hands and walked home with it.

You can probably guess what happened next. I scrambled around for some vaguely suitable kitten food, which it scarfed down immediately and straightaway howled for more. I cleaned the kitten up (it stank, but hooray, no fleas!), gave it even more food, and gave it a cuddle. After the cuddle came more howling for food. The food-cuddle-food cycle went on for quite some time.

Which is precisely when, of course, that Elul decided to call me on Skype. He was already cross with me because I'd missed several of his Skype calls because I was sleeping or working, so I took the call. Which is just when the kitten decided to wake up and start screaming for food again.

"What in the h*^l is that," Elul growled. Followed by, "what in the h%&l were you thinking?! We already have two cats and I don't want any more cats!"

After a series of lame apologies from me, I promised to do my best to find a new home for the kitten.

"That kitten better be gone before I get home," Elul stated flatly. I would do my best, I replied, and promised that even if it took "a few days" after he returned, due to my work schedule, the kitten's responsibility would be completely mine until I found a new home. Nor would it cost us anything.

Except for the 44 NIS (Israeli shekels) I spent to take it to the vet's, get a worming treatment, and some cans of some proper kitten food.

And except for the 36 NIS I spent a few days later on proper kitten food, since this kitten has the appetite of a carnivorous King Kong. Not to mention the new cat litter that quickly needed replenishing, since the kitten has its digestive functions working at top speed and maximum volume.

Yes, the kitten wouldn't cost us anything, and I would find it a new home immediately.

Which is why we now have a new member of the family, "Li'l Moe." I wanted to call it "Larry," but I gave Elul full naming rights, which he gladly asserted. I have no beef with that, as he wasn't even consulted about the whole thing, and has shown, after his initial, er, "hesitation," a lot of grace and kindness.

Because of this new addition, proud Aba Elul absolutely had to shoot some new video. This time, a poignant, French cinema style evolved as le directeur captured Li'l Moe's yearning for acceptance by Pini, his new stepbrother, and Pini's fear and rejection of his offer of fraternite. As for Dudu, she avoided Lil' Moe like the plague at first, but now, at least, she's roaming around the apartment again instead of hiding out in the laundry room.

So, without further ado, please find below our home movie "Li'l Moe and Pini"! (If you can't see the video because you're getting this blog by email, go to directly, where you can see it.)

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

*Homemade immune system booster poultice: Before you go to bed, mash up six cloves of garlic and mix with enough olive oil to make a paste. Rub the paste on the soles of your feet and put white cotton socks on--socks you don't mind permanently designating as your "phewie poultice socks." Go to sleep, fight off bugs, and wash it off in the morning. Repeat as necessary, or until your bed-partner calls "foul!"

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