Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Few Random Pictures from Trip

Finally figured out there WAS a card reader on the laptop so here are few images from where we've been:

1) In the market in mystical city of Tzfat, cradle of the Kabalah

2) Taking a break to rest weary feet after hiking at the Menara cliffs

3) Another market shot from Tzfat:

4) McDonalds in Tel Aviv:

5) Danger 1:

6) Danger 2:

Israeli Cats

Cats are not treated the same way in Israel as they are in Canada. I have yet to see a domesticated cat. They all seem to be strays and I've only seen them scavenging in the markets and at outdoor caf├ęs.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Attack of the Scary Monster at the Bonfire

Instead of staying at the kibbutz resort this evening and having dinner at the buffet with the older contingent of our group, I went to the mall with the other 2 young families in hopes of finding a store that might carry a USB cable so I could upload pictures to this blog. Even though a USB cable was on my packing list and I was reminded a couple of times to bring one, I still managed to not pack it.

The girl at the camera store didn`t have a cable that matched up with my camera but had a universal cable that appeared to fit.

Our plan was to spend about an hour at the mall picking up supplies, have a quick dinner and then back to the kibbutz where there was to be a flashlight hike through the woods followed by a bonfire, singsong, marshmallow roast. This was to be mainly for the kids so in the end I decided to opt out and upload pictures instead. But wouldn`t you know it, the stupid cable didn`t work. I don`t think pictures are going to happen until I get home.

I walked to the main building pretty pissed off at the cable thing and had a capuccino outside by myself. I figured I shouldn`t be messing around doing computer stuff so decided to find the bonfire. I managed to find it about a kilometer away by just following the music.

There was an Israeli folksinger leading the grownups in song while the kids were running around the bonfire roasting marshmallows. I went to look for my niece and nephew by the fire. Zachary found me and gave me one of his marshmallows. I stood around watching the kids when all of a sudden one of the boys starting screeching and was running wildly looking for his mother. Even as he found her, the instensity of his screaming increased. I looked around the ground and saw lots of stray embers and figured he must have burned himself. I looked down at my sandals and noticed that most kids were wearing similar footware and how stupid wearing sandals was at a fire with embers everywhere. There was a crowd of grownups gathering around the screaming child when I felt a sharp pain on my upper arm. I brushed at my arm thinking that a flying ember had just caught me but that wasn`t it. I realized I had just been bitten by something. By this time word came out from the group of people around the screaming boy that the source of his agony was also a sting. Another adult had also just got stung.

Very quickly the singsong broke up and everyone scattered. As we left, my 9-year old niece Tali, let out a shriek and collapsed to the ground. She too had just been stung in the leg. In between the crying and screaming, she claimed she didn`t see anything and it was a monster that caused her this pain. Her father picked her up and carried her to safety. Another member of our group who happens to be a doctor came running out of the woods to see if he could be of assistance, tripped on a rock and cut his leg.

The victims were all brought to the main hall where ice cubes were applied to wounds. The injured sat around sharing the experience even though we didn`t all speak the same language. After a while the kids calmed down and people dispersed to their rooms.

I never saw what stung me and there were no bees or wasps in evidence so Tali could have been right, perhaps it was a monster.

Tomorrow we`re going kayaking.

Good night from Kibbutz Ha Goshrim in northern Israel.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Journeys

I'm leaving on a trip overseas for 2 weeks. I'm going with my parents, my brother and his family and my sister-in-law's extended family. It's a trip that we've been planning for a year and is expected to be the "trip of a lifetime". I'm left with ambivalent feelings. I love to travel and it's been so-o-o long since I have, yet I want to stay here and put my life in order.

I'm taking Logan-the-Bear to keep me company and also to act as a reminder of what waits at home.

I'll take lots of pictures and try to make posts on the journey, but if that doesn't happen, look back here in 2 weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Miss Logan!

Six months ago I decided I had enough of living and working in my basement and that I was going to do something about it. I accepted a 6-month contract downtown. I started getting out more and meeting new people. I did all the festivals this summer in Ottawa and for the first time in a long time I was happy!

In the last two weeks, I left my wife and my home and moved into my son's apartment in the Market. He rents it with 3 other guys all in their early 20s, but only one of them (DG) is living there now. The others, including my son are moving in this September. I assured DG that I wouldn't cramp his style and he would hardly know I was there and this was a temporary thing and besides he had lived with us last year for a month when he couldn't find an apartment right away. He was good with it.

The first thing I did was buy the guys some things for their place:

  1. a router - so I could get online and then eventually so could all the others.
  2. bathroom stuff - a toilet seat, a shower rod and curtain, bathmat - because I've gotten used to some of the finer things in life like stepping out of the shower onto a fluffy mat and like sitting on a toilet seat.
  3. general cleaning supplies for the kitchen and the bathroom.

I know, you're thinking I assured DG that he would hardly know I was there and here I was acting like a parent. Well he was OK with my changes. I think even though young guys like to live amongst beer bottles and playing cards and poker chips that are strewn about, they still appreciate a good roll of toilet paper.

The biggest problem with my new adventure is that I had to leave Logan at home. I've been allowed to walk him a couple of times since I moved out but I miss having him follow me around constantly. This is only a temporary arrangement (September 1st, latest) and wherever I end up living after, Logan will be there with me.

At the "moment of breakup" when I scrambled around the house filling a suitcase with things I would need immediately to start my new life, I picked up a little Ty teddy bear named Logan that I had sitting next to my computer. Here's a picture of Logan-the-Bear and our living arrangements.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Canada Day

Not much worth talking about in the morning. Walked Logan at about 6 a.m. Made myself some 7-grain toast with 1 teaspoon of natural almond butter, side of fresh fruit (kiwi, banana, blueberries) and a cappucinno. Took care of the laundry and did some computer stuff (facebook, blog reading, e-mails, checked on my scrabulous and word twist games).

Decided to go "adventuring" in the afternoon.

I have never been to Parliament Hill on Canada Day so thought this year I would check it out. After lunch, equipped with my trusty fisherman's hat for protection from the sun, I walked the 1.2 km to Baseline Station to catch the 95 downtown.

On the bus ride I exchanged seats with a young mother so she could place her ginormous Peg Prego stroller and baby boy in a more strategic spot. For the rest of the way downtown the baby and I exchanged silly googly eyes — of course I made sure no one ELSE was looking at me!

I spent about 3 hours walking around downtown — a bit at Parliament Hill and then a bit at Confederation Park listening to the last sounds of the Jazz Festival.

I met a man who designed the "Canadian Duality Flag". It's the Canadian flag with 2 extra bars of blue that are supposed to represent the Francophones, and it supposed to symbolize the Anglophones and Francophones speaking together. He's been lobbying for this new flag for the last 4 years. I engaged him in conversation about the flag and then just let him talk.

I met a man with 2 dogs that were wearing Hawaiian leys. I asked him if I could take a picture of his dogs which the man proudly let me do. I mumbled something like EVERYBODY dresses up for Canada Day, but already I thought this would be a good picture to put on a blog and say something to the effect that Logan stayed at home because he didn't have anything to wear.

I stopped and listened to music and watched entertainers:

1. at Parliament Hill there were Pirates walking on stilts;

2. there was also a 15-person drum band who played drums in the style of colonial days, tom-tom like;

3. I listened to a Jamaican band playing music beside the restaurant at the NAC just bordering the canal. People danced in front of the stage; and

4. I listened to 2 other bands at various ends of Confederation Park but stopped in the middle at an ice cream concession to have 1 scoop of mango and 1 scoop of vanilla in a sugar cone.

It was hot and the ice cream made me a bit thirsty. I saw a kid with a cooler filled with water bottles and a cardboard sign which read "$1 a bottle". This is half of what the real concessions' price was. I asked him if his water was cold. He showed me a couple of bottles on the bottom that were almost solid ice. I said, with a grin, "It didn't have to be that cold!" and I gave him $1 for a bottle.

I got a seat on the bus ride home but a few stops later, three generations of a Chinese family got on - a baby in a stroller, his mother and grandmother. I offered the old woman my seat. Behind the seat, were two chubby teenage girls with short hair and various face piercings. At some point on the journey uptown they started making out. I looked again and then wasn't sure if they were both girls or if one was a boy. I guess it didn't matter anyways.

I got home and prepared a BBQ for supper because Son #1 had worked all day at summer camp and would probably come home hungry. Son #1 came home but said he was going out to his friends for supper and then were heading downtown,... so, I made the BBQ for myself – chicken breast on the grill and a "chick pea-feta salad" with cukes, tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, feta cheese and chick peas in a dressing of olive oil, lemon and oregano.

Logan and I took a big walk in the park just before dusk and now I'm home to chill out and protect him from the booms and crackles of the fireworks.