Howling Coyotes                            

In the dry hot land of Eretz Yisrael where it has rained only once in the last six weeks, it is now September.  I feel the warm air lingering into the evening as it was a hot day. After a full day made up of studying Hebrew and then weeding the garden, I’ve finished supper and have settled in for the day. Peacefully I’ve reclined on my bed perusing through art books getting some inspirational  ideas of what to paint.  I notice the room has been getting dimmer and dimmer as the sun was going down.  
Almost immediately after the sun has set I hear a howling sound in the distance, across the countryside, way yonder. “Oouu”, “Oouu”, “Oouu” suddenly becomes enterntaining background noise. I get up to enquire, “What  is that noise? My dear friend replies, “Those are the coyotes!” Wow I think to myself, imagine that coyotes in Yisrael! There is everything in Israel, this tiny gem of a country. Just as a rooster is king of the morning getting his thrill by waking everyone up, I’m convinced the coyote is king of the evening, proudly pronouncing the sun has set, the day is over.  Oct. 2008

 A Symphony of Sheep

As usual, my custom is to take a nice leisurely walk on Shabbat in the afternoon.  Today the sun was quite warm in the Holy Land so I decided to venture out about 3pm. Out the door I went kissing the mezzuzah on my exit. Down the stone walkway I began my scenic stroll, making a loop around the streets of Sedot Mikha, the small Sephardic moshav comprised of about 100 families. Up the hill I went, turned right around the corner to the end of the road, circling around a big open field, then past a few newer homes. I witnessed much family activity. I heard the joyful sound of children having fun as they were jumping on an old mattress that was left by a gargage on the side of the road. A couple of other children were out bicycling, and another was leading a young brown horse down the road. Outdoors I saw many people sitting at their tables enjoying the country air, chatting over a cold drink, perhaps discussing the local politics. To my amusement when I came across a farm my ears perked up as I was pleasantly surprised to listen delightfully to the many tones of baahing sheep. “Baaah”, “Baaaa”, “Behhhh”, “Baawww. “ My goodness I’ve come across a symphony of sheep singing on Shabbat to their Creator!  Oct.2008                                            

Houmie the Husky               008

Let me introduce you to Houmie.  A Siberian Husky who lives in Israel, brought over by a Russian who must have abandonned him. Poor thing with his thick heavy fur coat, he must be extremely hot, no wonder he likes to laze around all day. He is probably too hot to be active because he belongs in the north on a dog sled team. But he is a wonderful greeter. His favourite spots to lie down are close to doors so when people walk out, there he is to say hello with a few cheerful barks and attempts to jump on his companions.  He especially likes to come around in the early evening just in time to be fed. When he is not lying around he is off wandering about, gone missing most of the day. He probably found someone else to take pity on him and give him a hand out, a bone or two or some water.

Hitching Into Town

One fine day as usual I hitched a ride into town, the buses out in the country were few and far between and the residents of the settlement could be trusted for a safe ride. This particularly day I stretched out my arm, a few cars went by too much in a rush to stop, but soon enough a car stopped and a middle aged woman with dark brown hair asked if I was going to Ramat Bet Shemesh. I told her, “Lo Ani Beth Shemesh” which means, “No, to Bet Shemesh.” She was about to pull away but seemed curious to give me a ride and I was equally curious, so decided to go anyway, even if I had to hitch another ride for the remaining few kilometers. The ride into town was uneventful, in fact unpleasant with the smell of cigarette smoke, my driver was indeed a heavy smoker. As we were coming up the long stretch of road into Ramat Bet Shemesh she pulled over to the side of the road where there were no buildings, no bus stops, nothing but a large orchard of trees. Out of the car she stepped with a big plastic bucket in her hand and another she passed to me asking me to pick olives with her. A rather funny way to end the trip. I would have gladly helped out but had to make it into town in time for my class so I hitched another ride into the Merkaz.

Coffee at Aroma

In many ways Israel is a super modern country but much to my shock it has not quite caught up to North American standards. The customer services are for the most part quite slow and not very helpful. I found out the hard way that one has to be extremely resourceful to get the simplest things done like going from A to B on the bus, estimating yourself where to find the right bus and when to get off. Unfortunately the administration of government services does not seem to be much better. Rarely do people return calls, a person has to be determined to hound people for information. And there are few coffee shops, no Tim Hortons, no Starbucks in smaller cities. But there is a chain called Aroma. Aroma kind of resembles a style of shop you would find next to gas stations. There I had a coffee but it really did not compare to the myriad of choices of freshly ground coffees, one finds at Canadian coffee shops. Nevertheless, I think Isrealies are ahead of us North Americans who have nothing better to do than waste so much money going out for coffee when you can have a nice cup at home prepared by yourself to your liking where you can be a friendly host by inviting others over for coffee or tea.

An Unusual Bathroom at the Farm

In which room do we spend much of our time? When you think of it, the bathroom is a popular place. Well I discovered a one of a kind, unique bathroom with a distinct artistic flair. Immediately as you step into the door your eyes look upon a gorgeous copper wall. Ofcourse we all know it will eventually turn green, that is the natural aging process that takes on a life of its own. And then there are beautiful rustic looking big earthy tiles making up the counter, great with lots of texture. On top of the tiles lies a metal washbasin, another item that is eroding slowly with age, making it equally intriguing as the wall. On the counter are a few interesting Moroccan artifacts- a metal mask, a large clay pot that holds clippers, tweezers, toothpaste, toothbrush and other odds and ends. And an oval wooden mirror to see yourself.

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Disciplined Lives

In my short little life I have known a few hard working men. Not just ordinary men but men who have led very productive lives. Men I have truly admired for their ability to be task oriented, focused passionately on projects that when all is said and done these men have contributed greatly to the betterment of society. My father is one of these men. In his retirement years which I recall the best, since turning 49, he started the first French speaking Horticultural Society in Easter Ontario, was president of Meals on Wheels and developed an extensive town disaster plan, was a major campaign organizer for the Arthritis Society. The list of achievements goes on and on, so much so that he was awarded the Caring Canadian Award in 2000 by the Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. Another man high on my list is my husband. He is super creative, must have every diploma from electrical, to plumbing, mechanical and carpentry. He can do fine body work, and fix almost anything, is an expert in his field, often called upon to repair heavy equipment. He is also a fabulous cook, having fed literally multitudes.I’m convinced he has no aversion to work, is ready to take on a challenge and do anything!

Then there is our host at Sedot Micah, a well rounded intellectual, researcher and co-author of extensive volumes of a Sephardic Dictionary, accomplished international artist, whose art was sought after by the mayor of Ottawa and was exhibited at the Museum of Civillization. Writer and storyteller of intriguing, interesting mystical folk tales. And a talented craftsman, who renovated several homes which enabled him to work professionally for only 12 years and comfortably retire. As for me I am quite at the other end of the spectrum from these men. I’ve wasted too much precious time in my head, pondering possibilities, cautiously acting slowly and doing a fraction of what these men have done. We are all different and I am grateful  I am easy to work with and that these men have largely inspired me to do what I have done.

volunteer's memories at sedot micah