Archive | September 2014

Shana tova v’metuka

Sorry the New Year’s greeting is coming a bit late but it is no less heartfelt. I’ll do a longer update later about diving into major cooking for the holiday for the first time in years (I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last 10 or so years with friends who did all the very delicious cooking and this year was lucky enough to do the cooking for me and my Ema!) and about Mischa the cat. I’m about to go pick Mischa up from the vet. His teeth surgery turned out to be more extensive than expected, food had actually gotten up into his sinuses through some of the teeth and caused and infection there and there was a large growth under his tongue that has now been removed and is going to be biopsied — the vet thinks it is benign but we won’t know until the biopsy results come back in about a week. I’ll hear more when I pick him up. I’m quite nervous about the cost. The estimate pre-surgery was that it would likely run about a cool $1000 and so goodness only knows what the tally will be now. It all had to be done, however, and, while he is going to be seriously miserable and in pain from the surgery for about 6 weeks, after that he will feel like a new cat. Given the state his teeth, mouth and sinuses have been in, I can’t even begin to imagine how much pain he was in just daily. I mean seriously that would just about kill a human.

Before I head out I’ll leave ya’ll, as they say here in Texas, with a link to a heartwarming story about a true hero in Syria that Paul brought to my attention in the comments: Awesome pictures and a man with an amazing heart.


Prowler– that didn’t take long

Next year in Jerusalem…

Ahh the good ole U.S.A., home to criminals at every turn. This morning my Ema and I went out into the fenced and gated back garden to look at potential spots for a place to put a much bigger enclosed habitat for Nesicha (she’s currently in a tiny little cage of a size that is suitable for staying in for about a month’s duration but definitely not long-term). We were at the side of the house when Lynne asked, “Hey, did you move that chair?”

I looked around, having no idea what she was talking about and then saw one of the metal garden chairs sitting right up close to the fence, in the currently flowerless flower bed. “Nooooo.” The chair, last night, had been sitting where it always sits at the garden cafe table with it’s twin on the patio. It was now a good five feet away and, as I said, in the barren flowerbed. She didn’t put it there, I didn’t, and none of the patio kitties are capable of such a feat. Someone was in our back garden last night and using that chair to either stare over the fence into the windows of the house next door or into our windows (the house is raised) or the windows in our garage (they are also high up). So nice to know that someone was creeping about in our back yard.

This discovery was a rather unpleasant follow-on to the bombshell my Ema dropped on me last night about the fate of the little girl I used to play with and then, when I turned 12, rather awkwardly morphed into her babysitter (she was 2 years younger). I found out that a couple of years ago she was murdered by her boyfriend and her body stuffed into a closet and not discovered for more than a month when neighbours complained about a foul odor…

computer malware, sick cats, garden, return planning

Next year in Jerusalem…or maybe Arad…

I can’t get rid of the damn malware/trojan/whatever on my laptop. I know I’ve got the win32:adware-gen crap infecting it but I’ve also got something else that keeps setting my browsers (all 3) to a lan proxy 127.0.0…setting. Hitman pro detects the proxy setting and removes it…until the next reboot and then it is back. Avast, TDSSKILLER, Malwarebytes and Malwarebytes Cameleon have so far not managed to find and remove the adware that hijacks my browsers. I’m nearly out of my tree over it. Thank goodness for the tablet but I need the laptop desperately.

We made an appointment to take Minette to the vet this afternoon (she has suddenly started using the bathroom EVERYWHERE) but poor old Smokey is acting even more worrisome and so he will take her appointment and she will go to the vet on Monday.

The micro-greens are growing much faster than expected and 4 buttercrunch lettuce and 8 arugula seeds have sprouted way before the package suggested (2 days and not 5-10). Because of hurricane Odile we are getting lots of rain and so I haven’t been able to get out to pull the old stuff and prepare the raised garden bed, nor make the hoops to set up the anti-cat invasion system that can double as a tunnel greenhouse for the rare frosts here in winter.

I’m looking at the idea of moving to Arad. It seems to be the most affordable city I’ve found so far and the best situated for setting up a cat sanctuary that I’ve found. I’m not opposed to going over the ‘green line’ so if anyone has info on places in Judea and Samaria going for under 150k U.S. that include a garden/land where I can set up the animal sanctuary, please do tell 🙂


Next year in Jerusalem…

We got the wifi fixed at home but my laptop has a major trojan on it and I’ve not been able to clean it. I really hate windows 8 and get the ‘can’t update to 8.1’ error off the Microsoft website, meaning I can’t use any of the microsoft crappy security software and all of my antivirus and antimalware software has been compromised.

My Ema’s credit card was also compromised. We went to Home Depot last week to pick up some stuff for the garden –only time she has been there in a year — and two days later her bank called to tell her that there had been a major hack at H.D., the hackers have her credit card info (and g-d knows what else with it) and that they are sending her a new credit card because they canceled her current one.

I have good news on the cat front and a bit of mixed news. Batya does not need to have all her teeth out because the infection is all in the roof and back of her throat. She got a steroid shot and a new 14-day antibiotic injection. In Israel we only have antibiotic injections that last for 2-3 days and they are hellishly expensive, this 14-day shot cost about the same as the 2-3 day version. She’s going to have to be on monthly steroids shots to control the stomatisis infection –expensive but less expensive than the nearly $2000 it would cost to remove her teeth and still not fix the problem.

The news on Mischa is all-around good (well not on the expense front but in all other ways). He had a heart specialist do a full cardio workup on him yesterday and the $400 it cost was well worth it. He does not have a heart murmur or heart disease. At the vet, he always shows up as having a heart murmur, from the time he was a kitten. He doesn’t. He doesn’t have any heart disease at all. The arrhythmia the vets hear is just because he gets so stressed out at the vet. This means he can have his problem teeth out and the rest cleaned –and he desperately needs some of his teeth removed as the roots are actually exposed on some of them and incredibly painful. He also does not have a thyroid problem or hypertension and the heart specialist said he is in better shape at nearly 16 as the majority of cats he’s seen that were much younger. I was quite pleased when he said that I obviously take excellent care of him. So now I’ve got to schedule the teeth extraction and I think he will be a new cat once that horribly painful problem is fixed.

(It is totally like vet hospital here and I’ll do a post on 3 of my Ema’s rescues and their current medical travails).

News on gardening in exile: The micro-greens I planted in a container last week are up and thriving and should be on the table around Oct 5th. Yesterday afternoon I started 5 Buttercrunch lettuces, 8 arugula, 8 mustard greens and 4 kale seeds in plastic cups BUT no sooner did I get them set up on a little outside planter stand than the blue skies turned to grey and wind started blowing hard enough to knock two off. Four more committed suicide as we tried to get them off the plant stand and onto a tray to carry to the protected area of the front porch. The garden is going to be critical as I can’t believe how much food –specifically fruit and vegetables – costs in the U.S.

No wonder there is an obesity epidemic here because who the hell can afford more than a dollar for single bell pepper (not even organic) and I won’t even go there on the cost of tomatoes (that almost all seem to come from Mexico where they use pesticides that are banned in Israel and nearly everywhere else) or from Canada. At five different grocery stores we’ve found only 1 that carries tomatoes from the U.S. –and they are ‘organic’ ones that look like and taste like crap and are nearly $7 a lb. Garden.

Monday update: garden plans, cat update, no chag sameachs

Next year in Jerusalem…

I’m at the coffee house so I can connect online with my computer. It looks like it will probably be about a week before I’ll be able to get online from the house but that is cool as I work best at a coffee house at any rate.

I’ve been doing lots of garden planning. I’m about to start seeds for transplanting for a fall garden. The current 5 x 10.5 garden bed needs a tremendous amount of work — weeded, new soil mix made and put in and I’ve got to build a barrier all round it to keep the outside feral porch kitties and neighbour kitties from getting into it and using it as a litterbox (hence the need for all new soil and a barrier– not a good situation for healthy people but a potentially deadly addition for my Ema).

I’m going to go full square foot gardening method rather than the (better) combined bio-intensive and sq foot methods and have seeds for buttercrunch lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, arugula, kale, radishes, carrots, beets, and I’ve got to pick up seeds for turnip greens (my Ema’s favourite). I’m going to do the grocery store re-grow for celery and green onions. Lynne also has two packets of seeds for micro-greens, one mild and the other spicy and I’m starting those today in containers — only 25 days for awesome cut and come again mixed salad. I’ll try to take some before, in-progress, and then growing and harvesting pictures to post up as time goes by.

I’m in utter shock at how much food costs here (and in re-shock at how flavourless store-bought veggies are here).

All of my cats brought here last February have not only reconnected with me — after initially looking at me like an alien from outer space (run away, run away!)– and become attention-demanding little beastlets, except for Tinoket. I’m seriously surprised at that –not only because when you have a cat for 8 years that you raised from tiniest kittenhood you’d expect them to like, recognize you, but also because Tinoket was never one of my ‘scary’ ones. Even Tzeekada, Fluffy, Leeza, and Shachori (my most scaredy-cats of the lot) don’t freak out when I approach (or not much) but Tinoket has gone into major hiding. One thing that is for sure and that is that, with 32 of these little critters, there is never a dull moment!

It is so strange to not have people wishing you a Chag Sameach or Shana Tova at every turn. I keep saying it to people and then realizing they have no idea what I’ve just said. Last Friday I was convinced it was Thursday because we were out and about and I didn’t hear any “Shabbat Shalom”s and so on Saturday morning I was like, so where are the candle holders for the Shabbat candles –I’ll need them tonight and my mother was like, eh today is Saturday. Yeah. Totally different world. I feel like a fish out of water. It has been years since I missed lighting candles for Shabbat. It isn’t going to happen again but I’m going to have to get over my la la la relying on external cues for the approach of Shabbat and holidays. I’m still jet-lagged and am waking up every morning between 3:30 and 4 and feeling like I’ve slept into the late morning already even when going to bed just a few hours prior.

Getting sorta settled, homesick as hell

I’ve been very busy and very jet-lagged since arrival. I’ve got the cats mostly settled. Mischa has been to the vet and has an appointment to see a cardiologist to find out what is up with his heart murmur and to see if he can possibly have his infected teeth removed (the heart murmur may indicate heart disease that would preclude his going under anesthesia) –some of them have the roots exposed and it is just very painful for him. He also has the first indications of kidney disease and, while it isn’t necessary to treat it now, it is something to watch. Nesicha is in a large cage in the room I’m sleeping in and both Mischa and Batya are on the loose in that room. As soon as I get Mischa sorted, Batya will have to go in to have her teeth removed.

I’m going to be signing up for some web development courses and that is exciting.

I’ve a ton to do to get my Ema’s yard in order. It is so humid here it just makes your eyes pop. At home it is hot, yes, and we complain about the humidity but dude with temps daily right at and over 100 F (nearly 38 C) and humidity so high you feel you are swimming through the air rather than walking, it makes August in Bnei Brak seem downright cool.

I’m trying a new diet where you basically cut out all carbs (the amount of carbs you can have is tiny, like a quarter of a bagele is your carb serving) because, as my Ema pointed out in the nicest way possible, I look like shit with the weight I’ve gained in the last year and a half to two years. The good thing about the diet is I have a lot more energy already — I’m not having such severe crashes after eating. I am having jetlag crash out.

Sitting at a cafe at the moment getting some work stuff done and blogging — we haven’t figured out how to get my computer connected to the wifi yet –password o password what the heck are ye. I did manage to fix my Ema’s tv/dvd/netflix –the poor woman hasn’t been able to use any of them since last February when the Israeli cats went on a rampage through her entertainment center and unplugged things and changed settings via the remotes sitting about.

I’ll blog more about politics and so forth tomorrow. I haven’t had the heart since discovering that Steven Sotloff was one of my students. It just never occurred to me that the Steve held by those murderous bastards was ‘my’ Steve, one of my kids. When I realized that, I nearly went to ground.

boker tov from New Joysey

El Al is all ya need. For flying with animals, I can’t recommend El Al more highly. At the check-in counter my bags got checked and then my check-in girl accompanied me around the corner to get the cats set up (you pay for them and they are collected just a few feet away). I was able to stay with them until 20 minutes before the flight. When I booked the flight, El Al had put me at the very front of the plane in a seat that had extra leg space to accommodate the cat and so that my “petsy” would have the least traumatic entrance and quickest exit. All the airport and security folks were gaga over my “petsy” as carry-on kitties are called.

The flight was great (highly rec. El Al food as well — it tasted restaurant quality and they just kept feeding us).

Going through passport control was a nightmare at Kennedy. At the baggage claim an El Al representative paged me and took me to my two cargo kitties that they had waiting just beyond the baggage carousel. Nesicha unfortunately had had diarrhea in her carrier (peeuw). I had to rent a baggage cart and my stuff very much did not all fit on it. While going through the long and extremely winding lines of passport and customs controls, first the backpack with the computer fell off the cart, then the brown suitcase fell off, and then horror of horrors, Nescha, perched at the very top of the heap fell off and her carrier landed upside down. I was so afraid she was hurt but she seems ok, over than now being fully covered in the diarrhea. A really nice indian woman stepped in then and helped me, pulling my brown suitcase and helping me to stabilize the animals on the cart. She helped me all the way out to the taxi line. There is a place in heaven for her.

On the drive to the hotel near the Newark airport we went down 9th street in Manhattan and right past my old apartment. I couldn’t believe how nice that area has become –restaurants and shops and very clean. When I lived there that part of Hell’s Kitchen was pretty derelict and the local homeless folks and wino’s used to get in and sleep in our building’s staircase.

The poor cats have stayed trapped in their bags all night. I didn’t dare open the carriers to clean them or give them food and water because the room has too many places that if they escaped they could hide and I’d never get them back in, especially Nesicha who needs to be cleaned up the most. They’ve cried all night. In about 2 hours I’ll be heading for the airport again. I’m hoping that the fact you can smell Nesicha a mile away is not going to be an issue. Will check back in once in Austin and the little cats are all settled.