Tuesday, September 6, 2016

THE ANNOUNCEMENT!!!-YandA have moved and life has changed


Dina daughter of Y
Pat/Yael sister of Y
Ruthie/Carol sister of Y
Barak son of Y
Boaz grandson of Y
Reut granddaughter of Y and sister of Boaz
Penny, cousin of Y
Ella granddaughter of Y, daughter of Barak
Zohar and Danny, daughter and son-in-law of A
Shaul and Ma'ayan son and grandson of A
Arkady, infrastructure king of the village known for his nyet responses
Sailing on the Nile, not a care in the world

Yes, dear friends and family, Yosefa and Arkee aka YandA have, after several months of deliberation, moved into a new home, in the retirement village of Mediterranean Towers in Nordia, a bit to the east of Natanya. (Note that we deliberated, unlike a certain couple, who moved from New Jersey to California on a whim and impulse.) We decided that renovating the old house in Hofit was not a viable option and Y's apartment in Kiryat Ono was too small and badly located from a family viewpoint.  We were also fed up with commuting 45 km each way, twice a week, for 12 years, especially since we do not own flying cars, alas...


We visited three potential locations all within a 15 km range of Natanya and decided to take the one that offered the largest house. We need a house because we have no intention of giving up Murphy, our dog.
We signed up for all of them  and shortly after the sale of the Hofit house, which was easier than expected, got an offer for ground level house of 86 sq.m.(plus an upper story) in the Mediterranean Towers of Nordia. This is what the house looks like from the outside.

We liked the size and the general layout, but the kitchen was totally unacceptable and we made a major investment in remodeling it. It looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

It is perfectly clear (at least to andA) that none of this would have succeeded without the energy, talent and can-do capability of Y. For example, we were given plans of the house, but for each room there was a caveat "for illustrative purposes only" and the scale was all wrong. Yosefa pulled out her millimeter paper notebook (from her previous move), measured each room with a tape measure and plotted them to scale. She then measured each item of furniture and fitted them into the room to scale as well.  A stood by and marveled and thanked his lucky stars for the partner he found. (Yosefa, you are not allowed to censor this paragraph).

We have a blow-by-blow history of the move as seen through Yosefa's eyes:
For anyone interested in the  this full description it is available here in both Word and PDF format.

The real story begins with taking the house and making it habitable for us. Do we like the kitchen? Can the fridge go in? How will Arkee connect to the University's computer center through a safe line? Can the piano go up the stairs? We were introduced to Haim the techy, Aharon the carpenter, Erez the contractor, Arkady first-say-no, the man responsible for the upgrading of whatever. First we  decided on redoing the kitchen and traipsed around the various salesrooms for a sink, ceramics and a marble-top (Vid. above pix). Amazingly we found ourselves in agreement with one another on our tastes..
But in parallel Y was breaking her head (metaphorically) over a plan that was not to scale (every time we went to look we found ourselves counting floor tiles, see above) and decided to take up on the offer of three hours free advice from the in-house designer. This lady, a pleasant South American with decided ideas, immediately showed her commitment by asking to see our apartments and what we wanted to take with us. Her real aim was to sell us living room chairs and in the end we bought living room chairs from her and a TV room chair from IKEA. For details of purchasing marble, ceramics, furniture  and the  Lord knows what from whom, you are referred to the detailed 10 chapter magnum opus of Y mentioned above .

The roles played by various friends and family are a story unto themselves. A mostly packed on his own, with the exception of the yeoman work of Zohar and Danny
who cleaned out the shed and hard to reach places in the house before going off to New York for the summer. Shaul and Maayan came for a morning and packed the fancy crockery, the DVD collection and the stuff that will eventually go to them. Y's place OTOH was a virtual railroad station of helpers, including Ella on the computers.
We sent her to learn computers and it paid off
In general, it pays to be the firstborn because it provides you with young strong siblings when needed.
Kid sister Ruth pitches in

On Monday the 15th Alex piano-mover called and said he would like to take the piano that day as he had to be in the Natanya area. Somehow they managed to persuade Moshe piano to come and take the instrument apart so as to be sure there would be no problem transporting it down and then up the stairs at Nordiya. Moshe came at nine pm and the piano was soon a thing of beauty in 11 parts… We had a nice chat.
Alex's men came at 7 am and wrapped and took away the 11 parts (and left behind some wide adhesive film which will be very useful). At the other end they will manage on their own, Y having shown them the pictures of the house and where the piano should go. (Modern technology!).

On the appointed day the move took place. It went smoothly and efficiently without damages, and the adrenaline carried us through. We got to bed at eleven, which was even unexpected. (Arkee did not undertake to carry Yosefa over the threshold, but we had a formal entrance which was filmed by Carol.)

The next daythe great  operation of unpacking really  started. Penny came over and arranged the china cabinet (Arkee’s best china..) and the linen cupboard, for which we were very grateful.  Boaz came and set  up the book shelves from IKEA and and what was left was to fix them to the wall.  All this was going on while various functionaries and technicians were coming in and going out (including the ladies from the day before, only this time we had patience for their questionnaires.) Then Y did a huge shopping expedition with Pat and filled up the house.

Thursday, we went out to gym in the morning and some extra errands. When we got back at 0900 the procession of technicians started up. First the electrician who brought a tall ladder and installed our lamp shade and at the same time put up a couple of statuettes (shmontzes belaaz) in a high niche which will only be dusted (by him?) at Pesach..  Then the TV technicians (four of them) and then the fellows who were supposed to hang the TV on the wall. They all got on marvelously together and were most professional, but meanwhile Arkee was accompanying them to the office and making sure everything was as he wanted and we finally had breakfast at 12 noon
So here we are at the breakfast table.

Dina came for supper with the kids and fortunately we had the food Pat had prepared for the day before. . Murphy had joined the party too, having been retrieved from the kennel and carefully sniffed out his new home. We had the noisiest, most joyous dinner party on the block. The picture is not sharp, made fuzzy by good wine and food:

Now we are settling in, meeting people, still buying things that were overlooked or postponed. A continues to go to Hofit for gym and Pilates three times a week and Y is doing gym in the pool and starting to learn wood carving  Murphy runs twice each day in the fields of Nordiya and fertilizes them faithfully. So here we are in our new world and finding our way.
Family picture in our new home

Friday, August 21, 2015

Suddenly, New York [and Brussels too]

Lunch anyone?

Suddenly, New York.

We had no plans for the summer, being tied up, as many of our age are, with various medical bureaucracies which might have prevented or delayed travel. But they resolved themselves faster than predicted, and there was Zohar going to celebrate her 60th birthday in Central Park without us! Lo ba beheshbon! לא בא בחשבון!! Out of the question!!

So we consulted friendly Orna of ISSTA and decided to take in a European city on the way (thus earning miles) and wavered between Brussels and Amsterdam (Madrid having been ruled out by the multitude of Israelis who have relatives in South America) and decided on the former as being a place we hadn’t really visited before. But first – NYC!
Air Brussels from Tel Aviv had the dubious advantage of making United Airlines (code-sharer for the second lap) look good. The seats were nine across and even Yosefa was too crowded to put her shoes back on. However, we braved it, with mental reservations.
In NYC, having slept only two hours the night before and fitfully on the plane, we crashed. Luckily Zohar and family came to us for supper and we splurged on a taxi for a few streets. Arkee was delighted to see his American grandchildren, the first sighting for many months.
Joey and Maya with their Daddy

The VRBO apartment served its purpose, housed up to five of us with minimum inconvenience and was located beautifully for our needs. The fire house on our block supplied a view of a hydrant that would have delighted Murphy:

Only the next morning did we contact my brother David and Susan, my school friend. This resulted in an invitation to dinner which was very enjoyable.
In the late morning (we rarely get out of our lodgings before noon when on holiday!) we went to investigate the new Whitney museum. We fortified ourselves with a light lunch before viewing the latest exhibitions of modern and very much politicized art. The building is recent and very impressive, overlooking the Hudson River.
The next day we had breakfast with Sue at her lovely studio flat. We got there at 10 and stayed almost till noon. Renewing old friendships is always delightful. Then we had to be back in time for David to pick us up as we had an invitation to New Jersey to meet up with David’s family. 
Gil, David's son,  was waiting with the barbecue with onion and peppers added, grilled pineapples and other delicacies made for a lovely meal and a family reunion.

From left, Naomi, Judah, Tali and Matt
But the most important was the interaction with the children and grandchildren – Eva and Shoshi

Shoshi and Eva
and Judah (Josh was at camp). Arkee had a wonderful time solving a very sophisticated crossword grid with Eva and Judah

and Judah engaged us in some very difficult questions about Israel..

In the morning Hadass, who had arrived from Winnipeg, had breakfast with us at the Italian restaurant on the corner and we all dined at an Indian one on Friday night.  There we had the first birthday celebration with a cupcake and sparkler for Zohar.

Family breakfast with Joey, Maya and Hadass
Friday we got to MOMA just in time to see what we wanted to before the crowds came in for free at 4 pm.

An official was necessary to direct the traffic in and out of the cloakroom and did so very efficiently. We saw an exhibition by Jacob Lawrence, a black artist (the first African-American to exhibit in NYC), who documented the great immigration of blacks from the South after emancipation. His style was naïve but dramatic.

The next morning we finally got to the Met museum and viewed some of the new Chinese and Japanese exhibitions (western imitations of Chinese dresses- amazing)

and in the evening managed to join up again with David and meet Gidon’s family for Chinese (the boys manage quite well with chopsticks and know what they like) and then Fro-yo – a choice of 14 handles to pull by flavor and pay by weight. Samples are free…

Natan, Yadin and Fro-Yo
They are lovely, intelligent kids and we had a warm family evening.

Sunday was THE BIRTHDAY.
It was a sunny day, and quite a few female New Yorkers took advantage of it by sunbathing on the grass in minimal clothing. The male members of our party took advantage of their long lenses to enjoy the view.
Central Park trees and recycling bin

The grandchildren who had been sleeping with us, went off early to reserve tables in the park. We lazed along, via Danny who did some laundry for us, and came upon a set table

with Turkish takeouts from the neighborhood, drinks, coffee, birthday cake etc.

The Birthday Cake!!
The table next to us was taken  by a Jewish family with the birthday of a three-year old, and they donated the rest of their birthday cake to us too.


From left: Maya, Danny & Zohar
We met people we knew, as well as interesting people we didn’t and finished up the evening back at the Chinese restaurant.
Altogether we had a beautiful cultural, culinary and social week and are determined to do it again…

Onward go YandA:

Brussels: other than sprouts? 

Other than the grey day we visited it years ago and duly recorded the Mannekin Piss?
We arrived early morning, too early for  our apartment to be ready for us. So breakfasted at the airport and finally took the bus recommended “200 meters from  the apartment”. But we still had time to wander, only not dragging elephants behind us.
So we schlepped 200 meters in the opposite direction and stashed them in a large locker. Only wandering, with or even without suitcases, was not what we were up to after a short night, and the final lap of our portage was complicated by steep  streets and rough cobblestones…yes they still have them in Europe. We sat around the Museum of the European Parliament:


The apartment, on the other hand, is modern, bright, clean and well-equipped, minus air-conditioning! I think I remember saying that we could manage without if the price was a place close to the center, but did not think we would have a south-facing room, all windows, only alleviated by thick dark curtains and powerful  fan. But we were tired enough to sleep, anyway.
Today, Wednesday (I think) we could not find the Michelin. So misguided, we made our bus way towards the center, when we could have left the bus right in front of the museum.

This was corrected by some energetic walking through the city (no hardship, and it was not too hot).

and the visit well repaid our efforts. Breughel I and II, Bosch, Hals, Memling, Van Dyck, Van de Werden and many more.
The Yawner by Breughel I

Unfortunately, the modern wing was closed for renovations, but we spent a long time (with a combined ticket) in the Magritte exhibition which is the largest in the world, and also features documents, letters, magazines of the time, quotations and short comic films he made himself.  Photography is not allowed in the exhibition itself, but we used our cameras in the museum shop:

As everything closes at 5 pm we missed buying a book or catalogue and will have to return.
Having lunched, we made our tortuous way down to the Grand'Place where the most impressive buildings were still sunlit and there is the beginning of a flower show which we hope will be the big one.

En route to the Grand'Place

 On the way we saw an interesting clock built into the side of a building. The clock is beautiful and the figures in its alcoves slowly animate.  Its chimes have a great sound (even though the bells do not move)! The man on top rings out the hour with his hammer and the figures animate.

Unusual Clock In Brussels, Belgium

These pictures show the   building known as Maison du Roi ("King's House") or Broodhuis ("Bread hall"). Note the musicians on the roof.


There is not a Belgian to be seen on the streets, they are all behind counters when they have not let out their franchises to immigrants from other nations.

The streets and squares were cram-jam packed  with tourists – Italians, Spanish speakers, Israelis, Germans and French – and of course Chinese. However, the general atmosphere is very festive and the waiters all speak English.

We saw a good reason for the reputation of Belgian chocolate and waffles.

Some people eat chocolate on a larger scale:

We can get around easily by bus if we find the stop, and remember to say “nonante’ (ninety in Belgian French, which is the logical  way to say it, but not what I learned in French French). But why do so many (young) people smoke??
Today was going to be very hot (and was when we were not in the shade) so we elected for another museum in what was left of the morning – this time the one showing musical instruments. Well advised as to the bus routes, we set off for the Magritte shop – but road-works changed the route and we once again found ourselves in the wrong place. This however, was soon remedied with a coffee and a bus in the reverse direction, which did take us to our destination. However the book I wanted of the Magritte exhibition was too heavy to carry around the whole day so we finally bought it the next day.
Then around the corner to the “England house”  where the exhibition is held. This is an art nouveau building which once served as a department store.
The first floor is all mechanical instruments (pianolas,  organs, pianos and music boxes) and not very interesting. However you are supplied with an automatic audio guide and if you stand in the right place, you can hear the instrument in front of you playing. This is wonderful if the audio-guide goes the same way you do and keeps up with you – but can cause some confusion and amusement. The second floor, however, shows hundreds of different instruments used through the ages from all over the world. From the coffin shaped zither (and  others decorated with dragon heads) to the drums – one made of clay 1.5 meters long with the head of a fish, clappers formed out of human skulls and the wonderfully decorated panels of Chinese chimes – it was a fascinating and informative exhibition which took up our afternoon.

Human bones used as trumpets-Tibet

Detail of Chinese gong clappers

From here we went back to the square where,

as it is an odd year, there is no carpet of flowers. Only an exhibition of flower arrangements in the Rathuis (Town Hall to you). Massive bouquets, bowls, streams along staircases and fanciful forms filled every room – and will all  be thrown  out on Monday.

Brussels is a hotbed of leftists who think that refugees are people. We tend to agree with them.

We got back to the flat just before the rain, and have not yet decided how much this will influence our plans for tomorrow. After the worst was over we went out to dinner – and discovered our usually calm and quiet square, with cafes and restaurants around a central statue with dead grass – jam-packed and noisy due to “happy hour” and its continuation into loud music and shouted conversation over meals. We took out or tuned off our hearing aids and had fish and chips.
After the late supper, we got out really late this morning. We decided to pay our respects to the Cathedral and found the right bus.  
The Cathedral, dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula,  is impressive, early Gothic, with statues on every pillar  (rather unusual) and a beautiful ebony pulpit. The church was 13th century, but additions were made much later. We appreciated the silence and the art.

Yosefa and the Cathedral

Base of pulpit by Hendrik van Verbruggen (1699)
We ate under umbrellas in the rain which turned quite heavy before we caught our bus, I was well protected and Arkee doesn’t care. We decided to call it a day after finally picking up the Magritte catalog  and came back to a fish meal and Arkee’s promised Belgian waffle. Now we can leave Belgium!
All the same, we   intended to take advantage of our last day here. Antwerp, the Atomium were possibilities that were soon ruled out by the bad weather. Arkee did not even have a sweat-shirt with him. So we decided to make do with Erasmus’ house (where he only stayed for five months while doing some research) which had been on our programme anyway. We found a wonderful breakfast  place with really good coffee and then made our way through the rain to the Metro. From the Southern railway terminal we wended through the suburbs (coming back we were directed to take the tram which had a much shorter route) to the stop named Erasmushuis. We alighted in the middle of a city street with shops and restaurants – all closed! Yom Kippur? Sunday?
Anderlecht, suburb of Brussels

And not the slightest indication that there was an Erasmushuis within 100 kilometres! But at least at one place they told us it was a Christian holiday (known as the Assumption). All this time it was raining and I was leaving  Arkee under the eaves of some building while I inquired and inquired. Finally we walked up Erasmus Street, and found a local jogger who knew something. When we finally found the house, it was nowhere near Erasmus Street, with no signpost or notification that this was what it was until you got right up to the front door.
Inside, however, we were gratified.
Erasmus, 1469?-1536

We were the only people there (four or five people left as we arrived) and were courteously received and given an English guide book to look at (they only had the one copy…) saw Bible interpretations, books and tractates and collections of letters (some self-censored after the Reformation when it was “as dangerous to speak as to remain silent”.)
Also books of education for princes intending to become rulers (for instance how to tell the difference between a friend and flatterer) and other wise treatises with white spaces or floral decorations in the middle of the pages
where the Inquisition had blanked them out…..(Miri Regev, please note)
And back by tram and Metro through the somewhat lessening rain for a siesta, dinner and packing up. This time we decided to take a taxi to the airport! It arrived at 0631 with an apology from the driver…