Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer’s last hurrah

Hellooooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

The books are all covered; the knapsacks are all packed; and everyone knows what time they have to be there on the first day of school/gan.

So how did we spend the final week of vacation? Well, in addition to covering and packing the aforementioned books and knapsacks (respectively), we B”H found time for a few more activities:

  • YZG took the boys to the pool for the last swim of the summer.
  • We went to a beautiful bar mitzvah.
  • AMG and ESG both took the train – albeit on different days – to Tel Aviv, where they each went boating in Ganei Yehoshua.
  • MAG went bowling (or bowel-ling, for the Hebraically-oriented among you).
  • ASG took a bus to Misrad HaP’nim and got his TZ.
  • We finally went to check out the new Azrieli Mall in Modiin.
  • We enjoyed a BBQ on the beach in Ashdod with some of this blog’s most loyal readers. (We missed you, YAT!)
  • We spent a very special Shabbat together with those same readers. (Happily, this time, YAT came too.) We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Shabbat hosts. We all had a great time!

Feel free to use the comment section to report how you spent the waning days of summer.

Shavua tov from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

From the Our Shiputzim mailbag

Hellooooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

We recently received the following letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I’ve been a loyal reader from the very start of this blog. In fact, I haven’t missed a single post.

But I do have one complaint: Now that you’ve moved on to other topics, you’ve left some of us in suspense. For instance, what ever happened to that closet you were building in AMG’s room? How about the light in the attic? Do you still just have one light up there? I’m sure there are more open issues as well.

As a favor to your long-time fans, please consider posting an update on these and other matters.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Wondering-on-the-Web

Well, “Wondering”, we do appreciate that you took the time to write. However, please rest assured that the renovations remain our primary focus. Yes, we have expanded this blog’s purview. But we have not abandoned our original mission, which was – and is – to record all the fascinating (and otherwise) minutiae of our renovations.

And so, to answer your specific questions:

1. AMG’s closet: When I last posted about this closet, it looked like this. Today, it still looks like this. In other words, the carpenter has not been back since then – although he keeps insisting that he’s coming “tomorrow”. (Apparently, in his world, tomorrow=tomorrow+1.) But don’t worry. Our intrepid reporters are closely monitoring this story, and we will, of course, bring you any late-breaking developments as soon as they come in.

2. Attic lights: As you will no doubt recall from our last tour of the attic, there was only one fluorescent light fixture up there. This was fine before we started bringing stuff up. But once we added all the shelves, the attic was just too dark. And so, YZG and his talented team of assistants headed up the stairs, opened the hatch, and got to work. First, they spent some time caulking up a few more holes. And then, they installed two additional lights.

Here is new attic light #1:


And here is new attic light #2:


“Wondering”,  I hope that answers your questions.

Meanwhile, those of you who fell asleep during the course of this post can wake up now, but I have to say that I’m shocked – shocked! – that you weren’t enthralled by our light bulbs. I mean, after all, does it get more exciting than that?! (Don’t answer that!)

And on that note, we wish you all a good night from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Acculturate the positive

As indicated here, we B”H recently celebrated our ten year aliyah-versary.

In a thought-provoking post (which I first saw referenced here and also here) in honor of her own aliyah anniversary, Chayyei Sarah wrote about the five stages of aliyah: Euphoria, Panic, Depression, Adaptation, and Acculturation. As she explains, the stages are not always sequential; upon occasion, they work in parallel and/or repeat themselves.

In any event, most of the time, we find ourselves tentatively dipping our toes into the shallow end of Acculturation – albeit with frequent forays back into Adaptation as well as the sporadic relapse or two to the earlier stages.

But in this post*, I want to talk about the “final” stage: Acculturation.

To a certain extent, this stage is well-nigh impossible to achieve. I mean, although our Hebrew is more or less passable, our American accents will never disappear. Similarly, we have certain ingrained tastes and habits – e.g. eating our main meal at suppertime, using seatbelts and car seats, disliking olives, purchasing only Fahrenheit thermometers, and many others – which I don’t think we will be giving up anytime soon.

But then there are things which we seem to have adopted without even noticing – such as changing our taste in food (except, of course, for the aforementioned olives), saying things like ”mazal tov” instead of “mazel tov”, celebrating our Hebrew birthdays rather than our English ones, no longer automatically deleting long Hebrew emails, etc.

Yet, at the same time, there are other behaviors which we have taken up – deliberately, self-consciously, sarcastically and ironically.

What do I mean?

Let me give you two examples:

1. In the comment section to this post, Benji Lovitt observes that Israelis don’t use the same “phone number rhythm” which we are used to from the States. In the first few years after our aliyah, I found this to be very disconcerting. I mean, one time someone would give a number with a 3-4-3 rhythm, and then the next time, someone else would use a completely different rhythm. Meanwhile, I made a point of always using the more familiar and natural 3-3-4 (or 2-3-4 for a land line).

But lately, I amuse myself by using all sorts of odd rhythms. For instance, for cell-phones, I interchange the simple 3-1-3-3 with the never-ending 2-2-2-2-2 and the symmetric 2-1-4-1-2 and 3-1-2-1-3. The funny part is that no one has complained yet!

2. The second example also concerns giving out phone numbers. As good ol’ YT (who really should start posting again on his “nameless” blog) pointed out many years ago, whenever an Israeli gives out a phone number or address over the telephone, he or she will introduce this information with a “ יש לך עט? תרשמי” (“Do you have a pen? [Then] write.”) New olim tend to find this patronizing and annoying. (Yeah, I called you up to ask for the phone number, but it never occurred to me to prepare a pen. Do you also want to ask me if I washed behind my ears and did my homework?)

But over time, I learned to embrace this phrase, and now whenever I give out information over the phone, I enjoy opening with a “יש לך עט” of my own. (Inevitably, the ironic tone goes over the listener’s head.)

So, there you have it – a view of Acculturation from the front lines.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.


* Yes, this was supposed to be the big ten-year aliyah-versary post that I’ve been hyping incessantly over the past few weeks. But now that I’ve finally written it, I realize that I have more to say on the subject. Watch this space for more aliyah-related posts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beta testing

Helloooooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

The Our Shiputzim reservations department has informed us that the response to our recent invitation has not been as overwhelming as we may have hoped.

To that end, we turned to our PR department and asked them to help out in this regard.

The PR department, in turn, said that they have two words for us:



Huh?, we naturally said.

The PR people patiently replied that our potential guests are probably loath to serve as guinea pigs. In other words, no one wants to be the first person to stay in our “newly renovated guest suite”  - if I may quote a RL (real life) friend of ours. The solution, the PR people explained, is to have some beta testers stay here in TRLEOTB (the real life equivalent of this blog). Assuming that the testers would provide positive feedback on their stay, we would then be able to allay some of our potential guests’ concerns.

And, so, this past Shabbat we did just that. Friends of ours were making a simchah over Shabbat, and we hosted some of their guests.

Little did these guests know that they were actually here as beta testers.

In any event, you will all be pleased to learn that they assured us that they were very comfortable. In fact, the commenter named “INeedAC” (known to long-time readers of this blog for his Swedish language skills) will be glad to know that the unwitting testers remarked – unprompted - that it was “very nice and cool.”

And so, there you have it.

We once again remind our readers that the Our Shiputzim reservations department is waiting for your call…

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wallowing in the mud

You didn’t think that title referred to me, did you?

No, as some of you know, I don’t do mud.

The title refers to AMG, who just returned from her machaneh. She insists that neither wallowing nor mud was involved – although she concedes that there were plenty of dirt and rocks. I’ll have to take her word for it, because – as is the case every year – she looked pretty bedraggled when she arrived home.

However, she had a great time – the horrible food, the lack of sleep, and the terrible heat notwithstanding.

While she was away, we went to Kibbutz Shaalvim, where this week and next, they have something called “Chavayah BaKerem” (literally, “an experience in the vineyard.”). They have a whole slew of activities (arts and crafts, tours of the vineyard, tasting some new fruit, learning how to redeem fruit that is neta reva’i, grinding flour, making pitahs, eating sugar cane, making butter, and much more), and the kids had a great time. Although the highlight is supposed to be stepping on the grapes and making your own bottle of grape juice – all shmitah-compliant, of course – none of our kids wanted to do that.

Anyway, all in all, the whole thing is definitely recommended. It costs 20 NIS per adult and 25 NIS per child. Please note that you have to make reservations if you want to go. (Let me know if you want the phone number to make reservations.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday tidbits

Hellooooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

I’m still working on the big ten-year aliyah-versary post, but in the meantime, here are a number of blogging tidbits (bligbits? bloggits? blidbits? bliggits? blodbits?) for your reading pleasure:

1. First, an update to this post, where I reported that the new downstairs A/C controller board came with a new remote. Here’s a picture of the new remote sensor on the wall:

IMG_2667 (800x515)

Yes, we still need to do some patching up.

Interestingly enough, the old remote itself still works (B”AH), and so we sold the new one to someone who was looking for one.

2. Second, a trivia question for our readers: In addition to our aliyah-versary, we also celebrated another anniversary B”H last week.  What anniversary was it and how many years has it been? Leave your answers in the comments section. (Those of you who complained that our previous competition was over before you even had a chance to read about it will be glad to know that the winner of that competition is currently in transit and doesn’t seem to be reading this blog for the duration. Of course, that winner was actually disqualified, but that’s not important right now…)

3. And, lastly, we have started to think about this blog’s future. Way back in this blog’s heyday, we would receive supportive comments such as this one and even this one. But lately, even our most ardent fans (such as the authors of the two comments I just cited) have been neither reading nor commenting. So, we need to ask ourselves if there is any point in continuing…. Nu? What do you think?

…And that’s about it for now.

As always, watch this space for future developments.

Good night from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Here a closet, there a closet

Hellooooo, Our Shiputzim fans*.

We have several major developments to report, and so let's not waste any time with the pleasantries.

Here's what's happening:

Our neighbor (formerly known as “the kablan”) stopped by this morning to help YZG and ASG do the last panel of the porch screening, as you can see here:

YZG and ASG did the rest of the porch by themselves (as you can see herehere and here), but this last section was too tall.

In any event, we now have to purchase some wood to anchor the screens and prevent them from flying up like a sail in the wind.

In other news, the carpenter returned today and spent some more time on AMG’s closet:


And, finally, YZG and I acquired a closet for our own bedroom today.

As some of you may know, we had originally planned on waiting to install a closet in our room. After all, we’ve managed without one for ten years, B”AH. By now, we don’t barely notice the piles of clothes which have no place to go.smile_regular

But then someone posted on our local email list that they were giving away some aronot gratis. The owners are getting new aronot, because some of the inside shelves are no longer usable. But at that price, we figured it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. (And, anyway, we are happy with less shelves, because it gives us more hanging room.)

So, after working on the porch this morning, YZG and ASG drove down the street, dismantled the aronot, and brought them home. MAG, ESG, and TSG then washed all the parts, and YZG and ASG reassembled the closet.

And, now, without further ado, here’s our “new” closet:

IMG_2846 Stitch - Edited

Special thanks to ASG (aka the Chief of Photography) for expertly stitching the above picture together!

Well, that’s about it for now.

See you next time on another exciting, entertaining and enthralling edition of Our Shiputzim!


* Or should that be “fan” (i.e. singular)?… Is anyone still out there?… Feel free to leave a comment, and let us know that you’re still reading…

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mazal tov: Siyum Seder Zera’im edition

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

Yes, I know, I know. It has been a few days since my last post. I actually have a few things to write about – such as our ten year “aliyah-versary”, which we B”H celebrated last week – but TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog) intruded on my blogging plans. Anyway, B”N, I hope to make up for it this week, but no promises.

We begin today’s entry with a very special mazal tov to our dear ESG on his recent siyum on the entire Seder Zera’im!!!!

As some of you know, in addition to his long day in school, ESG goes to an intensive afternoon Talmud Torah five days a week. There are two shiurim every day: Chumash and Mishnah. The Talmud Torah makes a point of not skipping anything, and - as his teachers in school as well as those of you who’ve had the privilege of hearing ESG talk at a Shabbat meal can attest – B”AH he really knows his stuff.

In any event, the siyum itself was incredibly beautiful. The festivities began with mincha at the Kotel, followed by a tour of the Rova. (ESG had actually been on this same tour before. You walk around the Old City and just “happen” to bump into “Avraham Avinu” and then “Yitzchak Avinu” etc. It’s actually quite cute.)

After the tour, the boys, their parents, and the ra”mim all went to Rav Neventzal’s house for the actual siyum. Rav Neventzal gave them a brachah, and one of the fathers made the Hadran.

Finally, there was a fleishig seudah (bourekas and deli) in the courtyard of a school there in the Rova. Each boy received a copy of “Encylopedia L’Birkot HaNehenin” and a certificate. Here is a [slightly edited due to security considerations] picture of ESG’s certificate:


(You can click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Meanwhile, on the renovations front, the carpenter spent a few hours working on the aronot in AMG’s room this morning. Let’s check out what he has accomplished so far.

We think that this will be the shoe drawers on the bottom:


And here are the drawers themselves:


Here is part of the closet: (The white thing in front is the bathroom cabinet.)


Well, that’s about it for now.

As always, we encourage our readers to leave comments.

Good night from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A bedtime story

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

Once upon a time, there were three bears: a mama bear, a papa bear and a baby bear…

Huh? What’s that you say? . . . .

Not that kind of bedtime story? . . . .

So, then what does this post’s title mean? . . . .

Oh, now I get it. I’m supposed to write a whole story about how our new high-riser arrived this afternoon and about how it’s time for the new bed to make its blog debut? Well, why didn’t you just say so? . . . .

In any event, I don’t think a whole story is really necessary. I’m pretty sure that the following picture speaks for itself:


But I will point out that the top bed opens for storage…


… and that the bottom bed pulls out…


…and lifts up for sleeping:


Note: Although in the above picture, the bed on the right appears to be higher than the one on the left, please rest assured that they are of equal height. Moreover, both beds are exactly the same color – even though the picture implies otherwise.

You’re all – well, actually not really “all”; really only those of you who know us in real life!smile_regular - invited to come visit and sleep on the new beds. Please contact the Our Shiputzim reservations department for details. Our agents are standing by.

And that’s about it for now.

Good evening and good night from the entire Our Shiputzim staff!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lions and tigers and bears… Oh, my!

He-e-e-elloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

Today found the Shiputzim Family (henceforth to be known as “the Shiputzims”*) at the Safari in Ramat Gan.

What were we doing there, you ask?

Looking at the elephants, of course!

You see, 2-3 months ago, ENG revealed to me – in the course of a conversation – that she wasn’t exactly sure what elephants looked like.

After thinking about it, we realized that it had been some time since we had been to a zoo. Needless to say, when the older kids were younger, we went fairly frequently. But, recently, we’ve been going to “more mature” attractions.

So, we told ENG that after Tisha B’Av, we would go to the zoo to see the elephants… and any other animals which happened to be on view.

Everyone chose to come along, and a pleasant time was had by all.

ENG got to see the elephants, and they more than lived up to her expectations. The giraffes, lions, bears, monkeys and ostriches proved to be big hits as well.

To the tiger in the zoo, TSG and ENG made sure to say, “pooh, pooh!” (Reference, anyone?)

And on that note, we conclude today’s edition of Our Shiputzim.

Have a good night.

P.S. As always, we encourage all our readers – including the more reticent ones – to leave a comment. We would love to hear from you!


* As you can see, I’ve changed my blogging “handle” from ALG to “Mrs. S.” – as in Shiputzim. The reason is that one of our astute readers observed that a different ALG had left comments on some other blogs. In order to differentiate myself from that other ALG, I chose to “change my name”. However, here on this blog, feel free to continue using “ALG”.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Judging our books by their covers (or, rather, their spines)

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

I hope you all had an easy fast and are now enjoying your music/fleishigs/haircuts… and, of course, your laundry! (For the record: we just started Post-Tisha B’Av Load #3, aka “BA”H - A Drop in the Bucket”.)

Some of you have inquired as to the state of the playroom. I’m pleased to report that although we’re not yet finished, we’ve certainly come a long way.

For instance, the library committee* managed to finish sorting and shelving the playroom books, as you can see here:


And here:


And also here:


To our pleasant surprise, we found all sorts of books which we had forgotten about. Also, now that everything is classified according to official OSS rules (that is, the Our Shiputzim System, of course!), it’s now much easier to find a specific book.

The Our Shiputzim editorial board would like to take this opportunity to thank the library committee for their fine work. In particular, the board is highly appreciative of AMG’s bookbinding and repair efforts. Go, AMG!!!

That’s about it for now, but don’t forget to watch this space for future updates.

Have a good afternoon from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

P.S. To those of our readers who are traveling abroad this week: Have a good and safe trip, and please feel free to check in while you’re away.


* Library Committee: Chair – Our Head Librarian; Members - AMG and TSG

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The week in culinary review

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

Since we’ve already established that food posts make excellent blog fodder, I think we’ll go that route again.

Today’s topic is:

What did you have for supper each night this week?

Please leave a comment, and tell us about your meals during the Nine Days.

I’ll get the ball rolling by posting what we had:

Sunday: Fish sticks, salad, and canned corn

Monday: Pizza

Tuesday: Tuna croquettes, mashed potatoes, and cut up vegetables

Wednesday: Vegetable soup, parve schnitzel and parve hot dogs, pita, potato chips, and cut up vegetables

Thursday: Lasagna and cut up vegetables

And now it’s your turn: The comment section is at your disposal.

Sorry, but we didn’t take any pictures of any of our meals.

Instead, here’s a picture of some of the materials for the closet in AMG’s room:


And also:


You probably won’t be able to get an exact feel for the color, but this should give you a general idea.

As with the bathroom cabinet, the carpenter is I”YH supposed to come after Tisha B’Av and put the closet up.

On that note, we wish all our readers an easy and meaningful fast.

בברכת מהרה יבנה המקדש

ושבת שלום

The entire Our Shiputzim staff

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A notebook on the floor is worth two in the knapsack (or something like that)

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim readers!

Those of you who were concerned (and we do thank you for your empathy) about our A/C-less state will be relieved to learn that the repairman returned today and replaced the controller board. It even came with a new remote.

So, the fans are now on their way back up to the attic.

But today’s big news was that we had two longish blackouts – one in the late afternoon and one in the evening. Apparently, the electricity was out in the entire area and not just here in our neighborhood.

Yes, this did mean that the A/C was once again out of commission… but this time, the fans were of no help, either.sun

Since blackouts aren’t all that photogenic, let’s see if we can’t find something else for your viewing enjoyment.

Ah! Here’s something:


As you may have guessed, this is the haul from this summer’s school supplies shopping spree. (Try saying that 5 times fast!)

That’s about all for now.

See you next time on another exciting episode of…. Our Shiputzim!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our reliable fans

Hellooooo, Our Shiputzim readers!

Now, I realize that when some of our more loyal readers see this post’s title, they will become very excited.

Wow! A post all about us,” they'll probably say. “We can’t wait to read what will surely be a paean to our many virtues.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble and all, but, unfortunately, your fifteen minutes of fame have not yet arrived. In other words, this post is not about you.

No, this post is about the other kind of fans. You know, the kind that cools you off. The kind that you dig out of your attic and turn on when your A/C has decided to conk out on you….

I’m sure that most of you can see where this is headed, and I probably can just stop here. However, since I have nothing else to write about, I figure I might as well milk it for all its worth. So here goes.

Last night, at around 9:00, our A/C stopped working. YZG spent some time fiddling, but to no avail. So, we called the appliance repairman, and he arrived at around 10:00 this morning. It turned out that the problem was with the controller board attached to the unit in the ceiling. The repairman jury-rigged something for today and will I”YH return tomorrow to finish the job.

As an aside, I should note that this is far from this same repairman’s first appearance in the blog. In fact, as you will no doubt recall, he played a significant role in this post and also in this post.

In completely unrelated news, here is a picture of what will eventually be the cabinet in the upstairs bathroom:


Right now, it’s sitting in AMG’s room, waiting for the carpenter to come install it IY”H after Tisha B’Av.

That’s about all for now.

Don’t forget to tune in again tomorrow – same Our Shiputzim time, same Our Shiputzim channel.