Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Desert Odyssey

This weekend we went for a big trip into the desert with Purple's family, in honour of his mother's 75th birthday.

Personally, I'm not really into the desert; it's very hot, and very dry, and dusty. We walk around for ages to look at interesting rocks, that mostly look just like the rocks we have here, except that Moses once stubbed his toes on the desert rocks.04 tree climbing

So, it was eighteen people, driving in a convoy of four cars - for some reason they refuse to tell us exactly where we are going; we have to drive in a convoy, and about a hundred cell phone calls flash back and forth between the various cars during the course of a 3 hour drive.

We stopped a few places on the way; at one Moshav where we looked at the locked doors of the Cochin Jewish Museum, and had a picnic, while the kids climbed trees.

And not just the kids: 08 tree climbing  Booki

We stayed the night at a Bedouin guest house, which was very cool - we all slept on the floor in a huge Bedouin tent. Oh how I would have traded my first born for a mosquito net that night!

Anyway it was a nice place, and we had a big Bedouin-style feast for Shabat dinner. Though sadly, they were keeping Kosher for us, so it was served with Matzoh, rather than wonderful Bedouin pita.

So, here's the tent:

13 bedouin tent

And our feast:20 bedouin mealThe next day we drove into the desert 4 hours, the group divided into 3 4WDs, to get to Mount Karkum to see the rock paintings. On the drive we saw lots of wildlife; some Zvi (a kind of deer) and a cool lizard.

For me and Littletree, driving hours out into the desert, only to climb up a rocky mountain in the middle of the noonday heat just to look at rocks 28 firing rangeisn't really such a great time, but on the way, we drove through a firing range (a common-place occurrence in Israel), which was pretty interesting for us.

Littletree was fascinated to see all the missile cases and blown-up wreckage littering the desert, and it led to lots of discussions about war and Israel and such. Long-time readers might remember previous discussions about that, which is the real reason we don't live in Israel.

27 firing range

In the end, it was too hot, and Littletree didn't want to climb up the mountain. 43 rock painting So after we walked around a bit, looking at interesting rocks, I sat with Littletree and some of the younger children in the shade while everyone else climbed up to look at the rock paintings. Purple took some photos:

Then I managed to sprain my ankle, tripping on a rock, en route to the aid of my nephew, who banged his head really badly by standing up under the open car door. It was quite a slapstick moment.

Finally, we climbed back into our cars and drove home. In a few days we leave Israel for Bangkok, and on to China for the World Rainbow Gathering

Friday, 25 April 2008

Rainbow Rant

We went off to the Spring Rainbow Gathering this week. Luckily, it was held in a relatively (for Israel) nice place, only about 40 minutes drive from home.79 Hot!

I thought I might stay a few days, but once we got there... well, though it was a pretty easy site - very small, easy access to everything, and we found a nice spot to put our tent up, it was SO hot. Like, Global warming came early this year. Seriously; when we left, the reading in the car thermometer was 42 degrees Centigrade (105F)!

We ended up leaving on the second day, choosing Ice Cream and Air Conditioning over Rainbow Warriors.

When we got home, I put our household thermometer outside to see how hot it is, and the poor thing went up to 50 degrees (120F) and then broke!

We spent most of the time there drinking lots of water and hiding in the shade. I, of course, found my way to the kitchen and started to focalise dinner. What can I say? I'm an addict.

There was a great kid there helping, he was 14, and lots of fun to chat with. Only he didn't speak English, so I had to brush up on Hebrew. Anyway, we chopped a huge pile of onions, and vegetables, and made a big dahl, and a salad. That went down really well, and we even had it served before sunset. :)

The main problem was that Littletree was miserable. The ground was got and rocky and dusty - not fun for going barefoot on her little tootsies. Only she refused to wear her sandals, coz she can't stand if bits of sand get in. So she went around barefoot, complaining pitifully the whole time. and it was too hot for her. and there weren't other kids for her to play with. and she wanted to go home. and she wanted to eat...

I still had the same old problem with the levels of hygiene in the Israeli rainbow.

Okay, let's be honest; hygiene levels are never too hot in rainbow - it's a bunch of hippies camping in the woods, without running water or proper facilities. So, in order to counteract this deplorable level of hygiene, we make really strict standards - thorough hand washing, no tasting of food from fingers or already-used spoons while cooking, and most of all: the food servers should *never ever* touch anyone's plate when serving.

But in Israel, everything is exacerbated by a couple of issues:

1) There's no water at all - This gathering thankfully had a tap that was only about 200M to walk to and fill up the jerry cans, but it's still a mission to get them filled. Some times they gather in the desert where there really is *no* water at all. They have this 500L tank, which supplies 300+ people. and it gets filled every second day. You do the math. Clearly low standards of hygiene

2) It's freaking hot! like you can't believe. And there's flies everywhere.

3) The people are mostly Israelis. This means that it doesn't matter what you tell them, they will insist that they should do just whatever the heck they were doing in the first place. The more you try to explain that a small splash of water from a bottle is not sufficient to cleanse one's hands after defecating, especially if one then goes to chop salad for hundreds of other people, the more they will insist on cutting said salad, and refuse to wash properly. Their final word in any argument is inevitably; "I'm not in the army any more so no one can tell me what to do."

Not touching plates while serving is the hard one. It's a strong habit. Now, I've been to over thirty rainbow gatherings, and I've focalised the serving at a lot of them. You get a few wingnuts, but in general, it's pretty easy to explain this to the servers - we carry the pots of food around to the people, and we let them hold their plate close to the pot while we scoop the food. We never touch their plates, not with our hands and not with the serving spoons. It's a new way of doing things, but totally doable, and in the long run, less work for the servers.

Only in Israel, they insist that the pots should remain in the centre of the circle, and the servers walk around collecting up plates, bring them in to be filled up, and then carry them back out.

Great. So that server, who just went and made a big show of washing her hands, is then going and touching the dirty plates of those dirty hippies. Plates that are sitting on the ground. Plates that haven't been washed properly for a week, and that dogs have licked, and flies have been on, and that people with random intestinal parasites from India have been eating off. And then they go and touch everyone else's plate. great thinking guys.

Now this non-touching of plates might sound extreme, but I've been to gatherings where literally 85% of the people got lying-on-the-ground-screaming-in-agony-in-a-pile-of-their-own-diarrhoea sick. It spreads like wildfire. I'd like to prevent it.

I explain all of this to people, calmly and patiently. They seem to understand. But the Israelis don't change the method of taking everyone's plates. Some Israelis even say they understand me, and say very nicely, "okay sister, I understand. Sometimes I do it your way. But today, I want to do it my way. We're in a flow".

Drives me batty. </rant>

Anyway, here's some highlights; The Welcome Centre:74 Israel rainbow Breakfast Circle (well, not a "circle" because the shade was so precious):75 Israel rainbow

Here's Me with Butterfly, and me after Littletree swapped our Shawls (wow, me in non-green!)76  Israel rainbow Ela77 Roni Ela

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Now I have Seen Everything

image Just browsing around the web, I somehow came across this T-shirt... well, it's hilarious really. Someone has made a T-shirt with a wi-fi signal strength indicator on it.

The makers say about it, "Finally you can get the attention you deserve as others bow to you as their reverential wi-fi god, while geeky chicks swoon at your presence."

Apparently, "The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding wi-fi signal strength fluctuates"

Check it out here, at Think Geek

It seems, the T-shirt has a little battery-operated panel (batteries not included) on the front that displays wi-fi signal. The panel comes off with some 'ingenious' hook system, so you can launder the shirt. (wait, I thought computer geeks don't do laundry)

Wow. I just have to get me one of these. If only they came in green...

Pessach Sameach!

50 tableWe survived Passover; the Seder was fun, though I got annoyed with Purple for not translating things for me enough (as usual). We had 22 people for dinner - a very small turnout for my family, but of course, enough food for three times that much.

Littletree had loads of fun setting all the places, and working out where the cutlery goes. Here's the table setting, and below how it looked with most of the people seated:63 Seder

The crazy thing about Passover this year, is that it fell on a Sunday (which means it starts at sunset, Saturday night). What's crazy about that, is that from sunset Friday, till sunset Saturday, it's Shabat. On Shabat, no one can do any work.

Sounds good right? you get to stay home from work. Don't we all get that? Only for religious Jews, the word "work" also includes driving, cooking, using electricity, lighting fires, even tearing toilet paper from the roll is forbidden on Shabat!

So, imagine, you need to prepare this massive feast for Passover, and you need to clean your house really well to make sure there's no Hametz. Only you can't because it's Shabat and you can't do any work. And you must eat bread with the Shabat dinner. Of course, then you have to clean up any crumb of this bread and be rid of it before Passover starts (at sunset) but you can't do any work until Shabat ends (at sunset). How they get around this, I'm not too sure.

I heard one rabbi was asked if having a picnic would be an acceptable option, or eating on a table outside, on all disposable plates and paper tablecloth. Then the lot can be just bundled up and thrown in the bin. BUT, the rabbi thought about it and said; no, someone might spill their cup of water on the grass, and cause things to grow. Watering plants is forbidden on Shabat.

64 foodThankfully, my family aren't particularly religious, so we didn't have to deal with all that nonsense.

We ate waaaaay too much food, but it was all really yummy. We have a kind of potluck, where everyone brings a plate of food to share, but Purple's mother always makes more than enough for everyone on her own, and in addition to all that food, Purple's Sister-in-Law also makes enough for everyone. On top of that everyone brings at least 2 big dishes. It's a LOT of food.

We read the Hagadah, most of which goes way over my head, and drank the four cups of wine, which goes right to my head. And of course, the awful Matzoh, dipped in all kinds of weird things.

65 BlessingsI like that all the family take turns to read aloud different sections of the Hagadah, I feel like reading as a family is something lost to us, in this age of television and personal DVDs.

Purple's father, of course, did all the blessings of the wine (for some reason he was drinking this cheap awful sweet wine, while the rest of us had good stuff). Then there was a fun tradition, somewhat reminiscent of the Christian Santa Claus;

The Saint Eliyahu came. It's funny; someone always slips out and dresses quickly in a white cloak and beard and hat. We turn out all the lights (so no one will discover the true identity of Eliyahu, and, like a religious Jewish Superhero, gives out gifts to the children.66 Eliyahu

Littletree sat upstairs for the most of it, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of people and noise, and the sheer boredom of sitting at a fancy dinner table while listening to grown-ups talk.

I fully understood LOL

Anyway, it was a good evening, and it's over. Till next year!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Pass-over Passover

Passover is coming on Saturday night, and everyone is busy preparing. The main point of the holiday is to remember how Moses busted the Jews out of Egypt. (They tried to kill us, we won; let's eat!)

The main way we remember, is by not eating leavened bread, because when the Jews escaped from the Pharaoh, they didn't have time to let their bread rise. Not only did they wander lost in the desert for ages, they didn't even have good Pita!

So, here we are, thousands of years after making this miraculous escape, and we keep eating Matzoh, so as to remember it. Let's be perfectly honest; matzoh is horrible stuff. it's like the driest, most flavourless, revolting, dry, tasteless, dehydrated, dry cracker you've ever eaten. Did I mention it's also dry and has no taste?

Okay, I get it, there's a religious significance, and during the Seder (the long feast we eat on the opening night of Passover, where we read this long story about how the Jews escaped Egypt), we're supposed to eat several pieces. But does it have to be the only bread-product we eat all week?

Haven't the Jewish people suffered enough?!

Anyway, I digress; the thing I wanted to talk about, is the extent Jews have to go to, in order to make sure they don't eat anything leavened.

You have to clean out all your cupboards, and throw away anything that contains Hametz; wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt (and just for good measure, also corn and rice), and anything that might be fermented. So after you've thrown away all your food, you have to clean the whole kitchen really well, just to make sure no crumbs remain, and then boil all your dishes in a deep vat for a long time, to make sure no traces remain.

If you can imagine the enormity of this job, consider that supermarkets and food manufacturers also must comply; they have to throw away all their stocks of food, and clean their machinery, under the observation of a rabbi.

Of course, no one is really doing this. Most secular Jews are doing a somewhat half-assed job, by putting all their hametz food into one cupboard, high up, and pretending it's not there.

The big food manufacturers, and all the supermarkets, have a deal with this one Arab family. They leave all the food in it's place, but shut the doors on it till after Passover, and they sell it to this Arab family. Who knows how much for. Then at the end of the week, they buy it all back again. So for the week, nothing has changed, the food is all still in it's place, life goes on, but legally the food is owned by the Arabs, and therefore, it's all Kosher.

Lately this has gone one step further, with websites like this one offering to buy people's hametz from them, and then sell it back after a week. Of course, all the food stays in your pantry at home, and I don't think anyone checks if you have a little nibble while no one's looking.

It is just another way in which the Jews go to extraordinary lengths to circumvent Jewish law and still remain Kosher.

Monday, 14 April 2008


Well; we survived yesterday's party. Littletree had a great time, though sometime in the middle she got overwhelmed with the large numbers of people.

The cousins came over early to help with preparations:22 shakked balonim

Littletree got a mountain of presents:

25 presents and of course a rich chocolate cake, topped with strawberries:

40 cake The adults sat around Kwatching27 party

While the kids played games:

31 party There was a lot of family, and old friends I haven't seen for ages. It was great to see them :D We had the obligatory 'way too much food', but it was a lot of fun, and less work than we all feared.

This morning Littletree announced that she's not going to have 'boobie' any more, since now she's five, and that means she's a big girl. After five years of breastfeeding, I'm about ready to end it, but we'll see if she really sticks to her new resolution. Famous last words, methinks LOL

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Birth of a Tree

This time five years ago, I was in labour. I'd been having strong contractions all the night before, and by morning, things seemed to be really happening.

We were camping at a rainbow gathering in our tipi in a little patch of fairy forest on our friend's land in the Chapada Diamantina, in Bahia, Brazil. The spring had dried up, so we had to walk about a kilometre to get water, and I decided, that the best thing would be to stay active during the labour, as much as possible.

So I went for a hike up to the tap to do laundry. Stopping every ten minutes or so to breathe through a contraction, I got all the laundry hand-washed. I came back to camp and made pancakes.

By evening, the contractions were coming very strong, every five minutes and I was leaking amniotic fluid. We settled in to birth a baby :)

Only it got cold, and started raining. I had bad diarrhoea and vomiting, I couldn't relax, with a posterior baby and no trained or experienced assistance.

At sunset the next day, 24 hours later, I was still having contractions every five minutes. like clockwork. And terrible back pain. When I realised it was getting dark, and therefore a full day had passed, I told myself that the next contraction would come in four minutes. then three, and two and then a baby.

So naturally, the next contraction came in four minutes. after about an hour, they were down to three minutes, but then they became irregular. It went on like that through the night.

With the dawn, I was sure the baby would come, but instead, I fell asleep, exhausted after 2 days of labour and no food due to nausea. The contractions stopped, for 3 hours; nothing.

No one around knew that this is normal, and my friends got me up from my sleep and got me walking around in the freezing morning air, trying to get the labour "started" again. Of course, it did start eventually; a very hard transition. I was in so much pain, and in the end, after a few more hours, we decided to go to the hospital - I'd been in labour for almost 60 hours.

So into the car we piled, a bunch of hippies, and started off down the bumpy dirt road to town. It was about a half hour drive, but it took much longer, what with stalling the car in the creek crossing, and stopping for contractions.

When we got just to the edge of the village, I had one strong contraction that felt different. I felt the baby rotate and descend. We stopped the car, just on the edge of the village soccer field, and, squatting in the mud and rain, I pushed out a perfect, healthy Littletree :D

She was breathing fine, and it all seemed okay, so we drove back up the hill again, hospital forgotten (well, we stopped at a friend's house for a hot shower and some mango juice on the way!)

S3500049 920340290_361ceecee0_o

Friday, 11 April 2008

The Holey Land

We arrived to Israel, again, the flight was much easier than I feared, and again, we got on the plane around midnight, and got off in the early morning, after an 11 hour journey (actually, it took longer because the first flight was delayed, but I'm not sure how long what with all the time zones and stuff).

23 barefootThe last day in Bangkok we spent lounging around in the park, Littletree insisted on going barefoot, here's the result:

Purple and his mother picked us up from the airport, Littletree was jumping out of her skin with excitement to see them.

It's nice to come back to somewhere familiar, now we're staying with Purple's parents. Littletree even has her own bed in her own room, for the first time in her life! And it's also nice to see how fast her Hebrew is coming back.

Here's Littletree with her grandparents, Saba and Savta:01 sabasavtaLittletree has been so happy since we got here; spending so much time with her cousins. It's amazing to see how much the kids have grown in the past year and a half. When we left they were all children, and now they're grown.

Here's Littletree with Almond and Jordan:06 girls laughing

16 roni seq sleepLast night we went out to catch up with some friends in Tel Aviv. Littletree had fun until she fell asleep in Butterfly's arms - so cute, with the dreadlocks blending together :)

I finally feel like I'm getting over the jet lag, but I'm still a bit tired. Another good night's sleep will do me well, but tomorrow we have a big day - Littletree's birthday party!!!

We decided just to make it a small party - family and a few friends. Huh! Purple and I tallied up the guest list yesterday - over FIFTY people!!!!!!



Monday, 7 April 2008


We arrived easily to Bangkok; the flight was long, 9 hours, but not too bad. We slept quite a bit, since we got on the plane at midnight - around Littletree's usual bedtime, and got off at 6am, it worked well for us.

Flying Thai air was definitely a good choice - we're so used to flying with the cheap crappy internet airlines, having a flight with comfier seats and individual DVD screens and meals and blankets and all that was really nice.

17 group We got out of the airport really quickly and efficiently, and took a taxi straight to my friend Mamarabbit's condo. It was so great to meet her in real life - so far we've only known each other online, from MDC and a Student Midwife's forum.

Here's Me with Littlettee, Mamarabbit and one of the twins - I never got the hang of which was which!

Mamarabbit is amazing; she has four children under four! A daughter, Princess, who is 4.5, a son, Angel, who is 2.5, and twin daughters, Song of Faith and Tears of Joy, 6 months old! Their little 2br apartment is pretty hectic, as you can imagine. Mamarabbit even birthed her twins at home, unassisted!14 twins

Here's me with the twins - they were so sweet, and exclusively breast-fed as well! Of course, I'm looking very tired.

So we hung out with them for the day, and stayed the night. Littletree and Princess got on great, and spent the day playing together.

They had a great time dressing up and playing princesses, and tormenting Angel.

Here's the girls in the garden...04 princesses

06 feeding fishAnd feeding the fish in the lake...

Sadly we couldn't stay more than a day, but at least Mamarabbit and I had a good chance to chat and talk about birth and parenting :)

Now Littletree and I have moved into Banglamphu - the main tourist area of Bangkok. We were lucky enough to get the exact same room we lived in for 2 weeks a year ago! It definitely helps Littletree to feel comfortable having something familiar. Tomorrow night we fly to Tel Aviv!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Leaving On A Jet Plane

That's it!!! We're all packed up and ready to go. We fly to Bangkok tonight.

After a full evening of mad packing and cleaning till 2am - a friend came over just when I was about to quit for the night and leave half the packing for the morning; she was like a whirlwind!

So now everything is done and the house is clean. :D

We did have one little adventure; Littletree was having a great time playing in all the packing boxes, until something crawled on her...

A scorpion!

Luckily Littletree was fine; she shook it off her dress and I trapped it between a glass and the phone bill.  We had a good look at it, and carried it out into the garden.

I guess my next post will be from Thailand or Israel!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Ring Ring... Feminism Anyone?

Today we had to stay home to wait for the telephone guy to come and install our long-awaited phone line. They say they will come between 10am and 2pm. Last time the guy arrived just after 3.

And (when it was just Purple here) the phone guy said it would be impossible to get the line put on in our cottage. We would have to pay thousands to have a contractor come and dig trenches for new cables.

Obviously that wasn't going to happen, but our current situation wasn't really working out for us (if you recall my recent dramas with the phone line and a narky neighbour). So the landlord agreed that we could have our own separate phone line installed in the neighbour's house, with a new and uninterrupted extension cable out to our house.

Amazingly enough, the Phone Guy came just past noon, and he was very friendly. I showed him where the new line was to go, but he pretty quickly clued in that we were planning on putting an extension out to the cottage - something the last phone guy said was impossible.

This Phone Guy was very sweet, and said we should be able to install the cable all the way over to our house, no problem, and he could give me the cable to do it!

This somehow seemed connected to the fact that I was wearing my "around the house" dress today - a very short green number with a flattering low neckline. Well, I realised this was just a friendly guy who could easily bend the rules a little for a pretty smile and batty eyelashes, so 'feminism' went right out the window.

When it looked like there was a fault in the cable, I just gave him "the look" and my cheekiest grin, and he promised to get it fixed. Even went off down the road to the Exchange. He gave me about 80 Metres of good quality external cable, and spent 3 hours to hook it all in. He even left me with 2 rolls of electrical tape and a massive stack of about 100 Chux Wipes!

So the end of the story; we have the phone line on, I don't need to mess around with installing a new extension cable, no more dramas with the neighbours (well, at least not over the phone line)... and what's more; I learned something!

Women are incredibly powerful creatures, and there is nothing wrong with using every ounce of the power available to you to create the universe you want to live in.

Not only that; I'm freakin Beautiful! :D

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


The wonderful folk over at Essence of Life published an article I wrote about Capoeira; a martial art which I play.

It's a nice article, and comes with a nice pic of me strutting my stuff

Here it is

If you like it, head on over to the EOL forums and say so :p

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Princesses on Ice

Yesterday we went with some families from the Homeschooling group to the Ice Skating rink in the Gold Coast!

It's been Littletree's dream to go Ice Skating, ever since she saw the Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus DVD. She talks about it all the time. So, we made the mission to go up there, especially since Littletree and I are going away for three months, and we will be away for her birthday.

I was a bit nervous that Littletree would freak out and hate it in the first minute; the skates would hurt her feet, she would be cold, she'd slip and fall... but she was fine :)

Well, it was pretty wobbly at first, I haven't been skating since 1994 or something, but it came back fast (not that I was ever any good). We all spent the morning going slowly backwards, holding the kids' hands as they got more confident.

By the end a couple of the bigger kids were going out on their own, and Littletree was starting to get the hang of it. I even got a few rounds to practice my Wayne Gretzki impression. (Denzil, I hope you're reading)

One of Littletree's friends even made her a wonderful birthday present :)

A gorgeous hand-made reversible felt crown