Tuesday, August 31, 2004
One word you never wanna hear in Israel is "pigua". Terrorist attack/bombing.
And in case you haven't already heard there was a pigua here in Israel today, in Be'er Sheva. Pigua is one of the words I know in my limited Hebrew vocabulary, so I knew what was going on when we heard it. We were in the car when we heard the news and my friend translated the details. I hate that all I understand is pigua. Everywhere we went after that I could hear people speaking of it in hushed tones. Pigua, pigua, pigua. And as if I am not usually angry enough about news like this, I am moreso than ever. Because I am here I feel that much more attached to the land and the people, and I am that much more enraged. Truly truly enraged. It brings hot tears to my eyes and makes me want to scream. Grrrrrr....

But of course life marches on here, as most are used to such news. I find that doubly sad since this is something that one should NOT ever be used to. It's NOT normal that people get blown up when they get on a bus. Then again, even as a Canadian who has never touched a gun in her life I am now used to having my bag checked 15 times a day as I go into grocery stores, malls and restaurants (not to mention opening the trunk as you enter the parking lot of malls). Hell, I'm even used to seeing guns slung over the soldiers as they walk by or even on the hips of civilians as they buy their newspapers at the corner kiosk. I feel like a very naive and sheltered Canadian sometimes, though hopefully more educated than most on the matter.

Anyway, today was pretty laid back. We walked around the Weizmann Institute and did some more shopping. I am not one of those kinds of girls who loves to shop, but here in Israel I am. I just love the sights and sounds of it all. And of course the Hebrew written on everything. I always get a kick out of that for some reason.

One thing that has always disturbed me about Israel is the high population of stray cats. So many wild starving cats running around. When we arrived home tonight I was heartbroken to see a gathering of cats of all ages around a dumpster, looking for a meal. There was one tiny kitten in particular that was so sickly and fragile looking...and I felt terrible as I thought of my healthy kitties back home. So of course I had to gather up a plate full of food and scraps to take out to them. :-) I felt a bit better, though I know it only buys them some time. What can I tell you? I have a bleeding heart.

Well, I think it's time to call my mother to let her know I am ok in case she heard the news; otherwise she'll be *freaking* out.........

Monday, August 30, 2004
here a shuk, there a shuk, everywhere a shuk shuk
First of all, as per the comments in the last entry. si, if you can believe it, you were the FIRST person I bought a souvenir for! In Jerusalem, of course. And Melra, you got the present you were hoping for, I picked it up in Shuk Carmel (the market) today in fact!

Today was spent shopping in Tel Aviv in the markets and at the Dizengoff Center, the big mall in Tel Aviv. Oh how I love the markets, definitely my most favourite thing to do in Israel. And I ate some SUPER tasty shawarma and loved it; it was my first time having it for some reason! Won't be my last while I'm here, let me tell ya.

I am having the absolute BEST time ever, and totally thought of you, si, when I spent the day in Jerusalem yesterday. I took a tour of all the big churches and took pics of the hall in which Jesus had the last supper and of Jesus' tomb! (see how often I have you on my mind, si??). And of course I went to the Kotel (Western Wall), a must when you go to Israel. And being the lucky girl that I am I found lots of markets to visit. I took pictures, and one day I may even get around to posting them. There are going to be *tons* so it may have to wait until I get home; it will take a long time to post them and to write about them. I can't waste the time here doing all that.

Anyway, having a *fabulous* time, seeing SO so much more than the last time. Wish you were all here with me. And yes, Civax I'm going to call you. Probably tomorrow. As for the rest of my Israeli readers and fellow bloggers..I'll see you Sept 2nd. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Saturday, August 28, 2004
all things great and small
Can I just tell you how much I love Israel? *sigh* I love all the little things.... the trees, the different colour of the soil, the architecture, the lizards.... However, the heat is a bit much for this cold blooded Canadian. Thankfully, my host is being *very* tolerant of my whining. I swear to God, I must complain about the heat every other minute, especially if we are outside in the sun. I keep expecting to just burst into flames.

Today we took a tour of "Mini Israel". Oh, rapture! lol For those not in the know, it is a mini theme park kinda thing, in which all kinds of famous Israel sites are build on a much smaller scale. It's amazing how much detail was put into all the models. I really had a great time. Our little tour of Mini Israel was hurried along as we got hotter and hotter....the Canadian was sure she was gonna melt. *wink* (I'm telling you, I could melt!!)
Have a look at the Mini Israel site if you are interested.

I have taken some pictures so far but I haven't felt like posting them on my blog because I have to download the stupid program in order to upload the pics to the blog and this isn't my computer...so I don't know how I feel about doing that. But mostly I think I'm just lazy in this heat. :-P
Maybe tomorrow...

Friday, August 27, 2004
Oh, I remember now...it's hot as hell here in Israel!!!
First of all, let me just say that I love Continental Airlines. It was a great flight, but best of all I liked the entertainment. Each seat had it's own tv and you could listen to music, or watch a movie, or watch tv, or even play video games!!! Made the flight go by quickly, it was great.

Anyway, I am here, and I am horribly jetlagged. I hope to get adjusted to Israeli time by tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll be taking take frequent naps. :-)

Thursday, August 26, 2004
Israel, here I come!
Sleep? Who needs sleep, really? Pfft. I laugh in the face of sleep.
Actually that's not not entirely true, I'm kinda wishing I had gotten more of it, but what can ya do?
And my body is dealing with the stress/excitement in some rather unspeakable ways. It's hard to say who's team my body is on, but at 5am it clearly was not on my side. I'll spare you the details.

So I am showered and dressed, and grabbing a quick breakfast and then I am out the door!!
I thank everyone for your well wishes, they are much appreciated. I will do my best to blog from Israel and post some pictures, of course.

Woot woot!!!! (<-- note the enthusiasm PRIOR to the 12 hour plane ride....I'll be lucky if I can muster this much excitement by the time I get there. here's hoping for a good inflight movie. *fingers crossed*)

Oh, and this article totally made me cry this morning.

see ya in Israel!

got a list, checking it twice
Well, I had a really lame nap and then got up and finished my packing. At least, I think I have. I keep thinking of other stuff just when I figure I'm done, but I believe I more or less have everything I need for the trip. It's after midnight now, and I gotta be at the airport in 9.5 hours. I'm gonna hit the hay and finish up the last minute packing in the morning (well I can't pack my deodorant until after I've used it, now can I?!).

I'll be in Israel in about 26 hours. But first.....sleep.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
am I there yet???
My adrenaline high that was working so well for me, finally crashed and resulted in me nodding off to sleep while I was getting my hair cut. And I didn't find a way to weasel out of work early so now I am home and exhausted and wondering if I should nap and then finish packing, or just push through the exhaustion and pack. *sigh*
Oh, and Princess Blondie backed out of our plans to see each other tonight, so I won't get to see her before I leave. :-(

I think I'm gonna have a nap.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love you, tomorrow!
Well my excitement about leaving for Israel tomorrow has translated into almost zero sleep. I was up until 1am packing and then woke up at 5:45am this morning and I couldn't get back to sleep. My brain is racing, thinking about all the last minute stuff I need to do. I think I pretty much have everything under control, but still I feel like I don't have enough time. I am getting my haircut at 1pm this afternoon and I am hoping that the boss will let me skip out of work after that. It would SO ease my anxiety if I could finish my packing early and try to get some sleep tonight.

I am meeting up with my old neighbour Princess Blondie tonight so I can see her before I leave. That makes me happy coz I am really gonna miss her. :-) Know what doesn't make me happy? Hearing about plane hijackings when I am going to be getting on a plane in about 30 hours. I'm not a fan of flying as it is, and news like this isn't helping. Know what makes me happy? Hearing that Israel has won it's first ever gold medal at the Olympics, courtesy of Gal Friedman in the windsailing competition. Yay, Israel!! I have been so proud of it's achievements during this Olympics.

Anyway, I should get ready for work. I'll post again later.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
the countdown to Israel
Well it's official.....I'm going crazy. Yesterday I was much more so than today, but I am certainly experiencing a radical shift in my behaviour as the time of my departure nears. I have a tough time staying asleep as I think about my trip to Israel and all the things I need to do before then. I have been doing laundry and cleaning my house and all that other stuff, and tonight I will begin the actual packing. I just want to BE in Israel already...the anticipation is killing me. At the moment I just feel like I'm running around in circles as I get ready to leave (Thursday morning!) and my stomach is constantly flipping upside down.
Must. Stay. FOCUSED.

You know who I wish was coming to Israel with me? si. I was thinking about this the other day...how cool would that be? We'd do a joint tour of all the Jewish and Christian sites. It would be awesome! When I win the lottery (which I plan on doing, somehow) I'm taking si with me on a trip and we will share and learn about each other's religions. We will prove that Jews and Christians can get along just fine, thank you very much.

K-Dogg likes plums. What's your favourite fruit? I think mine might be....strawberries? Raspberries? Maybe any berry, berries are good. But they are so expensive I never buy them unless I want a *real* treat.

I had a dream last night that I was sharing a hotel room with Yoko Ono. I can't explain it, so don't ask.

I found 120 shekels (sheqalim) in my car when I was cleaning it out last night, from my trip to Israel last year. Sure it's only about $40 Cdn, but I was excited. Found money!

Can you believe I haven't mentioned the Olympics once? I feel like I should care more, but there was a Canadian judge that made Canada look so bad yesterday that it was embarrassing. Politics are supposed to be put aside in the name of the Olympic spirit, but when the Iranian judo fighter pulled out because he refused to fight an Israeli (those dirty Jews!) and the Olympic committee refused to put sanctions on Iran like they are supposed to....well, I lost faith in what the Olympics are all about. But make no mistake, Canada HAS won a few medals, and I am damn proud of our athletes.

See what happens to me when I go crazy? I start talking about random things and switching topics every other second. I think it's safe to say that I am excited about my trip. I think over the next two days there will be very little rest for me, just go go go!!

Sunday, August 22, 2004
Well, the kitten was a successful match. At first I was a little worried...my friend gave a lukewarm reception to the kitten as he was overwhelmed by a wave of emotions. Seeing a cat reminded him of his previous cat, and the hurt and loss hit him like a ton of bricks. At first he wasn't sure if he wanted her, but in a matter of minutes he was calling everyone he knew to tell them he had a new roommate and to tell his friends and family to check out the photoblog I made for his kitten, Sadie. In other words, he didn't take long to warm up to the idea of being a daddy again. :-) Well take a look at this picture and tell me you wouldn't melt too (if you say you wouldn't, I swear to God, you have no soul!!). I think that's my favourite picture yet of Sadie.

Anyway, with that out of the way I can get on with the task of getting ready for my trip, now only 5 days away. This Thursday!! I'm starting to stress as I worry about all the things I need to do, buy and pack before I go. I have made up list after list to try and help sort my brain out and hopefully relax. As you can see from the picture I have picked up my Israeli currency, which is a big load off my mind. And look how rich I look thanks to the exchange rate! And to all those Americans who laugh at our Canadian money because it's so colourful (making it look like Monopoly money....or "funny money" as you kids so cleverly like to call it) have a gander at how pretty the Israeli Shekel is! In fact Israel's system is pretty cool, I like the colour coding in the corners of the money for quick and easy identification. American money is brutal for trying to tell apart since it's all the same green colour. I mean, I like the colour green and all...but bo-RING! :-P

So all I have left now to do is a trip to the dentist, doctor and the all important trip to the hair salon for a haircut. The most crucial timing will involve the laundry, of course. Must do laundry the night before for optimum packing of wanted clothing. lol. Go ahead and laugh, you know I'm right. If I could do my laundry naked I would, but seeing as I might be doing laundry here in my apartment building's facilities (I usually go to my parents place and use their machines) doing it nekkid might not be the best plan. Perhaps I'll wear nothing more than rags while I do laundry so I get to wash it all.

On to other things.... Dave over at Israellycool has a fancy new site for his blog, go check it out. Sex-y! I'm all kinds of jealous! If anyone wanted to make ME a pretty new layout...well....I wouldn't object. *wink*

Oh, and there was a NASTY incident of anti-semitism over in France last night. Read Meryl's post if you are interested, as always she breaks it down far more intelligently than I could, as I am often reduced to childish expletives when I hear about something like this. Yes anti-semitism is a problem and yes it's growing. Time to pull our heads out of the sand and stop the denial, folks.

Friday, August 20, 2004
Happiness is a Warm Kitten
When all else fails to raise your spirits, spend some time in the company of a kitten or puppy. It's simply impossible to be unhappy in the presence of such boundless love and joy (and cuteness).

The kitten you see in the pic is a girl I have named Sadie (pronounced "Say-dee"), but her name could change. With the assistance of my bestest pal Princess Blondie and her beau Bruno, I was able to bring this lovely little bundle home last night. However, her stay with me will be brief for I have been searching for a kitten for a number of months so that I may give it to a friend of mine. This is a long-time friend who earlier this year was devastated when he had to put his own cat to sleep, due to illness. I know he was absolutely heartbroken by it, and has been extremely lonely since. I believe (having been in his position a time or two myself) that enough time has passed and that he is ready to have another cat. So I have found a baby for him, and picked up all the necessary "equipment" that comes with having a kitten (food, dishes, litter box, etc..). I am very excited to give her to him because I know she will melt his heart and help fill the hole in his heart.

Part of the reason it has taken a number of months to find a kitten for him was because I absolutely did NOT want the kitten to resemble his last two cats in any way; I didn't want him to think I was replacing his cats. Anyone who has pets knows you can never replace what you once had, you can only move on to sharing your life with a new one. So that meant no black cats and no black/brown tabbies. That eliminates a good 50% of available kittens, let me tell ya. But luckily, just days before my friend's birthday I have found a kitten that matches what I'm looking for!

And it looks like she will adjust very well. After only an hour or so Sadie became comfortable in my home, running, playing and purring. And mercifully she slept through the night...her first night away from her mom! At first she curled up under the covers, and laid against my back. Then when she got too hot she crawled up onto the pillow beside me and spend the entire night there, not waking me up once (any cat owner cat appreciate how rare that is). To me, that makes her a complete gem!

Finally I had to wake HER up this morning and we got ready to go to work. As traumatic as another car trip would be on her (and it was) I would rather have her here with me than alone all day in a strange new home. That, and she has already demonstrated that my new couch is her favourite place to sharpen her claws.
So anyway, even as I type this she is sound asleep on my lap where she has been most of the morning. If you want to see more (simply adorable) pictures of her go to my photoblog. And if you can think of a better name (though I'm quite fond of Sadie) let me know! The more input the better!

Shabat shalom, everyone. 6 days til I leave for Israel!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Only The Good Die Young
You may have noticed I haven't felt like writing for the past couple of days. I found myself just sort of shutting down a bit...seemed to be a reflex or coping strategy my brain decided upon in order to get through recent events. I haven't had much to say, and I had just been feeling far too much lately. The picture you see here is the sky I saw as I was standing in a Wal-mart parking lot on Saturday. I felt it was so appropriate to how I was feeling.... light and dark colliding. The happiness of my trip to Israel next week overshadowed by the tragic events over the past week.

At the visitation on Sunday I met with the couple (friends of the family and business partners) who lost their 20 year old son to a car accident last Friday. Hundreds of us lined up outside and slowly filed in to see the family who stood in a receiving line at the front of the church to greet us. As you slowly made your way down the line and through the church (took about 10 mins) there were bulletin boards along the way with huge collages of pictures of their son Dan through the years as he grew up. I don't think a single one of us had dry eyes after looking at this beautiful blonde boy who would never grow up to have a wife and family of his own. By the time I got to his parents I gave them a huge hug and fought back the tears. The mother pulled me away from her hug and looked me in my eyes to ask me how I was; I glanced down at the floor to try and hide my tears as I mumbled that I was fine, but she was persistent and lowered her head to meet my eyes, holding my arms firmly in her hands almost as if to keep me from fleeing, and asked again how I was .. Obviously she was seeking the truth and I couldn't hide it, or my tears. I said that I was doing okay and that I was so very sorry for her loss. She stood there with such strength and poise, I could only be in awe of her.

I made my way to the father next and was quickly engulfed in his big sincere hug. He pointed to a graduation picture of his son on a table behind him and said: "That's my boy. That's my boy and now he's gone. We had to close the casket this morning and say goodbye". The father seemed to be functioning much more on a level of numbness and shock, and my heart ached for him. It ached for his whole family, as I made my way down the receiving line and saw that the brothers left behind were clearly less together about all this than the parents. Afterwards my mother and I went to the ladies room to blow our noses and to try and "freshen up". Then we all went for ice cream, as if that would make us feel better.

As an odd sidestory to all this, allow me to mention something I saw while standing in line in the front foyer of the church. In the lobby area there was a wall of pamphlets and brochures. What caught my eye was that one of the pamphlets had a picture of a menorah on it. So I stepped out of line, grabbed the pamphlet, and stepped back in. I just *had* to see what this is all about since this was an uber-Christian church.

On the front of the pamphlet it reads:
"Chosen People Ministries" "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." Romans 10:1

Hm. A quote from the "New" Testament, but okay, whatever.

Inside I read this:
"Our Purpose: To preach the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah to the Jewish people throughout the world."

Ah, it's becoming clear now...they are looking to convert Jews.

"EVANGELISM: Chosen People Ministries seeks to evangelize Jewish people through the most effective and creative means possible"

Most effective and creative means possible!?!? What the hell does THAT mean??

"Our skilled and well trained staff share the Gospel with Jewish people in their homes and on the streets and campuses. We conduct Bible studies and evangelistic services, yet the core of our ministry is one-on-one, heart to heart, home to home."

Uh...do I need to remind everyone how I feel about people getting in my face about their religion in an effort to convert? I seriously have issues with people going out and trying to drum up followers. It creeps me out. And as I read this pamphlet I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable in this church.

"WITNESS: Share the Good News with your Jewish friends. Chosen People Ministries has the resources you need. If you are witnessing to a Jewish person and want us to pray, or to send materials to him or her, let us know by filling out the attached slip"

Don't EVER send me anything like that if you are my friend, ok?
Am I the only one that finds all this eerily manipulative?? Ugh.
For more on this you can check out their website.

Um, and what the frig is going on with Blogger? I won't even get into what a nightmare it was to get this post to publish (at one point it had published it 2 and sometimes 3 times). And WHAT is this super annoying NavBar they have introduced, and more importantly, how can I make it go away?!?!!? (note: the info page says it can't be disabled. You have NO idea how much this makes me hate Blogger. Yes, I'm SO choosey about such things that it could actually force me to investigate other options). And am I the only one that can't see my webpage title ("I Dream, Therefore I Am")??? GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: Ok, I fixed it so that the title is back. Stupid Blogger. So now at the top of my page there's the NavBar instead of the usual Google Ads (which I loathe to admit, looks a bit better. It's less intrusive than the big ad banners). What do you guys think? Are ya diggin' the option to search my blog with Google? I am. Ok, I *may* have to take back what I said about hating blogger. We'll see.

Saturday, August 14, 2004
taking a drink from the friend fountain
For the second night in a row I went over to Princess Blondie's house last night for dinner, only this time I stayed overnight. It was nice, coz then we spent the day together today driving around, shopping, visiting people, and having lunch together. It was really good to spend some time with her after such a hard week. Friends have a way of renewing a person's soul, ya know?

Today is the one year anniversary of the big blackout last summer, when nearly the entire eastern seaboard went dark because of a power outage. Personally, I loved it and the way it brought every together. It made everyone stop hurrying around for a while, and instead just stop and enjoy the stars that were no longer blurred out by the lights of the city. In fact, tonight many business owners in Toronto are shutting their lights off in remembrance of the event last year. Cool, hunh?

Anyway, I have just returned home from going out to dinner and a movie with my dad. We went and saw the new Tom Cruise film "Collateral". It was pretty good and it does well to hold your attention the entire time. In fact, at one point, I noticed how absolutely *silent* the theatre was. Not a soul was talking or even crinkling the wrapper on their food. The only other time I have heard an audience so quiet was for the movie "Phone Booth". My only real beef with the movie....the decision to make Tom Cruise's hair grey. Wtf?? I have no idea what they were trying to achieve coz he clearly doesn't look old enough to have an entire head of grey hair, so I found it strange and distracting. It took away from the believability of the character as far as I'm concerned, but what do I know? *shrug*

Moving along..... tomorrow my family and I will join our business partner/friend of the family to express our grief over the loss of his young son (only 20 years old!!). The visitation/viewing is tomorrow and I don't think I will be attending the funeral on Monday; frankly, 2 funerals in 6 days is about more than I can handle, especially since they are funerals for such young people. It adds such a horrible dimension to the grief, and I don't have the heart to witness it again so soon. An article in the paper about the accident can be found here.

Friday, August 13, 2004
Friday the 13th
Once upon a time I used to say that there was nothing wrong with Friday the 13ths. That people are silly and superstitious about them for no reason. Heck *I* was born a Friday the 13th, and had always had good luck on those days! However, I think today may have changed my view on the matter.

This morning our offices (comprised of a whopping 6 of us, so we're tight-knit) got a call from one of our closest business partners; his 20 year old son was killed in a car accident this morning. I don't know how our partner even had the strength to call us, but he did. Now we are all walking around in a daze (a few crying), distracted by grief and unable to comprehend. Everyone is upset and heartbroken for our dearest and sweetest partner and friend; we are at a loss as to what to do or say; we all know there is nothing we can say that will comfort him and his family.So it looks like I'll be going to another funeral this week, likely on Sunday. :-(

I was going to write a big excited post about how it's one month until my 30th birthday, but somehow it hardly matters anymore....
I just want this week to be over, please. I can't handle anymore, I just can't. I need a vacation and I need it now. 13 days and counting.

Thursday, August 12, 2004
life marches on....
There's another mention of Aviva in the newspaper today. I guess I should feel something positive about this mention because it's an article/editorial talking about how people need to smarten up about boat safety, and used her as an example of what can happen if people disregard rules and regulations.
Really, I should stop looking in the news about her now. It's done, and I should start getting on with my life and healing....

On a happier note, today is the start of the two week countdown to when I leave for Israel. Hurray! I started making lists last night of things I need to do, buy and pack before I go. This brought on immediate stress as I suddenly realized all I have to do before I go. And I don't know how people pack days in advance, but I simply can't. I have to pack the morning I leave...maybe a bit the night before. But I wanna be dressed and ready when I pack so I have used everything I need and I can now pack it to go.

I have also been looking through a travel book for Israel to see what I might want to do. Is it bad that the book is 3 years outdated? No matter, if I read something I am interested in, I look it up on the net. I was going to write to a few of you who read my blog and offered help but I got a little sidetracked this week with all that has happened. Maybe this weekend when I finally have a moment to breathe.
And tonight I am having dinner at Princess Blondie's new home. Yay! Which reminds me.... the next Survivor series start September 16th. Blondie and I will be curling up on her couch in her new home to watch it together every Thursday, just like we did last season. :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
the end of "relative quiet"
Reports are just coming in about a terrorist attack in Israel. The bombing was on the northern border of Jerusalem, and as it stands now it looks like it killed 2 people and wounded 7 others. However reports are conflicting at this early stage....

Update: A day after the bombing, Jerusalem is still on a high terror alert. Details have come out about this latest attack and it shows that the system in Israel works much of the time; the army was alerted to a terrorist warning that someone might try and infiltrate into Jerusalem with a bomb and so they put up a surprise roadblock/checkpoint. Sure enough the terrorists were unable to get in so they placed their bomb between two cars that were waiting in line to get through the checkpoint, and when soldiers approached the cars it was detonated (do the math, folks. it means they were watching from a distance). Interestingly enough it didn't kill any Israelis, instead killing 2 Palestinians (19 others were wounded, including 6 Israeli border officers). Of course the Palestinians refused to believe that one of their own did it, instead choosing to blame the Israelis. Hmmmm.. if the Israelis did it, how come the terrorists are (oops!) apologizing for killing a few of their own people? Sounds a lot like confessing to me...

I grieve, therefore I am
The funeral yesterday was surreal on so many levels. The sheer number of people was unbelievable as people lined up around the block to file into the synagogue. Eventually it became standing room only, with some people not even fitting inside the synagogue. While I stood in line to go in I noticed a cameraman across the street filming everyone. I found myself suddenly angry that the press would dare film this private and painful moment, and I had a moment of understanding for all those who have had to grieve in the glaring light of the press and public eye after a tragic event involving a loved one. Later I would see the footage of the funeral on the 6 o'clock news and get even more angry as I saw close-ups of relatives hugging and sobbing, again making me rage at the intrusion of it all.

What can I say about the funeral? It was sad and moving as we all came together to remember a wonderful woman taken from us too soon. It was heart wrenching to hear person after person get up to say a few words. I was amazed that Aviva's brother and sister, Aaron and Jen, had the strength to even speak. I'm not so sure I could have.

After the service I gathered with my classmates and teacher from my Hebrew class; we spoke of the tragedy and of our other classmate Mark. He was one of Aviva's closest friends and was also her business partner. He had talked to our teacher earlier and said he will not be returning to our class in September. While we all understood how difficult it would be to attend the class without her (since they always came together), my teacher wisely told him to wait and see how he feels next month, and reminded him that Aviva would have wanted him to continue with his studies. I sincerely hope he does, his absence would only add to the loss.
And we all also decided to postpone the Shabat dinner we had planned for this Friday.....our hearts just weren't in it. We all need a little time to heal first.

I notice there are still lots of people finding their way to my blog by typing Aviva's name into search engines; it would be nice if you said hi and maybe how you knew her. Don't be a stranger just lurking in the shadows! Say hello!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
a long hard day ahead.......
I've had to stop listening to the local news on tv....they keep talking about Aviva. It's driving me nuts, and causes me to burst into spontaneous fits of tears when I hear her being mentioned.

Today the newspaper is saying the coroner report shows that Aviva was killed instantly when she was struck by the boat indicating the boat was likely travelling at very high speeds. I guess we're supposed to somehow feel better that it was instantaneous, but it really doesn't make me feel better at all. The police are conducting a full investigation and are trying to track down the boat, but I doubt they will ever find it; there are a lot of boats on that lake, it's a big lake. I don't know, it just seems so surreal to be reading newspaper reports about someone I know. News is supposed to be about other people.

Last night I couldn't get my mind off all this, despite my best efforts. I did yoga for the 2nd time that day, went for a nice long bike ride, ordered pizza and watched a movie. When I finally got to sleep I was plagued by nightmares. I just want to go to the funeral today and whatever closure I can. This is just too much....it's too hard for my brain to process the death of someone so young. Just because I've had to deal with it before, doesn't make it any easier.....

To those who are coming to my blog because you have put Aviva's name into a search engine (and the numbers are growing): please feel free to say hi, and if you have the strength, share anything you like about her. I'd rather remember her as positively as I can.

Monday, August 09, 2004
a teary Monday morning
I have just found out on the news this morning that a friend of mine (and a classmate from my Hebrew class) was killed over the weekend. Aviva Barth was struck by a boat while scuba diving; the boat passed into the diving area that had been marked off to indicate to boaters that divers were underneath the water. Ironically, she was with the diving school that I had worked for earlier this year (and her boyfriend is an instructor there).

I am terribly upset as I really loved having Aviva in my class. We had lots of lively talks and debates about Israel, and she had a true and deep passion for the country. Her passion had even lead to her standing toe-to-toe with anti-Israeli protesters on an occasion. She had family in Israel and had planned a trip this summer. Eerily, the last time I had spoken to Aviva we had talked about diving and the courses we had both taken. Who knew.....

I had e-mailed her on Saturday along with my other classmates as we have been planning to get together for Shabat dinner this Friday, something we had discussed over a month ago. I am heartbroken at the prospect of her not being there.
Her funeral is being held tomorrow and I think I am going to go.
More about Aviva here.

Update: Well, I have been crying off and on about this all day, mostly in my car to and from work when I'm alone and can really have a good cry. I'm flip-flopping between really deeply sad to totally angry. I am so sad that someone so young was taken from this world. I can't imagine what class is going to be like without her next month, and I cannot possibly imagine what her family is going through. And I think I'm a bit shaken up because it was someone I know, and if things were just slightly different it could have been me. I put my dreams of diving on hold this summer in order to spend more time with my grandmother who needed me, but what if I hadn't? What if I had been part of that class she was in on the weekend? I could very well have been if I had stayed at the scuba shop. In the end I think I'm just still stunned that this is actually happening...is she really gone?? :'-(
I think it's safe to say I won't be diving again anytime soon; I know all I will think about while under the water will be her....

And the anger just stems from the fact that it was all such a horrible and preventable accident. She was in a diving area properly marked off so that boaters knew to keep their distance. There seems to be some conflict as to whether the boater ignored the buoys, didn't know what they meant (there's a special flag), or didn't see them because it was a windy day on the lake and the waves were quite high (aka: whitecaps). It's assumed that the boater didn't even know s/he did it because no one stopped.

So after a good cry on the way home from work I'm left to decide what to do with myself for the night. Part of me says put a movie on and just get lost in it and try to forget for at least a few hours. Another part of me says it's much healthy to do a bit of yoga and a bike ride....burn off that angst in a positive manner. And still another part of me says it would be wise to go to a meeting. I think I'll do a bit of yoga, a bit of the bike riding and then toss a movie on the dvd player.
The funeral is tomorrow at 2pm and I will be joined by my classmates, my teacher and those I worked with at the diving shop.

(thanks for listening, everyone...I realize you didn't know her and all...)

Sunday, August 08, 2004
the 8th day of the week, affectionately known as Blahday
Despite a beautiful and sunny day here in Toronto I am feeling all kinds of blah. I think it has something to do with my parents....you know, the ones that are less than thrilled with the announcement that I am going to Israel. The reaction has been marginally better than last year's, but not by much. I'm not going to air my family's dirty laundry on my blog, just know that I'm bummed that I get no support or encouragement from my family. The weeks between now and the time I leave will be tension filled and often times silent where there once would have been conversation. What can I say? .... if the trip were to somewhere (ANYwhere) else they would be excited for me.

In an effort to not let the parental situation get to me I decided to muster the motivation to clean my apartment. Finally. I don't know why it seems so insurmountable to me everytime, but it's intensely difficult to bring myself around to doing chores. That's not to say my house is a complete pigpen...I do dishes everyday, for example (you only make THAT mistake once, peee-yew!). It's the floors, always the floors. Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming seems to be my least favourite thing on the planet to do. Maybe I'm just lazy...this is a possibility I have been debating heavily. Too bad, coz nothing puts me in a fine mood quite like a sparkling clean home!

So! I cleaned my apartment. And then I watched a movie called Spun, which served as a wonderful reminder of why drugs are bad. After that I felt myself sliding into the blah stage again so I decided to go for a bike ride. After a lovely bike ride through the neighbourhood I have showered and am settling in for the evening. This has felt like a long weekend which is good, I guess.

Oh, and btw....do NOT see the movie The Clearing unless you actually enjoy long, slow and painful torture. I don't know how they didn't get bored just filming the damn thing. I'd write a more scathing, angry review but I just don't care enough about it to even bother. Hell, I'd probably fall asleep just describing it to you. "So there's this guy named Wayzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......."

Saturday, August 07, 2004
yet another wave
I'd really like to know what these people tell themselves to make it ok in their heads to do stuff like this: more graves were desecrated and a chapel burned in a Jewish cemetery in New Zealand. Just look at these pictures and tell me it doesn't turn your stomach. Tell me, you anti-semitic bastards....are you so weak and so cowardly that you must go after the dead who can no longer fight back?

Friday, August 06, 2004
Princess Blondie and her baby, Carmella.

Thursday, August 05, 2004
Clinton comes a callin'
In case you hadn't heard, Bill Clinton was in Toronto today. Crazed fans camped out since yesterday afternoon in order to secure a place in line for the book signing. It's all over the news here and I even know some people who headed down to get their books signed. Crazy stuff, man. And can I admit? I don't know what it is, but I like Clinton. I don't know why, I just do. *shrug*

oh, and did you hear? I'm going to Israel! :-P

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
will I ever stop talking about my trip to Israel??
At my office we get a lot of solicitors coming in trying to sell us anything from deals on spa packages to subscriptions to magazines. So I thought nothing of it when I heard my co-worker at the door talking to someone who was clearly about to try and sell him something, as he started his speech with "Hello my name is...". At first I disregarded it and continued on with my work until I heard the young man say he was selling his paintings and that he was an art student from Israel. Of course my ears perked right up and I had to go out and investigate.

My co-worked was just about to toss him out like all the other solicitors until he saw me come out and he said "you can deal with him" and walked away. First I asked where in Israel he was from, to which he replied he was from Jerusalem and was excited that I was showing an actual interest, not the pretend kind I'm sure he gets from most people he tries to peddle to. He showed me some of his and the work of the other students he had travelled with and when he finished that we talked about Israel for a bit, of course. I mentioned that I was going at the end of the month, which was why I couldn't possibly afford his paintings (which was true, I quite liked 2 of them and likely would have bought at least one). We talked about Israel some more, including (of course) politics and life there. His English was really very good (he humoured me as I mumbled a few words of Hebrew at the end), and I could see why he was the one sent out to talk to people. He was a very sweet guy and I wished him all the best; apparently he and his fellow students will be having an art show at the end of month somewhere in downtown Toronto to try and sell their work and promote their school (how much do I suck that I don't remember his name or the name of the school?? I think it was Bezalel). I told him to get in touch with me when the details of the show are firmed up and I would help get the word out (so if you're reading this "nice-Israeli-guy-whose-name-I-don't-know" write to me when you get the details!!). *sigh* I have such a soft spot for Israelis, what can I say? And I'm also an Israeli magnet, I swear to god. If there is an Israeli within 50 feet of me, I will be able to locate him/her. It's a gift, it's a curse.

So I have my ticket details worked out for my trip after talking to my agent numerous times on the phone. Seems I'm going to have a rather long layover in Newark on my way home. Ugh. So after spending something like 11 hours flying I'm going to have to find some way to amuse myself in Newark for FIVE hours. I have decided that K-Dogg should borrow someone's car and come down to visit me and keep me entertained. :-D Come on, you know you want to!!! (help me out here, si)

Details are being worked out for a big blogger get together in Israel (looks like there might be somewhere between 10 - 20 bloggers!), though there seems to be some disagreement over the date. If it gets changed I'm screwed and I won't be able to join. Words cannot describe how very disappointed I would be, but it's hardly fair for them all to move the time for just one person so I'm just quietly hoping this goes in my favour. *fingers crossed* If you are interested in joining us, there is a Yahoo Group that has been set up for the occasion, click here. It's moderated so you'll have to fill out a quick form to let them know who you are (just give them your blog address). We can never be too safe. :-) And that means YOU, Civax and Gil (Ben Mori)....go sign up and get in the loop. And vote for the date to be Sept 2nd so I can go!!

At the risk of boring anyone who isn't Jewish/Israeli, does anyone have any suggestions as to what sites I should see when I'm in Israel! Help me plan all the fun!! And why the hell has the US suddenly issued a travel warning to it's citizens about travelling to Israel?? Tsk.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
a grin from ear to ear
Well, now that I am full "Israel trip planning" mode, I am starting to get pretty excited. I may only be going for a week, but it is going to be packed with fun. *grin* I talked to my travel agent today and gave her the green light to book the flight, and I am starting to plan out all the things I need to do in the next three weeks before I go (which of course involves a little shopping and listening to more Hebrew lessons in the car on the way to and from work. lol!). Also, a big blogger get together is in the works and I will have the honour of meeting some of my favourite bloggers. This means a lot to me and just adds icing to this cake.

Meantime I am struggling to fight off yet another friggin' cold. Why is it I am always getting sick?? Now is SO not the time to get sick; I was sick the last time I flew to Israel and let me tell ya, it's no picnic doing a plane landing with a sinus infection. I thought I knew what pain was, but the pressure and pain in my ears redefined my definition of pain. I was nearly deaf for many hours after that. So I am taking all measures I can think of to take care of myself and to combat this cold creeping in...eating well, taking it easy and taking vitamins. *fingers crossed*

So did any of you bother to read my post about my trip or did we all get caught up in my Israel news? That's alright, but I still recommend you check out the gorgeous pictures, such as this. I ask you, have you ever seen a greener place in the world??

Monday, August 02, 2004
Al Jazeera coming to my town
Last night a friend and I decided to do a movie double-header at the theatre, so we saw the films "Troy" and "Control Room" back to back. The movie "Control Room" is a documentary about the Arab news channel known as Al Jazeera. It's a controversial channel for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which it is recommend for being extremely biased against Americans and Jews. Al Jazeera is also known for posting extremely gruesome pictures of dead American soldiers and Iraqi citizens during the ongoing war on Iraq. Many are upset because they feel Al Jazeera incites hate against Jews and the Western world, and I would have to agree to some extent. But it does have to cater to it's audience of 40 MILLION Arabs, so of course it is going to show Arabs in a favourable light and "infidels" in an unfavourable manner.

The film was very good, however, at presenting their side of things in an insightful manner. Much like the Michael Moore controversy which illustrates one extreme view against another, I feel this movie does a good job of contrasting pro-American news networks (like CNN and Fox News) against their own admittedly biased news for Arabs. And like the Michael Moore controversy, I think the truth is somewhere in between the two opinions.
Did I agree with the views of Al Jazeera and the way they present their news? No, but I am admittedly biased. And I do believe they have as much right to present the news as anyone else, though I fear it will indeed incite hate.

This brings me to my next concern...the fact that Al Jazeera will soon be see here in Canada on some stations. Anti-semitism has been on the rise here just as everywhere else in the world (note the extra security at the upcoming Olympics for the Israelis, the murder of Israeli athletes still fresh in their minds), and yes I think it will fuel this problem. As shown in the movie, Arabs are often quick to blame Israel for most problems in the Middle East, *including* the war in Iraq (I'd love to have them explain that one to me, coz I just don't understand the rationale). It's no secret that Arabs as a whole don't care much for Jews, and often use them as a scapegoat for the problems in the Middle East. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what effect Al Jazeera will have on the Arab population in Canada....

finally, I can say it....
The rumours are true....I will be going to Israel sometime in the very near future. I have been blessed enough to have people in my life who are kind enough to help me see my way to the place I defend so fiercely in my heart and on my blog. To those I refer to, you know who you are and you know I am forever indebted. I will never be able to thank you enough for your generosity.

I have been holding off on mentioning my trip thus far because I had not yet told my parents; it seemed more respectful to tell them first than to tell everyone else. My parents took the news far better than last year (on my first trip), but I think they are still terrified. However if it is one thing they *did* learn from my trip last year it's that I will not be deterred by anything they can say; perhaps that's why they resolved to say nothing. This is something they may as well get used to; this isn't my first trip there and it won't be my last.

I am very excited about this trip and hope to make more of an adventure of it than the last time, despite the fact that the time I will spend there will be half of what it was the first time (I will have only a week in Israel). But anyone can tell you, it's about quality, not quantity. I also hope to see some of my favourite Israeli bloggers while I am there; these are people I have looked up to and was inspired by to start my own blog. Due to time constraints I am hoping to see most of them at once, for I will be unable to see them one at a time. We shall see.

Meantime I must make plans and try to find sleep in my excitement. :-) I'm going to Israel!!!!
Woo hoo!!

Sunday, August 01, 2004
Jews and Americans: The terrorists favourite targets
When I got back from my trip and was finally able to catch up on news I was quite angry to hear that the American and Israeli embassies were attacked in Uzbekistan. This is not the first time that Israeli embassies have been targeted, unfortunately it's a favourite for terrorists who can't quite reach Israel proper. And I am sure Americans are becoming quite used to being the target of hate now too. Fun isn't it? Welcome to the club.

back from the woods
Let me preface this post by saying I will do my best to not turn this into a post in which I drone on about my vacation; I don't wish to bore you to tears. In fact, feel free to skip this post, I won't be offended. But for those who stick around I will try to weave my stories into an engaging (if not amusing) tale complete with pictures. If you wish to just skip right to the pictures without the story, you can go to my photoblog for the pics. Meanwhile, on with my mini-vacation recap.....

The trip didn't start out particularly well. I had alloted about 4.5 hours to get up there in time to have lunch with my parents and grandma before tagging off with the parents, sending them home and me staying. It was my grandma's birthday, so it was somewhat important that I aim to be on time (I had the presents and cake too). I had arrived in the general area with plenty of time to spare, but once I got off the highway and began driving the backwood roads, things went awry quickly. Let's just say I got lost for about 40 minutes or so. And not only did I get lost, I took my Honda Civic on dirt, sand, mud and gravel roads clearly not intended for such a vehicle. I nearly got stuck several times and very nicely scraped the undercarriage of my car on a huge rock (I can't believe there wasn't an oil trail marking where I had been). After having a meltdown that only a girl can really have (complete with angry tears of frustration) I gathered myself up, found my bearings and eventually located the cabin. My mood was quite sour by the time I found my family (despite being 15 mins early!) and I told everyone I didn't want to even talk about it. lol. Eventually a hot meal and cake for dessert lifted my spirits and I was able to recount the story of how I was ridiculously lost on my way there (we all laughed til we cried...in retrospect it *was* pretty funny ).

Before my parents could leave my grandma insisted we all go fishing together (a first for all 4 of us to be in the boat) and so we did. We caught nothing, but it didn't matter. After that my mom was giving me the lowdown on things I should know (where to get supplies and pay for the cabin) including the hijinx they had experienced the night before. Seems that my father had put the garbage out on the screened-in porch and then a group of raccoons had ripped through the screen door and let themselves in. My parents didn't get much sleep as the raccoons spent the better part of the night screaming and fighting over the garbage just outside the bedroom door, and really there's no way to get a group of giant raccoons to leave a room if they don't want to. They are the size of small dogs, and not overly afraid of humans. When my dad tried to scare them away, they just looked at him and blinked. Anyway, the screen in the door which they tore through had been replaced by a wooden board which would be hopefully keep them out. With a hug and nod of good luck from my parents we had traded places, and now it was my turn to spend time with grandma.

Overall, I had a great time with my grandma. We got on each other's nerves a little bit here and there, but that's to be expected when you're in a cabin in the woods with someone day in and day out with no form of entertainment other than reading, fishing and playing cards. Things might not have been so difficult if I could say I got a decent night's sleep at any point, but I didn't. The beds were terrible (there were 4 and the mattresses were brutal in all of them, I shopped them like Goldilocks) and of course there was the small matter of the raccoons returning every night. There was a mother and 4 babies that made it their personal mission to get into my porch since they had scored so well when my parents were there. Here is the picture of two of the babies as they climbed up the side of the door to try to get to the screen at the top (since the board was keeping them out at the bottom). At first I found them cute and charming, as they made sounds that were like a combination of chirping and purring. They talked away to each other as they plotted to find a way into my porch. They weren't afraid of me, and in fact I'd say they were pretty curious (as was I). They sniffed my hand through the screen and I tried to negotiate with them to get down and leave. After two nights of this I was reduced to yelling, banging and hissing at them to get them to leave. I am not the kind of person who functions well on lack of sleep, and after 4 hours of them waking me up I was becoming rather unimpressed with their antics.

All in all, it was a good time. We went fishing, we played lots of cards, read our books and had lots of nice calm quiet time. No phones, no computers (ok, that might not have been my favourite part) and no traffic. Just lots of big beautiful green trees, wonderful lakes and rivers, and all sorts of animals. *sigh* I love my country, what can I tell ya? And even though I grew up in areas just like this one I visited, I am still in awe of it's beauty. I think it's important to see the beauty of the places right in your own backyard...sometimes it's all too easy to get used to it just because you see it everyday. And sometimes it's too easy to take those you love for granted, so it's important to take the time to show them you care. I was lucky enough to get to enjoy both the place I call home AND the people I love most.