Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Mouse in my House!

I arrived in Israel yesterday and settled into my apartment a few hours later. I think there used to be a smoker here, maybe a few tenants ago, and it still smells like it. So I had the windows open all afternoon yesterday until it got too cold. In general, I figured I shouldn't leave them open when I wasn't here (I'm on the 2nd floor and there are bars) because cats might get in.

I was out most of the day today and just got back. It's still warm out and I figured it was time to air the place out again. 10 minutes into my fresh air interaction and what do i see in the window but a mouse! There are SO many cats around I'm not sure how it's even alive. And it was cute. Definitely not a rat. So closed the windows. Five minutes later, he's back and watching me work. Unfortunately, there aren't bars small enough that can keep them out, so I'm back to closed windows.

Monday, December 24, 2007

From 30 to 48

I used to spend about 30 minutes packing for a trip. Maybe 45 if I wasn't paying attention. And it didn't matter how long the trip was going to be. A weekend or a month - it was all the same. I mean how many different clothes can a person wear?

For this trip, I've spent at least 48 hours figuring it all out. Which bags to take. What to put in which bag. To take extra socks or not? Do I really need a flashlight? I've never brought one and have survived just fine. Except that I always encounter some situation in which I wish I'd brought one. I decided not to bring an umbrella. Mainly because I'm not quite sure where a small one is. I'm fairly sure though that I will regret not looking.

And all of the sudden, I have way too much electronic "stuff". Two cell phones (one for the US, one for Israel), the charger that goes with them, an ipod and the charger that goes with that, and mini-speakers, and a car chargers for the cell phone, and a car adaptor for the ipod, and my laptop, and the cords that go with that, and.... I never thought this would be me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Driving may have been faster...

Last Sunday I needed to fly to DC. No problem. I bought a ticket on United that connected through Chicago and left Milwaukee and arrived in DC at decent hours with a long lay over. The weather in Milwaukee had been terrible and the news on Saturday night made us think it might take longer to get to the airport. It usually takes 15 minutes. The roads on Sunday morning turned out to be fine and while we had left ourselves 45 minutes, it still only took 15.

The plane that was supposed to land in Milwaukee and take us on the 16 minute flight to Chicago was delayed because of bad weather. It was either Souix City or Souix Falls, I can't remember which, but either way, we were now due to arrive in Chicago at 11am, the exact time of my connecting flight.

So still in Milwaukee, they rebooked me on the 1pm flight.

When we arrived in Chicago, even though it was the wrong gate, I asked the agent if she would print the boarding pass for my second flight. There wasn't a line and she didn't seem to mind taking care of me. It printed, and before I walked away, I figured I should double check my originally scheduled 11am flight. If it was delayed, maybe I could still catch it. She checked, and of course it had departed on time. And in those 30 seconds, my 1pm flight got cancelled.


Thankfully she noticed, and immediately rebooked me on the 2pm flight - within seconds of it being cancelled. This was my luckiest break of the day for a few reasons. The first is that when I was walking to my next gate, there were dozens upon dozens of people waiting to rebook flights at the Customer Service desks. The second was that because of all of the delays, there were 60(!) people on the stand-by list for the 2pm flight. I was not one of them.

At this point, it was also clear I was not going to make my 3pm meeting and I'd probably be late for the 5pm meeting.

And I had no snacks. And there is nothing to eat in the airport unless you want to pay and arm and a leg for a fruit salad that looked like it had been made the week before. It turns out though, that McDonald's has a fruit and yogurt side salad for less than $2. I should have gotten 2. And their "gourmet" coffee isn't really so gourmet, in case you were wondering. And they only had Equal and Splenda and no Sweet and Low.

Flash forward. The boarding started for the 2pm flight. I was in group 4. The called the first three groups and then stopped. I heard the gate agent answer her phone and say "Damn". It turns out there were mechanical difficulties and they de-boarded the entire plane.

In the end, they found us another plane and we left by 3:30pm or so and arrived in DC around 6pm. It wouldn't have really been faster to drive, but almost. Maybe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

1"-2" is not equal to 3"-6"

It is 6:30am. Our next door just began to snowblow her driveway. I used to think she was a nice lady.

We were told to expect 1-2 inches of snow, and when it began yesterday, it was that pretty Christmasy snow that the Eskimos would have nice name for. 6 hours later, when it was still snowing, it was no longer pretty and Christmasy. There are at least 3 inches on the ground here, on top of the other 16 that has already fallen. and some places got 6 more inches.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

God doesn't shovel snow in Wisconsin

My father generally lets Gd shovel for him. Meaning that whenever it finally gets warm enough to melt the snow away, is when the driveway gets cleared.

Today, it snowed for 8 hours straight today and finally stopped about 4pm. At which time we went out and started shoveling. Well, I shoveled and Ronnie wrestled with the snowblower. Neither of us has any experience with one and it's not the easiest thing to maneuver.

This being Wisconsin, I think Gd is busy doing other things until May.

Pretty much simultaneously, all of our neighbors also came out to start clearing the snow. In my mind, the sound of winter is now the roar of snowblowers and the smell is a horrible gas/oil mixture that you can just see eating away at the ozone layer.

We have a long driveway, a big space in front of the garage (behind the house) and a relatively moderate amount of sidewalk that needs to be cleared. At least we don't live on a corner anymore! Either way, it's a lot to clear.

Thankfully, in addition to a snowblower, we have a new shovel. We still have the old one, but the new one weighs maybe 8 pounds and the old one weighs about 20. There is a significant difference in how it feels to lift a pile of heavy wet snow with a 20 pound shovel vs an 8 pound shovel.

It took us each an hour to finish the whole job. At some point, our next door neighbor started up her snowblower. It's big, and fancy (it has a light on it) and throws snow pretty far. And it can handle probably a foot of snow. She redid the sidewalk for us, which was nice. And then I saw her helping the guy across the street. I guess once it's turned on.... Did I mention that her snowblower has a headlight?!

The biggest challenge - it's been snowing for a while already. The first snow of the season was easy - you just throw the snow on the lawn. At this point, the piles of snow are 3-4 feet high and throwing more snow on top or past them is hard!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Spaghetti Squash

It needs a new name. It does not adequately substitute for spaghetti. Every few years I buy one and try to figure out if it would work in place of pasta. It never lives up to its reputation. I don't like squash to begin with, but with a name like spaghetti squash, it seems like something to try every so often.

So last week I bought another one. It sat on the counter for a good week before I finally cooked it. The strands came out perfectly - I'm not sure that's ever happened to me before. The problem, there was WAY too much and this is something I'm fairly sure Ronnie will not eat.

I tossed some with marinara and some parmesan. It was tolerable, but only because there was a lot of sauce and a lot of parmesan. Last night I thought maybe pesto would make it better. I mean pesto makes everything better, right? Wrong. Three bites in I was done. Not even basil could help this squash.

There were still at least 4 cups of it left. The choice was throwing it away or figuring out what else to do with it.

Three eggs, a lot of cinnamon, a handful of raisins, three spoonfuls of flour and 40 minutes at 350 degrees later I had a kugel. And it tastes good. In our house, spaghetti squash will now be known as kugel squash!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Heart Attack Snow

Today was all about shoveling heart attack snow. I'm pretty sure that if the Eskimos shovel, then this is one of the words they have to describe thick, slushy, not-quite-icy-but-almost snow. It's heavy. It's sloppy. It's wet. If you don't have a heart attack shoveling it, your entire body hurts just to remind you know that full body soreness is better than a heart attack.

I did not have a heart attack.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Blizzard. Part Deux

At noon, right on the nose, it started snowing. We were leaving the bank and headed to the library. Just a few small flakes and nothing that ordinarily looks like it would be sticking. We got the library and the little flakes were gathering in corners, huddled lest we run over one of their family members.

The library was not nearly as crowded as Walmart. I figured that meant more movie choices for us. And bonus, no one was already reading the People magazine. Since I don't usually shop at the regular grocery stores, I don't see it standing in line anymore. So that was good. So we sat at the library for an hour or so.

At 12:45 I glanced out the window and saw a minor blizzard. Still small flakes - nothing fun like those big sloppy flakes though. But definitely the start of a good accumulation. Now was the time to call Walmart and see about the aforementioned prescription.

We were put on hold. First, three minutes of the requisite Christmas carols which I enjoy but Ronnie does not. And then, wait for it....Mi Y'malel (Who can retell). In Hebrew. Followed by another Hanuka song. I'm not generally a Walmart fan, save for their $4 prescriptions (and winter salt), but I may call their pharmacy again just to be put on hold.

Walmart. Before a blizzard. Part 1

We're expecting snow. A lot of it. Snow and freezing rain and accumulation. Lovely. But it wasn't supposed to start until noon. So at 10am we went out to run some errands, go to the library, deposit some checks, drop of a prescription at Walmart.... In an attempt to be efficient, we went to Walmart first to drop off the prescription.

By the crowds, you would think we were about to be at seige. There was not a cart to be found. And the carts we saw coming out of the building were all filled with various forms of salt, de-icer, and snow removal accessories. Hmm, maybe getting a cart for a big bag of salt wouldn't be a bad idea.

So we go in search of a cart. You could follow people out of the store, but no one was parked close and it felt a bit like stalking. So Ronnie went off, down row eight in search of a cart while I chatted with the elderly greeters.

10 minutes later, looking as if he'd just done battle, he returned with a cart. Now we HAD to buy salt. And no wussy 20oz bags for us. Now, we went for the 50 pound bag. Even though it's not the greatest stuff for concrete, which our driveway and sidewalk are. And even though we have a snowblower (which we've never used and hope works). At least we had a cart for it and not one of those small handbaskets.

And the lines... you would not believe what people think they need to buy before it snows. Toilet paper. Chips. Shovels. Bottled water. Big bottles of shampoo. I mean this is Wisconsin - it snows all the time here. I could see (and saw) this happening in DC, but here?!