Tag Archive | Little Duckies’ Photos

Toss the Characters Aside

Maybe we are weird.  We don’t like writing on clothes or accessories.  We don’t like characters of any kind.  Except Thomas the Tank, and even that took us a while to make peace with.

When Mom first started buying stuff for Shlomo, she bought almost exactly to our taste.  98% of the things she bought for him, I would have bought myself.  The other 2% of things were tolerable, even if they weren’t great.  When Shlomo was about 18 months, or maybe 2 years, old, that started changing.  Slowly, of course.  At first, I was still using most of the stuff she sent.  But little by little, that changed.

There started being more words (those I still usually tolerate), more characters (I’ve tolerated most of these, too), and more black-and-red stuff and synthetic stuff (these I usually can’t stomach).

When Mom came to visit last summer, she brought a Dusty stuffed plane, and three or four Dusty books.  And a Thomas book, too, but Diesel was naughty and Shlomo thought that it was funny – so even though Diesel changes his ways at the end, the book went to China.

Last week, I spoke to Mom, and her newest thing is Mario.  She redecorated her basement, not because she had to,  but because she wants to have an apartment for us for when we visit (??  Um, when we were there in your little apartment when Shlomo was a baby, it was great).  And she made Shlomo a Mario room.  Mario?!  Seriously?!?  She said, “He doesn’t have to know who that is, if you don’t want him to.”  I said, “That depends; it’s limited, and it doesn’t always work.”

I tried to think of a way to politely tell Mom that we don’t like this American pop-star, movie-character culture.  Honestly, I think she should understand; when raising their kids, she and Dad had a lot of the same opinions.  Somehow, grandkids are different.  So I said, as nicely as I could, “Ummm, Mom?  Yitzchak and I are kind of anti-all-characters.  Like, except for Thomas, because he’s pretty old and he has morals.”  To which Mom replied, “Mario is as old as Thomas and he teaches some things, too.”  I said, “Yes, well, Mario wasn’t written by a reverend who put tons of morals into every story.”  On that point, she had to agree.

There are a few problems with these characters, Disney and otherwise:

  1. Children identify with them very strongly.  This means that children learn from everything these characters do, and every little thing becomes increasingly poignant in their minds.
  2. If that weren’t enough, an entire industry has been created that revolves around persuading children that they need things with these characters on them.  Clothes, backpacks, toys, books, blankets, dolls, building blocks, Lego sets – anything and everything is a valid target for “characterization.”  This creates an unncessary, unhealthy, and undesirable obsession.
  3. And in addition, this obsession severely limits imagination, free thinking, and creative play.
  4. Instead of learning to buy simple, quality items, and make them last, children become obsessive and insistent on having everything include their favorite character.  In other words, it feeds the “me” culture, which is a culture that, personally, I see as not only egoistic, but destructive as well.
  5. Since chances are that each child will obsess about a different character, passing things down can become a problem.  If you want more than two or three children, not being able to pass things down the line becomes an even bigger problem.
  6. Most of these characters come with language issues: lines that they always say, ways (not necessarily respectful) that they say things, and sometimes swear words as well.
  7. Even if a child does not have television or video games in his house, his friends probably do, and so television, movies, and video games featuring the chosen character start to fill the child’s time, and head, replacing more valuable, genuine aspects of childhood.

And therefore, we heavily censor.  We were given blankets and sheets with Thomas, but in practice, only the very-benign bottom sheet shows; the pillowcase and top sheet are stuffed away, and two blankets are covered by the bottom sheet, making a mattress on the floor of our room.  We do not have TV, movies, or video games, nor do we have friends who have them.  In fact, our son is the odd one out, the only one who has a Thomas character anything (Dusty, unfortunately, is more common).  We do have books, and Thomas toys, but the moral is good and we are fine with it.  Diesel, as we said, got put up high.

Dusty, characters, planes, blankets,

Anyone want a Dusty toddler bed comforter?

But the Dusty – oh, the Dusty.  The small plane stays; the stuffed plane is advertised to be given away.  Two puzzles will either be swapped, if I can find someone to swap with, or simply hidden or donated.  The books – I will choose one, the one with the best lesson and the least stupidity (Dusty books are dripping with stupidity and bad lessons), and the rest will be donated to the library.  The comforter and pillowcase he has never seen; the sheets are pretty benign, and they are in use, but soon I would like to get rid of them, because despite their benign-ness, Shlomo has recently identified the planes on them.

We may be weird, we may be obsessive, but please, do not send us anything with characters.  Because from now on, please G-d, I will simply give it away.  The world is full of bad teachers; I don’t want any in my house.

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Woo-woos: A Year Later

It has been a year since Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge).  In that year, since Tzuk Eitan, we have not had a single siren.  Not a single woo-woo.  We have not even told Shlomo that there have been sirens in other parts of the country.  Because in our book, when it comes, it comes.  We are going to take it day by day.

Shlomo was traumatized, as were thousands of other children living in the line of fire, and rightly so.  In the year that has passed since, we have had, off and on, obsessions with sirens.  It was more like, three months on, two months off, three months on, one month off, three months on.  We have a Childcraft set.  He continuously wants to read about the Battle of Britain, and the invention of rockets that could carry missiles.  This is his favorite topic.

Yesterday, he made a woo-woo plane out of kipodim [literally: porcupines; it is also the name of a type of building toy].  I’m not sure what the difference is between a woo-woo plane and any other plane with two engines, but it is his plane and he made it.  And he flies it while imitating the air raid siren.  Today, he “read” to me from the Childcraft about the woo-woos (Battle of Britain), and told about how the planes were fighting each other and how they have to stop making woo-woos.

woo-woo, plane, kipodim, air raid sirens, battle of britain, israel, israeli children, play therapy, gaza wars, hamas, rocket attacks, terror, terrorists, effects of terror on children, trauma building toys, air raid sirens, bomb shelters, hamas murderers, radical islam,

Shlomo’s woo-woo plane that he made from kipodim.

Yesterday, he told me to bring Tova to the bedroom, and “he would protect her from the shoshanim.”  When he plays, any ambulance or police or firetruck siren comes out as a woo-woo.  It may not start out that way, but that is what it becomes.

We thought that with time, the trauma would heal. We were wrong.  It has not healed for us, and it has not healed for him.  We are worse off than he is, because we read the news.  He is worse off than we are, because he senses that we are worried, but doesn’t know why.  We are always worried, though, so maybe he doesn’t think it out of the ordinary anymore.  Parents are always worried, I think.  Perhaps it is just par for the course.

Shlomo also went through two sirens during Amud Anan (Operation Pillar of Defense).  He didn’t forget those, either, and when we moved here, we realized that he had simply thought we were done with them.  I think he felt let down when he realized the sirens were back.  We have taught him to differentiate between practice drills or remembrance sirens, and real sirens.  Mostly, by warning him, and when applicable, telling him that it wouldn’t go up and down.  Then “he” made the siren and it wasn’t a real siren, nobody was trying to hurt us.

When Yitzchak and I read yesterday morning that the Iran deal signed by [Obama] Bin Laden and the rest of P5+1 included a clause in which the West would train Iran to block Israeli strikes, we were left reeling.  It’s not that we don’t think Israel can and will preempt Iran’s training.  It’s not that we don’t believe that Israel can deal with Iran’s having S-300.  It’s that, well, we were expecting Israel to strike soon, but not that soon.  We were debating if it would be smarter for Israel to strike now, or to wait to hear what Congress has to say about the deal.  But maybe now Israel doesn’t have a choice.  One thing is sure:

Someone is going to strike, with nuclear, biological, or conventional weapons, someone else, and very soon.  And the woo-woos will probably be back, hopefully, probably, only conventional woo-woos.

For the sake of the entire free world, we hope that Israel will wipe Iran off of the map, and not the other way around.

What I Missed About Toronto

parking lot, negev, dimona, beet sheva, apartment, view, window, israel

Before I came to Israel, I lived in Toronto.  Objectively, a good place to live.  But really blah and I didn’t like the community’s attitude, in general.  And, in general, it just wasn’t my place, and had never been.

But the one thing I missed after I came to Israel was  – don’t laugh – the garbage disposal system.  When I left Toronto, the system was as follows:

Green bin (compost) pickup every week.  You can put as much out as you want.  P.S. – Green bin includes diapers and pads.  Not sure how, but it does.

Recycling – paper, glass, plastic.  Maybe metal, too; I don’t remember.  Pickup every two weeks.  You can put out as much as you want.

Garbage – regular garbage.  Pickup on the two weeks when recycling isn’t picked up.  You can put out two bags for free.  Anything above that needs to be paid for; if there’s no receipt on the bag they won’t pick it up.

In Jerusalem, there is garbage pickup.  There are places to recycle paper and plastics.  There are some places to recycle glass bottles but you never really know where they are or what to do with them.  Once I asked why there was no place to recycle metal.  And then someone pointed out to me that it wasn’t exactly a good idea to have bins with sharp metal objects in the middle of the street, because it would be too easy to put in an explosive, and imagine what would happen then.  G-d forbid.  I don’t even want to think about it.  And only Israelis would even think that way.  Granted, not every country recycles.  But to not recycle metal because of terrorists?  Only in Israel, unfortunately.

One year, I tried to compost with a friend.  It kind of worked.  Then our compost spot got planted over and fenced in.  I tried a bit longer and just gave up.  It was too complicated.

Then, guess what?  We moved here.  And we found that . . . there are compost bins!  In fact, to find a regular, old fashioned garbage can you have to walk a bit.  They’re there, of course, but we have other waste disposals closer.  In our parking lot, we have four containers – one for wet garbage (compost), one for dry garbage (everything else), one for papers, and one for plastic bottles, with a place for plastic bags on the side.  These get picked up as needed.

The problem is, not everyone separates their garbage like they should.  The municipality has signs everywhere encouraging people to put in the tiny bit of effort – and it really is a tiny bit – to separate their garbage and use the “green” disposal system.  But I guess not everyone does it – a few weeks ago Yitzchak found a bunch of garbage stuffed in the “wet” bin, and the “dry” bin was almost empty.  Someone had taken tons of garbage and just stuffed it wherever.  At first, even Yitzchak was apprehensive, but soon enough he got the hang of it and declared it “easy” and “nice to do”.

So now, I don’t miss Toronto at all.  I guess there are places in Israel that try to compost, too.

3 Days of Watching

potty training, biohazard shirt, warning potential biohazard, three day potty training, toddler with no pants, toddler potty training

Shlomo is producing potential biohazards on our floor today.

(Note: This post is from yesterday.)

We are potty-training for real.  At least, we hope so.

Shlomo was interested in sitting on the toilet (with one of those little toilet seats over it), but then it wasn’t comfortable for him, because for his peepee to point into the toilet meant sitting with his legs tight together, and the little “cap” on his toilet seat hurt his peepee.  So we got him a potty chair.  First we put a bag into it, but he didn’t like that on his tush.  So now we put a bit of water into the bottom, so that it’s easier to dump the contents into the toilet.

But, he wasn’t thrilled with either one, and lost interest pretty fast.

Which was fine with me – I knew we were starting early.  And as long as he let me change his diapers, I wasn’t going to complain.

However, for the past two weeks or so, diaper-changing time has gotten increasingly difficult.  Shlomo doesn’t want me us to change it – even when it’s leaking – and he fights.

Last night, I was reorganizing Shlomo’s drawers, for the change of season and because Yitzchak’s mother just sent us a whole summer wardrobe and I had to fit those clothes and his other clothes into three little drawers.  We came to the training underwear that she’d bought six months ago for us.  Most of them hadn’t been worn yet.  I told Yitzchak that either we put them away, or we use them.

I had heard of the three-day potty training method, and it sounded better than six months of potty training.  I told Yitzchak to look it up.  Obviously, Yitzchak would find a problem with something no one thought of: There isn’t always grout between tiles in Israel.  And then poop would get stuck between them.

Since Yitzchak couldn’t find anything better, we are doing it anyways, tiles or not.

Yitzchak wanted to try it with underwear.  After two consecutive accidents within one hour, we quit that.

The accidents didn’t stop, though.  We had two consecutive pee accidents, plus a poop with the second pee, within fifteen minutes.  And then one spritz onto Shlomo’s plate of olives.

But, since then, we’ve been good.

A drop of poop and a pee in the “toilet”.

And a whole bunch on the floor.

We’re only on day 1.  If this doesn’t work, we’ve lost only three days.  If it does work, we’ve gained a few months.

The picture above is Shlomo wearing his new biohazard shirt.  I thought it was an appropriate shirt for a day of poop and pee accidents.

Clear Blue Skies and Sunshine

Today*, when I went outside, the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect.  It was slightly chilly; not too hot, not too cold.  For me, slightly chilly is perfect, because I tend to walk fast, and then I get sweaty.  For a few minutes, it felt as if I had stepped into a story, one of those, ‘This was a land of hope and green after the Holocaust, where the sun shone and the sky was clear,’ post-Holocaust, stories.

Why?  I thought to myself.  It’s true, it’s a beautiful day.  It’s true, this is my favorite kind of day, when it’s sunny, but still chilly, and it’s beautiful and green.  But why does it feel like a story? 

Besides, if it is like a story, how would I know that and recognize it?

*          *         *         *         *         *  

When I was twelve years old, I came to Israel for my cousin’s wedding, which doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  My birthday, and my cousin’s wedding, were in March/April, so I got to miss school for about two weeks.

In those days, I didn’t know about the maddening things the government did, I didn’t think too much about terror attacks, and I didn’t worry about the water shortage or if we were getting enough rainfall.  Sure, I knew that Israelis had to be careful to save water.  They would rinse the dishes, soap them, and then rinse the soap off, being careful to turn off the water between each step.  They would also take shorter showers, and turn off the water when they were soaping.  But I didn’t fully understand, and I didn’t worry. 

*          *         *         *         *         *  

Maybe I did fully understand, but I didn’t care.

*          *         *         *         *         *  

I came on this trip to Israel with my mother and 1.5 year old sister.  1.5.  Wow.  Shlomo’s only a little older than that now.  Kind of makes me feel like deja-vu, if you know what I mean, except it’s my child that I’m pushing in the stroller, not my mother’s. 

We went to restaurants, she paid with travelers’ cheques.  To this day, I can hear her saying “travelers’ cheques” in English, with the rest of the sentence in Hebrew, while she asked each establishment if they accepted them.  I was so embarrassed that she was speaking Hebrew except for one phrase.  It sounded so dumb.

It’s true, I’d left my pesky (sorry, Esther, but that is how I felt then, and how you felt, too) little sister at home, but I didn’t really feel that I had my mother to myself, unless she happened to be telling me how to act or dress or talk.  I didn’t mind that my baby sister came along – her, I liked.  I did mind that my mother didn’t really seem interested in spending time with me, unless it was walking around shopping, or doing touristy things that she wanted to do.  Except, that is, for my cousin’s wedding.  She wasn’t really paying attention to me then, either, but the wedding itself was nice enough to make up for that.

I walked around, I did some dumb things, I did some embarrassing things, but I loved the country.  When I went back to school, I had picked up, in the two weeks that I spent in Israel, a little bit of an accent.  I worked hard to keep it when I noticed that it was going away; I was proud of that little bit of an Israeli accent.

*          *         *         *         *         *  

I can’t say that I was successful in keeping my bit of an accent, but it certainly might have helped me to develop a better accent later on, when I moved here.

When we arrived back home at the end of the trip, I announced to my parents, “When I grow up, I’m going to make aliya (move to Israel).”  They replied (truthfully, my mother replied): “We’ll see what happens when the time comes.”

The time came, and I made aliya.

But it is walking, carefree, in a beautiful day like this one, with a chill in the air, green grass, gray trees, and the sun shining, that made me feel that today was a story-like day.

sky, clouds, jerusalem sky, jerusalem clouds, clear skies, clear sky, blue sky, beautiful sky, jerusalem, isreal

This picture is one I took a few months ago, while waiting at a bus stop. Today there were no clouds, but the sky is about the same color, and it’s a beautiful picture.

 

* I’ve never used italics for thoughts/daydreams before, so please forgive any mistakes (and correct them).

Snow Day! (Jerusalem, Part VII)

So, I wasn’t planning on taking a new batch of pictures so soon, but I ended up doing so, anyways.  And for good reason: Yesterday, we got 10 – 15 centimeters of snow in the center of the city; in outlying areas, suburbs, and higher places, there was even more.

“Ten centimeters!  Wow!” I can hear you say.  “That’s really newsworthy [not]!”

Well, actually, it is.  Last year, we had snow here in Jerusalem for all of three hours.  And it didn’t even stick that well.  I don’t remember if we had snow the previous year, but if we did, it was maybe a centimeter.

In addition, you have to take into account that Israel has had several years in a row now, that we haven’t had enough rainfall.  This year, thank G-d, we have been blessed:  The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) has risen a lot, and is continuing to rise.  So, between the rain and the “deep” snow, we are doing pretty well.

The flip side?  Jerusalem isn’t really prepared for snowstorms.  It made the news when the mayor bought lots of salt, to melt the snow that would fall.  Everyone was waiting anxiously to see the snow, and when it looked, yesterday, like the weathermen had been lying, and there was only going to be rain, and bits of snow that didn’t stick, most residents were really disappointed.  See, snow means no school.  And for many, no work.  Snow means a vacation day.  (Last year, they let school out in the morning, because it was snowing – and by the time the last parents had come to pick up their kids, the snow had stopped, and was starting to melt.)

Shlomo woke us up yesterday at 5:40am.  He snuggled with me for about forty minutes.  Then we got up and started our day.  Yitzchak left to go to the mikva and to daven.  It turns out that the buses weren’t running, and neither was the light rail train, until about noon.

In addition, the little neighborhood grocery store (which is part of a chain) was closed.  I guess it’s a good thing that Yitzchak ran up last night to buy diapers and cornflakes for our neighboor (with her money, of course), instead of letting her wait until morning.  She would have gone up this morning, with her baby, and found the store closed.  (Her husband is in the army, comes home only on weekends, and they have a seven-month-old baby.)

Shlomo and I bundled up and ran out to the snow.  I was afraid that it would melt, and I wanted Shlomo to see it, and know what it was (and not be afraid of snow).  (Last year, he napped through the entire snowstorm.  Bummer.)  We kept changing places, just to play in different areas, and mess up different snow.

On the radio, they told us not to drive private cars, to stay at home, and to stay off the streets.  Roads were blocked, some for half the day; trees were blown down by the wind, sometimes causing power outages.  The electric company sent people to fix it, but the roads were all blocked, so the electricians were stuck.

And all this for 10-15 centimeters of snow in the center of the city, and maybe ten centimeters more on the outskirts.  Wow.

I have to say, before I came to Israel, we got almost two feet of snow, and there was still school.  An army of snowplows would come out, and the streets would be completely clear within two hours.

On the other hand, that’s what happens with terror attacks here: Everyone goes into action, and life returns to normal within the time span of a few hours.  Unfortunately, it has happened too often; Israel is prepared.

But, we are not prepared for snow.  I wonder sometimes, what would happen if the situation were switched?  How would America – or any country in Europe – react if they had terror attacks as often as they have snowstorms?  It would definitely be nice to switch places, and have more snowstorms than terror attacks.

After this long preamble, here are some pictures that I took of the snow.

This is the view of the snow falling from our window.  Most Israeli window shades are like what you see here: Wide, heavy plastic blinds that are usually built into, and slightly outside of, the wall.  They are rolled up by pulling a heavy string at the side, which is more of a pulley than a string.  These blinds, called “trisim” here in Israel, also provide some protection to your house, and they are often used for porches as well as windows.  When they are let down fully, there is a layer of heavy plastic (in some cases, metal) that covers the entire window (or porch door).  This makes it extremely hard to get in (or out), and I would assume (but maybe stupidly) also blocks rocks and debris from explosions, at least to some degree.

window, snow, windowsill, snowstorm, jerusalem snow, israel snow, israel winter, jerusalem winter, watching snow fall, snow falling outside, windows

After watching the snow falling, we went [back] outside.  (We had been outside at 7:30am, and then went back in so I could feed Shlomo breakfast, and we could warm up a bit.)  Here you can see the side of our building, and the trees.

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We then walked to a grassy hill, where there was lots of untouched, clean, snow, and no chance of cars coming even close.  Here is the beautiful view of snowy Jerusalem that we had from the hill . . .

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. . . and of some of the trees on the hill itself.  Notice that everything is green underneath.

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And one more view of Jerusalem . . .

snow, snowstorm, jerusalem snow, israel snow, israel winter, jerusalem winter, watching snow fall, snow falling outside, trees, outdoor scenes, trees, snow-covered trees, trees covered in snow, white jerusalem, snow in jerusalem, jerusalem snowstorm, israel, views of jerusalem, winter, jerusalem winter, jerusalem snow, jerusalem snowstorm, plants, trees, houses, plants covered in snow, green and white winter, snow covers plants, snow covers trees

Then I put the camera away, and worked on making snowballs.  The snowballs had one of two fates: Either I threw them at someone (usually Shlomo, because he liked it), or I gave them to him to throw.  Since Shlomo didn’t throw his snow too far, the snowballs that I gave him usually ended up being recycled into new ones.  Shlomo also made snowballs – kind of.  And I rolled him in the snow, and he scooted down the hill – so, we had fun.  Or, he had fun.  And I enjoyed watching him have fun.

On the Bus Home (Jerusalem, Part VI)

My bus came.  I boarded the bus via the rear doors, and, to my delight, found that the bus was fairly empty, and that both sets of my favorite seats were available.  I chose which set I wanted.  I plopped Shlomo down in one of them, with my backpack on the other.  (I use a backpack instead of a diaper bag, nowadays.)  I folded the stroller.  Since there was such a long line of people, I decided to wait until they had boarded before going up to pay.  I then reconsidered, but it was too late – the bus had started moving.

So, I waited until the next bus stop, when I placed my backpack on top of Shlomo (keeps him occupied, seated, weights him down a bit more, and provides something soft that he can lean into in case the bus moves slightly), and went up to pay.  True, I cut in front of the passengers who were just getting on, but what can I do?  It’s not like anyone offered to take my fare up, I don’t want to take Shlomo up to pay with me, and I have to get back to my seat – and my toddler – before the bus starts moving again.  In my own defense, though, I don’t think anyone minded – what I did is fairly common, almost expected.  It could be that I felt rude because I’m American.  The truth is, I actually don’t think that Israelis consider it rude at all for a mother to come up to pay when everyone else is getting on.

After that stop, our next stop was the Central Bus Station.  Note the security guards (yes, they are armed) and the metal detectors – typical of all Israeli buildings, establishments, and offices.

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This is still the Central Bus Station, just a bit further down the street.  The plastic “triangular” “building” sticking out of the sidewalk is an underground public bomb shelter.

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Passengers boarding the bus – and the inside of the bus itself.  I am sitting right behind the rear doors.  There is a set of two seats, one on each side of the bus, just behind the rear doors (with an aisle in between, of course).  These are my favorites – easy to board, fold the stroller, unload bags, and keep an eye (and a hand) on Shlomo at all times.  My set of seats has a clear plastic “wall” in front of it, presumably so that in case of a sudden stop, passengers do not bang into the doors.

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A bus stop just past ours at the Central Bus Station.

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The string bridge itself.  While I don’t think it fits the character of the city, it is still impressive.

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Notice the contrast between the building and the walls erected for the light rail train.

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At a red light, I was able to photograph these plants, that are growing right beside an apartment building.

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We turn onto a side street, to continue our journey home.  The light rail train, Herzl (the main street, where the string bridge is) is one-way only for a few blocks.  The other way is diverted to a neighboring street.  We are “the other way” right now.  This is a view of the corner, at a red light.

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Construction across the valley, while driving on the “other” street (Ish Shalom, if you must know).  There is a bus stop at the beginning of the street and at the end.  The good part – one of the only good parts of this whole train business – is that the bus goes faster now.

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Here, we did a U-turn and went to the joint light rail/bus stop at Yad Sarah.  This picture is of the school across the street.  Notice the fence: all schools here, or at least all Jewish schools, have fences (often high fences) and security guards.  (The schools pay the guards, I think.)  There is a metal booth on the left; this is for the security guard to sit in, while he watches.  Once an hour, the guard locks the gate and walks around the campus to make sure that no one has jumped the fence or thrown any suspicious objects into the school grounds.  The security guards, just like the ones at the Central Bus Station, and everywhere else, are armed.  I’ll leave it to you to guess why.  (Hint: It’s not because of kidnappers or mentally ill people who have guns.)

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That’s the end of this series.  I didn’t continue taking pictures for two reasons: 1) I’d rather keep some semblance of anonymity.  2) Shlomo was getting cranky, and my camera was slowly using up its battery.

Waiting for the Bus (Jerusalem, Part V)

In my last post, we had walked down Agrippas, and were waiting for the bus at the bus stop.  So, we continue from there.

It’s funny how before I started this series, I never realized how much went on while waiting for a bus.  I just kind of made sure to keep my spot in the line, jiggled my foot, watched the time, and waited for the bus to come, planning how I would get a seat, and where I would put the stroller.

Now that I am posting it, I realize that there are a lot of things that I don’t think about anymore, because I started considering them to be part of everyday life.  Maybe that’s what changed since I made aliya (moved to Israel):  I started seeing things as ordinary, everyday things, instead of special moments to be savored and remembered, of a year that will never happen again.  But the truth is, no year, and no day, will ever happen again.  I am so worried about what-ifs, and obsessive about what I need to do and where I need to be, that I often forget to just be in the moment.

The exception is when I am at home with Shlomo.  For some reason, staying home with him has relaxed me, and de-stressed me, in a lot of ways.  Now, I understand why:  I don’t [usually] think about where I need to be, what I need to do, and worry obsessively, when we are at home, playing.  Sure, I have to work, but I know, and expect, that I will be interrupted, and I try to work when he is either napping, sleeping, or playing happily by himself.  When he wants to play, I try to be available.  After all, that’s why I made this decision, right?

Here, I am standing at the bus stop.  Obviously, you can’t see me, because I’m the one holding the camera.  I stand a little bit up from the stop, since I have a stroller.  Strollers board the bus from the first set (or only set, depending on the bus’s size) of rear doors.  This prevents the stroller from taking up place in the line.  It also, usually, allows a quick-thinking, quick-acting mother to save herself, and child/husband, a seat.  If the bus is too full, I will at least have a place to stand.  And standing on a bus, with a baby or toddler in your arms, is a very good way to guilt someone into giving you a seat.

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The other side of the street.  You can see a brand-new bus going in the opposite direction, trailing behind some cars.  Actually, Yitchak says that the more buses on a street, the slower traffic goes, and the more private cars, the faster.  He believes this to be true because buses stop, and let people off, at every bus stop, and are also larger, heavier, and slower than private cars.  I disagree, because I think private cars are more likely to have slowpoke, rude drivers.  I have only met one nasty bus driver in my entire five-year, bus-taking career – and he was a Muslim, and got fired after he harassed too many people.  All the bus drivers here are nice.  Some have more patience than others, but they are all really nice.

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The store right beside the bus stop.

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A big building across the street that recently got decorated.  You can see the decorations above the parking signs, on the pillars.  Here, it’s no big deal: this is typical of Israelis, and of Israel.  It looks pretty, so why not?   When I first saw it, though, a few weeks ago, it sparked the teeny-tiny American tourist in me.

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A bus came (not mine), and two women stood huddled over their whatever-you-call-it-type cell phones.  You can see the reflection of some people on the sidewalk, in the bus’s windows.

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The bus passed . . .

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More buses going in the other direction . . .

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The sky, which I couldn’t help photographing because you can see so much from where I was standing: The cranes to the left, on the next main street over; in the far right background, the pink-and-blue building that is the Central Bus Station; the top of the big “string” bridge by the entrance to the city; and, of course, the mountains and trees that are part of what make up Jerusalem.

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And here comes a line of buses.  I don’t think one of them was mine; I think mine came just after this bunch.

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That’s all for now, folks.  The next post, which is the last in this batch, before I return to regular post-writing, will be after I get on the bus.  I put my camera away after taking these pictures, so that I’d have my hands free to board the bus that I suspected would come soon (it did).  And, I took the next batch while I was on a moving bus, looking out the window.  So, I can’t promise the same quality.

To the Bus Stop (Jerusalem, Part IV)

We’ve finally reached the corner.  Now, we turn right, onto Agrippas, and start walking down towards the bus stop, to go home.  These bus stops used to be on Yaffo, where the train now is.  When they built the train, they transferred all of them to Agrippas.  Now the “bus stop” is no longer a [useful, not pretty] old shelter, with a sign on top.  It is just a sign post on a small sidewalk, where people waiting for the bus push and are pushed by the people walking on the street, or going in and out of shops.  In other words a too-small sidewalk became even smaller – without actually changing the sidewalk itself.

The corner:

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The store on the corner, selling newspapers (and beers, and cigarettes).

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And a restaurant with a tiny smokers’ area.  It keeps the restaurant smoke-free, but what about the rest of us?

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A store selling snacks . . .

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. . . and a store selling all kinds of drinks: soft drinks, alcohol, water, juices – you name it, they have it.

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We finally reached the bus stop.

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Next post: Waiting for the bus.  (Yes, I will eventually finish this series and get back to normal writing.  If you must know, I thought of this series for two reasons: 1) To help satisfy readers’ curiosity about life in Israel, 2) To help aid my writers’ block that will only allow me to write rants about how awful formula is.

Honestly, though, we all know that posting too many pictures in one post is never a good idea.  So, I’m trying to divide the pictures up in a sensible manner.)  But, if you are getting bored of this, let me know.