Tel Aviv Diary July 4, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 4, 2007

July 4, 2007

I do not like fireworks. Usually I go inside and close the shades with like-fearing friends or family until it is over. After all, I was born in a bombing and have been too near shelling upon occasion throughout my life.

But last night, at the U.S. Ambassador's, when I found myself in the middle of an enormous crowd of people when the fireworks show was announced, I had no choice. And as I watched the sky and listened to the military band, I was filled with a remarkable sense of pride for America. The syncophantic words of Olmert, who spoke previously on the mutual interests of the U.S. and Israel, had rung so false in my ears, that I had thought I had no room left for anything but cynicism, but the rockets' red glare reminded me of that anxiety of Francis Scott Key and the relief that "our flag was still there." The song ran true. The fireworks were not just a sound and light show, but an assertion of the illumination of the victory of survival.

So even though we had been so worn out with our guests an hour before we had considered skipping the Fourth of July bash, I was euphoric all evening, was overwhelmed with a desire to eat the same kind of hotdog i had refused at numerous family picnics, and promised with enormous enthusiasm to go to a baseball game.

"How long have you been in Israel?" someone asked me casually, and I suddenly realized: 35 years, most of my adult life.

July 5, 2007

The exhibit of Kassam rockets is starting tomorrow in Tel Aviv - from Sederot to Shderot Rothchild i think it is called. And i think this is only one of the many ways to support the people of that beleagered city. You can also go there to do your shopping: they have busses organized for the occasion. But the real problem - the need for some kind of settlement...

July 6, 2007

I know that last night I wrote a piece here about Tzuria Shalev, about how impressed I was with her interview at the evening for the literary mag Keshet last night, but this morning it is gone.

Where did it go?

"This is the best land for drying laundry..." my mother used to say, quoting some famous doubter of the dream of Israel. And we used to wonder at it - you just hang something outside, and within an hour it is ready for wearing. But for the last decade or so, I have been using a dryer along with all my neighbors. Some of it has something to do with the bird crap that ruined a sweater or two, and some of it has something to do with the bleach my upstairs neighbors splashed out the window to get rid of the doves that ruined a whole row of jeans, and some of it is related to my back. But be that as it may, we've stopped hanging out laundry. And now we've discovered we're wasting electricity and endangering out planet. So I've been hanging out laundry, and today took in a very dry, crisp, crappy sheet.

July 7, 2007

But the thing I miss most was the conversations I had with my neighbor over the laundry from the windows.

As I was throwing out the garbage today I suddenly remembered how we never had plastic garbage bags, but used the pail under the sink to throw our waste directly into the tin garbage bins. Then we would rinse out the pail and take it home.

And that led me to the lesson I got from my mother-in-law when I first moved here on how to make coffee. How I would put the cup under the faucet, measure out the water, turn off the faucet, pour the water into the kettle, and put the cup under the faucet again - to save water. Put the coffee and the sugar into the water. Then, once the small finjan was on the gas, light a match, turn on the gas and wait until the water boiled. The coffee tasted really good too.

All this to coincide with the live earth concert going on right now in Rabin Square. Why am I not there? It's not that we need to move ahead and keep up with the world - We need to go back to the a healthier way of life we've lived, and enjoyed living. I did not mind saving the dirty water from my washing machine to wash my floors with, or washing my dishes by soaping them dry and then turning on the water to rinse them. I didn't mind using cloth diapers and 'training' them earlier, or bringing my basket to the grocers. I didn't mind knitting sweaters and re-knitting them when they went out of style. Oh, goodness, I could go on for hours...

In other words, I guess I'd rather emphasize the simplicity and joy in conservation, Instead I will say something about Nachalat Binyamin, where we spent a few hours yesterday afternoon. Don't tell anyone, but I heard as much English as Hebrew there in the street fair. I loved looking at all the wares, and there was nothing I had seen the last time I was there - everything was new and original - and there was a chain necklace I KNOW was meant for me, but cost about twice what I would have paid.

In the middle of the whole chaos of the fair, I consulted with Oren on the phone about where to take out guests to eat - he gave me a whole list of nearby winners, but by that time we were getting antsy from all those people and just head off to Orna and Ella on Shenkin. We were not disappointed.

See John Williams on plastic bags.

July 8,2007

For old time's sake, here's a video of our parody of Saper Li. The whole story of the poem and how it became a video is here.

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