Sunday, September 14, 2014

Frap, wrap, Clove hitch, spar . . .


Something new in the eucalyptus grove down in the wadi!

Looks like the Meitar Scout troop has been up a tree, working on their lashing skills.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The land of milk and money


Doesn't milk in a bag make you think of milk in an udder? 

Israeli consumers are being milked as the price of milk keeps going up.
A 1-liter bag of milk costs 5.30 shekels.
At today's exchange rate that is $1.46.
Milk and some other basic dairy foods are under price regulation.

Bagged milk is put into its container, a corner is snipped off, and it's ready to pour.

However, the little choco bags have historically been opened by tearing off a little corner with your teeth and squeezing the sweet cold chocolate milk into your mouth.
When a kid can do that without getting choco stains all over his clothes, it is like an Israeli rite of passage.

We DO also have milk in cartons, but bags are cheaper and the milk tastes just as good.

I made aliyah to Israel in 1968 and remember the milk still came in glass bottles and was delivered to your doorstep,  but the bottles soon gave way to bags.
I blogged before about this, back in 2008 , when the prices were much lower.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fiddler on the Roof stamps


Brand new postage stamps celebrating 50 years since Fiddler on the Roof opened onstage!
How can it be half a century already?
We lived in Chicago then and my mother took me to the theater to see a live musical for the first time.

 Photos of the drawings are by Pini Hemou, Israel Philatelic Federation website

The three stamps in this set are based on drawings by Chaim Topol, one of the first actors to portray Tevye in Hebrew.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Tevye the Milkman is at Wikipedia.

See also Israeli blogger Jacob Richman who faithfully and beautifully updates us as new Israeli stamps appear.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Out on a limb


You may have to enlarge this to see it is a bird. 

At the Artist's House of the Negev in the old part of Beer Sheva,  each of a handful of artists was given a dead tree and asked to give it life with art.
Now the trees are exhibited in the gallery's yard.

Ingrid Neuman called hers "Inyan shorshi," which could mean a matter of roots (or, of rootedness).
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors  and to OurWorld Tuesday .)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Supermoon pretends to be a perimeter light


Tonight's Harvest Moon Supermoon  lined up with the string of perimeter lights that encircle Meitar. 
The outermost ring of houses and then begins the desert.  

(See what I mean in yesterday's aerial photo/map.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Orthophoto of Meitar


Shalom, welcome to Meitar, my new hometown in the Northern Negev!
I discovered this February 2014 photo on the wall of the Meitar Local Council moked.
Click a few times to enlarge it. 

The planned community (yeshuv kehilati) was  begun in 1984.
Neighborhoods were added gradually and the 5th (or 6th?) one is currently under construction.
The schools, stores, sports center, and public buildings are in the middle (for me, a 14-minute walk from home).

On our west is Kibbutz Kramim with its big solar field.
To the north is Meitar Forest and the Israel Trail.
The road on top of the photo goes along the border with the West Bank.
The green on the bottom is the edge of the big Bedouin town Hura. 

Ofek Aerial Photo produced this 1:2,500 orthophoto map.

Wikipedia explains

An orthophoto . . .  is an aerial photograph geometrically corrected ("orthorectified") such that the scale is uniform: the photo has the same lack of distortion as a map. Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph, an orthophotograph can be used to measure true distances, because it is an accurate representation of the Earth's surface, having been adjusted for topographic relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt.
You can enjoy Ofek's panoramic aerial photos of Israel at their gallery

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Med is too hot


In Beer Sheva,  where there is so much Brutalist architecture,  the summer temperatures are brutal.
I can't remember one day that has not been in the 30s C  for months and months.
If this Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's rounded building did not have those external shade things,  the students inside would bake from the sun streaming in.

(The building on the right is the university library we talked about earlier.)

Even the humidity here in the desert is abnormally high these days, like this weekend's 45%.
Usually it is 15% to 30%.
The weatherman explained that the Mediterranean water along Israel's shore is still very hot, 30 degrees C,  and is causing this humidity.  (Can such a thing can cause high humidity, really?  Not so sure; never heard that before.)
My town, Meitar, is a little over 50 km from the sea.
UPDATE Saturday night:  Forecast is for only 29 F  tomorrow in Beer Sheva!   Yes!!  The psychological barrier of 30+ is broken!
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

An egg roll


For ABC Wednesday,  H is for head.

This is the skull of a Nile crocodile, displayed at the Negev Zoo.

You'll never guess what this croc does with its big mouth!
National Geographic tells us --
 One unusual characteristic of this fearsome predator is its caring nature as a parent. Where most reptiles lay their eggs and move on, mother and father Nile crocs ferociously guard their nests until the eggs hatch, and they will often roll the eggs gently in their mouths to help hatching babies emerge.
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The shpritz truck


As seen from the Meitar to Beer Sheva bus this morning.

This stretch of  dusty Negev desert near the road  surely hadn't felt water since our last rain which was on May 8.
The ground must have been thrilled to get this spray of water today.
I didn't have the heart to tell the earth that soon it would be covered forever with new pavement.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A "rusty" discovery in the ancient ruins

Before they added more buildings to the huge and ugly Holyland Towers in Jerusalem the Israel Antiquities Authority had to do the legally required dig before construction could begin.

Here's me in hardhat, back in 2008,   about to go down  to one of the dozens of Canaanite shaft tombs we discovered.
The site turned out to be a Canaanite cemetery from 4,000 years ago.

Here in the back you see a worker pulling up buckets of earth which would then be poured into the sifter.
Look! Our excavation surveyor lady is handing a find to our Arab foreman!  What is it?!

It is metal, turned greenish and encrusted with the "rust and ruins" of the ages!
From the Middle Bronze Age, actually.
Our bone expert was kind enough to make a nice red display "table" by putting his arm under his T shirt.
Enlarge the photo a few times; can you guess what it is?

The ancients did not have buttons so they used garment pins to keep their cloak fastened, as illustrated in this drawing of a lady from Mari.
This reconstructed toggle pin at Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum has cameos (i.e. good luck charms) hanging from it, with a Mesopotamian cylinder seal at the bottom.
It was a way to wear your important objects.
See more of our work at the Holyland dig here.
Visit City Daily Photo to see how bloggers are interpreting our Rust and Ruins theme day in their own countries.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Their faces should be red, not white.


If all these monotonous white shirts say "Sale"  then it must be the end of season sale at the Zara store in a Beer Sheva mall.

The Spanish international fashion chain got in trouble, with Jews at least, for "innocently" putting this shirt on the market.
Shirt is made in Turkey, by the way.

See the full story at The Times of Israel, which begins thus:
For only NIS 80 ($23), your little tyke can have that fashion forward fresh-from-the-concentration-camp look now on sale at international chain Zara.
The children’s 65% cotton, 35% polyester white shirt with dark horizontal stripes sports a fetching yellow Star of David badge on its left breast. It’s called the “sheriff,” and a closer look reveals that the word is indeed lightly etched upon the badge.

And then see Zara's subsequent  foot-in-mouth apology.   Oi.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Castles in the air


Two days of ceasefire and so far so good.
Now that kids can go outside to play again without fear,  Meitar brought in bouncy castles for them today and yesterday.
(Sorry, but the blue cone the children were climbing up looked to me like a giant warhead of a missile . . . )

The free event was called in Hebrew  Happening Mitnapchim,  an Inflatables Happening.

Linking our clear blue skies, now clear of rockets and Iron Dome missiles after 50 days of conflict, to SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ceasefire starts, electric power stops

Finally, after 50 days of fighting, an open-ended ceasefire begins!
I celebrated by walking to the center of town leisurely and calmly, not worrying anymore  where I would run or drop for shelter if the siren sounded for in-coming rockets.
After being cooped up close to my unit's bomb shelter for most of the summer, it was great to get out and about.

However, some of the errands I needed to do could not be done today.
Why?  Because the Electric Corporation was doing some big project with trucks and cranes and bulldozers.
They had turned off the power in some parts of Meitar from 8:00 to 16:00.

I came to get a book at the library and found it locked,  with a sign "No electricity. Come back this afternoon."
I went to Kupat Holim and found the pharmacy locked,  for the same reason.
Guess they can't function without computers . . . .

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wanted: female train drivers


In just over one year Israel might have her first female "train driver."
Way back when I was a kid in Chicago  we used to say engineer or locomotive engineer (we're talking coal-burning steam engines!).

Israel Railways launched a TV advertising campaign to attract female and male candidates for a new and streamlined one-year training course for passenger train drivers.
See their one-minute video!

Hundreds of men and about 20 women applied for the 36 places.
It sounds like fun.  Would you like to try?

I have lots of posts about our trains.
And this post shows the interior of the Tel Aviv-to-Jerusalem train.

All aboard!
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors  and  Our World Tuesday.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Roadside browsers


Lots of road construction going on between Meitar and Beer Sheva.

But that doesn't keep the goat herds from coming quite near the construction sites and the busy highway.
Enlarge the photo to see the goats browsing
Linking the clear hot summer sky to SkyWatch Friday.
UPDATE:  Here's a nice sheep + shepherds video (from the rainy season, when fields are green.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Culture war on schoolbags


Big displays of schoolbags and pencil cases in the malls remind us that Israeli kids will soon be heading back to school.
Not that they had a real summer vacation this year, what with the war and all.
Will the fighting, which started up again last night,  be over by September 1?
If not, parents will not be willing to send their kids back  to the many unfortified school buildings here in the South.

If you enlarge the photo you can find Hello Kitty and superheros and other foreign themes.
(Oh, and also find the arrow pointing to the mall's protected area.)
I read here that one supermarket chain started promoting book bags featuring characters from beloved old Israeli children's literature instead.
The article calls it Culture War.
Who will win, you reckon? 

Photo from Israel21c

UPDATE Aug. 21:

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Desert Embroidery" by Bedouin women


Bedouin handicrafts on exhibit at a gallery in Beer Sheva.

This embroidery is made by Desert Embroidery, the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status, in the town of Lakiya (just a few miles west of Meitar).

From their nice website:
In the 1980's, a group of Bedouin girls got together to improve life in their village. In 1996 the Association for the Improvement of Women's Status achieved official recognition as the first Bedouin women's non-profit organization in Southern Israel. 
Today we run a successful embroidery program to generate income for Bedouin women and preserve traditional handicrafts. 
We operate a mobile library serving over 1,500 children, as well as educational programs for women and youth. 
We invite you to visit the Desert Embroidery Visitor Center or browse the fine handmade embroidery products we offer. 
See a nice little video of the kids at the mobile library on YouTube.

The temporary exhibit of Bedouin crafts is  at the Artist's House of the Negev.

The gallery is in an old house in the Old City of Beer Sheva.
(Linking to signs, signs  and to  Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pagoda-style roofs in Bedouin village


I have been following live broadcasts of  Pope Francis' August 13-18 pastoral journey to South Korea.
At today's Mass he spoke to 50,000 young people from 23 countries gathered in the Castle of Haemi and preached (in English!!)  on the theme of the 6th Asian Youth Day--“Asian Youth! Wake up! The Glory of the Martyrs Is Upon You!”

Some of the Korean architecture reminded me of  a few houses I see from my bus between Meitar and Beer Sheva.
The pagoda-style roofs seem to be a popular theme in newer Arab houses.
The ones in my photo are on the outskirts of  Bedouin village Umm Batin,  also known as Abu Kaf. 

Why do they need such big villas next to their farm, you ask?
Bedouin families average six to ten children.
Israel bans polygamy,  but Bedouin men often marry two to three wives and can have families with as many as 25 children.

 The Negev desert makes up 60% of the Israel’s land mass, but it is a sparsely populated area that holds only 8% of the country’s population.
About  700,000 people live in the Negev.
This includes over 200,00 in  Beer Sheva.
It also includes an estimated 200,000 Bedouin citizens.
UPDATE:  Broadcasts and videos of the Pope in Korea can be seen at
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ashen camouflage

A few days ago I wrote about the recent fire in part of our town's eucalyptus grove down in the wadi.
 Well, it turns out that the black ash on the ground helps in camouflage!

See anything?

Enlarge the photos with a click or two.
Can you find at least 13 partridges in the first picture?! 

Here is a shot from last spring, when green leaves and flowers were still to be seen after the rainy season.

Whenever I startled these funny birds in the Jerusalem Hills, they would always run and hide or run fast and take to the air.
Here in friendly Meitar in the Negev, wild animals are laid back and calm, as if they know from experience that no one will hurt them.
More about the hogla ( Hebrew for partridge)  at my post on Deir Hajleh [literally, in Arabic, the monastery of the partridge].

Linking to Camera Critters.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tikkun of fan


With a sudden  high-pitched screech my faithful summer companion let me know it was time to pull the plug.
I tried to bring her back to life, I did, first with a cleansing from  pervasive desert dust.
Not knowing much about motors, I unscrewed the motor, turned it over, and . . . well . . .,  looked at it.
Unscrewing the timer, I was fascinated by all the numerous tiny plastic cogs.
I tried to imagine the small Chinese working fingers that  had carefully assembled the timer.

Reassembled everything, tried the switch and . . . nada, nothing.

The next day it was in the 30s (90s F.) as usual.  Hot!
(Did I mention that I hate this apartment's air conditioner?  Too cold, too dry, noise, expensive,  have to shut the windows.)

And the rockets were flying so I was afraid to take the bus to Beer Sheva to look for a new fan. 

I normally never pray about material things, but finally I asked God if he knew how to fix fans.
Would you believe??   The very next morning  the fan was giving blessed wind in my house!

Alas, it  worked only for a day.   But I was grateful for that little sign from above.

I made peace with the realization that a 10" Chinese box fan's lifespan is not forever.
Fan had cooled me every summer since 2006, so I thanked her and said farewell.

A new one arrived today to our post office in Meitar, by mail,  from an online supplier in Tel Aviv.  A lifesaver!