Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Ein Gedi Botanic Garden
Seek the serenity of a Judean Desert sky in Autumn at the Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Friday, November 25, 2005

Becky's Owner

This is Avi, our friend and neighbor, standing with our 7 year old son Zalmy. Avi is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked at a nuclear reactor site, run a grocery store, owned a bakery and worked as an independent contractor. Avi is the only person on this world whom Becky respects. His wife Lili, would make that, "fears". Avi says it's all the same, and it's all good.

Becky and Sussie

Becky is the one on the left, Sussie is on the right. They are standing on the stone wall that surrounds our front yard...... the same stone wall the both of them sail over every time they get together.


Claw claw claw claw claw scratch claw.
Rattle rattle rattle rattle.

We have a front door made of beautiful cherry wood, a precious comodity in Arad. At least, it was beautiful, before Becky.

BAM!!!! Something was slamming up against our door, and it finally gave way under the weight of a full-grown monster with teeth, tongue and drool.

"Can Sussie come out and play?"

Becky is our dog's best friend. A huge, slobbering, friendly, affectionate, insane and strong boxer and Amstaff mix, she is about three years old and a mother several times over. One might, in a fit of temper, be inspired to call her a bitch, but really she's not like that.

Becky looks like a huge baloney with four sausages to stand on. Her tail is a whip, not to put too fine a point on it. Her whole body wags with it, and when it wags it cuts down anything in its path. Trust me.

Her owners are good friends of ours, across the street and three houses up the road. Avi is Yemenite, with a bushy salt and pepper beard and the warmest eyes you have ever seen. His wife Lili is just that; a gorgeous Hungarian born in Latin America and raised here in Israel. They are a real team, but not when it comes to Becky.

"Behhhhhhhkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Lili tries her hardest to control Becky, who generally ignores her except at mealtimes or when she wants to be loved.

"Becky!" Avi is much firmer with her, and she respects him. Lili says Becky is afraid of him. Avi says that's good. "She is an idiot," he says. "And watch out for her tail. She can do real damage with that tail."

The last time Becky came to play with Sussie, she finally busted through the front door, flinging it open in her haste to enter our living room. Joyfully she rushed to the sofa and leaped onto it, overshooting the seat and landing on the back itself. She stood there, poised for action, waiting for Sussie to come and get her.

This could have been a challenging situation.

At the time, our three youngest were home, and Avi and Lili's youngest daughter, Lior, was with them. We were all there, amazed and slightly nonplussed, when Sussie made a leap at Becky. It was all in good fun, of course.

Except that the kids didn't see it that way. And that was when the shrieking began, with one of my very brave daughters standing on the back of the opposite sofa, another one planted directly in front of me (I was sitting on Becky's sofa, you understand) and my 7 year old son laughing his head off and dancing around with glee. Lior covered her mouth with her hands, holding her breath, not knowing whether to scream or laugh.

"Oh BECKY!!" She did both. "Come DOWN. Now!" Becky didn't even notice. She and Sussie began chasing each other around the house, periodically catching each other and wrestling with teeth and drool in abundance. The growls were fearsome, true, but if one looked closely (not too closely, mind) one could see that it was all play. The bites were never deep and the growls were too soft to be meant to scare anyone.

Nonetheless, I thought it best to at least send them OUTSIDE to play.

"Can you please tell Esty to stop screaming?" Lior requested politely. "It really won't help the situation and it will just take longer to calm them down and get Becky out of here." I agreed, but getting any of my kids to slow it down to a dull roar was simply not an option.

Instead, Lior and I chased the two girls around until I finally lost patience and yelled at Sussie. SHE, at least, had the grace to look chastened and paused. In that golden moment, Lior grabbed Becky and pulled, I potched, and we managed to force her out.

Or so we thought.

BAM!!! Another joyful leap back onto the couch, and Becky settled in for a comfortable visit.

"No, I don't think so." This time, I glared balefully at her and said, "GO!" Sussie meanwhile came to play -- and when I scolded her and chased her out, Becky galloped after her.

SLAM. This time, I locked it.

And then my husband called Avi and Lili.

"Hello, how was your day?"
"Ah, hi Sinai. How are you?"
"Terrific. Ah, Avi? We have a visitor that I think you might like to meet."
"Really? Who is it?"
"I think you should come and see. It would be a pity to spoil the surprise."
"Hm. Is it a relative?"
"Not exactly."

Knock knock.
This time I unlocked the door. It couldn't be Becky. The knock was too polite. And there stood Avi, who had figured out who it was because Becky was still romping around outside with Sussie. He had not, however, realized exactly WHAT it was we had called about, and my wonderful husband was laughing too hard to tell him.

When I finally broke the news, he just smiled gently and nodded. "Yes," he agreed, "she is an idiot. Loveable, but stupid. Lili spoils her. Don't let her in."

Thanksgiving in Arad

I love Thanksgiving. My husband thinks it is the "celebration of the genocide of the Indians", as he calls it, but I think he is just acting like a subversive Commie pinko. He doesn't even refer to them by their rightful name, "Native Americans," either.

He does humor me, though, and I have been able to raise my children with their American heritage more or less intact, even within the confines of a super-Orthodox culture.

So of course, I wanted turkey for Thanksgiving, even here in Arad. This being my first time in Arad for the occasion, I did not realize I would need a year's head start on gathering supplies for the annual event.

The week of Thanksgiving, I called the Chassidic butcher, who is the only one you can really order specific cuts from. The counter woman is the first to answer the phone.

"Hello. I would like to order a whole turkey."
"There is no such thing."
"That is not possible. I do see turkey meat available here."
"Correct. Which parts would you like? It comes in necks, breasts, and pulkes."
"I would like the whole bird."
"How would you like it cut up?"
"I don't want it cut up."
"It doesn't come that way."
"Please let me speak to the butcher."
"Hold on. (mouth away from the phone) "Shmuel!!!!"
"Hello. I would like to order a whole turkey."
"It doesn't come like that." (see, here at least I am getting somewhere, because at least he acknowledges that such a bird exists in the original)
"It does in Jerusalem."
"I doubt it."
"Wanna bet?"
"It's very unlikely."
"I am telling you that my friends in Jerusalem have no problem going to the butcher to order AND THEY GET a WHOLE turkey. It is no big deal, at least there. Can you explain to me why you, as a professional butcher, the one and only butcher in Arad, cannot manage to make a simple order for a whole turkey?"
"I can't imagine where they are getting it from."
"Well, obviously they are getting it from the same suppliers that you use, or at least I would ASSUME so..... there can't be that many poultry suppliers."
"Well, anyway do you realize that a whole bird is very large?"
(at this point i am laughing)
"Yes. Approximately 14-18 pounds, in your terms, 7 to 9 kilos."
"Hm. We really have no call for it here. No one ever orders it."
"Maybe that's because you never make it available. And it might also be that no one knows you even exist. There are a lot of Americans here, but very few call you, if any, because almost none of us know you are out there and none of us understand any of your advertising, if there is any, because it is all in Hebrew or Russian and most of us have trouble reading it. Maybe if you made yourself more well known, or if you made this item more available, you might find you have more demand as well. It is a little bit of a disgrace, you know?"
"Hm. Well, I will try to get one and if I succeed, you will have it by next Monday."
"No. I wanted it for tomorrow but I see that is not going to be. So what you need to do now is to call your supplier, find out how much lead time he needs from me in order to secure the item, how long it will take you to get it here, and how much it will cost per kilo. Okay?"
"Call me tomorrow. I'll see what I can do."

Total phone time: 20 minutes
Total talk time: 15 minutes
Total laugh time: unlimited

This is the gift that keeps on giving.
Welcome to Thanksgiving in Arad. May we all be blessed with happy memories......