February 2010

This morning Joanna and I went with some friends to the Jerusalem Zoo. This was Joanna’s first zoo experience, and she loved it. She especially liked the monkeys. The weather was perfect, the zoo had very few visitors and the only noises were animal noises (no horns honking, bells ringing or Muslims chanting). It was wonderful.

Friends: Maryann (18 mo), Zoe (2.5 years) and Joanna (18 mo). All three are blonds and all three have August birthdays.

We had a fun morning at the zoo!


We live on a fairly busy residential street. It’s also a very straight road, which is very unusual for here. Most cars drive VERY fast down the street. And some of them “courteously” honk their horns as they fly by just to be sure the guy who might be pulling out of his parking spot sees them. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve commented that people need to slow down on this road. There are too many children around  and there are cars parked perpendicular to the road who cannot see oncoming traffic.

Well, this week the city finally did something about it. They added speed bumps. Two of them.

There are 3 things to note about these “speed bumps”.    1. Width   2. Height   3. Decor

Width: Both the front and back wheels of a car are on the bump before the front tires return to regular surface level.

Height: Just enough to be noticeable.

Decor: Did you see the white stripes, arrows and reflectors? Oh wait, you can’t miss them. But just in case, you might want to take note of this.

 The bumps have been in place for 3 days. So far people drive like they always do around here…race 100 kph down the street and slam on the brakes just before gliding over the mini hump in the road. Ok, it’s not quite that drastic, but the bumps have yet to prove their worth.

Since most days are sunny here and electricity is SUPER expensive, everyone has solar heated water. Every building has these on the roof:

Basically, a solar panel heats the water in each tank and typically each apartment has one tank.

When it is sunny, we have hot water and spend $0 on electricity. BUT…what about those cloudy days? In the last couple of months we’ve had quite our share of overcast days. Some days the sun is out for an hour or two, but that doesn’t do much for heating a tank of water. That’s when we turn to our electric water tank. First we must switch the water source. Valve to solar heat off…valve to electric heat on. Right valve is solar. Left valve is electric. Up is open. Down is closed. These valves are in a tiny cubby near the floor in our hallway.

There’s more. After switching the valves we have to turn on the electric water heater. There is a timer next to the bathroom in the hallway. You can set the heater to on, off or on the timer. Since we shower in the morning, we always use it on timer and have it come on before we get up so we don’t have to wait for hot water.

On days when we use the electric heat in the morning, we boil water in the evening for dishes. And of corse there are the inevitable days when we either thought the previous day was sunny enough for hot water or we forgot to set the timer completely. On those days we take cold showers and if Joanna needs a bath we boil water.

The last 3 days have been sunny enough for solar water. It’s been so nice to wash my hands with warm water mid-day.  The forecast is looking great for the rest of the week too. Yeah! I think we’ll get a whole week of 24/7 hot water. 🙂

Warning: This post may cause panic. Don’t worry. We are SAFE!

This morning Joanna and I went to Little Tots, our Tuesday morning toddler group. Afterwards we played in the park until lunch. At 11:30 I headed for home and the older kids from the local homeschool coop came for recess. One of my friends stayed at the park with the big kids. She informed me via facebook that they had some excitement after we left. A “suspicious” box was found in the park and the bomb squad was called in to blow it up. They actually corralled all the kids and moms into one corner of the park while they took care of the box.

Surpisingly this is quite common here. The Israelis are very cautious about any package not in a dumpster or obviously belonging to a person nearby. Although this may make some nervous, it’s actually quite comforting to know that they go to such great lengths to protect people when in the last five years there have been no bombs in Jerusalem.

In fact on Brandon’s 2nd field trip last fall, he saw the bomb squad blow up a suspicious backpack. They brought in a mini-tank to inspect the bag before blowing it up. He thought it was really cool. Honestly, I was a bit nervous when he called to say the bomb squad was there. (Note: we didn’t mention that then because we didn’t want everyone to worry.) Here’s the mini-tank Brandon saw last fall. You can see it picking up the backpack in the first picture and the 2nd gives you a close up view.

Exciting times in Jerusalem!

If you recall from my first recycling post, the grocery store collects certain glass and plastics for recycling. These are the recycling bins in front of the store.

Similar to pop cans in Iowa, there is a small deposit returned on glass bottles. You simply leave your glass in the bin upon entry and tell the checkout lady how many you bottles you brought. They don’t give cash in return but do credit your grocery bill.

Oh and I guess no sorting is necessary.

I discovered today that although there is no recycling for tin cans, they do recycle aluminum pop cans. Since we don’t drink pop, I never inquired. They also only recycle glass wine and beer bottles, no jelly or salsa jars. Strange.

The forecast yesterday predicted we’d get snow today, but we doubted it would actually happen. But it did! Ok, so the grass is still green and there is no accumulation but hey, we saw snow for the first and possibly only time this winter.

Joanna and I opened the window to catch a few “flakes”. They were actually mini snowballs.

We had to make a quick run to the grocery store and since it was windy and cold, I jumped at the chance to dress Joanna in this…

If you thought recycling in the states is confusing, try recycling in Israel.

Newspaper is, of course, the easiest. There are these “nifty” bins in many locations around the neighborhood. You just slip your papers in the wide slot at the top. I always wondered why they looked so indestructible. My theory was that they didn’t want anyone just dumping garbage in it and the tiny slot makes doing so difficult. Then the bin near our house caught on fire. Vandalism I’m sure. Nothing around it caught on fire because it was completely contained in the indestructible bin! And the next day the city dropped off a shiny new bin. I guess they’ve had experience with that.

Now for plastic. Honestly, I still don’t understand it all. There are bins in each neighborhood for milk jugs, litre bottles and the like. However, some plastics must be brought to the grocery store. Mostly those are the 12-16 oz bottles. I have yet to find a place that takes butter dishes and other tubs. The bin below is about half as deep as it is wide. Oh and you can’t just dump in your bag of plastics. Each bottle must fit in a 4″ round hole near the top.

Next time I go to the grocery store I’ll take a picture of the glass recycling “bins”. I wonder when they’ll start curb side pickup? 🙂