Saturday, January 31, 2009

When it rains it pours

The tree on the right was the culprit.
This summer we got an e-mail from my mother, who was living at our house, that stated our basement had flooded. It wasn't due to rain, but due to the roots from the maple tree in the front yard growing into the pipes. I guess the guys who laid the pipes did not glue them together properly, and the water leaked causing the roots to grow. Boy did they grow! Anyway, $5,000 later we had pipes that were fixed and one less tree. Unfortunately, they could not save the tree because even with the pipe fixed there were chances that over time it would do the same thing. Almost broke my heart. I loved that tree. A month ago, our dishwasher started making noises. I called the repair man and he could not find the cause of the noise. In fact, the noise mysteriously disappeared the minute the repair guy came. On Wednesday afternoon the middle of a load my washer machine stopped working, so once again I called the repair guy. A washer machine is one thing I can't live without. Since our dryer hadn't been drying very effectively, I asked the repair guy to take a look at that too. Well, it turned out that the motor was burnt out on the washer and the dryer wasn't venting properly due to a kinked hose and lint built up in the duct and machine itself. Ugh! Then about 2 months ago, Roman stuck something in the downstairs toilet clogging it up. We tried everything to ajar whatever was stuck, but no luck. Winston did this 4 years ago and we ended up replacing the toilet because the item was stuck in the neck of the toilet. We were not going to fix this toilet because why would we if it is just going to happen again. However, it seems the shower is on the same line and it over flows when used. That means any guest we have would have to come and use ours. No thanks! Now I have to call the plumber again. Why does it seem like everything goes wrong at the same time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Besides ice cream and chocolate there is nothing better in life than bubbles. Roman has had a fantastic morning dancing in the kitchen with his mom and learning how to blow bubbles, and his mom has had a fantastic morning kissing those luscious puckered lips. Bliss!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


It is hard to put into words the events of yesterday. Inspired may be the word. I have to admit that I did not vote for Obama. I have always loved McCain. I thought he should be the president 8 years ago. I loved the way he has been able to work with both sides of the party line to accomplish the things he felt passionate about. On top of that, I am a die hard Republican though all my family members are Democrats. My friend Mel might cringe when she reads this because she is a Democrat. I hope she will still be my friend. Anyways, my heart changed yesterday. As I was out and about yesterday, you could feel the hope in the air. I saw African Americans hold their heads a little higher. I pray that he will be a good president. I hope that America can be once again been seen for what it really is-a place where it doesn't matter to what family you were born into or how much money you have. A melting pot of races and religions. A place where dreams come true. Good Luck Mr. President!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Galilee was the last stop before heading to the airport and heading back to the United States.
We walked in the footsteps of Jesus ministry. We didn't eat fish, but there were several times where I felt I could feel the Savior sitting on the tops of the hills with people beneath his feet listening to the words.

Frank and I along the Sea of Galilee
Peters house
interesting sign -notice no fire weapons
Frank reading from the New Testament

The Jordan River

Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by his cousin John the Baptist. Today you can baptize your self for the cost of renting a robe and towel for $10. Personally, I think this is a little crazy, but who am I to say you can't be baptized where Jesus was baptized. You can make it a day event by having lunch and buying trinkets. Despite the freezing temperatures, there were quite a few people who were not going to miss this opportunity.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


from Japan
The Dome
The center wall of the inside of the church
Nazareth is the city where Mary was told by the angel that she would be with child. It is also the city where Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and his family lived when they returned from Egypt. Today the city is predominately Muslim. I am not sure why it was safe to travel there, and yet it was not safe to go to other Muslim communities within Israel such as Jericho or Bethlehem. I am glad though that we got the opportunity to see this city. Today like just about every holy site where Jesus lived there is a church built over the site. Most of these churches either contain the site and are excavated within so that you can see the original site, or sit above on a stilt base so that you can see the original flooring and walls of the building of the time. I didn't include any photos of the well where Mary was told she was with child, or the house where Jesus lived when he was 12 because the pictures really do not capture the essence or scope of what you see. However, the art work that is in the church was really beautiful and comes from around the world I thought this is what I would like to show. One thing I thought was really interesting about Nazareth is that in just about every store front that lined the main street except restaurants there were pictures of Santa in the windows or blow up Santa's for sale. Why? I am not sure. Do the people love the picture of Santa even though they do not celebrate Christmas? Were they there for the American tourist,? Another thought came to me that maybe they were there to make Americans feel more comfortable? It is pretty funny when you think about it.


We were not scheduled to stop in Haifa with our tour, but our tour guide Ron who was from Haifa thought we should get a quick glance at the city on our way to Nazareth. It is a beautiful city. I do not know much about this city except that it has a really large German population, and this can be seen in some of the local architecture. It is also a home to this Bahia temple, and gardens. It is crazy to think that I was in this city just a week ago and I just heard that some rockets were shot into this city by Lebanon. I do not know if anyone was injured.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


A chapel left behing by the crusaders

Amalya, me, and Joe along the coast

Transportation on Fridays and Saturdays can be tricky because of the sabbath. Taxi's can be found, but this can get expensive depending upon your destination. Tours still run, but all the public bus service ends at sundown along with train service. Frank's colleague Amalya offered to take us to Caecarea which is on the coast north of Tel Aviv, and we accepted happily. We had a fabulous time with her and Frank's other colleague Joe who were both from Israel. Caecarea was built by Herod for Caesar as a resort town in the year 30BCE. There is the town Caecarea and the Caecarea that I am talking about which is apart of the National Park Service. It took 12 years to built the city. The architecture is amazing and the engineering is nothing less than a completely sophisticated. The town over the years has been under various rulers and can be seen in the layers of current archaeological excavations. The park service offers a really nice hands on exhibit that provide information about the history of the city and a short 20 minute movie that is worth seeing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Dead Sea and Masada

The Dead Sea and Masada are a must if you go to Israel.
Masada was built by Herod as and Escape from the Romans.
When the Romans found out that there were people living there.
Mostly the highly Religious.
The Romans attacked.
However, when they got to the top everyone had committed suicide.
The water was too cold for me, but Frank was brave enough.
He said it was an amazing feeling floating on the water.

More Photos

The Roman Camp
The view from the top
Frank at the top of Masada with
the Dead Sea in the background.
Loving Isreal
Kelleyn at the Dead Sea
Frank braving the waters despite it being only 70 degrees
Look I am Floating


Susan, Beth, Gina, Micky, Robert, Frank, Me, Angie, and Oliver

Frank and me in front of the Dome of the Rock
The Rock of the Dome
The street where Jesus carried his cross
The day had finally come for us to go to Jerusalem. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. Just the night before we had gotten notice from the State Department to be careful where we traveled. Frank and I went back and forth whether we should go or not, but after speaking with some friends who live in Israel they assured us it would be OK as long as we had a guide. Before we had arrived in Israel, we hired a guide to see Jerusalem along with some of Frank's work colleagues. I have to say the day did not start off well. First, our taxi that would transport us the hour drive northeast to Jerusalem was late. On top of that, it was raining and cold. Thankfully, I had a coat and a really warm wool sweater, but was missing an umbrella. We made it to Jerusalem and began our tour outside the Old City walls. What was great about our guide Nir was that he was in the process of getting his masters in Archeology. When you enter the gates to the Old City you are suppose to enter with your right foot, so we did. First he took us to the Abbey were the Last Supper was suppose to have occurred. Then he walked us along the Cardom Road and showed us the original roads from Jesus times, and from there to the Western Wall of the Temple. Also know as the Wailing Wall. Here you will see not only Jewish people praying, but people of many denominations. Due to Jewish customs men and women are separated, and as you leave the wall you are suppose to walk backwards. I forgot to ask our guide why. Then we walked up to the Dome of the Rock. It is beautiful. The Dome of the Rock is owned by the Muslims and is suppose to be the sight where Mohamed was taken to God. Since 2000 only Muslims can go inside. The Dome of the Rock is holy not only to Muslims, but to Jews and Christians because it sits on top of the Temple Mount. This location gives you a perfect few of the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. Lunch time we stopped and ate at a little cafe that served humus, kabobs, pita bread, falafel, french fries etc. We were all hungry and cold. By this point my feet were soaked, but I wasn't going to let it stop me. Then we went to the Via Dolorosa and walk the last steps of Jesus. Today the street is lined with cheap trinkets. If you want to feel the spirit you really have to focus. Seeing other congregations sing and holding the cross is not an uncommon site. Jesus journey ends at Calvary or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the only trip were I really didn't prepare myself for because I felt I knew the city through the bible. I wish that I had done some reading because I was really disappointed to find a church sitting on top of the place where Jesus was crucified. It is not clear though that this is the actual site. There is some school of thought that believes that Jesus Crucifixion occurred outside the city walls in what today is a Muslim neighborhood. I wish we could have gone to that site, but with the war going on our tour guide did not feel comfortable taking us there. There is so much to see in Jerusalem that we really needed more than a day. I wish we would have had time to go to the Holocaust Museum or walk more freely around the city without any agenda. I guess this means we will just have to plan on going back.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Markets of Tel Aviv

dried fruits and spices

clothing and amazing architechture
 I was really planning to stay in my hotel room this day and take the opportunity to read and just relax, but then I thought to myself when am I going to get another opportunity to come here. Also, I have to admit my legs were so sore from the previous two days of walking. I think I averaged about 20 miles the first two days. Anyway, I had heard from some of the other wives that I should check out the Carmel Market. So off I went. The Carmel Market was about a 45 minute walk from my hotel room. The weather was nice. When I got there, I found heavy police and presense. I am not sure if this is the case all the time or just because Israel was fighting with the Gaza Strip. Infact, going into most buildings were there are lots of people your bag will be search. I didn't mind if it meant I was going to be safe. The market consisted of two streets where booths were set up with everything from pottery, jewerly, crafts, t-shirts, clothes, produce and baked goods. I had planned to eat at restaurant called Moses where I read they had really good burgers, but I changed my mind and ate at a little stand that was selling pitas stuffed with salad and kabab. Usually, I do not eat at these kind of stands because I always get food poisoning, but two things changed my mind and that was the crowd and Israel kosher laws. The kabab was made of a mixture of beef and lamb then mixed with cilantro or some other herb. They make them into small patties and cook them over a grill. Then instead of a yogurt sauce that you might find in Greece they use Tahini. I have to say this was one of my favorite meals in Israel. Then from the market I walked to Rothschild Blvd which claims to be the Camps Elysee of Isreal. Though I would say it is Rothschild Blvd because I think if you try to compare it to the Camp Elysee you will be disappointed. It does have it's own charm. There are many upscale restaurants located on this street along with some famous architechture called Bouhouse from the 1920's and 1930's. On my way home, I found a crepe shop, so I treated myself to one and considered it my dinner since Frank would be late that night. The crepe brought me back to Elbe where we spent a week this summer. The kids and I enjoyed several of these with various toppings. Kudos go out to my husband who won an award for his work. Yahoo! Way to Go!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Old and the New

Gustav KlimtMarc Chagall

Yitzhak Rabin memorial
He was the Prime minister to Israel from
1974-77 and then again 1992-95 when he was assasinated.

art work outside the museum

Dr. Shakshukas

Tel Aviv means the old and the new or at least that is what a tour guide told me, so if I am wrong about that I am sorry. Tel Aviv is a really modern city that took me by surprise. I guess I had some where in my head images of Israel being like it was during Jesus time or even third world. Instead I found streets lined with high rise buildings, upscale restaurants, street cafes, parks, and cute clothing boutiques. On my second day in Tel Aviv, I went to the Art Museum with a colleagues of my husband's wife Nancy. It was about a 45 minute walk from our hotel. The Art Museum not only houses some modern collections of contemporary artist, but it has some classical art-which is my favorite! They had everything from the masters of Ruben and Rembrandt and other Dutch artist to Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Chagall, and Klimt. This museum did not have any antiquities. That evening we went to dinner with my husbands group in Jaffa to a restaurant called Dr. Shakshukas that offers the best in Israeli food via Libya. The thing about Israeli food is that it is influenced from many cultures. An example of this is Latkas which are a potato pancakes that is served around the holidays. This is very popular in Germany and Eastern Europe. Jelly doughnuts are another example of food that has crossed the oceans. Everything is fresh and the best of ingredients. Fruit drinks are really popular there, and finding a place that squeezes everything from fresh is not hard to find. I loved Dr. Shakshukas and I could write for days on everything we ate there. The meals are served family size with large loaves of bread and plates of humus. My favorites were A clear like stew that contained carrots, potatoes, and beef served over a bed of couscous. What made this dish different than American stew was the spices. In fact, the air in Israel is spicy. I wish I knew the name of the spice that is used so often in their cuisine. I know it is one of the spices that is used in curry. The other dish I really liked was a beef stuffed leek that swan in a tomato based broth with a touch of cinnamon. The restaurant is decorated on the ceiling with hundreds of metal pots giving the feeling of being in and old bazaar. After that we went to a modern dance performance which I am not even going to touch in trying to explain because it totally went over my head.