Which forty years am I referring to in my title?

The Children of Israel spent forty years wandering in the desert before they came to the Promised Land. (Some say that’s because they got lost, which in turn is because men are always too proud to ask for directions.) Some of the Israelites gave up hope of ever arriving and wished they’d stayed in Egypt rather than following Moses out and across the Red Sea as the waves parted. Yet they reached their destination in the end and lived happily ever after… well, almost. We’ve just celebrated their escape from Egypt as we do each year on Seder night – the first night of Passover.

But that’s not the forty years I meant.

Alan Bennett’s first West End play was called Forty years On.

No, not that either.

WeddingRingThis is it: Forty years ago, David Drori placed this ring on my finger and we’ve been together ever since… he and I, that is. The ring and I, too, but that’s less important.

When exactly did that happen? This is where things get complicated. The date we remember is 11th April. In fact it’s more than what we remember; it’s the actual date. But is that the date we should be celebrating?

David and Miriam, 1978

I didn’t really colour my hair for the wedding. The scanning process changed its colour.

One year, when we were both working in the same office and mentioned it was our anniversary, someone remarked, “This is why you should celebrate the Hebrew date and not the Gregorian date.”

We probably looked confused and she added, “You didn’t get married after Pesach (Passover) did you?”

The asimon dropped. (That’s the literal translation of the Hebrew expression. An asimon was a telephone token, used in public phones instead of coins, probably because of rampant inflation at that time.) No, of course we didn’t. Jews don’t get married from the beginning of Passover for at least thirty-three days (depending on their branch of Judaism) because of the Omer, which is like Lent, I think. But as Jewish festivals take place according to the Hebrew calendar, they vary according to the Gregorian calendar. In 1978, 11th April fell more than a week before Passover. Most years, Passover begins before it.

How does the Hebrew calendar work? A year usually has twelve months, the names of which I learned to recite at the age of five and still remember. Every so often, according to a calculation I don’t remember, there’s a leap year during which a whole month is added.

David has no trouble remembering the Hebrew date of his birthday. He was born on the eve of Passover and was pleased to discover that this year his Gregorian and Hebrew birthdays coincided.

The modern State of Israel mostly works according to the Gregorian calendar. Things would get confusing if we didn’t. And that’s why we don’t remember the date of our wedding according to the Hebrew calendar, although this year it was probably at around the time we celebrated it with a meal in Petersham Nurseries, Richmond Park, UK, before we left for another trudge through the snow.

Petersham Nurseries - Richmond Park

One thing I can be sure of: There will be no snow when we celebrate again, in Jerusalem, on 11th April.

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The nearest I’d ever got to a cruise before was watching Love Boat many years ago. That programme and things I’d heard from others made me think cruises weren’t for me. Evening dress and ballroom dancing simply aren’t my style.

MS Lofoten in Havøysund

MS Lofoten in Havøysund

But this wasn’t like that at all. The ship was small, the crew and fellow guests very pleasant and we’d have looked out of place in evening dress.

Without the hassle of packing and unpacking, or not unpacking and having to search for items in a suitcase, we travelled all along the coast of Norway, stopping several times each day for some great views, short hikes and other activities.

Hammerfest

Hammerfest

Before you ask, no, we didn’t see the Northern Lights. You can only see them when it’s dark and clear, and it never really got dark in the far north.

Dog sledding

Dog sledding

We had wonderful weather the whole time, except one evening when it snowed on us.

Caught in snow in Norway

Caught in snow in Svolvaer

There was a little rain in Bergen on our last day, but nothing like the downpour that (surprisingly) greeted us on our return to Israel.

I was sorry when the cruise came to an end, as all good things do. Now I have a long list of tasks to catch up on, one of which is preparing for my launch day and online party on 17 June. Do join it if you’re free any time that day. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/events/733704203318444/?source=1.

This cake appeared almost every afternoon to celebrate the MS Lofoten's 50th anniversary

This cake appeared almost every afternoon to celebrate the MS Lofoten’s 50th anniversary

In 2013, I blogged about

  • memoir writing, from which I learned a lot
  • my three trips abroad
  • writing courses
  • various aspects of living in Jerusalem
  • a couple of books in review
  • social anxiety
  • snow

and more.

And I tried various challenges:

  • 100k in 100 days
  • A-Z challenge
  • 100 word challenge
  • NaNoWroMo

WordPress sent me my stats for 2013:

  • I posted 91 posts. This must be number 92.
  • My visitors came from 79 countries.
  • My 5 most active commenters were:

2013Commenters

Thank you, Angela, Jean, Rachael, Rosalind and catdownunder and all the other commenters and visitors. Without you I wouldn’t be here.

And so, as 2013 draws to a close, I have to make a decision: will I attempt the 100k words in 100 days challenge again, starting tomorrow? If I do, I’ll have to come up with more ideas of what to write. Hmm….

What I’m sure about is that I will continue blogging in 2014 as long as I still have visitors.

Happy New Year

No, I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas. We’ve had quite enough snow for this year, thank you. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if I never saw another snowstorm like the one we had last week, beautiful as it was.

But as we did have a snowstorm so close to that holiday that’s somehow connected with it, I thought I’d post some links to posts about one or the other.

I also saw pictures on Facebook of a snow bride, a snowman wearing a skullcap by the Western Wall and a snow toilet and basin.

It’s a good thing Chanuka was early this year and over well before the storm began.

Snow at night

To all those of you who are celebrating Christmas, I hope it turns out exactly as you want it to and you have a lovely time.

Thursday was fun. We ventured out into our snow-covered garden. I took photos, saw lots of other photos on Facebook, read comments about the snow and blogged about it. In the afternoon we received a phone call from the supermarket. They wouldn’t be able to deliver our order the next day. We looked to see what food we had. OK, we could manage.

On Friday we woke up to more snow and no electricity. Not so nice. We had no heating, no hot water and no Internet. And batteries that wouldn’t last for long.

On Saturday the snow was thicker. Thicker than I’ve ever seen it anywhere. And the electricity only came back in the evening after being off for 40.5 hours.

But it could have been worse.

  • We were able to cook on gas rings. When we moved here we considered using electricity because it would have been easier. But we decided we prefer cooking on gas. Just as well!
  • We also turned on the gas to heat up the kitchen.
  • We had enough food to keep going.
  • If they’d delivered the food we ordered, it would have gone off.
  • There were four of us at home. I wouldn’t have liked to be alone in that situation.
  • We saw a lot more of each other than usual.

It’s good to look at the silver lining.

Updated with photos: same place, different days.

StatuesInSnow

 

 

 

 

 

StatuesInMoreSnow

The excitement in these parts knows no bounds. Pictures are all over Facebook. Schools are closed. Workplaces, too. News broadcasts are almost entirely about this.

“What happened?” you might ask.

“It’s snowing.”

“So what?”

“So what! This is Jerusalem. The whole city has closed down. People come from all over the country to see the city covered in white – if they can manage to get here. And you say, so what!”

Besides, how many people can say they’ve seen oranges growing in snow?

Oranges in snow

OrangesInSnow1

100 Word Challenge

Click to join in the fun

The challenge: 104 words including:

the extreme weather meant

I’m throwing fiction to the elements this week. We had our extreme weather about a week before most of you.

So near and yet so different

In Tel-Aviv, the extreme weather meant flooding, road closures and terrible traffic jams.

In Modi’in, a shopping centre was flooded, giving rise to the picture of a restaurant, the diners with their feet in water, that appeared on Facebook. Another interesting picture compared the shopping mall to Venice. They did look rather similar.

In Jerusalem, the extreme weather meant a traffic shutdown, a welcome holiday, snowmen, snowballs and beautiful, silent whiteness. What a difference a few kilometres and a few hundred metres make!

A week later, we sat lazing on the grass in warm sunshine, not a trace of extreme weather in sight.

Frozen pond

Frozen pond