Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Needing Input October 31, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:25 pm

I am facing – not at this exact moment but within the coming year – the horrible decision of putting my dog Atticus to sleep. Aside from a gradual loss of eyesight, back leg movement and hearing, her hind legs are atrophying to the point of her dragging one leg behind, drawing blood yet not feeling the abrasion.

My honest question – i’ve thought of this in years past and still ruminate over it: Why do we put dogs to sleep? In other words, why don’t we let them die “naturally” as we do with humans? I’ve heard the “putting them out of their misery” theory but if that holds true, then what of prolonged, misery-soaked human lives? If, supposedly, we are all created as equals, why is it okay to prolong one type of life but not another? Or alternatively, why are we put in the god-like position of choosing to end one life but not another? How can we condemn Euthenasing humans when we routinely “put down” animals whose only crimes, sometimes, are being homeless or unclaimed?

Yes, this seems like the rambling of a grief-stricken, dog person. Yes, I am grief stricken and my heart bleeds. But the horrible decision I am eventually supposed to make pushes me towards an honest quest for discussion and answers..Input?


The Death Thing October 28, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:04 pm

Between bites of roasted lemon and rosemary chicken this evening, I wept copiously.

The forewarning had been an extremely tenuous moment while preparing the pan-fried couscous side dish during which the longing for my large, San Francisco kitchen with walk-in pantry and oven vent was so overwhelming that I had to remind my cramped-in-the-kitchen-of-ant-armies self that these longings are for objects. And objects are insignificant.

But the dinner weeping was not over an object of desire. The dinner weeping was over Death.

Yesterday, I finally worked out the mystery behind the faint, blood streaks marking our beige, tile floors. No, my 12-year-old Retriever was not experiencing a rejuvinated womanhood nor had she tread on glass.

Her hind leg, so stricken with arthritis that it pains her to fully lift it while on our excursions, was being dragged along the pavement to the point of filing the nail into non-existence leaving a bloodied stump stood in its stead. Of course, she didn’t complain or refuse to go on. She simply continued with us to the beach and playground and park, dragging that leg along, happy to be with us on an outing.

This is the second time within a 6-month-period that I have been reminded of mortality vis a vis my dog. The first came when she was unable to stand up to follow me outside one crisp, San Francisco morning. I wept then, too.

Between sobs and bites of chicken this evening, I mused to Tonny how we mortals think we control everything. How we believe we can change the world, increase productivity, carve out a future.

But over death, we have no say. There is nothing I can do to stop my beloved companion of twelve years from slowly winding down before my eyes.

Not coincidentally, the first suicide bombing since our return to Israel took place in Hadera two days ago. I instinctively knew the first one would leave me forlorn. You mean that even though WE are here now, there will still be suicide bombings? Wait a minute. Didn’t everybody read the fine print before signing on?

And just how in the hell do parents go on living?


At the Playground October 26, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:09 pm


The Aging Woman and the Sea

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:35 pm

There is NOTHING like the open sea for rejuvination, relaxation and realizing how very small we are…

Went out on a catamaran for 1st time ever, compliments of Sea Center Tel Aviv
Never mind that my job was to simply sit, observe and provide weight for keeping us balanced…It was great! Waters were choppy (15 knots) making for a very exciting excursion. I have really missed warm water and water sport in general.


A Moment of Melancholy October 24, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:39 pm

Glowy, Warm Ponderings and Speculation over….

– The realization that I will never re-experience the incredible burst of emotion felt when first visiting the beach upon arrival and sniffing the salty, sea air. The familiar scent of warm, sun-dried seaweed and the sound of the gently rolling waves prompted a surge of fond memories all buried in the unconscious for nearly a decade.

– The sharpness of observations: doves cooing in the early morning before traffic noises overtake, the enveloping, twilight stillness on holiday and Sabbath eves, the autonomy with which the elderly population continues flowing within the community, the speed with which laundry dries in the open air…This will eventually dull over time and I will eventually take things for granted

– The ease and enduring closeness of friendships lasting decades

– Eventually noticing the seams and inequities and questioning the decision to come here

How did I not notice date palms, visit the public library or set foot inside the art museum in years past?


Love Parade, Tel Aviv 2005 October 22, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:59 am

lady love


…And then there was culture shock October 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:11 pm

We’re now headed into month two of our return. So what would my evaluation include at the moment?

For the most part, we are faring well. I’m getting published regularly, Raphael is in school, Tonny and I are barely bickering and we are all adoring the weather, the beach, the sunsets, the immersion and the culture. Raph & I have had some heated tussles over his obsessive, Spiderman costume habit, but it could be worse (no it couldn’t, i.e.: guilt)

People – my mother, friends who made aliya, other friends who have moved on the global scale, etc. – cautiously ask how I’m doing. Optimistically I report about goings-on, providing upbeat accounts of the day-to-day and marveling over the apparent culture shock gone missing. I effervescently relay to friends and relations: “I keep expecting the floor to drop out, but so far it hasn’t happened! Wow! Did I escape it?”

And then yesterday, whilst listening to an NPR Radio report my San Francisco pal Jo e-mailed, I startle to find tears streaming down my face. “What brought this on?” I internally muse.

And the retort, much as I loathe admitting, is that culture shock has been lurking somewhere in the shadows simply waiting for Jo to send that link. The link with the radio announcer whose voice oozes ease, fingerpaintings taped to the fridge, dry cleaning, car pools and over-sized mugs of freshly brewed, horrible tasting Folger’s coffee.

A lifestyle I would slash my wrists over. But one, nonetheless, that doesn’t involve screaming at government clerks, sitting in a car for four hours in darkness on the Jerusalem/Tel Aviv highway awaiting roadside aid or attending an upscale fundraiser in a cheap, chiffon style (okay, polyester blend), ankle-length skirt/ matching top and being the most over-dressed female in attendance.

Yes, my old friend culture shock has arrived for a visit, or so the symptoms would indicate. “why have i been in such a crap mood these past few days?” I ask tonny innocently. And now I know.

So the floor didn’t fall out, after all. There was simply a thunder storm and the roof leaked.


Make a Wish: Champagne, please?

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:45 am

This week, went to a Make a Wish Foundation fundraiser in Abu Ghosh with my friend Steve. This is the worldwide group that grants terminally ill children their heart’s desire: a trip to Disneyland, a pony, a visit with Bill Gates (why, oh why, young innocents?)

So let me preface by saying that the event locale – Abu Ghosh – is a study in economics versus politics. A mixed, Arab/Israeli community 10-minutes outside Jerusalem, the co-habitation really works and everyone gets along. But when you’re a relatively well-to-do city with running water and no open sewage in the streets like Jabalya Refugee Camp in Gaza,for instance, it’s probably easier to forego that Molotov cocktail at the end of the day.

Anyhow, the evening’s festivities included an impressive Capoeira display by local teens, Debka dancing, chefs carving mounds of lamb over baked rice, pre-teen girls swathed in maroon veils performing traditional dance and a hauntingly beautiful choral performance in the town church marred significantly by its 2-hour-without-pause running time. Squirming in their seats, half the audience members rushed out at the 45-minute mark.

It was all very nice, the effort and determination that went into it was clear, the performing kids were proud, the organizers were proud, the choir was proud…

And yet Ms. Nasty-Ella (that would be me) came away thinking: Is that it? Why didn’t I wear my casual, Friday cheenos and flats instead of the unbearable, spike heels and the long skirt? Is this as good as it gets? Is this what a fundraiser with government minister in attendance looks like? Self service meal and jeans? Where were the servers with the small, silver trays of mini-quiches, sashimi and smoked salmon en croute? No shaved ice between courses to cleanse the palate? And how difficult is it to throw together a few petit fours for the dessert table? A little champagne to wash down the lamb, maybe? Okay, forget champagne. Some simple, French table wine? Oops, forgot. This is a Moslem village.

Well at least it was for a good cause, eh? And bless Steve and his colleagues for their work and thoughtfulness…

I didn’t say this blog would be nice. It’s culture shock, that’s what it is. Great collection plate for fits of misery ongoing long before this move…


My Pride & Joy October 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 12:50 pm

A Special, Holiday anecdote:

It’s early morning – before 10 – on a holiday. Rapha wants to wear his Spiderman costume but…

1) it’s in the 80’s (30-something Celsius) outside and polyester doesn’t breathe (go explain THAT to a 4-year-old)
2) because it doesn’t breathe and said 4-year-old wears the costume from morning to night, it’s well overdue for a visit to the laundry

I tell him no, explaining the above reasons. A temper tantrum ensues.

Suddenly, from the neighboring apartment a woman screams: “SHEKET!” (QUIET in Hebrew)

I say: “She’s right, Raphael. It’s a holiday morning and you’re waking people up.”

He goes very quiet and seemingly contemplating the matter, walks to the window sill and peers out to ostensibly get a look at the neighbor. Instead, he throws back his head and shrieks: “SHEKET!” into the silence.

That’s my boy. Such an angel. I was laughing so hard I completely missing her shouted reply.


Tel Aviv Various, 2005 October 18, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:26 pm



Hilton Beach


Gan Meier Flower Market