Monday, July 31, 2006

Is this quiet for real?

"Mom, I'm going with dad to check out the Katyusha, wanna come?" I ask my mother in this weirdest of questions.

Mom looks up from her book, confused. "What?"

"We're going to take pictures of the Katusha," I repeat. I want to ask her again if she wants to join us but I burst out laughing at this completely insane conversation. Mom joins me.

Dad is running over as my laughing turns to shrieking that could be interpreted either way. "What's wrong?" he asks alarmed.

In between my laughs (I'm already tearing), I manage to say, "I just asked mom if she wants to come see the rocket..."

Dad looks at me funny, making sure I'm indeed laughing.

We go out. The streets are empty as no one yet believes this quiet is for real. I'm not sure either, but I hope. Statesmen and politicians may not think it a good move to have a cease fire as of yet, but I have my own selfish reasons to want it, as I'm sure millions of Lebanese and Israelis feel the same.

Well, my hometown has been quite efficient. They've already disarmed the missile (remember it was a dud), hauled it away, covered the hole and patched it up. Nothing to see. Like it didn't happen.

But there are painful reminders of another rocket that fell nearby, and this one exploded. There was no siren before it fell. The wounded from that attack are still in the hospital. One was in critical condition and I want to find out what happened to him.

My parents and I decide to continue and have a little walk. Almost no one is walking. Only a few cars go by, their occupants look at us like we're crazy. Maybe we are.

On the way back we stop by the corner store and get an ice-cream each. The grocer tells us of the Katyusha we went to see. He was here and had seen it. The exact same story our neighbor had told us.

We continue to talk a bit with the grocer, no one else is in the store, then walk back home eating our ice-cream. Back in the war zone. A quiet day that no one trusts. War zone normalcy? Is there such a thing?

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

And the wait begins again

I was thinking a lot how to write today. What to write today.

I'm back north in my parents' apartment, but somehow my own fears seem irrelevant today.

Something awful happened today, and no matter how you look at it, it's horrendous. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about - the terrible tragedy in Lebanon.

Whether I accept the IDF's position of the 6 hour discrepancy between the air force bombing of the building and its final explosion and collapse, or whether I accept the quick world judgment and condemnation of Israel, it matters not. It doesn't matter to those who died, I'm sure.

It's a war and people die in wars and that's exactly what is so dreadful in a war. And yet, there still seem to be people who can't, won't, understand that.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Going back north

Tomorrow will be a week since we left northern Israel's war zone. By now everybody's feeling homesick and is willing to risk a couple of days at home with the sirens, the rockets, the explosions and the blasts.

So tomorrow, Sunday, we're going back. A few of us might even try to go back to work. We'll see. We don't want to fall into a false sense of security arising from staying in the south for a week and not feeling the immediate danger.

I have mixed feelings about going back north, of course, but even I feel the need for some home comforts in between the sirens and the rockets.

I'm not sitting at the cafe I've been using, by the way. It's closed. I guess for the Shabbat. I'm sitting outside, on the stairs and somehow manage to get the signal. People look at me and it's funny.

I read all your supporting comments, including friends and family from Canada and the US and you have no idea how much it helps and how much it means to me to read them all. Especially today when I have to mount up the strength to go back.

Already my stomach is reacting. That (by now) familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach that dissipated this past week is beginning to return today as the decision has been made to return.

I've just heard of more encouraging and positive voices from Lebanon against the Hezbollah. I hope it helps somehow. I'm not sure why Rice is taking her time to come here again. We all want to resolve this as soon as possible. We need relief. Israelis, Lebanese. We need to start rebuilding our towns and our economies, mourn our dead and heal our wounded. Building is so much better than destroying.

I've been toying with the idea of volunteering to supply food in shelters around more northern towns where only the elderly and people with less means remained (it is estimated that about 2/3 of the northern population left the north). I don't know if I'm courageous enough to do this, though. Hopping between one rocket to the next to supply food, TP and water. I'll keep you posted.

I'll have better access to internet when I go back to my parents' tomorrow. I just hope I won't be too much of a wreck to post.

Thank you all.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006


As rockets keep falling on my hometown the past three days and dozens of people get hurt, we decided to extend our stay until Sunday. We can't really afford to, and at the same time, we can't afford not to.

What do you call people who cannot return home because their homes are in the midst of a war zone? Refugees, no? It's hard to admit and difficult to swallow, but this is the situation.

Of course, I can return home to Canada, but my family?

We went into the city yesterday evening, and the feeling was eerie. I'd say that 80% of the people were refugees from the north. People looked lost. People were in the city because they had no other place they could be, nowhere to go. Just like us. Most people on the phone, stand around, look around, unsure what to do next, where to go next.

It's not a holiday feel as much as we try to lighten our hearts. We're not home. How long can people stay away from home like that? We feel it. None of us are working and the end doesn't seem to be near.

Thank goodness for kids and babies. They're the only ones who manage to make us smile these days.

We're hoping for a quick peaceful solution.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Human Story

As I told you already, most people in our hotel are evacuees from the North.
Yesterday there was some commotion and I noticed a few families on the lawn with their packs. I already had an idea of what was happening but wanted to make sure. So I talked to the hotel V.P. to get my facts right.

She says that there was a large group that was evacuated from Zafed and Nahariya. Someone donated 6 nights at the hotel for them. Yesterday, the six nights were over and the evacuees from Nahariya simply refused to leave and go back home.

They first refused to leave the rooms and when they finally did, they refused to leave the lawn. Imagine, whole families, with kids, preferring to stay on a hotel lawn rather than go back home.

After some phone calls between the respective mayors of Nahariya and where I'm staying, they asked the hotel V.P. to find them a hall that isn't in use at the moment and put some mattresses there. I'm not sure why they couldn't organize a school gym, it is summer break after all, but it doesn't matter. It's just sad. The whole thing is sad.

I now know that there are a few more groups of evacuees sponsored by different bodies coming to hotels all over the country and the hotel where we stay. In addition, a major group of people which houses was destroyed by rockets is coming. The government is sponsring that.

I also talked to a guy who had just arrived with a new group from Nahariya. His house wasn't hit directly, "only" damaged. He told me some crazy stories. Apparently, in Nahariya they can hear the rockets as they're being launched and then they know they have about 10 seconds to get to a safe place.

The damage to property is enormous. He claims these are no longer Katyusha rockets but missiles of some sort they're shooting. And these missilies cause damage in a radius of about 100-200 metres (like yards), while the pellets I've mentioned a few posts ago reach over a kilometer (more than half a mile).

He showed me pictures he took with his phone and we're trying to find a way to upload them to my computer so I can share them with you.

And then, just like that, as I walk in the hall I overhear someone talking on the phone: "The fridge, the computer, the kitchen cabinets. Everything's destroyed," he says to someone I can't see.

We all now have similar stories to differnt degrees.

Final note - I didn't mention that my uncles stayed in our home town. One of them went to see the dud near my parents' place.

Crazy stories. Right here. In Israel. My stories.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Can you spell L-u-c-k-y?

I just heard news that a rocket fell right near my parents' place. I can't believe it.

So far, even if it was close, it was far enough.

We talked to our neighbor on the phone. He was home.

He says the rocket luckily didn't explode. A dud! Can you believe it???

It's beyond me. My heart was racing for quite a while when I heard this. Speechless.

And at the same time, my mom already started talking about going back home. We're supposed to go back on Wednesday. I don't know. I don't think I can go back. I don't think I can handle it anymore. But I can't let my parents go back alone, can I?

Gosh, even now that I sit in this nice A/C café with wifi (slow wifi, but wifi nonetheless), I can't relax 100%. I guess none of us can.

I just heard Condi Rice is in Beirut. I hope it's good news. I really do. I'm not sure what the US can do as it isn't on speaking terms with many of the major players, but perhaps it could exert some influence. At the same time, many world leaders seem content Israel is doing their "dirty work" for them on the back of the Israeli and Lebanese population. I know this is the most political I've got, but I was really hoping for much earlier intervention from the world. Helping to stop this sooner. Helping to reach a good plan that could work for both Lebanon and Israel. How many more people must die before this situation can be resolved?

I can't believe this is happening.

P.S. I found this blogger who blogs from Beirut. I think she's amazing:

Family 'Vacation'

We've always dreamed of going on a family vacation but never dreamed it would be under these circumstances. We rented four rooms at a hotel and we're all together. Three to a room.
When we arrived we all went for dinner and ate like we haven't eaten in a we were some starved people from a was zone. Oh, wait. We did come from a war zone.
We're still jumpy, some more than others. Loud bangs of doors slamming still make us jump and voices that sound like a siren leave us all wide eyed and on the lookout.

My friend in Haifa with the four-month-old was supposed to leave too last night, but stayed in Haifa until this morning when there were three more explosions without a siren warning. She now left for safety as well.

The hotel is full of refugees, evacuees from the north. The atmosphere is communal. Doors are left open and everybody's talking to everybody. Where are you from? When did you come here? How bad is it where you were? etc.

I can't imagine hearing more sirens or explosions at the moment. I sure dreamt about it enough. I just don't think I could have handled one more day of it. Depression was beginning to set in.
And then we drove south and at some point, crossed this invisible line into a different reality where people aren't afraid.

I can't bare to think of the people who stayed, or the people in Nahariya or even more northern places. The humanitarian crisis there is indescribable. And we don't hear much from there. I think even journalists are afraid to go there. No siren, just constant shelling. More than 1,000 houses were damaged in Nahariya according to reports. And now I'm here, contemplating if I feel like going to the swimming pool or out for a walk. Unbelievable.

Something has to be done and quickly. No one can go on living like this. Lebanese, Israelis. It's insane.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Update: Melly and Family South of Haifa

Hello everyone. I am Melly's husband, writing from Toronto, Canada.

As Melly's last post stated, she and her family had enough of the rocket attacks and decided to stay an undetermined amount of time away from their home in Northern Israel.

They are at a hotel in the town of Zichron Yakov - which is just south of Haifa. I spoke with Melly Sunday evening and she sends her immense thanks and gratitude for all the well wishes people have been sending. I think it really helps.

She actually went outside for a few hours this evening - the first time since her arrival to Israel, as Zichron Yakov seems to be relatively 'safe' compared to the area immediate to the North.

Melly said she will continue posting once she can find internet access in her area - hopefully soon. She is not sure when they will be returning to their home given the great demand for hotels south of Haifa and other constraints...and the rockets as well.

Please keep checking back - at the very least I will facilitate in publishing updates, but will leave the commentary exclusively to Melly.

Melly's 'hubby', Toronto

Breaking Point

We're leaving.
We're going south. My parents and both my sisters and families.
Today there were 5 or 6 sirens, but. But. Gosh.
There were several falls without sirens. They say it's something like 50/50.

Last siren my mom was napping. She woke up in such distress that we needed to go help her out of bed first and then went down stairs slowly slowly. She couldn't do it any other way.

That's it.

People, I understand are cramming 15 people into hotel rooms. Because of lack of room and because of financial means. They're running out of money, they didn't get paid and can't pay bills.

Nahariya gets it even worse.
My dad talked to a relative in Nahariya yesterday. Nahariya is a beautiful coastal town north of us. Because they're much closer to the border, they don't get any sirens as the rockets are only a few seconds in the air. So they have to stay inside the shelters, not just their homes, constantly. The shelters are public and all the residents of the same building share it. Have been sharing it for a week. Can you imagine sleeping in the same room with neighbors?

They have mattresses on the floor, or bunks, and it's hot. A Middle East kind of heat. They haven't left their shelters for ten days. Supplies are running short. The kids are bored and scared. People are getting desperate. Yesterday Nahariya was hit by 54 rockets out of the 160 and the carnage was dreadful. One of them right near my relative. If I have it somewhat rough, their situation is impossible.

They can't even flee. Too dangerous to even put your nose outside the bomb shelter.

I don't know if I'll have internet where I go, but don't worry. I might get husband to post occasionally for me.

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Closer - two dead

Weird. The first siren of the morning found me in bed just before 10:00 a.m. (Our sleeping patterns are erratic.) Oddly, I was calm. Maybe because I was just sleeping. Who knows?

Then the explosions. One after another. I couldn't count as some of them fell together. But I figured it was more than 10.
A few of them were very close. One especially. Car alarms went off from that blast. And I'm eerily calm. Is it possible I'm getting used to this? Can anyone get used to this?

My sister - I'm thinking. She took her girl to the HMO this morning. Was she home on time? Was she on the road?
My friend from Haifa calls. She's alone with her 4-month-old. She calls me for support. She yelled at me for flying over, now she's the one who won't leave her home and who relies on me somewhat. Even if it's from a distance.

"A siren," I jump and tell her while we talk.
"I don't hear anything," she says.
It's true. It was the emergency vehicles sirens.
"It must be right near you, then," she says.
We remain under the stairs.

We go up. The tally: 13 rockets. 2 dead. About ten wounded.
I talk to my sisters. Everybody's fine.
The fear returns. With a vengeance. I think I hardly had a moment where I didn't feel sick to my stomach ever since I got here.

Another siren. "Only" three blasts this time.
We're home again. My dad's watching a show about the Caribbean. Nice.

I wish my husband was up now so I could call him.
He has this magical way of calming me.
This morning, after I woke up at 4:30 a.m. because of some noise, I couldn't fall sleep again because I was too scared. I finally called hubby around 6:00 a.m.. At the end of our conversation I fell asleep. Gosh, I miss him. But I won't call him. I don't want to worry him. He's worried sick as it is.

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Pictures from the attack on Haifa a few days ago

A direct hit on the house.
I found the curtains that were left hanging so eerie

An adjacent building riddled with shrapnel and the little pellets that these rockets are full for maximum damage and carnage

A close up of that wall

A car that stood nearby, again - those pellet wholes

Here are pellets

Thank you Lenny M for taking these pictures. Please don't put yourself in any further danger.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Situation is Becoming Dire

It is half past midnight here. I'm exhausted, we all are, but I can't sleep.

Nine sirens today as Hezbollah's making sure we stay fit with going up and down the stairs.
One time I heard three distant explosions, another time I heard nine explosions rather close.
All in all, 160 katyusha rockets were fired at the north of Israel today (over a 1,000 since the conflict began), and 39 people were wounded.

My cousin took his family (two kids) and a tent and went down south. He's not the only one. Those who can afford to, go to hotels in cities south of Haifa. Those who have family in the south, go there. Those with neither, simply packed up tents and are sleeping on the beach or something like that. I hope the government intervenes and help them.

Last week, almost no one I know went to work, except on Sunday. It's true for almost all of the population north of Haifa. About one million people either fled south or stay at home/shelters. A big economic crisis is just around the corner.

And yet, even as I write this we get reports of heavy traffic coming north at the end of the Israeli weekend. People are coming back home after a week probably, or maybe a weekend. Maybe they ran out of money, maybe they need to feel home a bit.

I'm still trying to get my family, at least my parents away for the day. Just to spend a day in a more relaxed manner as there are two distinct realities now in Israel - where rockets fall (north and south) and where they don't. We need to clear our heads a bit. Not jump at every sound. Maybe eat. Sleep.

To my Canadian family and friends
As this blog is no longer my private space on the web and you've all been reading it, I wanted to send you all my love.

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Sights and sounds from my experience

It is 12:15 in the afternoon, and we've had four sirens in the past two hours. No explosions that I could hear, though. The exercise of going up and down the stairs is the only one I get these past few days.

North of us, where the alarm either coincides with the bombs, or the where there is no warning alarm because time is too short, people have stayed in bomb shelters for the past ten days. They get food delivered to them, but some places medicines are running short and especially the elderly and those with less means who suffer. Reports of casualties from other parts of the north are coming in.

This is the view from my parents' window, a picture that I took yesterday, Friday morning, the busiest time of the week. Note the empty, ghostly street.
This is the stair way where we hide, hopefully successfully.
I told you that one of my sisters lives in a north facing apartment in one of the top floors of a high rise. They moved into the living/dining room as you can see, which is what the recommendation is to do.
Since they live in a high rise, they obviously can't go down the stairs each time, there wouldn't be enough time even if they did. So their "safe area" is just outside, near the elevators.

Finally, someone filmed this and put in on YouTube. The sound of the siren and explosions are clear. This is what we live with daily. A few times a day. You simply don't get used to it. I don't know why this guy was so crazy to go out and film this, but he did. Here it is.
WARNING for those living in northern Israel - you're about to hear a siren. It's recorded!

Update: There were two more sirens for a total of six and it's not even 1:00 p.m. here. There's a heavy feeling that something bad awaits us with all these sirens.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Babies and War

My (other) sister just returned from a week in Jerusalem. Her husband packed them up on Sunday and they left. They have three kids, the youngest, 15-months-old won't sit still as do most toddlers his age.

Homefront Command guidelines are to stay within "safe areas", whatever that means, so we tried to keep him confined to the living room space. But he was too excited not having been at his grandparents for a week and ran all over the place.

Sure enough, there was a siren - the fifth one of the day. We quickly left the apartment and went downstairs. There wasn't enough room for all us under the stairs and my brother-in-law insisted on standing near by.

Needless to explain the reaction of my nephew. The siren sound is very loud and scary, but he didn't cry. He was just agitated and wasn't sure what he wanted until he settled on being on his mother. I'm sure he picked up on our anxiety as much as we tried to cover it.

While maybe not the scariest experience, it was the most unsettling one. I mean, I keep talking to my best friend in Haifa who has a 4-month old baby girl, and she keeps telling me how they snatch her from wherever and run to their "safe space" each time, but I haven't experienced it. The sense of responsibility and seeing my nephew so visibly distraught was beyond me. When they finally left to go home (five minutes away), I came as close as I ever did to crying since I got here.

I don't know what else to say, how I can explain this any better. Israeli babies, Lebanese babies. Babies and war.

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Explosions are closer than ever

After 36 hours of no explosions around here (but in other parts of the north), and 24 hours of no siren, there were just two sirens in the span of an hour with explosions closer than ever.

I'm shaken. Very.

I actually prepared photos for you to demonstrate how we live, but maybe for a later post.

I also went to visit my sister earlier. She returned home after two days of retreat in the south. She lives in a top floor of a high rise in a north-facing apartment. Scary stuff. Just as my brother-in-law drove me home, the first siren of the day went off and we didn't even hear it in the car. I walked to my parents house, nonchalant, when I noticed my parnts huddled under the stairs. Imagine my surprise.

Haifa was hit and there were many casualties.

Not an hour went by and another siren went off and this time I not only heard the explosions, but felt them too.

We are now preparing lunch even though none of us has any appetite. Something to do. But it's scary being in the kitchen. Facing north directly. I keep herding my parents into the living room that is somewhat more inner.

I'll post more later.

Two things: I'm sorry I don't respond to all teh comments. I read them all and appreciate them very much. You do give me strength.
Also, I apologize if my wiritng is appaling of late. I guess this doesn't make for good writing...

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

1:30 p.m. siren - my mom nearly faints

Just as I finished writing my previous post and clicked on published, another siren went off. Like I said, usually the afternoon is busier.

My mom was nodding off and the siren scared her so she nearly fainted. She's fine now.

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I finally washed my hair - hygiene northern Israel style

Ever since I got to Israel I hardly sleep and hardly eat. I'm not the only one. My dad has already lost nearly 10 lb, other family members too.

We eat the necessary, because we have to, but all munching in between meals, coffees and cakes that are such a routine here, dried fruit, fruit, everything that isn't on our plates during the three meals, we don't eat. Not to mention having seconds - we're having none of that either. (And if you knew my dad's cooking, you'd know that seconds are just something you must have :)

We also avoid longer showers (hence the not washing the hair), and even going to the bathroom can cause a heavy feeling, because a siren can catch you anywhere, anytime.

But last night, I was finally too exhausted to even be afraid. Once I fell asleep, I didn't wake up until 5:30 a.m. - the first siren of the day. We ran under the stairs again (all of us sleeping with something that can pass as clothes, although I know that the first day people went with their pajamas to shelters). This time I didn't hear any blasts though, but some rockets did fall north of us.

I was so tired, I just went straight back to bed if you can believe it or not and finally completed a full night sleep of about 7 hours. It's been quiet since so I've decided to chance it and washed my hair too.

I hope the quiet will continue, although usually the afternoon is "busier" in terms of sirens and rockets. The jets and helicopters are constantly in the sky though. There are also a lot more peopel and cars on the street today and even the bank (!) called to ask if my parents needed anything.

Yesterday, a brother and sister 3 and 9, died from a direct hit in Nazareth. Yes, that's the holy Nazareth. Nazareth is a mixed town of Christians and Muslim Israelis (or Israeli arabs if you will, or Palestinian Israeli. I'm not trying to be PC (there's no PC in this part of the world), just to explain). It was very sad and devastating.

There were many more wounded from the rockets and also two soldiers died in heavy fighting on the border with Hezbollah. I hope for peace soon. There are more and more talks and I hope it's all going in the right direction to end this.

Like I said before, I doubt anyone who never experienced this could understand what we're going through. I doubt even I can understand what the Lebanese people are going through. I hope it gets resolved soon!
Read the rest

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Alright, I'll admit it. I'm scared.
About half an hour ago there was a series of nearby explosions without the warning of a siren. So far, this is the most scared I've been. So far, I've counted on the sirens to at least warn us.

As I've mentioned, my parents live in a north-facing apartment. Meaning, an apartment facing Lebanon, where the rockets are coming from. Without a siren, we're very exposed as there is pretty much only the corridor that can serve as an inner room, as futile as it may sound.

My heart doesn't stop racing and I have that bitter fear taste in my mouth.

Slowly, my other family members are leaving the north, heading south of Haifa. There is no relief and no quiet. I'm trying to calm my racing heart, and maybe writing about this helps. Not sure.

Earlier this morning there was a siren and one distant boom after the siren. This time - no siren and a series of nearby booms. At the same time we just heard of massive casualties in Lebanon and I want to cry for them and for us, but I must stay strong or I'll crumple.

Don't be right, be smart!

When I first started to learn how to drive, my dad told me - on the road, don't be right, be smart! Meaning, just because it's my right of way, it doesn't mean the speeding car heading the other direction will know it's my right of way. And if a collision happens, the fact that I was right (other than for insurance purposes) means nothing if people are physically injured. Agreed?

When I got married, my mom told me the same thing - don't be right with your husband, be smart! Naturally, he'll forget the same thing for the 100th time, and sure I'm right, but is the ensuing fight worth it? Are there ways to achieve what I want, or to talk to him in a way he relates to, that are smarter than simply always stating that I'm right? But of course there are.

I must say that I follow the first example, but have a harder time with the second. The self righteousness tends to rear its head more than I want.

What am I talking about? The Middle East of course. What, it wasn't obvious?

When it comes to the Middle East, who's right has become the paramount question unfortunately. Self-righteousness has been leading events, affairs, public opinion, and most importantly, policies. All sides have been equally plagued with stupid self-righteousness. All sides have been stupid!
(And please don't make the mistake of thinking there are only two sides, there are nearly as many sides as there are people...)

I hope people will smarten up and realize peace is the only smart thing to do!

For more on my political views, you can visit With Sticks and Stones

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I owe you an explanation

As more of you started to point out, I have been quiet. Actually, quite the disappearance act I've performed, all the way to the northern part of Israel, to my hometown (until 14 years ago).

Yesterday afternoon I hopped on a plane, unable to be away from my family at this time any longer. Today I arrived.

I reached Haifa in the afternoon (Israel's afternoon, early morning N.America time). The rush hour traffic which I always hate was, of course, non-existent since Haifa is now a ghost town with everybody in their homes taking shelter.

I continued north to my hometown. When I reached the outskirts of my hometown, the first siren went off. We were still on the road, driving. We quickly parked the car and ran to the nearest building which happened to be an HMO with a very organized bomb shelter. The booms of the rockets falling could be heard even inside the shelter.

As soon as I reached my parents' apartment, about half an hour later, the second siren hit us and we took cover in the corridor, the inner most area of my parents northern (where the rockets are coming from) facing apartment. The building doesn't have a bomb shelter.

The third siren came about an hour later and we repeated the drill. It's been quiet (in our area) since then.

Any person who has ever been through the sounds of sirens and bombs falling around could tell you how unnerving it is. I constantly hear sirens in my head and every noise resembling a siren sound or a boom makes us all jump.

I do not want any political comments here please, especially the kind that claims Israel has no right to exist. Usually I can deal with it calmly, even though I do always take it to mean that these people think that I have no right to exist. But today I will not be able to handle it.

I feel greatly for the Lebanese people and their plight. Trust me, I understand their predicament more than any person living comfortably not knowing what a threat on their lives is. I've been through this in 91 during the 1st Gulf War when I sat in that same corridor with my gas mask on, and I'm here now feeling just as helpless, only able to hug my shaking mom. She hugs me back :)

I have internet as you can see and will try to post, although I may still not be able to post writing-related posts.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blogger Hacks and other blogging issues

Blogger Hacks
Lately, a few people asked me about different features on my blog.
So here are a good sources for Blogger hacks:
1) Blogger Help Page - this help page, unlike most others, actually helps. From Basic to Advanced. The advanced also contains the Blogger Hacks page with add-ons and what not.
2) Freshblog has a great Blogger Hacks Series.
3) Beginners should really consider an HTML tutorial first. Here's another one.
I don't mind the emails at all, by the way, always happy to help, just thought I'd centralize the information for others who may be curious too.

Logging in to comment
I'm really sorry and I have many friends who do it, but I'm going to say it anyway. Having to log-in just so I could comment on someone's blog isn't conducive to my willingness to comment. Sorry sorry sorry. It's just that many times I wanted to leave a comment and was lazy to sign in. I know, I'm lazy, sorry again. And of course it depends much on your blogging philosophy too etc.

Link exchanges
I don't mind in the least when people email me or leave a comment, asking for a link exchange. It's when someone demands that I link to them first (and then tell them that I did) that I get annoyed. This is not the best way to approach the matter in my opinion.
When someone who has a mortgage blog asks All Kinds of Writing for a link exchange, I also find it odd.


World Cup for the Gals

If you gals think you don't like football (soccer), think again.

GeekGirl (who is nothing but) offers at least one reason why soccer is... well... interesting.

Go have a look, you won't be disappointed, I assure you.

As for Zidane, you probably don't recall that just as the World Cup started I said I was going for France because I like Zidane. Well, second place isn't bad and Zidane, well, I like him even more :)


Monday, July 10, 2006

What's your favourite kind of brew?

Brewing up
Uploaded on March 1, 2006
by Western Sahara Project
I haven't been able to sleep all weekend long. I'm brewing.

I love it when it happens. I don't know how everybody else's creative process works, but for me it comes in spurts. It's been nearly a week now that I've been quietly simmering and this past weekend I think I've come to a boil as it started affecting my sleep too (almost nothing ever affects my sleep).

What I do when I recognize the symptoms (gosh, reading this one would think it's a disease) is not to interfere. I don't write my ideas down and I don't try to force anything. I just sit back and let the process take over until the ideas materialize into something cohesive (or not :).

So now I can talk about it because I think the process has come to an end. This one has been particularly long and complicated and this morning I've actually, finally, started writing down the amalgamated ideas.

I usually think that whatever I do or think is what most people do or think, so is that true? How do most people's creative process works?

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Juicy Behinds or You can't change the writer you are

One evening this past week, hubby and I went to a mall. I won't tire you with my shopping experience (it bored me already), but I will share one little incident:

At some point we went up an escalator. I was still trying to see if anything on the rack near the escalator was something I desired when I noticed hubby looking at me with a very uncomfortable expression on his face. Facing the front now, I saw the source of his discomfort: a Juicy bottom. Meaning? Some woman, standing a couple of steps up, was wearing sweat pants with the word Juicy right across her behind (hubby's eye level).

I was delighted at hubby's reaction, but since I cannot leave any stone unturned, I asked him later in the evening what was it about that whole situation that made him so uncomfortable?
He looked at me dumbfounded. "I wasn't uncomfortable."
"But you looked like you were," I insisted. "You looked away from her."
"Yeah, well, she was just disgusting," he said.
Now it was my turn to be confused. "So it wasn't the juicy butt that made you uncomfortable?"
"Nope," he said. "The butt was just fine."
And I had to agree with him on that one.

What does all this have to do with writing, you're probably asking by now.

Well, the way I see it, as intelligent and 'sensitive' a guy is, he remains still and always - a guy. Can't really fight it (who would want to, anyways?).

Similarly we can't change the person we are nor the writer we are. Writing in order to satisfy markets, readers, editors isn't something any of us should to do. Writers should write what they want to write and how they want to write it.

This isn't really a "rules vs. free spirit" discussion, or genre confines or anything of that sort. It's more a question of how much writers hinder their own creativity by worrying about markets/readers/editor. I know that some of you may argue that readers should always be in mind of a writer, but I'm thinking, 'readers in mind' is a tweakable thing to do after a sale, after there are actually potential readers.

If a writer concentrates on writing and is good, persistent and lucky, s/he might even get published one day.

Okay, so maybe my allegory was a little far fetched (okay, a lot), but I wanted to share the incident and my latest writing thoughts and this seemed like a great way to combine them.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Amazon Shorts Contest

I think there's something wrong with me, and dare no one here say it's age.
I had a few great ideas for posts but somehow completely forgot them.

So instead I give you this:
    A new short-form writing contest, the winners of which (published or unpublished authors) will be given the opportunity to have their stories sold on through the Amazon Shorts program.

I posted about Amazon Shorts back in August 2005, bemoaning the fact it is only for well established and published authors. So here's the chance to get in there for all the unpublished writers out there.

Some details:
- The site is
- The contest announcement
- Length 2000-10,000
- No genre restrictions specified
- Contest open until Sep 30th
- 4 winners each month (July, August, Sep) - 3 readers choice and 1 editorial pick
- Prize - the opportunity to be sold on Amazon

If nothing else, it's a good exposure and practice. Get started writing now!

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blogging Balls

Sorry to be so crass, crude (is balls still considered PG-13?).

Yes, you are not used to this kind of language from me, but there's a good reason, or at least there was a good reason that had completely dissipated by now.

You see, I think that this blog always promoted discussion and accepted different points of view so when I saw a "rebuttal" post on another blog to one of my posts, my first reaction was to take it personally at what I deemed to be a cowardice attitude. Not only did the blogger in question not comment on my post, but also hadn't "informed" me of the rebuttal in a comment.

Luckily for me I had to do something before I could post this current post, avoiding making a fool out of myself (a pretty common occurrence for me what with my big mouth and my very direct language).

Having time to think about it though, I figured that this was actually, probably, more of a form of flattery and not a sneaky way to attack me without me being able to defend myself, nor was it a declaration of sorts on this blog's inability to accept different opinions. So I'm calm now.

Besides, I realized, haven't we all done it before, rebutting, expanding, or what not on an idea that has touched us from another blog? Isn't that why we link to the original post?

Thanks for listening.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Midnight Road Contest Winners

Of course, I had to miss all the fun over at Jason's blog with the voting and the announcements of contest winners.

I think I managed to read about 20 entries, missing the winner's entry naturally. However, if you want to read quality and see what good writing is all about, I suggest you check out the winner - Jimmy Crick by Elisha Bridges (pen name). I was floored when I read it!

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Americans and Canadians - Similarities and Differences

Hubby and I finally came home last night after four days in the US.

I must say this was one of the most tiring vacations we've had, and what's worse is that I also managed to hurt my hip somehow am now limping a bit, feeling a hundred-years-old. Oh, and this morning we found the garbage on the floor of the entry porch full of worms crawling all over, giving life to the garbage bags.

So tired and disgusted, I did nothing today. I'm really good at that, btw. And if anyone has a problem, I actually give out courses on doing nothing for $50 an hour, and that's the group rate!

So what did I find on my trip?
  • I found that while we speak the same language, we don't necessarily mean the same thing and that teenagers working in malls will always correct me when I ask about washrooms (I really do know it's bathrooms in the US, yet keep forgetting).
  • Similarly, when I order a sandwich, or any meal for that matter, I generally expect it to be of certain size, which is almost always double in the US.
  • I also noticed that smaller town folk are much nicer and more patient than big-city people, and that this is true in both Canada and the US.
  • I found that border crossing wait times are always much much much longer when crossing into the US than back into Canada despite fewer questions asked.
  • I found that miles are f*^%ing long.
  • Hotels are cheaper in the US.
  • US cable news network are really scary making Canadian news sound warm and fuzzy.
  • Businesses actually honour coupons in the US and don't start explaining why they can't accept this coupon or that.
  • For ordering tea, the default in the US is for iced tea, in Canada it's for tea - hot.
  • Pop in Canada = soda in the US = a soft-drink.
  • Americans display their Stars and Stripes flags all over (cars, houses, businesses), maybe more so because it was near 4th of July. Canadians, on the other hand, hardly ever display their Maple Leaf and this year even for Canada Day most flags were of other countries because of the world cup.
  • Our independence days are only four days apart.

So for all these similarities and for all these differences, a belated Happy Canada Day and Happy July 4th to us all.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada Day in the US of A

Hubby and me are somewhere in the Finger Lakes, upstate New York.
We're having a great time, except we're doing a bit too much driving to my liking. Hubby doesn't feel like he's on a real holiday unless we drive some 200km a day.

Anyway, today there were amazing fireworks here (early 4th of July fireworks I guess), but it made us feel very welcome - fireworks in the US for Canada Day - just for us!

[[Side-note - I'm always amazed when I'm in the US how much more friendly and outgoing people are, and how service is not a chore to them, especially that.]]

So I have a question regarding tipping.
In Canada (as far as I know) we usually tip 15%. 20% or more if the service is exceptional, and 10% if the service sucks. I never tip less than 10%. Yet I always get the impression that Americans tip more. Is that true? Any American tipping rules I should be aware of?