Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mathematical Comic Relief

This one I actually thought was ingenious:

And if anyone has to ask me what's so funny about these... ummm... don't! :)


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Apologies and contests

I'm having a really difficult time getting back into the groove.
It's not like I'm not doing anything. I've lowered the new links in my bloglines feed from over 7,000 to ~2,500. I've trimmed the vine and hacked a path in the backyard. I've cooked!

And yet, ze blog suffers. There are a few reasons. One - I don't write. Still. Two - what used to be my anonymous personal space where I could rant about my writing woes is no longer that. Three - up until two days ago I just kept sleeping. Four - I'm a bit apathetic to stuff in general.

And yet, in my few excursions around the blogosphere (I'm trying to get to everyone as far as I can), I already found out about three fun contests: So this is it for now. Hope to get back in the saddle soon.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

From Reality to Fiction (back to regular writing posts)

Many of you, my writer friends that is, mentioned it would be interesting to see how my latest experience would affect my writing.

I was thinking a lot about it and I guess that even out-of-the-ordinary events (such as living in a war-zone) don't automatically turn into stories, just like "normal" or regular life doesn't.

I guess that what I mean is something we so often mention about plots - there needs to be more than a story. Beginning, middle and end, characters, action, climax and all the rest of the good stuff that makes turns a story into a plot.

For me, when I think of my experience, it seems dry. There was no hot romance, no spectacular bravery acts. Just simple people continuing their simple lives. While each person may indeed be brave, the plodding along is actually boring.

It's been over a week now that I'm thinking about it. A good sign of returning to normal and regular life. But I'm still not completely back in the groove yet. And I'm still not sure where I'm going with this post except to say that if you ever tried to write about how you fell in-love with your spouse, then you probably understand what I mean. There's a need for more than just telling the accounts of events. Maybe that's why autobiographies have their own categories?

Did any of this make any sense?

Good to back talking about this kind of stuff. Thank you all :)

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Last 'War Post', I Hope - Ever

As the war ended and the ceasefire held, I was going to have a few posts:

One about my trip to Nahariya, where I'd just meant to go to the beach, but ended up seeing, without even wanting to, just like that on my way to the beach, eight sites where rockets exploded. A sudden devastation amidst what seems like a normal city. Charred ground, burnt trees, crashed fences, crushed walls, wholes, dust. I couldn't even bring myself to take pictures. It felt like invading a privacy, like taking a picture of someone dead...

And I wanted to tally up the war for all those who like numbers and tell you how out of the 3,970 known rockets and missiles that fell in northern Israel (many others were never found and therefore not accounted fo), about a quarter fell on Kiryat Shmona. About 125-150 fell within a five miles radius from my parents' place. 750,000 trees were burnt, thousands of buildings are damaged, about a 150 people died, ten times as much are wounded, and an x amount of limbs are lost.

I wanted to tell you about the nice things - the good people who volunteered to feed abandoned pets, put out fires, supply food to shelters. The good people who opened their homes to families from the north, or the ones who donated money.
I wanted to tell you about the bad things too...

But ever since the ceasefire I try to just have fun, trying hard to ignore everything else. I've stopped watching the news, stopped reading, listening or anything that remotely reminds me of news. Right now I choose to put my head in the sand and ignore the voices. Because right now every bit of news that does manage to filter through and reach me is bad - from N.Korea trying out nukes to crazy terrorist plots to culture wars and to the imminent world war III. I feel like the ground under my feet can, at any moment, disappear. It isn't a post traumatic thing, it's simply the way things are.

I've never been a pessimist, and I'm still not. I'm going to fight this. I'm going to continue to reach out to people on the basis of peace and understanding. On the basis that most of us want the same thing out of life.

So that's all folks. I'm wrapping up my own little war blog but hope to still see the new visitors around occasionally.
I do, however, hope to never do this again.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Day of ceasefire - semi normalcy

Early in the morning we had the last siren before the ceasefire and then it took effect.

Homefront Command issued new guidelines for my area, allowing us to leave the house but recommending to stay near them. Still no gatherings are allowed.

I took advantage of today to go shopping with dad, then for a few visits and then a walk with mom. Everybody's still pretty jumpy and I imagined on at least twenty different occasions hearing the beginning of a warning siren; each time my stomach clenched.

The atmosphere is still pretty tense and not many people are outside. Not many cars either. I don't know if that's because half the residents are away or because most are still afraid to leave their homes.

I was supposed to return to Canada today. I've delayed the flight so that I could spend some normal time with my family, not just wacky, nutty days. Still, I might go Katyusha touring tomorrow. See some of the sites. Today I "only" saw a road crater. There's normal for you!

(And if I don't seem overly happy about my often wished ceasefire, it's because I'm too mad at our "leaders" and too distraught by the pessimistic voices "promising" another war in six months to two years from now. How can we prevent that?)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Day before the ceasefire

As expected, rockets, Katyusha and missile firing is heavy today.
I've been to the bomb shelter countless times by now and I also lost count of the number of explosions. There are wounded (seriously hurt) in and around my area. More casualties (fatal) in other northern parts.

Will it really be over in 14 hours?

And then what?

Since I think it's quite obvious what I think of Hezbollah and the useless, cry-babies Lebanese leaders, let me also tell you what I think of Israeli leaders (and by far I'm not the only one who thinks so): an impotent, indecisive, good-for-nothing bunch!

(In fact, I've said far worse things, but let's just leave it at that).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why I'm Here

Many people have asked me, and still do, why I left Canada and came to Israel at this time. Many people also asked me why my family (and I with them) chooses to stay in the dangerous and bombed north. I'm going to try to explain even though some of it might not be completely rational.

The first part of the question is easier. Anyone living away from their immediate family can understand that. Few things are more important than being with your family in times of crisis. To give and gain support and comfort for and from the ones you love most. I don't think I need to give examples, it's probably self explanatory.

The second part is a bit trickier. Why we choose to stay.

Try and imagine this: The country you live in is under attack. The city you live in is being bombed.
You have a choice - give up and leave the home you know and love, or stay and fight for your one and only home. You have no other after all. You can't just go to another country, and if you do, you'd be a refugee. You can't take all your family with you either as some cannot leave because of things not under their control. Would you leave family members behind? Would you leave your home?

And then there are the soldiers. They fight. For you. They give their lives daily. For you. They don't have to. They can choose not to (might spend a month in jail, but that's it). But they go in and fight. The least you can do is support them by being strong. They need that.

Am I making any sense?

While I personally may have another home, my family doesn't. I guess the way most people here look at it - if you don't fight for your home, no one will.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


My aunt and I started the beautiful drive further north for a consolation visit. We put on Radio Haifa to hear the sirens, and were soon in the scenic Galilee.

The village is located hill top, with amazing valleys and mountains all around. The view was peaceful. Rather, it should have been.

Family and friends sat together outside the house, on the lawn. White plastic chairs. The kind used around a backyard table.

I couldn't bear look at the parents. I sat on one of the chairs, looked at the grass instead, and listened. Artillery booms. Someone crying. A chopper. A sob. People hugging. The siren begins.

I looked up for a moment. No one moved. I continued to sit outside, on the lawn, fighting not-fighting the urge to go to the nearby bomb shelter. Katyusha exploding. One, two, three. (I don't know yet, but a young mother and her five year old die in that barrage). A weep. More artillery. The siren winds down. People grieving. Artillery.

The jumble of sounds, the beauty of the place, the people, the pain. The pain. The pain. All so surreal.

We drove home and stopped at a red light just when the welcoming siren hit us. What to do? Leave the car? Luckily the light turned green so we drove to the side of the road and ran hunched to seek shelter under the nearest building.

Half a day in northern Israel.

And so it happened...

I'm back north, already "visited" the bomb shelter today and now about to take a road to another northern village to console a family whose son was killed yesterday.

It's a dangerous trip to take these days and I'm not taking it light heartedly.

But the reason is even worse. An awful feeling. It takes all I've got to stop the tears right now. The sadness overcomes the fear.

I will post more when I return.

Thank you all for your constant and relentless support. Who are we and what are we to demand such a thing as a peaceful life?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Can't think clearly

I actually prepared a comic relief post but just as I was about to post it, the news that 15 Israeli soldiers died today came out.

Rumors have been flying all day long, but I wished it not true. It didn't wish hard enough. I'm going to bed now with a heavy heart.

So instead, here are pictures a friend sent me from the rocket that fell in the beginning of the week near my parents' place, the barrage that made me need a breather.

By some bizarre crazy lucky coincidence, the rocket exploded in the ground, not when it hit the ground.

Anyways, going back north tomorrow. Will post more then, when I have nothing else to do except becoming a sitting duck again...

Gosh, I wish this to stop. I miss my husband and I want to feel normal again.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rockets and missiles attacks on me

I tried to explain in the previous two posts how difficult Saturday and Sunday were for me. And since I'm only human I was mad as hell.

I was trying to keep my emotional responses in check because this is exactly the time when I must control them rather than succumbing to some kneejerk reaction. So I took a step back, a deep breath, and tried to think clearly before posting. As clear as I could see with the smoke stacks around me (the ones caused by the rockets of course).

I know you can feel the anger from my words. And I'm angry at so many things. But mostly I'm angry at the so many dead this war has claimed and keeps claiming.

Since Thursday, Hezbollah increased rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities to over 200 (about 200-250) a day (!), killing many each day. To the joy of many around the world, I must add.

In any event, since I'm still trying to exercise control (is it working?), I'll just bring you videos of a few attacks. Of course, it's nothing compared to the damage in Nahariya and other northern cities and towns. Parts of Kiryat Shmona, for example, have been nearly leveled.

With over 200 rockets a day (and over 3,000 fired on northern Israel towns since the beginning of the war), these videos are just a sampler:

It may seem to those watching the videos and not knowing much about Israel and Israeli culture that people seem indifferent (as opposed to screaming and whining). Well, they're not. They just react to it in a different way than perhaps others would due to years of living under constant threats.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I'm not even sure what to say

Too many close calls the past two days. I fear the shelling will only get worse as these might be days before a looming ceasefire.

Oddly enough, yesterday and today, hearing the sirens and the blasts and the crashes and the direct hits just around the corner from me, made me calmer. It's the in-between periods that get to me and make me all stressed out. With the waiting. Always expecting the next one. Always hearing the sirens and explosions in your head.

I went south to stay with a cousin. I have several reasons other than being really scared. When I arrived and heard of two more strikes on my hometown after I had left, I finally cracked and cried. For the first time since I arrived to Israel almost three weeks ago. It's difficult to be away from my family during these times.

All my family is still there.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Tough Day

I wasn't going to post today. I've had a really rough day.

This is where I spent a good part of the day - my sister's bomb shelter.

I have more picture but I can't bring myself to post them yet.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Let's play a game

    On the second or third day of the war, Nasrallah called Olmert and said, "Let's play a game."

    Olmert licked his combover and said, "what game?"

    Smiling to himself, Nasrallah brushed his beard. "Let's play - who has the biggest "juevos"."

    "Ha!" Olmert couldn't control his excitement. "You're on!"

Okay, okay everybody. Don't jump down my throat at the same time. Of course I'm not comparing a democratically elected leader to... well... I'm not even sure. And yes, yes, Hezbollah started it and Israel is right. Whatever that means. Like I care about this now.

But my point is this. Since the first few days where Hezbollah proved they're not a force to be trifled with and Israel proved, regained some of its deterrence, this war was all about that game. There was no point to the war after that. None!

Now Olmert and Peretz decided to continue with useless, pointless aerial strikes. More Lebanese are dead.
Hezbollah continues with its daily rocket barrage on Israel. More Israelis are dead.
(I'm not bringing the "numbers", you already figured I hate algebra in this context from my previous post, and besides, news sites report this.)

Israel said they would stop if Hezbollah returns the kidnapped soldiers. Why didn't Hezbollah do that?
Hezbollah said they would stop rocket firing on Israel if Israel stops aerial attacks. Why wouldn't Israel stop then?
I guess the game is still on. I guess the people are just pawns. Sacrificed easily.

I asked my brother-in-law today how long can men play this type of game.
"Men?" he said with utter disgust. "There's not a man among them."

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sometimes I Hate Being Right

As expected, yesterday was a difficult day. Over 200 rockets were fired on northern Israel (210-230 according to different counts - it's difficult to know for sure as some land in open areas). One person died, one in critical condition and over a 100 people were wounded. There was massive damage to houses, buildings and commercial areas. And more fires.

My cousin, two years younger than me and a father of two, was drafted for reserves. Another cousin who volunteered for relief in shelters in Tzfat (Safed) had a close encounter. A rocket fell 20 metres (yards) from her. Luckily, she's fine, "only" with anxiety attack. I think they had time to dodge. It's crazy.

We get more and more information of how Hezbollah is firing the rockets from inside houses and villages, pictures from the IDF and Lebanese bloggers are only some of those claiming it (and by the way, a leaflet from the IDF saying 'leave or die' is really just marginally better IMHO).

So I'm thinking, depressed, there is no way to beat this kind of fighting which is what most world leaders seem to want (even if they say something else, their actions, or lack there of, speak volumes). They want Israel to beat Hezbolla for them, but at what cost? Israelis and Lebanese are the ones paying the price daily.

Besides, do I want to be responsible for killing a man's baby even if the man is of Hezbolla? Even if he just used the rocket launcher near his baby's crib to fire Katyusha rockets on me?

How do we handle that? Do I want another Qana? Are human life algebra? Do I want another rocket launched on me? How much is one Israeli life worth? How much is my life worth? How much are the 100 Iraqi civilians dead a day worth? How much is one American soldier worth? Or an Arab-Israeli child? A Lebanese grandma? A Palestinian baby? A Palestinian suicide-bomber? A French girl? An African family?

How much would you pay to continue living in the comfort you're used to? $10,000?
How much would you pay to continue living? One person's life?
How much would you pay for your kids to continue living? One person's kids?

Sorry, I'm a bit depressed because I had high hopes from the security council yesterday. I was really hoping they would call for a ceasefire. Then I heard they're not planning to convene again before Monday or Tuesday. To what end I ask?

Sirens, explosions, booms... You know my routine by now... Shaking hands, racing heart, sick to my stomach... Five dead just from today's latest round (not confirmed)...

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not so quiet anymore

In the previous post I mentioned that I was concerned about the end of the ceasefire and about today. I lied. I wasn't concerned, I was really really scared. But you may have been able to read it between the lines.

I don't know what it was that made me so scared, perhaps the heavy chopper traffic, but I just felt it. In fact, when I talked to hubby on the phone last night, I asked him if he thought I was going to die today. It just slipped out. Realizing how melodramatic I sounded and how worried I must have made him, I quickly laughed it off.

Hubby didn't miss a beat. He reminded me of his advice that if I see a rocket coming my way, I should skip lightly to the side, like in cartoons. We continued to joke about the matter, each trying to console the other despite the 6000 miles that separate us. At the end of conversation, though, the 'love you's and 'miss you's were not said in their usual offhanded way, but with much intent as we both wanted to make sure the other knew how much we meant it. Like a little goodbye perhaps?

I went to bed around 2 a.m., woke up at 3:30, got up and watched some news around 4 a.m. Mom came to watch the news with me. She couldn't sleep either. Then dad. We went back to bed around 4:30 and slept for another 2-3 hours and woke up much better.

I was watching a stupid movie this morning when I heard three distant booms. No siren. I said nothing. Then the siren came. We went downstairs. Four more booms after the siren. Back upstairs. Here we go again.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bracing for tomorrow

In an hour and half the cease fire will be over.

I cannot help but wonder what tomorrow holds for us, or even tonight. We moved a sofabed into the living room and all three of us now sleep in the living room together (there's another couch there), as it's the inner most room in the apartment. For whatever good that would do.

I'm expecting a difficult day tomorrow as I'm sure Hezbollah will hit us hard, compensating for the two days cease fire. We can actually almost feel the tension in the air. I can't explain it. It's like we know.

There have been heavy ground fighting in Lebanon today and three soldiers are dead.

There have also been heavy chopper traffic this evening (still) and I think I know what it means, only I don't want to speculate needlessly here. People are on edge as it is.

I saw the fleeing Lebanese on the news today and these were difficult pictures to see. I still haven't cried despite everything I've been through and the difficult reports from Lebanon. I can't afford to. I already stress people out too much with my over rationale at times. But that's how I deal with it. So no one needs to see me cry, that's for sure.

I doubt, for example, that my sister will ever come visit my parents again as I mentioned that I think that any place we choose to hide from the rockets is doomed and I listed the reasons: Under the stairs - too close to some gas tanks and too open. At home - too northern. In the stair way - too open and too northern. Options? To leave again. And I'm all for that if my family joins me. Not going to happen.
And if you read this, sis, I'm sorry.

Why can't anyone stop this madness already?

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Land makes us fight, Land brings us together

One of the great damage all the Katyusha rockets fired towards Israel (nearly 2,000 that were found, estimated 3,000 fell) have caused is fires. When the rockets fall in residential areas, fires are dealt with quickly, even under further rocket fire.

However, when rockets fall in "open spaces," it takes longer to get there. Many of the rockets that fell in the so called open spaces, fell in nature reserves in the Galilee and caused great fires that destroyed acres upon acres of forest and wood that's been growing for years (as well as killed wild animal life of course).

And it was precisely in these nature reserves, because of the fires, that we saw the strongest bond between people. In an effort to stop the fires and save some of the plant and animal life, Israelis of all faiths joined hands. Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze, Cherques (sp?), etc. all volunteered to help and try save this little piece of land we all share.

Many call Israel a cursed land because of all the wars. Some spiritualists claim it's a spiritual nexus, whatever that means. I don't know. I don't care. I just see that love of land can drive people apart and can bring people together. And since love is always better than hate, let's hope that we'll see love of humans next, not just of land.

(Sorry to be so sentimental)

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