Today I let Arlan and David take me to the Zoo in Haifa. I'd never gotten around to Haifa before, and I was duly impressed with how pretty some areas of the city are. The gardens of the Bahai temple are the centerpiece of this beauty, and I look forward to taking a tour there with Dad in a couple weeks. I also noticed a museum of Japanese art that I hope will tempt Mom. The zoo itself a pretty standard animals-in-cages sort of affair, but well-executed in a lovely valley full of shady trees. As people who raise snakes, David and Arlan were most interested in the snakes and, to a lesser extent, other reptiles. The reptile house didn't disappoint, and especially featured snakes that are native to Israel, as well as turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, iguanas, lizards, a monitor, a skink, and so on. The grounds had peacocks roaming free and various farm animals in wooden pens, including a friendly billy goat with his two nannies. The tiger was magnificent, but she seemed a little thin and paced quite restlessly around her pen, which seemed a couple sizes too small for her. The leopards seemed a little more serene. I especially enjoyed the nocturnal animal exhibits. There was a pair of barn owls that sat up on a ledge almost as still as statues, peering down at us like gargoyles. The eagle owls were of grand proportions and had gorgeous eyes and ferocious talons. The bat display gave me the most effective show of the little beasties that I'd ever seen. It was illuminated with a red light that seems to be invisible to bats, so they were active and happily showed off their aerial acrobatics. Speaking of acrobatics, the striped lemurs danced so expertly among the trees that they seemed to be giving a performance. There was a monkey cage directly adjacent to a cage full of colorful roosters, and that struck me as an odd juxtaposition. It was a fun afternoon, and we topped it off with a trip to a fancy bead store to fuel David's latest cottage industry of producing necklaces and earrings.
This diary is a chronicle of my daily life. I don't really add to it anymore, but it remains here for historical purposes.
I was a little worried about going into a three-day holiday weekend for this year's Rosh Hashanna. We don't get too many of those in Israel. There are a lot of meals to plan and keep track of. But it worked out quite nicely. I spent a couple meals at other families' houses, hosted a meal at my house, had a couple meals alone to relax and decompress, and rounded it all out by attending a community pot-luck for residents in the Artists' Quarter. All this added up to letting me touch base with a whole lot of friends and acquaintances, some of whom I hadn't seen in a while. Elana Schachter lent me a sci-fi anthology and a couple comic-strip compilations of "Barnaby", about a little boy and his cigar-smoking fairy godfather. I promptly consumed the science fiction stories well before Shabbos ended, and now I'm ready to return them all. May y'all have a sweet and happy coming year.
Today I joined with Seth and Rachel and Jackie to greet Paul and Carol Siegel and Paul's mother Muriel at the airport as they arrived to make aliyah. Nefesh B'Nefesh put on a whole ceremony for the new olim. Rachel and Jackie held up signs for them to see as they got off the plane. It was the first time I had been to one of these things. It must be nice to come into the country with so much cheering and enthusiasm. Right now, the Siegels should be settling into their lovely new apartment in Rechavia and are lucky enough to be starting their new life here with a friend's wedding tonight. I wish them all the best.
At 4am this past Wednesday, Rebecca gave birth to a healthy little boy! Woo!
It looks like this apartment comes with a flatmate. I've got a lovely little yellow-striped jumping spider crawling the walls here, and I've been seeing it quite frequently over the past few days. It's only thumbnail sized, so all of you that were terrified of the palm-sized hairy brown beast that made cameo appearances in my last place can relax. It appears to be unable to spin webs and rather roams around to proactively hunt its food. I wish it great success because I don't have any screens on the windows to keep out unwanted insects. I'll be taking suggestions for a name for this new buddy. Gender-neutral names are preferred since I've practically no way of sexing the creature.