Monday, 18 May 2020

Week 9 - May 11-16, 2020

Once again, I'm a day late. Things are getting more and more normal, as seen by the fact that this past weekend, despite the beginning of what is predicted to be a record-breaking heatwave, we went on not one, but two family picnics. On Friday we met up with ADC's siblings near Latrun, and I was finally able to give Z and S their birthday presents. Z was very pleased with his Juventus scarf, but quickly took it off and back in its bag. G, however, being only 4, refused to remove his "Dragon Legs" in the 35-degree heat until getting home and having a bath! As a result, his sister R has also requested "Dragon Arms". Maybe I can get away with another birthday present? This will give me until November to do them - I really didn't enjoy knitting the spikes.

On Saturday, we met my family in Eshtaol Forest, considerably higher up in the Judean hills, but also at midday rather than late afternoon. Temperatures hit 41 degrees there, and my parents arrived nearly an hour late, despite being sent the precise location once we had reached it. In the end J went to fetch them ... apart from that, it was great to see everybody again. We didn't hug or kiss (either time), but we did not really social distance either, apart from no one getting right up next to my parents. They are the only really vulnerable ones, and being outside was certainly the right choice: despite the heat, it was pleasant enough in the shade and our gazpacho was a great hit.

Going back to the beginning of the week, on Sunday I was depressed and spent the day reading fanfic. At the time I thought this was possibly due to watching La Haine on Saturday night, but yesterday I realised it was more likely to have been a spot of PMS. La Haine was S's choice, although it was a movie he knew nothing about, and it was excellent. One of the interesting things about it was the taken-for-granted friendship between a Muslim and a Jewish character, and the complete lack of radical Islam. Such a movie about life in the banlieux of Paris made today would have had to include a religious Muslim,

On Monday I bounced back, and began translating the last chapter of RE's book, all about expressions of affluence in the late Roman Republic. I couldn't face translating 27 pages, and tried a new method of editing Google Translate: instead of translating each sentence myself, I fed each paragraph into Google Translate, and edited the result. I've done this before when translating from Arabic to English, and it felt a bit like cheating when translating from Hebrew, but it did speed up the process a bit. As RE wants to get the book off to the press asap, I felt it was justified.

Tuesday marked Lag Ba-Omer, the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, the 49-day period between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentecost; hence the name). This is traditionally Israel's Bonfire Night, despite being in the middle of heatwave → wildfire season. This year, of course, all such gatherings were banned but, equally of course, this was ignored by many ultra-Orthodox communities and the media was full of pictures of gatherings of over 20 people, none of them wearing masks. Ironically, one of the legends explaining why Lag Ba-Omer is a day of rejoicing in a period of mourning (it's a favourite date for weddings, as it's the only day observant Jews can get married in the spring) claims that on this day a plague that was killing many students of the the great 2nd-century CE rabbi, R. Akiva, stopped. We'll see if this works for COVID-19, but I am predicting a spike in cases in ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods in two weeks' time.

Meanwhile, Wednesday was our first visit to Mahaneh Yehudah. Next week the market  will be open on Friday again, so we will really be able to resume our usual routine. Most of the places we usually go to were open, including the Iraqi Market, which has only stalls, and not proper shops - it had sounded like stalls would not be allowed to open. This is the best time of year for peaches and nectarines and we brought home two kinds of each, plus apricots. The fridge was very happy.

On Thursday the heatwave began. It was M's birthday, so we met her at the local ice cream parlour, Mousseline, and treated her to a cone. You had to go in individually (wearing a mask) and choose the flavours, and then the vendor would go into the back and prepare your cone or cup.  Very interesting - especially as as soon as we were outside, we then all pulled down our masks in order to eat the ice cream. There is definitely a theatrical element to this (especially if you wear a cloth mask coordinating with your top, as M  and I were doing. ADC has just one cloth mask at the moment, the least feminine of the 5 I bought last week). Continuing the "heat" theme, when we got home we watched In the Heat of the Night, still an excellent movie and deservedly a classic.

On Friday we finished our movie-watching week with another recommendation of S's, First Reformed, an eco-thriller featuring a priest who has lost his faith, played by Ethan Hawke. I'm too tired to properly do it justice now, but I'd never heard of this movie, and it was very good.

I hope everyone's life is beginning to go back to some kind of normal. On Thursday afternoon it was announced that grades 4-10 (i.e., including S) were to go back to school from Sunday. On Saturday night the headmaster of his school had a very reassuring Zoom meeting with parents (over 100 participants, meaning over half the parents of his grade) about the coming week. From Tuesday, all six grades at the school, 7-12, will go back to the pre-Corona timetable, but wearing masks and neither food nor water coolers available to them. I feel very sorry for them all in this heatwave, but S is looking forward to seeing his friends again and that's the main thing.

Stay safe, healthy and serene!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Week 8 - May 4-10, 2020

If I'm writing this late, it means that things are going back to a semblance of normality, right? Quite honestly, here in Israel this is in fact the case - on Monday, my cleaner returned. ADC was on campus, and S and I kept out of his way - he was wearing a mask all the time, which he did even before, due to his preference for non-eco cleaning materials - and we stayed at least 2 m away. He came on a different day from his usual, at last minute notice, because on Sunday morning A announced that he was being allowed home for a brief break before the boarding school reopened - so he would be home from whenever ADC could pick him up on Monday until Friday. I really wanted A to come home to a clean room, so the cleaner very kindly agreed to change his day.

Amazingly, my paranoid mother went on a day trip to the Sea of Galilee with my father. We have had a very long and wet winter (including a few unseasonable showers in late April and even now in May). After several years of drought, for the second year running  we have had more than average rainfall, and the pictures my parents sent showed them wearing masks on a backdrop of drowned treetops. We are hoping that our planned ADC's family get-together on the Sea of Galilee in three weeks time will indeed take place - although I have a feeling that curfews will be in place for all public holidays for some time.

A was home, as I said, for most of the week. I did a lot of laundry, he caught up on sleep, and we had a good time just all of us hanging out. We made all his favourite foods, some of which were enabled by the fact that on Thursday I had no less than three food deliveries - one from the supermarket (mainly staples, not fruit and veg), one from our greengrocer in the market (arrived slightly warm, but with minimal packing) and one from an organic direct seller (arrived in lots of un-recyclable black polystyrene trays and clingfilm. Not going to order from them again - in any case, the market has reopened since then). It was so great to eat good peaches and nectarines at a reasonable price for the first time! It feels like winter has been especially long this year, due to the lockdown.

This week was very productive and interesting work wise. I heard two seminars, one on Tuesday with the group, with a public health specialist-cum-historian of medicine, who is involved in formulating Israel's response to COVID-19, and one on Wednesday, at the National Library, about the catalogue of the Avraham Shalom Yahuda collection, that I was involved in translating some years ago. Also, I finally got hold of my co-editor on the Mamilla project, and we had a three-hour long phone meeting. He's disappeared again since then, but at least we did talk, and go over one chapter ...

Friday was a weird day: on the one hand, I finally had a haircut. Both the hairdresser and I wore masks, he applied alcogel between every stage, and sanitised the chairs between customers. On the other hand, on my way back I went to the neighbourhood seamstress and bought five cloth masks. Yes, in theory I could make my own, but I don't really have time for it, and I'd rather get it done by a professional - who probably needs the money more than I do. I've worn one so far, and it is actually quite a bit more comfortable than the disposable surgical masks. ADC bought another lot when A took the last of the ones we'd received right at the beginning of concerns from my father, and they are not as good, according to him.

On Saturday we went down to Omer to visit E. It was the first time we'd seen her in the flesh over two months, and it was very nice to sit outside under the pergola and admire the lilies and ice flowers - to say nothing of the newly painted bedrooms. She is moving into M and D's bedroom now, with an en suite. While A was there over Pesach, they started unpacking some of the boxes she brought back from the US around a decade ago. She found some really nice stuff of hers, and gave me some more unwanted sheets and table cloths to make clothes from.

We also spent part of the weekend watching the National Theatre At Home production of Antony and Cleopatra on YouTube. S was keen to watch it because of Ralph Fiennes, and quite enjoyed it. However, he wondered why Shakespeare is so often done in modern dress (as in the other National Theatre At Home production we saw, King Lear with Ian McKellen at the Jerusalem Cinematheque) rather than in the clothes of Shakespeare's day.

Speaking of S, on Sunday morning we received his report for the second term (not including the lockdown period, which for him is still very much ongoing. It remains unclear when 10th-graders will return to school). He is doing very well, including in his new main subject of literature (to which he transferred from biology), although "could do better if he spent less time talking to his friends" was a repeated motif throughout. That's really what he's missing the most - talking to his friends, to the extent that he has joined Fortnite in order to talk to them. On Sunday evening, we had a parent-teacher meeting via Zoom. We sat in our usual constellation of ADC and me on either side of S, on the couch in front of the desktop, and his class teacher was amused at how protective we looked. AR, the teacher, is a very nice guy, although he seems absurdly young at times - turns out that he is a friend of one of ADC's graduate students! He mainly asked about how S was coping, and asked him to be more present (i.e., with video on) at the class meetings. These are usually first thing in the morning, and S is not a morning person. I wake him up several times - when I get up, after I exercise, after I shower - and I'm not surprised to hear that he is not very responsive during the first class of the day! I wish he would get out and see his friends, but he is still resistant to that. We've been sending him on errands instead - going to pick up parcels from the post office, taking down trash and so on.

That's it for this week. Stay safe, healthy and serene!

Monday, 4 May 2020

Week 7 - April 27 - May 3, 2020

This week went by really fast! This was partly because there was a "weekend" in the middle, as Tuesday and Wednesday were Memorial Day and Independence Day here in Israel respectively. This meant a low-key flypast above various hospitals (we saw the four training planes go by from our balcony, but the actual aerobatics, and drawing a heart over the local hospital with the jet streams was in a blind spot) and lot of Israeli movies - Waltz with Bashir (about the 1982 Lebanon War) on Tuesday night, The Unofficial Ones (הבלתי רשמיים - a fictionalised retelling of the founding of Shas, the political party of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Jews) on Wednesday night and Aviya's Summer (הקיץ של אביה - a classic from the 80s, about a little girl in 1950s Israel who comes home from school for the summer, while her Holocaust-survivor mother is between nervous breakdowns. It is based on the autobiography of the actress who plays the mother, Gila Almagor, who is mostly seen these days advertising very upmarket old age homes. It was odd to see her as she was 30 years ago).  S watched the first and last movies with us (he skipped the second to work on a home exam in history) and found them both interesting. Each movie sparked a discussion about its subject - the Lebanon War seems so long ago now. Operation Peace for Galilee started the summer after we came to Israel, and I remember coming back from our first family trip to the Kinneret, and noticing the tank carriers rolling north, but not understanding the significance at all. What a mess it was, truly Israel's Vietnam, and in retrospect the beginning of the loss of faith of ordinary people that the "high ups" meant well, even if things didn't always work out.

Knitting continues apace - I've completed one and three-quarters of the dragon leggings for G - the leggings were done last week, and I've done 6 out of 8 spikes. Extremely fiddly work, those spikes - each one takes half an hour and I can't do anything else while working on them, as they require extreme concentration. But they'll be done by Friday, G's 4th birthday (definitely the reason for 4 spike, why do you ask?).  LR's top is going well, I've finished a sleeve and started the second one. The body will probably only be completed after we're allowed to meet again, as she'll need to try it on to decide on the length.

The continuing adventures of getting vegetables: we are having a very hard time with the price and quality of fruit and vegetables available in our neighbourhood. We ordered a box direct from growers,  but the choice was either organic or extra kosher certification - so the prices were still quite high and the selection was limited, as its a single farm (although the quality was good). That was on Monday. On Tuesday ADC decided that he wanted to check whether shops along Jaffa Road in the market area had reopened. He triumphantly bought a variety of spices, herbs and loose teas - and discovered that one of the greengrocers whose regulars we are was open, too, despite being in the market proper. He came home with extra loquats and somewhat squishy peaches, all he could carry by bike - and KH's brother came round later with a wreath of green garlic. This made us very happy. By then we had also heard about a company that sells directly to consumers from the wholesalers who normally sell to the market stalls. We took a look at the website and were impressed. We ordered on Wednesday and got a large quantity of fruit and vegetables on Thursday, including our first broccolis and cauliflowers in a month. Much rejoicing here!

Staying with the food theme, on Thursday S's class made Death by Chocolate cookies. They came out very well, considering his lack of experience, and on Friday I met M in the line for the supermarket and gave her 2. We actually saw her again on the weekend, all of us, as we went to the far recycling, that includes cans, and we have to go by her house for that. S came with on the walk, to return comics. On our way, most people were wearing masks, but one elderly woman was sitting in her yard with the mask around her chin, and two younger people (adult grandchildren?) were sitting with her without any masks at all. On our way back we saw them get into a car and rive off, so they probably don't live with her. This kind of thing makes me worry about a second wave ...

Fittingly for the times, the movies on the weekend were The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeouisie, which is officially surreal, and the 1966 Batman movie with Adam West.

That's it for this week. Stay safe, healthy and serene!

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Week 6 - April 20-26, 2020

This week has gone really fast. Part of this was because things actually happened: after three elections in a year a government has finally been formed. A really terrible government, which according to the coalition agreement will allow Netanyahu to basically do as he pleases, despite being  accused of corruption, fraud and breach of trust, with a date already set for his trial to start (postponed due to Corona, but probably will begin on the new time). This was announced just before the beginning of Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day, where Bibi had the colossal nerve to compare the Shoah to the Covid-19 pandemic and say "this time we spotted the danger in time." As if no one had seen the danger of Nazism even before the Final Solution was put into motion, as if had he been around then, history would have been different. This cheapening of the memory of the six million disgusts me.

To say nothing of having a lot of my vote in the last elections stolen - 2 of the 3 parties that ran together on the Meretz ticket have broken away and joined the coalition. I have nothing really to say about Orly Levy-Abekasis, the daughter of a former very senior Likud MK and minister, who was never really happy to be forced into running with Meretz (nor was I very happy to vote for her), but I am hugely disappointed in Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmoli, who represent the tattered remnants of the historical Labour party that established the state. It's very depressing, especially given that today's paper said that the latter two have agreed to accept annexation of the Occupied Territories (the so-called "deal of the century") within the framework of the coalition agreement. What a disaster awaits us, to say nothing of the economic crisis that will be exacerbated by 36 ministers, each with their own staff and bureaux. My parents are probably wondering if they should not have just stayed in South Africa.

On to happier things: on Wednesday, I apparently walked over 7 km going to my annual gynaecologist check-up. The doctor's office is in an office tower at the Jerusalem mall, and I decided, rather than driving there and being turned around by the changes caused by the continuing roadworks (about the only thing still going on, at least they took advantage of most people being at home), to take the bus. Wednesday was the first day of new relaxations in the restrictions, and almost all bus lines were back running. Not many people took the bus, and it was one of the few places where everyone was wearing masks properly - except for the driver, but he's not facing the passengers and no one can come near him, anyway. I got lost in the mall parking lot both coming and going, but managed to get to the doctor on time. The secretary is getting a lot of exercise getting up and calling people in - there are several doctors with rooms in that complex, and now everyone has to sit 2 m apart (and sign a declaration saying they've not been ill for the past 14 days), so she can't just call to a name, she has to get up and stand in the middle of the room. Everything went smoothly otherwise, although stopping at the neighbourhood grocery store on the way home was quite scary: so many people with a mask just slung under their chin, not covering their mouth and nose, even when actually talking to other people. I among convinced that in a fortnight we will all be back inside, with severe restrictions once again, because there will be a second wave.

Work has been going really well this week. Lots of advances in the Mamilla project, and I've just received what is hopefully the final version of the Alexandria book to go through. AND a couple of articles I edited have been paid for on the spot. On Friday afternoon, there was an international Zoominar for scholars of the Mongol Empire and Mamluk Sultanate, and it was really great seeing lots of friends I haven't seen in so long. I was very impressed by the Americans, who got up at 6 and 7 a.m. to attend, as well as the Chinese and Mongolian scholars, who mostly didn't have video on because of infrastructure issues, but were still there anyway. It was also a lot of fun hearing a medieval lecture, which I haven't heard for even longer than I've not seen people. The research group I'm part of are all very nice, but the 19th and 20th century are just less interesting to me than the 12th-15th.

We watched a LOT of movies this week and the last. No wonder I made great progress on G's birthday present - leggings with dragon spikes, also with yarn from my late MIL's stash. It is true that knit 2, purl 2, is very mindless, but 2 25cm tubes in just over a week is good going ... This week our movie-watching had a kind of theme of misfits: Ida, about a Polish novice who discovers she is the daughter of a Jewish family killed by the family that his them; The Shape of Water, about a mute woman who falls in love with an amphibian man; and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - self-explanatory, I should think. I must say that I finished watching the movie probably even more confused that I was five minutes in. I think it's easier to follow the plot line in books, because there at least you're told whose speaking, and you don't need to remember what the characters look like! Last weekend we saw Amadeus (I hated Tom Hulce, ADC was fascinated by Salieri's pâttiserie), Born on the 4th of July and Interview with the Vampire (even though I don't really like Tom Cruise). These were all S's choices, but this weekend we watched movies without him, as he has a paper to write for school (instead a history test), and spent all day Saturday doing research. On Thursday his class ended the week by making lasagne together - his homeroom teacher is clearly determined that if nothing else, the children come out of lockdown knowing their way around a kitchen.

Stay safe, healthy and serene, everyone!

Monday, 20 April 2020

Week 5 - April 13-19, 2020

As I write this, it is already the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, which really puts the confinements and restrictions of life during coronavirus into proportion.

Pesach has come and gone. I was successful in buying eggs and matzo - so much so that I gave a packet to M, who had run out (I was only able to buy a 1kg box, much more than we needed). We ate matzo brei (French toast made with matzo) on Wednesday morning, and said goodbye to it for another year. We had spaghetti aglio olio for supper, and over the weekend ADC made biscuits, moufletas and granola (also yoghurt, breakfast yesterday was fantastic). Moufletas are a kind of fried yeast dough, traditionally made by North African Jews to celebrate the end of Passover and eaten with butter and honey. This is definitely not our personal ethnic tradition - we're as Ashkenazi as they come - but ADC grew up eating those made by neighbours in Beersheba and has been wanting to try making them for a long time. They were very neutral tasting, and after breakfast (where some of us ate them with maple syrup; I'm sure there are moufletas eaten that way in Montreal every way), when we did not finish them, we had them with cheese and spring onions for a late lunch.

We had extra family Zoom meetings this week - not just on the evening of the last day of Pesach and on Friday/Saturday night, but also on Z's birthday. It got to be a bit much... there's not that much you can say, when you're not going anywhere. Happily, I finished a black and white striped scarf for Z, a Juventus fan, in time to show it to him on his birthday. I also finally finished a cardigan for myself, also striped, in various shades of purple, just in time for the first spring heatwave. (My cardigan is merino wool, whereas Z's scarf is acrylic from stash inherited from my late MIL.) I've now begun leggings with dragon's spikes for G, whose 4th birthday is on May 8, also using inherited stash - Z, who turned 9, at least is very appreciative of this. This also means that I do have something new for the ADC family Zoom talks every week! I'm still continuing LR's top, which is a lovely cotton/silk blend, but as her birthday was back in December, this is late anyway and has no deadline. Once I finish G's present I'll go back to that full time.

Of course, "full time" does not include the time spent doing actual work that I get paid for. Despite last week being officially semi-holiday, I actually got a lot done, editing the final (I hope) version of RE's book on affluence and collapse in pre-modern civilisations, including the footnotes. The bibliography still needs to be properly sorted out, but that will wait until he answers my questions. The book is very interesting, and timely, too - although the theme is the influence of short-term climate changes and their domino effects (famine, mass migration, intolerance and war), it's obvious that the current situation with the coronavirus is a wake-up call as to how fragile the veneer of affluence and civilisation is.

An exciting things that happened over the weekend was A's return to GH. It's not clear how's gap year volunteering will continue exactly, as most things there have closed - although the international high school's eleventh grade are still there, it's not clear that A and his group are needed. Meanwhile, he is stepping up to the plate and is regarded by the people in charge as the de facto leader of the group. The latest announcement was that he was trying to organise volunteer work in agriculture, so that they all had something useful to do (not clear to me how much enthusiasm there is on the part of the rest, but clearly A has his priorities straight). He makes me so proud! E is alone again, but since the second exciting thing was the announcement that many restrictions will be lifted from the 19th, hopefully she'll be able to go back to work and see other people a bit more now.

The lifted restrictions also mean that ADC is able to go back to the lab. There can only be up to 5 people in the lab at a time, wearing masks and observing 2 m distance, so he and his technician have organised shifts, and the students are coming in as much as they can (some of them have small children who have not gone back to their pre-corona frameworks yet). On Sunday ADC taught from A's room for the last time, and in the afternoon he packed everything up (including the milkweed bugs, who apparently did not enjoy their time there) and took it back to Givat Ram. I wonder when I will go back ... libraries will probably be the last places to re-open on campus.

Meanwhile, as the weather has warmed up, I'm making the most of our balcony and spending as much time as I can working there, in the fresh air. However, since I've been getting up relatively late, by the time I've exercised, showered and had breakfast, the chair there has always been in the shade. Yesterday there was a group meeting at 9 a..m, and I found myself sitting in direct sunlight. This had the unexpected result of my MacBook Air overheating and shutting down in the middle of a Zoom meeting! I informed the group of the situation and promised to be back asap. When I plugged the computer back into the electricity, and rejoined everyone, they turned out to have thought it was hilarious and asked me if I'd opened up the bonnet to pour water on the MacBook's engine, as people do on cars on the way up to Jerusalem every summer. I was actually quite worried at first, thinking that the computer might be seriously affected, but all's well that ends well.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Week 4 - April 6-12, 2020

This week was more interesting than usual. First of all, last Monday ADC and I had the tremendous adventure of going to someone else's house!! This was for the equally exciting purpose for signing a contract for the urban renewal of our building. It was constructed in the 50s, in a hurry, and is one of very few buildings in Jerusalem not faced with stone - and it is literally crumbling. The three entrances have a total of 23 flats, and the location is fantastic, on a fairly large plot of land that it not well utilised at the moment - so it's ideal for urban renewal. 

Anyway, we went off, masked and carrying a large bottle of alcohol, to the lawyer's house, which serendipitously is in our neighbourhood. We sat in his garden, keeping the correct distance and using new pens from the box, and spent half an hour signing the contract. In about 3 years, we will have a lovely new home - no matter what happens to the housing market due to Corona. It's only taken about 8 years of ups and downs and changes of lawyers and contractors to get to this point ...

Wednesday night was the Seder, marking the start of Passover. Even stricter curfews than usual were in place, to make sure that people did not travel to spend the evening with the extended family as they normally would. My father reported a police checkpoint at the bottom of their road, which is just on the edge of Kfar Saba towards Hod Hasharon. This was the first Seder without my mother-in-law M, who died very suddenly in December. His side of the family got together on Zoom, using ADC's university account so as not to be cut off, and we had a really lovely Seder. The pre-meal part was just over an hour, and Y's children R and Z read very nicely (G, his youngest, will be four next month and is the only very small child there). We stayed connected during the meal and compared food - and Seder plates. We put an orange instead of the zro'a (we didn't have anything else, since the meat course was beef), and used celery and rocket from the balcony pot plants for the kappas and major, as we didn't have horseradish. The rocket was actually very peppery and played the part of the bitter herbs very well. ADC made excellent charoset, that I'm still eating on matza for breakfast - compared  to tasting a bit ceremonially at the Seder and no more. We even managed to continue with the post-Seder songs (both the traditional Jewish ones and Negro spirituals, many of which refer to the Exodus  of course), despite the lag on Zoom. The fact that all of us had drunk (at least) four glasses of wine by that time certainly helped...

Earlier on, my family had also had a mass Zoom meeting, not just the Israeli branch but the Cape Town and Berlin ones - unbelievable to think that we were all together in Budapest for the Seder a year ago, while M was studying at Central European University. So much has changed since then - not least that we had planned to visit K in Berlin a month ago. MR played Ma Nishtana and Simḥa Raba on the oboe, which was lovely (especially once everyone else muted themselves, so that there was no echo). It was really good to talk to everyone, and amazing to see how similar A and K (first cousins once removed) look with their hair pulled back; although that might be a matter of camera angle, too. 

Because of the holiday, we've been working a bit less (although I continue to be swamped, with people sending articles and book chapters almost daily). ADC and I have binge-watched "Unorthodox" on Netflix, and enjoyed it very much. The Satmar hassidim really do live in a different reality. I found some of the characters over-stereotypical (like the Israeli violinist in 
Berlin), but overall, it was excellently done. We've also watched The Third Man, Dr No. and There Will Be Blood. With all that TV/film watching, I finished a black and white striped scarf for Z (a Juventus fan) well in time for his birthday tomorrow, 110 cm knitted in less than a week. I made it using yarn that I inherited from my MIL, so Z will feel that he has a present both from us and from Savta Yum. 

Tomorrow, I will get up early and go shopping. ADC couldn't find eggs or matza when he went to the grocery store during his lunch break today, so I'll see if going first thing (i.e., before ten) makes a difference.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Week 3 - March 30-April 5, 2020

Days have not yet started running in to each other, as I read of around the web, because I am in the interesting situation of having almost more work than I can deal with, while unemployment has passed 25%. The three large projects I am involved in editing have all reached their almost final stage  at the same time, probably because the people doing the writing have had nothing to distract them (or have been using writing to distract themselves) for the past few weeks. One of the the projects is a book on fragility, or how easily human civilisation can be affected by external, non-human sources. The focus of the book is climate changes and their influence on history, but it is ironic that the final stages of writing should be taking place during a global pandemic.

On Tuesday the group meeting discussed the hidden scripts of infrapolitics and invisible resistance by subalterns to the elite. As we discussed this, I thought of the ways people are resisting the corona-related limitations that seem to them to be ridiculous (like the 100m limit). Most people are very law-abiding, though—to the extent that I'm a bit worried about S. Since the new restrictions, he has barely been outside, and he hasn't seen his friends. More than that, he hasn't even been exercising in the lounge. He's kind of turning in on himself, and I'm glad he's still watching movies with us. On Saturday night we watched the 1922 silent film Nosferatu—deservedly a classic of the vampire genre, but that I hadn't realised also involved plague, making it much more topical than expected.

The most exciting event of the past week for ADC was actually leaving Jerusalem and spending almost a full day travelling throughout the countryside. A's gap year volunteer work has sent him and the rest of the group home for the Passover break, and E, ADC's sister, suggested that instead of joining us in a small flat, he join her in a large house with a garden. Since up to now A has been living on a campus and still been able to walk around freely, although not to leave, on the one hand, and ADC is using his bedroom at home as a study/classroom, this suited us very well - although we are sorry not to see A in the flash for a while yet, this is probably the best solution for everyone. E will not be alone at the Seder, and our lives will be a little less cramped with three rather than four residents.

This past week we experienced the first heatwave of the spring. It was lovely sitting and working on the balcony until my laptop gave out and demanded more electricity. Unfortunately another cold spell begins tonight, so I probably won't be able to so this again for a while. ADC can still enjoy watching a family of jays that has settled in a tree across the road, though. According to him, the bird life of the neighbourhood has changed since the lockdown began, and the invasive parakeets are far fewer. Watching from the balcony today, he actually saw three cats identify a car as belonging to lady who feeds feral cats and line up on the pavement to greet her. One of the cats tried to attack a bird while waiting for food—which is precisely why feral cats should not be fed, in my opinion. Either adopt a cat, or bring it to be humanely killed, rather than let it wander free to kill other wildlife that it doesn't need for food (not blaming the cat, of course, but the people).

The family Zoom meetings of the weekend reiterated the generation gap—it was quite amazing how we had the same conversation about connecting both video and audio with my mother at six p.m. and with my BIL's MIL at seven. Despite the irritation in the moment, it's worth it, though (although not enough to sit through an entire meal together, as my BIL apparently does). We will see how the Seder goes on Wednesday.

Happy Passover and Easter to those celebrating, until I write again.