Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
From an email I wrote today to W.:
“I’m here in Kfar Blum, a sort of kibbutz-cum-resort in the upper Galilee where my grandfather has taken us on a long weekend for the Sukkoth holiday. It’s nice and quiet here, good food and lots of quality time with Goni (my little cousin) and last night I read most of that Cormac McCarthy book [All the pretty horses] and decided late in the game that I loved it. I had a terrifying moment when I put the book down and got out of bed to go take a piss and something felt strange and wrong and somehow I felt old, and suddenly I realized that I smelled like my father.
Israel is temperate and friendly, the season is good for fruits and I have been struggling to give away enough of the fresh figs and pomegranates and star fruit that I’ve bought in bulk and can’t finish on my own. My apartment, though decorated in a septuagenarian style from the early seventies and peeling everywhere like a pattern-stamp scalp, is spacious and comfortable and most importantly has the most amazing veranda where I have made a little cloister of plants and a writing desk and a beautiful cherry wood and wrought iron chair in the medieval style which I bought from a Druz furniture dealer in Osifiye. The view [see above] descends through a steep Wadi where pacing jackals wail their caliginous kaddish from dusk to dawn, and further out a short, keen razor of sand that lays against the throat of the Mediterranean. Every day, I wake up to a warm blast of salt air, walk out onto the veranda and note the level of the sea on the horizon, which somehow has been rising daily like the sand in an hourglass. By spring, the ocean will cross overhead and eventually will set behind the mountain and then we will all be much less worried about the missiles.
Next week, I drive down to Eilat to begin my research preparations, then I’ve got a five-day underwater dig at Dor where we are uncovering sunken ships and searching for the old Phoenician harbor, and finally my classes commence on the 21st. My class schedule is not as bad as I thought and my research mentors have been absolutely wonderful. I’ve got a little corner in the grad students’ office with a computer and a key card and a door key and a dead ficus and the doctoral students that live in there are really wonderful though emaciated. Tomorrow I will order a new mattress and a washing machine and this all feels quite anachronistic somehow.”
One thing I didn’t mention in the email is that I found a total freak of nature at the grocers the other day: a mutant Siamese twin banana. Of course, the moment I saw it I knew that I would have to eat it. After a photo session, I vivisected the phallic beast, only to find the conjoined forms of two distinct banana piths inside. They even pulled apart clean. Tasted like a typical banana, just twice. So much for the side-show career.
Breaking News: Rabbinate issues official sanction for Crocs on Yom Kippur
As you may know, there are a whole host of archaic rules regarding what is allowed on Yom Kippur. One religious law in the halacha states that you may not wear leather shoes on this holiest of Jewish holidays. With the near-messianic rise of the Croc in the modern state of Israel, religious Jews were confused. What are these things made of? Can we wear them on Yom Kippur? Fear not ye Crocodilian consumer, for the holy hipsters of the international orthodox rabbinate have issued an official thumbs-up on a Croc-related footwear for the high holiday. Now your unkosher piggies can breathe easy while you work up a sweat on 50-rep sets of repentance at shul.