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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Feeling under the WEATHER...? Two things making me happy in the rain!

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Feeling under the weather…?

And I do mean that literally, by the way.  I wouldn't blame you if you were.  We've had a LOT of weather to be under this winter so far.  The great news is that water levels in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) are on their way back up to where they're supposed to be, which is one measure of how relatively water-secure this country is.

[QUICK ASIDE FOR ISRAEL WATER LESSON!]

The Kinneret was once Israel’s main source of fresh water.  Today, thanks to desalination, it is apparently only responsible for 10%.  Still a considerable chunk.  Water level in the Kinneret is measured against 3 lines: 

  • UPPER RED = Full.  The level hasn’t reached this point since about 2002.
  • LOWER RED = Lowest “normal” level.  Below this point will have environmental consequences.
  • BLACK = Serious drought / environmental crisis.  The line dipped down below this round about October following 5 years of drought and insufficient winter rain.

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(check a live version of this graph)

Oh, yeah, and because the whole lake is below sea level, the numbers run down – a “bigger,” i.e., more negative, number is WORSE, not better.

As you can see from this graph, we’re back above the black line thanks to this winter’s prodigious rain, but not all the way back up to that slightly more comfy lower red line. 

[END OF LESSON]

But while we're feeling flush (ahem) when it comes to water, we're also being deluged in a desert country that's ill-prepared to deal with an excess of water.  When it’s raining, the streets flood, programs and trips get cancelled, and it can be very dangerous to be out on the roads.

All of which means, it’s a lot better to stay home if you possibly can.  (Even though, without central heating, surrounded by dank concrete walls, it can get pretty miserable inside the house as well…)

So I wanted to share two things that I really love about Israel that are especially helpful during stormy weather.  I have actually had this post on a back burner literally for months, because I was hoping to make it a threesome, but I figure the time is ripe. 

So how about this?  Instead of ME writing about 3 things that make me happy in the rain in Israel -- I'll write about two, and you can share your favourite in the comments below!

Deal???  Great! 

So here's my first:

1) Online Groceries

There are some weeks when online grocery shopping is just about my single happiest thing.

Just about every major chain offers home delivery to many parts of the country, mostly within major cities.  If you're not in a major city, or you're in the Yehuda / Shomron area (aka West Bank), you're probably out of luck.  Someday, I hope.

For us, home delivery has two huge perks:

  • We don’t need a car.  Sure, we could go to the mall and come back with groceries in a taxi.  But that would cost exactly the same as home delivery (currently 30nis) and require me to go out of the house.  No, thanks!  (Plus, when my husband goes, he refuses to take a taxi, so he’d be schlepping everything on the bus…)
  • We can order big items.  My husband takes a big 2L water bottle to work every day (yes, this is a problem environmentally; we’re working on it!), and these come in six-packs.  That’s a lot of water for him to haul home.  It’s not just heavy stuff – toilet paper may be light but it’s sure awkward to bring home in 36-packs on the bus.

There are also pluses that come from being able to order online:

  • Clarity. I can see exactly what I’m ordering and comparison shop in the comfort and warmth of my home.  I’m terrible in stores, and generally stand and read / compare labels for a very long time. 
  • Speed.  When I’m getting products we know we want, I can just type in the name and in one or two clicks it’s in the basket.  No wandering around looking for something when I know exactly what I want.
  • Language.  If I don’t know what something is called in Hebrew, I can look it up as I order rather than puttering around in a store too scared to ask the employees what something is.

We generally use Shufersal online, but as I said, a few of the major chains offer home delivery, so if they deliver to your area, it’s worth trying out a couple of different services before choosing your “regular” store.

2) Online Movie Tickets

The only reason this isn’t Number One is that we don’t go to movies every single week like we do with groceries.

First of all, going to movies here in Israel was such a revelation to me in our first year.  You go and sit in the dark and for two hours, immersed in a rich, multimedia English-language experience (depending on the movie, of course!), and just relax, feeling like life is totally normal. 

Or at least, for one hour.  It depends on the theatre, because some still have an intermission about one hour into the movie, which is just about the most disruptive thing I can imagine.  Just when things are starting to get good, the action stops, the lights come up, and there you are, out at the bathroom or snack bar.  I do appreciate the bathroom break, but resent the interruption.

So as I said, I was loving movies here ALREADY… and that’s when I discovered online movie tickets.

Not only do you buy your tickets online, but you also choose your seats online.  You can pay with a credit card, or with PayPal, which is very handy for me.  There may be other options as well.  And choosing seats ahead means that once you’ve paid and have your tickets sent to your email, you don’t have to wait in line, EVER.  Just show up a few minutes before the movie starts, wave your phone at the guy taking tickets, and you’re in to win.

This comes in especially handy on ten-shekel movie day, which is countrywide and seems to come around about twice a year.  You will pay a small surcharge for buying online, but again, the freedom to pick your movie and time, pick your seats, and avoid standing in the box office with thousands of desperate Israelis all pushing and shoving – well, that’s absolutely priceless.

I wish that whole box office lineup thing was a metaphor or exaggeration, but no, at some point they give up on choosing and literally buy tickets to any movie they can find.  One woman marched all her Hebrew-speaking children into the movie A Dog’s Purpose,  which is entirely in English, include a couple of very young toddlers.  She then proceeded to translate for her kids in a very loud whisper until I told her she was NOT going to sit there translating the whole movie, which was boring for her little kids anyway, despite having dogs in it.

(In all fairness, you will never enjoy a quiet theatre on ten-shekel movie day… that’s just life.  But deliberately planning to sit there talking through the whole thing was a little beyond, even for Israel.)

For a while, we were the only ones buying tickets online.  I know because whenever I’d go to buy tickets and pick seats, it showed the entire theatre full of empty seats. 

But Israelis are starting to catch on (maybe because of dummies like me who insist on telling them!).  The last ten-shekel movie day, there were already a dozen or so seats taken when I bought our tickets online, though it was still nowhere near full.  So if you’re going to take advantage of this sweet deal, you’d better do it now, and often.  Heck, just go to movies.  They’re great, especially when it’s only ten shekels.

(I’m not getting any kickbacks for saying so, Ester Silber-Schachter’s Kosher Frugal website is a great place to find out about 10-shekel movie days ahead of time.  Here’s a direct link to her posts about the 10 shekel movie days!)

And yes, I do realize that you have to go out in the rain to get to the movie.  That’s what buses are for, and umbrellas, and sweatshirts, and rainboots, which none of us have, or at the very least, waterproof sandals.  Sometimes, you just have to get out of the house, even if there IS a lot of weather to be under.

So there you are… I’ve lived up to my side of this rainy-weather bargain and shared 2 things making me happy on this rainy, freezing winter Wednesday.  It was raining when I started and now it’s DARK and raining and I have a delicious steaming one-pot meal on the stove waiting for me that we’re just about to dig into.

So now it’s your turn.  What’s making you happy in the rain in Israel today?

I can’t wait to hear all about it!

[rainy day in Israel photo © lehava beitshean via Wikimedia]


Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


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