July 23, 2007

What is going on?

Step 1. Press the > shape below the image.

Step 2. Enter your guess in the comments section.
A prize to the first person who answers correctly.

July 15, 2007

My little urban patio garden

My patch of Eden is a little urban patio garden hidden from public view by a tall picket fence.

I never planned on having or making a garden. One of the many reasons I bought a condominium and not a house was my habit to shun mowing, planting, weeding, watering, and grounds maintenance of any kind. I lack the required inclination.

And yet the patio garden was a key factor in choosing this condominium and none of the dozens Judy, my agent, showed me as I entered the dreaded second year of The Hunt. In this patch of Eden, almost instantly, I felt a peaceful calm and a refuge from the chaos lurking beyond its enclosing picket fence.

If you are petite like me, when you are inside the garden and look outside, you see nothing but the deep shades of green of old trees — part of Atlanta's lush vegetation, the reason Georgia's capital is called City in the Park.

Within days of moving into my new home, I transformed the bland patio, turning it into my little urban patio garden. Between unpacking boxes and settling in, I replaced the thin patches of thirsty grass with cedar chips (two bags, medium-size chips) and slate tiles (three, randomly placed). Next, I dotted areas lacking them with perennials (lily-like green-and-white hostas, long fleshy-stemmed purple Wandering Jews [the plant kind], as examples).

Over the years, try as I might, when I sit on the bench enjoying cool evening breezes or bask in sunny spring warmth, I cannot read even the best book. Oh, I progress a few lines . . . and then, I eye a pot that requires leveling or a vine that needs a trim.

I snoop around a lot, looking for signs of rot or bug infestation. I might decide to replant one of the six-pack specials I bought, ever seeking the perfect resting place for each unit. And, of course, during droughts (such as the one this summer), despite my pre-garden pledge to shun watering, I hose down my little Eden between midnight and 10 AM, even days only (because my unit number is even: 1332).

Indoors, curiosity draws my cat and me to the windows. We gaze on the garden with quick looks or hunker down for longer stretches. We are waiting for them. And whether they arrive on feet, wings, or belly, garden guests delight and fascinate.

Each day (and some nights), seated on a child's chair beside the front door, Mica (mee-kah) studies the scene indoors, and then turns to peer through the window alongside the door, scanning for possibilities to ponder outside.

Sometimes, when she needs another view — the
better to study her sightings, Mica switches to her
lookout perch on the kitchen windowsill.

What is the payoff for her (and my) patient vigil?

A multicolored bird . . .

A golden butterfly . . .

A brown (sometimes iridescent blue-green) lizard . . .

A chipmunk at attention . . .

And another chipmunk. (Maybe it's the same
one? How would I know?)

No matter the season or time of day or night, seven years after moving here, I harvest continuously from my Eden bountiful relief and abundant comfort.

Like my garden, I grow. Always changing. Never finished.

July 11, 2007

Haaretz: Israeli Web sites to mark year since IDF soldiers abducted

"On the day of the [Hezbollah] kidnapping [of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers], at 09:05 in the morning, Israel's Internet sites will come to a standstill.

"Instead of their homepages, they will display messages calling for
the return of the abductees. This important topic will be brought to the attention of surfers, and they will be able to express their opinions and respond.

"Anyone who enters the Israeli Internet world during those minutes will participate in the tribute to the abductees and will help communicate the most important message: Do not let apathy kill them!"
[emphasis mine]

So reads an email sent to Web site managers by the initiative's organizers. While I oppose government or private sector censorship or control of cyberspace, I support the initiative, and I support the message.

Ehud Goldwasser, left, and Eldad Regev
were snatched by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006.
(Haaretz Archive)

Last update | 15:22 July 11, 2007

By Ayala Tsoref, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel's major Web sites are planning to shut down for five minutes Thursday morning, to mark the exact hour at which two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were kidnapped in 2006.

The homepage of each site will be replaced with a message reading "The soldier can not be found," a play on the standard Internet error message, which reads "The page cannot be found."

According to the organizer of the initiative, Karnit Goldwasser, most of the major Web sites in Israel have agreed to participate in the event.

Goldwasser's husband, Ehud, was snatched in the cross-border raid along with Eldad Regev as the two were patroling the border with Lebanon.

Among the participating Websites are Ynet, Wallah, Tapuz, NRG, Globes, NANA, MSN and Haaretz.

The organizers predict that smaller Web sites will also spontaneously join the initiative.

The only major Web site that has not expressed its willingness to take part in the initiative is Google Israel - Israel's largest Internet site. The site is likely waiting for authorization from its international parent company....

July 05, 2007

July 4: sparking dialogs on bombs, patriotism, wording, survival

With sounds of fireworks reaching me from Atlanta's Lenox Mall, I am sharing here what lit my imagination after exchanging email messages and reading a favorite blog.

With Angela Yarman, my friend and interfaith dialogue partner 

On Jul 3, 2007, at 1:05 PM, Angela Yarman wrote:

Tamar, I just received a tribute to the USA Flag by a military veteran from a friend. I thought of forwarding it to you, then I hesitated. I wondered if it would seem arrogant to you – although it admits arrogance. These used to be lofty, admirable ideals that every American would profess and be proud of. Now, it seems we are to be ashamed of our strength and our freedom. Not me.

Enjoy! Happy 4th of July!

On Jul 3, 2007, at 1:19 PM, Tamar Orvell wrote:

Thanks for sharing. Parts of the writing resonate with me. Other parts do not. Arrogance is one of my least favorite qualities.

I am a grateful citizen of two democracies, and living in Israel helps me to appreciate the gifts and responsibilities of citizenship in both countries. I quarrel about much — policies, laws, and customs, as examples, in both countries. And this quarreling is one way I take responsibility.

Happy, happy Fourth!

On Jul 4, 2007, at 10:50 AM, Angela Yarman wrote:


At Mass this morning, our pastor spoke of how ‘under God’ became part of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a movement of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Church’s fraternity of men. What interested me was President Eisenhower’s comments on the change: “These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble.”

Belief in the higher power of GOD gives us both strength and perspective on our weakness – humility – the opposite of arrogance.

I’ve told you before – these things always pop up during our [digital] conversations. See attached [history of the Pledge and changes to its wording] for the full low-down on “under God.”

* * *

Karen Alkalay-Gut, in her Tel Aviv Diary July 4, 2007 entry

I do not like fireworks. Usually I go inside and close the shades with like-fearing friends or family until it is over. After all, I was born in a bombing and have been too near shelling upon occasion throughout my life.

But last night, at [the home of] the U.S. Ambassador [in Israel], when I found myself in the middle of an enormous crowd of people when the fireworks show was announced, I had no choice. And as I watched the sky and listened to the military band, I was filled with a remarkable sense of pride for America. The sycophantic words of [Israel's Prime Minister] Olmert, who spoke previously on the mutual interests of the U.S. and Israel, had rung so false in my ears, that I had thought I had no room left for anything but cynicism, but the rockets' red glare reminded me of that anxiety of Francis Scott Key and the relief that "our flag was still there." The song ran true. The fireworks were not just a sound and light show, but an assertion of the illumination of the victory of survival.

So even though we had been so worn out with our guests an hour before we had considered skipping the Fourth of July bash, I was euphoric all evening, was overwhelmed with a desire to eat the same kind of hotdog i had refused at numerous family picnics, and promised with enormous enthusiasm to go to a baseball game....