Space Odyssey

When we moved to Be’er-Sheva we faced the usual problem of too much stuff and not enough space.  We did ditch about 10-15% of our worldly goods, much to the benefit of WIZO and the Netanya AACI bazaar.  But, we still needed to find space for a lot of things.  For example, we retained hundreds of books, but had no space for bookcases in the spare rooms, so we put them in the corridor.  Problem solved.

I have about 100 paintings, where to store them?  The single small room set aside for my studio did not seem to be big enough to accommodate them.  I was intending to put them in the shed in our front yard, but that gets very hot in summer and probably wet in winter.  Not a good environment for paintings.   By putting about a third of them up on our walls that reduced the load.  Then I designed a holder, a space-saver, using the high ceilings in the studio to store the paintings.  I  drew a kind of high table with paintings underneath and above.  It could hold even the largest paintings and still have room.

Through our daughter and son-in-law we met two very useful gentlemen, Geraldo the carpenter and Hananiya the handyman.  Geraldo is an immigrant from Uruguay and does not speak English, but we can get by on my poor Hebrew.  Hananiya is an American who has been here for 9 years, and does all sorts of jobs.  Between them they have helped me a lot.  Geraldo made the walk-in closet in our bedroom and recovered the kitchen cabinets for us.  Hananiya has recently put up the pergola that covers our front yard and serves as a succah.

Today Hananiya came over and put up the shelves in my study that has given me lots of desk space, and Geraldo brought his wooden construction of my drawing to store my paintings.  It is excellent, very strongly made and can store all my paintings without problem.  Altogther a good day for space-saving.


Bureaucratic battle

When I reached 75 years of age I was entitled to a free parking sticker for blue and white sections in Netanya.  So I went to the specific office in the old City Hall downtown and at first they gave me a temporary sticker to put on my car and then eventually I had to go back and collect my permanent sticker.  This had the year of 2015 clearly printed on it. Naturally I parked around Netanya and did not expect to receive parking tickets.

During 2016 and 2017 I started to receive parking tickets of 100 shekels each when I parked in various places.  Being particularly stupid, I assumed this was a mistake, that the parking police had ignored my “old person’s” sticker and that somehow this mistake would be rectified.  After all, why should I have to go to the dreaded parking police and deal with the terrible bureaucracy.  Over time the tickets began to mount up, until I received a registered letter from the City telling me that I owed them 1,500 shekels.  One of these tickets was for NIS 250 for parking on a red and white section, when I was in a frantic hurry and took a chance.

When my daughter found out about my negligence, she insisted that we must take care of this before I left Netanya.  She wrote an explanatory letter to the appropriate office, but we received no reply.  So we arranged to visit this office in the new City Hall on the outskirts of town to deal with the problem and she came as my translator.  When we got there she explained the situation to the clerk, who was very nice and explained that I should have renewed my old-person’s sticker every year, so I was not actually covered for the two years it was not valid.  But, I explained to her that I am an old man and misunderstood the Hebrew when they told me the sticker was “permanent.”  So she directed us to another office in the same building, and there the clerk was very helpful and said that if I renewed the “old person’s” sticker for 2017, they might be able to forgive some of my tickets.

She directed us back to the office in the old City Hall downtown where they deal with these stickers.  There we had to wait while the clerk played with her children who were on vacation.  Then she saw us and told us that she could give me a new sticker for 2017 if I came back with four pieces of paper, copies of my driving license, my car registration, my i.d. card (teudat zehut) that all Israeli citizens carry, and my municipal taxes (arnona) payment, to prove that I lived in Netanya.   I got three of these but I could not find my car registration.  However, upon further searching I found it still inside a blue plastic folder that the city kindly provided, and nearby was a shop that did copies.

So she immediately gave me a sticker for 2017.  The clerk in the previous office said that I could fax a note with a copy of this sticker to them, no need to go back.  A few weeks later I received a call from her and she told me that the case was now being sent to the lawyer who would render a verdict.  Yesterday I received the verdict in the mail, nearly all tickets cancelled (except one on red and white, which I knew were not covered).  Savings for this bureaucratic challenge ca. NIS 1,200.  Worth fighting City Hall!

The Cabinet Puzzle

In our new home I have been looking for space to store things (such as empty suitcases) without taking up valuable space in the living area.  It so happens that there is some “dead” space between our bedroom (which is entered thru a sliding doors) and the new addition.  It seems that in Israel you cannot remove a window in a room that already has one, so there had to be a space left.  But, since the space is quite long and the sliding doors never open on the left that is a space that is never used.  I decided to fill this space with a plastic cabinet with doors.

I carefully measured the space and found that the maximum width of the cupboard could be 89 cm, not a round number.  I went to the Ace hardware store in Beersheva and looked at the plastic cabinets displayed there and there was one, the deepest they had, that was  – 89 cm wide!  If I were a believing person I would have taken this as a sign from God.  I bought the cabinet that came in a large cardboard box, to be assembled. Of course, the box was too big to fit into the back of my car, but I managed to get it in and used a bungee cord to keep the back door down.

When I started to assemble it that’s when the fun started.  There were diagrams in lieu of instructions.  I quickly found that there was only one way of assembling the bottom, the back and the sides.  Then I assembled the doors and they went together, easily, a central strip with top and bottom panels.  But I made the mistake of assuming that there was only one way to assemble the doors.  When I attached them to the cabinet, I discovered that in fact I had attached the door panels on the wrong sides of the central strips.  So I tried to remove the whole right door, but in doing so I managed to partially break a hook on the central strip that attaches to the cabinet.  Disaster!  But, after I had removed the door I fixed the hook with super glue and tape and when it hardened it was fine.  But, having learnt my lesson I instead managed to detach the upper and lower panels on the left door from the central strip that was still attached to the cabinet by the hook and then switched the panels and lo and behold it worked fine.  Then I attached the top and the cupboard was intact.

I still had to install the shelves.  There were some tiny plastic dohickeys, four for each shelf.  But how they attached to the shelf and then to the inside of the cabinet was a mystery.  The instructions showed only a fuzzy diagram.  After puzzling over this for two hours, I gave up.  The following morning I saw immediately how the dohickey fitted on the side of the shelf.  I put only one shelf in for stability.  Then I shlapped the whole cabinet into the bedroom, out through the sliding doors (I had checked that it would indeed go) and into the space intended.  It fit exactly, with barely a millimeter on each side.  Furthermore, all the large suitcases fitted into it without problem.  Now I can store some of my paintings in the place where the suitcases had been, and it’s inside the house so more suitable.  One more victory for order over chaos.

Shame on me!

We were just about to eat dinner and I decided to turn the air conditioning off.  I went to the remote control that is attached to the wall in the corridor and pressed the on/off button – and nothing happened!   I tried it again (dumb) and the same thing didn’t happen.  I looked at it and sure enough the damn remote was dead.  I thought, ha ha, change the batteries and went to find some AAA batteries, but did not have any.

Then Sahlee our carer reminded me that this had happened before, last year.  She said check and see if the remote is wet inside, and sure enough it was.  What had happened before, and evidently had happened again, was that the water pipe outlet of the a/c got blocked, the water builds up and then leaks on the floor of the compartment and then drips through the hole in the ceiling where the wire connects to the remote switch and then drips down onto the remote control, which I had placed immediately below it.  Yes, shame on me, how stupid can you get.  I had replaced the remote in exactly the same position it had been last year, when in fact I could have placed it anywhere.

Then I had to wait for the remote to dry out, I did this by placing it below a fan that blew air on it.  I went out and bought AAA batteries, then when I got home it was already dry and I replaced the batteries and – it worked.   I forgot to mention that since I could not turn the a/c off with the remote I turned it off at the main switch.  Also I got up into the a/c compartment and detached the water pipe outlet and blew through it hard and cleared it.  Then I poured about half a liter of water (containing some soap and some anti-algae copper solution) thru the pipe using a funnel and then I reconnected the pipe to the a/c and took out the bowl of water that had collected below it (without spilling too much of it).

Finally I turned the a/c back on at the mains and turned it off with the now working remote and then attached it to the wall – in a completely different location, far from the potential drip.  At least I learnt that lesson.  Then I checked, as long as water drips out of the end of the water outlet pipe (three stories below near the ground) I know its working.


Fixing the Electric Buggy

My sister Barbara and her husband Allan are visiting Netanya from the UK.  But, she has some trouble walking, so in previous years we have ordered an electric buggy for her to get around.  This time we waited until she was here and then went to rent a small one-seat buggy from this tiny shop in Netanya run by a little old man.  She chose a small one and then we had to get it into the trunk of my car.  To do this we had to disassemble it and take the seat off the chassis.  There was a fairly large metal pin that went through a hole in the seat assembly that we had to keep in order to reassemble it.

When we got back to the hotel where they are staying I wanted to put the pin back in the hole, but it wouldn’t go.  I realized the hole was not aligned so I managed to twist the tube sticking out from the chassis a bit by hand, until the pin went in. and then the seat could be reattached. Barbara got on the buggy and quietly rode away.

Sunday evening at 7 pm I received a call that they could not get the seat back on the buggy, again!  They had removed the seat and the electric battery pack in order to recharge it in the hotel luggage room, and now could not get it back together.  Of course, the problem was that the pin would not go in.  I raced down there with some tools, luckily I took a  wrench that I figured would be useful.

When I arrived I found three men, Allan and two custodians, around the disassembled buggy in the lobby of the hotel, one man on his knees and hitting the tube inside the chassis from the bottom with a large hammer.  I told him to stop.  Then I took the wrench and in a few turns found the hole and managed to pull it and twist it until it was aligned. Then I put the pin back in. But, then the battery pack would not fit in again.  I remembered that the battery had been below the pin in the morning, so I took the pin out, replaced the battery pack and then put the pin back in and then replaced the seat.  It was all reassembled and it worked.

Remember, next time you’re in trouble, you know who to call!

Alien creatures

I made a snake, a python (see left Figure).  I am not sure why, but I did.  There is a long shelf in the new house to where we are moving in Beersheva in September and I wanted to have something that would fit in there.  I tried to make it move, but it was too heavy for the motor I attached.  And I tried to add a tongue that went in and out, but the mechanism I constructed did not work, so I gave up.2017-05-28-PHOTO-00000043

alien photo

The other day when I entered my basement studio I saw a large creature (4 inches long) on the floor (see right Figure).  I ran to find something to catch it in, and found a plastic container.  When I tried to capture this creature I must admit I was not sure if it was dead or alive.  It then began to move, but only sluggishly.  I concluded that it was barely alive.  Once I had it inside the container I quickly looked around for something to make sure it was dead and poured turpentine into the container.  It did move around then, but soon stopped.  Does anyone know what this creature is?  It could be from another planet.  It looks disgusting (women can’t stand it).  But what worries me is that there may be more of them in the studio, just waiting for me.

The sink in the toilet in my studio is quite dirty, it rarely gets cleaned.  I used it the other day and noticed a clear swathe across the middle of it, very unusual, with ragged edges.  I had no recollection at that time of ever doing this myself.  I concluded that it must be due to a creature, quite a large creature, probably furry.  But, how did it get onto the sink, it would have had to jump about 4 feet vertically from the floor.  But, then I noticed that there is a ladder standing nearby and it could have climbed up that and jumped from there.  I concluded that it must have been a fat rat.   After a day or so thinking about this I somehow remembered taking a stab at cleaning the sink and after one swipe with a rag giving up.  Maybe I did this, but maybe not.  Maybe there is another large creature that I am sharing the studio with.


Keeping cool

We were literally going out of the door, when my sister-in-law Barbara said “that’s funny my water isn’t cold!”  She had put a bottle on water in the fridge overnight for the trip and now it wasn’t cold.  So we both went and looked in the fridge and freezer and nothing was cold.  The refrigerator was dead.  It had died since yesterday and now we were just about to leave on a trip to visit our daughter and family in Beersheva.  What a disaster, what could be done?

We quickly took all the perishables out of the freezer and fridge and filled up a fairly large cold box that we have. I said we can buy some ice on the way and then Miriam can put it in her fridge/freezer.  Then I called the metapelet (carer) Sahlee and asked her to come and rescue the rest of the stuff and cook the chicken early for Friday night when we would be back, and keep the rest in her fridge/freezer in her shared apartment until we got back.  Then we left and stopped at a garage and bought a large bag of ice and put it on the top of the food.  It lasted fine until we got to Miriam’s.  Then she took the salmon steaks and cooked them and we had a great repast.  Meanwhile Sahlee cooked the chicken and kept it and the rest of the food in her fridge.

So short-term problem solved.  But what to do about getting a new fridge, since we were not returning until Friday (Shabbat) morning.  My daughter tried to call a repair engineer, but three of them said it was not worth even looking at one that was 20 years old.  And by the way this is the fridge that the top freezer door fell off (three times) which was quite a dramatic event (it was fiber glass and it bounced on the floor).  So I called Mike Electronics, where I have bought many appliances, and although Mike was not there his assistant said don’t worry we will give you a good price and deliver it on Friday within an hour of ordering. Miriam and I went to visit two stores and saw some fridges and agreed that a bottom freezer would be better.  We took down all the prices and specifications, although it proved to be pointless.

We drove back early Fri morning and got to Mike’s store before 10 am.  The Assistant was there and expecting us, and showed us his fridges in stock.  One was the right width, and had a bottom freezer, but was too tall (5-10 cm) to fit into our space.  But, at this point I had no alternative, so I bought it, it was a Blomberg (German) manufacture.  Mike gave me a good deal and he guaranteed it would be delivered within two hours.   When we got home I looked at the space and saw that the cupboard across the top was fixed only with 7 screws.  I removed 6 of them and waited until Brian could help me hold the top cupboard so that it would not fall on me as I removed the last screw. Once the top cupboard was removed it could accommodate a fridge as high as the ceiling. Unfortunately, the fridge was too wide to fit into our tiny elevator, so they took the doors off and shlapped it up the stairs and it went into the space perfectly.   So we had cold food in our new fridge for Shabbat.