Monday, September 18, 2006

I Forgot It Was Monday...


Today was frantically busy. Work is always extra busy on Mondays because we have our weekly management meeting. But today was especially so. This is the Monday before Rosh haShana, the Jewish new year, and the rest of the biggie High Holy Days - Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, and Sukkoth, the harvest festival.

The way high holy days work here is a bit different from Christmas and Easter. Israel, because it is a county (originally) based on religion not on race or politics, still takes holy days seriously, the way Christmas used to be a couple of decades ago. Everything is closed down except for very basic emergency services. In a way this is a good thing - you get enforced days off:

  • Rosh haShana - 2 days
  • Yom Kippur - 1 day
  • Sukkoth - 2 days
  • Passover - 2 days (celebrating going into exile and getting out from under the thumb of the Pharoes - think the 10 Commandments)
  • Shevuoth - 2 days (this is, as far as I am concerned, the Milk & Cheese holiday)

The down side of this is that most companies shut down at 13h00 the day before a high holy day and a half day is taken out of your annual vacation days. There is also something called Chol haMoed, which are the days between the holy days of Passover and Sukkoth (5/6 days). My company, like most companies here, shuts down except for a skeleton crew, and the intervening days are taken out of vacation days too, even if only partially - for 5 days off they take off 2.5. But when you only get 10 days a year, this works out to a serious chunk of time. And of course, if you want to go anywhere, this is considered high season...

But in good years, when the holy days fall in the middle of the work week, by putting out 10 vacation days you can get almost a month's vacation. Unfortunately that doesn't happen this year. Everything falls on the weekend.

So why was I extra busy today? Well, for every major holy day we raise a glass and toast the holiday (ramat cosit). This being the land of voracious eaters it isn't good enough to have a glass of wine and say cheers. Rosh haShana has to be toasted in something sweet - usually honey cakes, apples dipped in honey, and pomegranates. I have had other things on my mind the last few days (namely going to see doctors, getting good drugs, wintergreen smelling liniment and physiotherapy appointments), so this morning as I was driving my scooter along, concentrating on not getting run over by road raged (or just plain ignorant) drivers, a bell went off in my head and I thought "sh*t, I have to stop and get stuff for the ramat cosit". Fortunately there is a pretty ok bakery on the way that is open at 8h00. So I stopped off and got rugelach, cinnamon danish and a honey cake. I knew I had a couple of apples in the fridge and there is always honey for tea in the management kitchen, so I just needed to worry about wine.

The first thing I did was call my saviour Simon - the general factotum and person in charge of all aspects of maintaining the offices. Honestly, without Simon the office would fall apart, and without him I would be completely insane. He is like an older brother and we can let off steam and whinge at each other and know it gets no further. And like a good fairy, Simon came up with a nice red table wine by Segal, which was a small winery but is now owned by Barkan, one of the country's largest wine manufacturers (I use the word advisedly). My management aren't big drinkers, so for the token sips that they all take that is perfectly good enough.

Another thing that is good about the holy day season is that it is also the season for gift giving. My boss, being the boss, gets alot of gifts, the ones being non-her she often passes on to the underappreciated underlings (like me). She added the remainder of a box of handmade chocolate truffles to the pile and I sliced up the kobo that I had brought for my lunch and "ta dah" we had the makings of a half decent spread.

That was one less thing on my plate, but what had me most overloaded was the cards and calendars that I had to get labelled and mailed out. Even with Excel and mail merge, it is still a long job. But by 19:30 I was on my way home, having managed to get everything sorted and ready to go out in tomorrows mailbag.

On the way home I stopped off at the pottery studio to take back all of the bowls and plates that I had brought in for the Jaffa festival in the hopes that something would sell. No such luck, but a friend from work who I had sent the link to called me up and said that she wanted to buy at least two, if not three bowls from me, so I am going to bring a couple of bags full into work tomorrow and hopefully I will have more luck there. While I was at the studio, SistR called, worried because I hadn't been by to pick up my share of our CSA. I had been so preoccupied with other stuff that I just plain forgot that today was Monday.

So, what did we get today?

  • Beans (they look like regular straight string beans, but lumpier)
  • Cherry, field and roma tomatoes
  • Romaine lettuce (complete with worm)
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet & normal potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Pomegranates
  • Eggplants
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers

This wasn't the only surprise package I got today though. One of our advertising agencies (the only one of our suppliers who always remembers me when making up their lists) gave me a nice wooden box of Wissotzky tea - Masala Chai, Earl Grey, Green Tea with Nana (a type of mint) and Passiflora/Mango tissane.

The other surprise package was from the secretaries of one of the (new) shareholders of the company. This was a big surprise because the other owners and their secretaries have never, in all the years that I have worked with them, even sent me a card. And not only was there a gift - a lovely gilded wooden plate with Italian bonbons, beautifully wrapped with a little flower, there was also a card that was signed "with love". Really touching and, from my dealings with them so far, very much in character.

All in all, even though I forgot it was Monday,
I ended up feeling rather like it was Christmas!

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