A few small odds and ends:
1) From the Things My Shaliach Never Told Me File, another laundry-related story:
I often find that when I am hanging out my window to put out or bring in my laundry, that the same man is walking around in my neighborhood with his two dogs. He seems to be in his late 50's or 60's, with a wild beard, and two little dogs. One of the dogs has clearly been injured - she walks around using both hind legs together, sort of limping in an "oh, nebich" kind of way. At first I thought that maybe the guy is abusing his dogs, but over time, when I saw him around a lot, I saw that he seems to take good care of them and feel protective of them.
Anyhow, two days ago we actually talked, while I was bringing in my laundry and he was out on the sidewalk letting his dogs run around in the wild garden-type area under my window. He's an immigrant from Russia, and the dogs' names are Suzi and Cookie. It turns out that Suzie had some problem with one of her vertebrae (his Hebrew wasn't good enough to really explain what it was) and she was paralyzed and bed-ridden for a year and a half! He said that every day he took her out of her doggie-bed to clean her and put new bedding down. And one day, miraculously, she just stood up and started hopping around! And now she can actually hop all over the neighborhood! Go Suzie!
2) Last night we had a lunar eclipse. I sat on the ledge in front of the building across the street and just watched it for an hour. It made me a little sad that I had no one to watch it with. I had called my friends to tell them about it, but it's not like any of them could come over to watch it together. It was so beautiful and cool.
After a little while, a teenage girl walked by and I pointed to the sky and asked her how to say "lunar eclipse" in Hebrew (it's "likui ha-yarayach"). Turns out that this girl is a neighbor-- she lives over the yeshiva around the corner from me. Her name is Nitzan, she's about 21, and she's doing a year of pre-college study, having just finished her army service. Like a lot of Israelis, she thought it odd that I moved to Israel now. I told her how simple I think it is that Jews should live in the Jewish homeland, and how the moment I signed the paper accepting Israeli citizenship was one of the most profound of my life. She said she'd never thought of it that way before. I said Israelis don't usually appreciate it, because they are used to being here and being Israeli.
She also said that she doesn't like the yeshiva boys, because sometimes the prayers go until the middle of the night and keep her awake, and because the ones in the dorm apartments in her building won't even say hello to her and she finds them to be generally rude. I asked her how old the boys are, and she said 15 and 16 or so. I pointed out that maybe they are rude not because they are yeshiva boys but because they are teenagers. And I suggested that she bring kosher-lemihadrin food baskets to them and to the yeshiva office before the next holiday, with a note that says "happy holidays from your neighbors," to get the yeshiva thinking in the direction of remembering that they have neighbors. She was like "hey, that's a good idea!" I felt like I'd done my mitzva for the day. It sounds like someone in that building needs to make the first move, so it may as well be her.
3) Protocols finally has a female Elder. She's only a guest, but perhaps this is a sign of changing times. Be sure to go to the site to welcome her.
4) Mazal tov to my friends Rivka and Moshe in New Jersey, on the birth of a baby girl!
5) How I am generally: Well, doing OK, basically. I had a frustrating week with my journalism assignments. Getting the stories together was like pulling teeth, with people not calling me back, stories turning out to not really be stories, etc. Also I haven't exercised for a while so I feel really icky and fat. However, all in all I'm doing OK, nothing terrible to report (thank God!), and looking forward to handing in these assignments so I can breath for the weekend.