Thursday, September 30, 2010


I hate packing for travel. No matter how organized I am, and no matter how much planning I do beforehand I always get a sinking feeling in the stomach when I start selecting clothes to put in a suitcase. But, now I'm done. I've made my choices and packed my clothes and the multitude of gifts I'm taking with to the US. My toiletries and meds are all taken care of and all that's left to do is to pack my backpack and travel docs. Going to the States is always good. Let's face it, if I left anything behind I can get it there. I also really don't like traveling without bwo. She loves airports, airplanes and hotels - I don't, but her enthusiasm rubs off and makes it all so much easier. I do get better over time. On a long trip like this, I put my body and mind in park and switch off until I reach my destination after 24 hours of travel. Next post, California.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Sorry I've not really been blogging since I got home. It has been impossibly busy and I really have not had enough time. Hopefully that will change and I'll come back in full force once I hit the US on Friday. I'll leave you with this thought:

We went to the Netherlands and all I bought myself was 8 disposable razors. Am I really that cheap.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I've noticed something interesting about coming home. The house always looks so lived in. When I'm away and thinking of home, it seems to always have clean walls, no junk laying around and the shower is pristine and shiny. Then when I come home I'm always shocked at how worn the house looks. We have been living here for 10 years now so it's not surprising. Funny, I get the same feeling when I mistakenly glance in the mirror.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tot ziens Clovenhove

We woke up early (8am is early for this family), cleaned the house, returned the keys and motored off to Amsterdam. Bwo found us an excellent hotel on the Herengracht which overlooks the canals, although our 4 person room overlooks the rest of the hotel. We paid for a parking service where they come pick up your car, and return it when you want instead of the 36 Euro a day for parking in the non existing parking on the street. We then walked around a bit and took a boat tour of the canals. Its a very pretty city is Amsterdam. Now we are having a little rest and then we will go walking again.

I am already feeling down knowing what's waiting for me over the next few days. First going home and then back to work and stress for a few days then off to the US. All in all this has been a intense vacation and this kind of thing is not for the week of heart (with teenagers). They keep telling me I'm grumpy and miserable, so what's new.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Lazy Day

Yesterday we just hung around the resort. The girl and I rented bicycles and went for a nice long ride in the forests, while bwo and the boy slept, read and played on the internet. I am happy to say I did not touch a computer all day except to turn off file sharing (thanks anonymous). We spent hours on the ridiculously difficult puzzle we bought a few days back, looks like we have no chance of finishing it, hopefully the next people to use this cabin will. We lazed out and bought pizza for dinner, the kids watched TV (they have the original A Team series on here). A relaxing and stress free day, just what we needed.

Today is sadly our last full day here. We will leave for Amsterdam tomorrow morning and then fly home Saturday evening. I already have butterflies in my stomach thinking about the week ahead and my business trip to the US. Time waits for no man and all good things must come to an end (enough with the cliches).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Like To Ride My Bicycle

Yesterday evening our internet went out. Crisis! Oh what a crisis. We complained to reception, they told us to call the provider, it was all in Dutch, left a message, went to sleep with it not working and woke up with the the "no connection" sign still flashing. We complained again and they sent someone by, he spoke to some people on his walkie talkie and then told us in his broken English "the provider is brokened". When we got back from our trip this afternoon it was working again. Praise the Lord. The thing is that we have not been able to find an English speaking map and so without google earth we're a little trapped. Luckily I wrote down the address of the De Hoge Veluwe National Park yesterday, and so we visited there today.

What an awesome place it is. Amazingly enough, the second best Van Gogh collection (next to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) can be found in the Museum in the middle of the park. The park is a giant forest with trails all over and best of all, they have thousands of free white bicycles. So you park your car at one of the entrances (we entered the Otterloo gate) and then take four free bicycles and cycle around the park, visiting the museum (only after someone has to ride back to the car because someone else forgot to bring the tickets), eating a picnic lunch in the woods and just generally having fun on the bicycles. It was really great, even the boy had a good time.

Blackdylano decided she wants a bicycle just like the free white ones when she gets home. I can just see her in her micro mini dresses and 6 inch heels cycling around Raanana. Fat chance. I'll post pictures in the morning.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The car hunger gene

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon when it comes to driving with the family (we have done quite a bit of this of late). As soon as any member of the family gets into the car, they get hungry. Now it matters not if they have stuffed themselves a half hour before, someone is always hungry. This usually happens as soon as we hit the open road, once we have left the hotel/holiday home. What is strange is that it's never all of them together, usually only one at a time. Usually only one is hungry while the others feel sick, or nauseous or need to pee, but that's another whole blogpost in itself.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Deventer Blues

Blackdaughtero here!
Yes it has been quite a while since my last blog post. Well, I have been very busy.
At the moment I am sitting on a moderately comfortable couch, looking out the glass walls at a beautiful forest scene, listening to Win Butler whine about how much he wants a daughter before he gets too old.....I tell you, this album is amazing (The Arcade Fire-The Suburbs) but also the general theme is quite familliar-Growing Old, Family, Kids, City blah blah blah.
But this is not what I am really here to talk about. What I actually intend to tell you, if anyones cares enough to listen, is about our day yesterday.
Yesterday, the Ostrin fam shipped themselves out to Deventer, a little town which seemed very quiet, empty, tranquil and first. Well mother of course has a way of sniffing out shopping and excitement, and surely enough, we found out the Deventer is quite a center of excitement, shopping, marketplace and overall a huge amount of people!! way to go mother!!
Me and her were very happy to have stumbled upon an opputunity to spend to money, but of course, the miseries were less then exited.
Blackmisrablefathero and Blackmiserablebrothero enjoyed the first half an hour of walking around....but soon of course, they were reminded that they are destined to hate every social and crowded place, and of course.......we were hungry.
The good thing is that Mother is probably the best person to be with when hungry as she very much loves loading food onto everyones plates. I don't think I even managed to say the word "hungry" before mom had appeared with 4 deep fired Korean egg rolls, equipped with hot and spicy sauce, One sandwich for the boy, and a deepfried banana. We also devoured all of the snap peas she had bought...originally intended to mix into a stirfry for dinner....FAIL.
The Eggroll was amazing....fried and yummy. Blackmisrablebrothero seemed to become a little less miserable after eating the deepfried banana so I guess it must have been good.
Deventer was very fun.....I enjoyed being around to life....and teenagers....and very cute Chegavuera enthusiests!!!
the rest f the day was more relaxed....we played on our devices, ate some dinner, and i watched Pulp Fiction for the very first time....don't laugh at me!!!
It was very good!1 I enjoyed it immensely!! and I have a feeling I will watch it today again!!
Anyways....I need to tear my eyes away from the screen and spend some time being one with nature!!!
It has been emotional!
until next time!
Blackdaughtero :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

In The Forest

We are in the middle of a forest. Really. And there is good internet. We left Amsterdam in the morning, it was raining again. The drive down was uneventful, but luckily we had the GPS. How did people live before they existed. Certainly they never found this place. The nearest town is Eerbeek, where we stopped to buy groceries at the supermarket. We love shopping in foreign supermarkets and this was a very nice one. We got our unit at 3pm. It's a stand alone bungalow, has 3 bedrooms, and is in the middle of the forest. I just came back from a wonderful hour long walk in the trees. It was getting dark and I nearly got lost as the sun was going down and there are few lights out here. We\re all sitting around in the lounge, some reading, most playing on iPhones and computer. It's what we do, except here we're doing it in a forest. There are rabbits.

Pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The kids are alright

Heckle and Jeckle arrived this morning. We took the bus to the airport and picked up our rental car. No worries, it's black. Thank god for the GPS, its been a life saver. We drove through the center of town to our first hotel, picked up our bags, and then went to our next hotel. The Hotel Kap (or as call it Hotel Crap). Jo found picked this place because it has a room for four. It's not nearly as nice as the first place, more like an B+B than a hotel. We have our own bathroom, but it's not in our room, sort of out on the landing outside. The toilet is nothing like anything I've ever seen and Ive seen it all. The boy has named it Frankentoilet. It has a pump and makes all sorts of noises and doesn't really swallow well, a basic toilet requirement in most parts of the world.

We are all exhausted. We crashed for three hours in the afternoon. Tonight we went awalking again, ate mediocre Indian food and then visited the Red Light District. We are now back in the hotel all very tired and shagged out. The most expensive thing in Amsterdam (where nothing is inexpensive) is the parking. It costs 4 euro an hour to park on the street. Which is a problem if you are here overnight. Tomorrow its off to our timeshare. I also need to upload our pictures, hopefully there is internet in next place else it will be a quiet week on the blog. Have a good fast all of you.
My loves after lunch at Hans en Grietje.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I'm most amazed by the bicycles. I have seen people (lots of long legged women actually) texting, eating, leading dogs, driving whole families all perched on their bicycles. It's raining and many people ride their bikes with umbrellas. There are bicycle lanes everywhere and you have to look out or else you'll get flattened as they come zipping by. This is what a green country really looks like.

We walked for miles and miles today. We visited the Rijksmuseum and saw the Rembrandts and the Vermeers. The kids arrive tomorrow and we will take a bus to the airport to meet them and then come back in our rental car. I am really not looking forward to driving in this city but we have one night here with the kids before we go off to our time share which is a few hours drive outside Amsterdam. Maybe we'll rent bikes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Amsterdam - A nice place

We made it. The plane left Israel more or less on time, and the airport had settled down after the strike yesterday. We flew first to London, so I could get a Pret A Manger sandwich (actually we used BA miles to get here and went through the UK) and then from Heathrow to Amsterdam. On the flight from Israel to Heathrow the entertainment system for our seats was not working, much to the annoyance and chagrin of bwo, who complained bitterly. We did get two 50 pound vouchers for the duty free store, so complaining has its benefits. Counting the stop in London and the mess that is Heathrow, it was a long trek to get here. We took the 197 bus from Schipol airport to our hotel here in the Museum district. It's simple but nice and the free internet is very fast. So I'm not complaining.

We walked around our area a bit, found an excellent Thai dinner and took in some of Amsterdam by night. IT'S RAINING. Fantastic, wonderful rain. I haven't seen rain for many months and it's good to know water falls from the sky in some places. There are millions of bicycles and people talking on cell phones on bicycles and people texting on bicycles. All very Dutch. Here are some of bwo's iPhone pictures.
The canal outside the Hotel.
It's raining.
Inside the Thai restaurant. I had a good curry.

More tomorrow. I like it here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On Strike

I mailed my project off to the UK. So that's done. It has been a completely hectic few days and I am very glad that's over. I haven't even begun to think about my vacation, which is good as it seems the Ben Gurion Airport is on strike. For how long? Who knows. Well I'm going on vacation tomorrow no matter what, I only hope it will be in Holland.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's due Sep 24

No I did not go out on a site visit today. I have been working steadily, without panic, on my huge project for my Managing Archaeological Practices course for the last two months or so. I have interviewed people at the City of Herzliya, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). I have visited MAPI, the Israel Mapping Authority to get maps of the area of interest. I taught myself how to use GIS to make 3D representations of the area. I've done schedules and budgets, read antiquities law and IAA process and spoken to experienced archaeologists. All this has taken around 50 pages of report.

I was certain that this project was due at the end of September. I had it timed so I had a few days after we got back from Holland to finalize, do the final layout and proof reading before posting. I got up early this morning to check that there was indeed no word limit for this project and was stunned to find out it's due on September 24th, right in the middle of our vacation. The panic hit. We are leaving on Tuesday, which means I need to be done in two days. So I spent the last 12 hours solidly getting it all together. It's nearly there. I will reread it twice tomorrow and post it on Tuesday. I could have used a few more days, but it will have to do.

I have learned a huge amount during this project. Project management in archaeology, at least in Israel, seems to be a jealously guarded secret. Getting costs and time estimates required all my charm and persistence. I have no idea how my project will be received, but it really does not matter - I grew and that's this is all about, No?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This is the single best example of Chinglish I have seen in a long time. Bwo got some "Seven Color Crystal Ball" for the nephew and niece to play with. Here are the instructions on the back of the tiny plastic packet they came in:
  1. add water 400G on the product about 4 hours it will grow up.
  2. one clear beauty satiety face will grow up.
  3. when the flower want to oxygen and nutrition I will help you too much.
I hope you can understand this. I most certainly can't. Whats a "beauty satiety face" anyway?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shana Tova

Thirty something people for dinner tonight (at least it's down from the forty something we were expecting last week). The soup and matzo balls are made, the bread baked, the cinnamon rolls (babka) came out nicely, potato kugel looks good, the lazagne is ready to be fired - and that's just our contribution. We'll have brandy and sponge-cake (actually honey cake in this part of the world) to remember my dad. All the kids are home, include blacknephewo. So it must be Chag. Well all that's left is to wish you all a very happy and healthy Jewish New Year. Don't overeat, and remember you have only 10 days left to get signed into the good book, so be good. Oh and anyone whom I've offended over the last year, forgive me please.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I have no idea where I heard about these guys or where I bought the music. I have been listening to music quite heavily the past week or so as I have been writing my paper in the evenings, hoping to get done before we're off on vacation. I like listening on random album select and just putting up with what iTunes throws at me. Well, it threw me these guys two days back and I have listened to their album a few times since. I really like this song. I'm a sucker for a good winding rhythm. So here you have it ladies and gents: Stoney+ and Jailbird.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Out and About

Now I don't want all you people to think that I have been ignoring my duties as your faithful archaeological correspondent. The truth is I have been out archaeologicalling (as it is known in the family), I just have not been blogging as these are pretty much repeat visits.

I have visited Tel Michal a number of times over the last few weeks (near the Herzliya Marina). I am doing this huge project for my course that involves a detailed project plan for a salvage excavation of a site near the Tel. I've climbed up and down, taken pictures, and even measured the height of the mound of trash that is slowly taking over the eastern side of the Tel. This project has taken a ton of work, but I now know how much the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) will charge to dig up your garden should you so desire (990NIS a square meter).

Yesterday I visited the Eretz Israel Museum in T.A. I have been there before and blogged it, but this time I was looking for some examples of Persian Course Ware to match to the sherds laying around on the Tel (all part of this project, serious work I tell you). No luck, I'm afraid, but the time spent at the museum was good. I walked around all the halls and looked at the exhibitions. I really like this quaint museum with its collection spread out all over the place. It sort of mimics Tel Aviv in a way.

Last week bwo and I set out to find Hurvat Burgeta. We saw it from the road, but it was behind a locked gate and a fence, and I was lazy. We did stop at an Aroma on the way and their Halumi sandwich was fantastic. An excellent combination of pickles, tomato and cheese.

So I've been out - just saying.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I'm really in struggling with a dilemma. We are due to go off to Holland for our yearly family holiday in a few weeks. We have all four of us been looking forward to this, each in his own way. Our family vacations have been times I look back on with great warmth and pleasure. We walked the Birks of Aberfeldy together, steered our narrowboat through locks, we've marveled at the Bruegels at the Kunsthistorisches Museum and frozen our butts off Johnny's B+B in Annan. But things are a bit different this year. I am worried about my kids missing school and college. Unfortunately the timing of the trip means they will miss 4 or 5 days of school and I'm not sure either of them can afford this. I wish I could just relax and let it be. When I was young and my folks took me traveling, I firmly believed that seeing the world was the best education I could have received. I know I should still think this way, but I'm torn. In the past they haven't shown strength in catching up with missed work and these are important years. But these memories are really what a family is about. Ugggg, I often wish, that like bwo, I could just live for today and let the future take care of itself.

I know you all will just tell me to shut up and be thankful that they're still prepared to go on family vacations together.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Taming the Trash

This weekend blackwifeo is off to the Dead Sea for a weekend of the self-helpless. She and her support posse are going down for a conference. All this is amusing in its own right, for sure. What is less amusing is that she wishes to take Harriet, my (clean) black Honda Insight. I have no problem with her taking my car, anyway she drives way better than me, but if she takes Harriet I'm left with the Renault Mizbeleh (trash heap).

So I put my foot down and refused to give her my clean and tidy Harriet unless she clean out the Mizbeleh. The picture above is what came out of the car and was NOT trash. I bet there were many garbage bags full of old soda cans, cigarette packets, food and clothes. What is incredible is how many cleaning supplies she found in the depths of the Misbeleh. I am sure that spending months in that trash heap is considered hell in cleaning supply circles. The only down side of her cleaning out the car is that we could have survived for months in there should disaster strike. Now it looks like we will have to prepare an real earthquake survival kit.

Anyway, drive safely love and make sure you don't book your ledge jumpers into the upper floors of the hotel.