Friday, June 28, 2013


It's been a few days and I just can't stop thinking about Fran. She passed away Tuesday. It was all so sudden and shocking. I really liked her, with her sharp wit and wry smile. And while we never really agreed on anything politically, she was, at least, prepared to listen to the other side (sometimes). I always admired her bravery, coming to settle in Israel to be with Denise and the family, on her own, later in life. Looking on Israeli life from the outside, she never seemed to become bitter or disillusioned. Her overwhelming love for her grandsons was clearly at the centre of her life in Raanana. The boys will carry a little bit of Fran with them forever.

We shared a love of a good story. I was always amazed that despite her rather conservative politics, she was always ready to read anything from trashy modern stuff to complex murder mysteries. She enjoyed Brother Cadfael and Amelia Peabody, SciFi, Gaiman. She liked a good movie, and quite a lot of bad ones. And she could cook. She will leave a hole at Friday night dinners. Fran was an integral part of the family, inseparable in my mind from Ari, Denise, Meron, Edan and Yarden. Thanksgiving will always be Fran's holiday in my mind, although I can do without the weird fruit jello stuff (sorry, jello should be a dessert, not a salad).

There was something uniquely American about Fran. She embodies for me that down-to-earth, practical outlook on life, which I so admire in Americans. That same attitude lives on in Denise and the boys can be proud of that heritage. I really liked Fran, I should have told her that more often. I will miss her. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


They love signs and notices in this country. They must be the most signposted people in the world. This all came to head yesterday, when I brought in some left over chocolate trifle made over the weekend by bwo. The squints here at Squint Central UK (Egham Branch) seemed to look on this free food with some suspicion. I was greatly surprised when there was trifle left over by lunch time. Back in the old country at Squint Central Holy Land (Yakum Branch) this would have been polished off within an hour of arrival. On further investigation (during the informal lunch "social" chat), it appears the mob were confused as there was no signage announcing this as free food. The fact that it was placed next to the free fruit, on the table where all free food is usually placed, seemed to go unnoticed. They needed a sign! Apparently a post it note would have been enough, but permission needed to have been given.

There are signs everywhere in the UK. The road signs are huge and extremely visible (this is good). Here at Squint Central there are dozens of "Now wash your hands, please" all over the place (at least they are polite). The door next to my office has a "Fire door, Keep Shut" sign, a "Please Use Door Release" sign and a "Push" sign on the door. A "Fire Exit" sign above the door and an "Emergency Use Only" sign on the button next to the only relevant button for daily use, the door release, which has no sign.

Around the house there are many, many signs. On each walk I get to see at least 20 signs warning you what will happen should you not pick up after your dog (£500 fine), signs warning we are being observed as part of the "Richmond Watch" program, signs to "Save Our School" (complicated issue where some of the land of the local school is being sold to developers for "high density housing") and, of course, the notices explaining why there are no dogs allowed on Petersham Common (it's due to the cows).

The best notice locally though, was the hand written rant I photographed below. This was posted on a tree at the edge of the cute little "copse" next to our house. The cynicism is probably wasted on whomever picked the purple flower, but it's a classic. "You was seen so look out"!!!!