Sunday, September 17, 2017

Chinese Balls

It is difficult to find good dog toys.  There is a huge variety available on the market, but they are either boring for the dog after five minutes, can be destroyed, demolished, and swallowed either whole or in pieces in ten minutes, or are ridiculously expensive.  And even the very expensive "behavioral" toys, games, puzzles, and so on either lose their interest for the intelligent and active dog after a while, or they find a way to destroy them or lose the pieces.  Toys that work on food motivation often motivate a clever dog to find an imaginative way to penetrate them to get to the food, without all the play that was intended.

So imagine my joy when we found in a small pet supply shop in a village here in Italy a ball 
that seemed to be unique in its ability to fascinate the dogs.  It is a spiky ball of some fairly hard and resistant plastic or rubber, but still soft enough for the dog to chomp on to create a fascinating squeak, and activate   flashing lights in blue and red. 

My collies love to run after things and retrieve, but tend to get bored quickly.  But they became totally obsessed with this ball.  They were ready to run after it for hours, catching it, squeaking it, and begging for me to throw it again. They would stand looking at me with begging eyes, chewing the ball to make it squeak – "Please throw it again! Again! Again!" The Canaans, in general not very interested in this sort of game, were not very interested in this ball, but my housemate's braccho italiano was even more obsessed than the collies.

And even better, this ball seemed to be almost indestructible.  Hours of play and chewing left it minus a few of the spikes, but still whole, undestroyed, still squeaking, and still flashing.  Weeks went by, and the ball was still alive and well, and the dogs remained obsessed.

Since it was such a great success, we decided we should buy more of these balls for future use.  There were two more at the pet shop, which we quickly bought, and the shop owner said they were due to get more in a few weeks.

One of the balls bounced over the fence and disappeared down the hill into limbo.  A second ball went with one of my collie girls when she travelled to a few shows with a handler, to help her feel happy and at home – she was one of the most obsessed.  But she returned without the ball, it was forgotten at the handler's place, and there has still not been an opportunity to get it back yet.  One ball is left. The flashing lights have stopped – they did last for a long time – but the ball, despite being minus a number of spikes, still squeaks and bounces very well, and the dogs are still obsessed with it, refusing to play with other toys and waiting for me to bring it out and start the game.

I was getting very worried – what would happen if something happened to this ball, or if it finally got chewed up?  We did not know the name of the company that produced it, and the shop where we got them was hours of travel away, and meanwhile had not gotten a new supply.

So what do you do in this sort of situation?  You search for things on the internet.  We searched for "dog toy ball, flashing light and squeaker".  And we got results!

The results were on one of the Chinese websites that is rather like a Chinese Amazon – it sells everything under the sun representing manufacturers, retailers, and anyone wanting to sell.  And there they were – balls!  They looked just like our ball in the photos, and they were really cheap!  True, it would take two months for them to arrive, but we expected the ball we had to last for at least another two months.  We immediately ordered 20 Chinese balls – that should be enough for a while.

Two months passed, and a package arrived.  Well, not really a package.  It was a large airmail envelope.  We opened it, and there were the 20 balls.  But!!!!  These were smaller – not the size we ordered, softer, and because they were soft, about 15 of the 20 were squished from the transport and no longer in the shape of balls.  They rather looked like a peach that has been stepped on…

When we tried playing with the dogs, we discovered that the dogs did like them, but after ten minutes of rough play and chewing, the balls were demolished and the squeaker and the thingy that produced the flashing lights fell out – things that were just the size to be easily swallowed by dogs. 

What a disappointment!!!! Of course, we complained to the supplier, who agreed to refund the purchase price, and begged us not to ruin his reputation!!!!   But now we had no balls!!!!

The moral of this story is, don't trust Chinese Balls!

And if anyone knows where to find the originals, please let me know!!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Gingerbread House

Once upon a time, there was a house on the top of a high hill in Italy.  The surroundings 
were spectacular, so beautiful that they cast a sort of enchantment on the place, and on the ability to view it realistically.  It created an almost insurmountable desire to just stay there and look at the constantly changing light and shadow on the wonderful landscape.

The house was actually two houses, one the family home of the owners, and the second a building that had been converted into two apartments, upstairs and downstairs.  The buildings looked quite charming, and all around, of course, was the incredible landscape and the quiet of an isolated location surrounded by nature.

Ahhhh, things are not always what they seem…

The houses belonged to an old acquaintance of my partner, or actually, to her husband.  They had not really been in touch over the years except for a few casual meetings, but when Lucretia (as we will call her) heard that we were looking for a house to rent, she got in touch.

She is a very attractive woman for her age (50), and was very charming, smiling all the time, and expressing great interest in our needs. We could rent one apartment, ground floor, and use some of the outbuildings or sheds for the dogs.  There was a great deal of land around, we could make yards, kennels, no problem.  There was a lot of junk around, her husband was one of those people who believed that everything could possibly be of use at some time, and so collected all the discards of everyone and piled it up around the property.  There were stacks of all sorts of old building materials, broken furniture, lumber, window frames, old doors – you name it, and probably you could find it.  But we could see that with some clean up, the place had great potential.

Her husband, Giovanni, was dying, she told us.  He had a cancer of the brain, which was incurable, although various treatments had been tried.  She needed help caring for the animals and the place, so was interested in renting the apartment.  The upstairs apartment was being reserved for the person who would have to take care of Giovanni when he was not able to function anymore.

Once he was dead, the junk could be taken care of…

She promised us plenty of space for the dogs, and her help in finding some work with the dogs with children's groups, something I had done in the past and was very interested in continuing to do.

We should have been more careful, we should have asked more questions, we should have inspected everything more thoroughly….but like little Hansel and Gretel, we were tempted and seduced by the smiles, the wonderful scenery, and the idea that the little apartment would later be expanded, the junk gotten rid of, and there would be plenty of room for the dogs.  

So we moved in.  It worked out that we moved at the worst possible time of the year, November, when everything was cold, gray, damp, and uncomfortable.  There was incredible fog, like I had never seen before – when you looked out over the landscape, the fog looked like a sea, with the tops of the hills sticking out like islands.  It was often wet and rainy, enough to turn the strange local ground into thick and sticky mud, that clung to everything and turned to heavy dust when it dried.  We were very cramped in the tiny house, as all the dogs were inside with us.  Although we had been promised use of outbuildings to make kennels for the dogs, and the possibility of putting up prefab kennels next to the house, the area that actually we were allowed to use was much less than we had been expecting, and the fence around the yard was not yet finished either.  So the house was in fact more of a kennel, and there was a constant battle against the mud and dust – which we usually lost…The house was heated with a wood burning furnace that was connected to both houses, and there was also plenty of hot water.  But there were few other amenities.
Living in the house gave us a different viewpoint than we had when we first came to see it.  The ceilings were very low, the insulation was very poor, the living room had no windows at all, and it was very cold if the furnace was not on.  There was no connection for the television, the phone reception was not reliable, and the wifi was really our only connection to the world.

The house actually was very strange.  It was almost completely paneled in wood, but obviously the work had not been done by professional experts.  The construction seemed to have been done in a strange way, without proper insulation, so there was constantly a drizzle of dust and other unidentified materials falling through the cracks in the ceiling and accumulating everywhere.  The doors didn't really fit properly, so according to the weather, sometimes they closed and sometimes they didn't, swinging open of their own accord.  The pipes for the radiators were not in the walls but rather haphazardly crisscrossing the rooms.  I don't think the apartment would have passed any safety and up to code examinations…

We had only casually met the homeowner, Giovanni, all of our dealing had been with his wife.  But now, wife and children spent almost all their time in an apartment in town, and we were alone on the property with him.  Lucretia had expected him to be dead by now of the brain cancer.  However, it had been operated on, and he had gone through the usual treatments, and it seemed to be in remission.  Lucretia's plans were not going as she had expected…

Giovanni was a very kind, interesting and helpful person.  He loved animals, had three dogs of his own, as well as other animals, and deeply loved nature and a life devoted to it.  After many years of being a town dweller and working in a bank, he finally had fulfilled his dream of having a house in the country where he could have some animals, grow some of his own food, and enjoy the great beauty of his surroundings.  He loved going for walks with his dogs in the surrounding woods and fields. 

Giovanni was interested in our dogs, and did a great deal to help us build a kennel room and a yard for the dogs to run in.  He was very clever at finding solutions for many things, and had a huge variety of tools and also of building materials, almost all of it recycled.  Things that were junk for others made his eyes light with pleasure and he would bring home all sorts of things that might be of use in the future.

I was familiar with this point of view, the Bedouin also believed that everything might possibly be of use some time in the future.  There were usually big piles of what we might call junk in the vicinity of their dwellings, but for them these were future treasures.

I found myself living as if I was back at the beginning of Shaar Hagai, cleaning, building, constructing, making use of everything to save money.  Giovanni did not consider at all that I was a not so young woman, there was work to be done.  And to my surprise and pleasure, I found myself capable of doing things I had not done for years.

My Italian vocabulary added some new and interesting words – cariola (wheelbarrow), viti (screws), rete (wire), caldaia (stove), and so on.

But sadly, as in all fairy tales, the good king was fading…Giovanni started to feel unwell, and examination showed that the cancer was back.  He went through another operation, but although he refused to give up on his life and activities, the prognosis was not good, not good at all…

Here the story becomes dark.  Giovanni's wife and three children, who we had hardly seen until now, started spending more time on the property.  Lucretia worked part time as a teacher and was a writer of children's books, quite successfully.  When we first met Lucretia and discussed the possibility of renting a place from them, she was very enthusiastic, she told us she loved animals and nature and would be happy to have us with the dogs, and that she would be able to help us find work, in projects for educating children about animals and science that she was involved in.  This sounded great!

But the facts turned out to be different.  There was no more discussion of mutual projects.  To the contrary, the dogs bothered her, she didn't want us to keep them in the house, but the areas promised us for the dogs outside of the house, had been cut in half. The dogs barked and disturbed her, the dogs smelled, the dogs, the dogs, the dogs….In fact, most of the barking of the dogs was caused by her children and dogs running around and agitating our dogs with screaming, waving of sticks, riding by on bicycles, and doing whatever they could invent to make the dogs crazy…

The situation deteriorated.  Giovanni was becoming weaker in front of our eyes, although he was trying very hard to continue to live the life he loved.  But we found out that Lucretia had managed to have him declared incompetent (after all, he was a "man with half a brain"), so that she was now the owner of all the property.  It was quite obvious what her intentions were, her time schedule had just been spoiled by Giovanni's persistence in staying alive.  It was obviously also disappointing for the "cucciolino" ( "puppy dog") that followed after her everywhere and was obviously waiting to take over from Giovanni….

Lucretia had an older daughter from an earlier marriage.  She was an attractive girl like her mother, with ambitions to be a model, something that was very unlikely to happen – at 21, she was too old to start a modeling career.  She now came to live in the apartment above us, which was supposed to be for caretakers of Giovanni.  There was little caretaking going on.  However, she had no compunctions about caretaking for herself – starting with complaints about the dogs, she continued with complaints about us watching movies on the computer later than 10 in the evening. Her usual way of complaining was to bang on the floor of her rooms with a broom (our ceiling), violently and insistently.  If that wasn't enough, she would come down and pound on our door, screaming, "I can't sleep!!!! Look at my face!!! Look at what I look like when I can't sleep!!!!"

Of course, the dogs did not find this at all amusing, and barked in our defense, causing more banging and screaming.

The evil queens punished us in many ways.  There was no longer any heat provided, and it was very cold, the middle of the winter, with temperature around freezing.  There was no hot water.  And the final straw was when they shut off the wifi connection, our only connection to the outside world….

We were given one month to pack up and leave.  There was no question that we wanted to leave, we were extremely stressed and so were the dogs, we were very worried about them as well.  We felt very sorry about Giovanni, who was a shadow of his former self, and although feeling very unhappy, was not in a condition to get involved. (Subsequently, the old king was committed to a hospital, where the evil queen refused to let his friends even visit him without her permission…)

Finding a place to go to in one month, with all the dogs – more or less mission impossible…
But we were determined to get out.  The enchantment had ended, we could now see the reality, and it was not a fairytale, not a gingerbread house, but a dark and depressing soap 

Next time – Moving again

Sunday, July 2, 2017


A short and sad return to thoughts of Israel…
Leaving Shaar Hagai was terribly difficult mentally and emotionally, more than physically, which also was not easy.  But in a way, knowing that the house was there, even if abandoned, left a slight modicum of hope that some day things might change.  And even if I would never be able to return, maybe these historical buildings, part of the founding of the State of Israel's story, would be made use of for a positive purpose, as a monument or museum or something to the advantage of the public.  After all, it is in a national park, so of course it could be made some sort of visitor's center….
Today my daughter notified me that my house has been demolished by the Israel Lands Authority.  What is left is a pile of rubble.  Although the warden in charge of the demolition claimed they were "returning it to nature", all the rubble was left scattered on the hillside and spread over the ruined terraces that we had so carefully renovated and repaired.
Why?  Although I decided to leave when the court gave the decision of eviction, as I had to find a place to go with all the dogs and couldn't wait, other residents were allowed, after payment to the government of a guarantee that they would leave, to remain until June 2018, which was the final eviction date.  So why was it necessary now to destroy?
Everything was done hush-hush.  The residents were not notified – if they had been, maybe they could have acted and gotten a court order to prevent it.  The wardens simply appeared with the tractors and machinery and flattened, not only 47 years of an attempt to renovate and create something beautiful and worthwhile, but history of about 80 years or more, from the time of the British mandate, buildings that were part of the development of the country and a location that was prominent in  the War of Independence.  But who cares about history these days?  If it doesn't bring in money and power, it is not worth anything.  History, dogs…who cares?
Of course, this kind of behavior is not unusual for the Israel Lands Authority.  There was a wonderful old khan from the Turkish period on the hillside opposite the farm.  It was beautifully built, with arches, lovely stonework, a well, and was in excellent condition.  We could see it from the farm, and sometimes visited it to enjoy its beauty.  One day, to our astonishment, we saw tractors on the hillside, demolishing it!  We tried to call the police, but it was too late, this lovely relic of the past was quickly flattened to a scattered pile of rocks.  Why?  The Lands Authority was afraid that someone would try to squat there….So that was a reason for destruction…
I find it hard to understand how a nation that was always so connected to its history, its past, and all those things that were evidence of it, can have turned so egotistical and self interested and corrupt, and gives no value or consideration to anything that doesn't bring power or line the pockets of the "in" crowd.
It has been suggested by some that the destruction of my house was a demonstration of power by the Lands Authority – destroying the house of the one who was the founder and the symbol of Shaar Hagai.  Pathetic if true.  They have already expelled me from my country, why destroy something of value to everyone?
I feel lost, empty, heartbroken…even though I had left, the house was still a symbol of all the years of creation, of overcoming obstacles, and achievement.  There is nothing to come back to now, even to look at and say, once that was my home…
So future posts will be from Italy…

(For those who may not know the story of the founding of Shaar Hagai – all the story of over 40 years is in my book, "Tails of Shaar Hagai", available from Amazon.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Things I Have Learned in Six Months in Italy

Hard to believe that it is already six months that I have been away from Israel and living in Italy.  So far, it has been very educational.  I thought I would share some of what I have learned so far.
Please note – this is relevant for the north of Italy, the area of Emilia Romagna. I have been informed that things are very different from one part of Italy to another…
1.  People here do not walk down the street with cell phones stuck to their ears.  People here walk down the street paying attention to what is happening around them, they stop to talk to one another and pass the time of day, they are not in a hurry, they smile and say hello.
2.  If you stop your car to ask directions, they are happy to help.  We have never had anyone refuse to take the time to explain.  Not only will they give detailed directions, but they may at the same time tell us their life history and where they live and invite us to visit.
3.  Italians do not live on pasta and pizza.  In fact, they don't eat a lot of pasta, the average menu here is very healthy, with lots of vegetables and fruits, and plenty of variety of proteins.  And it is all unquestionably tasty!  I have been eating very well, but without any weight gain.
4.  It is unusual to see fat Italians.  Most people are in quite good shape.  It is rare to see fat children.
5.  Spaghetti and meatballs is definitely not Italian, Italians laugh at the idea.  As well as at a variety of other dishes that are considered by foreigners to be Italian food.
6.  People don’t go to the supermarket and shop for the week.  They go every day to the shops and buy things fresh.  There is a great choice of wonderful fresh produce.
7.  People are kind and polite.  Even public officials smile to greet you and do their best to be helpful.  They may also carry on a conversation about themselves, their lives, politics, or any other subject and are genuinely interested in what you have to say.  Things are in general run very efficiently here, there are no long lines or interminable waiting for service.  Even in the supermarket, when the line gets longer than a few people, a new checkout line is opened.
8.  There is little traffic in this part of Italy, and traffic jams are rare.  Drivers are courteous and ready to yield the right of way.  Sometimes we may meet someone who drives like an Israeli, but it is rare.
9.  Every bathroom has a bidet.
10.  Houses here (in particular in villages) are painted in a wide variety of bright colors, red, pink, yellow, orange, in various shades, even a few green or pistachio ones.  But no blue…I wonder why…I was told that the colors are  because it is often very gray and foggy here in winter, and people like to see something bright.
11.  The scenery is spectacular, no matter what season.
12.  Italians are fond of dogs, dogs can be taken almost anywhere, including into restaurants and supermarkets.  In Italy the law says that dogs are allowed to bark, it is natural for them.  There are also very strict animal protection laws.
Life is very calm here in general, much more so than in Israel.  Not easy, but certainly 

There will always be some people in a population that are not typical, and to our sorrow, we ended up at the mercy of a few of those…More later…

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The End

Today is my last day at Shaar Hagai.  After a month in Italy, I came back to Israel a few days ago to finish emptying the house, and taking care of various bureaucratic necessities. 
The house was already empty of all my personal things, all that was left was various furniture and some odd and ends of kitchen ware and such, things that would have been very expensive to ship abroad, and nothing of value, really, not monetarily or emotionally.
But it was quite devastating to come "home" to this house that I have lived in for 47 years.  It is no longer a home, it is four walls with some insignificant possessions left inside.  There are none of the things that I have accumulated over the years, the books, my collection of little owls, various bits and pieces that I collected in one place or another or that were given to me as gifts, the photos of the family that were on the wall, the numerous trophies and prizes the dogs had received over the years….Only empty walls, and rooms that echo 
      .because they are almost empty

And although the furniture and appliances left have no real value or significance, my heart 
still hurts as each piece is carried away by someone.  I am happy that most things are going to people that can use them, and not just being thrown out, but still every one has a history with me and many memories.

But the hardest part – there are no dogs at Shaar Hagai.  This is the very first time since I first moved in that I have been here without any dogs.  I keep looking around to see what they are doing, but the house is empty of everything except shadows.  The gates in the yard are open, there is no one for them to contain.  The yard is covered with fallen leaves, and the feeling of neglect is everywhere

I feel in limbo.  This is not my place anymore, but it is hard to get it out of my heart.  I am getting adjusted to Italy, and hope I will find enough work to be able to take care of myself and the dogs.  People are amazingly kind and welcoming and life is much calmer.  But it is still not my HOME.

Tonight I fly back.  I will not be at Shaar Hagai again.  I fly back to my dogs, to my Italian friends, to whatever lies ahead.  Shaar Hagai remains behind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Beginnings - Three Weeks in Tordenaso

New Beginnings….Three weeks in Tordenaso

So here we all are in Italy.  A number of months of thinking about it from when the idea came to mind, planning, still trying to fight the inevitable in the courts, and finally, the day for the flight was here.  November 2, 2016.
The day before, the shipping company came to pack up the things I was taking with me.  I had spent a few very difficult months sorting and screening everything in the house.  47 years, raising a family, generations of dogs and the hundreds of trophies they won over the years, various jobs, a huge amount of books (how painful it was to give away most of the books, books for me are very personal things), papers, writing, photos – in the end, 47 years of my life has been reduced to 65 cartons to be shipped to Italy.
Flying with twelve dogs is no joke.  I was quite stressed about the trip, not about how the dogs would take it – I have flown with many dogs to many places, and they get through the trip fine.  I was worried about the inevitable bureaucracy on both ends.  On the side of Israel, it was all taken care of, I hoped. I had all the necessary documents.  The problem here was logistics.
My friend Dana, who has been the one helping me with the dogs when I travelled over the last year, and her husband, were flying with me to help with the dogs.  However, getting to the airport with all dogs, crates, and suitcases, involved a lot of planning, a number of friends with their various vehicles, and precise calculations of who was travelling with whom.  Once we arrived at the airport, unloading and finding a way to get to check-in with the dogs, etc., was also a big challenge, but we managed to find an airport porter with two big trolleys who found the whole situation very amusing.
Without the help of my friends, I don’t know how I would have managed!  I am so grateful to them!
We did attract a good deal of attention at the airport... The dogs were very calm and well behaved, I was so pleased with them.
The dogs were loaded, and so were we, and the flight to Milan passed in a daze of exhaustion.  I do not enjoy flying, but I was too tired to think about how uncomfortable it was. Even Emma and Annabella, the two podengos that were privileged to fly in the cabin with us, slept quietly in their carryons for the whole flight.  And I was focused on what we would have to go through to enter Italy with all the dogs.
The flight arrived at 21:30, and was the only flight at that time. (Flights from Israel always tend to be pushed to the times when there are no other flights or to the extreme ends of the terminals – in some cities, it can be quite a hike to get to and from the flight).  Unloading was very efficient, and the dogs were quickly all there.  We found a few long trolleys – how lucky! – loaded the dog crates, and headed for customs.
I had no idea how the Italian customs would react to us coming in with twelve dogs.  Indeed, they were quite shocked.  It took some time to convince them that yes, these were all my own personal dogs, and no, they were not for sale.  Then all the documents had to be inspected – 8 pages of paperwork for each dog! – and the microchips checked, so each dog in turn was taken out and scanned.  They behaved so well, very calm, not worried about the terminal, and not about going back in the crates.
And finally we were ready to exit the airport!  We had gotten through the whole bureaucratic morass that had been giving me nightmares for weeks!  We were all in Italy!
We were met by a Facebook friend (yes, really!!!!).  This is a collie breeder from Milano, who saw that I was coming, and kindly offered to help.  We had never met in person, but only corresponded, yet here she was, with her husband, with a van they had rented for us.  The van was just big enough for all the dogs and luggage, and her husband was our chauffeur.
I still find it hard to believe the kindness of these total strangers, who came to help, drove us over two hours to our new home, in the middle of the night, and then drove back to Milano.  There couldn't have been a more heartwarming welcome to our new country than the one we received from these lovely people.
We arrived at the house in Tordenaso about one in the morning.  Of course, as with all the best laid plans of mice and men, the kennel was not yet ready, and the gates for the yard were not up yet.  But there was a fence where I could let the dogs out to shake off the stress of the flight, as long as I watched the gate.  The crates were all moved into the house – of course my new house would start out as a kennel, very suitable for me…
It was much colder than I had anticipated, foggy and damp. The next morning, I began to discover things about north Italy that I had not really been told before.
Northern Italy is very beautiful, at any time of year.  The scenery is breathtaking.  But we are used to thinking of the bright sunlight and warm weather of summer.  In winter, the beauty is there, accompanied by almost constant clouds, fog, occasional rain, and bone chilling cold.  The cold is not extreme like in northern Europe, it just feels that way, especially to me! 
And the most outstanding characteristic of the Emilia region in winter is constant, deep, sticky, slippery mud.  One of the first words I found it necessary to learn in Italian was "melma" – mud!  The land here is rich and heavy, and the mud is thick and clings relentlessly to everything – boots, clothes, dogs' feet…My dogs were quite perplexed by this slippery muck when they went out.  How were they supposed to run around in this?  And soon their feet were caked with mud and it was smeared all over as they tried to play and slipped and slid around.  My boots had about two kilo of mud thoroughly stuck to them, and of course the house/kennel floor was invisible under the layer of black mud.
We developed a routine – dogs out, back inside to their crates, and then mud clean up.  This could be expected to continue until next April.  No one had warned me that winter is not a good time to move to Italy…
And to my even greater surprise, the second discovery of what this part of Italy is rich in was – DUST!!!  How a place can be muddy and dusty at the same time is something I have not been able to understand, but everything is constantly covered with a layer of grey dust.  It seems to take only minutes for this layer to renew itself after it has been cleaned, so all surfaces have to be dusted at least several times a day.  Areas that are not, build up a layer of dust that within a day or two is thick enough to plant a garden…
It was a very hard adjustment for me in the first days.  A move under any circumstances is stressful, but this has been an enormous change.  As there has been comparatively little money, much of which was needed just to move the dogs and myself here, we have been able to prepare just the basics for ourselves and the dogs, with the plans to go on improving things as we can and when there is money for it.  As much as possible, we are doing things ourselves, building, cleaning, preparing, organizing.
So I find myself truly in a new beginning.  It is as if I have gone back to the beginning of Shaar Hagai, and am building it all again, making kennels, carrying materials, and all sorts of manual labor that I have not done for a very long time – and I am really pleased to find out that I still can!  Not only am I doing the things I was doing forty some years ago, but I am feeling like I felt then, with some of the annoying little health problems and aches and pains seeming to have disappeared.  Maybe because I don't have the time to think about them.
The pace of life is slower and more relaxed here.  People have time.  They are not in a rush, they are not too busy to talk to you and smile, nothing is too crowded and busy (of course the difference between being in the city or the country).  They take a break from work in midday, they sit and enjoy their meals, they play with their children, they walk in the woods…The first days I spent here, I was out of synch, I was still on the modern world speed track.  But I find myself very different already, able to take things easier, look around and enjoy the beautiful scenery (despite the mud, and the fog, another characteristic of Emilia in the winter), and not worry about being late for anything…
The dogs are also adjusting better and faster than I could have imagined.  Life for them here has had some surprises, but few sources for stress.
This will be a great and interesting adventure! Where it will lead…well, we will see…there is time….

For anyone interested in the story of the original Shaar Hagai - you can find it on in my book "Tails of Shaar Hagai" - a great read for the holidays!

Monday, April 4, 2016

שער הגיא – חוק? צדק?

בזמן אחרון, לא היה לי מצב רוח לכתיבה

ימים ספורים לפני יום הולדת ה-69 שלי, קבלתי "מתנה" – הודעה שמשפט שבו אנו מעורבים למשך 4 שנים 
האחרונות הוחלט – נגדינו.  נתנו לנו 90 יום לפנות את המקום.  לעזוב את הבית שבו אני חיה ל-46 שנים האחרונות, המקום שבו שנולדה הבת שלי וגם 3 הנכדים שלית שנולדו וגדלו דורות של הכלבים שלי.
לאלה שאולי לא מכירים את כל הסיפור –

לצערי לא השתנה דבר בגישה של הרשויות מההתקפה הראשונה עלינו, אף אחד לא הסכים לדבר, להסביר 
למה עכשיו, להציע פתרון כל שהוא, פשוט התייחסו אלינו כפושעים בלי זכויות.

לכן, לא הייתי במצב רוח לכתיבה, במיוחד לא כתיבה מצחיקה ומשעשעת.  אני כל החיים מנסה להסתכל על 
הצד הטוב או מצחיק של החיים, להיות אופטימי, כדי לשרוד הקשיים של החיים דרך צחוק.  החיים בשבילי אף פעם לא היו קלים, אבל אני לא מתלוננת.  בסך הכל הם היו טובים, ולמרות שנאבקתי למה שיש לי, אף פעם חשבתי שזה לא צודק, ותמיד הייתי מודעת לזה שאלה הבחירות בחיים שאני עשיתי לעצמי.  יש לי הרבה שאין לאחרים.  ואף פעם לא הייתי צריכה לבקש עזרה מאף אחד, תמיד הסתדרתי דרך עבודה קשה ונחישות, להמשיך.

אבל כרגע אני לא מצליחה למצוא הרבה על מה לצחוק...ואני נשארת בלי כיוון, עם 46 שנות חיים שנמשכו מתחת הרגליים שלי כמו שטיח ישן ובלי שימוש, בלי התחשבות...

החברים שלי שואלים אותי מה המרגש.  החלטתי לכתוב את זה – בכל זאת, הנייר (והאינטרנט) סובל הכול.
כל החיים שלי, אני עבדתי קשה. הייתי טיפשה – כעצמאי, הייתי צריכה לתכנן קדימה ולשים בצד כספים ל"פנסיה" (לא שאנשים שחיים עם בעלי חיים אי פעם יוצאים לפנסיה).  אבל אף פעם לא היה לי עודף כסף, הכול שהרווחתי הלך לכלכלת המשפחה, על 2 ועל 4, לנסות לספק רמת חיים נוחה וסבירה ולמלא את הצריכים שלנו.  תמיד היו הוצאות, צרכים, תיקונים, תחזוקה, מיסים, כל ההוצאות הרגילות של החיים בעולם שלנו. בלי לוקסוס, אבל אף פעם הרגשתי את הצורך לזה.  לא נשאר עודף, אבל הסתדרנו ואף פעם לא הרגשנו אף פעם לא הרגשנו מסכנים. לא ביקשנו עזרה מאף אחד, הסתדרנו – לא הפריע לי אף פעם לחיות עם ריהוט יד שנייה או בגדים מחברים – ספקו את הצרכים.

לא חשבתי אף פעם שאני והכלבים יישארו חסרי בית...

כן, אני מקווה שיהיה לנו יותר מ-90 יום.  אנו מערערים על הפסיקה, לא בגלל שיש לנו הרבה תקווה על שינוי בהחלטה, אבל בגלל שזה אולי נותן לנו יותר זמן.  אני עדיין לא ברחוב. אבל מנהל מקרקעי ישראל, כנראה, לא מסתפק בזה שנצחו, אבל הם רוצים לעמוד על זה שאנו עוזבים בתוך 90 יום.  זה משאיר לי בערך חודש לפרק חיים של 46 שנים.  למרות שהם הצליחו להתעלם מקיומינו לכל השנים האלה, עכשיו מצפים שבתוך ימים ספורים ניעלם מהשטח...כמה טיפוסי...אף פעם לא הצטערתי על ההחלטה שלי לעלות ארצה ולהישאר כאן, למרות הקושי והבעיות במשך השנים, למרות שאין ספק שהיה יותר קל לי לחזור לארצות הברית. אבל עכשיו, עם הצורך להתמודד עם מערכת שלא רק זורק אותך למטה אבל אז בועט בך, אני מתחילה להרגיש  שאולי טעיתי...

אני עדיין לא ברחוב. אבל כרגע, הרבה מהזמן ואנרגיה שלי אני מבלה בחיפוש מקום שאליו אוכל לעבור עם הכלבים. בישראל, קשה מאוד למצוא מקום לשים כלבייה, אנשים לא מעוניינים שיהיה בקרבתם כלבים נובחים (בצדק). במקומות שהם לא אזורי מגורים, כמו שטחים חקלאים, אסור לגור, אפילו בקרוואן (שזה המגורים שאוכל להרשות לעצמי עכשיו). לי אין בעיה לגור בקרוואן או דומה, אין לי צורך להרבה, אבל כן יש לי צורך להיות עם הכלבים שלי. האמצעים הכספיים שלי מאוד מוגבלים, והרבה מזה הולך עכשיו לעורך דין והוצאות בית משפט, שעוד יותר מקטין את האפשרויות.

הבת שלי והמשפחה שלה תמיד גם גרו כאן, תמיד היינו ביחד, במרחק של מטרים ספורים.  אבל משפחה גדלה לא יכול להסתדר בקרוואן באיזה שהוא איזור מרוחק שאפשר להחזיק כלבים, הם חייבים תנאים יותר מציאותיים.  לכן פסיקה בית משפט זה גם מפרק את המשפחה שלי.

איך אני מרגישה?  מאוכזבת, מיואשת, מדוכאת...לא כועסת, על מי יש לכעוס? אין טעם לכעוס על ממשלה שכנראה מעוניין רק באיסוף כוח אישי ועושר פרטי.  לבעלי השפעה, אין לי משמעות.  למי איכפת מאישה משוגעת שיושבת ביער עם להקת כלבים?  אבל מאכזב מאוד להבין שהארץ שאליו עליתי לפני 47 שנים, שאז היה מנוהל על ידי אנשים ומוסדות מבריקים, אידיאליסטיים, תומכים, שהיה רוח של קהילה, שיתוף פעולה, אינטרסים הדדיים, ורצון לעזור, השתנה כל כך הרבה.  מייאש להבין שבלי כוח לא מעוניינים באנשים כמוני שעושים דברים כמו מה שאני עושה כל כך הרבה שנים, אולי לא דברים שמשנים את העולם, אבל דברים שכן משנים לאנשים את החיים שלהם וגם משנים יחס אלינו הישראלים. נראה לי שבמשך השנים, עשיתי לא מעט להביא כבוד לישראל – אבל למי איכפת מה העולם הכלבנות הבינלאומית חושב עלינו, או משפחות פשוטות בחו"ל שכן אוהבים ומתעניינים בכלבים והטוב שהם מביאים לנו? אין בזה כסף... העובדה שרכשתי לישראל הרבה ידידים בכל העולם, ובניתי דבר מכובד ומוערך ואפילו דוגמא לארצות אחרות כנראה בלי משמעות.

(למי שמעוניין לראות דעות של אנשים בכל העולם, אפשר להסתכל בלינק הזה – חשוב לי מאוד...)

אני מדוכאת לעמוד בפני עזיבת הבית שאני והכלבים אוהבים, פשוט, נוח, מה שאני בניתי, הרבה עם הידיים שלי, במשך השנים, ולנסות להתחיל הכול מחדש.

דיכאון עושה עשיית הדברים הנורמליים מאוד קשה – לתחזק את המקום, לשמור על הרמה, שיישאר נקי, מסודר, יפה...בעונה הזאת, הכול מלא עשבייה, יש צורך לאסוף את השיער שמפוזר מנשירת אביב של הכלבים, ויש תמיד תיקונים, ואני מסתכלת וחושבת, "למה לעשות? אני לא אהיה כאן. לא יהיה איכפת לאף אחד." קשה לקום בבוקר. אבל לי עדיין איכפת, ולמרות הדיכאון, אני עושה את מיטבי, למרות שלא אהיה כאן ליהנות מזה. מנהל מקרקעי ישראל טוען שאין להם תכניות למקום, רק הריסה (חבל מאוד, כי זה מקום היסטורי).  בזבוז זמן ואנרגיה, אבל אני לא מסוגלת לוותר.

לא הכול שחור.  עכשיו אני יודעת מי הם חברים אמיתיים – ויש הרבה! למרות שאין ביכולתם לעשות דבר לשנות החלטת בית המשפט, התמיכה ורצון שלהם לעזור נותן לי כוח להמשיך, להתקדם, ולא לוותר.  לרוב, זה תמיכה רגשית, אבל יש גם חברים שבפועל עוזרים לי לחפש מקום חדש, ומדברים עם אחרים, נותנים עצה, ומוכנים לעזור בכל שאפשר. הרבה אנשים תרמו לקרן שהקמנו, ובידיעה שרוב החברים שלי לא אנשים עשירים, יש משמעות רבה שהם חושבים שזה נושא חשוב מספיק לתרומה.  תודה, תודה, תודה לכולכם!
אני ניסיתי במשך השנים לגדל כלבים שממלאים מספר מטרות – לשמר את גזע הכנעני, גזע עתיק ומקורי שבמהירות עומד להיעלם מהטבע.  שימור מינים עתיקים דבר מאוד חשבו – הכתבה הזאת מסביר למה:

הכלבים סיפקו הרבה דברים להרבה אנשים – חברה, בטחון, בטחון עצמי, ידידות, נחמה, תמיכה – זה לא מקרי שהכלב הוא החבר הכי טוב של האדם. אין לבעל חיים אחר היחס איתנו שיש לנו עם הכלב, ואני, במשך השנים, הצלחתי לספק לאשנים כלבים ששינו ושיפרו את החיים שלהם דרך היחס הזה.

גם עם הגזע השני שלי, הקולי, בניתי קו שבמשך השנים סיפק הרבה כלבים לאנשים עם צרכים מיוחדים ואני גאה ומסופקת מזה.

אני מסתכלת לתוך העיניים של הכלבים שלי, חלק צעירים ורק לומדים עכשיו על העולם הגדול, חלק קשישים 
עם שנים רבות של ניסיון, ואני יודעת שאני צריכה להמשיך, בשבילם ובשביל האנשים שכן איכפת להם על מה שעשיתי כל השנים האלה.

אני לא מתכננת שזה יהיה הסוף של שער הגיא.  אני עדיין לא כל כך מבין את ההבדל בין "חוק" ו"צדק",אבל אני אמשיך לקום בבוקר. איפה?  אני לא יודעת.  אבל אמשיך.

הרגישו חופשי לשתף למי שרוצים.

סליחה על טעויות בעברית.