10 days of pure hedonism – all play, no work

A dear friend (let’s call her C) just came from the States for a visit. She hasn’t been here in many years and it was my desire to make her every moment in this country (Israel) pure joy. I think I succeeded. Too much so! And now that she’s gone back home, I can’t seem to shake the self-indulgent, utterly hedonistic behavior.

I got so used to planning our days from outing to outing, restaurant to restaurant, that I completely and totally neglected my work. Book? What book? Who wrote a book? Formatting? What’s formatting? Was it only a mere two weeks ago that I had my first lesson in InDesign? Only two weeks since I learned how to do Drop Caps and automatic indents? Was I really two kilos lighter? (oh hell, let’s not get into that subject).

As I review the events of the last few weeks I’m amazed at the amount of activities. In between shlepping her to all my favorite restaurants, having her meet some of my friends, touring the country and strolling through cute places, we also cooked the festive Rosh Hashannah meal together, enjoyed it with wonderful friends, and built up a reservoir of memories fit for a month. No, make that two months!

Her first night in the country was spent at the Caesarea port – at The Crusaders Restaurant. Its a glorious place overlooking the beach and serving a variety of mezzes and fresh, delicious sea food and fish dishes. Next day another friend arrived – one I haven’t seen in almost twenty years! It was party central here!

Rosh Hashannah presented an opportunity to go traditional – with a touch of now. We had sushi as an appetizer, followed by gefilte fish with pomegranate, beet & horseradish sauce, chicken soup with matzo balls (way too hard!), chopped liver ( my first attempt and it was yummy!), chicken marabella, beef stew with dried fruits & chestnuts, roasted sweet potatoes & pumpkin with pecans, green beans, and then chocolate souffle cupcakes with white chocolate mint cream, apple crumb cake and chocolate chip mandlebread. And wine! Lots of it! And of course the very traditional challah with raisins (also home made!) and apples dipped in honey.

The day after C arrived, so did K! Another friend from the US whom I haven’t seen in nearly twenty years! We did a group outing to Nazareth, where we ateĀ  traditional Arab saladsĀ  and grilled meats in a restaurant overlooking the hills, and were treated to a spontaneous vegetable carving lesson by my dear friend Aml.

An afternoon was spent at Ramat HaNadiv in Zichron Yakov – a lovely park overlooked by many tourists. And we ate a terrific brunch at their lovely cafe. As a special treat for C’s gaming passion – I treated her to a mahjong lesson. I thought I’d like to learn it. Maybe some other time. (Although I did win two games! Thanks mostly to Grace who ever so gently guided my hands).

A walk through the pedestrian street of Zichron Yakov ended with C buying a gorgeous pair of turquoise drop earrings. One day we had a double treat – a meeting with the gorgeous Athos and his fabulous human mom V. And that was followed by a delectable dining experience at Segev restaurant in Herzliya Pituach with O, another great friend.

I adore that restaurant. I always find the service impeccable, the food delicious and creative without being pretentious, and the entire experience a delight.

A glorious day in Tel Aviv found us at the wonderful, noisy, exciting Carmel Market – with all its food and clothing and housewares vendors calling out for our attention. We joined with K and her friend R (they were celebrating their 40th anniversary of having met in Israel!) and walked and talked and ate. It also found us at the marvelous Julie’s for lunch – a tiny corner place with no more than two inside tables, two outside tables and the lovely Egyptian Jewish Julie dishing out food and advice from her many simmering pots. Following our wonderful dining experience, it was back to Nahalat Binyamin – the crafts festival that takes place very Tuesday and Friday.

Our day in Jerusalem included a fabulous lunch at the Mahane Yehuda restaurant (located near to the Manhane Yehuda Market), a walk through the new beautiful Mamila Mall, a stroll through the Old City – and its Arab Markets, and a visit to the Kotel – the Western Wall. We followed all that with a walk back through the Muslim Quarter and a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The next day (C’s last) brought us to Turkiz – a marvelous Moroccan style cafe in the Bet Yitzhak moshav near the city of Netanya, and a meeting with some other friends. Another great meal, and lots of conversation among women who were happy to be in each other’s company.

The ten days came to an end (very quickly, I might add) and it was time to part. I had gained 2 kilos, and avoided all manner of work for the entire time C was with me. I said a sad goodbye at the airport and was sure that the next day I would return to my routine. It hasn’t happened.

I seem to have lost the motivation, the drive. I have a novel that’s screaming from its home in my computer – “Finish me! Format me! Let’s get this book on the road!” I’ve straightened out and cleaned the bathroom drawers, re-organized the kitchen a bit (that which C didn’t do – she’s a wiz!), won a few on-line scrabble games and found other ways to avoid my work. Procrastination – cursed by thy name!

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