Winter is coming

Chilly evenings. Clouds and sometimes rain. Winter is coming to Jerusalem. I had to pull out a few sweaters this week. Even with the extra blankets on the bed, cats snuggling in is a good way to keep warm at night.

Winter also brings unwelcome outside visitors. To defend my home against these intruders, I was forced to become a killer.

*squeamish readers may wish to skip this post*

Along came a spider

I’m not afraid of spiders, but I prefer they stay outside. This week a 3-inch black furry cousin of the tarantula found its way into my house. Even my cats didn’t want to engage – and they love going after creepy-crawlies.

“Kill it, Kitties!”

*they stare at me with an “are you kidding me right now?” look*

“Ok, then.” Gulp. “I’m sorry Spider!”

I pick up my flip-flop and bash the stuffing right out of that spider. It took a few blows. And then a few extra, due to the adrenaline probably.

Wikipedia told me afterward that they are generally harmless, but their bites can be annoying. Um, yeah. No regrets.

My only worry now is if the spider’s partner is on a mission for revenge.

Slugfest 2019

Did you know that if you warmheartedly feed neighborhood cats the dry food attracts both cats and slugs? I guess I didn’t really know how bad the problem had gotten until it rained. Maybe there was a little denial too. There’s snail essence in my Korean beauty products (and it works too!). Maybe I was thinking about harvesting it?

My patio is tiled and it can be slippery in the rain. I knew it was a little dirty out there, but it hadn’t rained, so I thought the rain would give it a good wash. Once it rained, I can tell you with certainty that slug goo is dirty, slimy, slippery, and an all-around gross hazard.

“Hey Google! How do you get rid of slugs?”

Some things are not easily found in Israel and I wanted to be kind to the slugs.

“Hey Google! What are some household products to deter slugs?”

Coffee? Well, whaddayaknow! So I made some cold brew coffee, which provided me with a lot of grounds and actual coffee. I spread the grounds all around the worst area.

Turns out Israeli slugs LOVE coffee. You can see the glittery silver slug goo trails all over the coffee grounds. I poured coffee directly on them. Nothing. Toxic to slugs? Ha!

Egg shells? Salt? I need something drastic. So I became a slug hunter.

Latex disposable gloves. Check. Bucket. Check. Soapy water. Check.

Every time I checked outside last night there were slugs. Smooshy, sticky, wiggly blobs. Ew! They were unceremoniously drowned. Turns out they can’t swim.

Problem: I got a bucket with about two dozen dead slugs. What am I supposed to do with bodies? Shallow grave?

Bonus round

My cats chase after most bugs, so I see maybe one or two cockroaches a year.

After this week’s killing spree, this morning I found a cockroach had committed suicide in my cats’ water bowl. Is that some kind of protest?

Prepared for battle

I will do whatever it takes to protect my home from these invaders. If that means more killing sprees, swathes of scorched earth, or a nuclear option, I am ready!


Winter in Jerusalem

Fuzzy slippers

blankets, fleece, socks

snuggly kitty

another winter in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is located on the same latitude as San Diego.  You expect mild winters and hot summers.  So when you move here from northern climates – snow every winter, ice on the roads, negative wind chill factors – you expect to have easy winters.  And yet, if you ask around, Jerusalem winters are the coldest anyone has ever experienced.

I also think Jerusalem winters are the coldest I’ve ever experienced, even though I’m writing this sitting on my porch with the sun warming my face and with only a light fleece as a jacket.  I’m writing outside because it’s actually warmer outside than inside right now.  Winter in Jerusalem is strange and as we enjoy the daytime mild weather, we maintain that Jerusalem is the coldest place we’ve ever lived.  Here are a few of the theories.

  1. Elevation

No.  Jerusalem is only 800 meters (2,600 feet) above sea level and many of us have been to higher elevations.  Even if the wind feels like it’s blowing off of a glacier, there are no nearby glaciers.

  1. It’s the desert

Possible.  It is a known fact that deserts during the day are hot and freezing at night.  However, the actual temperature is not freezing and yet we complain more bitterly of the cold here.


  1. Housing materials

Maybe.  Homes are made of poured concrete with no insulation.  Floors are covered with tile.  Their coldness is lovely during a hot summer and like living in an igloo in the winter.  To slightly counteract the ice cold tile issue, some homes have installed heating elements under the tiles so that heat is radiating from the floor.

  1. No fireplaces

I just miss a nice roaring fire.  I’ve often thought it might be nice to build a fire in the middle of my living room, but that would only be a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.

  1. Mysterious cold zones

I have walked in Jerusalem and suddenly felt an enormous chill in the air.  I have never found any explanation for this.  If you didn’t believe in ghosts before, these chilling zones might make you rethink it.

  1. It’s cultural cold

This is my theory.  In cold climates, you have the right clothes and you go from your warm home with insulation and wall-to-wall carpeting to your warm car to your warm office.  You are not feeling the cold in the same way that the cold surrounds you here.  Here you wake up in your chilly house (unless you can afford to run the electric heater all night), you put your feet on the ice cold tile when you get out of bed (slippers and area rugs minimize the chill), your hot water heater has only a certain amount of hot water (as uninsulated hot water heaters are generally on the roof to maximize solar energy), and the clothes you put on are somehow never warm enough.  As you walk to the office, it’s not so bad unless it’s raining or the wind is blowing.  The office is probably warm though, because it’s a business.  When you get home, sometimes you hang around outside until the heater warms up the space because the inside of your house feels like a walk-in freezer.

Then, once every few years it snows in Jerusalem and you forget about all your complaints because it’s just so pretty and reminds you of your childhood.  (Photos from February 2015)