When life gives you lemons / by Susie Lubell

Octalemon

When the lemons look like this one, then you best run for the hills because no one should be drinking lemonade from this many-tentacled citrus freakshow. It seems that whatever has turned our zesty friend into the OCTALEMON may be in the water or the vents or somewhere lurking in our quirky home. This has been the winter to beat all and we are down for the count. Uncle. There I said it. We are beat. You win, evil Octalemon.

Since we arrived in November it's been one illness after another. First the boys both had mystery fever with rash and the older one had vomitting. Then the girl had the vomitting. And the older boy had more vomiting. Then the baby had a nasty cough with walrus snot and eye goop. Then I had strep. Now I have a sinus infection and the baby's coughing again. And Mr. Rosen has impetigo. Yes, impetigo, the childhood disease. He's the only adult ever in the history of the world who managed to catch impetigo. Coincidentally last week's Torah portion was about the first seven plagues, one of which was boils. I guess we can feel lucky that it was only boils and not also frogs and lice. So he's in quarantine and the rest of us are trying to stay warm enough to get healthy and survive our first winter in the Jerusalem hills. We were not prepared for this much cold and wet.

And the thing about Israeli houses is that they are mostly built to combat heat. But that appears to be the case in the winter also. Whatever heat we do manage to create just evaporates into the cinder block walls. Bye bye. So the other day Mr. Rosen's dad came and taped plastic sheeting to all of our windows and sliding glass doors to protect us from the cold and, incidentally, chemical warfare. Funny what Israelis have lying around the house. It's not the most attractive option but it was cheap to buy, free to install (thanks Saba) and works great. Hopefully the worst is behind us and we can get ready for a beautiful Spring in another few weeks. With this much rain we have high hopes for a dazzling wildflower season. And a few rounds of hay fever.