Sunday, September 9, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Delayed Reaction

23 items to go out and another 6 not shown as they've already gone.
Before I start on the topic in hand, an update on The 1000 Clutter Challenge that I started last October (previously 500 before being upgraded to 1000). Having decluttered 952 clutters I had only 48 items left in order to reach the goal of 1000 unnecessaries out of my house. In the photo you can see 23 more things.

There are 7 items of DD's clothing (mostly too small and grubby school tops) to throw out. 7 books (two to pass on to friends, and the rest to donate). 3 old swimming goggles and/or their cases. A Kinder Surprise from inside a chocolate egg, a bag of dried out felt pens, an old CD, and 2 CD racks, I won't count DD's old school backpack with the dodgy zip because we bought another one to replace it.

I didn't get rid of the CDs - I'm not quite ready to do that yet, but I moved them to a book shelf that has been freed of books. So consolidated clutter rather than consigned.

One note about the Oxford Book of Quotations. I got two of these for my Bat Mitzva 43 years ago. I left one of them at my parents' house in London and the other has been with me all my adult life. I chose this one as it's inscribed from my Dad's cousin Alan. I noticed it this week as we were talking on facebook about Bar and Bat Mitzva presents that we still have. I have about 8 of mine still. And then I thought about it seriously. In these days of internet, I don't need a big bulky book of famous quotations. So thank you Barbara and Alan Miller, I really did love it and use it before the days of instant information online. But now it has to go.

I'm really into gifting well loved books that I know I won't read again. In addition to what's on the bed, another 4 books were gifted recently. A Gentleman in Moscow went to a real gentleman for his 60th birthday and Behind the Scenes at the Museum went to my colleague at school who, like the girls in the book, grew up in the north of England in the 1960s. Eleanor Oliphant also went to an English friend who will appreciate the cultural references. And a coffee table book about quilting went to a friend who quilts. Half the pleasure is finding just the right recipient for each book.

An outgrown dress and unused pencil case of DD's went to the little girl downstairs. That makes 28 clutters and a running total of 980 items.

During the summer I sold two items of furniture - a chest of drawers and a tall display cabinet that became surplus to requirements (already counted). A friend came over and exclaimed, "Wow! Your apartment really looks and feels much bigger!" Score

And here's where I'm stuck. Although much has been donated, passed on, sold, or thrown out.... much of it hasn't. I have tops of wardrobes and other assorted shelves and drawers full of stuff waiting to go to the Yedidya Bazaar. I am trying to weed it down by taking books to the park library but it's a slow process.

Until those spaces are freed up I can't move other things into them and free up other spaces. For example, I don't need to store spare cling film and foil, sponges, dish clothes, and paper towels, etc... in the actual kitchen. I buy all these things in bulk packages because it's cheaper but they could be stored in the cupboard in the study, along with the spare toilet paper, if only I could get all the unwanted stuff out.

It's a temporary stuck. A delay of you will. The Yedidya Bazaar comes round again in April so I'll keep chipping away at it until then. Any other charity sales or swaps that come up in the meantime will be gratefully embraced. The only disappointing aspect is that I don't yet feel like a minimalist as I  can still see where more space can be found and possibly one more piece of furniture eliminated.

On the other hand, I do intend to find those last 20 clutters to complete the 1000 clutters challenge within the year.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

September 2018 - R2BC

The obligatory back to school photo.
Begrudgingly allowed because it's the law. 
It's the Jewish New Year this week, it was the academic new year last week, also my birthday, the weather got cooler, as if by magic, and autumn is definitely in the air. The End.

Just kidding. September has always been my favourtie month for all the above reasons.

Rosh Hashana
A chance to repent, renew, recharge and reinvent. This year I finally stopped pretending that I would be going to traditional synagogue services and have arranged to meet with a  few friends on the first morning of Rosh Hashana (it's a 2-day festival) for some meaningful start to the year. I'm not sure exactly what will happen as although we have a  rough agenda, this is the first time we're doing this. But I'm very much looking forward to it.

At home DD and I will do all our own Rosh Hashana traditions - blowing away our sins and bad habits, and eating our menus with the Rosh Hashana Symbols. And some of the meals we're eating out with friends.

It was back to school for both DD and me this week. DD has always hated having her photo taken so on the first day of 1st Grade I told her it was the law. She's now in 5th Grade and she still thinks it's the law. Hilarious.

My Birthday.
Me and Ingrid Bergman reduced to tears as we marched, singing This Old Man, into a Chinese village in North Wales. You had to be there.

The Weather
It's overcast. Seriously, there's grey in them there clouds. We are praying for a wet winter in Israel. Turns out that desalination isn't enough and we're once again facing a water shortage. However, the heat of the summer is behind us and hopefully the universe will be kind.

The Reasons 2B Cheerful linky is with Michelle on Mummy From the Heart this week and for the whole of September.

Wishing everyone a SHANA TOVA UMETUKA (A Good and Sweet Year). 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Sixth Happiness For My Birthday

No photos from yesterday so here's one we made earlier.
Yesterday was my birthday. It wasn't a big birthday although no one can say that the number is small anymore so I suppose all my birthdays are now big birthdays. It was the day I don't teach in school, and college hasn't started yet so I did have a less hectic day than would normally be the case.

Whatsapp messages from family and friends mostly either wished me a great day (fantastic, amazing, wonderful, etc...) or asked what I was doing to celebrate. I answered truthfully. Grading papers, preparing lessons, supermarket. I treated myself to a delivery but then I do that every month so not really fair to count it as a birthday thing.

Facebook was marvelous as it always is on birthdays. Thank you to all my friends and even my "friends" and my cousins, who left birthday greetings. I tried to answer each one with a personal thank you but after a while I just 'liked' as many as I could. But, seriously, big LIKE to all of you.

Two e-cards all the way from Canada and California. Thank you, you know who you are.

And now enough of this Oscars acceptance speech  and back to the day itself. I also popped into college to do a few things, I went to sign DD up for gymnastics club, I did some housework. That's it. Until the evening.

This is where you expect me to say that I let my hair down and went clubbing all night. Wrong. DD had been asking me what I'm doing for my birthday all day. She was annoyed that I wasn't doing anything. I think she wanted to go out for waffles but as she didn't even bother to make me a card, I wasn't inclined to break my diet for her to have the treat. She did give me a big hug and say, "Happy Birthday Mummy, I love you so much." She's clever like that - no money or effort involved.

Anyhoo, I felt a bit guilty (Why? Just why did I feel guilty?) so I asked DD to watch a film with me for my birthday. It was my birthday. Mine. So I got to choose the film right? Wrong again. Well I refused to watch some pre-teen Hallmark TV movie this time so DD refused to watch anything with me.

As I was choosing for myself I revisited my childhood and watched, "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" on You Tube. Remember? Ingrid Bergman and 100 Chinese orphans escaping the Japanese invasion. I was surprised to find that the bit about escaping with the children was only the last half hour of a 2 1/2 hour film. I'd remembered Gladys Aylward secretly reading her employer's books about China and saving her wages to pay her passage to China. I remembered her adopting Sixpence and then I thought the whole film was about the orphans' journey across the mountains. Not so.

It was a bit like when I watched Jane Eyre again decades after reading the book (because I had to at school) and seeing the movie and the BBC TV drama. I'd completely forgotten that half the story is about her life before going to be the governess at Mr. Rochester's house.

Btw, I read Wikipedia about Gladys Aylward and the film was very romanticized. The real Aylward never kissed a man in her life and didn't abandon the children in the end to go back to her  boyfriend. I didn't mind that so much but I'm sorry I read the article before seeing the end of the film because afterwards I could only think, all that scenery is actually North Wales not China. It lost some of it's magic I'm afraid.

Still, I found myself blubbering through the last 20 minutes so it was a fantastic choice of movie and a great way to celebrate my birthday.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Last Hurrah! - R2BC

View from the terrace of King David Hotel
Here we are at the end of the summer holiday? School starts on Sunday. Where did it go? What happened to all those  projects I was going to tackle over nine long weeks of no work (in theory, not including finishing off last year's courses, teaching two summer courses, and preparing for next year's courses)? We traveled some, we had guests from overseas, we went on day trips, we went to the pool, we went to the beach, and we relaxed... a lot. And that's where it went. 

Interestingly, things suddenly picked up a pace for the final week of the holiday. It was a sort of unplanned last hurrah before we return to serious routines for the next ten months. Here's how it panned out.

On Sunday I went out for coffee with a friend and DD was invited to an all-day happening to celebrate the end of the holiday. I forgot to ask who organized the happening but it was all free for members. Knowing the parents of the friend who invited DD, it could have been the Teachers' Union, the Social Workers' Union, or a major children's charity that the family are very involved with. The day was by a pool with an adventure park (zip lines), activities and lunch. DD came home with a new school diary and her fingernails painted. I got a lot of work done at home. Everyone was very happy.

On Monday I met a friend visiting from London, for coffee. She didn't want to travel all the way to my neighbourhood and I didn't want to go into the town centre. So we met in the middle at The King David Hotel. We were the only ones sitting on the terrace overlooking the pool, with the Old City of Jerusalem across the valley. The coffee cost exactly the same as in a crowded cafe but it was so much more pleasant to be in the elegant gardens of the hotel. I don't know why I don't do this more often.

On Monday evening we went to see Hamlet in Motion in the park.

On Tuesday I had to give an exam at my college and meet with some students. Then we popped into DD's school to pick up her school books and a box of school supplies that we'd ordered online. We came home and ticked everything off on the list before going to the Big Shop (it's actually called Big Shop) to get school t-shirts and a couple of sweaters along with anything missing from the supplies list. It's a bit like Primark or Walmart but not nearly as much choice (or quality). However, we managed to do a Big Shop and came home loaded with bags.

DD posing with school supplies
on the table and bags more on the floor.
On Wednesday DD went to her friend's birthday party while I had to go into my school for the opening Teachers' Meeting. All I can say about that is, "oy vey!" To give you  some idea, the renovations that were supposed to be done over the summer, started yesterday. Luckily most of September is taken up by the Jewish Festivals so no one really expects to settle down into a fixed routine until the beginning of October.

This morning we went to the local shopping mall to pick up the last few things that weren't in the Big Shop. Whilst there, DD saw a new school bag that she absolutely loved and so did I. So we bought that on a whim and qualified for another free backpack! The plan was for a pizza lunch in the mall but we weren't that hungry so we came home and ate later (leftover pasta from last night).

This evening we're meeting up with our Summer Holiday Family for a falafel picnic in the park to officially end the Summer Holiday.

So lots of Reasons 2B Cheerful even as we say good bye to long lazy days and hello to earlier nights and ridiculously early mornings. The R2BC linky is back with Becky this week on Lakes Single Mum. I suspect that there will be a lot of cheerful summer holiday endings. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hamlet In Motion

Hamlet dumping Ophelia while Polonius and Claudius hide behind a tree. 
Last night we went to one of the annual highlights of our summer - Shakespeare in Motion performed by Theater in the Rough, Israel. So far we've seen A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, and The Taming of the shrew. (Follow the links for my reviews.) We missed Macbeth as I was in my year of mourning for my Dad and didn't go to any live entertainment (although it was pointed out to me that Macbeth is a tragedy, LOL.) Last night was Hamlet.

We forgot to read Hamlet in our Tales from Shakespeare before we went but luckily there was, as usual, a synopsis in the programme. However, we did go prepared with two folding deckchairs this time. And we forwent the picnic because though it sounds idyllic to be watching Shakespeare in the park and eating baguette, cheese and grapes etc... there's actually too much going on for such pretentiousness. Most people go out to eat afterwards. We met half a dozen good friends there and had lots of invitations to join various parties for after show activities. But DD was tired so we came home and ate leftovers from Shabbat instead.

Gertrude and Claudius caught canoodling behind a pillar. 
The park is the garden between the King David Hotel and the Old City of Jerusalem. And the play (which in Hamlet, is the thing) takes place in various locations. The audience ambles from scene to scene along with the actors. I've said it before, but it's a bit like being there with the characters as the plot unfolds.

The acting was superb. I don't like to name names so I won't. Everyone brought something special to their role and obviously it's most thrilling for me to see people I know personally in the performance (Andrea Katz - the Grande Dame of Theater in the Rough, Annabelle Landgarten - we fold clothes together for the Yedidya Bazaar every year, and Gillian Kay - my age in numbers but more of a youthful Peter Pan on stage). Nevertheless I must give a special mention to Hamlet himself - Natan Skop, who was just amazing - hilarious and tragic at the same time. (DD liked Polonius best - Ira Skop, because he was the only nice person in the whole play. "He didn't hurt anyone and he didn't go crazy. He was just trying to help!")

Polonius giving fatherly advice to Ophelia right in front of us!
Having said how wonderful the acting was and how much we thoroughly enjoyed it, Hamlet seems to be a lot harder to follow than previous Shakespeare plays we've seen (even Richard III). We knew the story so we weren't lost but had we not read the synopsis, it would have been a bit confusing. I think the action is slower in Hamlet - people take a long time to say what they need to say. Hamlet went on and on about the nunnery when we got it that he was dumping Ophelia in the first minute. And boy did they all take a long time to die at the end. Did I mention that it's not a happy play?

Sometimes you didn't know where to look first. 
One amusing incident in the graveyard. There was a communal chanting of, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio." And one poor man was heard above the crowd with the old misquote of, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him well." I tittered smugly to myself. (I forgot that Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement, is in only three weeks. Woops. Sorrysorrysorry.)

And finally, who knew that these famous lines came from Hamlet?

In no particular order: 
Neither a borrower nor a lender be. 
This above all, to thine own self be true. 
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. 
To be or not to be, that is the question. 
To sleep perchance to dream. 
Though this be madness, there is method in't. 
The play's the thing. (What does that even mean?)
Sweets to the sweet.
The Lady doth protest too much me thinks. (I missed what she was protesting about tbh.)
I must be cruel only to be kind. 
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. (Obviously)
Alas poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio. (I gave this one away earlier.) 
I know a hawk from a handsaw. (Meaning, I can distinguish between enemies and friends.)
Get thee to a nunnery!

Here the Gravedigger accidently dug up poor Yorick. 
So much modern English usage from one play. My friends and I kept exchanging stretched eyes and raised eyebrows in surprised recognition, each time one came up. Anyway, mark your own papers. 14/14: English Lit. Professors, 6/14 - 13/14: Damned impressive, 5/14: Me, less than 5/14: Oh well.

Jerusalem People - there is one more performance tomorrow night. 28/8/18 at 5.30 pm in the gardens behind the The King David Hotel (walk down the road to the right of the King David into the park). You won't be sorry. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

R2BC - Short And Sweet

Nice and early this week, here are my reasons 2B cheerful.  It's short and sweet as the new academic year has pushed its nose into the end of my holiday and there's much to prepare. The Linky is live over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum. 

Lovely Photo
I love this photo of DD taken by Sarit Doron at the chocolate making workshop.

Proud to be Israeli
We saw this sign on a mixed-grill restaurant in the Golan Heights. In a country where all the soldiers are all our children, it was heartwarming and it made us feel so proud of the people who live here. The sign says, 

"Dear Soldier, don't be hungry. 
If you're short of money, tell a staff member and the shortfall is on us!"

Sunset over the Mediterranean

Club Med
After 30 years of living in this country I still get a kick out of living an hour's drive from the Mediterranean Sea. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Golan Heights #2 - The Yurt

Plenty of room in the yurt for gymnastics on a springy wooden floor.
After a previous camping experience I only agreed to this trip if we had beds. So a yurt in the Golan was booked with six beds. It also had a non-yurt extension built onto the side with a small kitchen and a separate, even smaller, bathroom. We loved our little home for two nights.

The yurt was in a small village and after our showers in the evenings, one friend and I walked round the country lanes rating looking at the different cottages and deciding which one we would like to live in.

It was very idyllic for two nights but I think I'm probably more suited to [small] town living for the long haul. I like people and cafes, entertainment, shopping, and a bit of hustle and bustle.

Ma'ayanot. They didn't look contaminated....
We didn't just sit around the yurt for two days, of course not. The next morning saw us off bright and early to an adventure centre where the kids could go-kart, peddle-kart, trampoline, zip-line, trolley board (like snow boarding but on a dry slope), and ride on a jeep through a mini-safari. I should be in PR - the mini-safari was a spread out petting zoo and the zip line was only three metres off the ground, LOL. But they had fun and that's what counts. Also there was no Sergeant-Major at this activity.

After a picnic lunch in which DD discovered that she likes an omelet in a bread roll, we went in search of some mountain springs and pools. Btw, omelet sandwiches are perfectly normal here. It's a very Israeli thing and, yes, the omelet is cold.

Chocolate-making workshop
I need to explain about the mountain springs and pools (ma'ayanot in Hebrew). There has been a health scare in the Golan whereby some of the ma'ayanot have become contaminated with a rodent borne bacteria due to the many years of drought in the region. Apparently when the rest of the country gets torrential rain in the winter, the Golan doesn't. This means that things are not washed away as they should be. This summer over 60 people have come down with a life-threatening flu-like illness that can damage the kidneys, up to three weeks after frolicking in the streams.

There was a list of which pools to avoid and many were physically closed off to the public. We found one that wasn't on the list and very open to the public with lots of locals enjoying the cool waters. I wasn't happy about going into any ma'ayanot - why take the chance. However, I wasn't strong enough in my objection and we went. The kids loved it. The next day these pools were added to the list so we're on alert for flu-like symptoms for the next two weeks. *sigh*

The Sea of Galilee. 
And on to the next. A boutique chocolate factory where the kids went on a tour and then did a chocolate making workshop. Thankfully they only needed one adult with them and one of our adults is a chocolate maker herself so there was no contest. I got to sit in the coffee shop and relax with our other adult.

We ate dinner in Katsrin, one of the two towns on the Golan, and then the long drive home to our yurt to shower, stroll, and bed. I say it was a long drive but actually, the Golan is quite a small area of land. It just feels like a vast expanse because it's a plateau of volcanic rock with big skies and rough, wild terrain with hardly anything man-made in it. (South Africans always talk about missing the big skies when they move to the UK. I never understood what they meant before but now I do.) The Golan is very different from the rest of Israel, considering how close everything is (you can drive the length of the country on one day). The Waze kept saying we were only 20 minutes from our destination whereas the map and the scenery looked like we were heading into Syria. Had we not seen some very welcome signs in Hebrew every so often, we would have been nervous that we had crossed the border by accident.

Our final day was spent by and in the Sea of Galilee on the way home. I don't know why they call it a sea. You can see the other side. Lake Geneva is apparently the biggest body of water in Europe and it's 580 km sq. I just googled the Galilee and it's only 167 km sq. Despite the click-bait name, it was the perfect end to a short but full holiday on the Golan Heights.