Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

Last night the siren wailed and DD and I rushed out onto the balcony to stand in silence. There were a couple of cars stopped in the middle of the road with the drivers standing next to them, a few pedestrians stopped mid-step and a number of neighbours also on their balconies. The country stood still and so began Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

All shops were shut. Many people were at ceremonies and services last night. Today was a half-day in school and every school had it's own ceremony. There are no lessons, but rather a whole morning of activities about the day. I got a whatsApp last night telling me that I was to help Idit in 2nd Grade for the first three hours and then be with Nechama's 5th Grade boys for the last hour. No problem.

As we left the house I noticed another WhatsApp. I decided not to waste valuable time reading it at that moment -I'd read it on the bus. It said that Idit didn't need me so I could come in later but I must be there for Nechama at 11.15. Okey-Dokey, too late.

I went into the gym to see the 6th Grade boys' Memorial Presentation. They told the lives of different fallen soldiers. They acted out parts and showed interviews with their families.

One boy who spends quite a lot of time during my lessons driving me crazy, took the part of Adam Weiler, who was honoured this year by the Government along with his brother Gideon Weiler. Whilst taking his exams at Sussex University in 1967, Adam heard that war had broken out in Israel. He abandoned his exams and rushed to Heathrow Airport where he was told that no one was flying to Israel until further notice. He saw an ElAl plane on the tarmac and ran past the security guards to board the plane. Adam survived the Six Day War but was killed in action three years later. His younger brother Gideon fell in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

It was very moving to watch my student pushing the security guards out the way and running to get on the plane. I suddenly had a surge of respect for this boy as I forgot, for one moment, that he was only playing the part in a presentation. And then I remembered that this 12 year old boy will be serving in the army in just six years time and doing whatever he has to do to keep me and DD safe. Israel's Memorial Day messes with your mind.

We had a group of soldiers join us for the ceremony after the presentation. Mt. Herzl, the military cemetery, is near our school. These soldiers were part of a platoon who had lost brothers in arms and were visiting the graves together, along with the families of the fallen soldiers. However, these particular soldiers are all Cohens. The Cohens are direct descendants through the male line, of the priests who served in the Temple until it was destroyed in 70 CE. They are forbidden from coming into contact with dead bodies so they don't enter cemeteries - ever. Despite this, they wanted to be at a ceremony. Their Commanding Officer happens to be Idit's son so he brought them to our ceremony, and they also watched the 6th Grade presentation before it.

It added something very special to have the soldiers in uniform at our ceremony. It felt like a real honour that they wanted to be with us. And it was great for the children to see them standing still and serious and only moving when their CO gave them permission to be at ease. I noticed that the whole school was better behaved than usual. We asked them to participate by reading a couple of the prayers.

Then the 11 O'clock siren sounded and we all stood in silence again. We lowered the flag to half-mast and sang Hatikva. We sang the school song (Soar, soar to great heights, you can soar, you have wings to carry you on the wind, don't be afraid, don't hold back, soar to great heights, you can soar) and a song to God for the safety of all our soldiers (God who blessed our fathers, please bless our soldiers, protect them and bring them home to us, safe and sound, please God bring them home).

I went into Nechama at 11.15 but she told me she only needed me for the last five minutes as she had to go early. I returned to the teachers' room where the teacher who sometimes gives me a ride home (a 10 minute ride instead of a 40 minute ride on the bus after waiting x minutes for the bus to arrive) was just leaving. I explained that despite having no duties all day, I had to stay to be with Nechama's class for the last five minutes of the day.

I went into Necahma again at 11.45 for the final 10 minutes. At 11.50 she told me I could go as she decided to stay until the end after all. I got the bus home.

Tonight and tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day. We are celebrating in a big way this year so I'll be offline until after the weekend. Happy Birthday Israel, 70 Years!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Minimalist Game - Days 24 - 26

Day 26. (3 items missing as they were thrown out in London)
I said we were done after 23 days in March but actually I managed to squeeze two more days out before Pesach (Passover). With another day added after the holidays, the running scores are 351 for The Minimalist Game and 736 for the 500 Clutters Challenge. (Now revised to the 1000 Clutters Challenge.)

March 24th: The Day before we went to London we went through all DD's clothes and found 34 items that were too small. Mainly Tee-shirts that had been kept through the years and not even worn for the past couple of seasons. You know how it is. You pick up 5 Tee-shirts for £10 every time you pass through Primark and you never throw any out. We also got rid of three pairs of shoes from last year, some shorts that are suddenly way too short, and some short dresses that I wanted her to wear with leggings but she hates that look. I love that look but I'm not the one wearing it.  So that's Day 24 sorted and 10 items towards Day 25.

Sorry no photo as we quickly divided the piles into give to a friend, give to another friend, give to the little girl downstairs, give to the school (school shirts), give to the bazaar (wellington boots), and throw out (stained). I packed them into bags and promptly whipped them away. Job done.

March 25th: We had to clear out DD's bedroom as my guest's son would be joining her while we were away. I only had to find another 15 things to make the 25 and I found them easily. Unfortunately DD was "helping" me so I had to be quick and use slight of hand to get things into the bin bags before she realized what was happening. So no photo again. I couldn't even tell you the exact things that we found. Suffice to say it was mainly old craft projects like room plaques, pom-pom key rings, papers from school, more Kinder egg toys, old pencils, etc... Two shopping bags worth of rubbish later, reader I promise you that we fulfilled our 15 items.

Then we packed and then we went to London for two weeks. Then we came home and it was a Sunday afternoon. My house guest left so I had a week of washing sheets and towels and moving my study stuff back into the spudy. Finally Thursday afternoon came and the weekend. Hooray! I was back on the game (so to speak. 😜)

March 26th: Though actually April 12th, I picked up where I'd left off with a sweep through the whole apartment. I found the following items which you can see in the photo above: 2 place mats, an old kitchen scales (I don't bake), I finally got rid of that samovar with its teapot and matching tray (3 items), a broken tablet cover, 4 pairs of knickers bought far too small and never worn, 3 pairs of socks, a silky slip, a lacy camisole, French Women for all Seasons (Lets face it - she said all  she needed to say in the first book), another cook book that I never liked, a Chanuka menorah that is too small to take the modern candles, and 4 eye shields from aeroplane give-aways.

The photo is missing a handbag and a pair of broken shoes that were not worth having mended -  I actually chucked them out in London. Also a towel that my house guests left behind.

Now only days 27, 28, 29 and 30 to go. That's only another 114 things. Simples.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sophie, Wigel, and Fiet Primowees - Righteous Among the Nations

A week ago on Wednesday it was Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. I didn't write anything this year. We'd just returned from London, I've written about it in past years, I don't know why I didn't mention it last week. However, today, I have the chance to write about a meeting at school with Fiet Primowees whose parents are Righteous Among the Nations.

Last year the Third Grade in my school went to see a play called Hanneke and Fiet, based on the children's book of the same name by Ran Cohen-Harounoff. It's about two little Dutch girls during WW2. Today the real Fiet came to our school. She's 80 and she came to tell the now Fourth Grade her story.

One day in 1942, when she was six years old, Fiet, an only child, came home to find a little girl at home. Her mother, Sophie Primowees, told her that the child, Hanna, was staying for one night on her way to another home. Hanna had been passed from family to family as the danger involved in hiding her was too great for many families to risk. Hanna stayed with the Primowees family for three years.

Fiet didn't know that Hanna was Jewish but she did know that it was a big secret and no one must know that she suddenly had a little sister. She did tell one school friend that she had a new sister but she wasn't a baby, she was already three years old. The friend told her that this was very strange - new little sisters don't come so old. But the friend also understood, somehow, that this was something never to be spoken about. For three years Fiet never had a school friend come over to play. They had no visitors to the house and they could not accept any invitation themselves.

Fiet told us that her family were all blond and Hanna was dark. They looked nothing like each other. There was no way they could have passed Hanna off as her real sister.

Fiet is in the middle with her grandchildren seated on the left.
Right of Fiet is her daughter and next to her, the Dutch translator. 
On one occasion Hanna was very ill. A serious illness that she could have died from. They couldn't take her to the hospital and they had to try to find a doctor they could trust to come to the house. To make matters more complicated, there were Nazi sympathizers living opposite them, who were on the lookout for any strange behaviours.

Once they went to visit Fiet's grandmother. Hanneke could go outside but her grandmother was so afraid that she told them children weren't allowed to speak in the streets in her neighbourhood. One day there was another child in the street with a bicycle. An older woman came over and asked the the child if Hanna could have a ride on his bike. Fiet's grandmother was very scared but the older woman turned out to be Hanna's real grandmother who was in hiding nearby. She had recognized Hanna but Hanna didn't know who she was.

Fiet's father, Wigel (Wim), was arrested and sent to a war camp. Before he left he told her mother to keep both the girls safe and to keep them together. For Fiet, Hanneke was  gift. They loved each other. They were sisters. And then one day, three years later, there came a knock on the door. The war was over. Hanna's parents had come to collect her.

Hanna didn't want to go with them. She didn't remember them at all, even though Sophie Primowees kept telling her that her real parents would come for her after the war. Sophie went with Hanna to stay with her real parents for a few days. Then they both came back. Then they went again. And his went on for a few visits until eventually Hanna had to go to live permanently with her parents.

The two families kept in touch and visited often. When she left school Hanna went to volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel where she met her future husband and stayed, living in Israel and bringing up her own family here.

In 1981, Sophie and Wigel Primowees were honoured by Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem) as Righteous Among the Nations. There was a ceremony and a tree was planted in their names.

On this visit Fiet had brought her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren to Israel to see the tree. She was going to speak at Yad Vashem. And of course they were visiting her beloved sister, Hanneke.

Our children were allowed to ask questions and among the usual questions (Did you and Hanna ever fight? - No. How did you feel when you suddenly had to share your parents? -  I loved Hanna from the beginning, she was like a gift for me.) there were some quite profound questions too.

How did you have the courage to hide a Jewish child? - We didn't feel like heroes, we don't feel like heroes. It is just a part of our family story. We did what we had to do. We did what was right.

How did you feel when the State of Israel honoured you? - We didn't ask to be thanked but it was a great honour. And it is a wonderful legacy from my parents Sophie and Wigel, to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren who never met them.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stranger by Keren David

Here is the first review from Midlife Singlemum Book Week. I've been waiting for this book for a few years. Ever since Keren, whom I follow on social media, mentioned that she was writing an historical novel about family intrigues, secrets from the past, and events that come back to haunt you. Strangers was finally published on April 5th and my copy arrived the same day from Amazon Prime.

So here's the thing. A hundred years ago in Canada a young girl, Emmy, finds a wild boy in the forest. From then on nothing about the town of Astor, and the families in it, is as straightforward as it seems. In more recent times Emmy's great-granddaughter, Megan, returns home to Astor and unravels all the secrets surrounding the townsfolk.

There are lots of interesting angles to consider when reading this book. One that struck me is that Megan is nursing her own secret, revealed to the reader right at the beginning, that she had a recent abortion. Just left school and abandoned by her boyfriend, it seemed like the most sensible option. She doesn't dare tell anyone in Astor where her great-great-grandparents were founding members of the town. A town full of her extended family and where the only minor scandal she's aware of is that her own parents are getting divorced.

Can you guess where I'm going with this? Oh my goodness! This town is awash with guilt, cover-ups and lies. Only they don't know it because in those days it was easier to keep things hidden. People were arriving from the Old World with no papers to prove or disprove anything. A neighbouring Province was like a remote and inaccessible, foreign country to most people. A person could seemingly appear out of nowhere and others could disappear and not be discovered for 90 years. It wasn't so much a more innocent time as a more secretive time. Believe me, 'Victorian Values' just means no one knew and they got away with it.

I think I've said enough except to recommend that you buy this book for yourselves and for your young adults. As always with Keren David, plenty of intrigue, twists, pleasure and loads to think about.

Follow the links here to read my other reviews of David's YA novels.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Book Week - R2BC

What could be a better reason 2B cheerful than Book Week? It's not an official Book Week like Israel's National Book Week, or Jewish Book Week in the UK, or the Hay Festival (which I would love to go to one day).  It's a private Midlife Singlemum Book Week because I always return from London with books.

English books are very expensive here. In London Amazon Prime really does deliver the next day and we also like to visit a big Waterstones (preferably Hatchards in Piccadilly as it looks and feels like something out of Harry Potter).

In the photo above are the books we came home with. I'm not going to review them today - I've only read two of them so far anyway. Today I'll just tell you why we came home with these particular books. And in no particular order.

1. The Bible
Of course I know the stories from the Old Testament and some others that I've heard second-hand through teachers and discussions around the dinner table. But I've never actually read the Bible - the whole thing. Thirty years ago Rabbi Donniel Hartman told a group of us that he realized this too, one year, and he read the whole thing from cover to cover.

I decided to do the same - a chapter each week corresponding to the portion we read in the synagogue each week. I started with the beginning of Genesis every year for about 10 years and never got further than Joseph going down to Egypt. Part of the problem was my Bible which had both Hebrew and English in the tiniest print and the most old fashioned language.

So I bought a Bible. With big print. And if I'm already buying the Old Testament, I should really read the NT as well. My mother and I both said how we regretted skipping Scripture lessons at school just because we had a 'Jewish' pass. (There's a lot I regret about my education but that's a whole other discussion.)

2. The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
I've been watching Jason Fung on You Tube and I joined a facebook group of his followers. You can listen to 10 hours of podcasts which read aloud the whole book but I prefer to read it myself if I'm going to 'read' the whole book. Despite hours of Fung interviews and lectures - you need to read the whole book to really understand why he has cracked the obesity code. I did read this book last week. Folks, throw away your calorie counters, it's not about Paleo versus Vegan, and it's not about low or high fat/carbs/protein. If you want to change your life and get healthy - buy this book.

3 & 4. The Liar's Handbook and Stranger, both by Keren David
I've read everything by Keren David - one of my favourite YA authors. Here is my review about a previous book of hers. I was missing these two books so I ordered them. I've read Strangers - review to follow but .... fabulous!

5 & 6. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
There was a sale of two books for £5 so I chose two books. Obviously.

7 & 8. Mary Poppins by P.L.Travers and House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
We went into Waterstones and I remembered that I wanted to read the original Mary Poppins. Apparently the original book is far more sinister than the musical lets on. Having seen the film Saving Mr Banks, I'm intrigued. And while we were there, DD chose The House of Secrets. I told her that it looked very scary and she probably wouldn't like it as she wouldn't let me read past the first page of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase for that reason. But she really really wanted it and when your nine year old daughter really really wants a book, well obviously you have to buy it for her.

9. Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
Grandma gave this to DD for her Afikomen present at the Seder. (The kids hide a vital piece of matzah without which you cannot finish the seder, and refuse to say where it is until they are promised a present. Or the parents hide it and the kids find it and withhold it, depending on your custom. We do it both ways - one for each of the two nights.)

10. A gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A friend recommended this book to me and I was intrigued so I bought it.

11. Five go off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton
We didn't buy this one, it's part of the complete boxed set that DD got for Chanukah. We're bringing them home a few at a time but I particularly wanted this one as I remember something that I want to check - to see if they changed it. I'll let you know.

Eleven reasons 2B cheerful and reviews to follow. I'm linking up with R2BC which is back with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for the month of April.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Homecoming

The seder table good to go at my sister's house. 
Late this week but heartfelt. We spent another week in London and traveled home today. Here are my homecoming reasons 2B cheerful. I'm joining the linky which will be hosted by Becky on Lakes Single Mum for the month of April.

A safe flight.
I'm not a particularly nervous flyer but it's always a good moment when you land safely isn't it? In Israel we have the custom to clap  as the wheels touch down. It's sort of old fashioned and many people don't do it anymore but I'm not shy and I always have a good hearty clap. We only do it when we land in Israel, not on the outgoing journey.

No more polio.
Over the years various visitors have left loose change in my apartment. I had a nice bag of American $s and Euros to put in the collection bag towards eradicating polio worldwide.

You can't have everything. 
The woman next to me spoiled it a bit for me by questioning the steward about how much of it actually goes to eradicating polio and how much pays the fund-raisers. She works for a charity in Malawi apparently and later she told me she had been ill with malaria last week. WTF! But I think I actually had a vaccine against it once about 35 years ago so I might be covered. Glad DD was sitting on my other side by the window.

An easy flight.
We had to get up at 3 am to get to the airport for a 7.15 flight. It's horrible getting up so early but, otoh, we both slept for almost the whole flight.

A wonderful house guest.
Our house guest had left the apartment super-tidy, she'd brought in the mail, and left me a fantastic hairdryer that she bought here but doesn't need at home. Thanks Lesley - the hair-dryer is yours next time you come to Israel.

Our own lives
Back to our lives. Back to my own kitchen. Back to all our own things in all our own places. It became summer here while we were away which is nice after the London rain. (Of course I'll be yearning for cooler weather in about a week but c'est la vie.)

A pampered arrival.
It's 6pm. We ordered pizza for supper and we may be going to bed in just a little while.

Getting on with it.
You know how after a few days of holiday you are rested enough to start thinking and planning what you want to do when you get back to real life? And then by the end you can't wait to get started? By the time you get home some of the enthusiasm has already worn off and you're tired from traveling but it's still a bit exciting to be able to do things again.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

R2BC - Why I Probably Won't Be A Travel Writer

We made the papers. Well, one paper
We arrived in London late on Sunday night (after midnight late) so we were in no fit state to hit the ground running on Monday morning. I didn't even make those all important phone calls to friends to ensure that I get to see my friends while we're here.

My mum suggested we go to shopping with DD and get all her shopping done. She lives equidistant from Watford and Brent Cross shopping centres (right in the middle of the 142 bus line). So it was either Primark and a light, airy shopping experience or H&M and claustrophobia. We chose the former and went to Watford (although by car not on the 142).

DD was kitted out in Primark so we only had to go to M&S for the obligatory cup of coffee and slice of cake. On the way out DD noticed the menu displayed above the counter with a photo of the fish and chips. "I didn't know they served meals here," she said. "If I'd known they serve meals I'd have ordered a meal."

On Tuesday DD's cousins came round to play. They're 17 and 20. They horsed around with DD for a while, showed her how to find her place at Hogwarts via the Pottermore website, and then left her to it while we played Kalooky.

Wednesday was supposed to be our big day out sightseeing and exploring London. It was pouring with rain. We hung about the house all morning and eventually, in desperation, I took DD to the cinema to see 'A Wrinkle in Time' and out for pizza afterwards. (Incidently, including a detour into Waterstones, this little outing cost more than kitting out DD for the summer in Primark.)

On Thursday I went to my sister to help her cook for Passover while DD helped Grandma bake cakes and biscuits for the festival.

And yesterday was the first of two Seder Nights. We finished ours at about 1.30 in the morning and DD stayed over with her cousins while I came home with my mum. We are going back again later for the next and final Seder.

It's been a very slow week and not helped by the constant and often quite violent rain. But I ordered some books from Amazon Prime which amazingly really did arrive the next day, so I've been happy enough. And it takes the best part of a day to get through the Daily Mail that is delivered to the door every morning.

Talking of deliveries. We also get The Jewish Chronicle. This week's paper provided some excitement (apart from the long overdue tackling of Jeremy Corbyn and co) in that I had an article in it. It's also in the online version so here's the link.

So these are my reasons 2B cheerful this week. A lazy week near London in the rain. And this is probably why I'll never be a travel writer. As well as being #rubbishphotographer I'm just far too fond of hanging out. I feel no urgency to rush around seeing everything and visiting museums. I like watching the weather from the kitchen table armed with a cup of coffee.

Apart from the JC article and Seder Night, the most exciting thing to have happened is that we finally finished the giant bottle of Johnson's Baby Shampoo that was bought for my first visit with DD nine years ago, when she was four months old.

Now I must go and make some of those phone calls before we get on the plane to go home. And you are invited to visit the R2BC linky on Mich's Mummy from the Heart. Happy Easter and Passover from a decidedly wet London.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Facebook Is Watching You, I Have Proof

The news about facebook is absolutely correct, Facebook does access your private messages, emails, etc... We are in London but I purposely didn't mention that we were coming here on any public forum because I didn't know if our apartment at home would be empty or not. (It's not empty. Friends are staying there for the duration, or I wouldn't be writing this now.)

I asked Angela Murder She Wrote Lansbury to look into this.
On the day of our flight, facebook and You Tube suddenly started showing me adverts for the Duty Free shops at the airport.

On previous occasions I've clicked on an advert for e.g. sandals or sofas and suddenly I'm inundated with adverts for locally available sandals and sofas. That was actually quite useful because I was looking for sandals and sofas. It saved me looking for companies that I'd not heard of before.

Slightly more suspect was when I looked at some property site to play a little personal game of 'Escape to the country.' It was nothing to do with facebook and I certainly didn't mention it to anyone. The adverts for country cottages in the UK started appearing on facebook and You Tube.

But this Duty Free thing was very unsettling because I purposely did not mention that we were traveling for a very good reason. Even if I don't text or message anyone about our plans - I can't avoid booking tickets online with Easyjet. I can't avoid receiving travel insurance contracts by email. And I have to convey our arrival times to my mum somehow. Now I'm wondering if phone calls are also bugged to pick up key words like - Easyjet, London, dates, etc...

I don't mind if my interests and whereabouts are noted and recorded on the ether. I make it a point not to post anything that could come back to bite me later. I don't even sit in front of my laptop without an adequately covering top on in case someone has control over my camera. All that said, I'm not celebrity status (or standing for election or going through a divorce) so no one is actively trying to dig up or pin some dirty on me. I am also not trying to hide any illegal activity, which would be the counter argument for data sharing.

I do mind. however, if it means that potential criminals can find out when my apartment might be empty. This time it's not empty and actually, we often have friends staying while we're away as lots of people are looking for places to rent in Jerusalem over the Passover and Easter holidays.

Privacy is sometimes just a right or a [misguided?] feeling of control, but at other times it's a matter of safety and personal protection. So if one's home was burgled while you were away and following a strew of adverts about Duty Free, hotels, car hire, etc... over your media accounts, who could you blame? Is it facebook or google or You Tube? Will insurance companies stop paying out if your plans appear on social media? This is impossible to prevent it seems. Will you be required to employ house sitters?

We live in interesting times and only the future will tell. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Minimalist Game: Days 21 - 23

I think I'm done for this month with The Minimalist Game. I have a house guest who is using the spare room so some of my study stuff is in my bedroom which makes it hard to organize the bedroom. I also can't go rummaging around in the study. And it is Pesach (passover) at the end of this week which  involves all sorts of preparations that take priority over decluttering. That said, I still keep seeing things I could get rid of and I fully intend to pick up days 24 - 30 (or even 31) after the festival. 

The running scores are 276 for The Minimalist Game and 661 for the 500 Clutters Challenge. (Now revised to the 1000 Clutters Challenge.) 

March 21st: Random objects from around the house. 2 more English language textbooks, 2 youth leader handbooks (going to my nephew who is a youth leader), a game that we never opened (into the re-gifting cupboard), 6 glass fish from the Arab shuk, a Harry Potter passport from Warner Bros. Studio, some coloured metal rings from a wristwatch long gone, a box of seashells (plenty more where they came from), a bag of rubbishy bits from a collect-all dish (moral: don't have collect-all dishes), a glass vase (I hate cut flowers anyway - much rather have plants), a glass box, a bottle of bubbles, and a wine rack.

About the wine rack. I used to pride myself on having stock. I entertained a lot and for many. Each week we could go through a couple of bottles of wine and the guests would bring more as a gift. This is no longer true. I entertain much less, there are more children around my table these days, and many people no longer drink alcohol. Even I hardly ever drink alcohol anymore. I say 'even I' although I never drank much but I did like a glass of red with my dinner. So nowadays, if I ever have one bottle of wine leftover from a dinner party I tend to keep it in the fridge (yes even the red).

If numbers are your thing, you may have noticed that the items only add up to 19. That's because the other two are 200 piece jigsaw puzzles that DD never does and they're very easy for her. But she won't let me pass them on. So I have to wait until she's not around and then I'm going to put them away for at least six months to see if she even notices. Which she won't.

March 22nd: I went through all my sheets. Here is a pile of 22 mostly sheets and duvet covers in white, now dull white. I've kept a few in a high up cupboard to use as dust sheets when I next have the place painted. There is also a pile of cushion  material, some of which I am going to use to re-cover a director's chair I have waiting patiently to be re-covered. One old white skirt and another old flannel washcloth.

March 23rd: Into the kitchen. That enormous box of cereal was on sale about six months ago and it's still three-quarters full. I thought it would be a good snack as were're not breakfast people. Turns out we're not cornflakes people either.

Also in today's haul... 9 plastic syringes from children's medicine, 2 medicine measuring cups, one plastic measuring spoon, an ice-lolly mold, an icing set, a cutlery tray, 4 wooden utensils, an old candle end, a plastic separator from the juicer jug (that I forgot to include when I sold the juicer), and a pile of ice-lolly sticks.  

Thursday, March 22, 2018

DD In Concert - R2BC

DD is second from left on the clarinet
This week's Reasons 2B cheerful should include that we broke up for the Pesach (Passover) holidays yesterday, that the sun is shining, that we have guests coming for dinner tomorrow night, that I've finished all my freelance work, grading is up to date, and I've completed 23 days of The Minimalist Game. However, all that is eclipsed by the THE CONCERT!

Oh my, I'm so proud I can't tell you. And DD is pretty pleased with herself to. So here's the story. After four months of learning clarinet, DD was in her first concert yesterday. There was a lot of build up.

They had to have to have white shirts with buttons down the front. Apparently the buttons were very important. We couldn't find one so in desperation we bought a boy's shirt in Fox. I thought she looked like a waiter in it but I didn't say anything. When we got home she tried on her new ensemble (we had to buy black jeans and shoes too), looked in the mirror and declared, "Hello! And welcome to Masterchef!" So it wasn't just me. But it was only for one evening so we just got on with having an argument about practising (or not practising) for the concert.

The next day I got a tearful phone call from school. "Mummy I hate my shirt. Can we take it back and get one that's more girly?" Luckily I'd just shown my students the fantastic film, "Shine like a Star" Watch it here on You Tube if you've not seen it (click on settings to turn on English subtitles. There is an English dubbed version but I couldn't find it.) You'll do anything for your child to make her happy after watching it. And actually, I also hated the shirt.

So off we went again to the mall. Luckily Fox took the shirt back. Then we went into almost every clothes shop and found nothing. Eventually we found one plain, white shirt for £30. I refused to buy it. DD was in tears. "Sam won't let me be in the concert if I don't have a white shirt with buttons," she wailed. I phoned the clarinet teacher to find out how important the buttons were. He didn't pick up.

Finally, we found one suitable shirt in the whole mall. £15 if you're wondering. We came home exhausted but not too exhausted to argue about the lack of practising for the concert. I was getting seriously worried about it.

Before the concert
The next morning DD went off to school with her concert clothes in a bag. She was so excited. I got a frantic call from another mother. "I'm at the mall in Fox. Did you buy the boy's shirt? My daughter was in tears last night because her white shirt doesn't have buttons." I saved her life by directing her to the one reasonably priced white shirt for girls in the whole mall.

At 5.30pm me and another mother shared a taxi down into Hell. (Literally, the Jerusalem Music Centre is in the Gehinom Valley - otherwise known as the Biblical Valley of Death.) There we met our excited offspring. They were bouncing off the walls.

Reader, the concert was delightful. There were four clarinets, five flutes, a couple of trumpets, three saxophones, one trombone and a percussion section. Half the orchestra had only been learning for four months and the others were old timers of one year's standing.  They played short, simple pieces like, 'When the Saints Come Marching in,' and 'John's Brown Body,' although they are Israeli so no one else knew the words like I did. And there were some Israeli folk songs and nursery rhymes that everyone knew.

Each child or pair had a solo or a duet. One of the drummers, who looked about six, took a turn conducting. It was just lovely. At the end the musical director gave a speech about how every musician in every professional orchestra, even the army band that plays at every national ceremony,  started off playing nursery rhymes in a children's concert like this.

Afterwards DD said to me, "do you think I could be in the army band?"
"You'd have to start practising every day," I replied. And then I went back to sending video clips and photos from my phone to everyone I could think of who would tolerate it.

More R2BCs on the linky at Michelle's Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Minimalist Game: Days 17 - 20

Day 17
The Minimalist game is going swimmingly. The further in I get, the easier it is to let things go. to see the Days 1 to 16 click on The Minimalist Game and up they'll pop. 

Days 17 to 20 saw another 74 items leave the apartment. (Well some of them haven't left yet but they are in high up places waiting for the next opportunity.) The running scores are 210 items in The Minimalist Game and 595 for the 500 Clutter Challenge. I think the 500 Clutters might be expanding to 1,000 Clutters. 

March 17th: The study was pretty much done so I went back to my bedroom. for another round. I cleared out the top drawer of my bedside table on day whatever. You remember it was filled with Hebrew language textbooks and dictionaries. So today I went for the drawer below it which contained all my French textbooks. I kept a lot of then but I'm letting go 4 French grammar books. And 7 French children's books are going to my colleague at school either for her own children or to lend to her French speaking pupils.

I found 3 picture frames. One has broken glass but I filled the other two with paintings that a little friend of ours did when she was visiting. She left them here to dry and she's getting them back in frames.

I also found a pair of sandals in the box, never worn. And two denim items of clothing for a little girl. DD never wore them and I don't like them enough to re-gift so they are going to a second-hand sale.

Day 18
March 18th: 10 scarves. (Don't worry, I still have another 10 that I'm keeping. Why oh why?). 2 first rubbish reading books. A bag of homemade bookmarks that are going to school for a reading lesson exercise. A pile of papers and notebooks to throw out. A picture that if you look at it cross-eyed it says Rachel. An old earpiece from an old phone. A dangerous wire bookmark. And an old flannel mitten.

Day 19

March 19th: 7 orphan or damaged parts of several matryoshka dolls. I wrote about my matryoshka collection here. Now I'm only keeping the undamaged dolls and I only have four with various numbers of babies inside them.

2 copies of The Little Prince that I never enjoyed and one copy of the same book in French. A duplicate copy of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. The Family at Red Roofs which will get a whole blog post to itself.

A poppy from Poppy Day about 30 years ago - it's an old paper one. 2 little pots, one folded paper crane made into a brooch, a strap from a suitcase I no longer own, and 2 bags.

Day 20

March 20th: 12 English language textbooks. 4 maps of Jerusalem. And 4 maps of other cities - Leningrad, Amsterdam, The New York Subway, and Milan. (After writing this I decided to keep the Leningrad map as the city is now St Petersberg again so the map has some historical value. Instead I threw out an old book of Gary Larson, Far Side cartoons.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Only In Israel

Random schoolbag in our hallway
All the schoolchildren in Jerusalem get a course of swimming lessons during the school year of 6th Grade. The schools don't have their own pools but the kids are bused to a local public pool or to the University which has a pool on each campus. My 6th Grade girls are currently missing every other lesson for this event.

Last week I asked one of them, "how was swimming today?" She replied. "I didn't go because the army blew up my swimming bag."

Bizarre? Not really. I immediately knew exactly what had happened. "Silly girl. Where did you leave it unattended?"
"Outside the Community Centre."
I rolled my eyes and she continued, "with my schoolbag."
"What?! All your books too?"
"Yes..... and teacher, also my book report."

No one questioned the excuse for not handing in her book report. It wasn't even a big story. We've all seen schoolbags left in public places by kids - usually outside the school gates. An obvious action would be to take the bag into the school where they could open it and identify the pupil. But we are taught not to approach unattended bags or packages. We call the police and they close the road for 200 metres or more each way. The police call the bomb squad and the bomb squad blow up the bag in a controlled explosion. Nothing unusual, it happens all the time.

P.S. I told her she still had to write me a book report but I gave her extra time to do it.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I'm Free-ish!

We have entered a new era here at the Selby household. Whole new vistas have opened up for both me and DD. And we didn't plan any of it.

DD's school finishes at 2.20 on Sunday afternoons, after which she has an art class in school followed by the Learning Lab until 5pm. My school finishes at 2.55 and it takes me an hour to get home on the bus. (On the days when DD has no after school activities, she goes to an afternoon programme costing £100 per month.)

Today both art and the Learning Lab were cancelled. I was going to call the afternoon programme teacher and ask if DD could go today for a couple of hours. I've done it before, it's not a problem.

However, on Wednesday evening she is playing in a concert. She and a friend have a duet which they have to practice together and today after school was the only opportunity. The friend is not in any afternoon programmes and goes home by herself on the bus at 2.20. We live opposite the school.

The best solution was for me to give DD a front door key and let her and her friend come to our place after school. I wasn't a hundred percent comfortable with it but it was the only solution.

At 2.20 I was teaching a class of 4th Grade girls at my school. I asked them how many of them have a front door key and go home by themselves, letting themselves into an empty house. 25 hands went up. Right. Ok then.

I let them out early as I was anxious to get home. I left school at 2.50 and was about to call home when I met a parent I wanted to speak to. Then I stopped to chat to another parent. Well it was outside the school gates at home-time so obviously I'd meet the parents. Then my bus came pretty promptly so it wasn't until I was on the bus that I could make that phone call. But actually, I was confident by then that if I'd not heard from DD (via her friend's phone) that she can't open the door or she's lost the key, then all was probably ok.

I called and guess what, it was fine. They were at home eating crisps and playing, Not playing the clarinet and flute as they were supposed to, but you can't have everything. More importantly, they were safely inside the apartment.

I often leave DD at home alone if I pop out to the shops and she also walks home from school by herself as we live opposite the school. But this was the first instance of latchkey-kid life. And I like it.

I sat on the bus knowing that next year we will be saving £100 a month on the afternoon programme. This made me happy enough but then I realized that even from tomorrow, by putting a door key into the secret pocket of DD's schoolbag, I no longer have to worry if I'm delayed getting home, I can get off the bus and go shopping on my way home after school, I can go out for coffee on a Friday morning and be back around the same time as DD - give or take 10 minutes. The pressure to finish everything I'm doing by the clock according to DD's schedule has just vanished. I'M FREE-ish!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Minimalist Game: Days 12 - 16 (R2BC)

Day 12
It's been a busy week and I've not had time to blog so I'm making Days 12 - 16 of The Minimalist Game my Reasons 2B Cheerful this week. What's not to be cheerful about getting rid of  70 items out of the spudy (spare room/study)? Epecially as it marks half way through the month. By the way, if you missed the previous days, just click on The Minimalist Game and all the posts will come up.

March 12th: I found the following things in one cupboard: a beach bag, a school bag, an IKEA stand (never used because the cupboard was mounted on the wall), 2 folding changing mats, the wires from the DVD player (because I used the wires from the old machine), a triple photo frame that DD brought home from nursery once, 3 wooden frames from IKEA that my nephews painted for me about 18 years ago (I took out the photos of them aged 4 and 2), a triple photo frame that someone gave me when DD was born, and the stabilizer wheels that came with her previous bicycle and we never used because she could already ride without them.

Day 13

March 13th I tackled all the filing and paperwork that should have been done in January as part of the January Project. This vastly reduced the shelf space taken up.

The photo shows 8 plastic folders. An enormous pile of bills and receipts from before 2011 (you're supposed to keep these things for seven years) together with guarantees and instructions for items I no longer own. 1 plastic receipt pouch, 1 old filofax, 1 wooden notebook holder, and a pile of old business cards.

March 14th: still in the spudy, I went through a three drawer storage unit that the printer sits on.

I got rid of 5 plastic envelopes that airline tickets used to come in, more cables for a DVD (not the same ones as on day 12, I promise), a banner saying "Happy Birthday" in Hebrew, a UK plug, an old address book, a postcard, an old computer connector, and a skull cap (yarmulke or kippa) with Spiderman on it.

I also found 2 cushions in the cupboard which I will never cover.

Day 14

Day 15
March 15th: Here are more than 20 plastic envelopes with copies of various lessons and tests that I need for school. Some of them are doubles and some have only one or two sheets of paper in them. I'm calling it 15 items and I already took them to school to be stored in the English cupboard.

Day 16
March 16th: Some small items from the drawers. 8 CDs of old Teletubbies and Sesame Street episodes that my neighbour copied for DD when she was little. 7 double connectors for the phone sockets. And an old pair of earphones that don't work.

So that makes 70 items. The running totals are 136 items for The Minimalist game and 521 items for the 500 Clutters Challenge. So I guess I've won that challenge.

I have cheerfully joined the Linky over at Michelle's place - Mummy from the Heart. Pop over for some other cheerful posts.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In The Greenhouse

The greenhouse is enormous
 My school is run by a kibbutz. They are an urban kibbutz but the founding members came mostly from farming kibbutzim (pl) and they have continued with their values of being connected to the land. We have a large greenhouse, a large vegetable garden, and we recycle the grey water for cleaning the floors and watering the gardens. (We also have animals but I don't go there.) To be fair, many schools, including DD's, have animals, growing walls and vegetable plots, but ours is on a grand scale and we have projects running with many other schools and colleges all over the city.

Behind the wall in a workshop
They make everything themselves, including the furniture.

There are three fish tanks in the greenhouse.
Right at the back you can see auditorium seating for lectures.
It's also a big thing atm to take the children out into nature for all sorts of core lessons such as art, maths, language, science, etc... It's a nationwide initiative to move away from formal classroom and formal timetabling, to a more holistic learning environment. I don't understand exactly how it works but it involves a lot of beanbag seats on carpets in the classrooms. I watched a video about a maths lesson where they went out and counted the whorls on plants. I get that, and I remember the maths involved from own my biology lessons in school. After that though, I have no idea how you could teach the whole maths curriculum in the park.

A computer and screening room for classes.

Some of the children made this traditional mud and straw wall.
They put in a window, a seat, and a cubby or shelf.
Now they use the window to get into the workshop when it's locked.
We were also encouraged to have English lessons in the greenhouse. We did one lesson at the end of last year where the kids had to go round and find things in the greenhouse beginning with each letter of the alphabet. It was fun for one lesson but what about teaching the Present Progressive. I can't imagine doing that without a whiteboard.

There's also a lab/planting room for hands on projects.

All these plants are watered with drip irrigation
So last week my colleague asked me to join her with a class in the greenhouse. Each pupil made a booklet with different types of simple sentences in singular and plural, positive and negative forms. On each page they had to complete or write a number of sentences. E.g. There is..., There are..., There isn't..., There aren't... and: In the greenhouse I..., ....I don't...,  My friend..., She doesn't..., In the greenhouse I can see..., I can't see..., or In the greenhouse I like..., I don't like..., I want to..., I don't want to..., etc...

These plants are watered with a misting system overhead. 

This area is dedicated to hydroponics
(growing plants in water instead of soil).
It was a very successful lesson. The kids really enjoyed it and the value of practicing all those sentences in a more interesting environment was amazing. It got me thinking how I could perhaps teach the Present Progressive in the greenhouse.

And a wall garden of course.
Each graduating 6th grade class build a legacy for the school.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Minimalist Game - Days 8 - 11

Day 10 (one magazine already donated to school for an art project)
I went into my bedroom to find clutter for days 8 and 9. I thought it was going to be a struggle but I easily found enough stuff for four days! That's 38 things! The running totals are 66 for The Minimalist Game and 451 for the 500 Clutter Challenge.

Here are The Minimalist Game posts to date:
Days 1 - 4
Days 5 - 7

Day 8: I have two bedside tables, each with two deep drawers. On my side of the bed I had my Hebrew Language textbooks in the top drawer and my French Language textbooks in the lower drawer. I cleared out the top drawer. Here are three of the books I'm passing on. To make up the 8 items there are three belts (from the other bedside table), and a jar of face cream that expired in 2013. The other item is not pictured as it was a gift and I don't want to offend.

Day 8 (one item not photographed so as not to offend)
Day 9: Hahaha, so you thought I'd only collected three Hebrew textbooks over 30 years of trying to master the language. Here are another 9! These books are over 20 years old. I worked my way through some of them when I took various language classes and kept them to go over and review. I never did go over and review anything. I will never need Hebrew grammar as in-depth as these books teach. I will never read Hebrew novels in Hebrew - I no longer even want to. If I return to language studies it will be to French. (I did keep one book of comprehension texts to read, just to see if I can still understand them, and a couple of dictionaries.)

Day 10: Magazines from various years of The Economist's yearly round up of the state of the world. I bought this for the first time in 1992 and continued, not every year, until 2008. I especially liked seeing the population changes listed for each country. However, all this information is online so out they go. (Only 9 magazines are in the photo as one already went to school with DD for an art project.)

Day 9
Day 11: Old issues of Reader's Digest and 1 old mobile phone. The Reader's Digests went to my school where the team of English teachers happily took them.

This is going so easily that I may extend it till the end of the month and do all 31 days. If I have to start resorting to throwing out, for e.g., 25 paper clips, then I know it's time to stop. But so far so easy.

Day 11

Friday, March 9, 2018

Everything Is Happy In The Sunshine - R2BC

It seems that all the heaviness of the winter just evaporates with the return of the spring sunshine. And this past week has been particularly warm. People were even spotted out an about in sandals!

Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful this week. I'm a day late because I just had to write about Inspiring Women yesterday for International Women's Day. Go and read it if you haven't already - you are probably one of the women I wrote about. And don't forget the R2BC linky over at Michelle's Mummy from the Heart. 

I started of my social March with going to the Purim party last Thursday evening and then hosting friends for the festive Purim meal on Friday. I put out games on the coffee table to amuse the kids and it gave them something to do when they finished eating and got bored of the table. There really were guests but these particular friends don't like their photos on the internet so I had to take special blog photos without the people.

Not hosting
For this week I invited friends from London over for a mid-week supper and another small family for Friday night dinner today. The London friends suddenly had to return to London for family reasons and the friends for today were already busy for Friday night. So week two wasn't so social.

A half-hearted 2
The Jerusalem Marathon
Today is the Jerusalem Marathon. We usually go and cheer on the runners and see loads of people we know both running and cheering. There is music and street entertainment at the end of our street. Today we didn't get our act together to go out this morning. And it's cold out which is great for the runners but not so inviting for us. We did catch the end of it when DD went to her youth club and I went shopping.

More Teaching
As soon as the sun comes out they start talking about teaching for next year. I have agreed to my one day in college and two online courses as usual. For school I promised myself that I'd go back to three days a week. This year I'm doing 3.5 days and I felt that it was too much. So obviously I heard myself agreeing to do four days next year. And my stupid brain was in collusion with my mouth, thinking all sorts of time-management thoughts and vowing to be more efficient. Yes you can do it all but it's more comfortable and enjoyable not to. Oh well, another year towards paying off the mortgage won't hurt.

DD has started practicing her clarinet at home if I nag her enough. She's in two orchestras and I got an invitation to the first concert later this month. This means, see how wonderful this is and if your child wishes to continue, from now on there will be a monthly fee. Of course we'll continue but there's no such thing as a free Legato.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Women Getting On With It - International Women's Day

Two of my favourite women in training.
R2BC will have to wait until tomorrow as today is International Women's Day. My cousin, Doreen Samuels, a women's activist, innovator, and initiator in Education and Interfaith work, issued the following challenge on facebook. That we should write about a woman who inspires us on International Women's Day. As the challenge didn't require any sports equipment, I readily accepted.

Since accepting the challenge I've been wracking my brain trying to think of someone to write about. It's not that I don't know any inspirational women, it's that I know so many. I have friends who are experts in their fields and friends who run charities and friends who work in government and friends who are doctors for the sick and lawyers for the poor. They are all inspirational women and we tell them so. They all chose their inspirational work and we are grateful that they did.

Then there are inspirational women who did not choose to be inspirational. I have a friend who is battling serious cancer whilst holding down a full-time job and holding it all together for her young children in between chemo treatments. Believe me, we would all rather she didn't have to be so inspirational even while we admire her courage, her strength and her determination.

I have a friend who is a single mother with a severely disabled daughter and another child with autism. I have more than one friend who adopted children with neurological and behavioral problems like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, attachment disorder, ADHD, autism, and any number of other challenges that they didn't know about before the adoption. And other friends with disabled children. All of them endlessly caring and advocating for their beloved children with little thanks and little help. One friend in particular started a major organisation to include disabled and abled children in joint social activities. It's called Shutaf, take a look. She is a true inspiration.

I have a friend who lost her husband when their children were young and she brought up five children on her own, through the traumas of a sick father, the death of their father, and continuing to live without him. And every one of those children is a wonderful young adult. She is an inspirational woman.

I have friends who escaped from abusive marriages and started over with very little. Their courage is inspirational.

All these women inspire me and others. People say to them all the time, "you are amazing." And they answer, "what choice did I/do I have?"

And it doesn't end there. What about all the women nursing all sorts of trials and traumas in private that we know nothing about? Nobody even tells them they are amazing and still they carry on, putting family, children and jobs first. They just get on with it because there are bills to pay, children to love, educate, feed and clothe, a household to run, and a community to contribute to.

Women on their own who tirelessly give to society and to other people's children. Women with disabilities themselves or chronic illnesses who put on a brave face and carry on. All inspirations.

I sometimes watch "inspirational" videos on You Tube where female life coaches, expensively groomed and clothed and with million dollar teeth, tell you how you can have it all. You just have to get up and go for it. Sorry Honey, but the women that inspire me can't just get up and go for it because they have cancer or children with special needs or not enough money to step off the treadmill even for the time it takes to watch your dazzling white teeth dancing in front of the camera.

Not everyone can work in a corner office overlooking a Los Angeles marina. We need teachers for special education, we need nurses, we need social workers in deprived areas. (I know that men also do these jobs but today it's about the women.)

So Doreen, I'm writing to honour the inspirational women who just get on with it. The  millions of women without fame or fortune who stand by their families and responsibilities, who put themselves last and who do whatever it takes to keep the system working and to survive. I see them all the time around Jerusalem. I work with some of them. They are the backbone and the heart of society and they inspire me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Minimalist Game - Days 5 -7

The matttress and sheets as posted for sale on facebook.
Read this post about The Minimalist Game if you've not read it as it explains what I'm playing at. 😁

Day 5: A single sponge mattress from a child's bed and two fitted sheets to go with it. (I put these 3 items up for sale on a local facebook page.) And 2 glass jars that DD painted and gave to her friends.

The Child's bed was bought for DD when she graduated from the cot. It has undergone a couple of transformations. It originally had a trundle bed underneath for sleepovers, and two large storage drawers under the trundle. All these heavy additions have long gone and we swapped the child's mattress for a regular single suitable for an adult.

One of the things I realized a while ago is that I don't want heavy furniture. I've said it before but we live in a desert and there is a lot of dust. I don't want a load of furniture that you pull out once a year for cleaning underneath. I want to be able to get the hoover or the mop under the beds and sofas. It's cleaner and the rooms look more spacious when you can see the floor extending under them. It's a lighter, airier look and feel. (See the new sofas)

The child's mattress had been standing next to the bed, alongside the wall for a couple of years. I admit that it was a useful little shelf for putting your specs and your book on when you go to sleep but without it the room is wider. A small bedside table does the same job and is good for a lamp and a glass of water too. It's amazing how an extra 10cm of room makes so much difference.

With the old sofa that was the size of a single bed, DD's bed and the trundle, the mattress (and in fact I had another similar mattress that I gave away with the old sofa), my double bed, and another small double; I could sleep nine people in this apartment! Even when my sister brought her family of five to stay (only twice in 17 years since the 'baby' was born), we were only seven people. And although I have two toilets, I only have one full bathroom and probably not enough hot water in the tank for nine people to shower anyway.

I don't know why I kept all those bed options. I think I forgot that I'm no longer a student with whole crowds of friends descending for weekend parties. I now have sleeping accommodation for five people, including us two, and that's quite enough. My sister's family no longer all travel together as two of the kids are grown up. And if one day the whole family plus my Mum and my brother all want to come at the same time.... there is a lovely little boutique hotel around the corner. Sorted. (I'll offer to make dinner so they can book B&B),

The other 2 items to make up the 5 for the 5th of the month, are two empty Nutella jars that DD painted and gave to two of her friends as part of their Mishloah Manot for Purim. Sorry no photo but she painted a rainbow coming out of a cloud on one jar and a panda bear in a forest on the other. They were rather cute actually.

If you read the linked post about Mishloah Manot, you should know that the days of making a million of these are gone for the moment. DD made two for her best school friends and that was it this year.

Day 6
Day 6: Three ceramic bowls, one painted enamel cooking pot, one pottery planter and an old silicone loaf baker. These have been sitting on the balcony since I read one woman's account of collecting all sorts of coloured containers to plant things in on her eclectic balcony. I never got round to doing that planting and although I do plan to plant loads for April's Project, I've decided that the eclectic gypsy caravan look is not what I'm after. It doesn't really go with the minimalist style. So that's 6 wouldbe planters from the balcony.

Day 7
Day 7: A tray, two milk jugs, two teapots (I used to collect them), a loose-leaf tea strainer in the shape of a teapot, and a gift from a friend (not pictured so as not to offend but nothing to do with teatime). I bought the tray and the yellow jug in 1985 when I left home to live with two other girls. There used to be a yellow sugar bowl to match the jug and there is still a red teapot that I kept.

That's 31 things so far from The Minimalist Game making a running total of 416 clutters since October.