Saturday, January 18, 2020

New Year, New Decade, New You?

I missed the New Year goals, resolutions, new start stuff this year. This is particularly upsetting as 2020 is a totally satisfying round number and it's also the start of a new decade.

My mother was visiting and we had to have proper meals and food that she likes (toast) for smaller meals, and a biscuit to have with coffee, etc... We also went out to eat at friends and I forgot about the no sugar rule when delicious carrot cake and vanilla ice-cream appeared for dessert at Sally-Ann's house. Then my nephew came so it had to be cheesy pasta for dinner. My mother isn't going to walk up and down mountains so we got taxis at times I would have walked. And of course we had to watch at least four episodes of The Crown every evening (because my mother doesn't have Netflix) so that put paid to anything productive.

The house guests left and we hosted lunch guests, one of whom was visiting from Switzerland. The beautifully wrapped gift gave no indication that it was full of exquisite chocolates so I didn't think to unwrap it and put them out for everyone to share. They're gone now though. 😋

It's lovely to have guests, but it does interfere with one's plans for a frugal, puritan, exemplary lifestyle. And when they left, it was too late. What's 06/01/2020? Nothing special, is the answer.

If I waited until the next significant date: 1st of February, or even 02/02/2020, I'll have put back all the weight I lost last summer and be feeling dumpy and depressed as well as lazy and unproductive. The new Hebrew month of Shvat doesn't even start until Monday week. What's an obsessive about numbers girl to do?

So despite the absence of a starting date, I can still plan. I read an article, I think it was in Psychologies Magazine, that said it takes a decade to really transform one's life. I like that because there's no urgency to start. Hahaha, did you spot my problem there? I actually think there's a lot of sense in this as long as we are blessed to still be around in 10 years time. Fatalistic? Moi?

On a more immediate scale, I just watched a video by ModernHealthMonk (I don't think that's his real name) called: How to Design Your Life. He suggests you sit down and write one thing... what would be the coolest thing to happen this year? It's a gem of a way to pinpoint what you really want. As he says, "there's no point getting to the top of the ladder of success only to find you climbed the wrong ladder." He suggests that you do this three times. I agree, no one likes a single-minded zealot and three goals are manageable.

Then for each goal, you write three daily or weekly habits that will bring you closer to realising the goal. Keep a record. Nine things a day to tick off on a 3x3 grid or however you choose to plot your progress.

I'm so doing this. It's 18.00 on 18/01/2020 and that's good enough.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Harry and Meghan, Right Or Wrong?

I watched all three series of The crown and I loved it. Then my mother, who doesn't have Netflix, came. So over a rainy week in wintry Jerusalem, I watched all 30 hours all over again with my mother. And I loved it all over again. I even changed my avatar on Netflix to the Queen and I've caught myself talking like her too. There's a lot of benefit in sitting straight, keeping your face neutral, and announcing curtly, "so that's settled then," before changing the subject completely. I'm enjoying myself immensely. Although part of the trick is not to be seen to be enjoying oneself. Obviously.

Having presented my credentials, I'm going to have my say about the goings on in the Palace(s) in recent weeks. Let's start with Andrew, a tragic case of a misguided, limited-thinker, with a sense of entitlement, too much money and too much free time while his role in life dwindled to nothing. He should have pursued his Navy career where he would no-doubt have been successful, been kept in line, and found a purpose to his life.

Now for the latest crisis in hand. Who's right and who's wrong? Are the Sussexes the victims or the vindicated?

I was surprised when I read about the poor 12 year old walking behind his mother's coffin, next to his father who wouldn't even give him a comforting hand. I was surprised because I watched that happening in real time and whilst I felt extremely sad for the two boys, it never occurred to me that Charles should take Harry's hand. It's not how it's done. And now I'm thinking, would it have been so terrible to take your grieving 12 year old son's hand as he walks behind his mother's coffin, being watched by millions of people around the globe?

At my father's funeral, there was nothing undignified about our walk from the prayer hall to the grave. And yet I was arm in arm with my mother and various other family members walked holding hands or arm in arm. It was comforting how we gave each other support. But of course that was our private funeral with family and friends, not a public event. I'm sure there were plenty of hugs and comfort for the Windsor boys in the privacy of their home.

Likewise at the wedding. Doria Markle sat alone in her solitary pew. How sad was that? Once again, protocol trumped warmth and consideration. At each of my nephew's Bar Mitzvas their other grandparents sat with their siblings at the party. My parents, having no siblings available, were given eight invitations so that they could enjoy a table of their own friends at their grandson's Bar Mitzva party.

People say that the Royal family are not normal. I think this was the case in the past but the young royals of the 1960s and 70s got a much better grasp on how normal families behave, both from television and from being the first royals to attend school. Starting with Princess Anne's children, there has been mostly normal family life (normal for the mega-rich anyway).

However, there is also the public role, full of pomp, ceremony, rules and rituals, that seem totally superfluous to the 21st century but nevertheless prevail because without it there is nothing royal. It is what it is. Chelsy Davy, Harry's erstwhile girlfriend of many years, recognised this and, apparently, she decided that it was too much of a sacrifice to make.

Meghan Markle, on the other hand, thought she'd come in and change things. I'm not being the judge of whether things need to be changed or not, but then it's not my call. She came up against the British media who were brutal towards her, and the establishment who were not amused. I think the tragedy here is that Harry was so besotted with Meghan that he believed she could take on The Firm and come out shining. Big mistake.

Is it racism? I honestly don't think so. I think people were genuinely excited about the prospect of multi-racial royals. It was her attitude not her ethnic background. Watching the Crown only emphasised that Britain expects their royals to act with dignity at all times in public; spend an enormous number of drizzly Sunday afternoons opening cement factories, suburban community centres, and the like; share photos of their and their children's rites of passage; and above all, not to overtly commercialise their positions and titles. Yes, William has also patented his Windsor names and logos and gets a cut from every mug and tea-towel sold, but he also does the job.

And the sad thing is that Harry was doing the job extremely well too.

The job allows for vast privileges in land, farms, and hereditary mansion homes. There is travel and free entertainment. Fine food and wine. The best medical care, no financial worries, and never having to wait for a bus in the rain. There is also a lot of duty, boredom, decisions made for you often years in advance, and a set way you are obliged to behave. It's a trade off. I think many of us would take the full package given the choice. But you have to understand that it's all or nothing.

What about announcing their plans to the press before informing the Queen? I was as outraged as the next woman. Sort it all out in private with all the concerned parties and then make a united announcement about how it's all going to work and why. Obviously the mature and polite way to go, no? Since then I've heard a podcast (either BBC or The Guardian, can't remember) which suggested that they did go to the Queen and she told them to speak to Charles. And then Charles said they need to speak to the Queen. So after being pushed from pillar to post a few times they took matters into their own hands and went public to get things moving. True? Not true? Who knows?

This brings me back to Andrew. A boy who started life as the all important spare and was discouraged from furthering his own career in order to fulfill the supporting role. He was too dazzled by it all to realise where he was heading. His bad behaviour has led to him losing everything in a way that, for example, Edward and Sophie have not. Edward and Sophie, after a couple of memorable and embarrassing fowl-ups by each of them, now understand that they benefit enormously by keeping a low profile and towing the line.

Harry and Meghan not so. On both accounts. They are considering their future and they are not prepared to play the parts without deviation in order to keep everything. As someone pointed out, Archie and any future siblings will not get the same financial allowance or role to play as their father has 'enjoyed'. The next generation of Sussexes, or Mountbattens, will have to function in the real world come what may. I totally get it. Though it's a shame that Meghan hates living in England so much, I respect their decision and I wish them luck.

Have wonderful, happy, healthy and successful lives in North America Harry and Meghan. Bon voyage and please leave your Royal titles and the keys to the royal mansion under the mat when you go.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Small Living

Small flat, big view
I am a bit obsessed with The Tiny House Movement. As much as I have decluttered over the past couple of years, and even got rid of a number of big furniture items, I am still fascinated by people, families even, who live in homes the size of a caravan.

I love the freedom of not being weighted down by stuff. I love the fact that with a smaller space and fewer things, you can buy better quality. I like that these homes take about 10 minutes to clean from top to bottom. I like the idea of reduced utility costs, I'm not so much into the nomadic life but I do like that they can be parked in a scenic spot and if someone comes along and builds a multi-storey car park next to you, you can move. Or, at least, rotate and turn your back on it. 

All that said, a real tiny house wouldn't do for me. I don't like the thought of a composting toilet, no thank you very much. I don't like that on most models the toilet is right off the kitchen. And I got over the fun of bunk beds at the age of 10. Obviously grown adults don't really have bunk beds but the tiny houses do tend to have loft bedrooms. Some of them have narrow stair cases so it's not all ladders, but I want to be able to stand up in my bedroom, I want to be able to walk around my bed, and I want my clothes in a hanging wardrobe in the same room.

There is also a Micro-apartment movement, but that's too murphy-bed oriented for me. I don't want to take the dining table off the wall every time I want to eat, or choose between reading on my bed and working at my desk that folds away under the bed. I like to work at my computer, go to the bed or sofa to read and make notes, then return to the desk, etc...

It's all on You Tube, you can see for yourself.

The next step up from a Tiny House is a small house. And in fact, this is what most Israelis have. Small flats rather than houses if you live in the cities. My flat is just under 100 square metres and it's considered to be one of the bigger small flats. There are many two-bedroom flats that are only 45 sq m! That's smaller than an American RV. I kid you not. And families with children live in them! It's normal even.

I love my flat. There are things I'd change if I were designing it from scratch. A slightly wider salon, a bigger bathroom, an en suite, and a better view out the back would be nice. However, I have a fantastic view from the front and the balcony is a prize that many flats, both new and old, don't have. Outside space and a view are paramount. Everything else can be changed, renovated, decorated, and designed. 

So why am I writing this now? My friend Sarah, who has a gift for seeing a gap in the face book groups market, has started a new group called: Interior Design for Regular Folks in Small Israeli Apartments.

We are bombarded with adverts for luxury penthouses overlooking the sea in Tel Aviv, 6-bedroom duplexes facing the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, and villas with private pools in Caesarea. Whilst they are all beautiful, most of us don't live like this. 

I am so looking forward to seeing and sharing ideas that are relevant to us regular folk. Thank you Sarah!

P.S. small living doesn't mean a small life. How small could you go?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Proud Mummy - It's The Little Things

No DD didn't win a prize, come top of her class in something, pass an exam (well she did get 100% in the English test but we expect that), cook dinner or even tidy her bedroom. It was far more mundane than that.

Last week I finally got rid of that beige carpet that I'd hated from the day it was first delivered. The one I tried to kill but it wouldn't die. In fact, on the day it was delivered, I seriously wondered if they had brought me the wrong carpet. I think there must have been tricky lighting in the shop because after paying not a small amount of money for that carpet, I never liked it. But it cost a lot of money so I kept it for 12 years.

The new carpet is from Ikea. I took a chance - it's turquoise! We only have one reception room so there's no space to be sophisticated in the best room and more daring in the den. If you asked my style I'd say manor house rather than country cottage (although I would love to live in a country cottage) and definitely not shabby anything. I don't like shabby even if it is chic. And blues and greens. No brown. My overall vision is clean-lines, no-fuss cosy. In a word, I suppose Ikea.

I was a bit worried about the carpet, but as I said, I took a chance. You can do that with an Ikea carpet costing less than $200 because if we hated it I would get rid of it after a couple of years. And reader, the quality does not feel any less than that expensive carpet that I did hate.

It took a bit of getting used to. As I unrolled it, I wasn't certain if it went well with the sofas. I didn't hate it but I didn't instantly love it. DD wasn't sure either. But instead of saying, "I'm not sure if I like it," she asked me, "do you like it?"

It's very subtle. She wasn't sure about the carpet but she was careful not to say anything negative. She was diplomatic and polite. I loved that. I was so proud that she was sensitive enough to do that.

One of the basic tenets for doctors is, 'above all do no harm.' It's a good one. For me another basic tenet is, 'above all be kind and be polite.' We don't always manage it, but on this occasion DD nailed it.

Over the next few days we got used to the carpet and now we like it. I'm not planning its early demise. We had guests on Shabbat and the first friend to arrive exclaimed, "ooh new carpet! Lovely!" I loved her for that. Our colours are unsophisticated but we're feeling the clean-lines, no-fuss cosy.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Pondering In Decreasing Lines

One of the lucky ones.
On the way to Kew Gardens we approached the river via Brentford. The overwhelming opinion in the car was: why on earth did we all buy those awful nylon sheets in the 1970s? (Remember Brentford Nylons!?) FYI, the conclusion we came to was that in the 1960s our sheets were sent out to be laundered every week. The nylon sheets didn't need ironing so it was a big saving in either money or time. I'm not quite sure what happened since as we now use cotton sheets that certainly don't get ironed and they're fine. Maybe it's the polyester? Who knows?

On the way home from Kew, and just outside the gardens, we went round a large roundabout - I think they call it a gyratory system - with lots of trees on it. I felt so sorry for those trees for if the boundaries of the land donated to the gardens had been just slightly different, these trees too would be in the beautiful Kew Gardens instead of in the middle of a noisy and polluted gyratory roundabout. It seems there's a location lottery for trees just as there is for people.

After all the decluttering (>1500 items out), if I had to stay sealed in my home with no internet, would I still have enough reading material to last a couple of years? I think the answer is yes, however I'd die of starvation long before I ran out of books. A more pertinent question is do I have enough clutter left to get rid of another 1500 items. I think the answer is sadly, also yes.

We passed a load of rubbish accumulating in the street around the base of a tree. It was old cigarette boxes and other wrappers wantonly disgarded. DD was shocked: "Well that's a serious amount of pollutination!" I think we have a new family word. 😁

Why is it that every film I look for on Netflix appears on that list of films they don't have but here are a load of other random films I have no interest in, that you might like instead?

I've been awol and even considered giving up blogging. But I can't. I love my blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

DD 11 - R2BC

We kept a copy for ourselves without the sunglasses.
If you understand the title of this blog then you've been here before. Anyway DD turned 11 last week. Scarily grown up but also still a little girl in many ways. And nothing of the baby years left.

We're usually in London for Hanuka which is on or around the time of DD's birthday, so I (or Grandma) take her to a show or a pantomime, Grandma has a birthday cake and a birthday tea with the family, and there are lots of presents. The birthday is sort of swallowed up among all the seasonal festivities.

This year we went to London in September for my brother's wedding so we're not going for Hanuka. And anyway, Hanuka is late this year, falling over Christmas week. DD felt she needed to give me instructions about how to do her birthday. "I don't need a cake," she informed me, "but you need to get me a present."
"Fine, got it, thanks."

Of course I was going to get her a present anyway. She needed a new backpack just the right size for school outings. Her regular school bag is too big and the front bit that unzips to form a small backpack for outings, is too small. (What a waste of money that idea was.) Off I went into town like Goldilocks, looking for a backpack that was just right.

Not being much of a present, I set about buying other gifts to fill it with. I bought a new watch; an alarm clock (because I want the phones out of the bedrooms at night - I got a smaller alarm clock for myself as well); a small over the shoulder bag for when she goes out and just needs her keys, phone, and some money; two books in Hebrew because she needs to start reading more in Hebrew; a back scrubber for the shower; a big bottle of moisturiser for her bedroom and a smaller tube of moisturiser for her bag; a hair accessory; and some orange Tic-tacs to take the number of gifts to 11.

Reader, she was pleased. But not so pleased to move the gifts into her bedroom and they are all still sitting on the coffee table in the living room. *sighs*

I wanted her to celebrate but she wouldn't commit to what the celebration would be. I suggested either we do like last year - lunch and a [Netflix] movie at our place after school on early Friday, or I take a few friends out for lunch and fancy doughnuts - like we did the year before, and the year before that. In the end it was DD who thought of bowling.

So after school on Friday we took four friends for bowling and pizza (and chips actually, because they were there and why not?). It was exceptionally successful. The score pads of old are long gone so all you you have to do is toss the bowling ball and the machines to the rest. I just watched as they got on with it and had lots of fun. I was also useful for ordering the pizza and chips of course, and paying for it all, obviously.

One of the girls had to leave early so I took over from her in the second game. I didn't embarrass myself. However, whereas we all clocked up scores in the 80s, there was a group of little boys playing next to us who, seemingly without any style or strategy, all managed to get scores over 100. We left the bowling centre happy but humbled.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tuesday Tidbits #51 - You Can Go Now

At Fiddler on the Roof in London.
We've not yet perfected the art of selfies.
This is possibly the last Tuesday Tidbits ever as it's the day before DD's 11th birthday. I can't imagine that she's got many more amusing tidbits in her and even if she has, after a certain age it's bordering on ridicule rather than amusing for me to report them online. So here are the final Tuesday Tidbits from DD.

The Silent Treatment
I went in one morning to wake DD up.
Me: DDush, it's 6.30. Time to get up.
DD: (nothing)
Me: DD, wakey wakey!
DD: (nothing)
Me: DD, come on now!
DD: (suddenly an arm shoots out from beneath the duvet with a thumbs up sign).

Diet Superviser
DD opened a bag of crisps and was taking it back to her bedroom.
Me: Oooh can you put some crisps in a bowl for me?
DD: Are you hungry or just snackish?
Me: Snackish
DD: Well go and get yourself an apple.

Delicious Russians
We went to see Fiddler on the Roof in London. I explained the story to her and told her how it is, in many ways, the story of our own family. I explained about the Cossacks, the pogroms and the mass emigration of Jews from Russia to Western Europe, England, America and Israel. When the Russian men started dancing in the pub...
DD: Are those the croissants?

I went into DD's bedroom late at night to put away some folded laundry. As I left the room she stirred.
DD: Mummy?
Me: Yes, I was just putting some clean clothes away.
DD: Mummy can you stay a little bit?
Me: OK.
DD: I love you Mummy.
Me: I love you too Darling.
DD: You can go now.