Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Very End - R2BC

This month's final Reasons 2B Cheerful and, as usual, I'm joining the R2BC linky with Becky on Lakes Single Mum. 

The very end of the long summer holiday.
I can feel that the evenings are already cooler. I am so through with the heat of July and August. Even though September can be just as hot as August, psychologically, it's not so hot even if it is, iyswim. We went out for pizza for supper to celebrate.

A week of sickness, but it was this week and not next week.
We came home from a lovely weekend away last weekend but all our plans for the week were sabotaged when DD got strep throat (a fever, very sore throat, and a hacking cough that would not go away) and was put on antibiotics. Then she got an infection under her crowned tooth and we had to have it removed (luckily it was a milk molar and we saw the adult tooth growing under the gum on the x-ray). I thanked the universe that she was sick this week and not next week when we are both back at school.

I have my timetable for next year. 
I'm a bit panicked as I have extra teaching hours and an extra day at school. However, as I keep telling myself, it's just a matter of having a routine that covers everything you need to do and being strict about sticking to it. It's the last bit I'm not so good at but on September 1st anything is possible.

Poster girl.
At the beginning of the year I set myself a loose target of  10 blog posts per month. Today I'm back on target with 80 posts on the last day of August. Yay me.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bored Into Reading

Or just bore them into it
I think I've cracked the magic ingredient to fluent reading.

I did my MA dissertation on what makes a child an avid reader and my research seemed to support the current thinking of the day in the year 2000. You need to read to your child when s/he is young, have plenty of interesting books at his/her level readily available and easily accessible, have adult readers in the home who model reading as an enjoyable pass-time, you need to validate reading as a worthwhile activity, and you need to provide time to read.

Simple and obvious when you think about it. So I did all that but my daughter did not become an avid reader. Some of it I put down to the fact that she is working in two languages and so she doesn't get the practice in reading English at school. A lot of it was to do with the fact that the computer was far more enticing, not to mention a ready supply of dvds.

We only have the one living room where the tv and dvd player are situated. By the middle of the holiday I was sick of hearing Harry Potter and various other favourites over and over again. The computer that DD played on, broke at the beginning of the summer and I deliberately didn't get it fixed. After a few weeks I was beginning to regret it.

Towards the end of the holiday I thought we'd better start getting back into some sort of routine. I always remember my friend's brother, Philip, telling me how the rule in his house was the children had to be in their bedrooms by 8 pm. I once mentioned this in a blog post and wrote 8.30 because I thought no one would believe that teenagers would go to their rooms at 8. But later I confirmed it with him and they did actually go to bed at 8 all the way through school. On the other hand, it wasn't strict lights out at 8 pm so I expect they did homework or read, but I know for a fact that there were no screens involved, or phones. (Although nowadays teenagers have their own screens and phones in their bedrooms so I don't know if you could enforce that with older kids.)

I started the in bed by 8 pm rule. We often don't manage it as we're out late or in the middle of a game. I read to DD at 8 and leave the bedroom at about 8.30. Then she's on her own and she's bored stiff. Not yet having early mornings and being, like me, a night owl, she's just not tired at 8.30 pm. I tell her she can read. And she started to read because there was nothing else to do. She sometimes does sudoku or tells herself elaborate stories but mostly she reads.

So there you have it. The missing ingredient was BOREDOM! There had been clues of course. When I did my MA dissertation I did mention that many of the children I spoke to were orthodox Jews so they had little else to do on a Shabbat afternoon but read. And my youngest nephew became a book-a-day reader because he wasn't into sport and his older brothers commandeered the tv for watching football and every other sport at every opportunity.

Now I need to figure out a way to bore DD into practicing her recorder, doing her maths workbook, tidying her bedroom, and washing the dishes. Unfortunately every time I suggest one of these worthwhile activities she'd rather read a book.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Last Weekend Of The Long Summer Break

DD at the wedding

Last weekend we went to one of my favourite places in the world - the kibbutz where my friends live. On Thursday night one of my friends made a wedding for her daughter. Like in July, a number of old friends from around the country came and we had another mini-reunion.

Away on the back of a tractor

It's an old kibbutz tradition that the bride and groom are driven away on the back of a tractor after the chupah (the wedding canopy where they make their vows) and before the party. It's not done much anymore and I actually don't remember seeing it before. It was sweet.

We stayed after the wedding and Friday saw us in the pool with another friend's daughter and granddaughter.

And then Shabbat. Relaxing as always. Too much food. Lots of games of backgammon. I finished a book. DD fell in love with the dog (when you're grown up and have your own home you can have a dog if you still want one....), and we came home ready to face the final week of the summer holiday.

Just idyllic

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Theater In The Rough - R2BC

Rubbish photographer strikes again. 
Well they made a point of saying that they spell theatre the American way so I've done the same for SEO purposes and also because it's annoying when someone writes my name Rachael instead of Rachel.

Last night we went to the annual Shakespeare in the park production by Theater in the Rough. It was the penultimate performance. We'd been planning to go every night (10 performances in all) since the first night, but somehow something came up on all the other days.

This year was The Taming of the Shrew. I read the synopsis to DD before we went. We've previously seen Richard III and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both were excellent and easy to follow even though they both have complicated plots. I thought this production would be a doddle compared to the others as the plot is quite straightforward. DD was a bit shocked by it. "He treats her like a slave!" Well yes.

I'd forgotten about the changing places and pretending to be other people. Those bits weren't in our Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (originally published in 1878 but my Wordsworth edition is from 1994). So it did have the complicated Shakespeare twists but this production was further complicated by a switching of the genders.

As the whole play is the antithesis of feminism, they had men playing the women and women playing the men. They didn't want to dress in drag so they wore modern clothing with a nod to the character. For example the women wore their everyday jeans, trousers or leggings but with a jacket or a waistcoat. And the men wore their trousers and t-shirts but with a girl's blouse on top. This meant that, unlike in previous productions with elaborate medieval costumes, everyone looked the same and it was very difficult to keep in mind who was who at the beginning.

And after that my battery died
After a bit you get to know the characters and sort it all out - but it required some concentration. DD sat with the programme and matched up the pictures with the players. She loved the performance as it was full of humour which she found quite hilarious.

She didn't like the fact that we moved around the park for different scenes. "Why can't they just let us sit and enjoy it instead of moving about all the time?" She asked out loud. Some people around us, especially the older people, agreed with her but actually it adds to the special atmosphere. As the whole audience walks between scenes the actors are still playing in character and you feel like you're in Padua with them, rather than just watching a play.

It's very laid back. Some of the actors are our friends and we were waved at from the 'stage' and exchanged a 'hello,' whilst moving from scene to scene. They always announce at the beginning that if you miss a few words during the performance, don't worry about it, "it's Shakespeare, there are plenty more where they came from." As I said, all very friendly and laid back.

All in all, the whole production was superb and well worth seeing. Last performance tonight at 5.30 pm in the park behind The King David Hotel. 

This is my Reasons 2B Cheerful post this week. I've be joined the linky with Becky on Lakes Single Mum

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Wink From The 2017 Solar Eclipse

View from my balcony - no eclipse this time :~(
I was in London on August 11th 1999 when the last total solar eclipse visible from the UK occurred. My parents and I got in the car and drove up to Harrow Weald Common from where you get a view of the whole of London lying flat out before you. 

We had our pinhole camera thingies which my Dad had made by following instructions in the newspaper. You stood with your back to the sun, held up the card with the pinhole and saw the image of the waning sun projected onto another card held in front of you (being careful not to eclipse the pinhole with your head obviously). We had all heard the warnings and we were all being sensible and not looking at the sun. I have to say that I caught my Mum peeking and she didn't go blind so who knows. However, I won't take her next time as she cannot be trusted in eclipse conditions.

Obviously we weren't the only people who came to the common. The car park filled up and then people parked in the driveways and when they filled up, they parked down the road - a narrow country road with no pavements and absolutely no parking allowed. But on this day nobody cared. 

Office staff came with hampers of champagne and posh lunch. This was very funny as the whole thing lasted only 2 minutes so that was 12 minutes if you count 5 minutes waiting time either side of the eclipse. And there was no possibility of having a post-eclipse picnic for the rest of your lunch hour as the whole parking thing relied on everyone leaving straight after the eclipse or cars would be blocked in. 

It definitely added to the event by enjoying the atmosphere of everyone coming together. There was a camaraderie among strangers which I know to be true because we all sat in our cars for up to 20 minutes afterwards allowing the gridlocked car park to slowly empty out, last in first out. We were all relaxed like we were saying good bye to friends. Silly really, but that's how it actually was. 

There was also a bit of the end of the millennium anticipation come six months early. Was this the beginning of the end? It really did go eerily quiet as the birds were silent, and obviously the road was silent, and the people were silent with awe and wonder and suspense. 

So I was a little disappointed to find out that the much publicized eclipse of two days ago was only going to be visible in North America as a total eclipse. Parts of Northern and Western Europe would see a partial eclipse but the Middle East - zilch. So I forgot about it and got on with doing nothing which is what we do in August. 

Suddenly the light dimmed like when one lightbulb on a five-bulb chandelier goes but you still have the other four. I knew immediately what it was. It was a wink from the solar eclipse telling me, "not to worry love, there'll be another one - an annular solar eclipse - in your part of the world on December 26th 2019." 

"In an annular solar eclipse, the moon is too far from the Earth to block out the entire sun, leaving the sun peeking out over the moon's disk in a ring of fire." NASA

I can't wait.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Essential Emergency Fund And More Decluttering - R2BC

Some minimalizing progress and some less good events that, with a bit of Pollyanna attitude, I can turn around to be a R2BC. I'm joining the R2BC linky over with Becky on Lakes Single Mum.

Decluttering Books

I wrote the other day about sorting out all my books and letting go of my academic dreams. In addition to all the academic books, I got rid of 20 year old guidebooks to various cities around the world, children's books that DD has grown out of and which we didn't love, various out-of-date reference books, and a few novels that I'm never going to read. About 100 books in all.

In addition to the books in the photo which are all being given away, donated, or possibly sold; there were also a pile of magazines and the city guides that went straight in the bin.

That seems incredible as I sort and donate books every year for the Yedidya Bazaar in March. Only two years ago I got rid of 200 books (although that was the first cull in about 25 years). I think it's a process and some books it takes you longer to realize and come to terms with the fact that you don't need them anymore.

Empty Furniture

I decluttered a whole chest of drawers out of its usefulness and sold it on facebook. The guy who bought it also took an old armchair down for me and put it by the bins. Within half an hour I saw a man stop and load it into his car.

I also have one empty bookcase but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet.

Gone to a better home in the back of a passing car

Not So Wonderful

I had a blocked sink so I had to get the plumber in. It cost not a trivial amount of money. On the other hand, he changed the crappy IKEA drain set-up underneath to a much more efficient arrangement that goes straight into the wall without the long, narrow pipe, which is the part that gets blocked.

I swallowed that cost and moved on. However, I was then alerted by a neighbour that my solar heated water boiler on the roof was leaking big time. Having established that the tank that was falling apart was indeed mine, I needed to get it fixed. I bought this apartment 16 years ago and inherited all the equipment on the roof. I've never had to fix or replace any of it, so it was time.

Yesterday they came with a new boiler, two new solar panels, and a new stand as the old one was rusted through. All new. All fully guaranteed for 5 years. All costing an absolute fortune. But I chose the best and not the cheapest in the hope that I won't be dealing with this again for another 20 years.

Emergency Fund

This is when you fully understand how important it is to have an emergency fund. And how important it is not to dip into it for months that are a bit tight or if you want to treat yourself. It's not for an impulsive holiday, a new sofa, or even the new fridge which I had to buy only a few months ago and which could be put on 12 monthly payments without added interest.

The new solar boiler had to be fixed asap as water was dripping into my upstairs neighbour's apartment. And I had to pay all of it up front. Luckily I have been paying small monthly amounts into an emergency fund all year.

Usually I need to use some of it to get us through the summer as I don't get paid for teaching my summer courses until the end of September and I don't get paid an August salary for teaching in school. I was getting excited because we didn't go away this summer and various tax rebates came in so I thought I was going to get through the whole summer without touching the fund. I had dreams of rolling it over for another year. Man dreams and God laughs.

It still makes things very tight for September as the emergency fund won't cover the full amount of the waterworks. But it makes it doable instead of impossible. So we'll do it and be cheerful about having the foresight to save for emergencies.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Teacher Drawings And Real Art

DD had a good week. Friends came over, she went to a movie, she went to the pool, we went to a birthday party, we bought her school supplies and then this happened:

I found it as I was decluttering my books, bought in 1985 as a newly qualified teacher. My students often tell me what a good artist I am but I know it's just 'teacher drawing'. It's not hard to learn simple line drawings to illustrate your lessons on the whiteboard. There's no shading or detail involved or even much perspective. Anyone can learn to do teacher drawings.

I gave the book to DD as she loves drawing. She has spent hours drawing detailed landscapes and roomscapes full of animals, plants, furniture, and people. Here are just a few of her creations:

 I think there is a definite point when teacher drawing becomes art. Don't you?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Letting Go Of My PhD

Have you ever wondered why people talk about 'my degree', 'my M.A.', or 'my PhD.', when they haven't even got it yet, or even not 'yet'? It's like everyone has a Ph.D. by the mere fact of thinking about it, it's just a matter of whether you've actually done it or not.

I got my B.Ed. at the usual time after A'Levels and a gap year. I went back to do my M.A. in my 30s which was almost 20 years ago now. At that time I remember saying, "if I ever start talking about doing a Ph.D. please shoot me." It's a bit like childbirth. After a while you forget about the trauma and start to think about diving into academia again. And exactly like pregnancy and childbirth, it's not the doing of it that one yearns for, it's the having it at the end.

I was never a good student at school. I could have been but I didn't have the sitzfleisch to actually do all the studying required. At college I did ok, but only ok because I didn't get what they were looking for in an academic essay. When I did my M.A. the tutor explained it to me and after that I did really well. Why hadn't anyone ever explained it to me before? Why hadn't I thought to ask? What I learned from that experience was that anyone can do a Ph.D., you just have to find a subject that you're sufficiently passionate about to devote up to five years of your life to it.

I never found that passion although I did rather like the idea of being Dr Rachel Selby, or Rachel Selby Ph.D. So I coddled the dream in the back of my mind and bought a 'how to' book but essentially, I did nothing about it because having an M.A. was enough at my level of academic career. And then it wasn't. Suddenly the colleges only want to hire teachers with Ph.D.s and Head of Department is out of the question.

So I looked into starting a Ph.D. last year. My mother even offered to help pay for the tuition (it's much cheaper to do it in Israel than in the UK). However, the problem is not the cost of the tuition, it's the cost of the time you won't be able to work, the babysitters you'll need for late afternoon/evening courses, and the quality time you won't be spending with your child. Added to this, I'd be nearly 60 by the time I finished. I saw the amount of work involved and scared myself out of the whole idea.

It was too late for a Ph.D. for me. If I'm going to spend that amount of time on a project, it needs to be something lucrative. Why not just write that novel, not have to pay for the privilege of writing it and not have supervisors telling you what to write? And no costly books to buy or find online in order to read everyone else's research before you start - you make it all up. Ha! Why not indeed?

There are five more photos like this - 30 books in total!
Meanwhile my decluttering went up a notch yesterday as I tackled the books. More about that later but suffice to say, I let go all of most of those academic books about linguistics and education. I even let go the 'How to do a Ph.D.' book. I've read it after all so what do I need it for? LOL.

They are all up on the local facebook 'buy, sell, swap' group.

P.S. If I were to do my Ph.D. these books, which are all 20 years old, wouldn't be any use to me anyway so there was absolutely no point in keeping them. I leaned this lesson when I tried being an academic advisor to Benny Lewis for his book, Fluent in 3 Months. I got a mention in the acknowledgements nevertheless but it was all very embarrassing.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Shopping In My Closet And Other Simple Pleasures - R2BC

"We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves." Francois VI Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac (Paris, 1613 - 1680)

Can you believe that this was written almost 400 years ago? I don't need to explain it to you but if I were to comment, the words Face Book, Instagram and social media would feature heavily.

Becky on Lakes Single Mum, who's hosting the Reasons 2B Cheerful linky this month, wrote a low key post celebrating the simple joys of a summer break with no pressure and luxurious time to organize your life. I was inspired and relieved as we've done a lot of nothing this past week and I was hard pushed to know what to write about.

As Catherine from Escape with the Family (about recently moving to live in France), beautifully expressed it last month, "It was another simple day but these are the type we enjoy and we have nothing to prove and nobody to impress."

New diary and pencil case for me
New Diary
It's that time of year again when I search for the perfect diary. A whole year full of promise and hope in one little book. As an extra bonus, it starts on August 27th as that's the Sunday before September 1st. Two weeks, two days, I can hardly wait to get started. Except that I'll have to go back to work. Remember that our New Year is in September, which is very convenient for the academic year and makes a lot of sense. 

Last year I made my own diary. I had loads of fun drawing and colouring in and making my own designer pages but I abandoned it when I realised that I do in fact need to know the Hebrew dates, Shabbat beginning and ending times, and whole host of other information that's much easier to have printed for you than to copy out yourself. Not to worry, that creative activity kept me out of the fridge for a few hours.

DD already told me that she wasn't coming with me for the great diary hunt. So while she was riding her bike in the park with a friend, I found this. It's actually very similar to the diary I ended up with last year. A full year spread, each month as a one page table, and each week on a two-page spread, with room in all sorts of spaces for additional notes and lists.

New Pencil Case
My old pencil case, bought in WH Smith about 15 years ago, finally fell apart. This new one is in fact a make-up bag that came with a tote that someone gave me once. The tote is long gone but I found the make-up bag in my collection of toilet bags and small pouches that I sorted, decluttered, and partially repurposed. I believe it's called shopping in my closet. I won't be able to do this once I'm a true minimalist but meanwhile I love the surprises at no cost. Did you notice how it perfectly matches my new diary? I'm so ready for this year. 

New school bag for DD
The Spudy
Following my successful declutter and organisation of all my lotions, potions, and other bathroom and dressing table stuff, this week I tackled the spudy. So successful was this that a large chest of drawers was emptied and removed and replaced by a small three-drawer cabinet. It's a small room and the difference makes it a much more comfortable space. 

School Backpack
We found a new school backpack for DD with a matching pencil case, for 99 nis. Those of you who know about school bags in Israel will know that this is a great price as the discount stores are selling them for not less than 199 nis and the chain stores in the malls have school bags for over 200 nis only. (Israelis - the shop is Griffin on King George St, in Jerusalem, a few doors down from The Bell Center).

In the great bag reshuffle, I gave one of our two carry-on cases to my nephew to help take all his gap-year stuff back to London with instructions to throw it out on arrival as the zips were all broken and the pull out handle didn't. I've commandeered DD's school backpack from last year which I bought because it was also on sale for 99 nis but was actually far too big. This will now be our second carry-on bag (the one we don't offer to check in). Because I tend to choose red, all our luggage now matches. Very pish posh even if we're only going on Easyjet to Luton Airport. (How many of you thought of Lorraine Chase? Naaah, Lu'on Ehpawt. LOL)

Marathon Paydate
DD's friend asked if she could come over in the morning as her mum had to go to work. She came at 8.30 am and left, reluctantly, at 7.15 pm. I think you could call that a successful play date.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #46 - That's Entertainment

Last night we watched Swallows and Amazons. The four children and their mother arrive for their holiday in The Lake District and as the children run off to explore, the mother calls after them, "Dinner is at 6!"

DD then started chatting about the film as is her wont during every film we watch. Even while I'm reading to her she stops me three times a page to discuss something distantly related to the story, or to tell me what she would do if she were in the book.

DD: Do they go back in time?
Me: No it's not about time travel.
DD: But do they go back in time?
Me: No, they go camping and sailing on the lake.
DD: But do they go back in time?
Me: The story is set back in time. It's in 1929. That's 88 years ago, the year before Grandpa was born.
DD: Noooooo, do they go back in time for dinner?

Another night as she was dropping off to sleep she asked, although she already knew the answer, "We're not a wizarding family are we?"
Me: No.
DD: Aww. Too bad.

Listening to Nat King Cole's L.O.V.E. and hearing the lyric: Love is more than just a game for two...
DD's response: "That's true. Supposing you have three children. You love them all, right? So love isn't just a game for two, it's a game for as many people as you've got in your family."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Slimming Sunday - IF Only

DD's salmon with rice, mine on sauteed beet leaves.
I admit I mixed the leftover rice with my greens after DD had finished.
(btw, DD had more salmon but she copes best with it in small portions)
Last Slimming Sunday was five weeks ago because we're posting only on the first Sunday of each month. It was my first time joining this linky and it helped to know that I was going to report back in a month. A month ago I wrote about Vegan Vs Keto. Read it if you haven't already - there are strong supporters of both types of diet. Proof of this was the first comment, a lengthy explanation of why I was wrong to favour the keto method.

In fact, athough I favoured keto over vegan, I didn't stick to it religiously. I ate my salads topped with either hard boiled eggs, tuna, sardines mackerel, salmon, herring, or cheese. I made dressings with vinaigrette, low-carb mayo, evoo and lemon juice, or tehina. Each salad was definitely a meal in itself and very filling. We didn't have bread at home as DD doesn't like bread anyway so that was one temptation less for me. However, I did eat a felafel in pitta with chips one day, I finished DD's pasta, rice or wheat based vegetarian sausages on other days, I occasionally had a Danish pastry with my coffee, and yesterday I had dessert after lunch. It was apple pudding and cream, how could I not?

On the other hand. I was religious about the Intermittent Fasting (IF). After a black coffee in the morning, I drink water, lemon water, or hot lemon-cider vinegar water only until well into the afternoon. I have been IFing for at least 16 hours a day and many times longer. I aim for one meal a day but often have to eat something little a couple of hours before just to see me through. The hunger only starts after about 16 hours of no eating. And I can ride it through if I'm busy in which case it goes away after an hour or so.

I lost 10 lbs (4.5 kg). So that's 10 lbs in the first 'month' (always the easiest in which to to lose), playing at keto (meaning I reduced carbs drastically but probably didn't reach a state of ketosis), and absolutely doing IF. It seems that IF on its own is enough to lose weight in the first month. This coming month, until the linky again in four weeks time, I'm going to be stricter about not eating carbs.

I did notice that on a day when I ate even a bowl of plain rice, the scales jumped up significantly the next morning. This corroborates reports that the weight goes back on quickly after a ketogenic diet. I accept that but I also believe that the way to go is low-carb for life.

The Slimming Sunday linky is with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart and co-hosted by Emma on Life According to Mrs Shilts. You can pop over to either of these blogs for other slimming posts for inspiration and encouragement.

Friday, August 4, 2017

In By Day And Out By Night

Painting on the balcony
We're night owls anyway but even if we were the adventurous types who are always off exploring, this summer has been a killer with temperatures over 30 degrees every day. Luckily in Jerusalem it cools down in the evenings and it's very pleasant to  go out.

This week in the evenings we've been swimming, been to a show, been to a concert, played in the park with friends, and sat on the balcony playing games.

Maths Workbook
But how do we fill our days apart from getting up late? Well I have work to do, meals to provide, shopping to get ingredients for the meals, and housework to do. Other than that I'm happy with a good book. DD's not quite there yet with reading for pleasure though I do make her do some reading every day.

Surprisingly DD has found things to do other than watch dvds and it's been a blessing in disguise that the computer she uses broke at the beginning of the summer. I come into the living room to find her painting, drawing, doing craft projects from boxed sets we had but never used, and from the craft magazine my cousin gave her a few months ago. She does her two pages a day of maths without too much fuss, usually, more or less. OK, there is a bit of fuss.

Craft projects from Girl Talk Art Magazine
My favourite thing is that she has made a whole world on the coffee table and sofa, overflowing onto other small extension tables, out of the dolls' house furniture, figures and models from Playmobil, Lego, Kinder eggs, Sumsums and Shopkins. It provides hours of entertainment. I remember that we used to do the same with the railway set, my brother's cars, Lego and, in emergencies, the airing cupboard hanging sticks to lay out the road system.

It's still annoying that the summer holidays are in the summer when it's too hot to go anywhere, but we're actually quite content to stay at home. You might notice a recurring theme in the photos involving pyjamas. I know, but I'm picking my battles and she does get dressed to go out.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Whole Summer In One Day - R2BC

Walking into Narnia through the wardrobe
Except for the fact that we didn't swim or go camping, today felt like a mini summer holiday all squeezed into one day. We visited friends, went on the train, shopped, lunched, went to a show and a concert. And on top of that I had a day of free taxi rides.

This morning I had to go to a shiva across town and out to one of the satellite suburbs of Jerusalem. It was either going to be three buses in the heat of the day or, so I thought, about 200 nis (45 GBP) in taxis there and back. But I've know my friend who lost her mother since we were 10 and 11 years old, and I'm also friends with her sister. We don't often see each other now as lives get in the way but we do manage to meet for coffee occasionally. Anyway, it was important to me to go to the shiva.

We headed for the bus stop with the intention of getting a bus if one came quickly. But it didn't so we hopped into a taxi. I was also watching the time because it was already 10.30 and some shivas take a lunch break in the middle of the day.  Added to that it was the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem today and they were closing the roads near us from 2.30.

The taxi driver 'invited' me to join Gett Taxi and he talked me through downloading the app on my phone. This gave me 100 nis in rides as a gift for joining up and 20 nis off the first five rides until August 24th. He also told me their rates to the airport and other longer distance journeys I sometimes take and they were very favourable. Our journey this morning only cost 60 nis and I paid 40 plus a tip.

For the home journey another shiva caller gave us a ride to the light rail station that I didn't even know went out that far. We got the train back into town where DD and I both got new bags (me for everyday and her for school with a matching pencil case) and we picked up felafel and chips for lunch. We got the bus home and ate in comfort on the balcony as it was close to 2.30 and I didn't want to get caught behind the closed roads.

DD sitting next to Mr & Mrs Beaver's younger brother
At 6.30 we left to go to a performance of Journey To Narnia. We made our first booking with Gett Taxi. My screen told me that there were seven taxis in the area. One of them accepted the fare straight away and I was given his name, his car (make and colour) and registration number, his phone number, how far away he was, and how many minutes it would take him to get to us. I looked to find out what he'd had in his sandwiches for lunch but it didn't say. He arrived in seven minutes. The journey cost 30 nis and we paid 10 nis plus a tip.

Journey To Narnia is an original play based on, but adapted from, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. It was performed by the children in the JELLY (the people who publish KIDS READ) Summer Drama Workshop. Of course we know Narnia intimately. I was impressed by the creative set, the costumes, and also the added humorous scenes like a Miss Narnia Pageant and a Beaver-Faun Rap. It was a lot of fun and DD giggled in all the right places. We were very honoured to be invited. Of course we met friends there and we knew two of the cast, welcome to Anglo-Jerusalem.

I could have danced all night... and other songs from musicals and the 1960s
We came out at 8.15 into a cool Jerusalem evening. It was so pleasant we decided to walk home via the First Station. This is a sort of Covent Garden type place on the site of the original Jerusalem railway station. We arrived just in time for the beginning of a free concert by the Harel Orchestra - The Jerusalem Municipal Orchestra. We found friends and sat with them and we even knew the tuba player, we're still in Jerusalem remember.

I thought it was going to be classical music so I promised DD we'd only stay for 10 minutes if she was bored. But turns out, it was more Big Band than concert hall. They played classic sing-along Hebrew songs, songs from the musicals, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. We stayed for almost an hour. People were singling along and dancing. There were lots of families with children even though we didn't leave till about 9.30 pm.

Then we walked the 20 minutes walk home with lots of reasons 2B cheerful and, as usual I'm joining the R2BC linky which is back with Becky on Lakes Single Mum for the month of August.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lotions And Potions

Well not potions, unless you count 35 drops of vitamin D once a week and a supply of Acomoli (Calpol). Yesterday I decided to sort out the combined contents of my dressing table and the top drawer of my chest of drawers in the bedroom and two large bathroom cabinets. Using the KonMari method, I collected everything together and chucked it on the bed. All the lotions, potions, creams, bottles, palettes and tubes, not to mention the brushes and combs, razors and shavers, earbuds, shower caps, old glasses cases, hair accessories, and medicinal items. It looked like this.

Where did all come from? From gifts. From house guests returning abroad who didn't want to schlep unnecessary bulk home with them. From lodgers (we used to have lodgers) who bought themselves large bottles of stuff. From deals, sales, and bogofs in the supermarket that by some mysterious magic, wipe your memory clean of the nine tubes of Colgate you already have in various places around your bedroom, bathrooms, store cupboards and unpacked toiletry bags lurking in various weekend cases.

I was delighted with the tidy drawers and cabinets after my declutter and tidy. I am overjoyed about the fact that there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. I love my cleared surfaces. However, I was little surprised and disappointed that the throw away bag only amounted to one plastic supermarket bag. Perhaps if I'd heeded some of the expiry dates I would have got rid of more?

Out went three big plastic traveling soap holders, a soap dish, syringes (without the needles) from when I had to inject myself with hormones during IVF and pregnancy (my daughter is 8 1/2), and a thermometer because DD is old enough to put it under her tongue and this one must surely have been up her bottom at some point. The 600 sachets of single portion creams and lotions collected from magazine ads, free samples, hotel rooms, and boxes of diy hair dye, stayed. I solemnly swear to use every single sachet just as soon as I work my way through some of the half used bottles of goop I already have.

Today after my shower I smothered on the moisturizer. It's a start but there are still foot scrubs, mud masques, deep cleansers, exfoliating gels, toners, and creams for every tiny localized body area, to tackle. I have before sun, during sun, and after sun screens. I try never to go out in the sun - I hate it. My morning grooming routine has lately been shower, brush teeth, brush hair and go. Most days I don't even look in the mirror anymore. My evening routine is just shower and brush teeth. This has to change drastically because I refuse to throw away all that good goop and so it must be used.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Girl Who Could Fly

After abandoning Narnia, I read to DD, The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester (2008, Square Fish, Macmillon, New York). We both loved it. We laughed we cried. I'm not kidding. There was one point when DD was beside herself, sobbing, because it looked like the girl, Piper, was going to die.

The Girl Who Could Fly is about a young girl who can fly. Duh. When she accidently shows her special talent to the local townsfolk all hell breaks loose. Piper agrees to go away to a school where lots of other children with special gifts are taught together and protected from exploitation by greedy and ruthless individuals and/or governments.

What fun eh? A school where every child has some sort of super power. To be honest, I wouldn't like to teach in such a school but DD and I both said we'd love to be a pupil there.

I chose as my power, to be able to understand and speak fluently, every language in the world. DD can't decide on hers.

Problem is, things at the school are not exactly as described on the box. Bullying, betrayal, heartbreak, daring, suspense, conflict, but also friendship and teamwork, and ultimately ........... (no I'm not giving it away) all feature in this great novel for 7 - 11 year olds (approximately).

I'm stoked that DD shares my love of science fiction. She has a whole collection of John Wyndham waiting for her when she's older. And not too much older - I started with The Chrysalids at age 12 when we had to read it for English Literature at school. From then on I was hooked.

A sure indication of how much DD loved this book was that she made me Google it to see if there is a sequel. There is: The Boy Who Knew Everything. The first book leaves just enough intrigue in the form of one big unanswered question to make you want to go running to get the sequel. However, The Girl Who Could Fly is also a complete story on its own with a very definite ending and most of the loose ends tied up.

DD also made me look to see if there is a film of the book. We found loads of comments along the lines of: As yet there is no movie but there jolly well should be. We totally agreed.