Thursday, June 28, 2018

Made It To The Finish Line - R2BC

Random photo of a fun sculpture, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
A quick Reasons 2B Cheerful this week as it's been a tough month. The heat and the end of the school/college year was grueling. I could deal with each of them individually but both together was a challenge.

I have to admit that two of my favourite  things about being a teacher in Israel are July and August.

I know that it's hell for many parents who have to juggle childcare and pay thousands of shekels for summer camps. I acknowledge that the system that encourages us to have big families does not allow for stay at home mothers or give enough holidays to cover the school breaks. And this is most difficult for single parent families and those without active grandparents.

On the other hand, I accept that even with two degrees, my teaching salary does not reach to the end of the month. There are ways of making ends meet of course - if you take on more responsibilities at school or have side hustles. I have freelance writing work on the side (but not under the table in case the taxman is reading this) but I still only scrape the national average salary. All worth it for school holidays.

It's swings and roundabouts but I chose the swings and I'm looking forward to two months of playing like a lady who lunches (apart from my online college summer course).

That's it. I'm too tired to continue with this tonight. I'm letting go of the fact that I only wrote four blog posts in June. It is what it is and I'll be back with a vengeance on Sunday, with coffee, probably in my pyjamas, with nowhere to go and nothing to do (not 100% true but in theory).

Happy Holidays!

I'm on the laid-back linky with Becky's Lakes Single Mum. And relax.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I Was Wrong About The Clarinet - R2BC

Jerusalem Orchestra

Reason 2B cheerful are plentiful this week.

We Break Up
It's the end of the school year. One more week to go and I'm actually in school for only two more days. And one day in college will have almost half my year course students passed and signed off. DD has to return all her school textbooks tomorrow and she has her end of year party in the afternoon. I will be working on a summer course and meeting with another 18 students from the Year course but without four days a week in school it's all much more relaxed. I have plans - of course. :)

School Orchestra

Clarinet Soloist
DD had her end of year concerts this week. The Jerusalem Cub Orchestra was fantastic and the kids were so excited to be playing in a real theatre and with other older orchestras and bands. The next day they had the school orchestra end of year concert. In this one DD had a solo. The girl who wouldn't be part of any school assembly because she was too shy, had the first solo.

The children who are in both orchestras performed a surprise rendition of 'Toy" from the Eurovision Song Contest. I never knew it actually had a tune until I heard this orchestrated version. It was a lot of fun as all the children started clapping and singing along.

One of the fathers said to me afterwards, "weren't you the parent who complained at the beginning of the year about them having to take up a new instrument when they can't play the recorder yet?" I still think a recorder ensemble is lovely and worthwhile, but I admit that I was wrong about the clarinet. We will be continuing next year.

School solo

Family Visits
My nephew stayed with us last week, on his way to be a leader for a group of school children from his old school who are touring Israel for two weeks. It was sharav weather last Shabbat (over 36∘C) so we just stayed in, enjoyed each other's company, and played contract whist. We do love our card games. And this week I'm looking forward to seeing my cousin who's here for a wedding.

I've joined the linky over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum
along with the other cheerful bloggers.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Treasured Books

Getting rid of books is a basic part of minimalism and firmly planted in phase 1. I got rid of loads of books. However, getting rid of books is not the same as letting go of treasured books. Treasured books are books you once loved and maybe still do. You can't let them go the first time round but, as I've said before, the more you purge the easier it gets and the less you want to keep. Here are some books I let go of recently. It feels good.

In the photo above are seven books from the cookery and coffee table collections. I still have four other big illustrated vegetarian cookery books so the one in the photo could go - it's the least interesting. Good Cooking, from about 1982 is full of meat and seafood dishes that aren't relevant to me. I don't bake and if I do want to bake in the future (and the internet is down) I have a small cake book that I'm keeping. The Book of New Israeli Food doesn't say anything I don't know already. I'm never going to make sweets and chocolates as I don't even like chocolate and sweets are just sugar. I never treasured the herb book but I found it among the other cookery books so it's going.

I don't know why I held on to the illustrated biography of Elizabeth Taylor. I did read it cover to cover once and I enjoyed it but I wouldn't say that she is one of my idols or life mentors.

That brings The 1000 Clutters Challenge to 952 clutters decluttered and only 48 to go.

Two other books I let go recently but have already counted, are:

Mrs Fytton's Country Life by Mavis Cheek, St Martin's Press, 2000. I loved this book. Angela Fytton gets dumped by her husband of 25 years who goes off to marry his young mistress. He cleverly gives Angela the family home in lieu of any other payments because his teenage children can continue to live there while he and his pregnant new wife start over. But Angela decides she wants to go and live in the country and start over herself. So she sells the family home in London and buys a cottage in a village in Somerset. Obviously she has room for the children to join her. Obviously they don't want to and insist on moving in with their father. Obviously his new wife cannot object and everything in the love nest begins to fall apart.

Meanwhile Angela is embracing all things country. Until she finds out that the country also has its problems and deceptions. Hilarious characters like the baker who gets his bread from the dumpsters behind Tesco. He warms it in his Aga and delivers it to the villagers in a large wicker basket. "Of course it goes stale quickly - it's real fresh bread, no preservatives see." His wife spins and dyes wool which she knits into jumpers. Except that the wool is actually unraveled from jumpers bought in local jumble sales. Another family that moved to the country for more quality family time end up with an isolated and depressed wife, an absent husband because he found a convenient pied-a-terre in London, and sending their children to boarding school so that they don't have to mix with the local children.

I re-read this book. I loved it all over again but I don't need to read it a third time. So I gave it to a colleague who is retiring and I think she will love it too.

The Family at Red Roofs by Enid Blyton. This was a childhood favourite of mine and I kept it all these years. I read it to DD a few months ago. She really got into it. When the snobby friend was obnoxious DD sprang up in bed, wagged her finger at the book and scolded, "that's not how you treat your friends young lady!" On the other hand she asked why the girls aren't allowed to do anything and the boy was in charge of paying the bills even though he's younger. An interesting thing is that it was first published in 1945 but there is no mention of the war, or of there having been a war if it was published after September 1945. As I said, it was a childhood favourite of mine but it has somehow lost some of its magic. It won't be a childhood favourite of DD's even though she did enjoy it. The story has been republished many times, the last time being 2013, so DD could find the book again if she wants to (she won't want to). My copy was just about falling apart so out it went.

By the Way. As I was going through the cookery books I remembered A Proper Tea by Joanna Isles. I loved this book so much that I blogged about it here. I remember that a friend wanted to make a proper tea party for her birthday so I lent her the book. Now I can't remember who the friend was. Dear friend, if you read this post can I have my book back please.

And yet, if I don't get my proper tea book back, so be it. Minimalism does that to you, It's just things.

UPDATE: I remembered the next morning and my friend who has the book told me in the afternoon. All is good. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Minimalism and IKEA - R2BC

I've been very quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks. It's that time of year when teachers are writing reports, marking exams, planning and attending final parties, recitals, concerts, and presentations for everything (that goes for mothers too), and for me, setting up my summer course to start the day after school finishes. I'm finally, not finished but up to date with everything as of last night.

Today I went with two friends to IKEA. You have to understand that 1) there is no IKEA in Jerusalem. 2) I don't have a car. 3) Outside of IKEA everything in Israel is very expensive. And 4) the last time I went there with a car was five years ago! Now you see why this is my Reason 2B Cheerful this week.

We were three of us in the car so there was no big furniture buying, but boy did we stock up on other stuff. We left Jerusalem at 8 after the kids had gone to school, and arrived in Rishon at 8.50. First stop was coffee and a pastry. Apparently coffee is free between 08.30 and 09.00. I suppose because shopping only starts at 9 and the tills only open at 9.30.

We compared lists. Then, having warmed up with coffee, we went to the starting line. Two of us turned right and headed for the furniture displays. The smaller items were to the left.
"Hey, where are you going? We don't need any furniture!"
We looked at our friend in disbelief. "We want to walk round and see everything."
"But we have lists!"
I suggested she go have another coffee and meet us at the end but she threw her hands up in resignation and came with us.

Yesterday a colleague asked me how I can reconcile IKEA with minimalism. Well, most of what I bought was to replace stuff. One in - one out. You do need a new shower curtain, toilet brush and non-slip shower mat every so often. The plastic stool in the kitchen was 16 years old and looked it. The sheets for DD's bed are the sets that my mother bought me when I left home 30 years ago. There's nothing wrong with them but they're primary coloured stripes and DD wanted something pretty and flowery. (Bring back your chintz your chintz - oh the irony.) I bought nice storage boxes to replace the old plastic vegetable rack drawers I'd been using in my wardrobe. New kitchen scissors, a new frame for DD's painting, new place mats, and two rectangular storage boxes to replace the round plastic bowls in my fridge that I use for fruit and vegetables.

Entirely new things included: a big white pot for a tall plant in the now empty corner of my living room, two pyrex dishes and three plastic food containers, all with lock'n'lock lids. A small salad bowl for when I want a bigger salad than a soup bowl but smaller than a serving dish. Ice-lolly molds, And a few little presents for DD - some felt pens, paint brushes, a tablet holder, and I gave her the purse I was given for making a donation to charity.

I don't count the serviettes, the plastic straws, or the light bulbs as they will be used and thrown out. So actually I didn't buy too many new things. But if you want to nitpick, I also threw out or passed on (eventually - some items are in a holding pattern) 21 items this week in addition to the things that were replaced from Ikea.

There are 17 things in the photo but I took back the wok and one of the four broken watches. Also the scissors don't count as I replaced them. However, I gave away a book and another photo frame as gifts and put a bag and a purse in the 'donations' box. And three more serving bowls didn't make the photo. So that's 21 items which takes the 1000 Clutters Challenge to 945. Only 55 items left to find and I still have all my cds and loads of dvds.

I am very cheerfully joining the Reasons 2B cheerful linky over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.