Monday, July 30, 2018

The Bible - A Chapter A Day

Whilst in London for Passover, I bought myself a Bible. This is what I wrote about it here.

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.)

Well I'd not got round to starting yet when I heard about the 929 project. This is the second time they're doing this. Here's some background to the first time around. Basically, in November 2014 they started an online project to read all 929 chapters of the Bible, Prophets and Writings, from Genesis to the end of Chronicles 11. So that's pretty much everything except the New Testament - as it's a Jewish initiative. 

If you read a chapter a day for five days a week, not counting holy days and festivals, and have the weekends to catch up if that's more your style, the whole thing takes almost three years. They had over quarter of a million people sign up to the website and commit to reading along. This was then, I didn't know about it, and anyway it was all in Hebrew. 

However, two weeks ago they started again and this time there is also an English website. If you follow the link you can see that today we are on Genesis Chapter 12 - where god tells Abraham to leave his family and go to an as yet unknown destination. (Is this the Bible's idea of suspense?).  The English website, like the Hebrew one, has articles, commentaries and maps to help you if you really want to study as you go along. A friend of mine has set up a small facebook group of friends where we share thoughts. There is probably also an official facebook group but I've not looked for it. It's not too late to join in and you don't have to be Jewish. 

So this time I'm really reading the whole Bible. This time they are scheduled to finish on 2/2/22 or 22/2/22 - one of those memorable (ha!) dates. I'm so holy that I have two Bibles on the go. The bigger book is the whole thing including the NT in bigger print and a slightly more modern translation. The smaller, but thicker, book is only the OT parts but with the original Hebrew on the facing pages. Sometimes if something is ambiguous, I read the Hebrew to try to get to the bottom of it.  Of course I'll have to tackle the NT on my own (and only in English as I don't read Ancient Greek) but I don't have to think about that until 2022!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Summer Fun - R2BC

The Forest Pool, Jerusalem
We've managed to fit in lots of summer fun despite me having to be in college three days this past week. So here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful. If you came here via Michelle's Mummy from the Heart, welcome and here's to the power of the linky.

Cooler weekends
The weather here has been unbearably hot (up to 36 degrees) during the week but so far every weekend for the past three weeks it has cooled down to a manageable 28, and it will be 28 again tomorrow.

So far DD has been taken to a theme park one week, a fun fair another week, and to the pool with me the third week.

I am also grateful for the cool evenings and nights in Jerusalem. By 7 pm the heat is off and by 8 pm it's almost cold outside.

We had a lovely day by the pool in the Jerusalem Forest. We went with our Summer Holiday Family and some others so we were a group of five adults and seven children. The kids had a blast with a bouncy castle and a (very small) water slide to add to the fun.

The only downer to the day was that I bought DD swimming goggles from the kiosk there and one lens fell out after 10 minutes. They wouldn't replace them as I'd looked at them first and had been told that there was no guarantee. But 10 minutes! So we will be going back because it's a lovely pool but we won't be buying anything from the kiosk.

The Mermaids in the Lagoon
Peter Pan
We were invited to go and see the Jelly Workshop production of Peter Pan. Last year they did Return to Narnia and it was excellent and very creative. They hung coats in the entrance doorway so the audience felt like they were entering Narnia as they came into the theatre.

This year was just as creative and just as much fun. The workshop is a group of kids from 9 to 14 (? I'm guessing) who come together for three weeks in the summer, meeting every weekday for a number of hours. The director writes a basic play but they adapt it, make all the props and scenery, and finally perform the finished play for parents and friends.

It was lovely and DD is thinking about joining it next year.

I only took one photo so as not to interfere with the show - it's the mermaids in the lagoon. Very cleverly done.

I'm hoping this qualifies as a Cultured Kids event as I'm joining the linky over at Emma's A Bavarian Sojourn. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Holiday Families And Fasting For Love - R2BC

5. Living in the Desert.
I went to visit my friend who lives in the desert.
Seriously, the real desert is at the end of her street. 
Lots of reasons 2B Cheerful this week despite the seemingly overwhelming hateful, political events happening in the world. The linky is with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart where we celebrate the small things every week.

On Sunday there is fast Day in the Jewish world. It's the second biggest fast day after Yom Kippur. It's supposed to commemorate the destruction of both the first and the second Temple in Jerusalem. And they added a load of other sad or tragic events to make a day of religious mourning. Delve a bit deeper and we can find reasons to make Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av) a day we can all relate to.

They say that the Temples were destroyed as the result of baseless hatred among people. I suppose it meant among Jews in particular but let's be inclusive in this day and age. Either it means as a punishment from God or as a natural result of baseless hatred - take your pick. I can relate to a fast against baseless hatred. So.....

Tisha B'av
I'm going to fast on Sunday in solidarity with all those fasting against baseless hatred in the world and all those suffering from it. Not a reason 2B cheerful as such but a positive action. Of course I don't just fast, I also try to spread the love in real life and do my bit on social media to protest wrongs and get the truth out there where there is injustice.

The real desert
Work work
One intensive summer course is over bar the grading of papers. I really enjoyed it. 25 hours of frontal teaching to the same group of students in a week is exhausting but it was also a good experience. A certain amount of bonding happens when you're with one group for 25 hours within five days. And there is no time for anyone to lose momentum so they all worked hard and they will all pass once they send in their final  projects (bar any surprises with the grading).

For me it was an unexpected extra paycheck in the summer. I've already spent it of course as we need a desktop computer that DD can use and I promised her a smart phone for 5th grade.

House work
Yeah I know, but I've done practically nothing all week and it's nice to see the bottom of the kitchen sink and the laundry basket again. Seriously - we were washing up cups on a need to use basis. (I admit that this is where hoarders come into their own.) Next stop the bathroom.

Summer Holiday Families
We have our summer holiday family. We love them and we are grateful for them. Any single parent with an only child will know that holidays can be disappointing. I'm not talking about a trip to London or other places where there's lot's to do. I mean a traditional beach and pool break in a hot climate.

In a family with two adults and more than one child the adults have help and company, and the kids have playmates. But try taking your pre-teen to play in a pool or on the sand for hours by herself. It doesn't work unless you also want to spend hours playing with her. Call me a bad mother, but after a couple of hours I've had enough, let alone repeating it for days without another adult to step in so that you can at least read your book for a bit. Think of it like one parent taking one of the kids away. See what I mean? It wouldn't work.

So we have our Summer  Holiday Family. We go to the beach together, we go to the pool together, we're going camping for three days (yurting actually), we go to the zoo, the water park, and we even just stroll into town together of an evening to eat out. It's a simple concept but essential and we love it.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Work, Play, Stretch And Shop - R2BC

DD has discovered the joys of gymnastics.
I remember it so well.
Okay so it's not coming home but that's no reason not 2B cheerful. Life goes on and here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. The linky ladies are with Michelle this month on Mummy from the Heart.

Football Crazy
I was passionate about football for a whole 2 hours. Possibly less as I only joined the semi-final at half time. Although I was caught up in all that "Football's Coming Home" excitement and I have been singing it all week. (Note to self: Try to stop singing it now. Time for a new song.)

Someone on facebook posted a link to live coverage so I went there and was hooked even though I missed the first England goal. I saw the equalizer. Then I got bored. Even I could see that England weren't playing very well. I was flicking about between websites and I missed the second Croatia goal. But I was hopeful until the bitter end. However, England will be 3rd or 4th in the World Cup - that's still world cup football. And at least we weren't beaten by France, eh?

What Holiday?
I've said before that I'm always surprised in July when the college semester finishes and the work doesn't. Well my July just got more worked up as next week I'm standing in for another teacher on a summer course (another one as well as the one I'm already facilitating online). It was all at the last minute (personal reasons) but I've suddenly got to come up with 25 hours of frontal teaching from Sunday till Thursday.

This time next week I'll be extremely happy (never mind cheerful) as I send in my hours to the college bursar.

Latch-key Kid
DD has been taking her door key to summer school with her and I've been free to come home leisurely instead of racing against the clock. Still loving the new sense of freedom and life is so much less stressful without this rigid time constraint. I don't stay out all afternoon but I can be an hour late and she's fine. It's great that she can call me on my mobile - what did we do without them?

Independence Day - The Movie
Well not that actual movie but a different movie. This week DD went to the cinema with a friend. The friend's Dad took them, bought the tickets and made sure they went to the right screen. Then he left and they walked home together after the film. We're lucky that we have a Planet Cinema complex about 20 minutes walk away, along the main road. DD loved the whole experience. And so did I.

New watch.
I'm left handed and wear it on my left wrist.
This makes taking the photo tricky.
#rubbishphotographerstrikesagain #outoffocus
Which Watch?
After wearing DD's Barbie pink watch with a plastic strap, for weeks now, I finally bought myself a new watch. It looks more expensive than it is - which was the goal.

Does anyone know what film this comes from? My Dad used to quote it all the time.
Two men meet in an Arab shuk.
A: Which watch?
B: Two watch.
A: Two watch? Such much?!

Olga Korbut
DD is into gymnastics. More about that later but the photo above is pretty much standard at any given moment, if she's not perfecting her splits or doing a backbend.

Wishing you a great weekend and a cheerful week ahead. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Seven Books I Have Loved

Mrs Fytton and Skallagrigg are missing. 
A friend tagged me on a facebook challenge to share one book a day that I have loved. I usually pass on these things but as I wanted to do a blog post about some great books anyway, I'm doing it here. And all in one day. Thanks Laura.

1. Mrs Fytton's Country Life by Mavis Cheek. (St Martin's Press, 2000)
I mentioned this book a few posts ago because although it's probably my favourite book, I gave it away after re-reading it first. I passed it on to a colleague who is retiring and I'm sure she'll love it. You can read what I wrote about Mrs Fytton here.

2. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson. (Doubleday, 1995)
Another favourite because I never saw it coming. The ending I mean. And that the sisters grow up in 1960s England, with many references to the food, tv, and culture that I remember from my childhood.

Ruby, the youngest of three sisters, believes that she is the least important of the three. When asked who's there she always replies, "it's only Ruby." She tells her story of growing up in a working class family in York in alternate chapters. The other chapters tell us about six generations of the family through which we see a pattern of secrets, misery and lies. It's only when Ruby grows up that she's able to break the pattern and discover the missing pieces of her own life.

3. Chocolat by Joanne Harris. (Doubleday, 1999)
How could I not love Chocolat. And I don't even like chocolate that much. I think I fell in love with that single mother, being one myself and quite similar to Vianne Rocher. I also loved the two sequels, The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Cure.

Warning: Do not just watch the film and think you know the book. The book is far richer than the film. Far more intrigue and the whole thing about the power of the Church is missing from the film. Seriously, you need to read the book.

4. Skallagrigg by William Horwood. (Viking Press, 1987)
There is whole canon of stories about the Skallagrigg that is shared by physically disabled people when they meet in schools, in care facilities, and in hospitals. They pass on the secret stories between themselves. No one knows how the stories started. Who was the Skallagrigg? How did he become the superhero, champion, and guardian angel of the physically disabled community. Because they are a community who worship the Skallagrigg like a God.

One day a  teenage girl with cerebral palsy decides to search for the Skallagrigg. She narrates her incredible journey, collecting the stories and tracing them back in time until she finds the Skallagrig himself. This is a life changing book, and I don't say that lightly.

I gave my copy to a friend who gifted me her very favourite book - Like Water for Chocolate. Fifteen minutes later and after I'd given her Skallagrigg, she came and asked for her book back as she couldn't bear to part with it. I didn't have the courage to say that I actually wanted my book back too. I thought it would be too rude.

5. Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. (Poseidon Press, 1994)
A girl growing up in a small village in Nazi Germany. The girl is not ordinary (I won't spoil it) and you only understand how she is different about half way through the book. She uses her differences and her special powers to deal with being different, rejection, the Nazis, and life itself. This book is full of insights into human nature and the secrets we all share.

6. Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressman Taylor (Souvenir Press, 1995)
A very short book (only 54 pages) that was originally published in 1938 to show people how the Nazis were operating in Germany. It's written in the form of a series of correspondence between two business partners, one of whom is Jewish and has escaped to the US. He writes asking his erstwhile partner and friend to help his sister who was still in Germany. The German partner declines to help the young woman so her brother skillfully enacts his revenge by missive. A brilliantly crafted and frightening masterpiece.

7. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking, 2016)
Count Alexander Rostov is tried by the Bolsheviks in 1922 and sentenced to life imprisonment in the grand Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The imprisonment lasts an incredible 32 years. On the other hand, if you're going to be imprisoned there are worse places. Instead of going stir-crazy, although he is not confined to his room, he rises to the occasion and creates a whole world for himself in the hotel.

I'm still reading this one. I bought it in London over Pesach (Passover) on the recommendation of a friend. Only 100 pages in I mentioned it to my cousin who raved about it. "He totally reinvents himself, it's amazing!" I'm all for reinvention and half way through the book as I write, I can see it happening. I'm finding it hard to restrict myself to one chapter a night.

Now I'm going to publish this post and then spend the next week remembering a whole load of other books that I loved and should have included. But the challenge was seven books only so another book another post.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Enjoying The Slow Life - R2BC

The empty pots are where we've planted seeds.

The summer full of long days to fill with inspiring and productive activity isn't panning out exactly as planned. No surprise there - it never does. However, it's still a lot less hectic than during the school/college year and a lot of what of what I do during the summer can be done in my pyjamas. Facilitating online English courses if you're wondering. Obviously not with video calls. So all in all, still plenty of Reasons 2B Cheerful this week.

The first full week of the summer holiday was an exercise in easing in slowly. Except for the first day when I was up at 4.30 am. Well that never happened again. As I write, I am still in pyjamas at ..... quite late in the morning. But how wonderful to have the luxury to be able to do that. (Or should that be to not do that?)

My herbs are beginning to sprout.
We skipped the bit with the soaked cotton wool #nopatience
This week I met a friend for breakfast, another friend came for lunch, we finished planting the balcony and some indoor planting too. We've been sitting out of an evening to welcome the cool air that breezes in after 6 pm, admiring the twinkling nightscape view across the hills, and enjoying our little garden oasis. (And being a tad overly poetic it seems :~p. )

I've been spending my mornings grading away and sending reminder letters to my students in a futile desperate attempt to have them mostly done by the end of the month. DD has been at her Summer Camp from 8 till 1. It's at her school so she leaves in the morning and arrives home all under her own steam. She even has a key so I don't have to be here on the dot of 1pm.

Here are some photos of our horticultural activities.

I'm joining the R2BC linky which is back with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart for the month of July.

All is good.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Shhhh It's 4.30 A.M.

Gardening on the balcony
One thing I am determined not to do this summer holiday is to let DD and I waste the whole nine weeks doing nothing. By doing nothing I mean eating, sleeping, and watching screens. DD's last day of school was Friday. She finished at noon and went off to her youth club for a couple of hours (the final meeting of the year). She came home to throw her shoes off, scrutinize her end of year report card (it was fine) and then crumple into the back of the sofa with her tablet where she marveled about how she could theoretically stay there for two months.

I let her have Shabbat to wallow in a false sense of security and then I burst her bubble. But in order to follow through with my dastardly plan I had to also get myself ready. On Saturday night I did the dishes in the sink, folded and put away all the clean laundry, and generally tidied up the whole apartment. This should be a nightly activity I know, I've seen all the You Tube vlogs. Trouble is, these You Tubers are full time, professional You Tubers. All they have to do all day is wash the dishes, fold the laundry and tidy up and then they sit at the computer for eight hours editing the footage. When I'm working I just about get some supper on the table for DD and I'm done for the night. Every three days or so we run out of dishes so I have to wash up.

Anyhoo, back to the holiday. On Sunday morning I woke up to a clean and tidy home which meant I was ready to hit the ground running rather than spend all morning doing the previous night's chores. DD was home for the day as her Summer School starts tomorrow. (It's a day camp till 1 pm for three weeks.) I did have some work to do on my own summer course (facilitating not taking) and trying to get my year course students to finish already by issuing a final final absolutely non-negotiable extended time. And then I dragged DD out to the plant nursery.

Remember those celebrations and projects I embarked on in January? No? Oh all right then. Well April was supposed to be making the balcony bloom. More about that another day because DD had actually made a start on it, but we combined the continuation with the first project of the summer and off we went.

Two 'trees' waiting for permanent housing.
I'd popped in earlier in the week to ask if they make deliveries and they do. Like kids in a toy shop we picked out what we wanted and I didn't even look at the prices. I collected all the planters, chose a 'tree' for inside (now that I have so much space to fill), and found out how much soil we needed to buy. DD went forth with a cardboard box to collect the plants she wanted. I let her get on with it. Apart from being told by the man (what is he - the horticulturist?) which plants are suitable for a west facing balcony in the Middle East, she had free reign to choose any 10 plants she fancied. We have room for so many more but we also have seeds and we want to try growing our own as well as just using transplants *giggle*.

Having walked in the heat of the day to the plant nursery we were more than happy to accept a ride home from the delivery man. And then we got to work. I say we, but I had some emails to attend to and DD was more than capable. I commandeered a few of  the planters for specific things and she dealt with the rest. We've not finished but DD has done her bit and she had a swimming lesson to go to so we left the rest for me to do today.

We walked to swimming. DD had a private lesson because her swimming partner has broken his arm. I'm only mentioning this because it's much more exhausting to have a private lesson than to share a lesson. We walked home via the felafel shop and bought supper. DD was starving as apart from all the exercise, I suddenly realized that she'd only eaten a bowl of watermelon for breakfast and a banana before swimming. We seem to have forgotten about lunch.

And then we couldn't keep our eyes open We both got into bed at 7.30. Suddenly we weren't tired at all so we laughed about that and five minutes later DD was asleep. Ten minutes later it was 3 am so I guess I also fell asleep. I rolled over and went back to sleep for a while but eventually got up at 4.30 feeling ever so virtuous and Miracle Morning. It's now actually 6 am. DD is still asleep. I'm going to finish this blog and then ...... well I have to do last night's dishes in the sink, finish gardening, do some work on my Summer Course, get DD off to Summer School at 8, and meet a friend for coffee at 10.

So summer so good.