Monday, September 12, 2022

Major "Surgery" in The Plumbing Department, Update #1

 Like many of our friends, we're redoing the bathrooms. It seems to be the home renovation for the 65+ crowd here. 

  • widen the doors
  • replace the tub with a shower
  • get those non-slip floor tiles
In the process, we've, or more precisely our plumber son and the professional he anointed to work for us, discovered that most of the house pipes need to be replaced. 

This is ending up being more complicated and time consuming than the hip/knee replacements many friends have signed up for. Nowadays people almost walk off the operating table, and many are home the next day. While body parts have become bionic, renovating the bathroom is for those who like to break things up and play in the dirt.

This isn't a time to wear my hearing aids. You can't do it silently, though the boys who did the "destruction" worked quickly and were very polite. Honestly, I can't complain. 

After Day #1, we still have water, though I wonder how long that will last. There's also a working toilet by the front door, and the kitchen is still business as usual

Today's plan is to take apart the laundry room, so the "final" wash is in the machine as I write this.

B"H, thank Gd, a neighbor has invited us to stay by her, so I was there last night. It was so nice to be out of a building site. But as you can see, I returned bright and early to the computer. Today's cold brew coffee is waiting in the fridge.

More updates to come, Gd willing.
bathroom laid bare, stripped of tiles, sink, etc

container parked across the street for the garbage

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

We Attended Evyatar Banai's Humongous Outdoor Concert in Jerusalem

Yes, here we are sitting with thousands and thousands of people

 See, I'm not exaggerating at all. Sultan's Pool, near Jerusalem's Old City is quite an impressive venue.

Evyatar Banai performed with three guest artists, and I have no doubt that Aviv Geffen was the highlight for most of the audience. It was quite an extravaganza. 

We were sitting in the VIP section in front. Why? Well that's a story.

Both of us, my husband and I, had totally ignored the ads about the concert which was sponsored by Mateh Binyamin, our regional council -a sort of cross between a county and American-style state. So to put it mildly, we hadn't planned on attending. 

So, how did we end up going, and davka with seats in the VIP section?

Barely 24 hours before the concert, my husband received a message from what we'll call the Public Relations Department of Mateh Binyamin offering us a pair of complementary tickets including an invitation to the preconcert reception. For decades we've been the volunteer "meeters and greeters" welcoming journalists, dignitaries and a wide variety of other visitors including groups. I'm no longer on their "speed-dial," though my husband still gets calls. Over the years we've gotten preholiday gifts, which is how I got that "beer glass" I drink cold brew coffee from. It even came with special beer, which was a real treat for me.

Rather obviously, just like the classic Jewish Joke, as soon as we heard that we'd been offered free tickets, we happily accepted them and attended the concert. To be perfectly honest, until I heard them live, Banai, Geffen and two other popular singers, I don't think I've even listened to their music, though I had heard of them. 

I must say that the Evyatar Banai & Friends concert in such a venue was great fun. Until I turned around to photograph what was behind me, I had no idea how humongous it was, even though we had walked down from the top. Beware that the steps are dangerous, because they aren't marked with reflective or white tape. I didn't want to leave the way we came; it was terrifying to think of going up those black unmarked steps. Luckily there was a lower exit, no steps. I think that we could have entered that way too, if we had come with the other VIPs.

There was an intimacy in sitting so close to the stage and not seeing the rest of the audience. It was great fun. We left a bit early so we could catch a bus home. Lovely evening. I'm so glad we had been invited.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Book Review: "100 Life Lessons..."

100 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So You Don’t Have To by Rosally Saltsman is a wonderful serious but light book. Now, that does sound like a contradiction... But, I really enjoyed reading it and got a lot out of it, too.

It's hard to pigeonhole 100 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So You Don’t Have To into a standard genre. Even though the word "lessons" appears in the title, it's not your usual self-help book, though it does encourage the reader to take things more easily and not panic. It'll all work out. 

Saltsman uses examples of events and situations from her life in each "lesson." She reveals a lot about herself, her short marriage,  her son, her becoming religious and that she lives in Israel. We really get to know and admire her, even if our lives are a bit different. 

Yes, it's almost a memoir. But it's not a memoir. It's a series of 100 Life Lessons. 

In the chapter titled "Who Knows?" Saltsman reminisces about how when she was a student in Brandeis University only when she wanted to join a "Jewish Choir" she discovered that although there were other choirs for students to join, davka, the Jewish university didn't have a "Jewish Choir." She had managed to get the ball rolling to establish one, but for financial reasons, the following year she transferred out to McGill in Montreal, so she wasn't there to participate or even know what happened to her idea. She only discovered that Brandeis actually established a "Jewish Choir"  a number of years later, when she visited there and saw a poster advertising a performance. The lesson here is that you don't know what influence you've had on others. Sometimes you may never even find out. I really liked that.

Another important lesson is titled "Ricki's List." Saltsman tells about her friend Ricki who wrote a list of all the things she had to do before taking a vacation. As happens to many of us, Ricki didn't manage to do everything on her list. Unlike many of us, she happily -without any additional stress- enjoyed her vacation and then, after returning home completed all that was on her list. Apropos to the previous paragraph, I wonder if Ricki realized how this impressed Saltsman until she read  100 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So You Don’t Have To.

I'll end with the lesson "Let It Rain," where Saltsman writes of dancing in the rain, rather than complaining about getting wet. Here in Israel, we're reminded that the quantity of rain each winter, yes  - it only rains in the winter, depends on how satisfied Gd is with our -the Jewish People's- behavior. Rain is a blessing. Gd willing we'll have a wonderful wet winter.

100 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So You Don’t Have To can be ordered on Amazon (click) if you want a kindle version.  For a hard copy (softcover) $21.50/NIS70 (including S&H) or Digital format $4.99/NIS16 through Paypal recipient - Or on Lulu - print to order: click: 100 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So You Don’t Have To.

I highly recommend 100 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So You Don’t Have To for yourself and anyone else you care about.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #35 Pleasant Surprise at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. Your input is very welcome, thanks.

See  #34,  #33#32 #31#30#29#28#27#26#25#24,  #23#22,  #21#20#19#18#17,   #16, #15a#15#14#13#12#11#10#9#8#7, #6#5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1.

Early this afternoon, after a roundabout walk through the Romema neighborhood to order accessories and furnishings for our major bathroom/showers plus renovations, I calculated that I had plenty of time for the "loo," aka WC or public toilets quickly entered the "side/secondary entrance" of the Central Bus Station. If you're coming from the direction of Sarei Yisrael Street or Machane Yehuda Market, it's the first door you reach, and it takes you to the floor with the "food court," lots of small restaurants and Israeli style fast food places.

It had been years since I entered through that doorway, but I needed to get out of the sun and had no idea what was new in terms of the building's loos. In recent years management has been fixing them up, but I definitely don't remember one near that door. 

Good news! After passing those shoes for sale, I looked up on the right and saw the sign with the very welcome icon, which you can see higher up on the page.

I checked for a machine that takes entrance money, since the public toilets in the bus station had always cost a bit. No sign of one. Very tentatively, I pushed the revolving door, and it moved freely, so I entered for free. Men to the left and women to the right, no foul odor. There was a cleaning crew and even toilet paper (not grade A) and soap. I didn't take any photos, since there were too many people around.

Glad to share the good news.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Red Lentil Mushroom Vegetable Soup

This Red Lentil Mushroom Vegetable Soup tastes unbelievably good, and I could say that I just threw a few things together. 

I served this soup to break the Tisha B'Av Fast on a very hot summer day. It was absolutely perfect and required relatively little cooking. I didn't measure all the ingredients, and one can be flexible and creative. It isn't some sort of chemistry formula.

You can see almost all of the ingredients here.


  • about half a cup of orange lentils (more can be used)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 medium squash
  • fresh garlic
  • a can of mushroom pieces
  • dehydrated parsley, fresh would be great
  • a spoon or so of vegetable oil
  • a bit of coarse salt and pepper
  • put the lentils in the pot and cover plus with boiling water. Leave covered for an hour or more
  • dice up the vegetables, including garlic, then add to lentils, 
  • put in pot with the mushrooms and liquid from can 
  • top with the oil and some more water and parsley
  • bring to boil, add salt and pepper, then simmer
  • 40 minutes cooking time, unless you decide to add carrots or any other root vegetable you want in the soup. They take longer to cook.
That's it! ENJOY

Friday, August 05, 2022

Swimming's Medicinal, Therapeutic and More, So...

... in recent years our local swimming pool has been open during the 9 Days, though restricted to adults.

The 9 Days, which falls during the heat of the summer (in the northern hemisphere) is a period of mourning in the Jewish Calendar. We mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Holy Temples. The period of annual mourning is actually Three Weeks, from the daytime Fast of the 17th of Tamuz until the 25 hour Fast of the 9th of Av.

Just a few decades ago the idea of swimming, even for health reasons, during the 9 Days would be unthinkable for Torah Observant Jews, but nowadays it's the norm for many of us who regularly swim or do water exercise. Until a few years ago, our local Shiloh swimming pool was closed during that time of the year, but then one of the neighbors explained to the rabbi that, at least for adults, it wasn't a matter of fun and games. He then agreed that the pool could open, but adults only. So now we have special hours each day, separate male/female as is our custom.

Not everyone who normally swims in the pool takes advantage of the new psak/decision, but there are many who are very grateful for the chance to exercise in the water daily. Yes, I'm one of them.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Pool Season Almost Two Thirds Over


The good news is that we have a fantastic swimming pool in Shiloh, which is made even better, because it's just a five minutes' walk from my house. 

The bad news is that the season is only three months long, meaning that it's almost two thirds 2/3 over.

I've been going for a swim about four mornings a week, so I can't complain.

For those in the northern hemisphere, how's your summer going? What's the best/worst about it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Hearing Aids Report #5, Just Because The Battery Works Doesn't Mean It "Works"

You may find it helpful to read my previous articles about life with hearing aids, updates #1,  #2#3#4, plus mask-tying advice for avoiding COVID and loss of expensive hearing aids.

For many reasons, I've really been enjoying my hearing aids, and not only because I hear much better. I love the fact that Bluetooth streams music, lectures, phone calls, etc. directly into my ears, and I can also control the volume and check the battery percentage via a simple Oticon app on my cellphone. At least I was able to do it until a week or more ago. 

Suddenly one day after I replaced a dead battery the phone and hearing aids stubbornly refused to "pair." I tried everything I could think of, following the advice on the Oticon app, including turning on and off the phone, Bluetooth, WIFI and putting in fresh batteries.

About batteries...
Just when I got my hearing aids I was offered some unused, though old hearing aid batteries of the same size, but an expired date. I showed them to my audiologist who said that as long as they're clean I can use them:
"They may not last as long as new ones, but they won't damage the hearing aids."
That was good news for me, since they didn't cost me anything. And not long after I got those, someone else offered me a few packets with a much later expiration date, also for free.

This morning when my left hearing aid began that "all out of juice" tune in my ear, I replaced the battery with the very last one of the "expired" ones. Before reinserting it in my ear, I noticed that the "light" hadn't gone on. So I opened and closed the battery yet again. Still dark. So I opened a card from the newer batch. You can see the card in the photos above. 

Again I replaced the battery, but this time with new one. My phone had been on the table with the Oticon app open. Imagine my surprise when suddenly I saw it announce that phone and hearing aids were pairing. Quickly, I replaced the other hearing aid's battery with a new one, too, and like magic, the Bluetooth connection had come back to life.

Such a relief. I feel grateful and also dumb. Shouldn't I have thought of that solution much sooner?

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Sometimes People are So Nice


No doubt I'm sometimes guilty of complaining too much, but when there's something really nice to talk/write about it's so important to let the world know.

Last Thursday on my way home from Jerusalem after seeing cousins, I had some wonderful experiences. While walking out of the Old City, I had checked the bus schedule and saw that if I hurried I could catch a bus to the Shiloh Junction. 

With still another couple of minutes' walk to the lightrail I saw a train coming. I had to hurry, since the next train might have gotten me there too late. As I huffed and puffed onto the train a young man slid out of his seat, so I could take it. I paid and then sat down. I guess he heard and saw my arrival.

I got to the bus stop with time to spare, and the bus actually came on time, which is quite rare. 

On the bus I looked up and saw those little "outlets" to plug in the phone for charging, which was needed, since my phone battery was getting dangerously low. The only problem was that no matter how much I tried, they didn't work, so I asked the driver about it. He couldn't fix it from his end, but a young soldier on the other side of the aisle offered me his portable charger. But he got off a few stops later, and I saw that my phone battery was still low. I thanked him and told him it was fine.

To my surprise the driver reached into his pocket and gave me his portable charger. Wow!

 Yes, Sometimes People are So Nice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Save The Date- Women's Prayers Rosh Chodesh Av


We're already half way through the Jewish Month of Tammuz, the moon is full and it's time to save the date for Rosh Chodesh Av 5782 Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh, Shiloh Hakeduma. It falls on Friday July 29, 2022, and we begin at 8:30am.

There's lots more to do at Tel Shiloh than "just pray." After praying you can look at the archeological digs, see the movie, museum, hologram and more. For more information contact: 025789111 and

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Jerusalem Beer Festival 2022, Great Fun & One Night More

I had a wonderful time last night at the Jerusalem Beer Festival in Gan Haatzmaut. It'll be open tonight, too, so go if you can.

After I set up a display of various beers, we were instructed to take it down, as glass bottles of beer are forbidden at the festival for safety reasons. You can only buy servings of beer in plastic cups. Besides the disposable cups, heavy duty reusable plastic cups were offered for sale.

I tasted a great variety of beers, some new and some old favorites. To be perfectly honest, I liked them all and hope to write about them later on. The various beer companies sell their beer online and in some stores. But I had wanted to get this post out today as early as possible. As you can see from the lighting and empty grass, I was there early and to be honest, left early. The big performances get noisy for me. I came for the beer and wasn't disappointed.


Here's Doug Greener aka the Beer Maven learning the story about Raizel Beer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Two More Wonderful Children's Books From Kar-Ben Publishing

enjoying The Topsy-Turvy Bus 
I really value the education children get from Kar-Ben books. This young man definitely agrees. Here he's looking at The Topsy-Turvy Bus by Anita Fitch Pazner, Illustrated by Carolina Farías.

The Topsy-Turvy Bus teaches young children about alternative energy for powering buses, cars and more. Anita Fitch Pazner connects it to the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, Fixing the World, making the world a better place. AKA ecology for youngsters.

Carolina Farías' illustrations are gorgeous adding to the attractiveness of The Topsy-Turvy Bus, which isn't at all preachy. When I first read the book I thought the basis of the story seemed familiar. I must have read about the bus it's based on which was built by Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in North America.

listening to Frank, Who Liked to Build:
The Architecture of Frank Gehry
Frank, Who Liked to Build: The Architecture of Frank Gehry by Deborah Blumenthal, Illustrated by Maria Brzozowska is another fascinating  children's book by Kar-Ben. 

As made clear in the title, it's about the famous architect Frank Gehry. Written for young children, Frank, Who Liked to Build: The Architecture of Frank Gehry tells about Gehry as a child and the problems his imagination and creativity caused him. It even mentions that he's Jewish and had changed his last name from Goldberg to Gehry.

Frank, Who Liked to Build: The Architecture of Frank Gehry encourages children to be creative. Many of Gehry's buildings don't look anything like conventional building, but they are gorgeous and function. Apparently Gehry showed signs of creativity and a love of building things from the time he was a young child.

If you want some really great educational books for children of all ages, which are a joy to read and don't sound at all like textbooks, then check out what Kar-Ben books has to offer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Hearing Aids Report #4 Data Usage Warning aka Good News-Bad News

You may find it helpful to read my previous articles about life with hearing aids, updates #1#2, #3 plus mask-tying advice for avoiding COVID and loss of expensive hearing aids.

It has been awhile since I've written one of these reports about living with hearing aids. You probably thought that I had figured it all out and written all that's important; I sure did.

Recently my phone has been nudging me with these Data Usage Warnings, and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I hardly use any apps, just one game, which isn't very addictive. I even changed "providers" hoping that would help. It's now saving us money, thank Gd, but the warnings retuned.

I began to suspect that the "good news," one of my favorite things about using my hearing aids could be the cause. So I went to the phone shop that had recommended the new company and told the helpful young man working there that I had one of my "dumb questions." 

"Could my use of Bluetooth to hear my phone straight into my ears via the hearing aids be using up all the data?" I asked him, hoping/praying for a negative reply. 

I really enjoy being able to hear things clearly and not bothering others. Well, you probably guessed it. The "bad news" was that my suspicion was correct. The Bluetooth uses up a lot of data. 

Next year when I start negotiating with a "provider" for our cellphone service I'm going to have to try to triple the usage in the deal. 

And to think I had to replace a wonderful phone just because its Bluetooth wasn't compatible with my hearing aids.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sudden Return to Tremping AKA Hitchhiking, Let Me Tell You About It

There was a time when most of my travelling was by tremping AKA hitchhiking. Our bus service has never been all that great, and being "car-less," I had no real choice. It's either tremp or: 

  • never go anyplace
  • spend a day or two on what should be a short trip
  • not be able to work outside of Shiloh
In recent years a few things have happened to keep me on buses:
  • bus service has improved a bit, with more buses, a better route, the fact that buses passing Shiloh stop at the junction
  • you can get an "all day unlimited travel" bus ticket, which is half price for senior citizens
  • thanks to technology we can check an app to see if a bus is coming and when
  • I'm retired, so I'm more able to plan my travel around the bus schedule
But there are times when the idea of standing around and waiting for a bus takes too much energy. And I can't sit, because what if someone is driving by who would have given me a lift if he/she had seen me waiting.... Honestly, I'm not the sitting type.

Late, last Thursday night was one of those times. My daughter had driven me as far as Ofra, where she lives and I'd been following the progress of the bus on the app efobus. It was due in about 20+ minutes, so I planned on going back into Ofra five minutes before its arrival, if I didn't find a ride.

There was a soldier at the hitchhiking post, and when he saw me, probably three times the age of other trempistim (hitchhikers,) he immediately offered to help me check out the drivers offering rides. But in the end, he was amazed that some of those who stopped knew me by name, and I ended up getting a ride with someone I had once worked with. So, thank Gd I got home quite awhile before the bus, which doesn't go directly to Shiloh.

Then the next morning I had a much more complicated trip. I had originally checked it out and was confident that I could get to the large bus stop on the way to Elkana by taking the bus to Ariel and then transferring to another. That was before I discovered that there'd be a marathon in Ariel. Bus service inside Ariel wouldn't be back to "normal" until an hour or so after I needed to get to my destination.

I had no choice. I had to tremp or not go to our friend's azkara, memorial. Yes, I decided to hitchhike.

I walked to the main Shiloh bus stop, but nobody was going in the right direction. Finally I got a ride to a better corner. From there it took awhile until I got a ride with somebody going to Eli. Waiting on the road outside of Eli isn't all that great, but I felt that I had no choice. As you can see, there's construction going on, though not that day. They're changing the junction and probably adding traffic lights.

It took quite awhile for me to get a ride. Actually  I was about five minutes from crossing the street and trying to get home.

Someone was going just a few kilometers past where I needed. We bypassed Ariel because of the marathon. There were no buses on the road as we drove, which confirmed my suspicion that tremping was the only way for me that morning. Then I walked down to the place I'd be picked up for the azkara.

Going back home I had to do the trip in reverse, but there'd be bus service to/from Ariel. As we were driving to the bus stop, I realized that at best I'd just miss the bus home. But after all of my successful tremping that morning and the night before, I felt perfectly confident.

I checked the app and saw that there was an 86 to Ariel expected in a couple of minutes. I got off at the first stop in Ariel and then realized that those shopping and then driving to Shiloh wouldn't see me. The parking lot exit is further on. I should have gotten off at the next stop. So I began to walk there as quickly as I could, even though the air on that sidewalk was full of construction dust/sand. Suddenly I heard what could have been someone calling me. I stopped and turned around. It was an old friend. He asked what I was doing and then offered to take me to the last stop in Ariel, near the university, where it's easy to get a ride home.

So, Baruch Hashem, in a short time I was on my way home. Because the bus goes through Eli and then Shvut Rachel before it gets to my neighborhood, I actually got home before that bus I had missed passed my house.

Gd's Great for sure. He took good care of me when I needed those rides. Baruch Hashem.

In case you're wondering, I'm not reverting to tremping over the buses. But it's nice to know that it can be done, when Gd wants it to happen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Sleep- Suddenly Better

For too long, I had been waking up before my alarm, before dawn, and nothing seemed to help me sleep longer. Even when I was recovering from COVID corona I awoke before my alarm. Just to make sure I got more sleep, I actually turned off the alarm, except for days when I needed to rise early.

People keep telling me to take melatonin, which I may ask my doctor about.

When I resumed turning on my alarm, I made it a half hour later than before. Then suddenly, for no comprehendible reason, I began sleeping better and waking from the alarm. I've been sleeping more than I had been, meaning a normal night's sleep.

Davka this morning I awoke a half hour before the alarm, and that was good. A friend had sent a message when I was sleeping that she'd be driving to the pool in Ariel rather early. It gave me enough time to prepare, pray, pack and drink some water.

Thank Gd


Saturday, May 07, 2022

Dear Cousin, A Book Review

Dear Cousin by Elchonon Boruch Galbut, Mosaica Press, is a eulogy to his cousin, Brian Boruch Tzvi Galbut, who has passed away and is greatly mourned.

The Galbut cousins were part of a large Jewish family that has been in Miami Beach, Florida since the 1920s. In the 1950s and 1960s when Elchonon Boruch and Boruch Tzvi were growing up, the entire clan lived in the same neighborhood and spent a lot of time together, especially Jewish Holidays. 

Boruch Tzvi was a few years older than the author and served as his role model in sports, religion, school and more. When necessary, Boruch Tzvi was even called in to defend his younger cousin.

Elchonon Boruch tried to emulate his older cousin by going to the same yeshiva during his studies in Israel, but they were too different, and Boruch Tzvi ended up helping him make the connections to a different more suitable one, supporting him all the way. 

They ended up with very different professions, Brian Boruch Tzvi being a doctor and Elchonon Boruch combining property development and Torah teaching. Since they also lived in different cities, so they saw less of each other as adults, but like many cousins, they always felt connected.

Dear Cousin is written in an interesting format as "letters" to Boruch Tzvi interspersed among a fascinating narrative geared more to the reader. We learn about the Galbut family, which has been contributing much to Jewish life in Florida for many decades.  

I found Dear Cousin to be very pleasant reading, and I'm glad that the author has made it possible for us to get to know his cousin and the rest of the clan. Yes, I recommend the book. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Rosh Chodesh Iyyar Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh


As soon as Passover is over, here in Israel we get started on Holocaust Memorial Day and Memorial/Independence Day planning and programs. I don't forget to squeeze in Rosh Chodesh Iyyar. This year it's two days, technically, and the women who usually join me for Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh have chosen Sunday, May 1, the 30th of Nissan, 8:30am.

תפילת נשים
ראש חודש אייר
שילה הקדומה
יום ראשון 1\05\2022
ל' ניסן תשפ"ב
כולן מוזמנות

If you haven't been to Tel Shiloh for awhile, it's worth planning on spending a few hours there. There's always a lot to see and do. For more information 025789111 and

Monday, April 25, 2022

What A Difference A Tree Makes

I trust you can see the giant tree towering over the orange tree.

That enormous tree, which had been growing as quickly as Jack's beanstalk is now history. I paid a neighbor to chop it down and take it away. Last year it wasn't all that big. I could easily hang out my laundry, which dried quickly, and it certainly wasn't taller than the orange tree then.

Suddenly, this year, as winter turned to spring, laundry didn't dry all that well, and that strange tree, which grew uninvited, began to take over the yard and barge into the orange tree. Before Passover, even though I was sick with COVID, I could see that it had to go before it strangled the orange tree.

Yes, it's Shmitta year, when we're supposed to give the fields and gardens a break. But when a non-fruitbearing tree endangers a fruit-bearing tree, it can be cut down.
Today my neighbor came over with his electric saw and got to work on the tree, which was actually two or maybe more like Siamese twins or a two-headed monster.

Within a few hours, they were gone, and I felt that I could breath. I hadn't realized how much that two-headed monster of a tree had taken over my yard. 

I immediately did a couple of loads of laundry and was amazed at how quickly things dried. Laundry hadn't been drying the past few months, and it wasn't because of winter. We've been in the house over 35 years, and laundry had always dried quickly, until this year. Apparently, the tree trapped in the humidity, dampness in the clothes. 

It's like having having cataract surgery... Suddenly I can see from my merpeset (terrace.)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Great KAR-BEN Publishing Books for Young Readers

I received a box of goodies recently from KAR-BEN Publishing. It included children's books on all levels, from toddlers to young readers. 

This first review will be of two books written for young readers. Both books begin with the main characters being bullied at school. Apparently, it's a big issue in the United States and including the problem and how to deal with it makes the books more popular and marketable. Another thing they have in common is that a parent of a main character in both books has passed away, which is a reason why their grandparents are helping to raise them.

The books are well-written chapter books, printed clearly with the added bonus of Jewish history, which don't feel like school work. Actually, the topic, Sephardic Jewish History, isn't very well-known. 

Let's start with The Button Box by Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams. Ava and Nadeem are first cousins who share a Ladino speaking grandmother, who's their after school caregiver. Ava is Jewish, and Nadeem is Moslem, as the children's religions follow their mothers'. 

Within the family, the intermarriage of Nadeem's parents is ignored as an issue; it's just accepted, non-judgmental. But in school, which apparently has mostly Christian and Jewish students, there is prejudice against Nadeem, and Ava is encouraged by some of the Jewish kids not to hang out with him, a Muslim.

Ava and Nadeem are both exposed to their mutual Jewish Sephardic heritage by their Jewish grandmother, and that's how a magic button brings them to meet their ancestors and learn a fascinating story based on history. 

The Button Box is full of surprises. The success of Harry Potter has shown book publishers how much children, and adults, love fantasy. I'd also recommend reading the book out loud, chapter by chapter and discussing it.

There's a very helpful Glossary at the end, plus additional information about Sephardic Jews, Muslims and relevant historical background.

When Lightnin' Struck
by Betsy R. Rosenthal is another amazing book that kept me in suspense. It's set about a hundred years ago in Odessa, Texas.  James, called Butch by his grandfather, has a lot to deal with. In school a bully keeps attacking him, and he only has one real friend, Paul, a recent immigrant from Odessa, Russia. 

A few years before the story begins, James's father had been struck by lightning and died. Later on his alcoholic mother was jailed, so he began living with his grandparents. And then his beloved grandmother, a healer from Mexico with many secrets, passed away. Minutes before her death, she gave James a strange, secret and special coin.

When not in school, James keeps himself busy by helping his grandfather in their diner and spending time with Paul's family. Paul's family is different from the rest of the town in two big ways. They are recent immigrants and seem to be the only Jewish family in Odessa, Texas. That's how they end up helping James decipher his grandmother's secrets.

There's lots more to When Lightnin' Struck, because James is an interesting and complex character. He's an excellent student and had learned a lot of his grandmother's healing techniques before she passed away. All of this helps him with other issues, besides giving him a direction, a purpose in life. 

I highly recommend both The Button Box and When Lightnin' Struck and have already promised them to one of my grandchildren and told her she should pass them on to her cousins from her Sephardic side.

The Button Box- Product details
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kar-Ben Publishing ® (April 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 152 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 172842397X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728423975
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 13 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 770
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 3 - 7

When Lightnin' Struck- Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kar-Ben Publishing ® (February 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1728420539
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728420530
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 9 - 13 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 4 - 7

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Corona/COVID No One's Immune, Yep I Got It

Antigen test still positive
This was my failed attempt to 
"get out of jail early." It confirms 
that I'd been infected.
Yes, I did get Corona/COVID. 

Thank Gd, since I'm fully vaccinated to the maximum, it has been a relatively mild case. I've already graduated from quarantined to recovering, thank Gd.

I really am grateful that there are only two of us here in the house, and we have space, rooms, bathrooms etc. I can't imagine how those who live under crowded conditions manage to safely keep their distance.

I'm also grateful that the weather has been warm enough to comfortably keep windows open after an intense cold winter. My priority has been to keep my husband healthy. It has been strange staying masked at home, just the two of us.

Besides the awful fatigue and more congestion than I'm used to, I've had a pretty easy case. Fatigue is a problem, since even at my healthiest I don't manage to sleep enough.

I understand that I should be taking it easy for the next few weeks and not to push myself. At my age, that's a lesson for all the time. Recovery is always  harder the older you get.

Again, I thank Gd for my blessings, and this year, like the year my father passed away just a few days before Passover, I'll be doing minimum cleaning. I have to concentrate on the most important thing, the fridge/freezer. Stove top and counters need a cleaning and covering. I'm really glad that I chose the spare room as my first big project, so it was waiting for me when I realized that I was positive with Corona/COVID.

Stay healthy, and always look at the bright side.