Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Packing, Freak-Out

I had been blessed with more grandkids I doubt if I'd be able to buy gifts for everyone.  This one suitcase 50lbs luggage limit is awful.  I came with a half-empty suitcase, but still I'm afraid I bought too mcuh and I didn't buy much at all.

OK, I did buy shoes for me, a lot, and my husband a couple of pairs.  I discovered Marshall's shoe store next to Fairway in Westchester.  If my husband's shoes don't fit, he'll just sell them (ok I will) and use the money to buy in Israel.

I'm putting as much as I can in my carryon which is both a wheeling bag and a backpack, but it's not all that big.  Next time I'll have to buy a better and bigger one.  I can put it on my back and wheel the suitcase.  And of course I have my giant pouch which also should be replaced. I didn't see any at all.

I guess it's timeto finally fully finish my packing.

G-d willing, next post from the HolyLand.

Merciful Post-3 Week's Havel Havelim

We're finally finished with the official mourning of our Holy Temple.  Now we're supposed to feel G-d's mercy.   Living in the northern hemisphere, there is a sense of relief.  We are now permitted to launder and swim, but I'm still in New York.  Yes, there are washingmachines and swimming pools in New York, but I had other plans for today.  And tomorrow G-d willing I'm flying home.

And in the land of jbloggers, it's business as usual.  There's a new Havel Havelim.  This week's host is Esser Agaroth who has been instrumental in keeping the longest running blog carnival going. Visit and share and thank Ya'aqov for his hard and dedicated work.

Aspiring Mekubal will be hosting next week's edition. You may send him your posts through our on line submission form, or by sending him a personal message through Facebook.  Last but not least, Bloggers, please check out our Facebook Group.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Minute Logistics, Visit to NY and AZ Soon Over

Planning my visits to the states is always difficult.
How long or how short and where to stay etc?

Until a few years ago it was pretty easy, ok easier.  I'd be based in my parents' home.  A mile's walk would get me to the LIRR station and a quick but expensive trip to the city.  There was also a big department store just a mile away.  Shabbatot were at my sister-in-law's or a friend in the city.  I traveled no further than New Jersey to visit relatives, since my sister tried to visit when I did.

A couple of years ago we moved our parents to Arizona to be near my sister.  There is no longer a family home in New York, and I must go to AZ of course.  It's not that I'm not welcome anyplace; it's just more complicated, space for an extra bed and distance.

On one hand, this has been a totally extraordinary visit.  I've seen many, many relatives.  Some I hadn't seen for decades or ever.  Our family ties are wonderful gifts.  I come from two fantastic families.  I'm very lucky. I also have some great friends whom I see each visit.  They are considered family, too.  I have known them for decades. OK, as an old lady I've lived many decades, long enough to get senior discounts in some places.

Now I have a few more people to see and some gift shopping to do.  Today is the 9th of Av, a Jewish fast day mourning the loss of our Holy Temple and Jerusalem.  It's not a meet, eat and shopping day, though a few years ago, my sil and I did some book shopping late in the afternoon.

Of course, considering that I can only take one suitcase, I really can't buy much...

Feasting on Tisha (the 9th of) B'Av

The 9th of Av is a major fast day in the Jewish Calendar.  It seriously rivals Yom Kippur, but it is less known and less observed.  Like Yom Kippur it lasts 25 hours long.  Like Yom Kippur it can fall on a Shabbat, but unlike Yom Kippur, it's forbidden to observe it on Shabbat.  It is delayed until Sunday.  Actually it begins before Shabbat ends.

And since we must feast on Shabbat, that's what we did on Tisha b'Av.  We feasted, and believe me, this year I really did, since I was at my sister-in-law's and she's an amazing cook.  To make things even better she had a great idea.  We had a dairy lunch and then ate the meat meal closer to the end of Shabbat.

Does anyone have any other tips?

Tzom Kal, Have an easy fast if you're fasting.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Double Pat Down Again

OK ladies, I wore a tighter skirt and smaller scarf, but it didn't help.  The Phoenix airport security still thought I was a security risk.

This time I was given the choice to pat my own head under supervision and then my hands were wiped down like in CSI for traces of whatever forbidden substance the TSA were looking for.

Modern travel saga...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Visit, Almost Over

Tonight I fly back to New York on the red-eye.  And then it will be Friday and I have plans to see a good friend and then more relatives before Shabbat.  And then there's a Shabbat and 9th of Av with my sister-in-law and her family.  After that just over a day and I'm back on the plane to Israel.

There's never enough time, and my family and friends have a zillion things to do besides seeing me, so I'm lucky to see as much of them as I do.

This visit will require last minute shopping.  I've only gotten one of the things I have to get for others and about the same for myself.  I came with a pretty much empty suitcase.  Nowadays you can't take much back, since the airlines have been reducing the amount of free luggage we can take.

It's not that there's nothing to buy in Israel, but there are a few things I do prefer to get here besides the required gifts for all.

It's 8am AZ time, so I really must get on with my day.  Time is short and shouldn't be wasted on the keyboard...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Something New, Picture-Viewing for My Parents

My parents missed the boat on computers and email.  They are now in what I'd call the "fourth stage" of life.  When I went to that seminar about Israeli "old age pension," we were told that we were in the "third stage."  My parents have graduated and now need aids to do the menial, so learning a new skill, like computers is beyond their capabilities.

The place where they live has computers for use of the residents, so yesterday my sister and I escorted them to the computer room.  We made room for my mother's wheelchair and also gave my father a chair close enough to see from, and then I managed to stretch my too short arm to reach the mouse and keyboard to sign in and control the views on the screen.  I couldn't get the pictures up from my email collection, but luckily there are plenty of family pics on facebook. They include the reunion in Philly the day I arrived.  My cousin's daughter kept shooting us with her smartphone and immediately posting to facebook.

Once I ran out of pictures on the pages of all sorts of cousins, I looked up my son's football exploits in the IFL Jerusalem Big Blue Lions.  There are lots of youtube videos.  I was amazed at how much my father enjoyed it.  He was never a sports spectator.  Minus some marbles, he really is a different person...

I ought to get them an electric frame that could be set up in Israel and then sent back to them after we load it with new pictures.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TSA Didn't Believe I Was Just Fat

Yesterday leaving Newark Airport for AZ, I was told to wait for a pat-down.  I knew that I shouldn't have worn that skirt again.  It's a little full.  Last year it passed security in JFK and Israel, but the Phoenix airport didn't approve.

Yesterday, not only did they go after the skirt, my fat thighs, but they did my scarf, too.  The lady didn't unwrap it, just felt it to make sure there was nothing hidden but hair.

I kept telling the TSA inspector that I"m just fat, but she kept insisting that I'm not or it didn't matter.  She had a job to do.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gevalt! A Havel Havelim Sans Me?

Somehow, with all the pressures of traveling, although I have managed to keep my blogs going, I forgot to send in a link for this week's Havel Havelim.  There's a nice full edition of HH in Adventures in Mama-Land, but for the first time in a decade if I'm not mistaken, I'm not included.  Well, you can always see what I've posted here and in Shiloh Musings if you're curious about what's possibly missing.

No hard feelings, Jennifer.  And to everyone out there, there's still plenty to read in her Havel Havelim, so give it a click and a visit.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Family, Nothing's More Important

This trip to the states is dedicated to family.  I've been meeting more and more family members; some for the first time.  I'm debating on whether to post pictures of them here.  Well, my facebook friends can see them easily.

On my mother's side, we are lots of first cousins, our children and grandchildren.  There are only two couples left of the older generation, my parents and my mother's younger sister and her husband.  My mother and aunt are the youngest of nine kids, of a his, hers and theirs family.  Today it would be called a blended family.  My grandparents were widowed with kids when they got married.  My grandfather had two sons and my grandmother had three daughters.  Together they had four more children including my mother.

The clan was based in Brooklyn.  Neither of my grandparents had any siblings in America.  My grandfather didn't have any siblings at all. He was born an orphan.  His father had been murdered in a pogrom while his mother was pregnant and his mother died in childbirth.  His first wife died in childbirth having their second son.  My grandmother was the only one in her large family from Rogotchov, Belarus to go to America.    One brother lived in London with his family.  So, my mother had no cousins she knew of.

I have lots of cousins, and growing up knowing them, or almost all of them, was great fun.  Age-wise I'm in the middle, and I loved observing my elder cousins, joking around.  Everyone would talk all at once finishing each other's sentences and having fun, at least so it always seemed to me.  Nobody was rich, so most get-togethers were very crowded adding to the action.

Now we're spread all over the place, including me in Israel.  Via facebook, the eldest daughter of one of my cousins suggested that I come to Philly after landing for the day.  So that's what I did.  A few of us got together, toured, ate, toured and ate.  We may be living all different life-styles at this point, but we're all family.

I have no doubt that my grandparents in olam haba, the next world were observing us and enjoying the meeting.  No doubt they weren't surprised that we all polished off all the food, at least all of their descendants.  I come from "good eaters" on both sides.

Friday, July 20, 2012

KCC Outside the Box

 The Kosher Cooking Carnival is Outside the Box this month and perfectly parve* for the "9 days."  This has never quite happened before, but for those who are stumped  trying to plan menus that don't include any meat, poultry or dairy for whatever reason, you'll find this round-up of blog posts about food (which is strictly kosher) totally invaluable.  Please check out the links.

KCC is a monthly blog carnival which includes posts about all aspects of kosher food and kosher cooking.  I coordinate it with the help of others on our facebook page.  If you'd like to host one, please contact me.  To submit your blog article to the next edition of kosher cooking carnival-kcc use ourcarnival submission form or email   me. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our  blog carnival index page

Thanks to all and Shabbat Shalom.

parve* is a Jewish legal aka halachik term for a food that is neither dairy nor meat/poultry

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"I'll Take it as a Compliment"

I'm now in NYC.  Tuesday afternoon I started the trip.  A neighbor took me down to the bus, which I took to Jerusalme.  The transfer to the bus to the airport was complicated.  It should have been easy, but the usual place to drop people off was closed.  So I had to walk down steops with the suitcase and carryon and walk a few blocks to the entrance. 

I had plenty of time.  Time is money, so I had decided on tyhe cheapest route.  Being that I get senior rate, the bus to the airport is best.  When I asked the driver for it, he asked for proof.  He made my day.  I told him that I wasn't annoyed, that...

"I'll Take it as a Compliment"

ps on NJ Transit, they wouldn't accept my passport as proof and I was forced to add to the fare.  Pictures and more of my adventures to follow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Were They "Trying To Kill Us Off?"

Yesterday I spent the day at a seminar-information morning in the Bituach Le'umi, National Insurance, like American Social Security, offices.  I was one of a maybe a hundred or so newbie Seniors, or vattikim veterans, or gil shlishi, "third age" as we're referred to in Hebrew. 

I now get a monthly old age stipend from the government.  It's not really enough to live on unless one lives in a room in their kid's home and has no real expenses or shares a room in an apartment with others.  OK, there is also a chance to get what they call supplementary income to reach a higher number, but it really isn't much.  Twenty plus years ago, the new immigrants from FSU (former Soviet Union) used to crowd three and four generations into apartment and live on these tiny stipends until they learned Hebrew, saved money and bought much more comfortable apartments, frequently combining mortgages of the clan to cover.

We were told all sorts of tips and encouraged to come to consult with their staff.  It was all very professional.  Most of the time we heard from a man who actually makes money off of it, because he has one of those businesses that goes over your savings and insurance plans explaining the lingo and helping you know what you can change and cancel to save money. 

When he finished the participants grabbed his business cards with more enthusiasm than they showed for the margarine-filled doughy snacks they had put out for us.

The feeling was that since the longer we lived the more it would cost them, maybe the menu had been planned to "kill us off" sooner.

Monday, July 16, 2012

HH #368 At "A Soldier's Mother"

Paula presents a very professional Havel Havelim.  No surprise considering her business.  Check out the various links, visit, comment and share.

Havel Havelim is a weekly round-up of blog posts about Israel and Jewish subjects by Jewish bloggers.  It floats from blog to blog, coordinated on our facebook page.  Next week's host blog is Adventures in Mama-Land. You can submit a link to HH by clicking on the form link.

Blog carnivals are a wonderful and safe way of getting to know other blogs and bloggers.  There are two other Jewish blog carnivals, Kosher Cooking Carnival and JPIX.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hot, Sauna-Like, Unbearable

There are times when I willingly enter a sauna, but I really don't like one just outside my front door.  It has been that hot of late.  Yes, hot and dry.  I have to keep reminding myself to add a bit of salt to my food, because I'm sweating as badly as I did when my hormones were serenading sayonara.

And we don't have air-conditioning.  Until recently, popular wisdom here in the Holyland was that you don't need it in Jerusalem and the mountains to the north and south.  Well, that was before all the public buildings and transportation began to use air-conditioning.  People got used to the cooled feel and began getting systems that both heated and cooled for their homes. 

All we did was to get shades to keep the sun from invading the livingroom/diningroom in the summer and added a simple standing fan, too.  We trusted cross-ventilation from open windows to keep us comfortable. 

But since our bodies have gotten adjusted to the feel of air-conditioning in other places, our house is suddenly too hot and the outside is worse.  Wearing a large hat and loose sleeves is no longer sufficient defense against the heat.  And it doesn't  help that as I'm aging, my internal thermostat gets stuck.

We really don't have the money to invest in one of those expensive air conditioner-heaters, so sorry you'll just have to listen to my rants.

But at least I have the pool to go to a few mornings a week for a bit.  And that's where I'm off to, right now.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Amazing: From Zero to Four to Six to Eight! Guests, That Is

I just can't remember the last time such a thing happened to us.

On Wednesday and Thursday I tried calling a few people to invite them for Shabbat meals, but nothing worked out.  We weren't expecting guests, not the first time, and no invitations either, ditto.

I had had a very busy week at work and even decided that I could somehow do all of the cooking on Friday.  I almost never save all of the cooking for Friday.  I like to split my cooking by doing the meat/poultry on Thursday and side-dishes on Friday.  But since I didn't have a shift on Friday nor guests, it seemed perfectly reasonable to be able to get all of the cooking done on a long summer's Friday.

Before leaving for the pool I gave my husband the shopping list which included just small challah rolls for us.  The two chickens were already thawed and waiting for me to cook them.

At the pool I saw a good friend leaving.
"Why are you leaving so early?"
"My in-laws are coming for Shabbat."
Her mother-in-law is a good friend and they're related to us through marriage.
"That's great," I replied.  "Why don't you all come for Shabbat lunch?"

She agreed, and that's how we were suddenly up to four guests.  I took some frozen challah dough I had from the freezer to bake an extra challah.  It didn't rise all that much and ended up more like a sourdough bread.  My visiting friend liked it so much she even asked to take the leftover piece back with her.

Then later on, when I was already back home, I checked my email and discovered that another neighbor had asked if she and her son could come for Shabbat lunch.  I happily replied in the positive, and so we were up to six for lunch.   I took out another chicken to thaw for Friday night dinner for me and my husband.

Then much closer to Shabbat itself I got a call from another neighbor asking if they could come to the Third Meal, Seudat Shlishit

Yes, we quickly went from zero to eight, and there was plenty of food for all.  The guests all brought something, and I managed to cook too much. 

What a wonderful Shabbat!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Breaking Rules

I'm one of those out of the box thinkers.  There's frequently something just out of tune in the way I see things.  You could say I'm a true non-conformist.  I generally see and do things a bit differently from others.  It's just my nature.  And, yes, it has gotten me in trouble at times and made people find me "odd."

I was just looking at some pictures I took the other day when I was in Jerusalem.  The ones I like the most broke rules.  I took pictures facing the setting sun so things look dark and colorless.

It's rather hopeless.  That's just the way I am...

Here they are:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

At The Kotel, The Unexpected is Routine

The other day I found myself in Jerusalem with a couple of hours and nothing to do between appointments.  It was afternoon, time for Mincha, the afternoon prayer, so considering that the very numerous Jerusalem synagogues which fill for the prayer don't usually have their Ezrat Nashim, Women's Galleries open, I figured I go to the one place that is always open to women.  Yes, I went to the Kotel.

It's not that I "worship" the Kotel, the opposite.  I consider it a place of mourning.  We should be praying on Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount.  But there are times, when praying at the Kotel and being part of a large group of sincere Jews in prayer is good for the soul, so I walked there from the Municipality, Safra Square lightrail station.

Once I got into the large open square I saw that there was an army group for a ceremony.

There were also lots of sick and/or handicapped youngsters visiting, each with a counselor to help.

As I was leaving, a large group of kids in Gush Katif orange arrived singing.

You never know what you're going to find at the Kotel.

Airline Seat, If You Paid for it, Is It Yours?

As I prepare myself mentally for my trip to the states, I can't help but to dread the idea of sitting in those tiny crowded seats with much too intimate closeness with strangers.  On a recent trip I had to complain to the attendant because the man behind me not only shook my seat violently every time he got up or sat down, but he somehow managed to even touch my head in the process.  And this guy was in the uniform of an ultra-Orthodox Jew, who should have been making every effort not to touch me.  After complaining a few times in two languages, Hebrew and English, I finally called for help.  The solution was found was that we should change seats.  Since I ended up remaining in an aisle seat I agreed.

In another trip, although I had reserved an aisle seat I found myself sitting between two young men.  I asked the man in the aisle if he would change with me, since I'd be getting up frequently, but he refused, saying he didn't mind.  So, the three of us took our trips to the loo at the same time, like in nursery school.

Those aisle seats had cost the same as middle ones then.  Now the airlines are milking more money out of the desperate passengers making seat switches much more complicated.

Joel Sharkey has written in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune about pressure being put on people who paid extra to give up their seats to those who paid less.  I think it's totally outrageous, and wen the flight attendants join in on the pressure it's worse.  Those who are put in that position should do two things:
  1. If they are willing to switch, then they should charge the other person double what it cost them.  If having the better seat cost $20- then someone who wants it should pay $40 in cash to compensate.  It's not like the one in the aisle seat or with more legroom won that better seat with the roll of the dice. 
  2. Make it clear to the attendant that you paid for your seat and  you expect the airline to respect and honor that purchase. Mark down the name of the employee who is harassing you to give up your expensive seat without compensation and report to the company after the flight.
People should know that sometimes you have to give up a good seat to sit together.  I had that when flying to Israel with my elderly father.  He was given a seat in the front with more legroom, but I was assigned a seat a few rows behind.  He needed me more than the legroom, so we had the staff change his seat.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Delicious Dinner, "Gourmet Hamburger"

Most people say you should never order hamburgers or anything made with chopped/minced meat out in a restaurant, because you never know what's actually in the meat.  There are a few restaurants that pride themselves and please their customers by grinding the meat in their own kitchen.

HaGov, The Lion's Den, the kosher sports bar & grill on 5 Yoel Solomon Street is one of the few places that serve real home-ground meat in their hamburgers.  My eating partner and I both ordered hamburgers.  He had the Julio, which includes a sunnyside up egg and I had a different one.  I can't remember the name. 

I told them to "hold the bun," since I try not to eat bread, and both of us requested salad instead of chips aka french fries.  It was a delicious and satisfying meal. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Regular Excercise," Not Exactly

There are many people who think that you/we must eat exactly the same everyday and exercise the same amount everyday.  I used to do that, sort of, but I don't anymore.

My days vary.  I think it's natural.  Recent up-to-date diet advice recommends having one day when you eat much more as a way to keep your metabolism burning up those calories.  Exercise specialists talk more of giving your body time to recover.  And the older we are the more time we need!

As many of you may know, three and a half years ago I managed to lose over thirty pounds, fifteen kilo, and I've kept it off.  Especially the past year my trick has been to vary both my food intake and my exercise a lot.  I have super-active days and wonderfully lazy days.  Around once a week, if I am served some irresistible cake, I'll have some and even try ice cream.

There are days like yesterday when I overdo the walking with a heavy backpack and days like Sunday when I did absolutely nothing stressful at all.

Of course I try not to be one of those who "treats" myself to high calorie foods a few times a week claiming that it's a rare occasion, because that is a problem.  But on my annual trips to the states, if I can't eat my usual cooked vegetables and the only kosher food is Hagan Daz ice cream, so I eat it.  And I eat the high carbohydrate meals on the plane, too.  For a couple of weeks a year when I have so little control over my life, I'll survive.

Obsessing isn't good, either.  I'm psyching myself up for the trip to the states.

Monday, July 09, 2012

So Which Starbucks is Kosher?

As I gear myself up for my next trip to the states, I must check on the latest kosher coffee news.  It's not that I drink coffee all day long.  At home I brew/perc my coffee in the morning and sip it while on the computer, like right now.  Then as the day goes on, I almost never ever drink any more coffee or even black tea.  That morning caffeine input is all I need.  But when I travel, I need another dose of coffee to conquer jetlag.  It's like medicine.

Hat tip: Tzvee
Even the New York Times is writing about kosher coffee, Starbucks to be precise.  There's a site which specializes in what's kosher at Starbucks.  And that's what's featured in the article.

It's not that I actually like the classic Starbucks coffee; I don't.  Last summer I discovered a coffee there called Caffe Americano which tastes more like the classic coffee  I do like.  It even cost a bit less if I remember correctly.

Most kosher only eaters consider any coffee place serving just plain coffee from coffee machines into disposable cups to be acceptably kosher.  To be more careful, I try to only get coffee which has a hechser, kosher certification on the supermarket shelf. Frequently brands are kosher for the plain coffee but not for the special flavors.

I'd appreciate any info you may have about coffees, thanks.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Weekly Havel Havelim

This week's Havel Havelim, #367, is hosted by Marina at A Letter From Israel.  There are some very interesting blog posts included.  Bloggers please join us by sending your links and links you find worthwhile reading.  Also try your hand at hosting.  Information can be found on our facebook page.

There are other Jewish blog carnivals, Kosher Cooking Carnival and JPIX.

And I'm just going to add a few more links that aren't in the latest Havel Havelim.  First of all, there was a time when the Bima Ima aka Phyllis had the time to host HH, but now unfortunately she's much too busy  since Superman Sam was diagnosed with cancer.  B"H, he just had a great day.

Part of living in Israel is enjoying the Land.  And those "shiputzim kids" take that mitzvah very seriously.

Read this beautiful Dvar Torah on Parshat Balak from Chaviva.

Ester reminds us how dangerous a negative comment can be.

Elder of Ziyon posted his own roundup.

As the date of my trip to the states rapidly gets closer, I appreciate Tzvee's report about the kashrut of Starbucks.

And for something very different, I've been enjoying the Bible-based stories on ben-zion.com.

Please visit, comment and share the various links.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Fasting "Tips"

One thing I'm not doing is to wake up before 3:50am tomorrow morning to eat/drink before the 17 (delayed to the 18th) of Tammuz fast begins. 

Losing sleep will be worse than not drinking.  Also, if I try to drink, my body will expect coffee and food.  If I don't drink, then at some point it will realized, like a well-trained child, that "this is a day, you're not getting fed; get used to it."

Generally, as the day goes on, my body begins to behave, stops whining.  Of course, I'm miserable.  I hate fasting.  Each year, each fast bothers me more.  I don't know how much is physical and how much is emotional.

I hope to sleep as much as possible tomorrow.  I wish I could store sleep, like a camel stores water.  I also wish I could store water in my body.  It doesn't work.  Most mavens say you should drink lots of extra water before a fast day, but if I do I end up having to pish so much at the beginning of the fast that I'm sure I end up eliminating more water than I've taken in.

Some people manage to function so well when fasting.  I'm not among those blessed ones.  My mind starts going blank if I don't eat frequently enough.  I guess that's low blood sugar, or a warning sign that if don't eat properly I could be a diabetic.  When I refuse to take a shift on a fast day, my employers should be happy.  They shouldn't want a worker who can't work.

I don't faint when fasting or anything like that.  It takes me a long time to "wake up" and function without my water and coffee.  Recent studies say that coffee can "sharpen us," so it makes sense for me to say that my mind is a haze at least in the morning when fasting.  My body slows down, inside and out.

If you feel like I'm describing I wouldn't drive.  If you must take a cold shower to make you more alert.  Yes, except for Tisha (9th of) b'Av and Yom Kippur it is permitted to shower.

If you have to be out when fasting, stay out of the sun.

Eat normally or even slightly less the days before a fast.  It's better to shrink your stomach than to stuff it.   But if you go to bed hungry the day before a fast, you may wake up starving.

Just don't overdo anything.  Each of us is different so try to discover what's best for you.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Cancer Blogs: RivkA, Superman Sam, Heather...

We all blog for different reasons.  One thing that has motivated many of us is the need to let off steam.  My Shiloh Musings blog is for that political "steam" aggravation, letting the world know the truth of what's going on here in Israel, especially Shiloh.  I consider it a public service of sorts, my own way to broadcast for the hasbara  pro-Israel information efforts, even when I'm writing about the mundane.  This blog is more for the mundane and personal.

But in terms of combining the personal and the mundane in a very different mix, there are the "cancer blogs," which are very important for those involved and to put a real face on those who are fighting for life and for their families.

In the jblogging world the first one of that genre is/was RivkA's Coffee and Chemo in which she chronicled her losing battle with what was first diagnosed as DCIS, stage ZERO breast cancer, at age 39.  Even though you already know the sad ending to her story, it's still worthwhile going to the blog and reading her posts.  Cancer may have had destroyed her body, but it didn't damage her spirit.  I met her in person a few times, and she was a truly amazing young woman.

A few short weeks ago, the popular blogger the Bima Ima sadly blogged to us that her six year old son Sam had just been diagnosed with  acute myeloid leukemia.  She and her husband are now chronicling their fight to bring Sam back to full health on Superman Sam, a very honest blog about their feelings and Sam's health.  If you want, please add Sam to your רפואה שלימה refuah shleimah, complete recovery list, Shmuel Asher ben haRav Pesah Esther.

Honestly, I don't go looking for these cancer blogs, but recently a writer of one, Heather, contacted me via comments on my blogs.  She didn't say what she wanted from me,  just that she needed to hear from me.  I kept wondering if I had made a mistake by sending an email to a mystery person, terrified that I had set myself up for a computer virus or something like that.  The fact that she wrote her email with the word "dot" rather than "." did make me feel a bit safer, but still...  It ends up that Heather wanted me to either give her a chance to post on my blog or at least that I'd mention it. 

Heather Von St. James, Courageous mother, wife and survivor of mesothelioma cancer. 

That's why I'm writing about cancer blogs this morning.  Good health to all and Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Preparing for The Pool

Yesterday was babysitting day for the grandkids.  The heat kept us (OK me) in most of the time except for when I had no choice, like when we had to pick of the pre-schooler from camp. 

The kids didn't know it, but my daughter and I had a big treat planned for them.  After she got home from work, she packed them up in the car, drove me home to Shiloh and then we all went to the pool.  Although none of the kids are real independent swimmers yet -the three eldest are all taking lessons- they felt confident and comfortable with various floating devices and two generations of  "personal lifeguards."

That giant green "lifesaver" wasn't used in the pool, and the little one was held by her mother the entire time.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Is It That Awful?

RR's aka regular readers know that I do  my own nails and I do  almost any color but red and classic pinks.  My color wardrobe is mostly in the greens, blues and purples, but sometimes friends get inspired and buy me presents, like this not quite mellow yellow.

One young, about the age of my eldest, friend called it

מגעיל אבל.... mag'il aval..., disgusting but...
After the "but" she added it looks great.  That must mean "though I would never have thought of wearing such a color it actually is fantastic."  She's one of those who grabs my hand every time we run into each other "just to see what color nail polish is on..." my stubby fingers.

The yellow was given to me by a friend, and another recently got me a sort of rusty orange, which really looks fabulous. 

I received this luscious purple from a different friend after admiring it on her nails.

holding an interesting carved rock at Tel Shiloh

Please don't get the wrong idea.  I buy the vast majority of my nail polish.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's on sale when I go to the states.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Patience, Patience

Every  time I look at my little vineyard the grapes look bigger and bigger, but it will take over a month until they are edible.

Most of our grapes are late summer ones, ripe around the Biblical Shiloh holiday of TU (15th) b'Av.  Some scholars say that the holiday is timed for grape harvest.  That means that we somehow ended up with grapes that perfectly suit their location here in Shiloh.

Because we end up with about a month of free grapes I don't buy any.  I can wait until I can pick them from my own private vineyard.  Patience...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Being Two Places at Once

As we all know, that's impossible.  We can't really be two places at once, although some people try with modern technology to "attend" events via skype, live-streaming (if that what it's called) and other modern "hook-ups."

Granted some of you consider me a bit "nuts," but I have had that "being two places at once" a couple of times.  One of them was last Thursday.  By one of those amazing flukes aka siyate deShmaya I found myself in a ride from work (my boss had offered me one of those rare "I need you to work on Thursday, you choose the hours" shifts) straight to the Shiloh Cemetery for Shmuel Efrayim Yerushalmi, HaYaD's tenth azkarah, memorial.

I had been so certain that I'd never get home for it that I hadn't even planned in my mind that I'd be there.  Honestly, it's really impossible to get to every single memorial of every single person I wish to honor and remember.  The custom here is that each family tries to have ceremonies every year on the Jewish date of the death.  As I stood, listened, watched, sadly taking it all in it suddenly occurred to me that it may be close to the time of my Aunt Helen's funeral in New York.

Aunt Helen had just died very suddenly a few days before very soon after celebrating her 90th birthday. 

Aunt Helen, Z"L and Uncle George, Z"L

Aunt Helen was strong and active until just a couple of days before her death.  She was definitely my closest aunt.  It probably began because I lived with Aunt Helen and Uncle George, my father's brother, and their elder daughter Harriet for the week (which was the custom in those days) my mother spent in the hospital after my brother was born.

We also lived in the same Bayside neighborhood until my family moved out when I was thirteen.  Actually, Aunt Helen lived in the very same house for over sixty years until she died.  The neighborhood changed many times, but it always remained a nice pleasant place to live.

Aunt Helen was always a strong "presence," not shy about sharing her opinions and feelings.  When I congratulated her about becoming a great-grandmother, she replied:

"I was always a GREAT grandmother!"

Lunch with Aunt Helen was always on my visit New York schedule.  But this visit will herald many changes in the usual routine.

As I stood in the cemetery listening to the eulogies and messages to Shmuel, HaYaD, my mind kept drifting to Aunt Helen and the fact that I really needed to be at her funeral. At least I was at a cemetery and the bodily remains of the holy souls buried here, including my in-laws who knew her well, would be greeting her in Olam HaBa (the Next World.)

A short while after I got home I got a call from my NY daughter who reported that Aunt Helen's funeral was over and she had just left my cousin's house.  My mind quickly calculated that my feelings were correct.  Aunt Helen's funeral was around the same time I had been at the cemetery.

Yihi zichra baruch
May her memory be a blessing

Sunday, July 01, 2012

HH Debut for An Aspiring Mekubal

Sometimes I wonder about the names we jbloggers have chosen for our blogs.  What do they say about us?  This blog's name really was more gibberish than anything planned.  I had wanted "meanderings" but found it "taken," so I shortened it to "meander" which was also taken.  Then I added that little "dash" and invented "me-ander." 

It's a rather pathetic story, isn't it?  I'm sure that if I had really thought about it and searched my sometimes too creative brain for something meaningful and catchy, I would have a much more successful blog, but... too late.

No doubt that Michael of "An Aspring Mekubal" has a much better story about the name of his blog.  And now's the time to get to know the blog, because Michael is hosting Havel Havelim for the very first time.

Havel Havelim is the weekly blog carnival, a floating internet magazine made up of various blog posts, on Jewish and Israeli topics.  At this point we're probably the longest running blog carnival on the internet, so it's especially gratifying and encouraging when I see that new bloggers are joining us and volunteering to host. 

Blogs and blogging aren't dead!  Facebook, twitter etc haven't replaced us.  We're actually now using facebook to coordinate the carnival, keeping track of hosts and fb messaging our links.  Not only hasn't facebook killed blogging, but it is being used by bloggers to communicate and share.  It's the secret of our success! Those experts that claimed we're passé don't know bupkes!

So, before I get too off topic, I'll remind you to check out the latest Havel Havelim, visit the posts and share via all the usual social media. 

Michael, welcome to the club; you did a great job.

Filling in The "Gaps," USA Trip Coming Up

I'll soon be on my way to the USA, OK, in a couple of weeks, but usually those last couple of pre-trip weeks just fly by.

There are visits for which a lot of the social/visiting plans are done way in advance and others, like last year, when I'd call people just that morning and amazingly (thank you G-d) find that they were free exactly when I thought it would be good and convenient for me to see them.

I've sent out a few "I'm coming" notices in facebook and by email and have filled in a couple of "slots" in my calendar.  Davka, the takers have not been my usuals. 

Things may be so tight and time is so short that I haven't even looked for speaking engagements.  I'll have to do that for future trips.

So far it looks like I'll be in NJ, NY, PA and AZ.  That's a lot to squeeze into two weeks when I suffer terribly from jetlag. 

Any takers?  Please contact me if you'd like to f2f, ok...