Friday, June 30, 2017

Baile Rochel and Me, Too, Dieting Blues, Burnout

The weight has been creeping up. Not all of my clothes fit all that well anymore. A few things are no longer even wearable. Yes, I need to somehow re-energize, re-motivate myself to stick to the "guidelines" that got 15 kilo, over thirty, yes, 30 pounds off less than a decade ago.

Yesterday I was at our local clinic for another stage of the usual, not quite, annual check-up. After relaxing a few minutes, Blood Pressure was fine, Baruch Hashem, bli eyin haraa sans medication. But then I had to be weighed... That is not my favorite thing. OK I do weigh myself at home almost daily, but here the numbers are between me and my scale. At the clinic there was this super skinny, anorexic-looking nurse who not only saw the number, but she recorded it for everyone who can access my file, which is computerized, to see.

As if my weight wasn't bad enough, it calibrates some body-fat index according to recorded height, and mine was too high. Thank Gd she didn't recheck my height. At my age one does not get taller, and it's not just that more of my grandkids are taller than me, but my grown daughters seem to be getting much taller than they used to be, too. That index may possibly be even worse.  A few days before at the "slam a heavy door on a sensitive part of the body from all different angles test" I had written my highest remembered height on the form I had to fill in.  Ignorance is bliss, or at least makes it all seem better.

The nurse very gently tried to recommend that I contact their dietician, but I refused. I tried to explain how nothing makes me hungrier than being told what to eat. Also, she didn't know me when I was really obese and then managed to get the weight off. I told her that I could lead a group myself. Years ago, I had even taken a coaching course.

Then she asked me if I exercise and looked rather doubtful when I said "yes." So I whipped out my cellphone and showed her the Pedometer. I had to explain how it all works, also on a one day page. It gives amount of time physically active, distance, pace and steps. This is the type of thing I teach when I tutor Computer and Cellphone Tips.

Maybe the time has come to call our accountant and open my little "free lance" business. Diet Coach is what I need to be. And a group would be nice. I did it a number of years ago...

And it's certainly the time to restrict my "treats" to Shabbat and work harder to get the weight off again. I guess it's "Public Diet" time again. But I'm not telling you my weight. Some things must stay between me and the scale.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

One of Those Weeks and A Bit About Shiloh

They say things come in three's...
(Apologies if it's based on some Christian theology.)

As you can see from the bulletin board, three "death notices." If you don't know Hebrew at all, the words ברוך דיין האמת BARUCH DAYAN HA'EMET, mean Blessed is the True Judge, and the phrase is used to announce or react to the death of a person.

Two of the families I know very extremely well, and the third, I'm just acquainted with. But the strangest thing is about these three is that they have something in common. They are all American-Israeli.

Now you probably know that Shiloh isn't considered one of those very "Anglo communities" in which one can easily manage barely knowing any Hebrew.  But the truth is that there is a sizable and active English speaking community, of which some members aren't "anglo-born." To be more accurate, there are two anglo crowds in Shiloh. One is of my generation which includes great-grandparents and young grandparents, and the other one is a generation younger. That younger generation includes immigrants and native-born Israelis who were raised in English-speaking homes, some of whom surprise people with their perfect English.

Only one of the mourning families is sitting shiva in Shiloh, two of the funeral were at exactly the same time but different cities, and the third will get up from shiva this morning.

המקום ינחם X3

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

6th Grade Girls onto Bigger and Better, Sure Better than My School Memories

There aren't too many things I'm willing to do instead of going to the pool. We don't get all that many "women's hours" at our local pool, and the season is much too short. But one thing trumps pool, my grandchildren. And last night was graduation time for the 6th Grade Girls of Ofra.

Getting to Ofra proved a bit more difficult than usual, since there had been a major accident between Givat Asaf (the Beit El Junction) and Ofra. If I had been coming from Shiloh, it wouldn't have been as much a problem in theory if we had our own car. Due to the road being closed until the mess of the accident was cleaned, people going from Shiloh to Jerusalem went on the Alon Road, which doesn't pass Ofra. I was Jerusalem for some errands, a shiva call and brainstorming lunch. Travel to Ofra was complicated for everyone, and the time of the graduation was delayed so all of the parents could make it. Finally, I did get to Ofra on the first bus let through. Real life is never all that dull.

Thank Gd I did make it to Ofra with enough time to spare that I was able to have dinner at my daughter's before the party/event.

I must say that not only was it very exciting and thrilling to watch my granddaughter and her friends perform and work together, but I am so happy that her education, unlike my own, has a strong emphasis on group values, working together and independence.

Last week I had been in Ofra for the 8th Grade Graduation, and there too I couldn't get over how the entire staff, including the principal knows the parents and the students and care about them as people. In the world I grew up in, even in elementary school, when we had only one teacher, nobody thought of me as more than just another one in the classroom. No teacher spoke to me as a person, as if they cared at all. And we certainly didn't know the principal. Only if a student was a major problem would the top administration know they existed. Here in Israel, my children's teachers, even decades after graduation, ask about them.

In Hebrew there's a phrase that has no real English translation, because it's very cultural. לגבש כיתה\קבוצה ligabesh kita/kvutza. The object is to make the individuals function as a group. This isn't to make them "the same." It's to see how each can use his/her individual talents to make the group function as a strong supportive group. It's done in school, youth movements and also staff.

I like to think of it as the essential ketoret, a special incense used in Tabernacle and then Holy Temple worship.
“God said to Moses: Take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other fragrances. Make the mixture into incense, as compounded by a master perfumer, well-blended, pure and holy.” (Ex. 30:34-5)
The Torah does not provide the exact recipe for the ketoret, the incense that was burned daily in the Temple. Only in the oral tradition do we find a detailed list of eleven ingredients:
  • 70 portions of the four fragrances mentioned in the verse.
  • 16 portions of myrrh, cassia, spikanard, and saffron.
  • 12 portions of costus.
  • 9 portions of cinnamon.
  • 3 portions of cinnamon bark.
  • In many ways the blending of these spices is like  לגבש כיתה\קבוצה ligabesh kita/kvutza. No one stands out too much, and the whole is very different from the parts.

    Gd willing, may all these lovely girls have full and rewarding lives. And warmest thanks to the devoted staff.

    Here are some pictures from last night:

    Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    Another Jerusalem Walk

    How can anyone tire of these views?

    Since the ride to Jerusalem went quickly, I had time to walk part of the way to my appointment. I usually walk the Jerusalem Chords/String Bridge in the other direction.

    Actually, I must admit that I first started walking on the street, but then I backtracked and took the pedestrian path on the bridge, and I'm not sorry. It is one of the most photogenic locations in all of Israel.

    I must admit that I was one of the "doubters" while it was being constructed, mostly because of the lack of harmony with the nearby neighborhoods. But, davka, today I enjoy it. And it's symbolic of the real Jerusalem, which not only is a historic and holy city, but it's a place where ordinary people live and work. There's wealth, poverty and technology. And it's also the Capital City of the State of Israel and the Holiest City for the Jewish People.

    There's no other city like Jerusalem in the entire world.

    Monday, June 26, 2017

    Wabi Sabi, The Beauty of Imperfection

    I had never heard of the term Wabi Sabi before it became an annual challenge on 52Frames.

    "Fallen Rose"
    I love the photo, but it was pretty much ignored by the other members. The same happened with last year's picture.

    "Lonely Leaves"

    What's funny is that they were taken barely two meters from each other.

    What do you think?

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    Funeral in Ariel, Jewish Burial Customs

    It was one of those midnight funerals which are very common in Israel, especially after Shabbat. According to Jewish Law, we are required to bury the dead as soon as possible, preferably on the same day.  So, especially when someone dies on a Friday, if the funeral can't be held before Shabbat, then it's held a few hours after Shabbat is over. And in Jerusalem, Shiloh and some other locations, it's very common for someone who had died on Shabbat to be buried after Shabbat. Yes, even religious Sabbath-observing people manage to get the news out quickly enough after Shabbat.

    Davka, last night two young neighbors were burying parents, one in Jerusalem and one in Ariel. The community's email and tremp Whatsapp groups were full of offers for rides to both. Of course, since both were at the exact same time, we had to choose.

    I went to the one in Ariel. It was the first time I had been in that cemetery, the New Ariel Cemetery, as it's called.

    Grave stones reflect the culture of the community buried there. As you can see, there's lots of Russian written on the stones here, besides Hebrew. And there are also all sorts of flowers and other decorations I don't usually see in Israeli cemeteries.  It's not the style of the graves in Shiloh or Elkana. Families are given a lot of leeway according to Jewish Law. There are also Jewish cemeteries that have a requirement of uniform stones. That's what I saw where my aunt and uncle are buried in Florida. In the Long Island cemetery where my parents and brother are buried, there's a variety of stones, but nothing as creative as these. But I've seen some very interesting ones in Har Menuchot in Jerusalem.

    May Gd give comfort to the mourners...
    המקום ינחם

    Saturday, June 24, 2017

    Growing Grapes, Report

    Our grapes are growing but still far from edible. The neighbor who shares them with us for making wine has now covered them with netting and added some wasp traps.

    I've also been asked to water them periodically, every few weeks, which I've done. Now we still have a couple of months to wait until they are ripe, delicious for eating and winemaking.  Further reports to follow, Gd willing.

    Friday, June 23, 2017

    "One Pot" Baked Chicken and Vegetable Feast

    Since you can't really see everything in here I'll list the ingredients under the photo. 

    • sliced onion
    • sweet potato
    • chicken breast
    • zucchini
    • pumpkin
    • pepper
    • and a bit of vegetable oil

    I baked it in a "medium plus*" oven, first uncovered and then covered with foil.

    When you cook like this, you don't need to add salt, since the flavors intensify and interact. You can certainly add other vegetables or leave out some. I like using the onions as a base for this sort of meal. You can make it with fish, beef or chopped meat/poultry. Or you can leave out the chicken completely and have it as a vegetarian dish. If you substitute tofu, then add some soy/tamari sauce or tomatoes.

    If you want more "tang" to it, then add fresh garlic or ginger.

    Think of my recipes as "suggestions." If you try it, please let me know how it comes out and what changes you made, thanks.

    *Exact temperatures will have to wait until I redo the kitchen and get one of those new ovens. Mine if very old, and the temperatures, which were never very accurate to begin with, must be guessed at by moving a dial that no longer has numbers around it.

    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    Yummy Strong New Coffee

    Dunkin' Donuts ain't what it used to be!

    I no longer have to make do with my perked Elite Turkish coffee, at least for the next month plus. A new supply, (two 1 pound bags,) of coffee has arrived from the states via a friend. It was definitely worth waiting for!!

    This is not the Dunkin' Donuts I remember. This is a nice strong dark coffee and highly recommended. And it suits the French Press perfectly. I have no doubt that it'll be great cold brewed, too. I wouldn't waste it in the percolator.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    What's Your Favorite Movie?

    The other day, I had a few hours at home for cooking and simple chores. Now that I'm finally finished with the year of mourning for my father, I'm enjoying music and watching musicals on the TV's DVD. I pulled out one of my long time favorites, "Five Pennies."
    Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to pursue his dream of playing Dixieland jazz. He forms the "Five Pennies" which features his wife, Bobbie, as vocalist. At the peak of his fame, Red and Bobbie's daughter, Dorothy, develops polio...
    I first saw the movie on television when I was a kid and found it very moving, besides the fantastic music. I love corny movies, and I love musicals. This is the type of movie that can easily bring tears, and I'm not the crying type at all. It's not a musical in the sense that Guys and Dolls, Brigadoon or Dreamgirls are but the music and storyline are so amazing. Even though I've seen it dozens of times,  we do have the DVD now, I hate missing a second of it and press pause if I have to leave the room.

    I have a large collection of DVDs, and some I've seen numerous times. This is one of them!

    What is your favorite movie and what do you like about it?

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    Faux Chinese But Really Tasty Chinese Vegetables

    In the culinary world of my childhood, "Chinese food" as we knew it wasn't very Chinese. And so, my concept of Chinese cooking is rather faux, very "Jewish" 1950's, though very tasty.

    By the time we sat down, there was double the food on the table.

    For my Book Club, we decided to go Chinese this week, since we read, or more accurately for most if not all of us, reread The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.

    I made vegetables. You can use any and not stick to what I cooked. Actually only now that I'm writing the recipe I remembered that I had planned on using some fresh ginger, too. Here's what I cooked:
    • onion
    • garlic
    • carrot
    • peppers
    • squash
    • mushroom
    • kohlrabi
    • celery

    As you can see, I cut them all into strips of sorts and put it all in a big pot, added a bit of oil, covered and let it cook a bit, not too much. Then I added some "soy"or Tamari sauce, sprinkled some sesame seeds and turned off the heat.

    A culinary purist would find it awfully fake, but for me it's "Chinese enough" and absolutely delicious. Give it a try.

    PS we had a wonderful time at the Book Club meeting. We got a lot out of the discussion and the book.

    And keeping with the Chinese theme we had "fortunes" sans cookies, since most of us are trying to keep weight off.

    Monday, June 19, 2017

    Wow! Kids are Growing Up, Bli Eyin Haraa

    Last night I was privileged to attend my granddaughter's 8th grade graduation.

    It was very impressive. And I was totally impressed by the staff and the sense of responsibility the girls, who are barely fourteen years old, took to make the ceremony a success.

    This year half our grandchildren are "graduating" some sort of educational framework and will learn to deal with new challenges next year, Gd willing.

    Sunday, June 18, 2017

    What's This? ¿Qué es Esto?

    Does anyone recognize it?
    Do you have any guesses?
    Let's hear from you. OK?
    Caption This!

    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Before and After, Think for 52Frames

    A few days ago, I blogged about the photo I had submitted to 52 Frames for the "Think" challenge and promised to reveal the original photo. So, here they are:

    After lots of editing, this is what I sent to 52Frames

    This is the Chords Bridge in Jerusalem.
    The theme was "think," and one of the suggestions was to turn reality upside down. That's what  I did. What do you think?

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Finally Music and Joy After Long Mourning Year

    According to Jewish Law and custom, one observes a year of mourning for a parent and thirty days for a sibling, spouse or child. During that year of mourning, one is to refrain from attending joyous, musical and festive events. That is unless it is your profession to perform or teach. Also, with "adjustments" one can attend the wedding or other type of joyous occasion for a close relative.

    Even though the year for my father was over before Passover, two and a half months ago, only now have I gotten to attend any "joyous events." And that ended up one night after the next. And if I could have split myself in half I would have been at two events the first night. But since I work late Wednesday, I couldn't make the wedding we had been invited to, so I went to a granddaughter's piano recital.  It was thrilling to hear the improvement, since I hadn't been to one for over a year and a half.

    And last night I dressed up to finally attend a wedding, which was great fun, but rather disorienting. I really felt that it was strange to be back at such events. I had missed so many significant weddings during the past year. It really brought me that feeling that my year was different. Israelis generally do rather large weddings, so one gets invited even if not all that close. But during the year I was mourning my father, friends celebrated weddings that also meant a lot to me, and they found my absence sad, too.

    That's life. There are times we mourn and times we celebrate.

    Shabbat Shalom and Good Health to All