Monday, July 31, 2017

Last Mosaics for a Month

Retirees don't get "vacations," but our "activities" do. So, very sadly, the next few Sundays I won't be enjoying my "arts & crafts" with the other "senior citizens." Yesterday I finished off one mosaics project and started another one.

Besides using two shades of green, this one has a lot of strong solid colors and is very different from my others. 

I really like the oval shaped wooden boards the best, but we've been all out for quite awhile. That's why I had been doing round ones. But then yesterday, I couldn't even find a round board, so I started a square. That's a very different challenge.

The colors and the shape of the board give me inspiration, and I found the square very disorienting. Because I'm not used to dealing with all these straight lines, I decided to frame the outside edges first. When working on a round or oval board, I frequently start from the middle, then frame it and finally fill it in. This time I really felt that I was starting from scratch, like when I did my first couple of mosaics.

I'm not very happy with this one. It's missing something, and I hope that when we resume sessions, in about a month I'll solve the problem. What do you think?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Secret Behind My Perfect Chicken

I've discovered that it doesn't pay to play around with creative and varied chicken recipes. My family loves my simple baked/roasted whatever you want to call it CHICKEN.

I buy either whole chickens or already cut in serving size pieces. A few years ago I invested in good poultry shears for easy cutting. And I think it's much safer than using a sharp knife, which was my previous tool.
  • Whether fresh or thawed chicken, I soak it all in tap water for an hour or so. 
  • Then I pour out the water and
  • pour boiling water to cover on the chicken.
  • When it's cool enough to handle, I pull out whatever feather things are left by butcher/packaging people. 
  • Rinse in cold water
  • and place on "baking paper" to go in oven, one layer only
  • Squeeze fresh lemon all over it, leaving the lemon on the chicken. Half a lemon per chicken.
  • Sprinkle with black pepper, granulated garlic and paprika.
  • Bake in very hot oven. My oven does not have any numbers left, so I don't know the temperature. Gd willing, when I get a new modern digital one, I'll be able to give details like that. At present I use the hottest the oven can get.
The heat is very important, because you want the skin to be crispy and the meat juicy. Most recipes recommend heat that's too low, and the chicken dries out.

Readiness check. Pierce with a fork and see the fat ooze out.

Store in the fridge in a covered container. Put it away when still warm. If you wait too long, the chicken will dry out. Heat in covered pan.

Yes, you read it correctly. 

I don't remember any guests adding salt to my chicken after tasting it. There's that much flavor the way I cook it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Treat, Bible Tanach at Herzog

This is cross-posted on Israel Blogger.

Yesterday, along with hundreds or most probably thousands of others, I spent the whole day learning Tanach, Bible at Michlelet Herzog in Alon Shvut.

People came from all over Israel to attend, and classes were in two languages, Hebrew and English. Considering the amount of English heard in the hallways, WC and cafeteria, I'd say that many English speakers attended classes in Hebrew.  There was an amazing range of choices in lectures, and most people had preregistered, so the organizers knew in which sized rooms the lectures should be. Most people also paid for lunch, which was plentiful and efficiently served. And there was also an option to take buses, which even had a stop in Shiloh. Yes, that's how I traveled.

I only attended one day of the classes, but I have many friends who were there for more. Considering that there were five scheduled classes in just one day, I'd expect to fade long before the day was over. But thanks to the perfect temperature air-conditioning, spritz humidifiers outdoors, perfectly timed breaks between lessons and the unlimited hot/cold drinks available, I remained awake and alert the entire day.

Of the five classes I took, the highlights were Yehuda, "The Making of a Hero" by Rabbi Alex Israel, "An Unnatural Fault Line: Jerusalem," by Rabbi Moshe Shulman, and Dr. Yael Ziegler's "Our Father, Our King: The Difference Between Shirat Hayam and Shirat Haazinu."

These were lectures, not discussions, and frequently I had to bite my tongue to keep from trying to dialogue with the speaker. This was much less a problem with Yael Ziegler who is an expert in giving such a complete and brilliantly planned Bible Tanach lesson, which inspires and informs, rather than leaving me with a host of unanswered questions.

Rabbi Alex Israel stepped into the usual mistake of presuming modern family modes and values for the time of Yehuda and Tamar. I find that worse than annoying. Marriage in the time of the Bible was not like modern time at all. To me it's very obvious that Tamar's marriage to Yehuda's eldest son, Er, had nothing to do with "love." There was some business or political decision between her clan and Yehuda's. His sons, who as Israel did point out, were most probably too young to understand their role and cooperate by having children with her. But, as I see it, Tamar did understand the importance of having a family with Yehuda's clan, and that's why she took the daring step of disguising herself as a prostitute and seducing Yehuda. Disguises and daring women were very common threads in the David and Messianic line. Think of Ya'akov and Leah. Ya'akov disguised himself as his brother to fool his father to get the main inheritance instead of his brother, and then Leah tricked him, pretending that he was marrying her sister Rachel. These are points I had wanted to mention if it had been "that sort of lecture." But there was no time for questions and dialogues. 

Rabbi Moshe Shulman's topic was totally new for me. I hadn't thought about the idea that the "political" Yehuda and Yisrael split predated the King Solomon's descendants. Rabbi Shulman used the tribal maps to simplify the geography of the split, which caused me to want to ask what happened to the Tribe of Shimon, Simon, which was in the area of Yehuda. Yes, that's one of my "dumb questions."  Besides that, I quickly saw something that the tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin had in common, which Shulman didn't mention at all. It almost reminded me of Korach...  Both those tribes had members anointed as kings by Shmuel Hanavi, as instructed by Gd. Actually, I was disappointed that Shulman didn't mention it. The rivalry between the sons of Rachel and Leah is depicted many times in the Bible, but here we see them united against the sons of the concubines and their other brothers.

I really like it when a Bible lecture inspires me to ask lots of questions, but when it's not a framework that allows discussion, at least I have my blog, and I will send them this link. Bli neder, can't promise, I will post answers if I receive them. All lectures should be on the Herzog site at some point.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Visiting The Grandkiddies After Their Trip to NY

I don't get to see my grandkids all that often. Until the end of June I had been working, and it was very hard to find the right time. Remember that I also study in Matan, and I have my "senior citizen arts & crafts club." And then as soon as I finished working, the four who live the closest went abroad with their parents for a few weeks.

Now they're all back, so I went over yesterday afternoon. They were doing their usual, school vacation plus jetlag relaxing... So, I did a little "testing."
"I presume that now after three weeks in New York your English is perfect."
That's what I said to the three younger ones. The eldest already understands everything and speaks beautifully. From the "you must be crazy" looks the two middle ones gave me, it was clear that they understood exactly what I had said. And the youngest, reacted with her usual question to her siblings:
"What did savta say?"
She'll catch on. Actually, she does understand most of what I say. And the others know more English than they would have if I hadn't been speaking only English to them all their lives.

Actually, I had a nice conversation with the second one. I spoke in English, and she answered in Hebrew. She understood everything without even once asking me to repeat or explain. The eldest speaks to me in English rarely trying to sneak in Hebrew.

Once the weather cooled down a bit, I was able to bribe the youngest with a trip to the grocers to buy ice cream. And then we went to the playground. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them... And then maybe I'll convince the younger ones to speak English, even just a few words...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Filling Empty Days- No Pool, but At Least I Walked

Here in Shiloh unfortunately the swimming pool isn't open on the "9 days," or more accurately ten days. As the "adult hours" at the pool get more and more crowded with "retirees" who swim for health and fitness, not just plain fun, we always realize much too late that as a community we must have the local rabbi posken (make a halachik/rabbinic decision) that the pool should be open this week.

Besides the fact that most of us go to the pool for health reasons, there are many members who are ethnically "Edot Mizrach" and even their children are permitted to play in the water during the 9 days, until the week of Tisha b'Av.

Considering that the pool season here in Shiloh is only three months, the ten days- barely eighty days when you subtract the Shabbatot and the 9-10th of Av, those nine, sic, ten days make up a hefty proportion of the available swim days. This year we lose five days we could have benefited from the pool if the Rav would decide that certain categories of adults may use the pool.

Yesterday I found myself without any plans at all! It was horrible, and the weather was hot, too. I did force myself out for walks, twice on my own and once with a friend. I could easily have wasted the day eating and playing computer card games like, freecell, spider solitaire and pyramid, besides reading. And I must admit that I did waste most of the day. Regardless, I did walk, and my phone pedometer proves it.

You can see that I walked 12,640 steps, which was just short of two hours, though if you add my indoor walking when the phone wasn't on me, I certainly passed that benchmark. Ditto for nine kilometers, and my pace was an impressive 4.5 kilometers an hour, at least that last hike when I was out with a friend.

As you probably know, I'm trying to get a few or more kilo off of me. Gd willing this will help. I've been tweaking my food routine and hope it helps. The extra five kilo that has been sticking causes pain. It's just not good for me. I'm trying really hard to get back on the diet wagon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Muesli Breakfast and Busy Day

I've been thinking of changing my breakfast a bit, since I always end up hungry and craving fruit afterwards. For the past few years I've made myself a nice two-egg omelet for breakfast. It did the trick for quite awhile, especially if I have to rush out afterwards. It's a real meal. But recently a few unwanted pounds and kilos have stuck to me, and I'm just not happy with my food routine. It's not working.

I'm also not working now and must find a way to spread my food and calories over the day better, eat less, exercise more and get the weight off.

Thank Gd, bli eyin haraa, I have no health issues. Blood pressure and blood tests are fine. That does make it easier in theory. But as I've gotten older, I'm less tolerant of heat and cold. That forces me to be indoors more. And indoors means less walking.

Since muesli is made raw, not cooked, you must prepare a bit in advance so the oats can absorb the yogurt.

Yesterday I had a busy day planned. Instead of making an omelet, I prepared a quick and simple muesli of raw oats, cut-up peach and some goat yogurt. It was delicious.

Yarkon Junction
Instagram shilohbatya
First I went down to Tel Shiloh for Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers, road half way down. That included a bit of a walk, but less than you'd think. That's what the pedometer says. From there I got a ride to the Eli Junction. After a few minutes' wait I got a ride to the Yarkon Junction where my cousin picked me up, and we went to the Sharonim Mall. We walked around the mall, which is always pleasant, and then we had lunch. I probably shouldn't have had the quiche...

Then, again, I was at the Yarkon Junction, but at the bus stop to Ariel. Two minutes later I was on a bus to Ariel, which included a "tour" of the lovely vibrant city. Then I waited awhile and finally got a ride to the Shiloh Junction. From there a ride to the Shiloh-Shvut Rachel Junction, then another to where most of our stores and clinic are. And then a neighbor took me home.

Once home I kept drinking lots of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice and lots of ice. I had to rehydrate. Later on I made myself a low carbohydrate salmon dinner. I was so exhausted that I went to bed much earlier than usual.

B"H I slept well and got up before my alarm. Now I'm bored. This is the only day this week I have no plans, and since the pool is closed for the "nine days," there's nothing to do.

Monday, July 24, 2017

More Mosaics

It never occurred to me that I'd have so much fun doing mosaics. I'm so glad that it is the main craft we do in our little "senior citizens workshop" once a week. There are a couple of reasons for this. We have a couple neighbors who can lead it, and one of them is a retired teacher, so she's good at explaining what to do. she's available most weeks.

And of course, we love doing mosaics. I'm having an absolute blast. It's definitely a new favorite art/crafts medium. All of our work is a bit different. There's no "right" and "wrong." And I don't have to make my "projects" look like anything in particular. I let the colors guide me.

After next Sunday, we're on "summer break." I'll miss the fun creating something. I do still have a small weaving project to complete. It's home, so if I feel the need to do something artsy, I won't have to go crazy, like "withdrawal."

Here are my two newest projects, that already have the filler, and they're home.

And here's the one that isn't finished yet. I have to paste more colored pieces and then when it's fully dry, after the summer break, add the filler/sealer.

As you can see, I vary my work, depending on my mood and how the colors "want" to be. There's a certain dynamic in it that I have no control over...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av Tomorrow

I think we can do with some good prayers in a very holy place, Tel Shiloh, Biblical Shiloh Hakeduma.

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Av, 5777 
Monday, July 24, 2017 
1st of Av, 5777, 8:30am 
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh 
Tour of Tel Shiloh 
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson 
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors. 

תפילת נשים ראש חודש אב
בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום ב' 24-7-2017
א' תמוז, תשע"ז 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

I hope you can join us.

Tel Shiloh is such a wonderful place to pray.
  • There are no crowds. 
  • The holiness is all around, so there's no pushing and shoving to touch a wall or tomb. 
  • Tel Shiloh is a place of life, not death nor destruction. 
  • Looking around we see the return of the Jewish People to our Historic Homeland, so there's a feeling of renewal and blessings from Gd. 
And since we have "women's prayer" together without men, there's no chazan. We each pray directly to Gd. Our custom is to sing the Hallel Prayer out loud together.

Shiloh Hakeduma is open all weekdays, so especially if you can't make it to the Rosh Chodesh Prayers, I suggest paying a visit. Call 02-994-4019.

חודש טוב
Chodesh Tov 
Have a Wonderful Month

Friday, July 21, 2017

A "Taste" of the 6th Kenes Shiloh

I'm pretty tired this morning, since we got home so late after the amazing Shiloh Conference. It was over long after the scheduled time. They seem to overplan, book too many people. How can they really expect people to speak for only 15 minutes?

There are basically two parts to the conference, a tour, two routes- one for frequent visitors and the other more basic and then a series of "talks." We really needed a break during the speeches, but there wasn't. As I've muttered last year, too:
"I don't sit this long even on a plane trip."
But I did enjoy it! And Gd willing I'll post a better account of the program on Shiloh Musings when I have time.

Here are some of the photos:

PS The program is in Hebrew only, even the tour guides all know English.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

"With the Greatest of Ease," Acrobats!

For modesty's sake, you have mostly shadows to see, but they do give a taste of the amazing acrobatics performance I saw the other night in Shiloh. I know that some of the women who performed so daringly on the "sashes" and swings wouldn't want me to post anything very recognizable, so I photographed their shadows, which do give a good idea of how impressive they are. 

Most of the women who performed have only been studying this form of acrobatics, or anything like it, for less than a year. 

I was very impressed, and in all honesty, I'm not tempted to join up next year, not even if I was a generation or more younger. This sort of sport is not my cup of tea for two reasons.

  • You must be fearless.
  • You must have really good upper body strength. 
I fail both those tests, especially the first. The second can be rectified with proper training. I'm terrified of doing anything like this. The "monkey bars" wasn't my favorite place in the playground as a kid. But I have a feeling that some of my children would be tempted and certainly some of my granddaughters. One granddaughter took gymnastics this past year, and I attended her end of year show. That made me nervous enough, since it can be a dangerous sport.

As the very first girls gym teacher here in Shiloh, I must congratulate the teacher of this club for doing an excellent job.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Great Way to Clean/Clearout

This week when realized that we'd be at the Kotel for a Bar Mitzvah I went through my collection of scarves to see what I could donate. Yes, many of the scarves offered to women for "covering up" had once belonged to women like myself.

I discovered a few years ago, that the women who offer scarves to those not suitably dressed for the holy site are happy to get donations. This is the second time I donated scarves, and this time I even added a few hats. Both times they were so gratefully received. And like that first time, I managed to see a few women wearing something I had donated before I left.

It's a wonderful feeling to know that a donation is appreciated and needed. And I'm glad to have emptied the drawers, even though I really should give away more things.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What a Difference 7 Hours Make, Cold Brew Coffee

I didn't get a very early start with today's cold brewed coffee, since I was out all day yesterday and only washed out the French Press late at night. This is what it looked like when I poured simple tap water on the regular American ground coffee. Yes, it looks pretty pale and pathetic. Then I covered it with some plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge. 

About seven hours later I removed it, and look at how dark it got.

After admiring and photographing it, I gave it a stir, pushed down the plunger and am enjoying the coffee as I type this post! That's how easy it is to make cold brewed coffee with a French Press. The hardest part is remembering to prepare it in advance. And for me the logistics of making sure I'm supplied with good coffee is sometimes complicated.  But once it becomes routine, you're set.

PS I noticed that some of the FOX Homes in Jerusalem still have the giant French Press, which they incorrectly call "percolators" for sale half price.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Partying in Shiloh, Ladies Only

Last night was a big party for the women of Shiloh to thank one of the neighbors for doing an amazing job for decades. She had been the "balanit," the mikvah lady ever since the first mikvah was constructed in Shiloh over thirty-six years ago. 

Think about it. She worked six to seven nights a week all those years. For twenty-something of those years she had a replacement one night a week. She missed weddings, meetings, social events and more. Every night she was busy, rain. shine or snow, war or peace. During the Gulf War, since there wasn't a "safe room," tvila" was by appointment so she wouldn't have to sit there alone.

Her daughters spoke about what it was like to be raised in a home where their mother was never home in the evening. They knew she couldn't make it to school meetings, performances, etc and they put themselves to bed. They were also trained never to ask who was on the phone asking to talk to their mother.

Now two young women, both raised in Shiloh, will be sharing the job that she held on her own. It's funny to think that such an important position will now be held by women the age of my youngest child. But considering that he's a championship American IFL Football coach, so he's not all that young...

Shiloh is a thriving and growing community, thank Gd. It's really thrilling to see that there are so many young families moving here. That is the comfort when I look around realizing that I don't know everyone, and they are so young...

After the speeches and thanks, some women swam and the rest of us allowed ourselves the "treats," manicures, massage, make-up, reflexology and socializing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #23 For One Shekel in the CBS

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See #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

I generally look only for the free loos, WCs Public Toilets, but sometimes there aren't any. That's the case in the Jerusalem Central Bus Station aka the CBS. The last time I was there, to meet a friend who was arriving from another city by bus, I didn't have time to check out all of the loos. I just went to the main one which is one flight down from the main entrance. You need to take an elevator by the front door and press -1. 

You'll find this revolving door gate* with a small machine that takes your shekel and lets you in. From there you'll find a hallway off of which are three types of loos, Male, Female and Handicapped. There was none of that awful urine smell which  is a sign that the cleaning has been insufficient.  I was pretty impressed. 

As you can see, the Ladies Room is nice and big with two walls of sinks and quite a few stalls. When I was there noontime there was plenty of paper.  

Apparently, Egged, the big bus company, no longer owns the bus station, which is also a small mall. The two shopping floors, which includes the Food Court, seem to be doing nicely.  

handicapped toilet
It's possible that people enter for commercial reasons, shopping and eating and not just to take a bus. Considering that the public toilets are near the main entrance, that's also a reason to go into the building. There was a time when everyone had to put their bags through the X-Ray security, but this is not all the time nowadays. There are guards who "eyeball it," simple profiling everyone who enters and only requesting further security checks, when they are suspicious of someone. 

*For those who can't get through the revolving door because of walkers, handicapped or baby carriages etc, there is someone who can open a wide enough gate.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Perfect "Root Salad"

My husband makes the Chicken Soup, and one of his favorite ingredients is celeriac, but just the leaves.

That leaves us with the roots, which end up waiting in the bottom of the fridge for me to inspired and motivated. To be honest, those roots aren't very attractive, and you need a steady hand and sharp knife to get them in condition to be used as a food ingredient.

There are three basic things I do with them:

This week I made a salad with them. I also shredded carrots and an apple in the food processor. For extra sweetness, I also threw in some dark raisins.  I used my usual salad dressing, olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. It was a great success and very popular with our guests.