Friday, January 18, 2019

AC Care Tips for Dummies Like Us

I still have no doubt that we're among the very last in Israel's cold mountainous region to have gone modern and gotten an airconditioner for heating. Since we never replace anything while they still function, even poorly, it took us a pretty long time to make the splurge. This is the first full winter we've had it.

On the whole I really love heating the livingroom, plus kitchen and dining area with this airconditioner. The big bonus is that I can set up the folding clothes driers and get the clothes perfectly dry, too.

We hardly used it in the summer for cooling. One reason is that the heat doesn't bother me all that much, and the other is that we renovated the kitchen and had the fridge plugged into that socket, while the work was done.

We've tried to remember to clean the filters, though it's hard to know just how often...

A few weeks ago, I began to notice that periodically the AC would stop, and the little screen would say "HI." After it didn't go back on, within what I considered soon enough, I did an "experiment." I pulled out the plug and then after a couple of minutes, plugged it in and it worked. Then that happened on Shabbat when it's forbidden to play with the plug. So, I waited and eventually it went back on.

So, on the other day, in the midst of the cold stormy weather, when my husband reported that it had stopped and showed "HI," I told him not to worry, even though the AC had been making lots of noise, sounding like a hovering helicopter. Then he reported that only cold air was coming out. So I told him to pull the plug, and he turned it off. A bit later, we cleaned the filter. It was the filthiest I had ever found it. Actually, for the first time it really looked like it needed a cleaning. But I was afraid to turn the AC back on.

The following morning, since we had paid for extra  service, I called Tadiran and told the woman who answered about what had transpired.
"Did you clean the filter?"
"Yes, we just did."
"So, turn it on."
"Really? I had been afraid to."
"No need to be afraid. Tell me if it heats up. It may take a few minutes. And don't worry about the HI. It just means that the AC is defrosting itself."
That's it, thank Gd. Now I know two new things about our AC.
  1. HI means the air-conditioner's defrosting, so allow it to continue.
  2. If the motor begins making a lot of noise, turn it off and clean the filter.
I hope that helps others. I'd hate to think that we're the dumbest of all.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Snow, Just a Puff of Wishful Thinking

For the past few days, the Israeli media was full of supposed "pre-snow" warnings. You'd think we were in for a major blizzard. The "snowplow" workers, salters, media yappers etc were all put on "snow alert" at who know how many times their normal salary to be ready for the deluge of white to blanket the roads, lawns and more.

last night's hail on the steps to my house
To my experienced, though untrained mind, the forecasts weren't predicting snow, just winds and hail. And to be perfectly honest, that's what we really got. The round little ice balls you can see in the picture on the right are hail, not snow. For snow the temperature must be an actual freezing minus, not a few degrees more, or just "wind chill factor" or "feels like."

It's that "chaos" of winds, when it feels much colder than it actually is, that cause/form hail. Hail, like you can see in the photo, are ice balls. Yes, those ice balls on roads can be very dangerous, more dangerous than dry snowflakes, which if not piled high, quickly melt under hot moving cars and their wide tires.

Between the strong winds and hail, being on the roads last night wasn't a good idea for small cars especially. And I ended up missing my granddaughter's performance in Ofra, which had me very upset and disappointed.

late last night

early this morning
This year's winter isn't over yet, and considering that some of our deepest and most long-lasting snows have fallen in the month of Adar, even around Purim, we still have a chance. Not that I want it to snow. I'd rather continue with rainy nights and sunny days.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Appetite in Flux, Suddenly Needing Carbs

About a decade ago, I radically changed my eating habits, reducing carbs and grains drastically. The result was a fifteen 15 kilo, thirty 30 pound weight loss, which, I've pretty much kept off all this time. The key was to increase cooked vegetables, especially, squash, cabbage and carrots. I found them most satisfying. I made this change, which I tried not to call a "diet," because diets are temporary and I knew that the weight would pile back on with interest if I reverted back to my old eating habits.

At the time, we weren't at all in a good place financially, so I also had to find low cost foods. That's when I discovered that a couple of spoons of sesame paste, the stuff you use to make techina at home, is a fantastic and filling low-cost protein. It also keeps well for meals to go, when paired with cooked vegetables. That was my "take to work meal," sauteed onion, carrot and squash topped with sesame paste.

Recently, maybe because I have fewer scheduled things to do this year, I've begun to crave carbohydrates. I still stay away from pasta, which has always been a "control" problem with me. When I need something quick and easy to "fill" me, I take oats, not the super instant, and just add some boiling water and cover, until they are edible. I don't add anything to it, no milk, sugar, cinnamon nada. And shockingly, I've even started buying/eating the rice crackers, though I had always considered them terribly addictive. When I eat them, I follow the rule of never eating from a package. I set up a plate and only take out one or two at a time. When I need a very filling snack, I'll spread some of my sesame paste on a couple of them.

The most difficult thing in recent months, or longer, is that I can't find a breakfast that satisfies me. No matter what I prepare, whether it's a muesli of oats, goat yogurt and fruit, or an omelette with lots of vegetables, I want something more.

I used to eat the same exact breakfast pretty much every day for years, and now that just doesn't work for me. Maybe I just have to schedule in variety and have my breakfast suit pre-breakfast activities and also where I am. I usually sleep out once a week.

The Diet Saga is never over. For those of us who have been obese, or very overweight, keeping control of our weight is a lifetime sentence/job.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

American Football in Israel, Lions in The Lead

After last Thursday night's nail-biter of a game, the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions defeated its only real competitor, Petach Tikva Troopers, 27:20 and is now the only undefeated team in IFL American Football in Israel.

I braved the cold, wearing woolen socks under my Timberland boots, plus my newly crocheted Lions' colors scarf, which I had only finally completed on the bus traveling to the game.

American football isn't an easy game. First of all, the players are encumbered by restricting shoulder pads, and their vision is restricted by the helmet. When it's windy, even the most perfectly tossed pass can be moved off target by the wind.

The past few seasons, watching the game has been a bit easier for me, since my son is head coach. Of course, I still worry about the players on the field, since the only way an offense player can be stopped from scoring a touchdown is when an opposing defense player tackles, meaning jumps on top of him. And frequently, there's a pileup of players on the player holding the ball. So, I used to be happy that my son was a defense player and more frequently on top, or in the middle, rather than underneath. Of course, the better the offense player is, the more chance he'll be tackled. And the more he's tackled, the more he can be injured. That's the truth, though it can hurt in more ways than one.

Gd willing fair games and refuah shleimah, complete recovery to the injured.

Yaala Big Blue! Let's have another championship season, Gd willing.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Yippee Me, I Assembled Wheels on New Heater

American style central heating/cooling is very rare in Israel. It certainly wasn't anything we planned when designing and building our house, thirty-five plus years ago. To be honest, a good part of the year we need neither. That's especially since I chose to build on the east of the neighborhood, used some principles of passive solar heating, besides investing in double walls and windows.

Because of the way the house had been designed and built it has always been relatively easy to heat and cool, but in recent years, when I've spent a lot of time sitting in the den at the computer, I've needed heat in winter. I began using old electric radiators, which had been on their "last legs." Finally I really needed a new heater for the den. Buying one seemed so complicated. We don't have a car, and carrying one onto buses is beyond my capabilities.

I asked a neighbor to take me down to the Shiloh Industrial Zone, where there's a big store that sells all sorts of household/building machinery and supplies. We bought some of the new kitchen tiles there, too. I bought a garden hose, clothesline and a few other items in the past. Yes, they sell electric radiators but didn't have the small size I wanted for the den.

I've been kvetching about the cold den on facebook, and a different neighbor told me to go to the nearby grocery store. I took his advice and bought a small electric radiator. I waited outside until someone came by who could take me and my precious purchases home.

Then I excitedly removed the radiator from the box and discovered that we'd have to assemble the wheels. The instructions were sans a diagram. There was just a simple sentence telling us to "use the included screws."

Duh!? There weren't any ordinary screws there. There were just two pieces of metal with wheels on each and two curved metal things with a sort of screw at one end. When I came home from the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions exciting tough win against Petach Tikva, I had been hoping that the radiator would be ready for use, but it wasn't.

I examined all the parts and turned the heater over. Then I figured out where one of the two-wheel pieces went, but not how to attach it. When I come back from games and other exciting events, I'm a bit (OK very) hyper. I tried to relax at the computer, but my mind was spinning in lots of directions. Before going to sleep, after 1am, I decided to take a good look at what we had. I figured out where the second wheel piece went but not how to attach it at all. Then I looks at those curved metal things, convinced they had some purpose.

Suddenly, I realized that they were to be hooked around the radiator and put through holes in the wheel pieces. And that little butterfly was to tighten, screw it in.

Yes, I was right, and as tired as I was I couldn't wait until morning to get the heater all assembled.

I'm very proud to say that I did it, and I didn't even cheat by googling for instructions.

Afterwards, I was so excited that I needed a sleeping pill or I never would have succeeded in falling asleep.

Look! Here's the radiator heater heating the den. Thank Gd for gifting me with a bit of mechanical talent.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Getting Old: Ginger Lemon Water, Healthy? Prevent Constipation

Sometimes I feel like I'm counting the days to my next birthday. It's a biggie. What is really on my mind is the health deterioration many people experience between my upcoming birthday,  a new decade, and the following one.

As I pass from middle age into being more "elderly," I have no doubt that my genetic gifts will play larger parts in my health and function. I examine my blood pressure and blood/urine test results to try to guess which parent's genes dominate the "cards I've been dealt." My parents both ended their lives suffering from dementia, though totally different kinds.

There are medical professionals who agree that our genes give a simple "expiration date" for our health and functioning. Of course, it's possible to ruin our bodies, so they deteriorate more quickly. And there are accidents/injuries, environmental dangers and certain cancers beyond our control. It's also possible, though much more difficult, to stretch and optimize our life potential to stay functioning longer and more vibrantly than our genes and family history predict.

From my condition today, bli eyin haraa-not to tempt the Evil Eye, Gd dealt me some pretty good cards. Nobody can honestly call me a "health nut," though I do eat simpler, fresher and healthier foods than most people. The truth is that there are numerous and contradicting definitions of "healthy food." After trying a number of versions, including twenty-five years being a vegetarian and a couple of short tries as vegan and raw food, I now eat a rather balanced, ordinary carnivore diet, on some days rather low in carbohydrates, but I do eat irresistible desserts at least once a week.

Over the years, one thing gets agreement by most or all medical professionals. We have to prevent constipation. Or more simply put:
The "garbage" must be removed daily and best before you eat new food.
Apparently retaining the "garbage*," as I'll call it can slowly poison the system, besides physical/mechanical damage to the affected organs.

My simple prevention is drinking enough water, before bedtime and first thing in the morning. To make the water more palatable and add some vitamins, I add fresh lemon slices and fresh ginger.

To keep the ginger root from going bad, it's stored in the freezer. When I'm home, every night before going to bed I drink two giant mugs of lemon-ginger water and the same first thing in the morning. Afterwards I drink my coffee. And if you're wondering, I rarely wake up to use the bathroom more than once and sometimes not at all.

This works for me. It's also a big reason why I'm on the computer early in the morning. You need a relaxed time after waking for your body to function, get into gear. The necessary relaxation before rushing out is similar to what I recommend to young mothers who are trying to increase their milk. Just the other day, I spoke to a first-time mother, who said that she didn't produce enough milk. I told her to sit in a comfortable chair, put up her feet and either read a good book or watch movies, whatever relaxes.

Besides insufficient water, a big cause of constipation is rushing out of the house soon after waking. My early morning time, drinking lemon-ginger water, answering emails, reacting to facebook messages and blogging is a favorite time of my day. It both energizes and relaxes me. That's not a contradiction. Stressed energy isn't healthy in the long run.

I suggest increasing your water consumption. If you really don't drink any, and teas don't count, then start gradually. Tell me how you're doing. Good luck, and stay healthy. A certain amount of your health is in your control.


Monday, January 07, 2019

Rosh Chodesh Shevat, Wet, Cold and Sunny, Onward to Adar

The cold wind kept most of the regulars home on Rosh Chodesh Shevat, but two of us braved the raw wind and enjoyed the crisp sunny morning at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh. The sky was blue and clear, but it was very obvious that it had rained hard overnight.

Baruch Hashem, it has been a relatively wet winter, just as it should be, and the farmers say that the cold is also very important for some of the fruit. So far, we haven't had any snow in Shiloh and neighboring Eli, but there have been reports of light snow in Beit El and Gush Etzion.

It was clear to me that Gd had the sun shine this morning so that we could go to the Holy location of the Biblical Tabernacle, Mishkan, in Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh. Gd willing our prayers caught the express straight to Gd.

For well over a decade, I've been inviting women to join me on Rosh Chodesh to pray together in the very same location where the Biblical Chana prayed.

Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, site of the Mishkan, Holy Tabernacle will be on the 30th of Shevat, 5779, Tuesday 5-02-2019, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש אדר א' , ל' שבט, יום ג' ,5/02/2019 , 8:30, בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה

We sing Hallel out loud, but the rest of the prayers are said silently and as individuals. There will be a tour of the Tel and Divrei Torah, Gd willing, in both Hebrew and English. If you'd like more information, please contact me with "Rosh Chodesh Prayers" as subject.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, is a recognized Israeli tourist and archaeological site. It's open on weekdays, offers guides and special activities for the entire family. For more information, contact them directly at, 02-5789111.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Mixing Fact and Fiction

Last night I reviewed Arise and Shine by Tzvi Fishman on my blog Shiloh Musings, a book I coined a Forrest Gump historical fiction novel. Arise and Shine is part of a series of books by Fishman which follows the lives and adventures of  Shalom Aleichem's iconic Tevye character. Fishman has Tevye and most of his family coming to the Promised Land after being banished from their home in Anatevka.

The novel takes place after World War One, and one of the important subplots concerns the internal politics of the giants of the Zionist Movement. Fishman creates realistic characters out of true historic figures, many who had still been alive when I became a Zionist and my husband and I made aliyah. Yes, we knew some of them in real life, though they were a generation or two older than us.

Many of our friends in the Betar Zionist Youth Movement knew them, too. Betar is the youth movement connected to Jabotinsky, Trumpeldor and the Zionist Revisionists, who had been marginalized by the more politically "adept" Labor Zionists.

While the Labor Zionists idealized socialism, kibbutzim, The Haganah and Palmach, Jabotinsky's Revisionists promoted free enterprise and founded the Etzel and its breakaway freedom fighters Lechi aka Stern Gang. All in their ways claimed to be doing everything in their power to establish a Jewish State in Mandated Palestine.

Considering all of the groups and factions there had been fighting the British and each other in those very early pre-State of Israel, I have no doubt that that we all found ourselves imagining which group we would have joined, if we had lived in those exciting and historically significant times. And many of us now very grownup young Zionists continue dreaming and wondering. That could be the seeds of many more books in the genre of Forrest Gump historical fiction. Where would you have been?

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Coconut Milk "Ice Cream"

The other day I bought myself some coconut milk/liquid to use in coffee, with the hope that reducing cow milk would make my cold better. There was one minor though crucial problem. I just couldn't stand the taste. The coconut milk was creamy and sweet, no need to add any sugar at all, but it totally overwhelmed my very strong French Press coffee bought in Power Coffeeworks.

The coconut milk cost too much money to waste/dump, so I needed to figure out something useful to do with it. Since I remembered from a previous purchase of the "milk" that you can freeze it and make a sort of ice cream, that's what I did. I decided to combine the coconut milk with a couple of perfectly ripe bananas, chocolate chips and some of my coffee and then mix them up in the food processor.

I used the plastic "dough hook blade," hoping that the bananas would get a bit mashed, but the chocolate chips would stay whole.

To thicken the mixture, I added some coconut flakes. I let it whirl until the most of the bananas were mashed. Then I poured the mixture into a plastic container and put it in the freezer.

I plan on serving it Friday night for Shabbat dinner dessert. Coffee liquor will be offered as a topping. If I had some chocolate liquor that would be good, too. I'll look for that in the grocers today, Gd willing I should remember.

Gd willing, bli neder, I'll report on the success of this ice cream after Shabbat.

I highly suggest using coconut milk/liquid for vegan,  parve, non-dairy dairy-like, lactose free desserts. It is much better and far healthier than the totally synthetic factory-made stuff most people use. So many times I've felt sick after eating tempting desserts people have made with Rich's*. Many of the same people who won't let soybean oil in their houses, insisting it's unhealthy and cook with canola oil instead, have no compunction about serving desserts made with the soybean oil based Rich's.

* non-dairy whipped topping based on soybean oil. Wikipedia 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Finally Figured out a Way to Carry My Backpack Without Killing My Shoulder

For the past few months, I've been finding it harder and more painful to walk around with my backpack. My right shoulder which I had injured over fifteen years ago, when I used to play basketball, had started acting up.  I loosen the straps so they'd easily go over my heavy winter coat, but it didn't help enough.

They the other day, I glanced at the backpack and noticed the elastic straps that go across the chest to keep the bag stable. Maybe that would help. So yesterday when I put the heavy backpack on my back, I "buckled" those, too.

And, yes, it was much more comfortable. I felt fine walking with it, B"H, thank Gd.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

New Playgrounds in Shiloh

This morning when my friends and I took a walk, we decided on a new route. We went to the "Techelet Neighborhood" and saw the new playgrounds being set up. It's a young neighborhood with lots of families with children, so they really need such facilities.

I kept thinking that some of my grandchildren would love the wall climbing.