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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Musings on the first day of the new (Gregorian) decade

I really like the way my house looks on Friday mornings when I come back from my errands. What I DON'T like is the fact that, to get it that clean, I have to clean BEFORE I go out.

The segula (good luck charm, so to speak) of going to a gravesite of a tzadik (righteous person) for 40 days to pray really works. I did it this year and my request was answered, much to my surprise. Maybe a business idea.....I mean, honestly, I live within a 10-minute walk from the gravesites of dozens of really spectacular tzadiks!

I miss going out dancing. Seriously. Last night there was a dance in my neighborhood for New Years (Gregorian) and I was hopping around the kitchen at 9:00p.m, all excited....and by 11:00p.m. (when I should have gone) I could hardly keep my eyes open. And I knew that I'd need to get up early to cook and clean for Shabbat....exciting life here, y'know.

Echinaicia works. I took it for 2 days earlier this week when I felt a cold coming on, and the cold came and passed. I still spent a semi-miserable day dripping like an open faucet, but it didn't move into my chest and it was over in 24 hours. (and for another musing....how come my spellcheck helped me with echinaicia a few days ago and won't now?)

I'd love to end the week, just once, within my budget. Just once. It all comes together on Friday, when I think to myself "I'll just make it" and then everyone realizes that they need a schoolbook/snacks for an upcoming school trip/to pay off a bill/present for a really good friend's birthday

Happy (Gregorian) New Year and Shabbat Shalom.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday mornings

Made my regular shuk-walk this morning. I had originally said that I wouldn't go because my fridge is packed (new diet, lots of vegetables....sigh)but then I remembered that I need to get Gal some socks so I figured that I'd make a quick zip in and out. Ha. Half an hour later I staggered into work with all the stuff that I don't find (cheaply anyway) anywhere else....avocados, artichokes, green onions, mushrooms....

Walking into the Old City I saw the regular group of Ethiopian ladies crowded around the g'mach (second hand clothing store) at the entrance to the alley. One of the younger ladies had found a purple silk-type skirt and she was obviously thrilled with her purchase (usually for half a shekel). She was grinning from ear to ear and twirling around, letting the skirt swirl around her. It was so heart-warming to see.

On the other hand, I noticed that most of these women are still wearing sandals. With the temperature in the 40s, that can't be a lot of fun. A few weeks ago a local tzdekka organization put out a request, on the Tzfat english-speaker's newsletter, for assistance to buy the Ethiopian kids shoes. Dozens of families recently immigrated and are at the absorption center in Tzfat with very little beyond the most basic necessities (these kids also are known to come to school hungry). The tzdekka was collecting money (they still are) to get shoes for the kids -- a local shoe store will sell shoes to the tzdekka for cost, but it still costs quite a bit of money for several hundred pairs of shoes. I know that they didn't raise enough money for all the kids, and now I see the mothers who must be freezing too. You try to do what you can but it's never enough....

In my endless search for natural remedies and treatments I discovered, a few years ago, that if I take Echinacea as soon as I feel a cold coming on, it usually doesn't, or if it does it passes quickly without settling in my chest. Yesterday I finished my second day of taking echinacea 5 times during the day and sure enough--the scratchy sore throat that always used to turn into a cold....didn't.

My Kupat Cholim health fund should take note.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Y'all Know What

I've lived in Israel for 26 years, and for 26 years December 25th (and all the craziness leading up to it) has come and gone and I hardly notice it. If I do notice it, it's to think to myself "wow, December 25th and I hardly noticed it"

This year I'm doing evening work for an American website, writing articles. As I submit each article this last week, I've been writing to the editor who will be reading it "Merry Xmas" because chances are that the copy editor celebrates Xmas.

And I discovered that I enjoy writing that! It makes me feel like I'm enjoying their holiday vicariously, and that I can be a part of it while not being a part of it. Anyway I love where i live but I do like America too (love Americans -- when the copy editors write to me, they're always so polite and pleasant -- LOVE Americans) and get a kick out of being connected.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wednesday mornings

I left the house this morning while Gal and Hagai were still sleeping. Louie had just come in from a night of carousing (Louie is the cat) and Mica and Jenny (dogs) were curled up on the couch. So even though I left at 8:00a.m., relatively late, I felt virtuously early. Is that a sentence?

I did make it to the shuk (open-air market) first thing. I prefer to go in the late afternoon, after work, because the prices are lower. But in the winter, by 4:00pm, it's already getting dark and that's no fun. Also more rain is forcast and it may start today.

The shuk during any holiday is especially fun. Everyone is saying "Chag Samayach" ("Happy Holiday") to each other, even the Arab vendors say it to other arabs who come to buy from them! Though the Arab guy who sold me my raisins, after he said "Chag Samayach" to an Arab lady, turned to me and asked "which holiday is it? Chanukah?" It is indeed Chanukah and the strawberries are out in full bloom, adding one more color to the already-colorful show. As always my eyes are bigger than my stomach--I always think to myself "I'll make a soup" and get all sorts of greens and pumpkin and then have to push myself to make the soup.

Walking around the shuk in the morning, you also have to wait sometimes....the vendors (the Jewish ones) often take ten or fifteen minutes off to put on their tefillin and tallis and daven (say morning prayers). As you walk between the stalls, you'll see an unmanned stall here and there and sure enough, a few feet away there's the vendor wrapped up saying the morning prayers. I'm sure the open-air markets of San Francisco and other places are much more sophisticated and there's more to buy. But I wouldn't trade mine for theirs. The vendors know me (when I come to my regulars they immediately say "oh, here's the lady who doesn't want a plastic bag. The greenie" and then they start telling me what they do to conserve) and often, if I stand around a bunch of people who are buying something, I'll catch recipe ideas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lights and Inspiration

Never let it be said that people are not becoming more aware of health and the environment.

Example: I went to the local bakery yesterday to buy donuts for Chanukah (a traditional Chanukah treat in Israel). This year there are baked donuts in addition to the fried ones, and the seller said that he's selling more baked donuts because people don't want to eat so much fried food.

Example: I had some pictures copied and when I went to pick them up the clerk started to give me a plastic bag to put them in. I said "I don't need a bag" because I try to do without whenever I can. "Oh, a greenie" she said. "Good for you. I try not to give them to people".

There's still a lot of work to do, but slowly people are starting to understand the importance of living with more awareness.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Back to the Basics

Readers of this blog might remember (2005?) that I did a successful diet several years ago, dropping about 15 kilos (30-something pounds). It was a weight-watchers plan which I was able to do on my own, since I have no time to go to meetings or self-help groups. I just got a copy of the plan and managed on my own.

Over the last few years I see the pounds creeping back on, although I try to maintain their "maintenance plan". For some reason, it doesn't work for me any more (probably my absolute love of bread contributes to this).

I saw a friend of mine awhile ago who went from, what I thought was a good weight to absolutely svelt and I asked her for her secret. She's been doing a 6-small-meals-a-day food plan (I don't want to say "diet") and she says that that's what did it. She gave me a copy of the plan at the beginning of the week, and that's what it is....six small meals each day, though the meals aren't so small. Each one basically is a protein, a carbohydrate (whole grains, which for me is no problem because I've gotten used to that)and tons of vegetables. IN ADDITION you can have 2 fruits, a glass of milk and a limited amount of oil or nut butters (yum....peanut butter)

The other catch is that you're supposed to drink between 2 and 3 liters of water EACH DAY. Well, with all of this food and a perpetually bursting bladder, I'm so full that I almost dread the next meal! Which is a shame because you can basically have good food (I've gotten used to eating low-fat food for awhile now and rarely desire baked goods or candy) and the meals are plentiful.

Will report back as time goes on but I'm hoping that someone will call me "svelt" sometime soon too!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Come Together

The weekly preparation for Shabbat can be quite exhausting, especially when, like me, you're trying to please everyone (except for myself....unfortunately I'll eat anything).

Shopping starts early in the week with a fill-up of vegetables that I don't find in the supermarket at Wednesday's shuk (open air market). This week I found some nice juicy artichokes which, thanks to writing in this blog, I just remembered that I have and I need to cook up.

On Wednesday I try to make sure that the meats are prepared and frozen, and the challah dough and cake dough are ready. Thursday evening is a marathon of peeling and cutting so that on Friday I can simply stick stuff into the oven and pull it out fresh.

That, of course, is where the fun lies. The basics have been prepared, so at that point I'm just plopping everything into the oven or on the stove, and as each thing comes out it's so fun to anticipate eating it. I also like when the kids come home after school and ask "what's for Shabbat" and when they hear that there are some of their favorite dishes, make some appreciative grunts.

The winter shuk is so much fun. I try to go in the morning before work. There are some regular items to pick up -- mushrooms, parsley, avocados -- but as I mentioned, sometimes there are some items that catch my eye, like broccoli (for tonight's dinner) and artichokes (tomorrow)and as I stuff my fridge I look forward to serving.

Many guests tomorrow, which is also always nice. Surprising to my offspring, who think that my 51-year-old conversation needs should be fulfilled by their bickering, I really look forward to having people my own age around to chat with. This is a friendly community and people like sharing Shabbat meals. I'm thankful that I live in such a great area.

My article-writing for a pay-for-content website is going well. Some of the titles that they give are quite, um, unusual (How to color your child' hair for Halloween with food coloring; How to do magnet therapy) but I can choose as many article titles as I want per week (I average about a dozen) and I've learned to, theoretically, paint a trailer, disable a GPS, find where someone may have stuck a GPS on my car, start a thrift store, make an Indian Ribbon shirt.......some of the topics are quite fascinating and I've learned to look at it as my hobby (which pays).

My hobby keeps me awake until midnight every night, which is another reason that I anticipate Shabbat. Thank goodness that the computer is shut off for 25 hours.