Monday, October 20, 2014

"Landscape," One of the Most Beautiful 52 Frames Albums Ever!

Here's my photo from the Landscape album of 52 Frames

Landscape, after taking tons of pictures, cropping too many, I went through them and picked this. Those wires make my eyes follow to the place the Biblical Tabernacle rested as a center of Jewish worship, yes, here in Shiloh, for 369 years.

Ironically, when I first went through the many photos I had taken for the week's theme/challenge, "Landscape," I didn't even consider this one. I cropped a whole bunch of others, trying to get something special, but none had any real magic. So I googled "landscape photography" to get some ideas, some inspiration. Then I went over all the pictures again, and this one really resonated. So, without even cropping it, I chose it.  None of the others was even a close second.

What do you think of it?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Winter Weather Laundry Dilemma

Yes, now it's אחרי החגים acharay hachaggim "after the Holidays," and after the Jewish Holidays in Israel means that there may be rain.
14-22°Today October 19
Occasional Rain 
That's today's forecast. It means that it may or not rain. Experience shows that it'll rain when the wash is hanging and be dry when there's none outside. It's the Murphy's Law of Landry.

For those of us who like to dry our wash, especially large sheets, tablecloths etc. outdoors, we're very dependent on the sunshine.

I just did my more scientific study by checking the sky.

to the west

to the east

and to the west, again
Experience says that it's the west that predicts the rain. Rain clouds come from the west, but things can move/change quickly here.

I did manage to do four, or was it five, washes on Friday before Shabbat, so I'm not under pressure for clean laundry.

12-21°Monday October 20
Local Rain 
12-22°Tuesday October 21
Partly Cloudy 

Considering the forecast on Arutz 7 for the next few days, maybe I should wait.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Latest Havel Havelim

The latest Havel Havelim is on Shiloh Musings.

There's a great variety of posts here. Please read, comment and share, of course.

Remember, you don't have to be blogger to read and comment and share blog posts! Enjoy and Shavua Tov to all!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Macro Photography, 52 Frames

This week's photography challenge for 52 frames was "macro." Many people in the facebook group have fancy cameras, equipment and lenses, but not me.

I took my photo with my simple, toy-like red Canon IXUS 145. It has a wonderful feature, which I call automatic function/setting/shooting mode search. Looking at the screen, I can see the icons of various settings as the camera checks out what will take a better picture. That's how my small gold earring came out looking so nice and clear and detailed.

Here are a few other photos I thought weren't as good.

Yes, I just went through my jewelry box.

What do you think? Did I choose the right one to submit to the group?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Shabbat Food Warmer Cooks!

This post may make absolutely no sense to someone who doesn't "keep Shabbat" in the Orthodox Jewish way. Sorry. But if you have one of these electric food warmers, then you still may find this post useful. 

A food warmer/platta is a low heat electric surface which is not usually meant for cooking. It comes in handy when you need to keep food nice and warm, but don't want a flame underneath. It's safe for ceramics and other materials which will explode on a cooking flame. A friend of mine, who's a potter, instructs people buying her clay dishes not to put them directly on a hot surface. They can take the heat if the heating or cooking surface starts off cold.

On Shabbat we're not supposed to cook, so if we heat up food to serve at a Shabbat meal we can't do it on a direct heat surface. I have a collection of metal objects like that round one in the picture which goes on the "platta," heater. The water stays all the time, since it already boiled up before Shabbat, before I put it on there.

There are many people who put the cold food directly on the platta on Shabbat insisting that the heater doesn't get hot enough to cook and/or that the metal surface is the "extra layer" between the heating elements and the pot.

On Simchat Torah, a holiday when it's permitted to cook, I put most of the pots and baking dishes directly on the platta. Today and last night when I took them off they were boiling/bubbling. That proves that the heating elements are hot/strong enough to cook, so I firmly believe that we must use something between the pot and the platta.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Such Goodness חסד "Chessed" From Others, Only in Israel Tremping Stories

Do stories like these happen anyplace else?

I consider it "only in Israel," because where else is hitchhiking so prevalent? Tremping is what we call hitchhiking here in Israel. It's most prevalent in rural and semi-rural/suburban-type areas such as Judea, Samaria, the Golan and Jordan Valley. That's because of two factors:

  • Public transportation isn't sufficient in terms of frequency and time efficiency. Sometimes it can take half a day to get from point a to point b by bus, while a direct ride is only fifteen minutes. And some communities aren't serviced at all by public transportation.
  • Not everyone has a private car, and if a family does, it can't service everyone in the family.
There used to be signs at the
Jerusalem "city line." 
The culture of giving and accepting rides from friends, neighbors and even total strangers is part of Israeli culture where I live in Shiloh. We have never had a car. My husband mostly takes buses to and from his part-time job in Jerusalem. He is also the type that doesn't mind waiting. I work part-time in Yafiz, Sha'ar Binyamin, and study once a week in Jerusalem. I wouldn't survive without the tremps I get from friends, neighbors and strangers which supplement the buses, which I do take, too.

In theory I could use just buses to commute to work, but especially since I sometimes finish late at night,  my schedule doesn't match the bus schedule and I find waiting for buses less efficient than waiting for rides I combine those forms of transportation.

The חסד chessed, goodness of others is amazing. Not long ago, during the recent Jewish Holiday season,  I did a big shopping in the Rami Levy Discount Supermarket before signing in for my night shift, with the hope that I'd find a neighbor to take my stuff home to be picked up later by my husband. A neighbor took the bags and left them by my door since she had to leave home again before my husband expected to be home. I was very relieved, because Yafiz, where I work didn't have the space for those bags, and it's much easier to tremp home sans shopping bags, especially after 9:30pm. 

After finishing that long pre-Holiday shift I waited by the Rami Levy exit for a ride/tremp and suddenly I saw that same neighbor. She had come to look for me, since she didn't have my phone number. She had finished with her evening plans and was passing by, so she stopped into Sha'ar Binyamin to look for me. Such a wonderful neighbor. 

And the other night, again after a long late night shift, I caught a ride with someone I didn't know at Ofra, which is halfway home. He dropped my off at the Shiloh Junction. I put on my reflector-vest and suddenly noticed that he had u-turned. He decided not to leave me on the corner. He took me all the way home.

People are wonderful and G-d is Great!

I have a lot to be thankful for!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shemitta is Now Getting Real

These are now the price signs in the Rami Levy Vegetable Department:

And this is the important part:

The tomatoes and other vegetables on sale in Rami Levy now need to be cared for. Peelings and garbage shouldn't be just dumped.

The Sha'ar Binyamin branch of Rami Levy sells "Otzar Beit Din" vegetables. Even though we've been here for decades, I don't feel qualified to give detailed instruction about what this means. I'd appreciate learned and clear comments, thanks.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Wolf Within...

There's something I must admit to you. As a book reviewer I find myself reading books I would never in a million years have bought or picked up to read if they hadn't been offered to me for review, and A Wolf in the Soul by Ira T. Berkowitz is definitely one in that category.

Mystical, mythical, fantasy and science fiction genres aren't my favorites. But, like the proverbial Jewish joke, I do take advantage of whatever is offered for free. That's even how I began the diet that helped me lose fifteen 15 kilo (over thirty 30 pounds) a number of years ago. Bli eyin haraa, not to tempt the evil eye, but the weight has been kept off, and sometimes I've been surprised at how much I enjoyed or couldn't put down books I've read for review. A Wolf in the Soul is one of those.

Trust me when I say that a book about a werewolf is one of the last books I'd take, even if totally desperate for reading material. So nobody was more surprised than myself when I found it hard to put down. It wasn't that I felt obligated to finish it as quickly as possible to get it out of the house. There are quite a few books that never made it as book reviews. I stopped reading after the first few pages. Or I read them and couldn't find anything positive to say, so I just said nothing. I wouldn't waste my time on a totally negative review, but I have posted mixed ones.

So, I hope you're curious about what I could have liked about a werewolf book. There was an honesty in the character; it is a first person narrative. As peculiar as the wolf transformation was to me, the emotions he reveals are very real. The family dynamics and human relations depicted in the book are realistic.

I don't know if I fully understood what the author, Ira T. Berkowitz (and I didn't succeed in finding out more about him) wanted to bring across to the reader, but I believe it to be connected to the power of our individual free will. Our free will, controls us, which means that we have ultimate control over ourselves. We have control over our faith in G-d and our relationships with other people.

The bottom line here is that, yes, I do recommend the book,  A Wolf in the Soul, for yourself and as a gift. It's a book about a personal struggle. The end doesn't wrap up the story into a neat package, which brings a realism fiction rarely offers. You can take the book's conclusion and begin a whole new book, which, no doubt, would be equally enthralling. Is there a "part two" in the works? I don't know, since I couldn't contact the author.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fizzy, Italian Kosher Wine

One of our Shabbat Chol Hamoed guests brought us a new for my family wine.

It's davka, Italian and fizzy, Bartenura.

Some family members fell in love with the sapphire blue bottle, and one of my grandchildren considered it a tasty sweet soda. I guess we have to keep an eye out for that one.

The bottle's color is very much like the "Hebron blue glass" which is probably still produced and sold in Hebron and Bethlehem. I remember stores full of glass jugs of a similar color in the days before "peace" when Jews could safely and freely walk around those cities. There were tourist glass shops in Bethlehem right next to Kever Rachel. Now the area around Kever Rachel is literally an armed camp, with thick walls and lots of guards and soldiers. Sorry, but I hadn't planned on getting into politics here. I just wanted to blog about the fizzy wine.

Back to the wine. I had first tasted it in Phoenix, AZ, when spending Shabbat there. Honestly, it tasted better in Phoenix than in Shiloh. Maybe because here in Shiloh we have such a wonderful selection of great kosher Israeli wines at reasonable prices, yes, including fizzy ones.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weather's Changing. Winter is Very Soon

I've been seeing the weather change, even if it's just by the richer sunrises, decorated by clouds and more attractive "textures" than in the simpler summer sunrises.

The sky changes so quickly.

On Friday, just before Shabbat came in there was such strong powerful thunder and lightening, too. And yes, it also rained a bit. The thunder and lightening went into Shabbat, but the rain wasn't all that much, and we were able to eat in the succah, which was nice.

Neighbors lost their electricity, and they had to go to get help to turn it back on. There is a family that takes care of their elderly parents, who have full-time help from non-Jews. So in special cases like what happened to my neighbors one of the non-Jews did a "Shabbos goy" mitzvah.  Other neighbors discovered that the lightening had damaged their phone lines. But of course they only discovered it after Shabbat.

Will we have a "real winter" this year?  We do need rain, G-d willing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

One of My Favorite Unique Things About Israel! aka "Only in Israel"

There's something very unique and Jewish about some Israeli architecture:

The merpesot or balconies/terraces are placed to give each apartment the potential for a kosher succah. Granted that this isn't a building requirement and doesn't exist in every building built, but it is found in quite a few.

Sometimes there is an overlapping, so that not all of the succah is actually kosher. In those cases, women and children who aren't required by Jewish Law to be in the succah are relegated to sit in the covered "non-kosher" section. That's acceptable for those who have no real choice. When we lived in Jerusalem, I ate in succot like those.

At least everyone is at the same table.

Here in Shiloh, we can build large succot with room for all.

Chag Sameach, Have a wonderful joyous holiday!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

For the very first time ever....

My husband decorated the succah this year. He had help with the building, as son #1 came over for that part of the Succot chores.  I have been very, very busy of late and even did a shift at work Wednesday morning Erev Chag, on the Eve of the Holiday. That's when my husband and son put up the succah.

When I got home I was totally and utterly wiped out. I had enough left to do in the kitchen. We have the world's easiest to put up and cheapest decorations. They are mostly pictures from Jewish Calendars that are sent out or distributed for free every year. Once the year is over, I add them to the pile of decorations. We have enough to decorate either a large public succah or a dozen family ones. So I asked my husband to leave his computer for a bit and stick up some pictures with thumbtacks, which he did, thank G-d.

See, we have a nicely decorated succah, and I didn't have to do it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shandy Tasting

Shandy is beer with a lemon twist. I have memories of drinking some in Paris almost forty years ago, and I liked it. So when my son offered me a bottle recently, I was happy to accept it. I had to choose between three flavors, all from the same company, Maccabee Beer. OK that does seem to be an oxymoron since the shandy I first drank only had a lemon juice added.

So, that's the flavor I chose, the lemon-lime. As my good friend, Doug the beer maven will testify, I like a beer that tastes "like beer," those that have hops that dominate the taste. This shandy was horrendous. It tasted like over-sweetened lemon soda, sort of 7 Up with extra sugar. OK, I don't drink soda including 7 Up, so maybe that's  how it tastes. If I was to try a "shandy," I'd rather take a strong beer and add some fresh lemon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Pair of Photos and 52 Frames

This week's theme for 52 Frames was "Pairs." I had thought of taking a picture of a "a pair of pears," which a few people did.  At work I photographed pairs of shoes. Another idea I had was to photgraph my baby granddaughter's eyes, sans flash of course, but she, as usual, was asleep when I visited. I also  thought of photographing a couple I had fixed up. They've been married for decades, but I decided not to.

In the end I stuck with the pair of street entertainers I shot in Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem's open market earlier in the week.

Unfortunately I was in too much a rush to get a truly great photo of them, but, I still loved the look and colors of evening in the shuq.