Sunday, September 24, 2017

The 'Camera-Hates-Me' Miracle

The miracle photo in which I look okay.
This is actually true. I don't look good in photos. It's a fact.

I am not lacking in self confidence in real life and I'm quite content with my facial features - good skin, cheek bones, etc... . Straight silky hair would have been nice but I'm happy enough with my thick 'Jewfro' curls.

But take a photo and I look.... well different.

It's not my imagination either. When I went for my graduation photos, I told the photographer, "you won't get a nice one, the camera hates me." He looked at me as if to say, "I'm a professional photographer. This isn't an instamatic camera I got for Christmas you know." I raised my eyebrows in reply.

After quite a few takes on his digital camera (so he could see the results instantly), quite a few more than he'd taken of any other graduate, he had to admit defeat. We got some passable photos but they didn't look the way I looked in real life.

At my nephew's Bar Mitzvah we posed for family photos. Then my sister said that the cousins could have family photos on their own and she'd send them the photos. I posed with DD who was a toddler at the time. We never got any photos. "They didn't come out well," was the reason given.

Two summers ago a friend invited her close friends to a picnic for her birthday and she hired a professional photographer to record the event and as gift to her friends. It was a lovely idea. My heart sank and I let the photographer position us and do what she wanted. I wasn't hopeful but she gave me a whole speech about it being her job to make me look the best I can look and how she'd trained for this. I'd heard it all before but you go along with it because it can't hurt.

Sure enough, a few days later we were presented with a CD of DD looking great and me looking awful. In all our group photos I look awful too. I found one photo of me at the ALEH dinner and I cringed with embarrassment. When DD and I try to take selfies she looks at each one and suggests, "you could crop yourself out if you want to." I regret that there are very few photos of DD and me together as she has grown up because I look so awful in them.

Also okay(ish) but miles better than usual.
It wasn't always like this. I blame Mr ~!@#$ our family dentist for taking out too many teeth when I was a child. Who knows I may have had a Hollywood smile but for that. And I agree that if I lost a ton of weight that would probably help too. I've thought of having cosmetic treatment done on my teeth but they're good teeth and basically straight - so I'm reluctant to play around with them when it's not essential. And a friend told me recently that her fabulous smile had cost her 36,000 shekels (about $10,000 - although if you say it in pounds it doesn't sound so much).

Then last week DD brought home a list of options for special lessons they will be having at school on Sunday afternoons. There are some really nice choices - History of Art (theory and practical), Capture The Moment (photography), A Trip Around The World (not literally), Gardening and Farming, Animal Care, DIY, and more.

DD was very taken with the idea of capturing the moment. I said she could take photos on my phone to see if she had a talent for it. She snapped away while I did some posing for fun. "Hmmm," she said, "it seems I do have some talent." I laughed and took a look at her efforts.

Reader, I was gobsmacked! She'd taken two of the best photos of me I've seen in about a decade. I used one of them for my facebook profile because the old one had DD aged four, and she's now far from four. So far about 30 people have 'liked,' including the friend who when I had to post a profile photo for the Times of Israel Blogs, messaged me with, "couldn't you find a better photo?" The answer was of course, no. If I'd been able to take a better photo I'd have posted it - obviously. (Its a bit embarrassing actually as I'm more of a "READ ME!" facebook person than a "LOOK AT ME!" facebook person. I put up the photo because I needed a new photo, not to get complimentary comments - are they just saying that to make me feel good?)

So I'm giving you my two new miracle photos. DD has asked to be in the 'Capture The Moment' lesson and I've said she can stop learning for tests or doing any homework as she's obviously going to be portrait photographer when she grows up.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Night Is Games Night

Friday night has become games night in our house. We are not strictly orthodox about keeping Shabbat but we do celebrate by lighting candles and eating a festive meal; and we don't do ordinary things like work, laundry or cleaning.

You can see from the photo that tonight's games were Mastermind, TAKI (like Uno) and Rat-a-tat Cat!

Other options are Mancala, Kalooki, Backgammon (Shesh Besh), Rummikub, Frustration (though we are growing out of that one), Set, Othello (Reversi), and Triplica (I hate this card game but DD likes it).

We take our games night seriously. Whilst we don't have a green baize games table, we do have paper and a pen for keeping score and of course drinks and nibbles.

We need some good board games like Monopoly and other classics but we have a dilemma. If I buy them in English she can't play them with her Israeli friends. And I don't want to buy them in Hebrew. I think her friends are just going to have to be good at English if they want to play at our house.

As DD was looking for a game this evening she noticed that we also have some large (1500 pieces) puzzles in the cupboard. "When are we going to one of these big puzzles together?"
"In the winter on a rainy Shabbat when we don't want to go out all day," I replied. We are looking forward to it already.

What are your family's favourite games?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rosh Hashana So Far So Good - R2BC

Today is the first day of Rosh Hashana which started at sundown last night. DD and I continued with our new (from one year ago) tradition of doing tashlich with soap bubbles. We sat on the balcony and blew away our sins and bad habits from last year and we promised to try harder for better habits this year.

DD: I'm going to try to not lose my temper and scream at you. (Me: thank you.)
Me: I'm going to try to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. (I got up this morning at 10 but it's a process.)
DD: I'm going to do important things like homework and shower, before television.
Me: I'm going to do the dishes in the sink and prep my lessons for the next day, in the evening and before social media time. (I did the dishes last night.)

And so we went on....

I tried to capture the bubble blowing on camera but Rubbish Photographer struck again. Then we did some selfies which were equally rubbish but I posted a few on the right sidebar because DD is almost nine, not four as she was in the previous thumbnail.

We ate some of the Rosh Hashana menu with symbols - salmon for a year of being sameah (happy); peas and sweet potato (afuna  and batata for akuna matata) to have no worries, fruit salad for dessert for a sweet year, and we drank our apple juice spritzers through the last two straws (the shop didn't have any at 1.30pm and no time to go to another shop) for a suck-cessful year. I wanted to make a salad out of a whole head of lettuce for the head of the year but the shop had also run out of lettuce.

We played Taki, Set and Kalooki until far too late. We have established another tradition that Friday night is games night. (I know it wasn't Friday yesterday but Festival evenings are similar to Friday nights.)

We got up late this morning - I felt bad about not going to synagogue as it's a small community which only exists because enough people do make the effort to go. We will go tomorrow as we're going to friends for lunch afterwards. And we heard the shofar blown (all 100 blasts) as the next door neighbours had private blowing on their patio. Then, throughout the morning as men came home from synagogue and blew the shofar for their womenfolk who had stayed at home - I''m guessing but there are shofars blowing all over the neighbourhood atm. I think we're covered.

Friends are coming here for an early dinner tonight. I took a big white fish out of the freezer and I want to make some sort of baked fish dish. I've never baked fish before (except for salmon) so I'm off to find a recipe.

So far, and 18 hours in, it's been a good year. :~D

I'm linking up with Michelle's Reasons 2B Cheerful on Mummy From The Heart.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Gift Of Wadi Qilt

Tonight is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. It's a two-day festival but this year it finishes as Shabbat comes in so actually it's three days straight of eating, socialising, praying, eating, sleeping, and did I mention eating? If you do the whole lot religiously, which we actually don't, that's the equivalent of six Christmas dinners at home and a number of smaller refreshments (like cocktail parties without the cocktails) at synagogue after the services.

We only accept invitations or make a big meal for once a day. However, that's still a lot of cooking and cleaning for me and DD was home because the schools are off from today. This is good because otherwise I'd be at my school, but difficult because she gets bored.

At 8.30 this morning we got a phone call from DD's BFF. Would DD like to go with them to Wadi Qilt. She wasn't sure. She's a bit of a ditherer and she worries in case it's going to be a difficult hike. It's not, it's a gentle stroll through the riverlets to the waterfalls and natural pools at the end. I accepted for her.

So off she went in her swimming costume, wearing my old sneakers - we threw her old ones away and she wasn't going to ruin her new sneakers walking through the water. This caused me to ponder on two things. 1. Decluttering is not always so brilliant. And 2. my daughter has almost the same size feet as me. (I knew this as she already takes my socks and this summer I bought us the same size socks).

I had five hours to shop, cook and clean. So I did go shopping because the supermarkets are going to be closed for the next three and a half days (from 2pm today). Then I spent a lot of time on the computer, and then DD came home.

Luckily she fell asleep on the sofa this afternoon and I did get some cooking done. And some laundry, and some grading  papers for college. Not as productive a day as intended but then it never is these days.

DD had a wonderful time. I think one of the greatest gifts you can give a single mother is to take her child out for a few hours before a major festival or weekend. We both appreciated it very much.

I wish everyone a wonderful, good and sweet year (Shana Tova Umetuka) whether you're Jewish or not. 

(I joined the Country Kids Linky at Coombe Mill with this post.) 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

ALEH Adults Update.

This is an update on my post: ALEH All People No Limits. Many friends and readers wanted to know what the children of ALEH do when they become adults. The website and videos all talk about the children and there is no mention of what happens later. So I contacted ALEH and received this welcome and heartwarming reply from Elie Klein, on behalf of ALEH's Communications Department.(I bolded the important bit.)

Our firm serves as an extension of ALEH's communications department.  Dov Hirth from ALEH saw your inquiry and requested that I respond.

I want to begin by letting you know how much we all love and appreciate your blog post.  We are so happy to hear that you were so touched by the presentations at the ALEH Jerusalem Ladies Committee gala, and we are so grateful that you chose to share that experience with your readers.  ALEH really is a special place, and we would be happy to take you on a tour.

Regarding your questions,  ALEH provides a continuum of loving care for individuals with disabilities, a framework for life – from infancy and childhood through adulthood.  Some of the children you saw in the video are not actually children – they are young men and women in their teens, 20s and even 30s.  While some ALEH residents move from our Jerusalem residence to our rehabilitative village in the Negev once they have reached adulthood (some prefer the predominantly adult community there), most of our residents remain in the ALEH centers where they are raised.  After all, it's HOME! ;-)

Again, it's one thing to talk about ALEH but experiencing it is something else entirely.  We would love to host you at any one of our four residential facilities.  Just say when.

All the best & Shana Tova,

A good answer, right? 
If you would like to donate to ALEH please visit the ALEH website.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Style And The Individual: When To Turn A Blind Eye

A while ago I went to an office that was situated in a roof extension. The ceiling was the sloping roof of the building and the windows were sloping skylights. They were tall windows with the tops stretching up and inwards to be above almost the centre of the room but near enough to the bottom of the slope so you could see the wonderful view over rooftops to the mountains beyond. It was really quite stunning. And the office itself was pristine, with clean lines and fresh white paint.

However, this bright, new, efficient space was 'finished' in a most bizarre way. Some budding interior designer (not) had put curtain rods along the tops of the windows and draped beautiful turquoise curtains framing each side of each of the two windows. Except of course, the curtains didn't frame the windows at all. They hung straight down into the middle of the room.

The two female secretaries had tied a knot into each curtain so that they didn't have them in their faces all the time. And the sun beat down into the room, casting eerie shadows like hangmans' nooses on the walls obscured by the knotted curtains.

I tried not to laugh but I couldn't help it. They told me I wasn't the first to be amused. The plan, or I should say the revised plan, was to put another rail at the bottom of each window to hold the curtains in place. But they needed to order new curtains with hems or ringed holes for the curtain rods on the bottom as well as the top.

"They make blinds for these sort of windows you know," I told them. I offered to show them and we spent a few minutes browsing Velux Blinds on the computer with the lid of a cardboard box taped over the monitor to block out the direct sunlight. We even found blinds in turquoise.

Years ago a friend told me that when planning your space, have the finished room in mind. That way you can make small changes as and when you have the resources, but you are always working towards your vision of how it will look in the end. If you don't do this, you'll waste money making changes to patch up what you have rather than towards the desired end.

My new friends in the dazzling office (pun intended) weren't ready to embrace the full uncluttered effect of crisp new blinds made to measure. They wanted curtains. I noticed they had crocheted doilies under the potted plants and I let the matter rest.

This is a collaborative post.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Snippets

Shut the Box
Persevering. Sunday Snippets is an invention of Jax Blunt on her blog Making It Up. I've done it before but it never became a habit. This month Jax set herself a challenge to blog all 30 days of September. I decided to join her but missed a week of days in the chaos and exhaustion of going back to school. I've not given up though and I'm still aiming to blog as much as I can this month.

Realizing that despite the heatwave of last week, this weekend the summer really did end. I had to wait all day to do laundry while the previous washes dried on the line. During the summer the washing took 2 - 3 hours to dry. I could have done laundry all day if I had enough things to wash or if I felt like I needed clean sheets and towels every day - which I don't obviously.

Wondering how this happened: I spent the summer decluttering and organizing my house only to find that two weeks into the new school year, we are once again living in an enormous mess. Luckily we have a few more holidays over the next few weeks because of the Jewish Festivals. God always gives you a second chance.

Discovering a design fault. We have this game called Shut the Box, which a friend sent for DD last Chanuka. I admit that we've not played it that much but we  never noticed the error - or possibly an intended quirk? (I don't think so.) DD just showed me. How did we not see this before? Did you spot it?

Enjoying the cooler weather. It seems like nothing to you but, believe me, we suffered this week - possibly more than during the whole of July/August which was bad enough.

Saving money by going back to my regular supermarket instead of shopping at the expensive boutique supermarket around the corner. My regular super is a ten minute walk away (downhill) and a 20 minute crawl back up the hill with a heavy trolley (yes I  have shopping-trolley, don't judge). I just could not do that trip in the heat. I could have taken taxis of course but the cost of the taxis was about the same a the savings so I didn't bother.

Sleeping well. DD has finally gone back to sleeping in her own bed after about two years of sleeping with me. We used to share a room in the winter to save on heating two bedrooms, and then separate in the spring, summer and autumn. But for the last couple of years she's not made the move back. I didn't mind too much but recently I noticed that I keep being woken in the night by stray elbows, knees and feet encroaching onto my side of the bed. It was probably always like this but only now it started to bother me. Well DD is bigger and I'm menopausal - nuff said.

Compromising by sharing the family bed on Friday nights when we don't have to get up in the morning. DD: "People say Shabbat is the best day, but it's not, it's Friday!"

Relaxing in our pyjamas the whole of Shabbat. DD wakes up on Shabbat morning with two question. Are we going anywhere today? Is anyone coming? She loves it when the answers are no and no as it was yesterday.