Friday, January 13, 2017

Conkers And Other Supermarket Surprises - R2BC

Conkers in the Supermarket!
Yeah I know it's the little things in life, blah, blah, blah; and I really do believe that. However, when the supposedly little things, like a trip to the supermarket, take up almost your whole, one free morning, it turns into a much bigger thing.

The supermarket on a Friday morning is hell as it closes at 2 pm and isn't open all day on Saturday (Shabbat). And Shabbat is a big deal here - think Christmas dinner, Boxing Day lunch and Easter Sunday Tea (if there is such a thing) all in one day. Obviously many people don't bother with all three meals but it's still of lot of food and Friday night is when people eat together. So add at least half an hour at the checkout, ten minutes at the cheese counter, as well as the 30 minutes of walking to and from (10 minutes downhill to and 20 minutes uphill back with a full trolley and extra bags). I usually shop on Wednesday or on Friday at 1 pm just before it closes and most people are sorted.

Anyway, here are my R2BC around the Supermarket theme...

Nephew coming for Shabbat
Today my nephew texted me at 8 am to ask if he can come for Shabbat and stay over. No problemo but I do need to serve real food and it all has to be gluten free for him. This is why I went shopping first thing in the morning to make sure I could get what I needed. I did. And we are looking forward to the company.

Friends in the Supermarket
I met a friend in the aisles who has been through some rough times and has come out the other end looking fabulous and feeling very happy. Of course I didn't know the half of it until this morning but it was good to see her and catch up. And great that she's doing so well and looking amazing. (You know who you are :~).)

Neighbours in the Supermarket
I met my upstairs neighbour in supermarket. As usual I'd underestimated the volume of my haul compared the the capacity of my shopping trolley, not to mention the mass of the total compared to the strength in my arms. Fortuitously we left at the same time and I asked him if he'd mind taking my bulky 48-roll package of toilet paper home in his car. (I had to stop for something on the way home so a ride would not have helped me and he didn't have room for my whole trolley anyway.)

We arrived back home at the same time so he also helped me up three flights of stairs by carrying the toilet paper and my extra shopping bag. I really should have got a delivery today - I messed up - and I would not have managed to make it home with everything if I'd not met him. I would have got up the stairs in two journeys but six flights of stairs with heavy shopping isn't fun. Thanks Meir, *Neighbour of the Week Award*.

Bags at the Supermarket
We have finally joined the western world in that we now have to pay for Supermarket bags. At 10 agarot ( about 2p) each, it's not a big deal but out of principle I prefer not to. My Supermarket is giving away reusable shopping bags - one for every 100 shekels you spend. They never have any left by Friday so I've saved up seven tokens so far for the next time I make it there earlier in the week.

However, I did buy 1kg of a certain cheese that got me a free reusable freezer-shopping bag that is much sturdier than the other free bags. So I had my extra bag that fit all my trolley overflow (I usually have at least three plastic bags as well as the trolley). And now it lives in the trolley happily ever after for the foreseeable future.

Can you spot a potential seventy-fiver?
They are selling conkers in the Supermarket. I had to take a picture. They're  not graded so you don't know if  your're buying a potential two-er, tenner, or seventy-fiver. Also, you can't just buy one for the odd game of conkers as they sell them by the kg, I would say you need to buy 100g at least, which is about 15 conkers. Who's got time do do all that soaking them in vinegar, baking them in the oven, making the holes and threading the string? And that's before you even start playing. I didn't buy any.

(This last bit was a joke. These are sweet chestnuts that you can roast and eat. DO NOT TRY TO EAT ROASTED CONKERS (horse chestnuts) - THEY ARE POISONOUS!)

Coffee and Blog
Best of all, I arrived home with a whole hour to spare before I have to go and collect DD from school. I made myself a cuppa and decided to let the cooking and the cleaning and the grading and the report cards, wait while I blogged.

Each week seems to get more manic and me more tired in the evenings. I really want to blog every day or at least every other day. I was going to say, in an ideal world, but in in an ideal world I'd have nothing to blog about. Anyway, come the first moment in the day when I have free time and I've not got the mind for it. January started so well with four posts in one week. And then Eight days with nothing. So blow the other stuff - I'm blogged. :~).

As always, I'm linking up with the R2BC linky with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Magic Carpet Reasons 2B Cheerful

I had the carpet cleaned for the first time in 10 years. My carpet is a large area rug in the living room so it gets a lot of foot traffic. DD eats at the coffee table sometimes while watching a DVD or playing. There have been spills of all sorts over the years and a hoovering once a week just doesn't do it. Added to that my old dinosaur of a hoover was suffering from all the ailments of old age (and maybe even dementia).

Having cleaned the carpet I was then treated to a new vacuum cleaner for my Hanukka present from my mum. I know that sounds a bit sad but seriously, it's what I wanted and needed. I chose a slim light-weight cleaner that stores away neatly in a cupboard and can be moved around easily. And the machine bit lifts off to become a hand-held vacuum for going over furniture. The accessories all fit into their own tote bag. I'm psyched.

So while you're spritzing on your new perfume, luxuriating in your new sexy underwear, showing off your new expensive jewellery, relaxing in your sumptuous bath oils and salts, or enjoying any of your fabulous Christmas presents from your loved ones; think of me and my brand new vacuum cleaner. I'll be zipping around the apartment zapping the dust with great gusto.

It's got red, shiny bits. :~)

Disclaimer: I was gifted this vacuum cleaner by my mum who has no connection whatsoever with the company who manufactured it or the shop that sold it to us at the same discount offered to all January shoppers.

I'm linking up with R2BC which is back at Mich's blog - Mummy from the Heart.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another Day Another Strike

Working from home on a school day.
The teachers' strike yesterday passed without any fuss after the initial will they won't they and waiting for the news in the morning. I wasn't inconvenienced at all because I can work from home on a Tuesday morning. I know others were greatly affected by not knowing until the last minute and then having to deal with their own morning work commitments.

Today brought us another strike which has affected me. The buses are not running for 24 hours from 5 am this morning until 5 am tomorrow morning. It has been threatening all week but it was finally announced last night that no agreement with the workers' union had been made.

The school where I teach on Wednesdays is a 40 minute bus ride (25 minutes by car taking a direct route) so it's too far to walk. We got an email from the deputy head about shared taxi's but I didn't understand how it worked as it was a lot of Hebrew and the link took me to a Google site inviting me to create a new page. I also wanted to take my daughter into school this morning rather than letting her walk herself to school in case there were no staff there.

So after a late start anyway I called a teacher who lives nearby and asked her if she was driving in to school. She had to drive her husband to work in the other direction after taking her son to nursery - late as his childminder was delayed by the lack of buses - and only then would she be making her way to school. And who knows what her arrangements for coming home are. I didn't want to risk being stuck without a ride home.

I texted that I wasn't coming in today. I got a message back that there is no permission to miss a day because of the bus strike. I texted that it's too far to walk. The message came back: We all used shared taxis, I sent you an email about it last night. Me: I didn't understand how it worked. I'll see you tomorrow.

Here's the thing about my school. I hate it in the winter (December/January/February) because some lessons I have to teach in a bomb shelter with broken windows where the heater goes off for an hour every other hour. The other lessons I have small groups and we have to it in the foyer by the front door and it's freezing. So for three days a week for three months a year I sit freezing in my coat for the whole day, apart from break times in the cosy, heated teachers' room.

There are a lot of good things about my school - a philosophy of inclusion, small groups and plenty of pastoral care when needed in the not so affluent surrounding community. The flip side is that small groups and less money means teaching in any drafty corner you can find.

So I admit that I'm ecstatic when there is an excuse not to go in and be uncomfortable all day in the deep mid-winter. I admit that I made very little effort to get to school today. On the other hand, the deputy head lives two streets away from me and she didn't call to offer me a ride or to share a taxi.

I'm cool. The worst they can do is fire me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

To Strike Or Not To Strike?

Random Teachers' Room lockers
Last night the Teachers' Union announced a warning strike whereby primary and middle schools, and kindergartens would start at 11 am today instead of at 8 am. As Tuesdays are a half day anyway, ending anywhere between 12.45 and 1.30 depending on the individual school, this meant that many children wouldn't bother to go in at all.

The issue is that the teachers are not being paid their full salaries. The Treasury says it's a glitch in the computer programmes but it won't promise to fix the problem or pay back what the teachers are owed. I'm sure there must be more to this story. How can they not fix it and pay back what the teachers are owed? On the other hand, this is Israel so maybe this is the case. Who knows. If I find out I'll tell you.

DD was supposed to go on an outing today to the Biblelands Museum. This was canceled as they had to inform the bus company by last night. However, we went to bed last night not knowing whether the strike would happen or not. They always try to negotiate through the night and the final decision is announced on the 7 am news.

So you have to wake up at 7 am anyway. The news was that nothing had been decided and they were taking it to court now. Tune in again at 8 am. I didn't bother to wake DD and just went back to bed with my phone on the bedside table so that I'd hear Whatsapp messages coming in. At 8.40 the message came through - the courts have banned the strike and school will start at 9 am. The Museum outing is still canceled even though they were only planning to leave school at 9 am.

Well blow that for a lark. I woke DD up at 9.30 and we made it into school for 10. It was nice having a lie in on the second day back after the holiday. DD was not satisfied with the extra couple of hours in bed however, and I heard that many other children tried to stage their own counter-strike. Unfortunately most mothers have to go to work and the afternoon programmes were still running till 4.30 so the little ones had to go to school albeit for a shorter day. I have to be in college from 12.30 till 3.30 on a Tuesday so DD wasn't getting a whole day at home.

I was supposed to do my 'kiss and go' duty outside school from 7.30 - 8.15 this morning. I don't know what you call it in the UK or USA but you help the kids out of the cars in front of the school gates so they can just kiss their parent-driver and the parent can drive off without parking or holding up traffic. Well I got out of that so thanks for that small gift to me TU.

I can't find any information about whether anything was solved or promised. I think not as the court ordered the teachers not to strike. I know it messes everyone about but I hate the early mornings in the cold mid-winter so I'm up for strikes, snow days, whatever's on offer. The more the better, I'm not fussy.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, You're Always A Day Away

We made it to the 8th night with presents every night and not a few doughnuts.
It all started about 10 days ago on a Wednesday evening when I was planning how I would come home from work on Thursday and get the apartment ready for my Mum's visit. There I was sitting in a complete mess, pans and dishes left over from a pancake supper all over the kitchen, DD's room would need clearing out and the sheets changed for Mum, the bathrooms needed cleaning, my grading and both our school books were all over the living room. I'd let things slide for a couple of weeks in the manic run up to the end of term at school with parents' meetings (mine and DD's), school concerts and Hanukkah parties.

I was zonked, there was no way I was going to make a start on that Wednesday evening. I reckoned I would have a good four hours to blitz the place after school on Thursday. And then the phone rang. It was the driver I'd booked to meet Mum at the airport. He told me she'd just rung to say she had landed. Rather than wait for him to drive from Jerusalem to pick her up, she said she'd just take a taxi from the airport. I called my nephew in London to check that the information was correct. It was. I had got the day wrong.

I had one hour. DD helped me tidy, dust, sweep and change the sheets in her bedroom. She kept saying, "look at your face Mummy, you look like you're in shock!" I cleaned the toilets, wiped over the basins and mirrors with a wet-wipe, and swept the bathroom floors before going over them with a damp cloth. I was half way through the kitchen detritus when she called to say she was downstairs. (Lucky we booked the taxi that she didn't take or we'd have had no notice at all!)

And here I am on January 1st 2017 still not with the programme. We've had a busy 10 days and it's not over yet. We went to a Christmas concert in the Old City, we went to friends for a Hanukkah party, we had a dinner party here for some friends from London that Mum knows, we had another party here for DD's birthday, we went to the theatre to see Annie, and we went out for dinner on Shabbat. There are only eight days of Hanukkah and we were exhausted by the end.

My not eating sugar went out the window and I had big plans to start again with the New Year. But Mum is still here and the fridge is still full of leftovers. School starts again tomorrow and I've not done any of the projects I'd planned for this holiday - sorting out my photos, sorting and filing great piles of papers, clearing and cleaning the balcony, organizing and decluttering in the hope of getting rid of some more bulky furniture that we shouldn't need, etc, etc, etc....

I've been reading posts on other blogs with the theme of 'bring it on 2017, I'm ready for you!' Well not me. Not quite. Tomorrow maybe. For tonight I'm finishing off the wine and doughnuts and wishing we had another few days of holiday.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like.....

Candles are nearly spent because Rubbish Photographer remembered too late.
Today was the second candle lighting of Hanukkah (don't be confused by the third candle in the middle - that's the taper), And of course it was Christmas Day.

DD was sick last night so she didn't go to school and I was supposed to go to a wedding tonight but I didn't want to leave her so I didn't go to the wedding. My Mum is visiting from London and the three of us hunkered down doing our traditional thing.

I have to say that it was nice not having to go to work on Christmas Day. It's not that we celebrate Christmas, but you know, it's Christmas.

Being two women and a sick child we didn't need a big Christmas dinner. Instead we had a bagel and cream cheese brunch - lest we forget that actually we're Jewish.

After brunch we played Kalooki. Up to 150 points and you can come in once for the highest score. (Those of you who understand what that means will understand. Others won't. It is what it is.) We had to teach DD how to play of course. I told her that she's eight years old and it's about time she knew how to play Kalooki. I may have mentioned something about if she wants to stay in this family....

In the first game she slaughtered us. I'd like to say we let her win to draw her in to the magical web of Kalooki, but actually she just slaughtered us. We don't do, 'let the children win.' It's every man for himself when it comes to cards in our house.

At 5pm (our time) we watched the Queen's speech on Sky News Live. (Although we all know it's not actually live but pre-recorded about a week ago.) I stood for God Save The Queen but the others wouldn't. Mum and I both sang though. DD just looked bemused.

Then we lit the Hanukkah candles, sang some more, and DD had more presents to open. My mother came with rather a lot of presents from herself, cousins, aunts and uncles. We're rationing them. It's an eight-day festival dontcha know.

Then, with a light supper on our knees, we watched Saving Mr Banks on DVD. (Apparently the same film was shown on the BBC tonight too.)

No snow but you can't have everything. It was a lovely Hanumas Chrisukkah Day.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah And Merry Christmas From Jerusalem

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah as well as being Christmas Eve. We went to a Christmas concert in The Old City as DD's friend and her mother were singing. It was beautiful and warm and uplifting.

Afterwards we went for a walk around the Jaffa Gate. We saw Christmas Carolers and close by, a sound and light show on the city walls played Hanukkah music and a bit of Jingle Bells for good will.

Here are some photos from The Rubbish Photographer with the cheap smart-phone a.k.a Me.