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  • One Day — In Jerusalem

     

    All my life I’ve been waiting for
    I’ve been praying for
    For the people to say
    That we don’t wanna fight no more
    There will be no more wars
    And our children will play
    One day

    –Matisyahu

    How to Spend Shelter Time Well

    After being woken up by Code Red alarms at night, the next one came during my lunch time. We were ordered to stay in the shelters for an undetermined period, and because I had a late lunch break to start with and I was hungry, this is what happened:

    2014-08-20 12.14.47a slice of pizza, a cup of apple juice, and a good book. I had just bought Steiner Kristóf’s book on iTunes ten minutes before the alarm, so I spent the next 30 minutes starting to read it. I had bought his first book when it came out, and I loved it. Unfortunately the other day I left it at Cofix (the place with the NIS 5 coffee and sandwiches–that’s like $1.45 for US folks) and when my sister called they said they couldn’t find it. Luckily, Kevin is in Budapest, and he found the book sold by one online shop. He ordered it, and he was told that it would be there by Thursday. Then an hour later he got a call that they were out of it, and the book is out of print, and sorry. :( Kevin had bought the two other books as well, but he told me, “Go ahead, buy them in e-book, because it will be a while before the kids are finished with them.” So I bought the only one I haven’t read, and now I’m spending my shelter time becoming a reader again.

    What I Need

    Apparently if someone becomes part of the armed forces, people start asking them what they need. I have been asked that in the last month or so a lot of times.

    To answer shortly: I don’t need anything. There are things I’d love, but those are just luxury items (like iTunes films and new socks and candy). But if you’d like to help other Israeli soldiers, you can send them hamburgers and cola, donate to the Libi fund to sponsor various projects that make our lives as soldiers easier, or partner with the Friends of the IDF. My personal favourite is the first option. :)

    Thank you for thinking of me.

    7 Quick Takes — 33 — Adoption, TBBT, Food

    — 1 —

    In my post about Autism and I, I mentioned that I was a difficult person. Jon commented that he didn’t think I was difficult, and that reminded me of something that happened before the madness in Israel began.

    Kevin and I were trying to catch up on The Big Bang Theory. I hate to admit, but I’m a season and half behind. :( We were a few episodes into our marathon, when I remarked how much I loved Leonard, who is my favourite TBBT character. Kevin replied, “I’m glad, because I am Leonard to your Sheldon.” It made me laugh, because it’s very true. While I’d like to think I’m not as difficult as Sheldon, it is true that I can be difficult to live with.

    — 2 —

    8d132aab-154d-4016-b183-1a7b9d4c373c_profileYou know adoption is close to my heart. I follow the adventures of other adoptive families, and the Rieben family is currently in the process of bringing three older boys (ages 5, 12 and 12) home from Bulgaria. Adopting not one, but three kids at the same time is costly, and they have started a new fundraiser to help with those costs. The dad is currently in country for the first trip, which means their boys would likely be home in 4 to 6 months!

    I already participated in their fun fundraiser, and so have my two internationall adopted 5-year-olds. Join us to help the boys get home! It’s easy, and while the Riebens have an FSP, there is a way to contribute without the involvement of any grant organizations. Click here to find out more!

    — 3 —

    That, in turn, reminds me of another recent conversation, this time with Jill. I’m sure every adoptive parent has seen at least one post online what not to ask/tell adoptive parents. On top of the list is never to ask them how much their kids cost. While it’s not the most appropriate question, it usually doesn’t upset me. I either give a detailed list of costs from adoption fees to tuition, lunch money, swimming lessons etc, or let my internationally adopted daughter answer. Her standard answer? “I was free, but the process cost $37 000.”

    — 4 —

    For some odd reason this week I have been talking about how to prepare food more than I normally would. From chicken steak to challah pudding to tahini based desserts I have been discussing recipes and how to’s. I even joked about writing a cookbook, with vague measurements. But then I already have writing projects that are taking forever to finish, plus most of my food doesn’t photograph well (though tastes really good).

    So what are your favourite dishes to fix? I am actually looking for a favourite spice mix for roast beef that you put together, and doesn’t involve canned or powdered soups. I am willing to share how I make steaks/chicken steak that is better than what I get at some of the nice restaurants here. I’m not even kidding. Also, yam/sweet potato recipes are welcome. I hate the stuff most of the time, but I’m willing to give it a try, because my family like it. Are they the same thing, anyway?

    — 5 —

    We had a 72 hour ceasefire that Hamas broke after 70 hours. They broke another one before that. Currently we should have one, but there have been rockets.

    Seriously, when will this finally end?

    Click to view it full size.

    — 6 —

    I liked his dramatic roles better than most of his comedic ones. Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam are three of the limited number of movies I actually own on DVD. One of the three Disney movies we have is Aladdin. And before Harel Skaat, Robin Williams was, and forever is, Peter Pan.

    Since his passing I’ve heard and read several stories from friends meeting him. In all of these stories the common thread was his kindness and humanity.

    Now I wonder, as tragic as his death is, will it further his legacy? I feel like many people who don’t understand depression suddenly realize that if the funniest man on earth could be depressed, maybe it’s more than just attitude, more than just trusting G-d.

    And now, the Westboro Baptist Church sealed it: Robin Williams was a great man, a man worthy to be seen as the enemy of those whose whole world, belief and life is built on hate.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Robin Williams.

    — 7 —

    Shabbat Shalom! This is my last Shabbat before my kids and Kevin come home! I really miss them all. Life can be too quiet even if it means lack of sleep for the rest of the year! In September I’ll have another long weekend, and we are planning a quick trip to the Dead Sea during those three days. I can’t wait to be all muddy!

    For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

    A Blog Hop About Writing

    Last week Jen invited me to participate in a blog hop about writing. I was more than happy to say yes, though I had no idea what I’d be answering to the four questions asked in this blog hop, but I had a general idea to who I would have liked to pass the baton in the next round.

    You see, the rules are simple: I answer the four questions, introduce three bloggers, and next week they will do the same, and I’ll link to their posts. Now, just because I’m such a rebel, I’m going to introduce four bloggers, because one of them might or might not be able to continue with the blog hop, but I think she needs a mention.

    So let’s see those questions!

    1 – What am I writing or working on?

    I have two blogs, one of which is very dormant, but I hope to resurrect soon. That one is about crocheting. I am currently working on writing some patterns and a tutorial for that blog, to resurrect it with some actual content.

    Then there is this blog, where I write about things that I find interesting. It is an absolute “Me blog”.

    Non blogging projects include an e-book about my Judaism. I have written a few chapters, and I now know what are some of the things I really want to include, and what I don’t.

    Parallel to this, thanks to my LDS upbringing, I’m working on a family history for my kids and nieces and nephews.

    2 – How does my work differ from others of its genre?

    About my blog I said that it was Me blog, which used to be the standard in the LiveJournal days, but now it seems every blog out there has a theme. Not KosherKola.  It is not a dad blog, not a Judaism blog, not a craft or recipe blog, not a lifestyle blog, but it contains all of those and more. I comment on politics, on books, coffee, whatever.

    Hevel in the Jewish Quarter is unlike some of the Judaism 101 books out there that it doesn’t intend to include everything that could be written about Jewish life that goyim might be interested in. The e-book format allows me to refer my readers to well written sites for information or prayer texts, while I get to share what I find to be important for non-Jewish friends to understand about somewhat casual Judaism without being overwhelmed.

    The family history started out as a collection of things I knew about my family. Later it grew with information about Kevin’s family, then various in-laws’ families. It is in a story telling format, because stories are more memorable, and often more important, to remember about our ancestors than cold data about dates. It also ties in nicely with my e-book project, because it includes lots of stories and experiences of Jews from Chasids in Poland to Arabic speaking families in Yemen to assimilated Jews in Hungary.

    3 – Why do I write what I write?

    Everything I wirte is a piece of me finding a way to be expressed. I have a hard time expressing myself offline. Part of it is my lack of Hebrew, part is just being odd.

    I basically write, because I want to share a piece of me with those interested. I write, because there will be grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who might be interested in who I was. I write because I was taught to (though my cursive never really happened). I write, because it just makes sense.

    4 – How does my writing process work?

    My blog has at least one weekly post: the 7 Quick Takes. I always plan to write them throughout the week, but most of the time Thursday evenings see me tell my friend Jill, “I need more quick takes.” I think that will be the case tomorrow, again.

    Other than that, I have some regular features: I post about holidays, Harel Skaat songs, and the Eurovision Song Contest. However, there are certain posts that take a lot of emotional involvement for me to write. Those are my best, and often most read posts. I wish I could deliver an even quality of posts at regular intervals, but I can’t.

    I also do my other writing in waves. When inspiration strikes, I write pages upon pages in one sitting. Then nothing for weeks. I really lack discipline in my writing.

    OK, now onto the four great bloggers and writers!

    10481941_10202887144792560_6873169976255415244_nI met Jill through a Facebook group discussing international adoption ethics. She blogs at Learning Veranese, and today is her birthday! Her blog focuses on life with Down Syndrome, from a refreshing and very real point of view. In addition to being simply awesome, Jill can draw well, too, and her reluctance to give homeschooling advice made me believe that I can do it, too.

    Jill is the mom to 7 of the calmest children on the planet… plus one with ants in his pants. She loves Diet Sunkist, Boden dresses, Vietnamese food, and all the noodles and baby bok choy she ate for breakfast in China. She has given up reconciling her appreciation of  modern Israeli pop music with her heartdeep love of old hymns. She laughs at herself all the time because she’s as surprised as everyone else by what comes out.

    Happy birthday, Jill!

    My second featured blogger is Tricia. I found Tricia through Jill, and she blogs at Clean White Canvas. Our mutual love for Converse shoes proved to be a good foundation for our friendship, but my favourite thing about her is heart, that’s in every word she writes. Oh, and she made me aware of Feed The Children. I love her passion in life, in love, in faith and in education.

    triciaTricia, like onions and ogres (according to Shrek), has “layers”—each one more complicated than the next. On the surface she lives a (relatively) typical life: mother, school administrator, freelance writer.

    Despite Tricia’s best efforts to stay “unpeeled,” though, God did what Tricia couldn’t. He carved away that top layer and exposed some truths she’d hidden even from herself: a slightly feminist lesbian who struggles with guilt and grace. Tricia started her blog Clean White Canvas because she thought there might be other onions like her. Other families struggling with peeling layers (or maybe even hidden ones) who need to feel love, belonging, and acceptance.

    I ran into Galit on a mutual friend’s blog about adoption from Serbia. (Do you see a trend here?) Her name made me suspicious that we might just be members of the same Tribe, and I followed the link to her blog where I learnt more galitabout the yearly Torah cycle than I have in six years of synagogue attendance. She says about herself:

    I am a mom, a teacher (M.Ed. from Harvard in math education), a thinker, an idealist, and a Jew. My blog, http://matir-asurim.blogspot.com, is a vehicle for expressing and sharing all of these aspects of who I am. I am now taking my ambitions to the next level, by starting a coffee shop as a social enterprise to create inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities (http://thepowercafe.com). 

    While I already enjoyed her blog, I became fascinated by her dedication to make this workd better for all of us. I mean how could a café that benefits people who are otherwise marginalized in society and sells coffee not make the world better for everyone? Make sure you check out her page to find out details and to learn how you, too can be part of Power Café!

    gloriaThe fourth blog I’m linking today is anonymous, written by Gloria, The Wrong Gloria. Her view of the gay agenda,

    Gloria is a remedial lesbian, an experienced mom with over a 100 years of experience, a lover of Facebook chat and a useless Tweeter. She loves to sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing to her kids and God. After a lifetime of viewing the world through a mask, she is now working to be the truest version of herself.

    Now it’s these four bloggers’ turn to tell us something about writing. Make sure to check back for links to their blog hop posts!

    Autism and I

    Last week Inwas diagnosed with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’m 32, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that mental health/soecial education professionals started to ask me if I had vere been diagnosed with ASD. I used to tell them that no, but I have a few other letter combinations, like RAD and PTSD. That usually was satisfactory, till just a few weeks ago.

    “When were you diagnosed with RAD?” A particular clinical psychologist asked me. I told her. She shook her head. “That doesn’t fit the diagnostic criteria of RAD. I’d like to have you evaluated for Autism.” I went along with it, and last week the diagnosis was handed to me: I’m a high functioning Autistic, and while my diagnosis doesn’t state it as such, the psychiatrist discussing my results with me said, “These results are consistent with Asperger’s syndrome.” He also said that while my RAD diagnosis happened too late in life (over the age of five) to be sure it was RAD and some of my behaviours were never consistent with RAD, he doesn’t rule it out or wants to substitute one diagnosis with the other.

    In making the diagnosis it was essential that for the first time ever someone who was there for my early childhood could actually answer questions and provide history. My father’s participation was essential in the process. In earlier cases either only my adoptive parents were there or no parent figure at all. Getting an anamnesis, establishing that certain behaviours appeared at certain times had not been possible. We found out that despite my difficult beginnings and separation from my parents, I developed pretty normally till I was about 20 months old.

    At this point I’d like to point out that the MMR vaccine was not part of the immunization schedule in Ireland till I was about six, and I didn’t receive an MMR vaccine till I was a pre-teen. So yeah, colleration of two things still doesn’t mean a cause and effect relationship.

    So what does this diagnosis mean for me? Not much. It does answer some questions I’ve had about myself. It does explain why it’s so hard to deal with change (though I can handle change, and I can be pro-active in bringing about change, but reacting to unplanned change causes discomfort). It brings the dyspraxia and the sensory issues together. It explains things. However it won’t really change my life or me. Yes, there are some services I might be eligible for, and one of those is something that I can see being useful if I ever retu rn to university. I will not refer to myself as a person with Autism (actually not the preferred term for the ASD community), or an Autistic person, and especially not as an Aspie. I won’t start wearing colourful jigsaw puzzle pieces or start advocating for Autism organizations that I haven’t been advocating for. I probably will not remember to observe Autism Day either. I won’t be joining ASD groups on Facebook or seek out blogs on the topic (though there are a few blogs I already read that addresses the topic). My identity is not of an Autistic person, even though my newly diagnosed ASD has been part of who I am, without the label. Of course it does explain my Harel Skaat obsession. :)

     

    This is my experience. Being high finctioning enough that it took 30 years for a diagnosis is probably the reason why I, at this point, do not refer to myself as Autistic as my primary identity. Of course there are people who consider ASD a big part of their identities, and that is completel fine. My own experience is just that: mine. I don’t claim to know what other people with the same diagnosis experience, just as they don’t know my experience. My point is: I am still me, the difficult, the funny, the somewhat rigid, the occasionally smart, the often annoying Hevel.

    7 Quick Takes — 32

    — 1 —

    We had a wonderful two and a half (or 3/4?) days of ceasefire. It ended a few hours before the 72 hours were up, and it was ended by two rockets fired from Gaza to Israel. Apparently this time it's the Islamic Jihad. Since Hamas is in control of Gaza, I truly think it makes no difference: Hamas is responsible for everything coming from the land controlled by them. It was so close to getting back to normal, but it goes on. While Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, there isn't much change for the residents of the South, and they rightfully feel abandoned by our government, when once again we declare victory, only to allow Hamas to recover and rebuild…not the houses and schools and hospitals, but their rocket arsenal and tunnels.

    — 2 —

    Last night I did something big. Well, big for me. I went to Harel Skaat's concert all by myself. That is something I normally just don't do, it is too out of my comfort zone and too different from my routine. But since Mr. Skaat's birthday, and I am pretty much all alone, I decided to go. It was a brilliant concert as usual. I somehow ended up in line to meet him and wish him a happy birthday, and somehow that line turned into going to an all night burger place (by myself) and staying out way too late.

    So…Happy birthday Mr. Skaat!

    6_36

    — 3 —

     

    — 4 —

    The Priest's Wife has been advocating for avoiding cheap. Chinese products for a number of reasons. (I'll include a link as soon as I get on my laptop.) While she has some very valid points, I have done some eBay shopping from China and Hong Kong. One seller was selling knitting needles and crochet hooks for very reasonable prices. I contacted them, because I wanted the package to be sent directly to the volunteer organization of the hospital where I have taught some girls and boys to crochet. A local vendor donated some yarn, and I wanted to get the needles and hooks. He and I worked it out, and then I was surprised to see that instead of the free Economy International Shipping option he upgraded my shipping to the Express shipping free. I was already grateful for this gesture, but today I got a text from one of the volunteers at the hospital that the package arrived and, in addition to the two crochet hook sets and one knitting needle set, there were two additional sets of both, some mixed beads and charms, flexible thread and clasps for jewelery. Some of these things will go to other hospitals or activities provided by the organization.

    — 5 —

    I've been crafting. Yes, still cold porcelain.

    I need to find some good sealer/varnish to waterproof it, and then I can plant my little palm “tree” in it.

    — 6 —

    My garden is pretty much dead. While our house sitters tried to resurrect it, the neglect from the last few weeks has really taken its toll on my poor straw bale garden! I think the root vegetables and some of our peas will make it, and everything we put in planters and pots will, too, but our beans and berries and celery sticks and flowers are beyond help. Maybe next year we won't have a war killing my garden.

    — 7 —

    Shabbat shalom! And once wgain, happy birthday to Harel Skaat!

    For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

     

     

     

    7 Quick Takes — 31 More “Gaza War”, Coffee and Sillyness.

    — 1 —

     

    Reading foreign news reports, I have found that Operation Protective Edge is now often referred to as the “Gaza war”. I find that a little bit strange, because, well, it’s a conflict with military participation, but seriously, the word “war” freaks me out. All of my siblings have war experience, with the Second Lebanon War, and my dad served in every war since the Six Day War (yes, even the Second Lebanon War, even though he was nearing retirement age), but me, no.

    The continuing conflict is taking a toll on me, because of the lack of sleep, mostly. And while I whine here about not sleeping well, I am amazed by residents of teh South, who carry on despite much, much worse circumstances than what I experience here, in my little Tel Aviv bubble. Going for coffee, or to the beach, or even just doing my grocery shopping are luxuries not everyone can afford now, because the Hamas attacks are ongoing. There is now a bitter joke about how ceasefire means we cease, Gazans fire… and that eventually Hamas will turn to the UN to complain that the Iron Dome takes down their rockets even during ceasefires. The sad thing is, as things go, that could happen. Hamas fired rockets at their own people, and now blame Israel for the deaths and damage.

    — 2 —

    The past two weeks I saw Kevin twice, the second being yesteday/today. It was good to have him home for a night before he leaves to joining our kids in Europe for two weeks. Or three the most. I mean if they can stay, why miss August 20?I wish I could have gone with them. I was also going to participate in a craft fair, but then things changed. I am so frateful for the ceasefire, and I do hope it lasts the 72 hours, because it’s one less thing to worry about as they fly. I will be alone for the next two weeks so I’m going to spend these two weeks in the city.

    ETA: The ceasefire lasted all of two hours. Wonderful. Not.

    — 3 —

    After really having to convince my local coffee place’s barista that I’ve already gotten a coffee free, and it should be Hamas paying not the company, I was given a jar of luxury instant coffee as a gift by one of the soldiers I work with. So now we are making fun coffee creations using whatever we have on hand. I made some chocolate sauce flavoured with green almond extract that is popular. I just love that we can create designer coffee from pennies with an electric kettle and a frappé whisk. We are creative.

    I experimented more with the cold porcelain. I opted to use food colouring instead of acrilyc paint for the most recent batch. Acrylic kept ruining my plastic bowls, food colouring washes off. If i make individual batches, I add the food colouring to the glue at the start of the process, but if I colour smaller batches, I re-heat the cold porcelain in the microwave, and work in the colour as well as more corn flour. The only negatives I found was that the colour transfers on my hand, but the same thing happened with tempera paint and one if my acrilycs.

    — 5 —

    I’m pretty clumsy and I luck artistic ability, but here is what I just made:

    Once he dries, I need to sandpaper it to get rid of the colours that were transfered by my hand, and then paint the eye (which I kinda didn’t do right anyway). Still, I’m quite happy with it.
    There are several books that are mostly about working with polymer clay, but the ideas and techniques presented in them would work with cold porcelain, too. The only thing you have to remember is that cold porcelain air dries, and it shrinks a bit, so do not bake it.
    Here are some of my recommendations:

    The Polymer Clay Techniques Book
    Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay: Tools and Techniques for Sculpting Realistic Figures
    Complete Book of Polymer Clay, The

    — 6 —

    Coming over to my rental in Tel Aviv, I picked up some books to read. This is one of my favourite summer readings:

    The title translates as “We and They” from Hungarian, and it’s the third in a series of books by Italian journalist and novelist Brunella Gasperini. All three books are about the same, slightly dysfunctional but very funny and very real family, presented from the point of view of different members of the family: the first book is from the father’s, the second is from the mother’s, and the third one is from the youngest daughter’s POV. It’s a brilliant series, but it seems to be unknown in the English speaking world. To be honest, I think it is unknown outside of Italy and Hungary. I read the whole series most every summer, so now, between sirens, I’m reading on the balcony, with one of my iced coffee creations. All of asudden, life is a bit better. The bitter sweet message present throughout the series remind me that we aren’t all that different today than the people were in the sixties, when this book was written.

    — 7 —

     

    Shabbat shalom! Tonight we are praying for peace, here, in Syria, in the world. Tonight we are praying for the Jews of Paris and the displaced Christians of Mosul and the people of Gaza and Israel. Tonight we are lighting candles, breaking the chalah, drink the wine, and pray for the soldiers kidnapped during today’s brief ceasefire and for the families of the 61 dead IDF soldiers.

    For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    When Your Kid is in Gaza…

    Every time I read/hear about IDF fatalities in Gaza, my heart skips a beat. I immediately start searching for names. Names of friends, names of family members…

    If anything ever happens to “my” boy, I’ll find it out from the news or from the official internal communications. While he has a bedroom and a family who claim him as one of them, technically he is a lone soldier, without any family. His bio parents, who abandoned him, would be notified before us.

    Every news report has me worried for my son’s boyfriend, for nephews and nieces, for the numerous lone soldiers, who have spent their days off in our guest room, for Kevin, for my BIL and now for my foster son.

    So every day, I read the names of Israel’s fallen soldiers, and pray for them, their families, and for my boys.

    …Because Israel — 2

    Today I took the three kids to the beach. As we arrived home, Yonah was waiting for us, with a bag full of toiletries.

    “I want a bubble bath, but since Protective Edge began I’ve been only taking super quick showers. It’s embarrassing to run for shelter all soapy, wearing only a towel… But it sure starts conversations with your neighbours!”

    Now we know how Yonah meets people.