Archive for the ‘Jewish Year’ Category

Post Shavuot catch-up

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Well, I didn’t finish the dress I’m making DD, so she wore some existing clothes for Shavuot (and was proclaimed very cute when we went out for lunch today). I finally just now got around to adding five books to the reading list from the past few weeks, only the last of which was actually finished today. I’m looking forward to talking about some of them here, at least, and will try to do at least one review tomorrow.

Still tired

Saturday, 7 May 2011

I showed someone a few crochet stitches the other day, and that was really fun. I have to get myself stitching again – maybe it’d get me out of some of the fatigued funk. Not that many weeks till Shavuot, either, which is when I wanted DD’s dress to be ready for. I need to look at it again, but I may have done enough on the bodice to be able to begin the skirt, which is the bit that’ll take the time.

There’s a new baby in the extended family coming to make something for too. Baby stuff is small and thus relatively quick to make. You just have to get it done before they outgrow it!

Post Passover Planning

Monday, 25 April 2011

(NB It’s still Passover/Pesach everywhere but Israel, but since that’s where I am, it’s over!)

So, I can get back to my crocheting. I think the priorities are getting on with DD’s summer dress, which I’d like to have ready for Shavuot, which is in six weeks, and the shawl for the wonderful doula who helped her be born, oh, over five months ago now… (Oops!) I’d also like to make some potholders/dishcloths for Pesach use, while I still remember (having entirely forgotten about it last year). After that I want to try again at some soakers for her.

I’m not sure how ambitious all this is, as I’m due to start an intensive language course next week (all morning, five days a week, with possibly an hour’s commute each way, for five months) which will involve homework, and I do want to keep up with the daily blogging too, as well as my reading, although I expect the amount of that will drop. I can pretty much either read or crochet while on the bus, so we’ll see how much I alternate between the two.

An oldie

Monday, 21 March 2011

I came across an extended version of a classic joke in one of the books I’m reading, and had to share it with you:

In one such school the teacher asked the question, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?”, after a pause Billy Falla put his hand up and said;

“Please Miss it wasn’t me.”

The teacher, outraged by the ignorance shown in the answer given, and the low standard in general, went to the head master to complain.

She said, I just asked the class who knocked down the walls of Jericho, and Billy Falla said, please Miss it wasn’t me. The headmaster thought about this a moment and then said, “Well! I have know the Falla family for many many years, and if little Billy said it wasn’t him, then it wasn’t him.” This left her flabbergasted, so that night from her home she wrote a letter of complaint to the States Education Council, which went as follows:-

This morning I asked my class the question who knocked down the walls of Jericho and Billy Falla said; ‘Please Miss it wasn’t me!’ I complained to the headmaster who informed me that he had known the Falla family for many many years and if Billy said it wasn’t him then it wasn’t him.

Some weeks later she received a reply from the States Education Council, saying “We have given careful consideration to your letter and have decided that to avoid any further bad feeling, if you would go ahead and get the wall repaired we will pay the bill”!!

It’s Purim, so I doubt I’ll have time for another post today, but have a good one, all! This is from Donkey’s Ears Apart by George Torode, pp 64-66.

No sew baby panda costume

Sunday, 20 March 2011

panda baby 022Hm, I think this panda costume worked better in my head than so far in reality, but hopefully it’ll look good tomorrow, out and about on Shushan Purim day. For one thing, I hadn’t realised just how much too small DD’s white hat is these days…

Still, it meets my criteria for a baby costume of:

  1. Being as comfortable as her normal clothes to wear and put on/take off
  2. Not making anything in good condition unwearable other than as fancy dress
  3. Being cheap, quick and easy to make

So, just in case anyone out there thinks this is an idea they’d like to improve upon 😉 here’s how I did it.

panda baby 001First, you’ll need a white hat and one-piece outfit that both fit the baby, and a pair of opaque black women’s tights. (These last are going to be cut up, so this is how to use up any with holes or runs that mean you can’t wear them any longer. If they’re in particularly bad shape you might need to choose parts from more than one pair.) You’ll also need a small sheet of card and some small safety pins. Tools needed are scissors, a glass and a pen/pencil.

panda baby 003The feet ends of the tights will go over baby’s legs, so measure generously and cut these off. (You can trim later if they’re really too long.) Cut another small piece from each tights leg for the ears, then the remainder will make the black part of the costume body. I forgot to take pictures of these parts but basically you need a large hole in the tights where the two legs join. This will go over baby’s head, with the legs as sleeves.

panda baby 024

panda baby 005To make the ears, cut two appropriately sized circles out of thin card (I found the base of a small glass was a good size), fold each in half and cover with the small pieces of tights leg you cut earlier.

panda baby 015Use the safety pins to carefully attach the ears to the hat at the seams, so that the metal doesn’t touch baby. This is where I’d really recommend sewing, especially since a hat with ears is cute even when not in fancy dress. In that case you wouldn’t want card stiffening, however, as it’s not washable. Still, this way certainly does work.

panda baby 019This is the longest stretch of metal I could find inside the hat, and I’m probably going to redo that pin.

And that’s it. Now just place it all on the baby. There’s enough friction in tights material that you probably don’t actually need to attach the legs to the main outfit, but if your baby’s already crawling and pulling them up is getting annoying a couple of carefully placed safety pins would probably work there too.

Free Books!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Eight Hamodia books

Eight Hamodia books

We just got our prize from a Chanuka raffle, and it’s a nice one. Expect reviews of at least some of these in the next few months.

As for free books for the rest of you, I just learned of new ways to access the cornucopia of material available on Project Gutenberg, Librivox and elsewhere. (I’ve recommended both of those sites here many times before.)

E.C. recently recommended a freely downloadable Kindle application for the PC, which you may find useful for paid products or free ones.

Somehow I missed it three months ago when it apparently started, but is now offering random rateable chapters of Librivox books to listen to. Each chapter has a link to the work’s info and download page so that ifwhen you find something you like you can listen to the whole thing. This seems like a great way to find new audiobooks (the RSS feed of what’s newly published is another), which I believe is the intention, but I also enjoyed just listening to what came up, hitting “Next” if I wasn’t interested in what came up. For me, poetry and chapters of old favourites were best for this, but some new random chapters were good to, even without knowing what came before. (This works better with non-fiction than novels, in my opinion.)

Going over the Basics

Sunday, 24 October 2010

With all the discussion of rereading I’ve done, you know I can very much enjoy revisiting topics, ideas, and especially stories. At the same time, I’ve never been good at revising things I’ve learnt in a course. It does seem like a bit of a dichotomy. I think perhaps I don’t (and didn’t) mind reading a good book again, and I’m happy to see a new perspective on a known fact, so long as I do not have to pretend I don’t know it, but I really don’t like just going over stuff I already know without that involving going deeper (or broader) into it.

I really wish now that I’d realised this about myself explicitly all those years ago, because I’m sure my teachers, parents and local librarians would have been sympathetic and helpful to my finding (for example) alternate textbooks to read/look over as my ‘revision’, rather than always intending but rarely actually going over the notes I’d made in detail. (Thankfully my memory and original understanding tended to be pretty good, so I generally managed just fine in tests and exams anyhow. I’m sure I could have done better in many cases, however.) Since my DH was similar in many ways, we think it might be sensible to remember this as a strategy for when our own children have tests and exams to revise for! (As well as when we do again ourselves, of course, but that doesn’t come up as often any more.)

The two books I’m planning on discussing here and now fit this personal dichotomy well, as the first is a very readable book that I’m certainly coming back to for the second or third time, because as my experience of the topics discussed changes and grows, so does my perspective on them, and different parts of the book become more and less relevant, so that I can certainly get more out of it. The second, as a textbook that in absolute terms I’m beyond the level of, is one that I certainly wouldn’t reread, but since I’m intending doing a proper course in the topic in a few months, and I want to get the best possible value out of that (starting at as high a level as I can, and progressing as far as I can within the given timeframe), then absolutely solidifying my knowledge and understanding of the basics thereof is worth my while. (Particularly as we happened to have the book just sitting on the shelf… 😉 )

39. The Committed Marriage by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The Committed Marriage by Esther Jungreis coverI reread this, in its entirety, on Yom Kippur (so about five weeks ago), when I was stuck at home (rather than being in the synagogue, where the services of the day include enough ‘extras’ that someone alone leaves out, that they take all day) and wanted something of meaning and some relevance that at the same time didn’t require too much concentration when I was fasting and trying to save my mental agility for the davening.

This is a fairly lightly written but still meaningful book, about the importance of the marriage relationship, coming from an orthodox Jewish perspective. It’s published by HarperCollins rather than a Jewish publisher, and does not assume a particular background of its readers, although all the example stories are of Jewish couples and families Rebbetzin Jungreis has been involved with or counselled, across the range of Jewish practice/religiosity, with many being secular. (I bought this book, and her previous one, The Committed Life, at a talk she gave that I attended a few years ago.)

This isn’t (in my opinion, not having read very many of them) a classic self-help book with specific solutions to specific problems, but more a philosophy of relationship building, aiming to promote, begin and strengthen strong marriages at the core of loving healthy families. (As I said, it’s written from an orthodox Jewish perspective.)

It’s probably the kind of book I have to be in the right frame of mind for, although it isn’t wishy-washy, but when I am it can be useful, if only in increasing my gratitude that the problems described just don’t apply to us, and hopefully never will! This is probably why Yom Kippur was a good time for me to reread it, to remind me to thank Hashem for the gift of a good marriage and to pray for it to always continue so, particularly as our family grows and changes.

40. Modern Hebrew by Harry Blumberg and Mordechai H. Lewittes

Modern Hebrew by Blumberg & LewittesThis is subtitled “A First-Year Course in Conversation, Reading and Grammar”, and is introductory (apart from assuming as ability to read the Hebrew script, although there is a brief reference guide to that at the back of the book). While there were several vocabulary items that were new to me, the grammatical instructions were revision, and even though this was a new text to me I didn’t bother writing out any of the exercises, just doing them all orally to myself. Since this book is intended as a classroom text, I had no means of feedback, but for review I didn’t need that to feel I was getting some benefit from reading through the book and getting some semi-formal Hebrew practice.

As a textbook it’s certainly of its time (first published 1946, with this 3rd edition apparently from 1963, and the copyright regularly renewed up to 1982) in its choice of texts and topics, as well (to a certain extent) in its stereotyping, so that I certainly wouldn’t expect to use it in a classroom today. However as a revision text for me to read it worked very well indeed.

Taking the principle of going over the absolute basics, but this time in a context where I can get feedback, and even push myself a bit, for the last week I’ve been doing the basic (free) Hebrew courses on What’s available as lessons is very basic indeed, but I have picked up on some vocabulary (I’d never done the colours systematically before, for example), and even better, the writing prompts can be elaborated on much beyond what has been taught, with many/most of the Hebrew speaking site users happy to give good feedback based on what you’re actually producing, rather than the lesson level.

I actually realised the potential for this when correcting an English exercise for someone who’d made a story out of the (fairly boring) prompt. (The way the site works is that you tell it which languages you’re native and fluent in – for me English and French respectively – and which languages you want to learn, and then each person corrects what they are fluent in and is corrected by native/fluent users of what they’re learning. It seems to me so far a very good system.

So I now try to make stories from my written exercises too, as it pushes me to use vocabulary and grammar beyond that of the given lesson (obviously using that too) and gets me feedback that is actually useful to me. Personally I actually find it more interesting to help those trying to go beyond the course limits, and my impression is that I’m not the only one to feel this way. (I do still give appropriate feedback to those not going beyond, of course, but there’s often less of interest to say.)

While the speaking exercises I’ve done have all involved reading a given (short) text aloud, (the paid courses have more interactive speaking exercises) I’ve also had good feedback on my intonation, as well as the pronunciation of words I’d only seen in writing (without vowels) and had misinterpreted.

It seems like a very good site for both beginners (so long as you can read the script/alphabet for the given language – so I’m leaving aside Ukrainian, which would require better Cyrillic skills than I currently have, for now) and improvers. I’m not sure how advanced the paid courses get (the free ones are all pretty basic) and those are available in all languages at the moment, but the site certainly seems to me to have a lot to offer for those who do want to work on their language learning.

Erev Rosh Hashana

Wednesday, 8 September 2010
blowing the shofar (by Alphonse Lévy)

Image via Wikipedia

So, it’s just a few short hours till Rosh Hashana begins, and thus I’ll be offline for the next three days. For those of you celebrating, have a wonderful chag, leading into the best of new years. For the rest – enjoy the rest of the week!

Onwards, ever onwards

Thursday, 2 September 2010

NaBloPoMo finished August iconSo, here we are on the 2nd of September. As I mentioned, this isn’t a good month to try for a post every day, but I do want to keep it up when I do have the time (and something to say!). I’m glad the August NaBloPoMo blogging worked, though, since I really doubt I’ll manage in November this year (or October) either.

Anyway, I’ve done a few more rows on my Petal Rows blanket sample. Unfortunately I really don’t have very much of the yarn I’m using, so even mixing the colours more than I like, it’s going to be pretty tiny (this pattern really does take a lot of yarn). Oh well, no-one ever said my colour choices were fabulous anyhow!

I should really go back to telling you about The Wind in the Willows, or one of the books I finished even before that, but perhaps that’ll be good to do tomorrow. Right now I think it’s time to go read a bit in bed unless/until I fall asleep.

What must be done

Friday, 27 August 2010

NaBloPoMo August logoI finished some more repairs last night (sewing ones), but they’re not really good enough to show off, I don’t think. I keep meaning to do a post on pad refurbishment, because it might actually be useful to somebody (there’s lots and lots of online info on how to make new cloth menstrual pads from scratch, but not so much on changing them after the fact), although it’s one of those things where if I can work this out then probably anybody can!

I have a few almost-finished books to add to the list, and several there still to write about. I might finish some of the reading over Shabbat, so there’ll be more on those to come.

Let’s see, it’s the 27th of August now, so I’m looking good to finish up the month having fulfilled the NaBloPoMo requirements for posting every day. I don’t realistically think I can even try to commit to that for September, October or November, certainly, (rather expecting first the Jewish festivals and then some major life changes to get in the wayalter my priorities) although I will try to keep posting regularly. (I might just stick with some of the more interesting posts, though…) I’ll try not to just disappear (again) anyhow!

Hm, to add to the randomness that is this post, I’m evidently confusing Zemanta with all the different topics. Shall I just see can I show you some of the variety of pictures it’s offering me?  Apparently not easily. (It seems it won’t let me drag the pictures where I want them on Opera, and thus it just wants to do one, right at the top, where I don’t want it.) Anyhow, there are a few of cloth pads, several related to Shabbat and its different services, as well as a few completely random ones I can’t work out at all.

Anyway, whatever you’re planning on doing for it, have a great weekend!