Tuesday, December 12, 2017

First Night

It's traditional to light your candles outside so that everyone can see them.

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah. We were invited to friends for candle lighting and dinner. It was really lovely. Great company, lots of children, lots of presents, lots of food and lots of fancy doughnuts. If you've never tasted lime and coconut cream doughnuts from a French patisserie you've not lived. Though I have to say that the berries and cream doughnut was also something special. We cut them into quarters and had a tasting fest.

Thank you Sally-Ann!

The amazing doughnuts!

Lots of friends!

You light a taper candle and one extra each day for 8 days.

Playing Dreidels
Painting iced biscuits.
Each biscuit came with a paint brush and four colours.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #49 - A Tweenager Is Born

Now I am 9 I'm as clever as clever.
(With apologies to AA Milne)
DD and I climbed into bed together for a story. We're almost finished reading The Wouldbegoods and I wanted to press on with it. DD had found her book from the Natural History Museum two years ago. She asked me to read the section about dinosaurs to her. I started but it was soooo boring. After two pages I was tired and couldn't be bothered with it.

Me: I'm not reading any more of this. It's too boring.
DD: Well that's rude.

DD: Mummy why did you come to live here?
Me: Because this is where Jewish people live.
DD: Wait a minute. Are we Jewish!?
Me: Of course we are. What did you think?
DD: I didn't know we were Jewish.
Me: Do you know it in Hebrew that anachnu Yehudim (we're Jewish).
DD: Ohhhh, why didn't you say so?

Answering questions on a reading comprehension for English homework.
DD: What is the relationship between the two girls? Mummy! How do you write 'best friends'?
Me: Write 'best' how it sounds.
DD: Doesn't matter. I wrote BFF.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Vegan Meat Patties

Vegan meat patties
Quite by chance and by accident I have made vegan patties that look and taste like meat. I think I shall have to name them Serendipity Patties. (Btw, hands up who first learned the word serendipity from Dr Who circa 1970?)

Here's how it happened. I went shopping this morning while DD was at school. Included in my weekly shop full of healthy fruit, vegetables and whole grains of course (well mostly - some of the grains aren't wholely whole tbh), were DD's crisps. I came home, unpacked the shopping and sat down at the computer with a cup of tea, to work.

I tried eating a bowl of porridge with banana. Then I finished the cold pasta in the fridge with salad vegetables and a tahina dressing. Then I had another cup of tea. And finally I succumbed to the crisps. (I should have just eaten the crisps first and bypassed all the other calories.) This was over a four hour period but still, I ate her crisps.

DD goes to club straight from school on Friday and one of the leaders comes to the school to walk a group of them over to the club house at 11.45. Yes Stupid Friday school finishes at 11.45. It was my turn to pick her up with her friend, at 1.15. We walked the friend home and then just had time to pop back into the local supermarket for a replacement bag of crisps.

The shops here close at 2pm on Fridays in the winter and don't open at all on Saturday. There was a pile of reduced perishable items by the check out. I was drawn by a designer loaf of bread and a pack of two whole-wheat challah rolls in the 2 for 12 shekels basket. I bought them and the sliced loaf went straight into the freezer for toast. I fancied a challah sandwich for supper.

However, when I took the challot (pl) out of the bag they were dry and sort of crumbled in my hands. I was angry initially but there was nothing I could do about it except resolve never to buy food on offer from that shop again. I've said this before but I keep forgetting.

Ever industrious in the kitchen, I crumbled the challot into a bowl, added a finely chopped onion, a jar of pasta tomato sauce, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and a shlug of olive oil. I would have added some soy or Worcester sauce but I didn't have any. I mixed it all up and spooned patty sized mounds of the mixture onto a baking tray. Into the oven for - umm - until they started to smell done, flipped them over and back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Oh yes, the oven was hot  - about 200 degrees.

They were still a bit moist and floppy when I put them onto a plate to cool but became much firmer as they rested. I had about 25 (now only 21) and they really do taste meaty. I think next time I'll make them bigger like burgers.

I packed them into a plastic box and into the fridge for the week. In a prime example of bloggerfail, I'd forgotten to take a photo. So the photo after the fact is not very Martha Stewart but at least I remembered before they were all eaten. Don't they look good for vegan?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

R2BC - The Surprise Party

Top Bunk!
She's pretending to be asleep for this photo, I can see her smiling. 
The working week is over for me on Thursday afternoon (I go back to school on Sunday morning), apart from all the work I have to do at home, and the shopping, and the cooking, and the cleaning. But apart from all that.... Seriously though, if I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn and get us both out of the house before 7.30 am, I don't count it as working. Here are my reasons 2B cheerful for this past week. The linky has moved back to Becky's Lakes Single Mum for December and I'm on it as usual.

DD turned nine on Monday. She had a lovely birthday and actually, she ended up with three different celebrations.

I'm still getting my head around the fact that nine years have gone by since she was born. As I'm an older mother, I'd had over 20 years of total independence. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. All I had to do was make my arrangements for myself and lock my front door behind me. I didn't even have to leave a note for anyone. Now I've had nine years of not making a move without factoring DD into the equation - where will she be? Who will she be with? What will she do? What will she eat? Will she be happy? Will she be bored? Will she be too tired? Will she be warm enough?

I know all mothers live with multiple lives to consider, and some of them do it for decades if they have large families, but for me it was a new experience. It's complicated sometimes but I like it.

On Tuesday I had to be in school from 4 to 8pm for parent-teacher meetings. The day was a study in logistic planning from reorganising my college timetable to making arrangements for DD so that she could go to club, be taken to Sarit's house, stay overnight with Sarit, be taken to school in the morning with a classmate, and not have to schlep her clarinet everywhere with her after the clarinet lesson on Tuesday morning.

My first R2BC is that it all went like clockwork. Thank you team!

I knew that Sarit was going to have a cake and candles for DD as Tuesday was the day after her birthday. And I knew that she had a gift for her. So I'm sitting at school, bored stiff because only 15 parents came to see me in four hours! And it was not one family every 15 minutes. It was more like 10 families in the first hour and a half and another five families spread over the remaining two and a half hours. Anyhoo, I suddenly see Whatsapp messages coming through with photos of a proper birthday party happening at Sarit's place.

She had invited the rest of our 'created family' group (we are five mothers and five children but one family is away atm) for tea and birthday celebrations. I was really touched as it was a total surprise. DD was so happy. The only negative thing was that I couldn't be there.

This one is DD's. She got the top bunk for the night at Sarit's. Her first time on a top bunk. She was thrilled.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Such Is Life

Sunset over Jerusalem.
The sun doesn't go down, it's the world that keeps on turning.
We live on the third floor of an apartment building. Directly below us on the second floor are a young family who just welcomed their third daughter into the world. And on the first floor, directly below them, are a couple in their late 50s with grown up children and baby grandchildren.

On DD's birthday, as we went downstairs to go to school in the morning, we noticed a big colourful poster on the door of the family on the second floor. WELCOME HOME TO MUMMY AND OUR BABY SISTER! We smiled and said that we must go in and visit next week and take a gift.

We left the building and outside in the parking area we saw a small marquee with the sign 'Sukkat Avelim'. It means 'Mourners' Shelter'. I looked to see where the electric cable from the roof of the marquee went into the building and saw that it was attached via the balcony of the couple on the first floor.

My heart sank as I understood what had happened. Although there were no notices up yet I had met the wife in the supermarket last week and she told me her son was in hospital. Had an elderly grandparent died, they would have not have needed a tent. But when a young man with a family of his own dies, there are more mourners and more friends who come to visit and comfort during the week of shiva.

By the time I got home from school and was rushing out to collect DD and her friends for the birthday supper, the notices were up. I had been right. Michael was was a young family man with four babies - two sets of twins all under four years old.

The funeral had been in the morning and the street around our building was full of tearful friends and family. My neighbour came out of the tent. I hugged her, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," was all I could say. We all assumed he would be ok. He was young, there are babies, he was in the hospital, the hospital makes you better doesn't it?

I popped into their apartment on my way upstairs to say a few words to her husband and then ran up to dump my bag and do a quick change of clothes. On my way back out I met the new father on the second floor. I wished him Mazal Tov and we walked out together, through the mourners to the street.

He drove off to collect his wife and new baby from the hospital and I went to celebrate DD's birthday. Such is life.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A More Sophisticated Birthday

Fancy shmancy doughnuts. They don't come fancier than this. 
The birthday started last Friday when DD celebrated her birthday in school along with the other December birthdays. One of the mothers made a fabulous cake, I bought a gift from the three of them to the class (a picture atlas if you're interested), and the other friend bought a small present for each of the birthday children.

The real birthday day, yesterday, started with me waking DD with a full throttle rendition of "Happy Birthday to you..." in two languages.

DD: Stop that racket! It's a regular school day!
Me: But its your birthday!
DD: Don't be weird. (Turns over and goes back to sleep).

So much for that. We eventually got moving. I found some Whatsapp messages for DD on my phone and an e-card on the computer. I related the messages to DD and she watched the card. #postmillenialgeneration

Me: O (my friend's son aged 7) wishes you lots of presents and sweets.
DD: Amen!

Perusing the menu.
There were only 4 options on the kids' menu but they studied them seriously.
We both went off to our separate schools. The celebrations were going to be after school.

DD didn't want a party but she did want to do something for her birthday and so did I. So we invited a friend to come out for supper and a fancy doughnut.

A word about the doughnuts. Fried food is traditional for the festival of Hanukkah. Specifically latkes and doughnuts. Like Christmas, Hanukkah starts early in the shops and in recent years the competition to produce the fanciest doughnuts has become fierce. In the exit poles Roladin Cafe usually comes in the top 3 so that's where we went. Also because there is a branch five minutes walk from our house.

By the time we got to the actual event, DD had invited another two friends. I was desperately trying to play it down as there is a school policy of inviting the whole class, or at least all the girls or all the boys to birthday parties. I kept saying, it's not a party, it's not a party. In the end it was great that  we had three guests because it made it more of a party. I know, it's complicated, but you can get away with it if you keep it low profile.

More fancy doughnuts
I collected the girls from school at 4pm and we walked up the road to Roladin. The menu was perfect as they have a kids' selection with four options - pizza, pasta with tomato or cream sauce, cheese toast, or a breakfast type egg, cheese, salad and bread roll platter. They mostly wanted the pizza. And they got a drink of their choice included with the meal. I had a salad.

After ordering, DD opened her presents. They are very sweet here about giving birthday blessings and each child wished DD something lovely for the coming year. And then she thanked them each with a hug.

Then they ran about for a bit outside. Then they chose and ate doughnuts (not me of course). Then I paid and we left. No stress. No mess to clear up. Much cheaper than a party And DD said said that it was her best birthday so far. Result!

The obligatory silly photo with tongues sticking out.
I will never understand why tongues out means we're having lots of fun.  
We walked our guests home. One of them lived further along the Bethlehem Road than we thought. I almost expected to arrive in Bethlehem before we got to her house but we eventually got there before leaving Jerusalem. We ended up doing an hour's round trip to take her home and then walk home again. Yes we could have taken the bus or a taxi back but actually it was a lovely mild evening and the walk was fun.

At home DD played with her presents for a bit, we had an argument about bedtime versus time on You Tube, and the day was over with a kiss and a cuddle.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Perfect Diet?

Today we had a vegan lunch. Tomorrow - who knows.
Back in July I wrote this post about the Ketogenic diet versus a Vegan Diet. At that time I came down decidedly on the side of the keto diet because I was convinced by the carbs turning to glucose argument. I was, and am still, in favour of intermittent  fasting. However, I can't get the vegan factors out of my head. And, to make it all more complicated, I like history, nostalgia and tradition so what are you supposed to do about baking with real butter, chicken soup with kneidlech, shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, and all other meat and potato pies?

I've spent hours on You Tube watching documentaries and testimonies form every camp. They all claim to solve the world-wide obesity crisis, reverse type 2 diabetes, reverse even stage 4 cancers, eradicate heart disease, eradicate strokes, eradicate dementia, eradicate almost everything including old age! Grown men and women shouting at each other with passionate anger that they have found the secret to universal good health.

Confused? I totally am. This is what I've found out about all the different ways of eating. Maybe if I write it all down we can see some helpful patterns.

1. What Grandma used to make.
It sounds sensible because who could be more sensible about food than Grandma. She cooked the family through the war (if  you're old enough, otherwise think Great-Grandma) and the nation have never been so healthy as they were then.

But if you're going to do it you need to do it like Grandma (or Great-Grandma) did it. They ate a little of everything, there was no (or very little) processed food, they did not eat between meals, they ate much smaller portions than we are used to now, sugar was rationed.

You also have to take into account that the wheat, vegetables, and especially the meat, that we buy nowadays is not as nutritionally sound as it was back then. The wheat has been modified, the vegetables are sprayed, the soil is depleted, the animals are fed antibiotics (and maybe hormones) to keep them alive and growing. And don't let's start on the spiritual notion that their stress and suffering in some way taints the meat, dairy and eggs. Ok, let's include that because we're not dismissing anything here and I sort of do believe it.

2. The Ketogenic Diet.
No carbohydrates except those occurring in salad and crusiferous vegetables. No sugar, flour, root vegetables, fruit (except berries), alcohol, grains, or milk. On the other hand you can have cheese, cream, butter, meat, fish, eggs, avocados and berries. They advise moderate amounts of protein so it's not Atkins. The perfect keto meal is a moderate portion of protein with loads of vegetables.

The science they claim is that carbs are just glucose waiting to happen, and that glucose is what leads to too much insulin, fatty livers, and all the other diseases mentioned above. Once you eliminate the carbs, your body has to use your stored fat for energy and you go into a state of ketosis and lose weight.

I don't dispute any of this. I've seen amazing transformations from obese and nearly dead couch potatoes to healthy, fit, exercising people with abundant energy and sparkles in their eyes. They have indeed reversed many of the dreaded diseases of middle-age and it shows on their blood tests.

3. Whole Food, Plant Based, Vegan.
I'm skipping vegetarian here because vegetarian makes no sense. The dairy cows and the laying hens are kept in the same conditions as the meat animals. Milk and eggs have the same fat, hormones, and antibiotics. Dairy and meat cows eat the same amount of grain (that could be used to feed hungry people) and give of the same the amount of gas. So if you're vegetarian but not vegan you're kidding yourself.

Vegan on its own is also not enough if we're looking for a healthy diet. Crisps, jelly beans, and all sorts of processed sugary snacks are vegan, You could live off them and still be vegan. So I'm only talking about whole food plant based vegan here.

The WFPB camp are about animal suffering, the planet, and our health. I agree with them about the animals. It's not like it was in olden times when you knew the farmer and the animals frolicked in the fields until their eventual demise. Despite the pictures of happy cows and hens on the packaging, all our meat comes from animals living suffering in factory conditions.

I agree with them about the planet. I have to take their word for it on the gas emissions being the biggest cause of greenhouse gas and therefore global warming. I do understand, however, that the enormous amount of grain fed to animals gives way less food than the grain would have given had it by-passed the fat and protein machine (i.e. the animal).

It only gets complicated when we look at the health benefits. Every amazing transformation and healing miracle I've seen from keto people, I've seen the exact same incredible results from the WFPB vegans. They say you can get enough protein from plants, avocados are super-foods, beans are the key to eternal good health, and you can reverse or prevent all the diseases we fear whilst simultaneously saving the planet and stopping animal suffering.

I also kinda have to agree that it doesn't make sense to be afraid of a potato (although you should be afraid of the vegetable oil in crisps and chips) or a piece of fruit. So again you have to be selective - a healthy WFPB vegan diet does not include sugar, vegetable oils, or any processed foods (including highly refined grains). You also need to eat the whole fruit and not just the juice as this leads to drinking the sugar from 10 oranges instead of the whole fruit and fibre of one orange.

The vegan doctors say they see clogged arteries full of animal fat and it's nothing to do with glucose. They advise high carb, low fat. I'm not a doctor.

4. One Ingredient Shopping.
You can have what you like as long as you buy only foods that consist of one ingredient. Meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts. I like this concept and you would necessarily eat less if you had to make everything from scratch. I just included this because it's a simple solution although it doesn't solve the carbs versus animals dilemma.

5. Intermittent Fasting.
This works with any diet and you can do it without any big dietary changes. The theory is that you leave time for your body to use up all the energy from the previous meal and get a chance to use some of your body fat for energy. It seems to be another way to get into ketosis.

People say that once they are using stored fat they have abundant energy whilst losing weight. Dr Jason Fung explains that your body tries to slow metabolism when it feels it's running out of food but once you go into ketosis there is a load of fat to burn so you don't slow down at all. He advises to eat low carb, high fat, and drink lots of water. (Actually everyone advises lots of water.)

Intermittent fasting can be as little as no eating between meals, skipping one meal a day, only eating one meal a day, fasting for 16 hours and eating only in an 8 hour window each day (or 18:6, or 20:4). It can be fasting for 2 days a week, or 3, or an extended water fast of several days. Or you could do an extended fast a number of times a year (after Xmas and after your summer holiday?). The beauty of it is that anyone can do it: you travel - don't eat, you have erratic schedules - don't eat, you have food allergies - don't eat, you can't afford a special diet - don't eat, you eat kosher/hallal - don't eat, you're vegan - don't eat, you're in keto - don't eat. Cute eh? I didn't make up that speech, Jason Fung says it. (Obviously some specific medical conditions mean that some people are not advised to fast.)

And, yes, all the amazing, incredible results seen on both keto diet and the WFPB vegan diet are also documented and available all over You Tube for intermittent fasting. Same. Same diseases cured, same conditions reversed, same healthy new lives for people who were almost dead. Go figure.

My Conclusions.
*If you want to save the planet and be kind to animals you need to be vegan.
*If you want good health and to save the planet and be kind to animals, you need to be WFPB vegan.
*If you want to lose weight quickly you could go Keto but some doctors swear that they see all that animal fat in the arteries. So you might be way more healthy and active than if you were obese and this might be why you have good blood work and fewer chronic conditions.
*If you work from home or part time, and have a garden, you could try buying (and growing) only one-ingredient food, cooking like Grandma, and eating like they did in the 1940s. I have no doubt that this would be healthy. It would also take up your whole life.
*Intermittent fasting works for most people on whatever level they want to do it. Many people find it easier not to eat at all than to restrict portions and types of food.
* Whatever works for you is better than eating junk, fast, processed, and sugary foods.

**** EVERYBODY AGREES that you should eat loads of vegetables and drink lots of water.
****EVERYBODY AGREES that you should avoid processed foods, sugar, vegetable oils and trans-fats.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chocolate Party - R2BC

DD doing something with a syringe filled
with white chocolate. 
I'm borrowing Mich's idea and writing a Reason 2B Cheerful for each day of the past week. And of course I'm joining the linky on Mummy from the Heart.

Friday: I went to my cousin's house near Tel Aviv for breakfast. Well this wasn't such a reason to be cheerful as she  was sitting shiva, but it was lovely to see her as we hardly ever get together.

Saturday: We had a pyjama day and did absolutely nothing except eat, sleep, read, and play games all day.

Sunday: I don't remember last Sunday. If it were a terrible, no good, very bad day I'd have remembered it. But obviously it was ok so that's a reason.

Monday: Ditto.

Tuesday: Ditto.

Wednesday: We went to a birthday party after school. It was a fabulous chocolatefest with the kids doing all sorts of creative things with melted chocolate. And then they ate it all. DD came home and asked for a cut up apple and orange for supper.

Thursday (today): I went out for lunch with a friend. finally managed to pick up my new cheque books from the bank, and made it home in time for DD coming home from school. Just.

OK, that didn't work so well for me. However, it's the last day of the month and I need about 200 more views in order to reach my minimum number of page views for November. Anything less is unacceptable. (This is called the tail wagging the dog but sometimes it's like that. It just is.)

Next week is a big week for us as we have a birthday in the house and it's not mine. I expect I'll find plenty of reasons to be cheerful around the birthday theme and that'll make up for this week.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

DD is a Young Guard

Me aged 18, on a kibbutz with my Youth Movement
DD started going to one of the local Youth Movements last week. I've written about this before but Youth Movements here (and in the Jewish world) are more than just clubs. It's a whole ideology and a community that you grow up with. They used to be closely linked to political parties but not so much anymore. I would say that my Youth Movement in London was the reason I emigrated to Israel. It can be a powerful force in your growing up experience. Historically it's part of the country's Socialist origins. All the public schools have half day on Tuesdays so that they can go to Youth Movements in the afternoon. It reflects the European background of the original ruling classes. Think of the power of Hitler Youth, it's a similar concept but obviously without the racism and genocide.

The representatives from the various groups came to the school to recruit. We didn't get any of the religious groups as it's not a religious school. They know their potential clients. I didn't push any of it even though some of her friends started going to scouts and Noam (The Youth Movement of the Traditional Jewish Community) last year. My thoughts were:

a. She needs to choose a group that meets locally as we don't have a car.
b. She'll go where a group of her friends go - it's all about the social at this age.
c. I didn't start going to my Youth Movement of choice until well into my teens and I got the full experience, life-changing influences, and life-long friends out of it.
d. It ultimately won't be my choice but hers.
e. Lots of kids I know started going to a group but dropped out after a few months. They don't have the pull that they once did and many many more kids don't go to a Youth Movement nowadays. So even if she starts a group it doesn't mean she'll stay with it.

I would have chosen Noam for her. I would say that Noam probably reflect our family situation and outlook the best. But I left it too late and she told me she wanted to go to Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Guard). I had no recourse. The leaders come to collect a group of them from school (this year, next year they can walk themselves if they're still interested), the local clubhouse is very near, her friends were going.

But Hashomer Hatzair!!!! It's extremely left-wing and anti-religion! It's so not me. It's so not us. But so far they've made some posters and played board games. I collected DD and her friend the other day and as we walked home I could hear them behind me chanting: "Young Guards! Be strong!" and then answering with; "Strong and Brave!"

I was remembering my own Youth Movement chants: "Who are we?"   "Bnei Akiva!" (The Children of Rabbi Akiva)  "What is our cry?"  "The Bible and Work!"  "What is our motto?"  "The Land of Israel! The People of Israel! And the Bible of Israel!"

Over the past 35 years Bnei Akiva has got more religious and right wing whereas I have got less so on both accounts. I loved my time in BA but it wouldn't be appropriate for us now. When my nephew offered DD his Bnei Akiva shirt which he thought she'd love to have, I had a strong reaction against it. DD had no idea what it meant but I knew that  wearing it would be announcing our religious and political stance - wrong ones for us on both accounts. When DD announced that she wanted to go to Hashomer Hatzair, I didn't have this strong reaction. So maybe it's not such a bad fit after all.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

R2BC - The Digital Edition

No real reason to get up on a weekend morning....
My New Phone
I bought a new mobile phone. My old one was a cheap something from China that you had to shout down in order to be heard. And when I switched providers, it wouldn't receive the internet or allow Whatsapp or any other apps outside of my home wifi.

I was already fed up with it but then I had to go out of town on Friday, on the buses, to a place I'd never been before. I wanted to be able to check the bus routes and schedules, I wanted to see where I was on the map, I needed to be able to use my Gett Taxi app if necessary, I needed to be able to Whatsapp  the person I was going to and also the parents of the friend DD was going to after school. It was time for a new phone.

I went to an established chain of computer shops. I told them I wanted Samsung or LG and not some obscure make of phone that no one is familiar with. I didn't want to pay 2,000 shekels but, otoh, I wanted something that would last five years. I couldn't afford a new phone but they put it on  12 payments and it was Black Friday week, so I'm paying about 20GBP a month. (For one second I considered buying one for DD as well but then I remembered the tablet that was dropped on the floor after only six weeks and I came to my senses.)

I'm like a kid with a new toy. The various apps directed me to my cousin's door, showing my progress, exact location, and expected times of arrival for each stage of the journey. I know this isn't new, but it was new to me and I loved it.

DD's New Phone
DD finishes school on Friday at 11.45. She was then going to her youth club with the group of kids from school, and then going home with a friend. I had no idea what time I'd be home so I decided to 'lend' her the spare phone my mother bought for when she visits. It's not a smart phone but one of those revamped Nokia phones with telephone, clock, calendar, and camera.

DD was thrilled. She's been begging for a phone for ages. She was a bit disappointed that she wouldn't get Whatsapp on it as her friends are in groups, but she found a game (probably Space Invaders or Pac Man, LOL) so that made up for it somewhat.

I put in my phone number, her friend's mother's number and our very close friend (the friend DD sleeps over with when I go out). I told her that if she's ever in a situation where she can't get hold of me, she should call Sarit and she'll come and get you. I told her not to waste phone calls, it's a pay as you go and  if  you use up the time you won't be able to call anyone. "It's just for emergencies." I warned.

DD didn't miss a trick. "If it's for emergencies I ought to have it with me every day, don't you think?" She's got a point. When I called her on my way home, she excitedly told me that she'd found loads of things to do on the phone and that she has collected some phone numbers from her classmates. Oy vey.

By the end of the day I'd bought her a cover for it and change the contact name on my phone from 'Spare Phone' to 'DD'. Some things are inevitable.

And as a consequence of her having the phone, I felt comfortable letting her walk home from her friend's house on her own. She goes to and from school on her own already but we live opposite the school. This was from a few roads away with a few roads to cross. It was really fine. I've been watching her cross the road to school, from my balcony, and she's got it in terms of being sensible, cautious and defensive.

So after I'd already told DD that she can phone Sarit in an emergency. I texted Sarit and said I hoped that was ok. I also said I'd do the same for her son, i.e. go and get him in a taxi if he needed me. I won't print her reply but we exchanged lots of hearts and kisses and expressions of friendship and family. It left me feeling all warm and fuzzy and thankful to have such a special friend close by.

The Icing on the Cake
As a by-product of all this shifting around of phones, DD got my old smart phone without the sim card to use as a tablet for playing some games and watching You Tube as it still works on the home wifi. She's not had access to a screen, other than dvds on the tv, since she broke her new tablet after six weeks and then managed to break my spare laptop.

The Laptop Dilemma Solved
I know how she broke my spare laptop. She played games on it and was too hard on the keyboard. I'm getting it fixed but I'm reluctant to let DD anywhere near it. Otoh, she needs access to a computer. I thought of buying a desk top which would be sturdier but we live in a small apartment and I really don't want to give up the space for a desktop.

My cousin's son suggested I attach an external keyboard to a laptop for DD to bash away at. Such a simple solution I'm embarrassed not to have thought of it myself.

I have joined the other cheerful bloggers on the linky over at Mich's Mummy from the Heart.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Just Don't Sleep Through Christmas - R2BC

Almost the end of a long Friday and here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. I'm joining the other cheerful bloggers on the linky over at Mummy from the Heart, as usual. 

DD in one of her art classes. Still in shorts and t-shirt you'll notice. 
We are constantly hearing about how most of us are sleep deprived. And most of us are feeling it too. 

I read an article about how not enough sleep 'turns off' certain cancer fighting hormones (or somethings) in the body. The researcher who wrote the paper said he gets panicky of he doesn't have his 8 hours a night sleep. He said that 8 hours a night is as essential for good health as a healthy diet and avoiding known toxins like asbestos. 

Well I'm easily persuaded and as it doesn't involve going to the gym or breaking a sweat, I tried it. For a month now I've been resisting the lure of the computer screen and making sure I'm in bed by 10 (10.30 at the latest) every night. I don't know if I'm fighting potential cancer cells successfully, but the knock-on effects are amazing. I'm not tired in the mornings. It's not a struggle to get out of bed. I'm happier to go to work, I function better at work, and I don't eat as much as I did in the longer evenings.

None of this is rocket science of course but it's a revelation to me. It took me a good few days to make myself go to bed so early (for me) when I wasn't even tired, but once it became a habit, I'm loving it. 

The Festive Season
It's begun. And I allow it to begin now. I watched a vlog recently where they were already decorating their Christmas tree in the first week of November. One of the comments said that their family had given many sons to the First and Second World Wars and they had suffered more than their share of losses. In respect for their family members who fell and for all the fallen soldiers, they do not start decorating for Christmas until after 11/11. I like this idea. I like it because it shows respect and because it stops Christmas blurring borders with the summer holidays. 

Personally I would like to ban Christmas until December 1st. Let's give full attention to Hallowe'en, Guy Fawkes, and Thanksgiving without them being overshadowed by creeping Christmas. But on Sunday it's the 1st of Kislev, which is the Hebrew month in which Hanuka falls. So even by my own rules, the Festive Season must be allowed to begin. 

We have already been invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner next Thursday. I suggested that the traditional gift to bring would be some blankets infested with smallpox. This didn't go down well. So we shall arrive with wine and redeem ourselves by getting into the spirit of it all. (Although I've already been warned that there is a lot of dessert in the main course.)

The Weather
It's holding out. Middle of November and I'm still in sandals. It was 25 degrees C, today in Jerusalem. Warm and balmy. Just right. Of course, 10 years ago we would have been panicking that we've had hardly any rain this season, but now that we have desalination plants no one seems to worry about the water situation anymore. We should though because the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are in danger of drying up completely and where is beauty if not in natural bodies of water? But for now it's nice to be warm and not have to turn the heating on. I have a personal challenge to not use the heating until December 1st. (Not even on Kislev 1st!). 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I See Music In Our Future - R2BC

It's that time of the week again and though I've been sick for some of it, there are still reasons 2B cheerful. However, because of the sicky, it's a bit of a recap and an update on things already reported. I've joined the linky over at Michelle's Mummy from the Heart, where us cheerful bloggers share the cheer. 

DD had her third clarinet lesson, but the first lesson with the full instrument. Ronit had given her ligature (you see we learned the proper name for it) to her teacher and it worked. She came home all excited and exclaiming, "I can play my clarinet! I can play my clarinet!" What she meant was that she could get a sound out of it. Which is 100% improvement on last week when she couldn't get a sound out of it. So her homework is to practice. I've banished practice sessions to her bedroom with the door shut until she can play a tune. That sounds harsher than it is because I'm actually only thinking of the neighbours. DD's bedroom is the only room in the house that only shares a party wall (including ceilings and floors) with one other neighbour instead of three.

After her lesson, and while she was still excited about it, I put on my CD of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. The adagio (the middle bit) is possibly my favourite piece of music of all time. DD complained all the way through that it was boring and she wanted to watch Mama Mia.

A clarinet playing friend called after reading my blog post and offered to give DD help with her technique. He also mentioned that his son had taken clarinet to great levels, eventually necessitating them paying 13,000nis (almost 3,000GBP) for a good clarinet. Mama Mia suddenly sounded like a good idea.

Sick Days
I was sick on Sunday and Monday and didn't go to school. I went to college on Tuesday (which is entirely different from teaching in primary school - far less energy involved) so I thought I'd better go back to school on Wednesday. However, I had to leave before the last lesson. I came straight home and went to bed. DD had to fend for herself all evening. She foraged about in the fridge and in the larder for food. Evidence the next morning suggested that she ate crisps, biscuits, and ice-cream for supper. I vaguely remember her coming in to ask me a few times and I just said, "I don't mind, you can have what you like, just no cooking."

Good bye old friend. I'm eating the fibre from now on.
The cheerful connection here is that DD was so good and amused herself  until bedtime. She brought me glasses of cool water when I needed them and the phone when it rang. Eventually I saw all the lights going out and a little voice said, "I'm going to bed now. Shall I turn the light out right away or can I do some sudokus in bed?"

She took the magnets only. She didn't want the books. 
I put some items up for sale on our local facebook selling group. I sold the juicer. Research has convinced me that eating the whole fruit or vegetable is better. More fibre and less fructose. I loved the juices. My friend and I used to call them the nectar of the gods. But you have to follow your head in these things.

I also sold a big bag of magnetic letters, numbers and shapes. It all goes to keep some cash in my purse and will pay for my next bus ticket. Every little helps. And that's two fewer clutter items in our home.

DD and I both enjoyed playing the recorder last weekend. I'm looking forward to a future of recorder duets.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why I Need To Get Flu Shots

Seriously, you think I had the energy to find relevant photos? 
I took two sick days from school this week - Sunday and Monday. I had a cold and a cough, a sinus headache, a sore throat and no voice. The usual November and winter afflictions. I'm almost better today and came to college (on Tuesdays I teach in college).

It's a big hassle to take a sick day from school. Because I'm a subject teacher and not a class teacher, I had to notify (by text or whatsapp) every class teacher of groups I teach on that day (or on those days) that I wouldn't be there. Some of my groups are from 4 different classes!

I had to notify the break-duty co-ordinator and try to do a swap with someone. There were no swappers available so she did it for me and I owe her two breaks in the future.

I had to notify the substitute co-ordinator, even though I knew she'd just cancel classes where I take groups out of other lessons and tell my groups to stay in with the other English teachers if their class also had English. So then I had to try to think of what work they could do on their own without disturbing the rest of the class, and text that to the English staff. (The Head of English said she was teaching 'telling the time' so one of my groups could learn it with her group. This was gratefully accepted as all my textbooks are at school so I had no idea what to give them.)

I had to organize a sick-note from my doctor but felt too unwell to actually go in and get it. I will get it within the next two weeks but she won't see me sick so what's it worth really?

I sat with the staff contact list and my phone, and texted/whatsapped for a good half an hour to fulfill all my obligations. I was sick but not disfunctional. I wondered if I would have gone into work if I worked in a quiet office? Possibly. But I couldn't have controlled classes of lively children.

I once had real flu, about 20 years ago. The type where you basically die for a week and it takes about three months for the virus to totally leave your body. I remember that I (stupidly?) went back to school after only one week. Had I stayed at home another week to really recover I might have avoided the three months of semi-sickness. Seriously, for three months I went to work, came home and went back to bed.

Back then you just phoned the school office and your head of department and they dealt with everything. If I got real flu now there's no way I'd be able to do all that notifying and organising - I couldn't even stand up.

So I'll be going for my flu shots when I pick up my sick note. And for DD too. Because I can only deal with low grade sickness in my job.

Do other teachers have this, or is it just my school?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dusting Off The Descant

With all the shenanigans over DD's clarinet and me requesting a recorder group instead, I got all nostalgic about my recorder. A few years ago, before DD was born, I bought myself a new descant recorder and got out my old recorder books from school (circa 1973). I started to play again but, as with a lot of things, I didn't get very far. DD now has that recorder for school.

While I was trying to persuade DD that the recorder is just as good as the clarinet (and failed), we watched You Tube videos of recorder ensembles and they are beautiful. So when we went to buy the reeds for the clarinet, I bought myself a new recorder. It cost less than the reeds for the clarinet despite being a Yamaha.

At the weekend I got out my old books - the black one (book 1) and the blue one (book 2), and started to play. I began at the beginning, going over the notes - B, A, G, upper C, upper D, F#, E and lower D. It went surprisingly fast. My fingers seemed to remember of their own accord. I got to page 30 in less than an hour, and playing fluently, reading the music an' all.

Something was missing though. There were tunes I remembered that just weren't there. So went back to the box and found the recorder book from my primary school, the red one. And there it was, nestled somewhere between Go and Tell Aunt Nancy and London's Burning - Tallis. I loved playing that when I was 10. It felt like a proper piece of music rather than a folk song, which of course it is.

Then DD came in and said she wanted a go. So she took the black book and worked her way through the notes B, A and G. (Don't ask me what they have been doing in school for a year.) She got all excited about it. Later in the day she went back to practise it again.

I proclaimed Saturday morning to be music practice morning. I am determined to get to the end of the blue book this time. Did you notice what good condition it's in compared to the black book? There's a reason for that.

Minimalism shminimalism, there is also a reason why despite being an Olympic level declutterer, there are some things I've held on to for 45 years and not sorry.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I Went To Hell And Back (The Clarinet Saga) - R2BC

Can you spot the missing piece? It's the clip that holds the reed. Who knew? 
After paying not a small amount of money for DD's extra art lessons, which I didn't begrudge at all, we got a letter from the school saying that each child had to choose one of the following instruments: clarinet, saxophone, flute, trombone and trumpet. DD chose the trumpet. I vetoed that so she chose clarinet.

Then we got a letter that we had to go and rent the instrument from the Jerusalem Music Centre at a cost of 300nis, we had to leave a deposit of 1,000nis (a cheque that hopefully won't be cashed), and we had to buy the reeds for the clarinet.

I was annoyed. I wrote an email to the Headmistress and the class teacher in which I wrote:

Dear .........
I want to ask you about the musical instrument lessons and make a suggestion.

DD has been playing the recorder at school for a year now and though she enjoys playing she didn't get very far with it. Therefore, I'm not so happy about paying 300nis to hire a clarinet and leave a 1000nis cheque as deposit when music is obviously not her passion (unlike art, which she loves and has some talent for). 

However, I do think that music is important and that it's a wonderful opportunity to get lessons at school at this age. As they already have recorders, could the school offer the option of a recorder group as one of the groups for the musical instrument lessons? The recorder isn't just an instrument for kids. It's a proper instrument and recorder ensembles can be beautiful.

I would love for DD to be competent in playing a musical instrument and to be able to read music, but I don't see the point of starting a new one when the instrument we have is lovely and would fulfill all the music requirements without the added cost and pressure.

I know there is at least one other member of the class who would also be interested in this option.

The answer was no. They said very nicely that they'd discussed it with the music co-ordinator and it's too late to change things now. Perhaps for next year. (Hands up anyone who believes the clarinet teacher could also teach recorder.) I was so tempted to reply, "That's great thanks, so we'll wait for the recorder group next year." But DD is not quite 9 and she doesn't want to be different from everyone else so I agreed to get the clarinet.

I reminded myself that the music programme is one of the reasons I chose this school. I had to admit that 300nis (about 65 GBP) is a very good price for what will be about 30 lessons, hopefully. And DD was happy. My mother, via skype, also reminded me that when we were kids they bought recorders for each of us, two violins, a melodica, a guitar, and a flute, and none of us plays anything today. I admitted that I still had a keyboard that I bought 25 years ago in order to learn the piano, and I don't use it at all now. (DD chipped in here, "yes you do use it. You put all the clean laundry on it when you can't be bothered to fold it up and put it away." Thanks for that Darling.)

That night I couldn't fall asleep for worrying about the 1,000 shekels that they'd take if we lost or damaged the clarinet.

The JMC is in Hell's Valley. I'm not kidding. It's in the Valley of Gehenna (also called Hinnom), if you know your Bible:

"In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was initially where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire. Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:3119:2-6).
In Rabbinic literature and Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked..... the King James Version of the Bible usually translates with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell." Wikipedia
No buses go there. Of course not, it's cursed! So we took a taxi down, down, down towards the depths of the rocky cliff below the Old City of Jerusalem. We hired our clarinet and because God's mercy is not abandoned at the gates of Hell, we met the mother of one of DD's classmates there. She not only gave us a ride back unto the land of the living, but she also took us straight to the music shop where we shared a packet of reeds. (DD has only lost one of her reeds so far. :~) )

Lo and behold, the first clarinet lesson cameth! DD came home and told me there is a piece missing from her instrument and you can't play it without this piece. I closed my eyes and saw my 1,000nis being taken as we are accused of losing the missing piece. At the very least it would be two more taxi rides to sort it out.

I called the music teacher. He told me to call Ronit. I asked for her number. I got nothing. I sent a slightly hysterical text message to the class teacher saying I need to speak to Ronit. Who is she? Where is she? Can I please have something to go on here - a surname, a number, an email? Anything? I got a number.

Meanwhile another mother gave me the number of Yaffa who also goes to the JMC and might be able to get the missing part for me. I spoke to Ronit and she told me to speak to Chikol who is in charge of the instruments at the JMC, and she might be able to bring me the missing piece if he has one spare. I spoke to Chikol and he said he would give the missing piece to Yaffa. I texted Yaffa. She replied that she is the flute teacher not the clarinet teacher. By this time I wasn't sure who'd I'd spoken to. I contacted Ronit again and she said she would get the missing piece from Chikol today.

So hopefully that is the end of the clarinet saga. This is my Reasons 2B Cheerful post this week because we do not have to go back to Hell and sort it out. Otoh, we've not got it yet and we've not tried it to make sure it's the correct piece that was missing. Ho hum, for now I'm cheerful so I've joined the R2BC linky on Michelle's Mummy from the Heart.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Growing Up Reasons 2B Cheerful

Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. I'm joining the linky at Becky's Lakes Single Mum as usual.

The First day of 4th grade photo
taken from an awkward angle
by #rubbishphotographer
To School Alone
I had actually started letting DD go to school completely on her own at the beginning of this school year as we live opposite. It took me a long time to be ready to let her cross the road by herself. I'd stand watching her from the balcony so that she knew I was watching and she'd look carefully and cross sensibly. Then it got even better as they started crossing guards on the very zebra crossing she uses. The 6th Grade do it in many schools. It's an Israeli thing.

It's been a process. In 1st grade I had to take her into her classroom, put her bag under her desk and wait with her till the bell. In 2nd grade I left her at the school gates. In 3rd grade I crossed her over the road and she walked down the street herself. Now I don't even have to go downstairs.

During the week, that extra 10 minutes to get myself together before leaving for work makes an amazing difference to leaving the house calmly and not forgetting things that get forgotten when I'm trying to get two of us out at the same time. And on Friday mornings I don't even have to be dressed. I feel like I've got my full weekend back instead of just the one day that the kids, unfairly imo, get.

I usually collect DD from the afternoon programme on my way home from work between 4 and 4.30. However, two days a week she has the Learning Lab which finishes at 5. On those days she comes home on her own too. Such a small thing but to be able to do something without one eye on the clock and not having to pop out even for 15 minutes makes a difference. And I know I'm going to love it when the winter comes and hopefully the rains.

Life Lessons
DD came to me this evening with a letter about Girls' Football Club. She gave it to me tentatively and I noticed that in her other hand she was clutching a 100nis note.
Me: "Where is that money from? "
DD: "It's from my pocket money." (My mother had given it to her when she left last December.) "The football club costs money and I know you've spent a lot of money on my activities this year so I'll pay for it." My heart broke a little bit and I told her that I would pay for it if she really wanted to go. It was 300 shekels for the year so she didn't have enough anyway. Hey, it's sport so that's healthy.

In the end footy is twice a week on the exact days and times that she already has other activities that are already paid for. There were tears but we had a good discussion about how you can't do everything, everyone only has 7 days in a week, and life is full of choices and tradeoffs.

We've been watching episodes of the property renovation programme 'Love It or List It' and DD totally got it.
DD: "Like if you want to renovate the en suite and you want to knock down walls for an open concept living space but then they find that your foundations are cracked or your walls are full of asbestos, you have to let something go. You can't do everything so you have to choose."
Me: "Right. Only that's because of a limited budget. This is because of limited time."
DD: "Right, But you still have to decide what you want more."
Me: "Right."
DD: "Right."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An Overabundance Of Art

During the summer DD was drawing and she told me, "I wish I could learn how to really draw with shading and perspective (yes she knows what perspective is) and things like that. Not just painting at school." I said that we'd look for a class. I don't do that every time she expresses an interest in something but she is genuinely passionate about art and she spends hours copying pictures and doing tutorials on You Tube for how to draw.

The school year started and I had asked about classes on fb but hadn't yet followed anything up. Apparently the classes at the Israel Museum are great but it's a whole performance to get there if you don't have a car. Not complicated, it's just one bus ride, but we'd have to allow for an hour each way and I'd have to wait for her for the duration of the class. (Although we'd probably have made an arrangement for one way with a friend and taken taxis.)

So I was delighted when we got a letter about the Enrichment Programme after school once a week for 1 1/2 hours. There are a number of subjects including maths, science, sport, music, and art. They take only 15 students from the whole school for each subject and they choose those with a passion or special talent for that subject. DD certainly has the passion and I think she does have some artistic talent. This was the only thing that she really wanted to do.

There was great emotion excitement in our house on the day of the auditions and interviews. DD nearly missed it because she'd been at her extra Hebrew lesson when they announced it. She didn't have any of her art supplies with her and had to borrow from a friend. She came home in tears because the teacher might think she wasn't serious about it if she couldn't even bother to bring her art things. I wrote a letter. #Pushymother? Maybe on this occasion but, as I said, this is the only thing she really really wanted to do. (And it is miles cheaper and great tundras more convenient than schlepping to the museum every week.)

She got in. I was very proud and DD was very proud of herself though she did say modestly, "the teacher said it's not just if you're good at art, it's more important that you have a spark." (Translating from Hebrew.)

Then a few weeks later we got a letter about Elective Subjects, once a week during the school day. There were some great choices - Photography; Virtual World Tour; Agriculture and Gardening; Animal Care; Kings, Rulers and Government; Drama; and History of Art. DD chose photography but she got her second choice, History of Art. We had to go out and buy more art supplies but I'm happy to encourage DD's art. (I'm thinking she can always sit in the park and draw cartoon portraits for a lot of money if she can't find a job.)

In the first History of art lesson the teacher arranged some still life under a lamp and they had to choose one item to draw. DD explained that you draw the outline and then you only draw the shade and you smudge the charcoal for how much you need. (They are exploring traditional drawing implements as well as shade.) I'm not saying that DD is a child prodigy or anything close but I was impressed with her outline shape of the bear even before you look at the shading.

The Learning lab after school twice a week to help weaker students with homework and to prepare for tests (we need it because of the Hebrew) also has art once a week (the other day they do cooking) and the afternoon programme on the other three days (because school finishes at 2.20 and I don't get home until 4.30) also has art once a week (and cooking and zumba). And of course the whole class gets art in school once a week too.

So after a casual request for some art lessons in August, DD has ended up with art five times a week. Two sessions are just arts and crafts, one is the school curriculum and two are serious lessons in theory, technique and style. And all in her school. I love our school anyway, but what an amazing outcome this is!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

You Gotta Have Friends - R2BC

Under the chupah (wedding canopy)
A Great Wedding
I went to a wedding on Wednesday night. It was out of town in a beautiful setting, high up in the Jerusalem hills and overlooking the lights of several towns and villages in the valley below. The friends making the wedding are old friends who also live in my neighbourhood. I've known the husband since I was 12 years old and we grew up in the same social circle. I've known the wife since she met the husband, and all the kids as and when they were born. So you can imagine that the wedding was full of people from my past and present. The food and drink was amazing and plentiful (not that you go for the food of course), the band were friendly and fun, the entertainment was delightful, and the atmosphere was excellent. All in all, one of the most lovely weddings I've ever been to. (Even the drive to and from the wedding was enjoyable as I got a ride with a neighbour and the company was engaging.) Thank you M and D for including me in your celebration.

Help From Friends
DD wasn't invited to the wedding so I had to make arrangements for her. She had a party to go to. One friend's mother offered to take her. She was taken home from the party with the classmate who lives in the building where DD was staying the night. About that - I have a wonderful arrangement with a good friend who has known DD since she was born, whereby her little boy can sleep over with us and DD can sleep over with them when either of us wants to go out. Cutting out babysitting costs sometimes makes the difference between going out at all or staying in and missing a social occasion. It's the sort of thing people who live near grandparents and other family take for granted. In our case, I already consider my friend to be family. The next morning DD was taken to school by the classmate in the building. Sometimes you can do it all yourself and sometimes you need help from friends. Thank you friends.

Short and sweet this week as I'm a bit late to the party. Btw, the Reasons 2B Cheerful party is at Becky's Lakes Single Mum again this week where I've joined the linky.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Was Caught In A Facebook Witch Hunt

To pass the time
(if you don't know your subject and can't teach it.)
It's no secret that I love facebook. For all the great reasons we know about. But sometimes there are the most enormous bust ups where someone picks on some ambiguous statement, takes it out of context, and blows it up into the most offensive thing they've ever heard. 

Before I explain in detail, I want to tell  you what I once learned in a linguistics class about interlocution. There are four basic factors that are needed to facilitate flowing and comprehendible conversation. Four factors which we all accept. They are: 

1. That the person you are talking to isn't lying or knowingly misleading you. 

2. That they understand your meaning even if you don't use the exact words. So if a child says, "I'm thirsty," we understand that he is asking for a drink and not just telling you for no reason. 

3. That the length of an answer will be appropriate. Not too long as to be irrelevant or too short as to miss out important information. If you ask what a word means you just want the meaning of the word and not its etymology from Indian Sanskrit through the Romance languages to English, with all the similar word families along the way. On the other hand, if you ask how and why WWII started, the answer needs more precise detail than, "Germany and Japan wanted to take over the world." 

4. Relevance and context. So if you say you don't want milk in your coffee, you don't expect a lecture about the rural economy and how you're undermining the dairy farmers and endangering the whole future of the countryside as we know it. And if you're arguing about right of way with another driver, it's not appropriate to say, "your car's rubbish anyway." 

If I were to be allowed a fifth factor I would add giving your interlocutor the benefit of the doubt. 

And yet on facebook sometimes all five of the above factors are thrown out the window and people will fight to the death over a misplaced word that becomes the difference between you being a decent person and a judgemental, arrogant bitch who insults and disrespects everyone. 

So here was the context. We were talking about EFL teachers and whether they had to be native English speakers or not. Someone said that it's impossible for native English speakers to know English grammar as well as non-native speakers who learned it in school. This was my reply: 

ME: Any Native English speaker who can't get her head around the finer points of English Grammar is just not intelligent enough to be a teacher. It's not hard, especially if you understand all the words. I learnt the tenses etc, at age 27. It took me one afternoon to know what they mean and what they are used for. It took a year of teaching experience to be able to explain it in Hebrew. People learn new things all the time - languages, computer coding, new professions, they take additional degrees..... It is insulting to English speakers to say we can't possibly know English Grammar as well as Hebrew speakers who learnt it in school. That's just ridiculous

BOOM! I'd ignited the flames of fury under Mr and Ms Angry from Israel. 

I got a load of abuse about how I was being judgemental by saying that if someone cannot learn something it does not make them unintelligent. And how I was insulting people with learning disabilities. 

Um yes I agree about not being unintelligent if you can't learn something specific. I find it extremely difficult to learn listening skills in another Language. Even in Hebrew I still need the speaker to speak slowly and clearly. But I was specifically talking about English Teachers learning English. Who in their right mind would want to teach a subject they couldn't learn themselves? That would seriously bring their intelligence into question. And I said as much. Of course I was being flippant but my entire point had been missed. 

I used the words 'not intellligent' to signify how easy it is for a native English speaker to understand the rules of English grammar that we need to teach foreign students. For example, we all use the present simple tense and the present continuous even if we don't know why because, as native speakers, we have never had to consider why. However, if I were to ask you to consider when you say, "I drink coffee," and when  you would say, "I am drinking coffee," it's not hard to see the difference. 

In my opinion, if you are a native English speaker and have all the other attributes necessary to be a teacher, it's not hard to understand what you are saying and how you use English (which are the rules of grammar) if you sat down to learn it. Even if you have dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADD, HFA, hypersensitivity, over anxiety, or any other condition that would make it harder for you to become a teacher if you really wanted to, you could still learn that in English we say the adjective before the noun.

Never mind what I had meant. The witch hunt was on. I was accused of being the most vile and judgemental person. I was asked who I think I am to decide who is intelligent and who isn't? (Oh perleeeaze, *eyeroll and *headpalm) Someone couldn't believe I was qualified to work with children (he explained to me that children are human beings - thanks for that) because I didn't know how to treat human beings with any respect. 

Someone told me that my students must love it when I explain to them how smart I am and how unintelligent they are. How we went from talking about what teachers need to know to how I treat my students I don't know. The funny thing is, this man has never been inside one of my classrooms. How does he know all this? Does he also know that I make my students clean the toilets with their toothbrushes if they can't say the difference between their and there? (Btw, my school has a policy of 'integration' throughout the school so I wouldn't last long if I wasn't sensitive to learning difficulties).

I wrote: "I did not mention learning disabilities at all because I thought it obvious that you cannot be a teacher if you cannot learn the material you have to teach."

That was the wrong thing to say because it apparently meant that anyone with a learning disability cannot be a teacher. Which is not what I meant at all but you need to be so precise in your wording on facebook sometimes because once enraged, people won't come an inch towards giving you the benefit of the doubt and try to understand what you really mean

Several people announced they were leaving the conversation because I am so evil. And they stormed off. But they came back later because facebook sort of draws you back. You can't help it.  

I asked, because this was really the only point I was trying to make, "is it really judgemental to say if you can't learn a subject to the level necessary to teach it you should either teach something else or not be a teacher?"

The reply was that, no that's just sensible. Followed by another lecture about all the things they thought I said but, despite me trying to explain that I didn't mean any of that, they would not budge from their initial reaction.

This went on for the best part of two hours. I didn't mind as I was stuck supervising an exam. In between each comment I got up and walked around the room to check all was ok. Apart from that I just had to be there and not disturb the students. If I'd had anything else to do I'd have let it go, but after a while it actually became an interesting study in human-rottweiler behaviour. (As in the rottweiler doesn't let go.)

I still say that for a native English speaker wanting to be an EFL teacher, learning the grammar is not hard. That's my opinion and no one has to agree but otoh, not one native English speaking teacher said they'd found it hard to learn once they knew what material was involved. I take that as a confirmation even though I was told I had insulted everyone on the thread who may not have found it easy to learn it. (That's no one by the way.)

But then I was going by the rules of interlocution above. They usually really do apply, except not on facebook apparently. Even when the conversation is between English teachers, the rules of interlocution seem to be trumped by facebook's own culture. 

N.B. This is an edited version of my original post as it was pointed out to me that the group is a closed group so I shouldn't paste quotes outside the group, even anonymously. I am grateful for the chance to edit because a night's sleep and answering some of the comments below, gave me more clarity about the issues mentioned.