Monday, October 5, 2015

Organic bush crafts at Wildflower Garden


A "Bush Birthday Party"!
My grandson's classmate had his 8th birthday at the big Ku-Ring-Gai Wildflower Garden in NSW, Australia.

Before they sat down to eat,  the ranger took them on a guided walk on the trails and they collected natural things from the ground, like seeds and pods and leaves.

The ranger held a bowl of brown balls and cautioned the kids not to bite them because they were not chocolate.
They were lumps of moist clay!

Here's my sweet Eyal contemplating what kind of "bush critter" to make from the raw materials.

Here's what came out.

Two girls created these fanciful gardens.

What a fun way to combine nature walks with "organic bush crafts."
(Linking to OurWorld Tuesday.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Keep looking up


These are such sad and terrible times inside and just across our borders lately, I have to keep urging myself:  "Keep looking up."

Especially now, on Hoshana Raba and on Simchat Torah, which is supposed to be a joyous holiday.
Simchat Torah mean Rejoicing in the Torah.
In Orthodox synagogues the men dance and sing with the Torah scrolls, while in Reform and liberal congregations the women and children join in in carrying the scrolls and everyone celebrates together.
The last parasha or portion of the last book, Deuteronomy, is chanted.
To keep the reading cycle going unbroken, the scroll is either rewound or a different scroll is opened and the first chapter of Genesis is begun immediately.

And so life goes on, at least for the lucky ones.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Libby makes capsicum boats


 Granddaughter Libby is only 5 but she is already a specialist at making capsicum boats.
She fills capsicums (bell peppers) with tuna and avocado.  

During my recent visit to Australia I was surprised to find my daughter's new kitchen has dappled mirrors as splash boards. 
Just the thing for the bloggers' weekly meme Weekend Reflections.

Libby is so cute in her school uniform.  (This is the winter one.)
She is in kindergarten at a friendly public school.
It was the end of winter when I came to Australia but by the end of my visit, two weeks ago, the kids were just switching to the cooler summer uniform.
Libby's brothers go to the same school and must wear a white shirt and sometimes even a tie; and all the kids need a wide-brimmed hat in the sun.
I think it looks nice and gives a good feeling to have all the schoolkids looking so tidy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sheltering diggers from Israel's sun


City Daily Photo bloggers share a Theme Day today about SHELTER.
As the only Israeli in the group I felt obliged to post about my bomb shelter, and how "protected rooms/mamadim"  are now required by law,  but it was too depressing.
So I am showing you the happy topic of archaeology instead!
The shade cloth that is put up daily over the squares we are digging in provides merciful shelter from the merciless sun. 
Just like an air raid shelter, it's hard to live without it (literally!).

Here you see the temporary shelter being raised over the excavation at Tel Yarmouth.
By the way, the rope the Bedouin worker is pulling is called a meitar in Hebrew, and from there comes the name of my town in the desert, Meitar.  It is the rope which allows you to "enlarge the space of your tent" as advised in Isaiah 54:2.

The top photo of me swinging the pickax at the 2009 Tiberias dig was taken by volunteer Gretchen Cotter.
She made a nice little video about working eight hours a day in the hot sun, and there you can see just how simple it is to put up the sun shade (IF you know what you're doing).
Check out the other city bloggers' shelters at City Daily Photo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A century-old reservoir


I discovered this beautiful mysterious old structure at the top of a hill near Bondi Junction, Australia.

Now that I'm back home in Israel I have time to research what it was that I saw.
Turns out that this is Waverley Reservoir (Elevated) (WS 136) and its story is here.

The water supply reservoir was built a century ago, completed in 1917.
I hope the heritage people will take good care of it.
(Linking to Watery Songlines meme in Australia.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

What Lifts You, at Bondi beach


Not a great photo but I had to shoot fast (and into the sun)  because a constant line of tourists was waiting to get their picture taken posing with the wings.
(Clicking a few times to enlarge helps a bit.) 
It is found along the line of murals at beautiful Bondi beach, Australia.
(Was it only ten days ago that I was there, in Sydney . . . ?)

Apparently these #whatliftsyou angel wings by Kelsey Montague are appearing in cities all over the world. 
Mashable talks about What Lifts You as "The intersection of street art and social media."
(Linking to Monday Mural at Oakland Daily Photo.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Colorful decorations for the sukkah

Tonight the happy Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins (or as Christians call it, the Feast of Tabernacles).

At the shuk (open market) in Beersheba people were busy buying colorful decorations to hang in their sukkah ("booth").
See more about the festival in my earlier posts.
Especially interesting are the photos (here and here)  of Jerusalem's huge annual Shuk Arba'at Haminim, the market where very religious Jews carefully select the four species, etrog, lulav (palm fronds), and myrtle and willow branches.
For some serious and surprising thoughts about Sukkot and about life, read this by my favorite rabbi in Jerusalem, Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo: 
Chag sameach -- happy Sukkot!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Eerieness and the star of David


No, unfortunately it's not the finger of God in the sky.
But it was my hand and camera and face reflected, rather unintentionally, so hey, let's share it over at James' Weekend Reflections.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Thai citizens en route to Israel

My month with the grandchildren came to an end all too quickly.
Early Saturday morning I bid farewell to my daughter's family and boarded a Qantas jet at Sydney airport.
After sitting in the plane half an hour waiting for two late passengers, we took off and had a nice10-hour flight to Thailand.

The 7-hour wait time in Bangkok airport was very long.
Sitting in this cavernous terminal until their midnight, with the reflections above and on every side, was kind of creepy. 

The second flight took 11 hours but after a long dark night we were rewarded with a lovely dawn, with El Al's star of David in the changing sky.
The sun was just rising and the views of southern Israel's deserts were breathtaking!

Touchtown at Ben-Gurion airport and, following tradition, everybody applauded.
It was a joy to be back home in the Holy Land, my land.

But as I looked around in the now-light plane, an El Al  jumbo jet, a code share flight with Thai Airways, I realized that very many of the hundreds of travelers were Thai citizens.
These are the men and women who come to work as in-home caretakers for our elderly.
These are the men who labor in our fields and our very hot hothouses, producing the food we eat.

It made me sad.
What has happened to our once pioneering country, that for the last several decades Jewish Israelis no longer do such physical work?
A.D. Gordon, who died in 1922 in Kibbutz Degania, must be turning over in his grave at the situation today.
He was a Zionist ideologue who believed that physical effort on the land would bring about the redemption of the Jewish people.
He attributed pioneer work a semi-religious status, arguing that it created an organic interrelationship between man, the land and culture.

A. D. Gordon: "Tolstoy in Palestine" - Poem - by Steven P. Schneider
Like Tolstoy, you longed to connect your life
to the soil.
You turned your back
on property, family, the high culture of Russia-
to live with peasants,
to work the vineyards and orange groves of Rishon Le-Zion.
Your stamina stunned the younger men
and women who worked beside you.
Your labor connected you to the land of your people.
It made you free.
Turning your back on the occupations of the Pale--
Talmudic scholar, money lender,
peddler, victim of pogroms--
You wanted to remake the Jew into a farmer.
Your weapon against history was the hoe--
Your work in the fields a new kind of worship.
With each digging of the hoe--
you discovered a new rung upon which to climb to heaven.
The sweat bathed your white beard.
Your eyes burned with the fire of holiness.
Tolstoy in Palestine,
you scribbled "Some Observations"
by candlelight in the predawn hours--
"our people," you wrote, "can be rejuvenated
through labor and a life close to nature."
At night, under the moon of Zion,
beside the campfire,
you preached your religion of labor
to all who would listen.
And when the dreamers of Israel
sang and danced,
you joined them
in the hora of the body reborn.
(Linking to OurWorld Tuesday.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Windswept in Bondi


For a desert-dweller like me, feeling the expansiveness and smelling the salty air of the Pacific is immensely refreshing.
And down here in the south of Australia, standing on the shore feels like standing at the edge of the known world.

I felt so grateful for this gift and said the Jewish blessing that is said when seeing the ocean after a long time away: "Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Oseh Ma’asei Vereishit -- Blessed are you, Lord our God, Master of the universe, Who creates (i.e. renews daily) the work of [the original] creation [of the universe]."

  The famed Bondi Beach!

Yesterday was a windy, cool day at the beginning of spring.

The "surf culture" of Bondi.
You can enlarge the photo to read the rules.
Ah, life is so civilized here, Down Under.
I'll miss it when I fly back to the chaotic Middle East in a few days.
(Linking to signs, signs and Our World Tuesday.)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Honey for a sweet new year


Tonight is Erev Rosh Hashana when Jews everywhere dip apples in honey and say the blessing asking God to grant us a sweet new year.
The tree hollow you see in the photo contains a hive of native Australian bees, busy making honey. 

It says they are stingless, never come out if it is raining or below 18 C, and pollinate within a half kilometer radius.
You can enlarge the photo to read the sign. 

The unusual hive is but one of the discoveries we made today at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.
Sweet daughter Naomi took me around the trails for several hours in the warm spring sun.
A good and sweet new year 5776 to all!
UPDATE: Just saw this interesting article about how Israel is teaching America successful methods of using eucalyptus trees and flowers and Texas bushes underneath to help bees in their pollination. And also selling eucalyptus seeds to Jordan and India for the same purpose.   Beekeepers in Israel have not suffered from  the Colony Collapse Disorder that threatens many countries.
(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sydney reflections


The flag and beautiful Sydney reflected today in the facade of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The Sydney Harbor Bridge reflected in a building in Milsons Point.
From the museum at Darling Harbor I took a ferry to Milsons Point (home of the Luna Park) in order to catch a train to the North Shore suburb where I'm staying with family this month.
(Linking to Weekend Reflections.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pure and simple


My daughter, the healthy-eating expert.
And what a cool juicer she has. 

I enjoy eating and drinking Australia's delicious fruits and vegetables (and more!) this month at Naomi's house. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Australia's first saint lived with a Jewish family


 A new statue has come into being since last I was in Australia, and a new saint too.

The larger-than-life statues were installed next to Sydney's St. Mary's Cathedral in October 2010, just a few days before the canonization of St. Mary MacKillop.
You can enlarge the photos with a few clicks to see the detail better. 

The artwork was commissioned by Cardinal George Pell.
 The sculptor, Louis Laumen, said (here) that the Cardinal wanted the sculpture of Mary MacKillop to include children in recognition not only of her love of young people but of the many schools she founded throughout New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria so that all children no matter how poor could receive an education.

Mary Helen MacKillop (1842-1909) founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), a congregation of religious sisters that established a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australasia, with an emphasis on education for the rural poor.

I once visited her tomb and little museum in North Sydney years ago and was impressed how brave she was.
Her story even includes a time that she was unjustly excommunicated and interestingly, Wikipedia adds that "Forbidden to have contact with anyone in the church, MacKillop lived with a Jewish family and was also sheltered by Jesuit priests."

She is Australia's first (and so far only) saint. 
(Linking to inSPIRED Sunday.)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A sky full of birds


It seems like you can't take a picture here in Sydney, Australia, without a bird flying into the photo.
:)  I'm not complaining/whinging, though.

Scenes from the beautiful and huge Centennial Park.

Click to enlarge and see the ibis birds better.
(Linking to SkyWatch Friday, Camera Critters, and signs, signs.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Naturally luxurious" sheepskins


You know you're in Australia if the huge Costco store sells sheepskins.
Amazingly smooth wool in various colors.
A rug costs 180 Australian dollars.

Populations: The sheep-to-person ratio in New Zealand is over 7 to 1, and in Australia there are almost 5 sheep to every human.
This ratio is high compared to most countries, but sheep numbers are now on the decline in both NZ and Australia. 

(For ABC Wednesday, H is for a heap of sheepskins.)

Monday, August 31, 2015

St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney


 Now during my visit to my family in Australia I finally got into the city, to my favorite place in Sydney -- St. Mary's Cathedral.

Solemn Sung Mass was beautiful with the men's and boys' choir and the organ and all the smells and bells of the Church.

After the service people may gather around and watch the organist play the organ voluntary.
I think yesterday it was Toccata in F by 17th century Dietrich Buxtehude.

There's just something about a Gothic (-style) cathedral!
It's something we lack in Jerusalem. 

More photos of St. Mary's in the coming days (after I have been without Internet for the last five days, oi).
For more about the cathedral (from my previous visits) you can type "St. Mary's" in the little search box on top. 

(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday and Our World Tuesday.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


An unusual (to me) tree on the street where my daughter lives, in the northern suburbs of Sydney.

  Melaleuca quinquenervia is commonly known as the broad-leaved paperbark, broad-leaved tea tree or simply paperbark or tea tree in Australia, and as punk tree in the United States.

Besides being the source of tea tree oil, the tree has many uses, especially to aboriginal Australians.  See Uses and Cultivation in Wikipedia.

It is regarded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an invasive weed in Florida where it was introduced to drain swamps.