Monday, June 29, 2015

School's Out For Summer Again

it is 6:00 p.m. in the hoy city of zefat.  it is hard to believe that the schools already end tomorrow.  my grandchildren are still not signed up for day camp.  I am actually going on a job interview tomorrow.  it is a part time office position.  I am truly not up for it but I am going to see it through.  I haven't worked in an office in over a decade and I am not truly computer literate.

I can email and blog.  that's about it.  I once worked on word and excel but that was a long time ago.  for the past 15 years I worked as a caregiver.  I took care of both of my parents until their deaths and then raised my grandson for two years.  I was finally out of the house after ten years and got a job cooking in a yeshiva.  that was nearly 3 years ago.  I got cervical cancer and I underwent the traditional treatment.  I survived.  it's been a long haul and I'm still not back to myself.  I am cancer free and just turned 64.  I have turned myself into a virtual shut in.

I hardly ever go to town.  I leave town 2-3 times a year to go to a hospital in tel aviv.   I hardly get dressed.  I spend almost every afternoon with my grandchildren.  I get to visit a friend in the neighborhood once a week.  I spend most of my time in bed watching reality shows.  I don't read the news.  I never check my bank balance or pick up my mail.  I recently got into a real financial pickle.  I had to beg friends and family members to bail me out.  I have made some really disastrous financial mistakes since my mom passed away 6 years ago.

I have pretty much hit rock bottom financially.  unfortunately, I am in good company here.  these are supposed to be the golden years, right?  my brother, the psychologist, wired me a few bucks and then launched into a rather long motivational speech about making tough choices.  the biggie is getting my son to pay me rent.  that's a huge one.  another one is to go back into public housing.  that ship left the port years ago.  I have been struggling to hold onto my house for the past 6 years.  is it wrong to want to remain in one's own home of 15 years.  is it unreasonable to want to keep one's home for the future?

I was admonished for making Shabbat meals every week when I cannot really afford to.  I have sold all of my gold jewelry and taken out bank loans to pay for Pessach and Rosh Hashanna food expenses.  I get it.  I can not take out any more loans.  I can not write out any more supermarket checks, either.  the kids must contribute.  they must supply some food some of the time.  it is a harsh reality not to be able to feed your loved ones.  so I am going to look for a part time job.  I will probably earn enough money to buy some food for Shabbat.  whoopee!

this is the age when a lot of people retire.  this is not the age that people return to the work field.  it isn't the age to babysit grandchildren every day either.  I blew my inheritance on the kids.  I cannot get an income from the downstairs apartment because the kids are living there rent free.  they had a failed business venture which left them financially crippled, which in turn, left me financially crippled. it is truly a vicious cycle.  I am an enabler.  I know it.  everyone tells me that I'm a fool.

my brother's message was to take care of zelda.  I don't know what that means.  I have been the caregiver for many years.  I have never been a recipient of that care giving.  I don't know how to take care of myself.  I haven't bought a thing for myself in many years.  I don't buy new clothes because I have gained a ton of weight.  I have gained a lot of weight because I am so frustrated about the financial situation.  I was so happy when I worked in the yeshiva.  I was treated with so much respect.  the young men there, unlike my own son, wanted to engage me in conversation.  I was a caregiver once again, but everyone appreciated me.  here I am treated as a live in servant.

even the little kids boss me around.  I have a lot of hard choices to make. if I get the job, the daughter-in-law will have to find daycare help for the kids.  she is quite willing to pay a stranger to watch the kids but compensating me for my time is anathema to her.  the times they are a changing!!  I will have to leave the house a few times a week.  right now I go to town once a month and sometimes less.  we will just have to see what happens tomorrow.  hopefully, she'll get the kids into a day camp tomorrow and i'll get a new job.  stranger things have happened.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Afternoon June 2015

it is 5:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I am taking a break to blog.  the food is on the electric platter and all the salads are in the fridge.  candle lighting is not until 7:30 p.m.  it isn't often that I'm finished with the food preparations so early.  I started at 6:00 a.m.  I woke up and immediately washed the kitchen floor. 

I thought I had to go to my grandson's end of year party at the gan at 9:00 a.m.  I quickly prepared a package of chicken wings and bottoms with sweet chili sauce and threw them on the electric grill.  I then made a pot of mashed potatoes and a small pot of cooked wheat.  I wanted to make a mashed  potato kugel with mushrooms because everyone here loves mushrooms.  my Shabbat guest doesn't eat mushrooms but loves mashed potatoes so I left it at that.   I made a raw beet salad and a raw carrot and peanut salad because the daughter-in-law loves them.

I've stopped cooking beets.  I now bake them in tin foil.  the taste is just the same and there's less of a clean up.  I got tired of my counter being splattered in beet juice.  I've also stopped hand grating the beets and carrots.  that's right, I use a mini food processor.  the texture is a bit strange but it's pretty fast.  I even threw in the cabbage to make a slaw.

when I found out that I was not obligated to get dressed and leave the house, I made some more dishes.  I made some St. peter's fish fillets and a couple of slices of tuna in a spicy Moroccan tomato sauce.  I couldn't get cilantro so I used parsley.  I then made a chicken stir fry because I didn't feel like making any more fried cutlets.  I was completely schnitzeled out this week.

I didn't have any peppers for the stir fry because I used the last one in the fish sauce so I used a tiny hot pepper.  I sautéed an onion and two carrots and ended up throwing in some canned mushrooms.  I didn't want to use any more sweet chili sauce so I added a bit of tumeric, garlic, cumin, allspice and coriander and some tomato paste.  it was very hot so I added some apple juice concentrate to give it some sweetness.  I just didn't feel like running to the store to buy a teriyaki plum sauce.

I panicked as I reflected on the fact that my Shabbat guest would not eat the stir fry with the mushrooms. I was convinced that there wasn't enough chicken to go around so I pulled out a package of chicken drumsticks and cooked them in a spicy tomato sauce.  I think I made too much food but I can always freeze the leftovers.  I must say that I enjoy the leftovers.  it's a luxury having good food in the fridge.  I still have some leftover chili and I will serve some tonight.  I need a nap desperately.

I have some fancy birthday cake leftover and a huge box of chocolate tofu ice cream bites for tonight's dessert.  I also have a melon and a package of non dairy strawberry-chocolate -vanilla ice cream.  we have a store bought cheese strudel and a chocolate yeast cake for the morning. who's better than us?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dining In

it is 6:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  tonight is my unofficial birthday party.  last night the kids took me out to Tiberius for a fish dinner.  everyone was tired and the kids were more interested in their toys than their meals.  no one was relaxed and it was not pleasant.  it was hot and not at all pleasurable to be by the sea.

the kids spent a fortune and of course, I felt guilty.  it wasn't really a celebration.  we didn't laugh or even smile.  the three year wined throughout the meal for a toy she wanted.  everyone was stressed out.  no one had a good time.  I wanted to treat the kids to a pony ride but their parents were tired and wanted to get back to zefat.  I would have loved to have a dessert or something ceremonial for my birthday.

in all fairness, it wasn't really my birthday.  tonight is my birthday.  I am having a few ladies in that I have never met.  a mutual friend invited them to meet me.  I've been working all day long to create a party meal.  I made a turkey chili that is really not very good.  I also stewed some chicken wings which aren't that great, either.  I made a pitcher of sangria that isn't so special.  I think the cherry liquor gave it a cough medicine like taste.  I do have beer on hand if anyone wants.

I made a corn bread which could have been a tad sweeter.  I made a salsa and an egg salad to start the meal.  I also have a tabouli salad which I just made.  a friend returned from the states a little while ago so I invited her to come for dinner.  she doesn't eat anything with oil or mayonnaise.  I opened up a can of corn.  she doesn't eat tomatoes and cucumbers so I only put red pepper in the tabouli.  I had wanted to make a guacamole salad but there weren't any avocados in the supermarket.  I just fried up a few turkey fingers for starters.  I'm tired.  I can't imagine hosting anyone .

I sampled the sangria and I feel like I'm going to go to sleep.  my daughter-in-law has to work late tonight and my son has a wedding to go to.  I can't take on the kids tonight. tonight we're dining in.  I fried up a batch of schnitzels for the kids and brought down a coleslaw and corn salad that I made for tonight.  who knows if anyone will eat anything.  the kids went off to a kid's birthday party.  I need to chill out and take a cold shower before the guests arrive.

aftermath:  it is now 11:30 p.m.  I just finished the dishes. it was a small crowd.  we started the meal at 8:30 p.m.  a couple of gals came at 7:00 p.m. and we drank sangria until the others came.  I put out the turkey fingers and a couple of salads while we schmoozed.  the sangria was very tasty.  at 6:30 p.m. I added a lot of sugar and squeezed out the juice from the orange slices.  that seemed to do the trick.  it was a big hit.  I had about 5 glasses myself.  I wonder how i'll feel tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Live And Learn

it is 8:15 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I 'slept in' this morning.  I have been getting up at 6:00 a.m. every morning.  I start my day by throwing a few buckets of bleach water all over the floor as the dogs are still making all over the house.  I have to admit to my latest binge watching of the new season of Orange Is The New Black series.  I was 'surfing' the channels on Saturday night and, lo and behold, they showed the first 7 episodes in the middle of the night.  I believe they ended at 5:30 a.m.  I was nearly beside myself.

I fell in and out of sleep while I watched all of the 7 episodes and finally passed out after 6:00 a.m.  I was a sheer zombie on Sunday.  taking care of the kids was not an easy feat.  I couldn't wait for their mother to come home.  she finally came back after 5:30 p.m.  I didn't say a word. I raced myself upstairs and went to bed.  I felt totally depleted.  I can't pull all nighters at this age and still feel normal.

on Sunday evening I discovered that the entire series was available on cable to I watched nearly all of the 14 episodes.  I know, I'm bad.  anyhow, I was very tired yesterday.  every moment with the kids was like having a bad toothache.  I kept on checking the clock.  I was nearly out of my mind at 5:30 p.m.  the kids were just being their winy true selves.  nothing out of the ordinary.  I  just wanted to be upstairs in my own space.  I wanted to visit a friend. I wanted out of my house and to be away from the dogs and the kids.

 I watch the kids every day for a minimum of 2-3 hours.  it's usually more and I end up babysitting at night too.  I need a break.  the long summer break starts in another two weeks.  I am literally dreading it.  I am trying to get a job just to get out of the house and be away from babysitting.  I gave up my sports classes and yoga to help raise my grandson.  now I'm totally out of shape.  the heat is killing me.  I can't deal with being outside.  I can't stand being in, either.

yesterday, at 5:30 p.m., I heard the phone ring.  I was outside with the kids. I had given up on their mother coming home at a reasonable hour.  I quickly ran upstairs and I discovered that the 'puppy' had ripped apart my very expensive American Comfort lounge chair.  there had been a small crack in the leather which I was planning on taping later on.  I was livid.  my son called again.  he wanted to know if I could stay with the kids while he and his wife went out.  she wanted to do some shopping.  this entailed feeding and bathing and putting the kids to sleep which entailed staying downstairs for many more hours.

while I'm downstairs, the dogs are tearing my house apart.  they pee and mess all over and eat the coach.  they bark and make noise and I'm always running upstairs to check on what's going on.  while I'm upstairs the kids are trashing the house and bothering the dogs and drawing on my walls.  I can't win.  the kids run in and out of the house, allowing the dogs to run downstairs and pee downstairs.  I catch it when their mother comes home from work.  I find that I'm always on the defensive with her.

I had wanted to go to the supermarket and buy what I need for my dinner party tomorrow night.  I also had some cash, thanks to a good friend, and I wanted to stock the freezer.  the kids offered to take me to the supermarket.  I declined.  I wanted to be alone.  I wanted to browse and check out the sales.  I did offer to watch the kids after they were asleep but it didn't work for their parents.  they finally came home after midnight.  I felt so guilty that the kids were schlepped around on a school night.  however, that's the choice of their parents.  I have to learn to say no and not feel guilty.

I went off by myself and shopped for a couple of hours.  I was able to buy a lot of frozen chicken and fish at very reasonable prices.  and the best thing is that I didn't write out any more rubber checks.  that's right.  my bank returned several of my checks and I had to SOS my family and a friend for money. it was most unpleasant to say the least.  I nearly lost my bank account.  I've been with this bank for 30 years but I am not considered or treated like a valued client.  no one is.

I was able to buy some frozen wild salmon for the same price that I pay for a few cans of tuna. I'm trying very hard to lose weight.  it isn't really budging yet but I'm still trying.  I know that I consume way too many calories for my inactive lifestyle but, never the less, I haven't had any cake or chocolate in nearly a month.  I also bought chicken and turkey breast at a real discount.  I will be able to make chicken fingers and stir fry out of just one package.  I think I have enough food to last for a couple of months of Shabbat meals. I am so fortunate to have such a loving support system. in a way, I do feel very ghetto running out and buying food with charity but it's all about surviving, after all.

I ended up buying non dairy ice cream.  I had collected several recipes to make my own but in the end, it was much cheaper to buy it. oh well.  I cooked my navy beans and black eyed peas already. I'm hoping to make the chili today.  if not, i'll try to clean the house and do the cooking in the a.m.  right now I'm feeling tired.  my life isn't my own.  I am in a losing situation and I know it. it wears me out to talk about it.  even making a small dinner party is weighing on my mind.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Almost Free

it is 5:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I made some chicken this morning because I thought the kids were coming for Shabbat.  my son called to say that they had made other plans.  I was so delighted not to have to cook.  I ate a couple of wings and sighed in relief.  'free at last'.  I thought about going to my friends for lunch and I contemplated visiting my sister.  my niece has been here from India for almost 3 weeks and I haven't yet seen her or her family.

I haven't heard a word from my sister, either.  I assume it is sheer havoc with everyone camped out in her tiny apartment.  I often feel guilty at times like these that I live in a 3 floor, 11 room house.  it does seem unfair.  my son and wife and their two kids do occupy the bottom floor. they cannot afford today's rentals on both of their minimum income wages.  that's also very unfair but very true.

I offered my single niece the chance to live upstairs in the roof top studio apartment.  she never took me up on my offer.  a few years ago my sister called me at the last moment to ask if my nephew and his new wife could sleep upstairs for a Shabbat.  I had to decline.  I felt awful.  the apartment was trashed with pigeon poo.  it was a major cleanup job.  there were pigeons everywhere and in the walls.  the noise was unbearable.  the smell was awful, too.

I finally got the upstairs in shape before pesach.  I had someone close off the open areas where they were getting in.  the place was spotless until recently when I discovered a pigeon roosting on my electric burner stove top.  I haven't had the strength to clean it yet.  I left the nest sans eggs and the pigeon poo all over the fridge and floor.  one of these days......

the fact is that I've been feeling awful in this heat wave.  I have been dizzy and truly fatigued.  I mentioned it to the oncologist but he wasn't particularly concerned.  I just do not fare well in the heat.  when it cools down I feel that I may just live.  I have been too tired in the evenings to do anything.  I'm housebound mostly.  I put off doing all of my errands until I must deal with them.

it turns out that the kids will be coming home for lunch.  I think i'll serve them the chicken that I made today.  I was thinking about doing schnitzels but I don't know now if I feel like it.  I don't like their switching on me once again.  just when I fell free they put me back in my cage.  I don't know if i'll join them at the clans' on Friday night.  it is always so loud there.  my grandson gets absolutely off the wall there.  and then we have a long walk home and leaving there is always a production.

the Sephardi grandma had a birthday on Tuesday night and I didn't go to the party.  I was feeling fatigued.  I couldn't get dressed.  I was lying in a prone position on my t.v. sofa with 2 or 3 dogs lying on top of me.  right now I'm feeling a bit dizzy.  it's quite windy outside.  the daughter-in-law promised to get me veggies for Shabbat.  I'm plum out of cash.  I really don't feel like tackling the supermarket later.

I am turning 64 next Wednesday.  I do not want a surprise party.  I do not want the clan coming over.  I want to have a small ladies soiree for Rosh Chodesh.  I am planning on serving turkey chili and  spicy chicken wings.  I plan to do cornbread, salsa, salad and chocolate non dairy ice cream.  hopefully, i'll find a couple of ripe avocados.  if they have a sale I might just be tempted to buy non dairy ice cream.   I bought two very inexpensive bottles of rose wine to make sangria.  unfortunately, fresh grapes, peaches, melon and frozen strawberries and raspberries are all very pricey.  I'll have to stick with oranges, lemons and apples.

as usual, I've been online looking up recipes.  I am fixed on doing a Mexican menu.  I really don't know anything about the food.  almost every recipe calls for cheese so that leaves it out since we are having fowl.  as you might know already, we orthodox Jews, do not eat meat with dairy.  I wanted to do a flan but it is too complicated.  I decided on chocolate pudding.  I feel the need to add cinnamon even though I just know that my guests won't really get off on it. 

I have a new recipe for non dairy eggless ice cream.  I usually make it with a melted chocolate bar, 3 eggs and a container of Riches non dairy whipping cream.  it's fast and yummy.  even better when I have some rum around the house.  I don't know why I'm trying a new recipe out.  didn't I learn my lesson on Shavuot?  the recipes call for sweetened condensed milk.  I found a blogger that swears that cream of coconut is a good non dairy substitute.  the recipe also calls for cocoa and not a chocolate bar.  I'm truly in a dilemma as to what to do.  my friend is buying a fancy birthday cake.

I'll go to the supermarket and see what I can find. hopefully, i'll get inspired.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Had Enough

it is 2:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I've had the kids since 12:30 p.m. and I can't take it any more.  I am on call every second bringing snacks and drinks and wiping tushies.   I'm their personal slave.  cleaning up after the puppy is also wearing me out.  having 4 dogs is turning my house into a kennel.

I sent a photo to the town's vet.  he tries to find homes for the strays.  I didn't hear from him so I will have to just bring the puppy do the pound.  it is not an easy feat.  it's located on the outskirts of town.  I don't even know if a taxi knows where it is.  I will call the vet again.  I will ask for someone to pick up the dog.

I am so very tired.  I went to tel hashomer on tuesday for my oncologist appointment.  I left in a taxi at 6:00 a.m. and got there about 8:45a.m.  I was finished by 9:45 a.m.  I did get a good report.  I caught a bus back to tel aviv.  I was at the central train station but I decided not to take one back.  that entails getting off at acco.  I hate the bus ride back from acco.  it takes forever.  I waited for a while until a bus came to rosh pina.  from there I took a local bus and was in my house at 2:00 p.m.

I haven't really recovered from all of the travelling.  I think it is more that I didn't sleep at all the night before.  I was so worried that I wouldn't wake up in time.  one of these days I must invest in an alarm clock.  I probably would worry just as much that it would malfunction and not ring at all.

 I made a mini pool day for the kids on Wednesday.  we were having water fights.  my grandson turned violent and threw a bucket on my hand.  he followed up by hitting me three times on my hand and arm with a wooden broom handle.  I thought my hand was sprained.  his parents said that I am too wild with him.  they said that he thought it was part of the game.  he was mad at me because I dowsed him with water when he wasn't looking.  he attacked me when I tried to drain the pool.

 yesterday I had them inside.  no more pool dates for a while.  I made cheese toasts and gave out lots of treats.  I did take them out at 6:00 p.m. to the local synagogue for a celebratory dinner for a new sefer torah.  we didn't hear any music or see any signs of a celebration when we got to the shul.  we went to the local kid's parks where they played happily until 7:30 p.m.

 It was getting cold but the kids wanted to stay out.  finally around 8:00 p.m. we heard the music.  we ran a few blocks up and caught the procession.  we followed it back to the shul.  I didn't stay for the meal.  it was 8:30 p.m. and time for the kids to shower and go to sleep.  I filled little bags with nuts, cookies and candies to bring home and brought a plate of goodies for my daughter-in-law, too.  I helped put them to sleep.

 I am super out of it today.  I've only done a bit of cooking.  I made a pot of chicken and turkey balls.  I also made a marble loaf cake.  that's all I've managed to do.  I did stay on the phone with a friend for about 1 1/2 hours.  I washed all the floors with bleach and bailed out a backed up toilet with a wash cup.  I feel like taking a nap.  Shabbat doesn't start until around 8:00 p.m.

I defrosted the beef that I cooked for Shavuot.  I was thinking about making fried chicken wings but I don't have the energy to do anything right now.  I guess I should just get up and put up the fish.  oh well........