Friday, December 23, 2016

Blogging Fun with Food Not Bought Blog and Heirloom Gardener

I am so excited to say I am blogging for Heirloom Gardener.  I started a blog called Food Not Bought.  Food Not Bought, is a blog that will cross over from the Ivan back and forth across the garden.  It will cover topics of the kitchen and how to build a pantry full of food not bought.  It will highlight this journey as well as focus on growing a productive suburban garden that really does add Food Not Bought to your table.

I hope you will join me on this Journey.  The first blogs are up and posted here.
While, I have blogged over the years, I never really know if people liked my style, or appreciated my writing. It was a big deal to have someone one else, a magazine I respect, read and choose my work to post on their website. Now Heirloom Gardener has decided to take it a step farther and include some of my posts in the spring print edition.

Let me tell you a little story about a girl who was told she had no style and could not write.  I was always exceedingly bright but could not, for the life of me, excel in English.  I was diagnosed with Learning Disabilities by the 5th grade and spent many years being frustrated by limitations in reading and writing. When I grew up, we had no computers or spellcheck, we had type writers and finally graduated up to the first Macintosh computer by the time I was in University. The school programs for learning disabilities were extremely limited and did not encourage academic pursuits beyond getting by.

When I was in my final grade of high school I worked hard to get the minimum of a 65 in Honors English you needed to get into University.   I had an English teacher that had stated he did not like having students with LD in his class, and did not feel they should take honors English or preparing for University level educations.  This resulted in a personality conflict and a difficult situation for me.

As I failed assignment after assignment in English my fear of not getting into University increased.  I was lucky to have parents that fought for me.  They met with the principles and the result was that my work was to be double graded by others in the English department.  Quickly my grade returned into the range of a B.  This was not too shabby, but not at the top of the class.   English was admittedly not my strong suite.

It came to the final.  There was some sort of rule that only a person's teacher could grade their final.  Not sure what that was about but some how this teacher managed to make this happen.  He gave me a Zero on my Final.   I wrote 18 pages on that final.  The only way to get a Zero would have been to not show up.

So he managed to get my English grade down to a 64.  My parents flew into action again and there was a massive appeal and meetings.  Eventually my grade was raised to a 65 and the school administrators sent me on my way University bound.   While this was a victory, there was always that eco in my head of his voice.  Telling me I had no style and could not succeed.
Well now I would like to say thank you to Heirloom Gardeners and to the readers of my many blogs.  Thank you for getting my style and for enjoying my writing.  See you all again in blog land.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

All Fridge and Nothing But the Fridge

Today I am going to ramble on about a fridge.   Well about a couple of fridges.

We have had several fridges over our married life and through raising the boys.  We had a lovely freezer at the bottom, European Style but it only lasted 6 years.  We had a nice traditional style that lasted 7 years.  Our most recent fridge was a small side by side that we absolutely hated.  We stuffed that thing so full and couldn't find anything.

Every timed my husband or I opened the fridge we would curse under our breath. We were like old Yiddisha yentas spitting and saying"I hate this fridge".  We had only had it for about one year.  Seriously, we were a year in and all the drawers were broken.  The plastic cracked and the drawers just didn't fit in anymore, they hung at weird angles and scraped open and close.  The fridges thin and deep shelves fostered a frenzy of crap all stuffed in leaving absolutely no viability at all.

I had been looking on facebook marketplace just sort of weighing it's capacity. You see, I do on-line marketing, so I sort of study these things. I was searching for fridges for obvious reasons. Not really certain I was about to spend any money on it.  Yet I searched anyway.

Then one day it showed up. It was a Danby Commercial All Fridge.  It was all fridge and nothing but the fridge.  It was all fridge, all day long.  It was 33 wide and 67 high. It weighted in at about 187 pounds.  It had 17.7 cubic feet of fridge space.  I just watched it and thought how this would solve our problem and be so great.   We were not really ready to give up the old fridge as we did need a freezer upstairs and had actually finally hooked up the ice maker.   So we would have to add this to our already crowded kitchen.

For someone that used their kitchen as much as I did, I had a very small kitchen.  I made the best of the space I had so the thought of adding a second fridge was a big deal.  Yet we dove in.  We talked it over and then made arrangements to see it.   We marveled at it's size and through of never having to say we hated our fridge again.  We decided to go for it.

They delivered it the next day and we got some friends to help us get it into the house.  I scrubbed the hell out of it.  It was supposedly cleaned but all I have to say is...vomit.  There is something about other peoples dirt or 'schmutch' that makes me want to toss my cookies.  After it was cleaned we just stared at it in awe.

My older son, Jordan, who is a vegan, claimed the old fridge as the land of no meat or milk.  The old fridge would become the land of parve, vegan tofu, tempe and almond products.  I was thrilled that I could help him satisfy his food preferences and not have to deal with disgust or temptation.

We started packing things in the fridge. My younger son, Joel, helped me with this task, really getting into organizing everything on the door.   We manged to move over just about everything from the old fridge, albeit for the vegan delights.  The fridge still looked roomy, beautiful frankly, just lovely. You could find anything you needed and lacked for no space.

There was plenty of space to fill, so I went grocery shopping.  I got lots of good food and still there was space. Next I went to the farmers market and got food for processing and making a fermentation. The recipe included beets, turnips, daikon radishes and a head of cabbage.  It would make enough to fill two half gallon jars when done.  I also got a rather large head of Endive for making a lovely soup.  I even picked up 6 dozen eggs as they were on sale.

The all fridge took all that food in and still looks fantastic. It was room and clean and functional. The door held all the sauces and inside there is space for everything. I felt so spoiled, absolutely spoiled.
So in review, I must say that an all fridge is a beautiful thing and that it is something that anyone who is a serious cook, caner and fermented should consider.  If you use your kitchen as I do, I highly recommend the all fridge for your sanity and for your happiness.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I got a big butt and I do not care...

Amy Jones may seem like your ordinary Mother of two in America today, and in many ways, she is.  Along with at least 40% of the population of people just like, her she has a problem that needed solving.  Research shows that a huge percentage of women have more booty than underwear.  Amy dedicated to solving this problem one pair at a time with Amy’s Underwear.

Amy’s Story was very similar to many of our own. She was born and raised in St. Louis. Her father owned a flooring business and instilled the values of hard work in her life at a young age. She was a gymnast in her youth and enjoyed a relatively active lifestyle. She enjoyed math and science in school, maintained a high GPA, and was a leader in the drama club.  She taught in her church, after graduation. Amy subsequently had two boys, now ages 8 and 10, and continued with a predictable path of American Life.

The big one difference in Amy's Story, and to benefit of women with big buts everywhere, was that she was surrounded by the concept that a problem deserved a solution and that entrepreneurial ventures were possible.  Amy described her husband as being a serial entrepreneur. Together they had started several businesses and lived the world of possibilities. Amy had the skills and the drive to make a difference.

The problem Amy decided to solve was the ever-present issue of ill-fitting underwear.  The more Amy considered the situation the more she realized she was not alone. She discovered that the current sizing charts for underwear were way out of date and out of shape. She also discovered that not a single manufacturer was making underwear for women with more booty.  Amy became energized with the concept of helping all women feel more comfortable and covered in their underwear.

Amy started with her personal research by going out and spending $500 on different types of underwear and trying everything on.  It turned out that none of them fit right, she has too much butt for the fabric provided.  They all ended up with the inevitable riding up feeling.  No underwear covered the situation well.  She could not wear underwear that was cute, or athletic or even comfortable.  Underwear that fit the booty invariably gaped at the waist, while those that fit the waist rode up and became a thong.

She started researching what the fashion world was doing about this problem. She found that a major jeans manufacture had done a survey of over 60,000 women from all around the world, and found that the issue was a difference between the low and high hip.  This was where the muscles of the buttocks hit.  The standard difference was 2.5 inches but the real difference, found by the survey, was a difference of 6 inches.

Amy never dreamed of being a fashion designer. She learned to sew when she was 8 years old to make her own costumes for Halloween. Never did she dream she would end up using her skills to try and save women from constant discomfort.  She began sewing prototypes, experimenting with different fabrics, elastics, and styles. She realized that her dream of having correctly fitted underwear was possible.

Amy worked on creating the prefect sizing chart.  This was a grueling process and involved hiring a patent attorney and expanding the categories to women’s sizing to include the tops as well as the bottoms.  Amy wanted to create a realistic sizing chart that manufactures could use to help all women feel comfortable.  The sizing chart was submitted for patent and the processed became a reality.

The next step was how to bring this great fitting underwear to the public.  She knew she could not complete with the major brands that were all doing it wrong anyway.  Amy decided to use crowdfunding to launch Amy’s Underwear.  She made a home-grown video filmed right in her living room, while the kids were at school.  She made her logo herself and bootstrapped the entire process.  She decided on a pricing model that would make it possible to create a great quality product and still leave her garments in the same ball park as others specialty underwear.  She launched her Indiegogo on her 34th birthday of November the 6th 2016.

Amy’s target market was every woman.  Her market was active women that love to dance and do physical activity, the woman that enjoy weight lifting and being trim and the women with a pear or an hour glass shape.  Most importantly the market was women that has spent years, if not decades, feeling uncomfortable in her own clothing.  Amy created Amy's Undies, with it's tag-line 'I love big Butts' to help everyone woman with this incredibly sensitive issue.

If you have resonated with this story you might be asking yourself, how can can I help, and how can I get my hands on some of those Amy’s Undies?  If you have felt that horrible feeling of your underwear riding up or fitting ill, you are the woman Amy’s Undies is meant to help.   Check out the Indiegogo site and become one of the first women to get your own Amy’s Undies.  You can also help by sharing this campagin with family and friends and even getting a pair for a friend that has this same issue.  You can also follow Amy's Journey through social media on facebook.

Amy’s Underwear has an initial target of $15,000 to bring this dream into reality. The initial release will be underwear in 15 sizes and in bikini, boy-shorts, and cheeky styles. Check out the styles here.  If you are wondering which sizes you are check out this sizing video.   She has created stretch goals that include 9 more plus sizes, and a rainbow of color options.  Supporting this dream can be done easily enough and can result in the first good fitting underwear you have ever had.

So if you Love Big Butts, or have this same issue, support Amy's Undies and lets make change to fit all women where it counts.

Story told by Buzz Well Media.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Tipping Point of America's Decency

I sit here feeling hallow inside. Feeling like, frankly, I could toss up my comfort food lunch.  I feel like the carpet was pulled out from under my feet and I landed by falling down a rabbit whole.  I feel like I have watched the decency of our democracy roll down a hill into a giant puddle of quick sand.

How could this country have really elected Donald Trump.   We have seen the Native American's pushed off their lands for big oil and yet we did not think we had sunk this low.  We have seen women's rights being scaled back State by State, and chess move by chess move, and yet we did not see this coming.  We have seen big corporate interest grow an elite upper class while the middle class sunk into a debt filled stupor, yet we did not see this coming.  

That night my 9 year old fell asleep on my lap while he cried.  Literally, he cried himself to sleep with fear and sadness for what could happen to our country and our family.  He knows that we are dependent on the affordable care act for benefits.  He knows we depend on the economy for our living and worries that a down turn could destroy our fledgling businesses.  He worries as a minority we will be treated with contempt and discriminated against.  He is 9 and should not be worried about any of this.

The next morning my 13 year old was too upset to face going to school.  He was up past 1:00 am listening to the results as they came in. He got up early and tried to get ready for school. He could not stop crying long enough to face the day.  My son was very involved in the election process.  He did phone banking, walked in marches and canvased for Bernie Sanders.  He support other battle grounds for the democratic party as the election came close.  He even started researching his path to political office and dare I say...the President of the United States. He wanted to feel that all his hard work had amounted to something.  Yet, he couldn't find any worth in this result.

The day after the election my husband, of 21 years, asked me to get his Canadian Citizenship papers in order.  His father was born in Canada and thus he could naturalize rather easily.  The kids and I already had Canadian citizenship as I immigrated to the USA and made sure the kids were naturalized through me shortly after they were born.  For 21 years my husband had rejected the very thought of moving or considering Canada as an option.  He had always loved American too much to consider it.  For years he taught about America's power and beauty as a civics teacher in the public school system.  He had always been proud of the democracy, decency and political process.

I moved to this country at the tail end of the Clinton presidency and lived through 9/11 and the Bush Years.  Then Obama came in and was road blocked at every turn imaginable.  Now Trump actually was elected after all the hate and lies. First Bernie was robbed of his place and now Trump actually won.   The scary point was that so many people, when left in their own space of privacy, actually decided that Trump was a good idea. They decided to choose his hate, bigotry, misogyny, ego, greed, lack of respect for women and minorities, and complete lack of experience.

Now the theory has been spread around that the reason people voted for Trump was that they were desperate and looking for something that would change their world.   They were looking for something other than the usual that had brought around no advancement, more debt and more struggle. They were looking for someone to take them back in time to when they had viable jobs and the American Dream really meant a house with the white picket fence.  But what they failed to see was that they elected what had been draining money out of their world.  They elected a greedy, unethical, corporate criminal.

I will tell you what will not bring the American Dream back to life.  Obstructionist Governors and Senators that would not allow even the most basic of job bills to pass will certainly not result in new opportunities.  Taking away health care from millions of people and taking away coverage for people with pre-existing conditions will not bring back the American Dream.  Alienating and vilifying minorities, women, and the disabled will probably not do it either.  Adding more money into the pockets or corrupt corporate millionaires will only continue to drain this county of its soul.  

Now one more things that we need to consider.  I hate to make the parallel that has been made over and over, but lets go back to Germany after they lost WWI and the world economy was failing.  People were desperate, they wanted change, they looked at minorities and outsiders as a drain on their world. They were willing to elect evil and vicious leaders that tries to take over the world.  The result was millions of people dead including my family and specifically my the people of my faith.  It also brought about decades of the world looking at all German people as being part of the evil forces.
So how will the people of the world look at Americans? How will they consider us after Trump is unleashed on the world? How will the world fair with his finger on the military, his ignorant evil cohorts controlling our world, women's rights set back decades, and minorities treated with contempt.  Will the world feel sorry for these scared people or blame them for their ignorant and frankly inexcusable choice.

So how do we console our children. How do we give them hope in the future when our hope has been ripped away from us?  How do we prepare them for the world of tomorrow that they will inherit?  How do we explain how so many of the people of this country could have made this choice?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Yad Mordichai, flowers a wall and the reality of Gaza

One of our last days in Israel was spent visiting my cousin who is doing his army service, stationed near Yad Mordichai on the Gaza boarder.  We drove out following our relatives in their car. We drove down the coast of Israel through Tel Aviv down to the top corner boarder of Gaza.  There stands a kibbutz named Yad Mordichai.

The kibbutz is named after Mordichai Anielewicz who was the first commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization that launched the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  The kibbutz lived up to it's name as during 1948 when kibbutz was attached by Egypt in the Battle known as the Battle of Yad Mordichai.  

On the kibbutz is a museum spanning the time frame from the Polish resistance to the battle of Yad Moridichai. While it was good to see the info on the struggle for survival in Europe it was also great to see the efforts that went into creating and defending the kibbutz in hostile territory.  

The kibbutz is known for it's honey production. It was an oasis in bloom. Where there is honey here are bees, and where there are bees there are flowers. Everywhere you looked there were flowering bushes, trees and plants.  It was a beautiful place.

It was Sabbath, the traditional day off in Israel.  While the museum was open, the store was not open to visitors during the Sabbath.  People were going about their business with baby strollers in tow having family time and chilling out.  

We drove to the army outpost where my cousin was stationed.  It was a conglomerate of packing crates. One was a dormitory, one was a kitchen  and the last one was a bathroom and wash house.  The soldiers were kind and shared their supplies as we shared the lunch my cousin mom had the forethought to bring for her son and his fellow solders.  It was so great to see him doing so well. He looked strong, confident in what he was doing, and healthy.  

We all had a great time visiting. We got to walk around a little bit and see the wall to Gaza.  It was literally 100 meters away.  The wall had guard towers and looked ominous.  The tensions were strong.   Under us could have been tunnels that were to be used for surprise attacks and smuggling of weapons and people.

This was where the real conflict was still in play.  My cousin was doing active service in this area and understood more then he could say of what is really at stake.  Enough to say it was real, really real.  

On the kibbutz side of the fence was a wall that was decorated by the kibbutz kids and members.  They had used all sorts of items to make a colorful mosaic of peace.   Each piece of the mosaic was hand made and decorated.  It was beautiful work and a beautiful message. The Path to Peace is the way Peace. Yet the contrast to the stark reality of the place was not lost on anyone. This beautiful kibbutz butted right up to a very violent and angry place.

I felt so glad that my children got to see that reality. They got to see what it takes to maintain strength and safety in a place like Israel.  They got to see their cousin doing his job and his duty.  They got to see a town full of fearless people living their lives each day in bravery.   They got to see the wall, the security systems, the tanks and the machine guns. Yet, they also got to see the beauty, the flowers, and the messages of peace.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

From Netanya AirBnB to 107f in Eilat

The next stage of this trip centered around our AirBnB base in Netanya.  We had rented a wonderful condo in Netanya for the week we also rented a car to get around.  Combine this with Google maps and we were good to go.

My sister Diane, her Kids and My brother Daniel and his Wife Kelly had all left to return to Canada.  This left my folks and me and the boys for 7 more days.  We drove to Netanya and checked into our condo.  

The first thing I noticed about driving in Israel was that Google maps was my friend.  I plugged my phone into the car and it told me what to do.  I was not too proud to follow these direction.   Israeli drivers are very aggressive and I did not have a clue where I was going.  So with a little help from my little friend we made it all over the country during that week.  Also Israel is full of roundabouts.  They have replaced many lights with roundabouts and it is much smoother to get around.  

We did a substantial grocery shopping and ate out of the house for the first time in weeks. It was nice to have a base and this condo was wonderful.   I had my fears about using Airbnb but frankly it was exactly what we needed. The condo was clean, huge and beautiful. It was across the street from the beach.  It had a beach view looking west for the most beautiful sunsets.   

The kitchen was huge and well equipped. It was kosher so that was a little bit of a challenge. I grew up with a kosher kitchen when I was young and have had many friends with kosher houses.  So I knew what to do.  Being kosher in a kitchen I was cooking in was a constant reminder of where we were.   

The area had a lot of religious French Jews which really brought home an issue that was continuing to show it's face during out trip.  The newest immigration to Israel was from France.  Over the years Israel has absorbed many cultures.  It is a mesh of Jews from all over the world that have become Israel.   

When I was in Israel 21 years ago the immigration was from Russia.  The Ulplan, language program, that I did was about 50% Russian immigrants trying to learn the language to survive in Israel.  Now the Russians were indistinguishable from the rest of the populations.  The kids had all blended and everyone was dark haired with the occasional red head to blond.   

The new folks were all French.  They were more religious then average and tended to keep their language.  They had money are were settling in cities like Netanya.  They were leaving the tension for Jews in Europe, and were entering into Israel with confidence.    France had been a huge hot bed of antisemitism for too long.  Israel welcomed these people with open arms and supported for their transition. 

Anyway so we spent our days doing things we still wanted to do.  We went to Jerusalem and saw the Chagall Windows, spent more time in the old city and Joel and Sabba went to the Bloomberg Science Museum.   

We spent a day in a water park so over populated that we thought we were all going to have anxiety attacks.  The combination of humanity was unbelievable.   The Jews with huge school and camp groups of kids out of control, the Arab families that came with their own bbq's and boom boxes and smaller family groups all over the place was tempered by teen age groups sizing each other up and young couples making out at will.  We stuck it out and the kids had a good time.

My boys and I did a short trip back south to Eilat.  I desperately wanted to take the boys there to show them the Red Sea and the Negev Mountains.   I remembered my days of going across to Egypt and staying in the little Bedouin town of Dahab.   I spent months on the Red Sea taking it in and enjoying living in an Arabian world.  One highlight was always snorkeling along the Red Sea coral reefs.  

Against everyone's warnings of heat and long drives I couldn't help it but go down and show my kids this amazing place.  We drove down one day taking 5 hours to arrive in Eilat.  We skirted the southern part of the Dead Sea in our drive getting to see that magnificent area once again.   We listened to our Star Wars audio book and enjoyed the views.   My kids were used to long drives and this hardly qualifies as a long one yet it took us through many geographic regions and amazing views. 

Eilat had changed a lot in 21 years.  The area that we stayed in was beside the bus station in old Eilat.  It was near the hostels I used to stay in.  Certainly not the caliber of hotels my Father arranged, but it was fine for our needs.  We had a small room with three small beds.  The kids got to experience an Israel bathroom the way they was back in the day.  The shower was in the same room as the toilet with no separation but a shower curtain.  There was a squeegee for any clean up needs.   

The heat in Eliat was amazing.  We hardly wanted to eat and drank fruit smoothies everywhere we went.  It was hot, but a dry heat.  We had air conditioning in the car and hotel.  Otherwise we drank a lot of water and dove into the experience.  

New Eliat, or the area around the marina, was much more developed. There used to be a few hotels down there, now it looked more like Vegas, with big theme hotels along the water with pedestrian ways and lots of cafe's and shops.   We went down there at night to walk around as the temperatures dropped to 99'f with a lovely wind that made it a wonderful experience.     

We spent the afternoon, which got up to 107'f, going to the Nature Preserve Reef.  We spent four hours snorkeling around in this magical place. There was a huge reef and they had two long decks built that you could take out to the outer side of the reef.  There you could jump into the water and check out this wonder land of thousands of fish, coral and other creatures.   

Joel was the first to call it quits as the salt got too much for him.  I got him a slushy and left him on the beach, in the shade, while Jordan and I used every minute till the places closed to swim about.   The placed closed at 6 pm and I think we left at 5:59. 

We got to see thousands of little silver fish swimming all around to long nose fish with scary looking mouths to parrot fish and all the cast of characters you see any any Disney movie set in the sea.   Sea cucumbers, coral swaying in the current, and sea urchins populated the multi color reefs.  This was the kind of experience you saw at aquariums in big cities but we were in the real thing.   I felt proud of my pluck to take the kids all the way there and show them this magical experience.  

The next day we did a glass bottom boat tour of the bay.  We skirted the boarders of Jordan and Egypt.  This was the closest I went to taking my kids to these amazing Arabian worlds.  They wanted to go to Egypt to say they had been in African but I was not that crazy.  While I had spent about 3 months there back in the day, things had changed drastically and I was not about to put my kids into that world.   My world of Bedouin villages and dancing by the camp fire were long gone becoming high rise hotels, villas and a different political and religious world.  
The cruse was fun but the glass bottom boat portion of the curse was a far cry from our swimming amount the fish the day before.  We saw dolphins playing and enjoyed the feeling of wind in our faces.  It was hot but it was a dry heat so you didn't feel like you were going to drop.  

After the curse, we drove back to Netanya through the the same route saying goodbye to the Negev and the desert.  I wanted to take the kids by the other route seeing the Ramon Crater but it was Shabbat and I knew most things would be closed.  The route was through the mountains and would be more curvy. Joel had experienced some car sickness earlier in the trip and I did not want to re-visit that.  We were due in Netanya for Shabbat Dinner so we high tailed it home to our beach side condo on the Mediterranean Sea.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dead Sea Area... From Oasis to Healing

This post will be about the South of Israel.  The next adventures we had on our trip were in the Dead Sea area.  Our destination that night was the Isotel Dead Sea, and it was to be a wonderful relaxing healing time.  I had not expected such a sumptuous resort with a fantastic spa.  We arrived travel weary and ready for some pampering and rest.

But first the Journey down, we snaked our way down from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea area.  Our first stop was at Ein Geti.  Ein Geti is a  nature preseve on the way south.  It is an oasis in the middle or harsh desert mountains.  You can tell you were there because it is actually an area of green that is not a kibbutz field growing dates trees.   

The entire drive down south was beautiful desert  interspersed with little communities with fields of fruit orchards or hoop houses for crop production.  The hoop houses were mostly empty in the summer months where it was just too hot to grow most crops.  However, in the winter those same hoop houses would be full and overflowing with growth.  As an avid gardener this was such a miracle to see in the harsh desert. 

Ein Geti, a fresh water spring that comes out of the mountain high above the oasis, is a beauty to behold.  The brave climb up and up to higher falls, given the time and the capacity to do it.  Even though this area is a oasis, you could not fool yourselves, this little green belt was still  the desert and the temperatures were up in the high 90's. We changed into swim clothing, and started along the path to the first water fall. We all took turns enjoying the shower of spring water that pored over the cliff above.   

It was great to see tourists, Israeli families, Religious Jews and Arabs a like all enjoying this wonderful location.   With my injured knee I could only go this far and could not lay down in the water as I wished to.  However I did enjoy the wonderful water and even had a chance for some private time at the oasis when the constant flow of people died down.   The adventurous in our group kept going along the path to the upper falls enjoying more beauty and wonder.

As I am one to meditate at such wonderful moments, I sat and concentrated on calm and clarity.  I asked my usual questions of what is next and how to do I get through the challenges I and my family face in our lives.   The answers I received, while rather private, summed up to the realization that I needed to take time to keep the Sabbath.

When I first left Israel in 1995 I was determined to have Shabbat Dinner every Friday night in my home.  I kept this up for years, inviting friends and family to join us for this chill and fun evening.   Somewhere along the way we lost this tradition and this evening and subsequent day became like all others. It became another time of work, ordinary and empty.  

My life had become beyond busy over the last year, working ridiculous hours as I started two businesses and at times worked four jobs.  I knew there was no way I could keep this up and the answer of how to go on was to try to go back to enjoying the shabbath and give myself this time to rest and heal each week.  The answer was not to allow this time to be sucked up into the frenzy of work and expectations.

Next we moved on to Masada.  Unfortunately it was about 3 in the afternoon by then and the heat was getting unbelievable.  Last time I went up Masada in 1994, it was around 5 in the morning and the sun was just coming up.  Conversly three in the afternoon was a bit on the hot side and we took the cable car up.   We did a quick tour of the top as we all melted in the heat.  It was one of the moments that we were all thinking "yup, saw it... lets go.".   My mother turned a shade of red in the heat that I had not ever seen before.   

Masada was amazing because the view was great and you got a great idea of the brutality of the history.  The story was compelling and showed the determination of both a small group of zealot and the army that eventually took the mountain top fortress. 

Next, we went to the Dead Sea Resort and checked into our sumptuous rooms for a two day stay.  We said goodbye to our wonderful tour guide and driver, Ruben and Arron.  They really enriched the trip and gave us a smooth experience.  

We hit the pools and relaxed into the healing waters.   The hotel had a private pool in the spa area, for adults, to go into the Dead Sea waters without having to walk across the road and go directly into the actual sea.  We still went to the sea of course at times,  It was so wonderful to see the kids reaction to going into this high salt concentration sea.

Science Moment: The Dead Sea has such high concentrations of salt that you automatically float in the water.  Regular sea water has about 3% salt where the Dead Sea has about 30% salt content.

The Dead Sea was great and healing for everyone.  The water is also very healing and was a wonderful help for my knee.  Several in our group suffer with various skin conditions such as psoriasis and were looking forward to seeing how the waters would help and heal.   

My nephew Jonny had never floated before as he just had no extra fat on his body at all.  He was so excited to actually float in the water.  The one hard thing was that any cuts or sores anyone had immediately started to burn in pain in the high salt water. My sister got some Vaseline to help cover obvious sores and irritated areas.  

We enjoyed our time in this area relaxing after so many days of touring one thing after another. Here we got to just chillax, as Joel calls it.   We hardly left the resort, enjoying the end of time together as a family.  We all knew this great tour was coming to an end and that many of us would be leaving shortly to return home.

The air was also healing in the Dead Sea area.  The minerals in the water are also diffused into the air. We all bought lots of Dead Sea stuff in the Ahava Store and stocked up for great stuff.  By the time we left the area we were all feeling strong and wonderful.   

I want to take this moment to thank my Dad for making this trip happen and all my family that took their time, energy and funds to come and join us on this adventure.  I feel it was formative for our family and I enjoyed all the wonderful moments together. This trip really was fantastic and I miss you all every day.