January 2014


I’ve always kept away from demonstrations before, but I decided to give this one my support.

Our local supermarket has been charging too much for years. It’s part of a chain, but they manage to charge higher prices by using different names. So the prices in Supersal Deal in a neighbourhood not so far away are much lower than the prices in our Supersal Sheli.

The management give reasons for these differences, but it’s clear that the real reason is that our Supersal has no competition. Also the population of our neighbourhood includes a lot of old people, who are unable to travel far to buy food.

Several of them came to the demonstration.

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So did groups of young people who shouted out the slogans.

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Placards were displayed.

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Someone stood outside the supermarket telling people not to go in, or to buy the bare minimum.

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The Arab woman sold her wares as usual, unperturbed.

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And Michael & Shimrit Greilsammer, a well-known duo, sang and played.

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I hope Supersal agree to lower their prices.

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Click on the image to join the challenge

I haven’t done this for almost a year.

The prompt is:

… whenever I hear it, I think of you ….

I’m not sure I like my attempt.

Solomon and John

John Smith: Solomon! So glad I found you after all this time. Thirty years, is it?

Solomon Grundy: Forty more like. Isn’t Facebook wonderful? I’ve thought of you over the years.

John Smith: Me, too. There’s this rhyme. Whenever I hear it I think of you.

Solomon Grundy: What rhyme is that?

John Smith: It goes like this. Solomon Grundy, born on Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday, grew worse on Friday, died on

Solomon Grundy has gone offline.

“Oh, what a shame. Must be the end of Solomon Grundy. And we’d only just met up again. Back to the Saturday review then.”

Ayelet Tsabari “was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. She grew up in a suburb of Tel Aviv, served in the Israeli army, and travelled extensively throughout South East Asia, Europe and North America. She now lives in Toronto.”

What better person to run a one-day writing course entitled: Wish you were here; writing about place? That’s what Ayelet did on Thursday and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend it.

These are the main points she made:

  • Research well.
  • Use details to introduce a place.
  • Don’t overwrite. Pick the most appropriate and vivid details and the most precise words to describe them.
  • Use all five senses.
  • Introduce a place gradually.
  • Let the description unfold as the character moves through the scene.
  • Place is deeply connected to the emotions of the characters. Their experience of the place is influenced by their feelings, state of mind, mood and judgment. In describing a place, choose words that reflect the character’s emotions.

All the points were illustrated with examples and there were also exercises. It was a most enjoyable and profitable day.

The Amazon page for Ayelet’s book – The Best Place on Earth: Stories  – contains a link to an excerpt from one of her stories and I can tell you it’s good! You can read it at amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

On the way to the course, I had my own struggle with place. The course took place in the small town of Beit Zayit, at the home of Judy Labensohn, another writer, who is running the next course in the series, which I’ll be blogging about soon. I decided to drive there via Ein Karem – not such a good idea as it turned out, although I had the best of reasons. I wanted to avoid the morning traffic jams, and the route I chose did look the shortest.

Two unrelated problems held me up. Firstly, the road to Ein Karem, one on which we have travelled many times, was not there. What a weird feeling! It wasn’t that the road was blocked off. It was as if there had never been a road there.

I had to come to my senses quickly enough to decide to turn left and get to the other road to Ein Karem – through morning traffic jams, of course.

Then I missed the road I wanted to take to Beit Zayit. In fact, I think I saw the road but there was no sign on it and it probably isn’t possible to reach Beit Zayit that way. So I ended up in Mevasseret and had to turn towards Jerusalem and turn off at the main road to Beit Zayit. Fortunately, I’d left plenty of time for this journey (or so I thought) and arrived only one minute after the starting time. Next time, I’ll make sure I find the best way of going, and one that exists!

I’ll be blogging about place again, soon – as a guest blog for my friend, Sue Barnard, whose first novel, The Ghostly Father, is about to be released.

… is today!

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Yes, it’s Tu B’Shvat – the new year for trees. The name means the 15th of Shvat, which is today’s Hebrew date. In Israel, this is traditionally an ecological awareness day. People plant trees on this day. Schoolchildren are taken on trips to plant trees and learn about nature.

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The weather today, here in Jerusalem, is cool and sunny, an excellent day for planting trees.

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I decided it would be appropriate to take some photos of our garden.

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But the typical photo to take on this day is of the almond tree. Somehow almond trees always blossom on this day. We don’t have one in our garden, so I went out in search of one. Where we lived before, in Yemin Moshe, there were always almond trees.

I couldn’t see an almond tree in any of these:

IMG_0558This didn’t look like an almond tree:

IMG_0560and neither did this:

IMG_0561nor this (I think):

IMG_0562This certainly didn’t look like one:

IMG_0563And so I returned home without seeing any almond blossom. Next year, I’ll have to visit Yemin Moshe.

Happy New Year to all trees!

One of the words I found hard to get used to when I moved to Israel was “angina.” People used it to describe a trivial illness when I thought it should mean a very serious illness. I felt that by using that word to describe their trivial illness they were making light of the serious illness or giving too much weight to their own illness.

MemoirWriting-ListI could have looked up the word, of course. Not online, because online didn’t exist then, but in a dictionary. Looking it up now, I see there are two meanings. One is the meaning I knew: severe chest pain arising from inadequate blood supply to the heart. The other meaning is: a sore throat. So I was right and so were they.

IllIt is said – and, I think, probably true – that too many children these days are being diagnosed with ADHD and given drugs to counteract it. Catdownunder wrote about this the other day. Apart from stopping healthily active children from learning  to cope with what they are, it seems to me that, in the eyes of the public, it lessens the seriousness of ADHD in children who have it badly and probably takes resources away from those who really need them.

Let’s turn to social anxiety and what Rachael wrote in a comment here a week or so ago:

I was at a party recently and when a girl (of about 20) was asked to get up and speak, she commented ‘this is terrible for my social anxiety’ and was pleased to explain when someone asked her about it… However, her explanation sounded more like she was mildly embarrassed by being asked to stand and talk in front of a crowd than real social anxiety. Of course I don’t know what’s happening inside her head and should not make any assumptions but it got me thinking and I have noticed that among some of the younger generation it does seem to have become a bit ‘fashionable’ to say they have social anxiety. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

My first thought was that this is wrong. That if every other person claims to have social anxiety, this will detract from the attention that needs to be given to those who really have it. In other words, I was comparing it to the ADHD issue I mentioned above.

My second thought was that these social anxiety claimers are probably right. Most people have some form of anxiety in certain social situations. Not all social anxiety is chronic and disabling. When it is, it’s called social anxiety disorder.

So maybe it’s more like the angina definition. Maybe social anxiety means more than one thing. Maybe when I refer to what I mean by it, I should say social anxiety disorder. But that’s a bit long and its acronym makes me sound pathetic.

If I had the chance, would I try to stop people from using the term social anxiety to describe a mild fear of talking to an audience? I think I would. But I can’t, just as I can’t prevent readers of a book like The Mill River Recluse from getting a rather warped impression of social anxiety.

Presentation

ClosetAll I can do is to explain my version of social anxiety and how it affects people like me who neither have a mild fear of presenting but are fine in most other social situations, nor are recluses.

I read an interesting blog post today. It was written by Gila Green, a published writer of English living in Israel. She poses the question of whether it’s wise for Israeli writers to reveal their address, because doing so would give them even less of a chance of being accepted for publication.

I live in... erm...

I live in… erm…

The question reminds me of an argument that arose in the group therapy course I took a few years ago. Some people insisted that social anxiety should be hidden while others preferred to reveal it. I noticed that those who advocated hiding it were better able to; they were the ones who appeared more “normal.”

So there’s no single answer to the question of whether to hide social anxiety. It depends on the individual and what suits them best.

Just as I’m not able to successfully hide my social anxiety, I don’t think I could hide my address. It’s part of who I am. I might not bring it up straight away in a correspondence, but I wouldn’t pretend to live elsewhere.

And, as Gila says, place is an important aspect of a story. Sometimes it’s described as another character. I wouldn’t want to lose that part of my writing, because it would be like losing a part of me.

However, other writers will disagree with this and that’s their prerogative. They must do what suits them best.

The other day, catdownunder wrote in a comment:

…if you want to know what to write about then you can always tell the rest of us more about life in Israel because, to us, it seems foreign and exotic and most of us also need to know more about it because we mostly get a very lopsided view in the news. Please? :)

I replied

OK Cat, I’ll try. But most of it seems very ordinary and maybe that’s what’s special here. Because the countries all around us do seem foreign and exotic – not necessarily in a good way.

Since then I’ve been wondering what I can write. Then I saw this post, and… well, you’d better read it first. It’s not long. I can wait.

And that’s the thing. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to photograph or remark on that non-incident because it’s so ordinary. Is that the sort of thing you want to read about on here, Cat? Is it the sort of thing anyone wants to read about?

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