Monday, June 30, 2014

Outdoors -- high summer

The sign of high summer is the juvenile blackbirds.
Their parents get them out on the lawns to feed.
The juveniles are about the same size as their parents.
They follow them around, crying for food, and the parents find what they can as fast as they can and stuff it down their beaks.
The mockingbirds have their second chick hatched and out of the nest.
I hear it keening for food once in a while.
The other day I had the chance to score more points with the parents.
A crow stubbornly refused to leave in spite of all their pecks.
Crows have an image problem.  They think they're only about 1/3 of their actual size.
Half a dozen of them will mob a small tree that half a dozen robins would have trouble finding perches in.
If the little tree has any weaknesses, it will break down.
Also a crow will flee from two birds that add up to about 1/3 its size.
Anyway, I went out and clapped my hands sharply twice.
The crow took notice.
I walked closer, clapped again.  Twice more.
The crow jumped off the power line and flew heavily off, mockingbirds attacking it all the way.
Later the father came and sat on the line that leads to my house and examined me.
Yeah, I have friends in high places now.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 29, 2014

DIY -- gluten free

Lots of people eat gluten free even if they don't have celiac disease.  I've been bragging about bread being cheap when you make it at home, but that wasn't gluten free.  Out of curiosity I did some googling.
Well, there are tons of recipes for gluten free bread out there, and some that work in a breadmaking machine.  But can you save money?
One recipe uses a particular brand of gluten free flour and a link takes you to Amazon.  But I googled some more and found a website that sells the same flour for $6 a bag less.  Bags are 5 pounds.
The site also sells 8x for $8 less than buying the 8 bags separately, and a 50 pound option which is $40 bucks less than buying 10 bags separately.
One recipe I found would get 5 one-loaf batches out of a bag of flour.  You spend about $20 all told, because the recipe uses eggs and cider vinegar as well as yeast,. 
A loaf of gluten-free bread runs you what, $6 in a store?  So you save $10 on the 5 loaves.
You would save more if you buy the larger sizes and that would compensate for the shipping cost.
The recipe is dairy free and would be suitable if you keep kosher.
Now, it's true that celiacs don't absolutely need to have bread in their diet to get the same nutrients, but why should they be left out when there's a less expensive way to satisfy the natural craving for bread?
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Why a mortgage?

We’re talking about mortgaged land and we just found out that the bond for the mortgage controls what the bondholder can do with the land.  There are more details but you had no assignment this week because the details are in Mishnah and Gemara.
The bondholder takes on certain responsibilities that also apply to the owner.  He has to use weed control and if he doesn’t, the community does it and makes him pay them back.  He has to take into account what the neighbors are doing with their land.  If they have beehives, he can’t plant mustard because it will give the honey a bad taste.  I know from experience that bees love yellow flowers and mustard has yellow flowers.
There are also limits to what the landowner can do with the money, in a way.  If he committed a tort such as battery, he pays the damages that the court imposes by mortgaging his best land.
If he owes money to merchants, he mortgages his middling quality land, but he can only pay the creditors who show him a signed and sealed court document evidencing the debtor’s agreement to pay. 
If he has to pay his wife’s ketubbah, he mortgages his worst land.  Say his achuzah, the property handed down through the eldest sons since the Ingress to the Holy Land, is 45 acres.  If most of it is rocky or full of crevasses and can’t be farmed profitably, that is “worst land” and that is what he mortgages if he divorces his wife and has to pay her ketubbah.  He might wind up with say 5 acres of his best land, and until he pays off the mortgage that is the only land he can mortgage.
Land with no bonds on it is called b’ney chorin, the same phrase that applies to a man who is not bonded and therefore is eligible to serve as a witness in court.
Now let’s go back to the underage girl whose mother and brothers bond her out.  They might do this on the father’s death.  That way they are sure that she has food, clothing and shelter.  Then the sons can mortgage whatever land they have to and pay their father’s debts.  Next, the wife gets her ketubbah and the sons have to pay damages on some of her dowry (more on that later).  Then the sons can split what’s left as their inheritance. 
But in the meantime the court gets involved and rules that the bond on the girl is null and void.  At that point nobody can ever bond her out again, not even for theft.  She is now responsible for herself, disposes of the income from her work, and must keep her vows and oaths.
From last week’s lesson, I’m sure you see a hole in the system.  What if somebody tried to mortgage land in the 6th year of the shemittah cycle?  Well, he couldn’t get much from it, that’s for sure, because the produce of the following year was free to all, the bondholder couldn’t sell it.  For cases of dire necessity, the rabbis set up the prozbul.  This meant that the bond was taken out for enough years to cover the necessary money, and it was deposited with the court (which only needs 3 people), for payment in full after the shemittah year.  In this way families were kept from going on public assistance when stuff happened, which it did thousands of years ago just as it does today.

There's no reading assignment for the next post because how Jewish courts operate is specified in Mishnah and Gemara.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:22

Genesis 1:22
כב וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים לֵאמֹר פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת־הַמַּיִם בַּיַּמִּים וְהָעוֹף יִרֶב בָּאָרֶץ:
Transliteration: Va-y’varekh otam elohim lemor p’ru ur’vu u-milu et-hamaim ba-yamim v’ha-of yirev ba-arets.
Translation:    Gd blessed them to say be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas and the flyer multiply on the land.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
He  blessed (aorist)
To say
Be fruitful
 Multiply (future)
Notice that lemor has a lamed at the start like the infinitive le-hair. 
There are three imperatives here so I’ll give you all the forms.

Notice the difference in vowels.  The heh at the end of the masculine singular of the first vowel shows that this governs the vowel under the resh.  The alef at the end of the masculine singular of the other verb governs the vowel under the lamed.  So what can you tell me about the third imperative, r’vu?  What do you think the last letter of the masculine singular would be?  Get up, walk around the room, then come back and read the spoiler below.
If you guessed that the root of the verb “multiply” is resh bet heh you are right.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Garden -- a last farewell

To all our greatness.
It's time.
The snow peas are done.  There were only a few blossoms left and the vines brown on their lower third.
I think I got 3 pounds of fresh crisp snow peas.  They were yummy.
Actually I still have about half a pound in the fridge.
I think this year's success was partly due to putting down more compost,
but I have to admit the heavy rain probably played its part.
The fence looks bare, but the snow peas have been keeping down the morning glories.
Now they should race up the fence and throw out their magenta blossoms.
Lots of blossom.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Knitting: Jumper/pullover -- armholes

All right.  Armholes.
You have to know how to purl from this point on.  If you don't or forgot, here's how it works.
In knitting, you insert the needle from the bottom front to the top front, loop the yarn behind the  needle and above the old stitch, catch it with the needle and pull it through from top to bottom.  The working yarn is behind the row you're working on.

In purling, you insert the needle  from the top front to the bottom front, loop the yarn around behind the needle, catch it with the needle and pull it through from bottom to top.  The working yarn is IN FRONT OF the row you're working on.

All right.  You have bound off the underarms on both sides of the jumper.
You knit the next row, binding off the first three stitches.
You purl the following row, binding off the first three stitches.
You knit the next row, BUT you knit two stitches together.  You do this by putting the needle through BOTH stitches, looping the yarn behind the needle, and pulling it through BOTH stitches.
You purl the next row, knitting the first two stitches together.
Repeat these last two steps 5 times each to knit off a total of 6 stitches on each side.

Now do 62 rows of alternate knit and purl.  This is called stockinette stitch.

Next week I'll show you how to attach yarn and knit the other side of the armholes.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 23, 2014

Outdoors -- caught ya!

I knew that the sparrows were climbing behind my pea vines, especially the snow peas.
Today I caught them flight training a chick.
They made the chick fly to and perch on my tomato towers.
There the chick crouched while the parents flew to the vines.
Then the parents brought back something they tried to stuff in the chick's mouth.
There were four of them altogether.  Apparently an extra male will attach itself to a family and help out, hoping to scoop up the female if her mate dies.
These were definitely house sparrows, I recognize the wheep!  wheep! of "Food!"
When they're hunting food, it's "Wheep?  Wheep?"
And when they're gossiping in the bushes, well, all bets are off.  Even a language geek like me can't understand them.
I've been finding snow peas with nibbles taken out of them but I don't think the sparrows are doing that.
I think it's evil nasty desperate squirrels who, one by one (there are five nearby), are finding out that they don't like snow peas.
While the noisy but helpful sparrows are taking off the bugs, little tiny green aphids.  I've seen them on me after picking peas.
More power to the sparrows.  Oh yeah, and the wrens.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 22, 2014

DIY -- buy bulk?

If I really want you to save money with DIY, I should tell you to buy bulk, right?
Well, I was checking prices for that exact reason on a site dedicated to bulk sales for food services.
Am I going to buy from them?
You see, their price for flour is 1/3 more than what I spend at the grocery store.
When I checked a warehouse store site, I got an even worse result.  It's flour to buy for emergency stock.  It costs over $1 a pound, almost twice what I paid at the grocery store.
So when you try to save by DIY, do the math first and don't waste money just because it's bulk.

Now, the excuse at the warehouse store might be that their packaging preserves the product.
But if you buy your paper-bag flour at the store, and store it inside those black plastic trash bags you only need for pulling out poison ivy because your community won't accept them as leaf bags any more,
Anyway, buy the paper-bag flour at the store, put it in the black bag and put the black bag in any heavy plastic container like a trash can.  The flour will stay good up to 2 years.
And if you haven't used it by that point, it will not be good for much.
As I said before, flour that is too old will turn out products like cement.
Plus in a real emergency you won't have any power for baking anyway.
You'll want that flour for after the emergency passes, Gd willing.
So what you really want to buy is matzo.  Lots and lots of matzo.  Not during Passover, but afterward, about September.  Matzo stays good a long time if you don't break the wrappings.
Or you want to bake up your flour into matzo.  It won't be any good for Passover, but that's not what you want to accomplish anyway.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- mortgages?

Your assignment for this week was Exodus 23:10-11, and Leviticus 25:8-13.
Six years you shall sow your field and gather your grain.
The seventh year you shall release and leave the remains for the poor of your people to eat and what they leave over is for the wild animals to eat, and do the same in your vineyard and olive orchard.
You shall count seven Shabbats of years, seven years seven times, and they shall be for you days of seven Shabbats of the years, forty-nine years.
You shall make the shofar of truah pass in the seventh month on the tenth of the month on Yom kippur you shall cause the shofar to pass through all your land.
You shall sanctify the fiftieth year and announce freedom in the land to all its inhabitants, it is the yovel, it shall be yours and each man shall return to his portion and his family.
It is the yovel, the fiftieth year, it shall be a year for you when you shall not sow or reap the aftergrowths or gather your grapes.
Because it is the yovel it shall be holy for you, you shall eat your produce from the field.
In this year of the yovel every man shall return to his portion.
When somebody lends money with land as a security, they have at most six years to produce enough from the land to pay the loan back.  There is no “awl in the ear” in the case of real estate; the land has to go back to the owner.  That is the meaning of “release”, shemittah, in the first set of verses. 
Now we get the 50th year issue, the yovel.  Not only do bondsmen have to be released and return to their portion, the land also must not be indentured.  If somebody took out a bond on himself in the 3rd year of a yovel cycle, his first chance for release is after year 6 and he must be released in year 50.  If land was bonded out, the bond expired in year 7 of the yovel cycle, the first shemittah in that cycle.
Yovel years have not been designated since the Assyrians took the northern kingdoms into captivity because the majority of Israel’s descendants have not lived in the Holy Land since then.
We already discussed that a bondsman was not the bondholder’s to do with as he pleased; he could not batter or murder the bondsman with impunity, violate the sanctity of his marriage, and so on.
With land something similar applies.  The wording of the bond controls what rights the bondholder has.  If any feature of the property is NOT described in the bond, the bondholder violates the bond if he does anything to affect that feature.  The classic example is trees.  If the bond doesn’t refer to the trees, the bondholder must not flood the real estate for rice and he can’t plow so close to the tree that he would cut the roots.
An example of this case is in Genesis 23:17-18.  It lists the trees that were part of the property Avraham bought, as well as the cave.  This passes complete rights in that land to Avraham.
Mortgages had specific purposes in Jewish law and that’s next week’s lesson.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:21

Genesis 1:21
כא וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים וְאֵת כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת אֲשֶׁר שָׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם לְמִינֵהֶם וְאֵת כָּל־עוֹף כָּנָף לְמִינֵהוּ וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי־טוֹב:
Transliteration: Va-yivra elohim et-ha-taninim ha-g’dolim v’et kal-nefesh ha-chayah ha-romeset asher shartsu ha-maim l’minehem v’et kal-of kanaf l’minehu va-yar elohim ki-tov.
Translation:    Gd created the great serpents and all living soul that creeps with which the waters swarm for their kind and all winged flier for its kind and Gd look for it was good.
Letters in this lesson:
Vocabulary in this lesson:
He created (aorist)
Big, great, large
With “big” you see another example of things dropping out.

Notice that back with meir, only the masculine singular had a vowel under the initial gimel, other than shva.  Also notice that in the verse, g’dolim is written chaser while in the table it is written plene.
Most translations have “whales” instead of “serpents,” but that’s because the Septuagint put kitae, the root of “cetaceans.”  The Septuagint used a lot of words that aren’t supported by the Hebrew.  But that’s a different project.
Another place where taninim appears is Deuteronomy 32:33, and it is used in parallel with p’tanim meaning cobras.  Parallel means comparable or alike in some way and whales are not at all like cobras.  Here, too, the taninim creep and whales cannot be described as creeping.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garden -- after the monsoon

I was worried that my manual (not gas or electric powered) lawn mower literally wouldn't be able to cut it.
The grass.
After two weeks' growth.
And about 6 inches of rain in 4 days.
Normally I don't mow at all during our usual late-summer drought and at that point, it's nothing to let the lawn go 2 or 3 weeks without mowing.
The grass goes dormant and doesn't grow at all.
But with all that rain last week, I could almost see the grass growing.
Well, I put on my big girl panties Sunday, thankful that the humidity was low, and got that grass mowed off.
I went over it twice because it still looked a little ragged after the first time.
But I survived.  My joke is, if I do that in this weather, I'll melt into a greasy spot on the pavement.
No melting.
Monday, with 80% or so humidity, I cut the long grass around the edges early in the morning.

Other consequences:  I am working on my 3rd pound of snow peas from the garden and I think I have at least a pound of green peas to shell and eat.  My neighbor really admires my snow pea vines and I offered him some, but he does square-foot gardening and he has his own issues eating all the green peas that he grew. 
We should all have such problems.  And we would if everybody who had some turf would dig part of it up, lay down some compost, and put in something diverse, like veggies.
But I digress.
The mustard greens are about to bolt so I picked a lot of that to get some last greens before they go bitter.  Hint: anything you let flower, the leaves get bitter as soon as the flowers bloom.  Same for dandelions.

Also the flowers that I planted right before the monsoon started are sprouting, the calendula first.

My zucchini look good and I think I see some flower buds so that's encouraging.  Have to keep the bunny from eating them.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Outdoors -- most popular

I had the most popular yard on the block for a while there.
It was because of the mulberry tree, plus the bird bath.
Robins, starlings, cardinals, catbirds, sparrows, squirrels, all came to eat the mulberries.
For the first couple of weeks they didn't get much.
The mockingbirds took it over.  They had a chick to feed.
Well, now the chick's tail feathers have grown out and while I see him around, he no longer keens for his parents.
I think they have a nest full of eggs somewhere else.
And what mulberries are left, the other birds are now getting.
Of course, the robins have a hard time of it.  They're about the same size as mockingbirds, but they're muscle-heavy where the mockingbirds are more gracile. (look it up)
So the robins weigh down the branches.
So do the squirrels.  For as long as I ignore them.
Can't let those squirrels think the pressure's off just because the mockingbirds aren't beating up on them any more.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 16, 2014

Knitting/jumper -- adding yarn

I know, I know, I should have told you weeks ago how to join new yarn in when you're not doing Fair Isle.
It's a lot easier.
Knit as far as the end of the old skein or cone of yarn, all but about 3 inches.
Now start the next stitch but don't pull it through.
Now take the starting end of the new skein or cone and wrap it around the needle on top of the old yarn.
Now finish the stitch, carefully, so that there's a tiny tag of the new yarn sticking out ON THE INSIDE of the piece.
Now carefully knit with two pieces of yarn until the old yarn is finished.
The tag end of the old yarn should be ON THE INSIDE of the piece.
Go back to where you added the new yarn in and pull the tag end on the inside just a little to lengthen that tag end.  It will reduce the chances that first stitch will unravel.
Now keep on with your knitting.
Next week I'll tell you how to finish the armholes.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 15, 2014

DIY -- bagels

A bulk food website wants you to pay $5 a dozen for Lender's plain sliced bagels.  That's before you add the shipping costs, of course.
I made bagels one Tuesday.  It took about an hour, less than any kind of bread (but see later when I post on English muffins).
I spent $1.60 on the flour and $0.38 on yeast, plus negligible amounts on sugar, salt, and oil.  Oh yeah, and water.
Those other $3 that the website charges are for petroleum fuel to run the factory and the trucks and other transportation, for chemical dough conditioners and preservatives.  And a tiny amount to pay the employees.
And there's high fructose corn syrup in them instead of plain old sugar.
I used sugar because I didn't want to put any shelf space into keeping malt syrup around, and at any rate I can't find malt syrup in my local store.
You could use honey instead of sugar if you have a thing about refined sugar.
Then I ate my first homemade bagel split, buttered, with homemade blackberry jelly on one side and homemade raspberry jelly on the other side.
I ate my second one with homemade lox and homemade yogurt cheese instead of cream cheese.
I froze some of them and defrosted two to eat on Shabbat (yesterday).

I think it was Mare Winningham's character in St. Elmo's Fire who, when she finally got her own place and freed herself from her over-concerned parents, told her friend Rob Lowe about getting up in the middle of the night and making herself a peanut butter sandwich.  "And you know what?  It was the best peanut butter sandwich in the whole world."
And it really was.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- pawns

Your assignment for this week was to read Exodus 22:24-26, Leviticus 25:35, Deuteronomy 24:6 and Deuteronomy 24:11-13, which are all about pawns.
When you loan silver to my people, to the poor with you, you shall not be urgent with him and you shall not place neshekh on him.
If you must take a pledge of the garment of your neighbor, by sundown you shall return it to him.
It is his only covering, the clothing to his skin, in what will he sleep and when he cries out to me I shall pay attention for I am gracious.
If your brother becomes poor and he stretches his hand out to you you shall strengthen him, he shall be a so-journer and in-dweller and live with you.
Nobody shall take both upper and lower millstone in pledge for that pledges a soul.
When you take collateral from your neighbor of anything, you shall not go into his house to pawn his pawned object.
If he is a poor man you shall not sleep with his pawned object.
You must return the pawned object to him when the sun goes down that he may sleep in his clothes and bless you and it will be righteousness for you before the Lord your Gd.
First, the pledge cannot be kept by the creditor when the debtor needs it.  Most people only had one set of day clothing and maybe a cloak that doubled as a blanket, the way the verses imply.
Second, the creditor cannot take all a person’s tools as pledges; that’s a ruling that grew out of the verse about the millstone.  If he has two complete toolkits, the creditor can take one.  If he has two sizes of tools in his kit, the creditor can take one size.
Third, the home is a refuge.  The creditor can’t go inside, he has to knock and wait for the pledge to be brought out to him. 
All of this is very different from rules in, for example, Britain of the 1700s and 1800s CE.  Novels may exaggerate for effect, but more than one novel from those periods describes “an execution in the house,” when the creditors would enter and seize its contents.  They could also “place an arrest on the body” of a deceased debtor and prevent burial until the family could come up with some way to promise payment.  If there was no other way, there would be a “sheriff’s sale”.  Novels tell of ladies going to these sales to see what happens to ornaments they may have envied on their friends.
There’s one final kind of loan I haven’t talked about, the “mortgage.”  For next week, read Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:8-13.
 © Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:20

Genesis 1:20
כ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יִשְׁרְצ֣וּ הַמַּ֔יִם שֶׁ֖רֶץ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֑ה וְעוֹף֙ יְעוֹפֵ֣ף עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ עַל־פְּנֵ֖י רְקִ֥יעַ הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:
Transliteration: Va-yomer elohim yishr’tsu ha-maim sherets nefesh chayah v’of yofef al ha-arets al-p’ney r’qia ha-shamaim.
Translation:    Gd said let the waters swarm with swarms of living soul and let fliers fly on the earth against the raqia of the heaven.
Letters in this lesson:
Vocabulary in this lesson:
they shall swarm
wild animal, living thing
flier, bird
fly (v)
We have two more examples here of noun/verb formations from the same root. 
The word for “wild animal” is related to the word for “life”.  I don’t know why.  We’ll see the other generic animal word soon.  The point here is that we’re talking about living things.  These are the first life forms mentioned.  Unless you count Gd himself.
I said “flier” not bird in the translation because everything that flies is meant here, including bats and bugs.
The word for “fly” as a verb has a feature you haven’t seen before.  It repeats one letter.  So is the root ayin peh peh as the verb suggests, or ayin vav peh as the noun for “bird” suggests? 
It’s choice b, ayin vav peh, and there’s no way you could have known that at this point.  This double peh happens to be a sign of the piel binyan which has a frequentative or habitual connotation.  For example, in Hebrew you would say ani m’daber ivrit to say “I speak Hebrew,” meaning any time it’s appropriate, using the piel binyan.  If you wanted to say “I am speaking Hebrew” meaning right now, you would say ani dover/et ivrit (dover if you’re a man, doveret if you’re a woman) using the qal binyan.
So y’ofef means things that habitually fly around.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

OB -- The Spokesman: NOT

"I’ve been asked to be spokesman by a group of friends, to tell A that we all object to something specific that A does when the group is together.”
This has so many layers I’m sure I’ll miss some.
First, this is the bad puppy trap.   If you are housetraining a puppy, you absolutely cannot let them do the bad thing and lecture them later.  Nothing will bring the issue home to A like saying NO the next time the behavior happens.  Nothing will confuse A like letting it happen and trying to give a convincing lecture about it later.  You may object to the puppy comparison, but the reason A doesn’t realize already that the group doesn't like this behavior, is because none of you have said NO when it actually happened.
Second, absolutely do not be the spokesman for the whole group.  Next time A does this when the group is together, say NO for yourself.  Then let them speak up.  If you act as spokesman for the whole group, I guarantee that psychologically, A will decide it’s just you and nobody else in the group who feels that way, and A will not change.
Third, when the group is together, and you are the only one saying NO, then you will have learned something about your friends: they may gripe behind A’s back, but they are not serious about this being a problem because they won’t do anything when A is around.  Don’t be surprised.  You already partly know this from the fact that they wanted you to be the spokesperson.
Fourth, how long have you known A?  If this group has been together for a long time, and A doesn’t hang out with anybody else, then you are the only ones who can give A this lesson.  But if A has been doing similar things in relation to others, and they haven’t done anything about it, then A will not understand a lecture.  You must say NO when A does this again, not give a speech at some other time.
Fifth, you don’t have to give a reason for saying NO.  That’s the “boyfriend trap.”  When a guy asks you for sex and you say no, you don’t have to give a reason.  No means no.  Anybody who asks for a reason doesn’t really want a reason, they want an argument because in an argument, they can try to wear you down.  When A says “but why?” the next thing A says will be “you never said so before.” That’s true, but it’s not the point now.  Now you’re saying NO and that’s the end of it.
Sixth, everybody in a group plays a role.  One is the mother, one is the solid right-hand, one is the funster, and so on.  Each person in the group gets a quid pro quo for the role they play.  Since none of you have told A that this behavior is unacceptable, A feels by now that that is the quid for A’s role in the group.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell A that nobody likes the behavior.  That just means you have to think about what the group will lose when A goes.  Then you either have to not tell A off, or you have to prepare to lose whatever A brings to the table.
DO NOT issue any ultimatums except that the behavior has to stop.  Let A issue the ultimatum “then I guess I don’t belong here any more.”  A’s ultimatum is immature and a sign that there will be no change.  Say “I’m not going to argue with your decision.”  Because it is A’s decision, not yours.  Let it end there, and prepare to put up with the group losing whatever it was A brought to the table.

OR, be prepared for A to not leave the group, but to decide later that none of you were serious, and repeat the behavior.  It takes more than one swat with a newspaper and more than one scolding to housebreak a puppy.  Ask anybody who has housebroken one.  Decide now what you're going to do if A promises to behave and doesn't.  Or behaves once and then goes back to the bad behavior. 

There may come a point where the group has to start making plans without telling A, or find a new hangout without telling A.  That's if they're serious.  But they might not be.  Then you have to make the decision for yourself.  And that probably means not hanging with the group any more.   If you decide you can't rely on them to back you up, even when you're right, you might have to find a new group to hang with.  Not fun.  But some people mature faster than others.  A seems to still be a child.  You seem to be the mature one, while the rest of the group is somewhere in the middle.

Do you want to hang with people you can live up to, or people you have to live down?  It may never come to that.  You will have to decide.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Garden -- sweet harvest

I went out to fill the bird bath and decided I'd better look at the snow pea vines again.
I was right.
I picked a quarter cup of snow peas.
I'm up to a pound of snow peas in less than a week.
The initial investment was about $2.75 and a little muscle work.
There are little pods that haven't grown long enough yet.
There are lots of blossoms that haven't turned into pods yet.
I foresee at least 2 more pounds of snow peas.
And the green pea pods are just starting to fill out.  Those were $1.99 for a packet.
Now you tell me where, even at a farmer's market, you can get this much food this cheap, and also get that exercise so many of us desperately need because we are obese (me too still).

Oh yeah, this is living well.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 9, 2014

Outdoors -- the duel

A nice quiet Memorial Day Monday and suddenly, two Carolina wrens start a duel.
The one calls "Chicoree chicoree chicoree chicka".
The other calls "Pretty bird pretty bird pretty bird."
One on the north, one on the south across the street.
This went on from 11 a.m. for about 10 minutes.
Carolina chickadees do this too, at the end of winter when establishing their turf.  But they all have the same song.
I've heard Carolina wrens call "Cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger" and "terwillig terwillig terwillig."
Supposedly they have one of the most varied songs among birds, and even individual birds will use more than one song.
Anyway finally the northern bird moved off among the trees on that side.
And then I could go back to listening for the plaintive peep of the mockingbird chick.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 8, 2014

DIY -- plantain chips

So I had $0.80 worth of plantains left from trying a new recipe.
With those I made 8 ounces of oven-baked chips -- maybe 9 ounces.
It took half an hour in the oven while I did other things.
A bag of plantain chips weight 12 ounces costs $4.00.
Are you kidding me?  $3.00 for another 2 ounces of chips?

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 6, 2014

Protesting Amazon

Anybody interested in reading my book The Anvil, based on my English translation of the transcript from the Mendel Beilis trial, must contact me directly.
Because of Amazon's treatment of Hachette books and potential for suppressing free expression, I refuse to sell the book on Amazon.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Garden -- ain't nothing like the real thing

I walked by the snow pea vines after chasing a squirrel off the mulberry tree.
I still had the sweet taste of a perfectly ripe mulberry on my tongue when I realized.
There were snow peas large enough for picking.
So I picked half a dozen, plus a couple of leaves of mustard and chard.
That went into my fried rice for breakfast.
There is nothing like fresh veggies that were still on the plant half an hour earlier, while the sugar in them is still almost all sugar and hasn't had time to change into starch.
This is why I garden.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 25:17

Your assignment for this week was Leviticus 25:17, which I think wraps up financial problems that Jewish law had to deal with.
You shall not wrong your people and fear your Gd for I am the Lord your Gd.
The legal term for this kind of wrongdoing is onaah and it basically equates to the modern notion of fraud.  The Talmudic definition is:
Selling merchandise at one sixth more than the market price.
Paying one sixth less than the market price for merchandise.
Using as a coin worth one sixth less than its face value.
I think the scenario of the “market price” is this.  This comes from Proverbs 31:10-31, the praise of the valorous woman.  Remember that her activity freed her husband to sit in the gate.  Not because he was lazy.  What happened at the gates was that carts of produce came in from the fields, and the town elders could see how much there was and set prices accordingly.  Here in the town gates, the husband became known socially, legally, politically and economically, all of which could help out his family and eventually raise him to a high position.
Anyway once the produce was set out, the housewives or their servants could go out and buy the day’s needs for food or for storage.  When it was brought home, the wife or the man of the house could check whether the price seemed right and if not, she or he would go to the elders and complain about it.
At night, anybody who didn’t live in that town would set out for home so as to get to their own town before the gates closed for the night.  Once the seller left for home, the gates of the buyer’s town closed, and the buyer could no longer claim onaah.  Since this was at night, and a new day on the Jewish calendar begins at night, the day is over, and Talmud says one only has the day of purchase (before night) to claim onaah.
The person who didn’t examine purchases immediately therefore might have to live with the deal struck.  Modern law calls this “sleeping on his rights”, laches.
Of course since the elders and experts are sitting at the gates of the town, a buyer can go to them before making the purchase and get their opinion.  And of course since they are sitting out in public, they are available to witness fights, stop them, warn the batterer about the trouble he is preparing for himself, and eventually be in a position to try him for murder.
Now that I’ve defined the important terms in Jewish finance, let’s go on to a famous issue in Jewish history, pawning goods as collateral for loans.  For next time read Exodus 22:24-26, Leviticus 25:35, Deuteronomy 24:6 and Deuteronomy 24:11-13.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:19

Genesis 1:19
יט וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם רְבִיעִי:
Transliteration: Va-y’hi erev va-y’hi voqer yom r’vii.
Translation:    There was evening and there was morning a fourth day.
Letters in this lesson:

Vocabulary in this lesson:
Was that short or what?

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Knitting -- pullover/jumper

Now, if you started this project out the same as the Fair Isle jumper, you bought a cone of Brown Sheep Cotton Fine and you've been chugging along, but you can see you're running into a problem.
Because now you will be knitting on the flat, and at some point you will need new yarn to knit the other side of the body.
There are two ways you can handle this.
One is that when you finish knitting to the shoulders of the side you work on first, you can leave a long tail of yarn to sew the shoulder seam on one side, and cut the yarn to use for the other side of the front.
But hopefully you also bought another cone, or four skeins of yarn, in the same color.
And hopefully your vendor matched the dyelots.  Nothing worse than yarns from different dyelots.  It makes the sweater look as if you used odds and ends to make it.
Which is not always a bad thing, it can be kind of catchy.  As I'll show you in another project.
At any rate, if you only bought the one cone, you will have to cut the yarn when you reach the shoulders.
Next week I'll show you what to do if you bought individual skeins of yarn and you are at the end of one skein before finishing as far as the armholes.
You know, the thing I should have told you at the start of this project.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DIY -- noodles and pasta

And now the real savings.
Buitoni fresh linguine might cost you $2.69 for 9 ounces. 
There are recipes all over the internet for pasta and noodle dough.
You can make 8 ounces of absolutely to die for fresh pasta for $0.80.
Noodles are cheaper because they take 1 egg per 8 ounces while linguine pasta takes 2.
The price for Chinese hand-pulled la mian will be cheaper because they use no eggs.

I use a hand-cranked pasta machine that rolls the dough and can cut linguine and spaghetti.
You would need a special cutter for ravioli (wonton) (kreplach).
So if I'm going to save $1.89 for every four servings of pasta or noodles -- oh yeah, I'm there.
Besides the fact that you can lay them out on a newspaper to dry in about 24 hours and then you have them for later.
Except for the la mian.  Why go to all that trouble and then not eat them fresh?
Which might be true for the other things as well but we're used to eating less-than-fresh noodles.

By making your own pasta you avoid soy lecithin.  If you react to normal store-bought "fresh" pasta, you might want to get tested for a soy allergy, especially if you also react to some pizza cheeses.  I knew somebody with a soy allergy who could not go to one chain of pizza shops because they used part-soy cheese, but he could go to another chain.  I won't reveal the names.  If you google "pizza chain uses part-soy cheese" you will find one of them.

Anyway once again DIY triumphs for price and quality and oh yes, avoiding those allergy provoking chemicals you didn't know were in your food.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 2, 2014

Garden -- poison ivy

This is partly the advice from my garden guru about poison ivy, sumac, and what's the other one?  Poison oak?
Anyway, after a nice heavy rainfall, you need those black heavy duty trash bags,
and you need to be no more than 5 minutes away from cold water and harsh detergent.
Rubbing alcohol is also good.

So you wrap the trash bags around your hands and arms.
You wrap your hands around the poison ivy, trying not to come in contact with it.
Face it, if it touches your clothes, you will have to trash them.  You do NOT want to wash them because the poison will linger in your washer.
Now put your weight on that sucker and see if you can get it to come out by the roots.
If so, keeping your hands wrapped in the trash bag, fold the bag around the ivy until it is completely covered.
Put this ball into another trash bag and go after the next vine.

If you have been careful, you probably have not actually come into contact with the poison at all.
But once you do, or when you've cleared that mess out,
Scrub your skin with COLD water and harsh detergent.
NEVER use hot water.  It will open your pores and let the poison in and then you are in a world of hurt.
For insurance, splash the affected area with rubbing alcohol.

If it turns out you waited too long or didn't wash all the affected skin,
I highly recommend Aveeno's calamine lotion with a mild topical anesthetic. 
Not because of all the oat derivatives in it, but because of the anesthetic.  It will keep you from making a bad situation worse.

DO NOT put poison ivy in your compost pile.
DO NOT put poison ivy in the yard waste that your community recycles for others to use as compost.
Put it in with your household trash -- the spoiled food and that stuff.
The only place poison ivy belongs is a landfill.
But make sure it is carefully wrapped in those heavy black trash bags so your trash haulers don't get poisoned.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Outdoors -- the blue jay's nest

I found it!
The sparrows and robins and cardinals were upset about something.
I went out to see what.
It's illegal to let cats roam in my town but you know there are people who don't pay attention.
Also people who can't afford to take care of their pets and abandon them instead of taking them to shelters for re-adoption.
Anyway, I went out to see and I was standing under a very old Bradford pear tree and looked up.
There was a blue jay.
On its nest.
A neat little nest with a white ribbon woven into the top.
A little bit later, the blue jay was gone and I could see the head of a chick wavering above the edge of the nest.
I knew the blue jays had been courting this spring from the flute-like notes of their calls.
Nice to see that it had some result.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved