I’m glad I got to live in the world that was

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I love digital technology. I love having all the information in the world at my fingertips. I love how social media enables me to connect with people all over the globe. I love the explosion of gorgeous drone videos on YouTube, through which I can get a bird’s eye view of every corner of the world, from Alaska to Tasmania. And I love the amazing remote work opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible (or at least so convenient) without Google Docs, Skype, and PayPal.

Nevertheless, I’m glad I was born and got to live part of my life in a period when the world seemed to spin more slowly.

A world where you had to learn to use encyclopedia and dictionary indexes if you wanted to obtain information.

A world where you could miss a call and you never knew who called because there was no digital display of the caller’s number.

A world where you would take a photo without immediately being able to view it on a digital screen. You’d have to go to have your vacation photos developed in a photographer’s shop, and there were always some surprises (for better or worse).

A world where you actually still got to receive handwritten letters with beautiful stamps – I do feel lucky to still be in touch with people with whom I started to correspond before email was a thing.

A world where, if you wanted to buy something, you’d either have to visit or call stores in your area, or browse through mail order catalogs (remember those?!)

A world where you couldn’t listen to whatever song you wanted, whenever, wherever on YouTube – if a song you loved was playing on the radio, you’d stop and listen, and maybe hurry to record it on a cassette.

Being Orthodox Jewish, I still get to experience this simpler, unhurried, not-so-distant-past world every week. From the time candles are lit on Friday afternoon and until Saturday night, we look up words in a physical dictionary, knock on a neighbor’s door rather than text, and have no way to tell the time if we happen to go out without a wristwatch.

This weekly digital detox is so healing that I honestly believe everyone needs periodic unplugging in their lives.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you miss the most from the pre-internet world?

Simple summer fun

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, but this doesn’t mean our days are lacking in action. On the contrary, we’ve gotten into our summer routine, which is both busy and relaxing.

Above: some lovely modeling clay art by Shira (11) and Tehilla (9).

Aaaand, we’ve had a hugely exciting event last week when our cat has had her kittens. She is such a good mom and it actually looks like she’s counting on us to babysit her kittens when she leaves them for a bit!

So these are our days. Some work. Some rest. A shady spot in the garden. Playing with the quickly growing baby chicks. Ice cream and watermelons.

Hope you’re all having a good time too and taking care of yourselves.

Big Bird Crochet Pillow

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This quick and easy project would make a perfect gift. It’s soft and cuddly and extremely satisfying to make.

Materials:

Two cakes of super thick chenille yarn of this type (200 gr total). I used black, grey and white variegated.

Odds and ends of black, white, brown, and dark brown worsted weight yarn.

Stuffing of your choice.

Start by crocheting two identical circles from the chenille yarn, using a 7mm hook.

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Assemble the eyes and beak. For the eyes, start making dc with the black worsted yarn from the center, using a 3.5mm hook. At the end of the round, slip stitch and join.

In the next round, use white worsted yarn and work 2dc in each dc of the previous round. Slip stitch and join.

In the third round, work sc using the dark brown yarn in the following pattern: 1 sc, 2 sc in the next stitch of the previous round, 1 sc, 2 sc, etc.

For the beak, make a triangle in sc using the light brown yarn. Instructions for making a crochet triangle can be found here.

Naturally, you can play with the colors however you like.

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Sew the eyes and beak onto one of the chenille circles using a tapestry needle and worsted weight yarn of the same color (light brown for the beak, dark brown for the eyes).

Join the front and back of the pillow together by slip stitching. I used black worsted weight yarn for this because I thought it would look better. The thinner yarn disappears between the threads of chenille and the join is very neat and almost completely invisible.

Once you have just a bit of the front and back left to join, stuff the pillow. I used old stockings, but you can use store-bought stuffing if you prefer.

When the pillow is stuffed enough to your liking, finish the slip stitch join, tie up the ends, and push them inside.

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Voila! The pillow is ready for squishing.

Just keep crafting

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Latest creation, just completed yesterday: a pineapple crochet top made with the help of a diagram found on Pinterest. I made it with the last batch of yarn I got in town before the pandemic hit hard (I do have more yarn in my stash, don’t worry). I haven’t saved the label but any thread yarn will work for these kinds of high-definition patterns.

Around here, the government is trying to get back to business as usual too quickly, IMHO. I think there has been a lot of pressure originated in the false sense of security due to the relatively low number of deaths in Israel (200 total, or thereabouts). Preschools and first to third grades are going to reopen part-time starting Sunday and I can’t think of a more reckless and pointless move with which to restart the economy.

Fact: young kids can’t really be trusted in matters of hygiene and social distancing.

Another fact: Because of lack of teachers (due to smaller classes and older and at-risk teachers still staying home), children won’t be in school enough hours per week to allow working parents to return to their jobs.

Conclusion: this arrangement is just enough to promote the spread of the virus but not to be of any practical help for the economy.

There is a lot of talk about how children “need” to be in a school setting, how it’s a matter of “mental health” to get them back into classrooms even part-time. This is simply the result of a rigid mindset that knows no different and doesn’t wish to think outside the box. Countless families around the globe homeschool. Their children do just fine academically and socially. I think our Ministry of Education should have considered that fact before pushing for such huge risks.

Yes, our children will be staying home anyway, but this means that we, too, are going to be at a higher risk of infection as everyone will be cross-contaminated through schools.

Change of Seasons shawl

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I made this shawl a while ago, but haven’t had the chance to share it yet. With its hues of green and brown, it reminds me of spring and fresh grass, so I called it Change of Seasons shawl.

Materials: one skein of Papatya Angora. I loved working with this yarn: very fine, soft and warm. The color gradient changed beautifully and there were no knots.

Pattern: Fall River Shawl by Katya Novikova (free)

I hope everyone is keeping well and safe. I had to make a trip to town today (not my choice) and it was eerie. Almost all the stores closed and everyone hurrying to do their business and go. A disturbing sight – but not nearly as disturbing as the news of our government caving in to pressure and agreeing to open businesses, preschools, and partially schools. I believe wise people will continue to shelter and minimize outside business whether the law compels them to do so or not.

Stay safe and healthy!

New Book Release: The Bloodthirst Gene

A moment before the Pesach cleaning marathon begins, and just as the world is caught up in the coronavirus panic, I am celebrating sanity by releasing volume IV of my Frozen World Antarctic sci-fi saga, now available on Kindle and in print.

Violence is a necessary trait for human survival

“Could the genetic makeup of humankind be altered in a way that eradicates violence, aggression and warlike tendencies, eliminating armed conflict and creating a utopian society?

It sounds almost too good to be true. And perhaps it is, because messing with genetics can get risky.”

Putting the finishing touches to this sci-fi/dystopian novel had been incredibly cathartic for me at this time. I believe writing (and reading) dystopian stories is actually very good for the mental health of anxiety-prone people (like me). It helps us explore various Big and Bad scenarios and grapple with some scary What Ifs in the safety of our private corner. Then we can get back to reality with a new, calmer view.

So in case you are looking for an entertaining escape at this time, why not check out Frozen World? You can start from the first volume or dive in straight into The Bloodthirst Gene, which is a New Generation step in the series and provides enough background so that even people who didn’t read books 1-3 can enjoy it.

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Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual here. We haven’t felt much of the coronavirus panic as we work from home and are seldom out of town. Most of our neighbors don’t travel either, so we feel safe enough socializing with them. We are well-stocked on all essentials and, barring the worst-case doomsday scenarios, things should be fine.

Please stay safe and take care of your health! Don’t take any risks. Better to delay any planned trips and avoid large gatherings if at all possible.