Monday, 6 December 2021

21 Years of Mum's Birthday Cards

I am quite often asked if my kids have kept all the cards I have made for them over the years. The answer is, of course, yes and this year, the year my eldest son turned 21, we decided to put all the photos of his cards together and make a collage of them. My son was actually disappointed that I had failed to take a photo of him holding his card every year since he was born. I did point out to him that as a baby he might not have taken such great care of it and also that I wasn't using a digital camera or my phone for the shots when he was a small child!
We enjoyed seeing how his interests have changed over the years and how he himself has gone from boy to man! The cards will certainly continue and maybe I will be able to show you a new collection in a few years time. In the meantime, here is a little reminder of each year's design.
Age 1. My son - and mummy and daddy - loved the pop-up book Where, Oh Where, is Kipper's Bear? His first birthday card showed the pinky purple Bleeper People from that very book. The mouse on the card is from the book too and the green, red and orange crocodile was his favourite activity toy at the time. 
Age 2. Show me a little boy who doesn't like trucks? My son used to stand on the toy box to look out the front window. "There's a bus!" and "There's a car!" he would shout.
Age 3. Bob the Builder, or Bob Habanai as he is known in Hebrew, was his firm favourite at this age. Actually he mostly watched "Bob" in English on the videos and then DVD's that Grannie and Grandpa sent from the UK.
Age 4. There was a Peter Pan stage and a strong interest in pirates. I'm not sure if this looks like my son, but I rather like the smiling pirate.
Age 5. He was clearly still into Peter Pan and this year Captain Hook made it onto the card. Funnily enough, out of all his birthday cards, my son didn't remember who Captain Hook was! Um, all those hours watching the film were clearly wasted!
Age 6. Football had started to become his obsession aged six. He is also proudly wearing his blue and white football kippa, or skullcap, which he wore for years.
Age 7. This year I showed my son wearing his yellow smiley kippa. He is holding "Sock-puppety", the homemade sock puppet, in one hand and his Tamagotchi digital pet in the other. In front of him is a big football. A rabbit, representing his favourite soft toy, is making its first appearance.
Age 8. It's a bit difficult to see the card here but this was the first one I blogged about. You can read all about it here. At that age my son was still divided when it came to favourite football teams. Mister Handmade in Israel is originally from London and a keen Arsenal supporter. I am originally from Hull and come from a football mad family. Grandpa has a strong influence! Thus my son had two favourite teams at the time so I depicted him wearing half an Arsenal shirt and half a Hull City shirt! The much-loved "Sock-puppety" also got in there too...
Age 9. This year it seems that my son wanted to be more like his Israeli school friends and was supporting Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club. Their official colours are blue and yellow. He is waving a half-and-half scarf, showing his passion for Hull City and Arsenal as well. We also had a hamster - you can just see it sitting on his head - and "Rabbity" is still hanging in there!
Age 10. Double digits and tennis had started to be important in my son's life. I showed him with his new racket and also his snake board. A football goal is behind him and he is wearing his Arsenal cap. Henry the hamster popped in too and, yes, "Rabbity" is still there!
Age 11. My son seems to have now decided that his favourite team is Arsenal. He is wearing his red shirt and holding a football and tennis racket. He has his white bicycle helmet on his head. He was - and still is - a keen reader and so I added his favourite Percy Jackson and The Roman Mysteries books. He had also been going to an after-school chess class for more than five years at this stage, so a chess piece was included too. "Rabbity" popped in to say hello, holding a flag that declares "I'm still here".
This year my eldest son wrote in an English project "My Mum is an artist and making cards is her job. She always makes me cards for my birthday and I really like them - they are always good."
Age 12. The year of the iPod! My son had spent all his pocket money and birthday money on an iPod and was pretty much obsessed with it! He is dressed in his favourite green Nike T-shirt and Adidas cap and is writing down maths answers in his workbook (he was always very good at maths). There's a football next to him and two book covers of his recent favourite reads. Yes, "Rabbity" is still there...
Age 13. This card was given to my son just after his Bar Mitzvah. He had already received a special card to mark that occasion. His birthday card showed the Hull City and Arsenal flags that decorated the tables at his Bar Mitzvah celebration. He is still clutching his iPod, an upgraded version from last year.
Age 14. This year I showed him doing exercises on his pull up bar. There's a chocolate bar in the background and he is surrounded by maths symbols. At that time he was spending hours working on the material from his special advanced maths class. But there was still time for football...
Age 15. My son was very involved in the NOAM youth movement for several years. (NOAM is an acronym for No'ar Masorti, Masorti Youth, a Zionist youth movement.) He was a madrich (youth-group leader) at this age and I showed him in his green club shirt and the white cord which displays his rank. The Arsenal crest also had to appear on his card.
Age 16. Learning to drive! When he turned sixteen my eldest son was keen to learn to drive. He began the process by taking a medical and eye exam, followed by a theoretical test and, once those bases had been covered, he signed up for 28 driving lessons with an instructor. I am delighted to say he passed his driving test the first time!
Age 17. At this age my son was serious about keeping fit. He wanted to be ready for the army. Press-ups were part of his routine, so that's what I showed him doing on his card. Of course I added the Arsenal crest and a football. He was still learning to drive at this stage, so I included an Israeli L-plate too. He had also completed his maths bagrut - Israel's high school matriculation examination - two years early and was tutoring younger kids who needed a little extra help with their maths. I added a few maths symbols to the card to illustrate that.
Age 18. This was the first birthday that my son did not celebrate at home. He had already finished school and was on a pre-army programme, living on a kibbutz in the south of Israel. I did however arrange for a friend to deliver the all-important card on the day. It showed him wearing the white T-shirt of his mechina (pre-army programme) and waving his Arsenal scarf to cheer on his team. He had also occasionally gone to see Beitar Jerusalem with his friends, so I added their badge to his card as well. Those evenings often finished with a burger and beer.
My son was going into the Israeli army the following summer, so I included the badge of the Israel Defence Forces on his card and wished him "Good Luck" in Arabic. Finally, I added a pair of walking boots. He was doing a fair bit of hiking and orienteering on his programme and those walking boots were put to good use!
Age 19. At this stage my son was several months in to his army service and was once again not home for his birthday. He received his card, which showed him in his olive green army uniform, a few days late. He has a bottle of Maccabee beer in one hand and a plate full of hummus in the other. Of course his passion for Arsenal Football Club remained and I included their crest on his card.
Age 20. The big difference between last year's card and this year's card was the beard! Once again I showed my son in his army uniform. He is sitting at his laptop computer reading the Al Jazeera news site. Of course I included the Arsenal crest too and this year Mister Handmade in Israel insisted I add the headline "Partey Time!" on the card, to mark the arrival of Thomas Teye Partey, a Ghanaian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for the club. Mister Handmade in Israel and the eldest son were very excited about him!
Age 21. That takes us to 21, most likely the last year I will show my son in his army uniform. Just to recap from a previous post, my son is holding a certificate he recently received for a course he has just completed. When he is home from the army he likes to go on tiyulim (hikes) with his friends. The Ein Prat spring is behind him and in the foreground is his pakal kafe (coffee kit). My son has also been trying a gluten free diet, so the red warning sign represents his new diet and, yes, the Arsenal crest is still important to him...

* This post has been shared on The Good. The Random. The Fun.
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Thursday, 2 December 2021

The Hanut Ruins and Ein Mata

The Hanut ruins or Khirbet Hanut ("ruins of the rest place") is an archaeological site on the side of the main road from Beit Guvrin to Jerusalem. In the Byzantine period it was believed to mark the site where Goliath was buried. Excavations carried out at the site in the 1980s uncovered a Byzantine period church with a colourful mosaic floor. The Mamluks turned the church into a khan or inn known as Khirbet el-Khan, where travellers could spend the night as they made their way to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. A number of interesting artefacts have been uncovered at the site that help us understand how significant this place was at various moments in history.
A large water storage pool from Byzantine times is the first thing we saw at the site, above. The thick walls of the pool were built from large stones. The gaps between the stones were filled with smaller stones or cement. After that, the walls were plastered so that the water in the pool would not leak out.
During the Byzantine period many such pools were built in the Judaean Hills. They collected water for drinking and for irrigating orchards. This pool was the primary source of water for the khan or roadside inn.
Further along are the ruins of the Byzantine church. The floor of the main hall, which was uncovered in 2016, is covered with colourful mosaics illustrating geometric forms, grapes and icons of animals. It is 10x4.25m in size and is based on 1×1cm stones. The eastern edge of the mosaic contained a two-line black and white dedicatory inscription in Greek. It was removed in order to safeguard it. The mosaic was probably the victim of iconoclasm in ancient times. The human and animal figures were destroyed by people who were against the images of humans on public spaces. Based on the Greek inscription the final completion of the church can be dated to 563, 568 or 593 BCE. The church was most likely destroyed in the 8th century BCE.
To the east of the church there is a small crypt. Excavations have revealed an entrance and steps leading down into the narrow chamber of the crypt. Inside excavators found evidence that a single sarcophagi or coffin was once located there, as indicated by its negative imprint.
Next to the church is a large winepress installation from Byzantine times, above. The winepress is composed of 3 levels. On the top level, the floor is paved with white mosaic that is probably a remnant of the 6th century Byzantine church floor. On the 2nd level is the large treading floor where the workers crushed the grapes with their feet. The 3rd level was a covered collecting pit, 1.75m deep, where the grape juice was collected after it fermented.
A short trail took us from the Hanut ruins down to the spring at Ein Mata. Ein Mata means "Spring of the Orchard". The spring is located in the valley of Zanoah and and is named after the nearby Moshav Mata. It was once called Ain Bint-Nuh, named after the daughter of Noah. The ruins of the Arab village of lower 'Allar, which existed here until 1948, are spread along the trail. Near the spring stands a Crusader structure named Salvatio, above and below. The roof is rib vault and the walls are thick. The structure was reused during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods.
Ein Mata is a small spring that is hidden under a cluster of carob and fig trees. It was a nice spot to stop for our sandwiches and to enjoy the shade. The spring itself is too small for a dip. Thick brush surrounds the spring and the irrigation channels, which once carried the water to the nearby fields. The terraced hills around the spring were once used for agriculture and are now filled with greenery: sweet and bitter almonds, olives, grapes, pomegranates, lemons, figs, walnuts, Syrian pears, carobs and hawthorns. 
Another natural spring, Ein Tanur ("Oven Spring"), is nearby but we somehow missed it! According to a local legend, Noah's oven stood there before the flood. When God destroyed the world, Noah's oven began spouting water, proving Noah's great commitment to God. When the flood was over and the water subsided, the oven forgot its original purpose and water continued to flow from it. When Noah passed by in his ark, he only saw the spring rather than his oven, so he continued his journey and finally landed on Mount Ararat.
From Ein Mata and Ein Tanur we followed the trail back up the hill to the parking area at the Hanut ruins where we had started.
* Editing to add that I have just learnt that in 2010 a terrorist attack took place in the Mata forest. Susan Logan, an American Christian, was murdered and Kay Wilson, a British-born Israeli citizen, was critically injured. Sadly this attack is an important part of the history of the area.


Monday, 29 November 2021

21st Birthday Wishes

Ella was celebrating her 21st birthday! In previous years I have shown her exercising in front of the TV and before that, in her olive green army uniform. This year mum sent me a photo of her daughter with a friend outside Cinderella's fairy tale castle at Disney. They were on their post army trip to the USA and mum thought that basing my card on that particular photo would be a lovely memory for her daughter. I added a big 21 to match the polka dot bow on the Minnie Mouse headband that Ella is wearing.
Tamar was also turning 21 and has recently finished her army service. She is planning a trip to Australia so her mum requested a card showing a Qantas aeroplane taking off. She also wanted a beach view and a picture of Tamar as well. Mum was thrilled with the card when she saw it.
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs
JENerally Informed