Monday, 19 April 2021

Their Parents' Anniversary

A new customer contacted me with a request for a card for her parents who are currently in the UK. They were soon to be celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary and she wanted a card showing the couple on their wedding day. The wedding photo I received was a black and white one but their daughter told me that she thought the flowers in mum's hair were white. Since dad was wearing a dinner suit, we decided it must have been black.
Their daughter was delighted with the end result, as were her parents. She told me that "they were blown away [by the card]".
My customer has her own small business, making sushi, in the city we both live in but was recently kind enough to write an online review of several local small businesses, including my own.
"The card Lisa made for my parent's anniversary was stunning!! I've admired Lisa's work for a couple of years now and I was just waiting for the opportunity to have a special card made for someone. Lisa is EXTREMELY talented - order from her and add magic to any occasion."
Another customer asked me for a card based on her parents wedding photo as well. This time I received a coloured photo of the couple, so I could clearly see that the theme was pink - pink bridesmaids dresses and pink flowers for the bridesmaids and bride.
I showed dad in his black suit and mum with her billowing veil and lucky wedding horseshoe. Apparently the giving of horseshoes to a bride is a long standing tradition. Well before Christian times, a horseshoe was thought to represent a crescent moon and was therefore a very potent fertility charm! However, more recently, in Victorian times the tradition was established as a way of bringing good luck to the newlyweds for the duration of their lives together. The horseshoe has to be hung the right way up, facing upwards in a "U" shape. Hanging it upside down would mean that its powers would fall away.
My customer's parents have been married for 55 years, so I added a pink number 55 to the card, along with some more pink and white flowers.
My customer was delighted with the card and told me that her parents loved it!
* This post has been shared on Inspire Me Monday, Happiness is Homemade
JENerally Informed

Friday, 16 April 2021

Marking Some Special Occasions

Eden was turning 21! I have been making cards to mark her birthday for years. Some of you may remember this lovely story, when she called me at the tender age of 9 to thank me for making her a great card - and it wasn't even from me!
These days Eden is a soldier in the Israeli army and is also interested in cosmetics and special effects makeup. I have made cards on those themes several times before. For her 21st birthday I decided to just have fun and make a card celebrating 21. Mum told me that she likes candles, so I added those to the card and some gift wrapped presents too. The big heart shaped balloons mark her age. 
Joshua was joining the Israeli Air Force and was due to start the pilots course, considered one of the most prestigious courses in the IDF (The Israel Defence Forces). His mum asked me to make him a special good luck card. 
I have shown Joshua in his beige madei alef uniform. (There are two types of uniforms (madim) in the army, madei alef and madei bet. In all units madei bet are olive green, however madei alef differ for each force.) He is wearing the dark grey beret belonging to the Air Force. I kept his goatee beard for the card though in reality beards are not allowed in the army, with a few exceptions. I added the badge and flag of the Israeli Air Force, a light blue flag with thin stripes and the air force roundel with a blue six-pointed star in the centre. Finally, some black army boots and some "Top Gun" style aviator sunglasses are next to him.
The Hebrew greeting on the card says "An easy and successful recruitment, Joshua".
Lastly, Tamar was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony for girls. I made cards for her brothers' Bar Mitzvahs. You can see them here and here. Tamar's mum also wanted her daughter to receive a special card to mark the occasion. She is very fond of handicrafts, mum told me, and she makes amazing cakes. She also likes to cook and draws and paints very nicely too. Her favourite colours are black, white and turquoise.
I have shown blonde-haired Tamar busy mixing something. There is a rolling pin and some eggs on the table in front of her, along with some paints and pencils for her creative work. Behind her is a big number 12 to mark her age. It is made from a picture of a cake she herself baked. I also added pictures of some of her own creations made from beads. 
The Hebrew greeting on the card says "Our beloved Tamari. Congratulations to the Bat Mitzvah ❤". Bat Mitzvah is the name of the coming of age ceremony and also the name used to address the young lady on the occasion.
Pieced Pastimes

Monday, 12 April 2021

Tzora Forest

We started our hike in the Tzora Forest at Samson's Ridge, a lovely short trail named after the biblical hero known for his great strength and bravery. The trail twisted and turned through the woods and the green fields and views of Beit Shemesh below were impressive. After a few minutes of walking the path led us back to where we started and it was at this point that our real hike in Tzora Forest began.
Tzora has been identified with the biblical Zoreah (Joshua 15:33) and is believed to be the birthplace of Samson. It was here that he killed the lion barehanded and returned to eat the honey from its carcass. A grave which some attribute to Samson and his father, Manoach, can be found in the forest. The altar where his father took a young goat as an offering to G-d and where his barren mother received word of her pregnancy is nearby. "And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman, and said to her, Behold now, you are barren, and bearest not: but you shall conceive and bear a son" (Judges 13:3)
The Palestinian village Sar'a was located in the presumed location of the biblical town. It was captured by Israel's Harel Brigade in July 1948 during the War of Independence and its inhabitants fled or were later expelled.
The trail we decided to follow lead us down towards some orchards and past rows of carob trees and pine forest planted by the Jewish National Fund. This part of the forest was incredibly peaceful and so very beautiful. Narcissus flowers and cyclamen blossomed along the pathways. At this point we stopped to drink coffee and take a short break before following the path all the way to Tzora Forest's top holy site - the grave of Samson the warrior.
Samson lived a very stormy life. It began with his miraculous birth and continued with Israel's wars with the Philistines, which revolved around the romances that he conducted with Philistine women. He died in Gaza by pulling down a Philistine temple on top of its inhabitants and on himself. "And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines"…and they buried him between Tzora and Eshtaol in the burying place of Manoach his father" (Judges 16:31). Jewish tradition identifies Samson's grave in Tzora, at least since the Middle Ages. The historian Josephus says it was in a village called Sarasat.
Kever Shimshon, or Samson's grave, is located is at the top of a tel or hill. There is a plaza and at its centre are two large gravestones, above. On the northern gravestone there is a marble plaque commemorating Samson and on the southern gravestone there is a plaque for Manoach, his father.
It is however not likely that this is the exact place of their burial and some believe that the tomb is in fact a Sheikh's tomb.
The views of the coastal plain, the Judean Plains and the Judean Mountains from this point were breathtaking.
From this point our hike got a little confusing. We followed the trail back down the hill but took a wrong turning and ended up walking a lot further than we had expected. Though we saw plenty of gorgeous flowers and some of the statues along Derech HaPsalim (The Statues Trail), the forest was busy in this area and there was a lot of traffic. The second part of our hike was nowhere near as peaceful as the first!
We did however get to see the Tzora lookout, designed in the shape of a bow of a ship, with amazing views of the Sorek Valley and the city of Beit Shemesh. The stone structure at the lookout was in the past the home of the mukhtar (head official) of the village of Sar'a. During the War of Independence the house served as the temporary headquarters of the Harel Brigade. Later on the structure served the first members of Kibbutz Tzora until their move to permanent homes at the foot of the Tzora mountain.
We were almost back at our car when we spotted this beautiful red fox enjoying what looked like the remains of someone's picnic. The fox was not afraid of us at all and we were able to stand nearby and watch it for several minutes. Foxes in fact play an important part in the story of Samson and it seemed a fitting way to end our hike.
Samson's wife, a Philistine woman from Timnah, was with another man. Samson went to see her but her father would not let him near her. Angry, Samson rounded up 300 foxes, tied their tails together, set the tails on fire and turned them loose on the Philistine fields which were ready to be harvested, burning all in their wake. This action crippled the Philistines' source of food and economy.
"Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in the middle between two tails." (Judges 15:4)
Tragically, the Philistines returned the evil by burning Samson's wife and her family to death, using fire, the very weapon he had used against them. In revenge, Samson slaughtered many more Philistines, saying, "I have done to them what they did to me."
And you thought you were reading a genteel post about nature and history in Israel 😉
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

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