Feeling so very Israeli

When I first moved to Israel, I was utterly horrified at even the thought that I’d ever need to use an over-draft at my bank and so, despite my bank manager pushing for a nice safety cushion, I insisted on only 500 shekels for the ‘you are in the red.’ I never thought I’d need it. Then came the paperwork snafu that saw my salary checks arriving 8 and 4 weeks late, respectively, and suddenly I was embracing the 10,000 shekel overdraft. Over the years, I dipped deep into the over-draft more times than I could count.

See, because I grew up in poverty where every month was touch and go and my Ema did whatever it took to make it go –working two and three jobs at a time when necessary, I had a real thing about a)never being in debt and b) never having anything less than a serious savings pad. Life in Israel mostly cured me of that.

Today, I’m feeling very Israeli. I’ve now gone almost 14k into the red with a loan. I’m not only not freaking out at the thought but am going Yee Haw! That loan is hopefully going to see me come out with the skills that will not only see the loan repaid, and not only see me back home, but with the ability to have a savings pad. And yeah, I’ll definitely want to have a nice over-draft in place, just in case:)

A garden update

I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row, while waiting to find out if I got the financing I applied for (and lining up potential alternates if that doesn’t come through), because once Sept 6th hits, it will be 80-hour weeks for 3 months. I’m doing a 60 hour week now to get the prep work done in time and am already feeling like, wow, I’ve got so much free time compared to what is coming. So here is a little bit about the garden and plans for it. I’ll do an update on the kitties (and about the one we’ve just lost) as one of the next posts. I need a bit more of a remove before I do that one.

This summer has been really strange with the garden compared to last year. We had a huge bonanza harvest of stuff in May — lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and eggplants coming out of our ears. We’ve had smaller amounts of tomatoes ready for harvest all the way up to this week (we harvested only 12 cherry tomatoes and one slicer this week and, while we are getting tomato fruit set this week, it will be about a month before we harvest anything significant in the tomato department). It is unusual to get tomatoes after the last week of June/first week of July and so we’ve been blessed in that department. In terms of our major summer crops though, it has been a bust.

I posted a picture last year, in early August, showing our okra plants towering around me at about 10 feet high. I was hauling in bucket-loads of those expensive little things every week. This year, the okra I planted in April got eaten by something overnight so far down to the ground that you had to dig to find the remaining stems. I replanted and the same thing happened again about 4 weeks after they had sprouted. It was only in mid-June that some (like 5 out of the 20) of the seeds I planted again managed to sprout and survive to become real plants. They are only about waist high now and are just starting to produce in any significant number. We’ve been getting maybe 10 pods in a week off those 5 plants — a seriously paltry amount compared to last year. The ones I planted in early July all survived the plant-eating something but they are only now just getting to “I might flower soon” stage — they are about low-thigh in height. At least there are 15 of them. Hopefully, we’ll start getting some significant harvests in September through October. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a seriously cold and early winter, so I don’t think we’ll be harvesting them into December, as we did last year.

Our eggplants busted a seam in May, June, and into early July. Our August harvest, though, is going to be significantly lower than this time last year. We have grasshoppers. They’ve been chowing on the eggplants this past week. I woke up this morning to find a 5-foot tall Gypsy Pepper plant stripped of nearly every leaf on it. It was lush, flowering and bearing fruit yesterday! It is nearly just stalks today. Some of the new green bean plants are similarly decimated.

Today, I am starting 30 lettuce seeds and 30 cabbage seeds. Next Sunday, I’ll do the same again. I’m not going to have the luxury of waiting 2 weeks between starting the seedlings. I’ve got to get those seedlings into the ground by Sept 5 or we won’t have a fall harvest of them. I’m going to be getting up, several days a week, in the fall at like 4 am in order to harvest and keep the garden in order.

The gift of the Malabar spinach plants has really proved to be a g-dsend. Dinner tonight is going to be a soup made of the 3 eggplants, 6 okra, 2 peppers, basil, and Malabar spinach leaves I harvested yesterday and this morning, seasoned by the green onion I harvested and froze back in the spring.

I’m hoping the serious amount of rain we’ve been getting this past week (and at least for the next 3 days, it looks like) is going to spark some serious garden productivity. I’ve got to find a way to deter the darn grasshoppers, though. A few more days of them bellying up to the garden buffet will see no garden at all!

Riding the stress roller-coaster

My family’s motto has always been “It will all work out because we will, somehow, someway, make it work out.” This is our personal equivalent to the Israeli mantra of “Yiheyeh b’seder” (it will be ok). I think ours is a bit more accurate because it indicates that it is not going to just somehow miraculously be ok (most of the time) but rather that a hell of a lot of effort and moving of mountains may be required before it is actually ‘ok.’ You can’t just sit back and expect it to all be ok.

This week has so far been managing to scramble atop one peak, giving a brief ‘hurrah’ just before reaching the crest and knowing you will reach it, taking a breath of relief at the top… and then seeing an even taller peak just ahead. Rinse and repeat. And it ain’t over…I’m just about halfway up another three peaks and worried about an avalanche (or two or three or ten).

The biggest, most important, huge peak crossed with great relief, is the results of my Ema’s tests this week. It isn’t an exactly rosy picture (not until there is a cure) but it is awesome, nonetheless. When I made the decision that I needed to move here, we all really thought that we were really talking about 6 months, if we were that fortunate, and a year if HaShem was generous. The treatment she was undergoing at the time nearly killed her and more than once. We are now almost exactly two years on from when I left home, and her results show she is now in just about as much of a remission as you can get with a disease that isn’t curable. Not curable yet, at least… There are some worry spots. We’ve got a game plan though. We are, every minute, of every hour, of every day, blessed and I’m tfu tfu’ing that we will continue to be so for a very long time to come.

The other peaks and valleys are so small, in comparison. I’m climbing them, though, and looking for alternate routes to the top if the way just ahead turns out to be blocked.

I did it! MakerSquare here I come :)

I had my entrance interview this morning. I was so dog nervous that I was nearly sick. I had prepared and prepared and prepared some more. I was seriously worried about the technical part of the interview.

It went swimmingly up until the final two challenges. I came up with answers that would get the job done but they weren’t the answers: The nice, elegant ones using higher order functions and nice, concise code and…And I knew how to solve them using the higher order functions etc, and I knew I knew it BUT. I hit the first one where I didn’t instantly see “ok, we should do this and then this and then that” and my brain went into full panic mode. I gave a solution and knew it was workable but not the best or really the ‘right’ one and was reeling so much from that realization that when the next one was presented it took me a good 2 minutes to even be able to parse out what he was asking me to solve: Come again? What’s the problem to tackle, functions needing to do what, what was the problem again?

I left totally convinced that I had bombed out. He’d noted that I probably would not hear anything until Monday. I sent messages to friends who had made the grade and said, “seriously, no way, I won’t be joining you.”

Then 3 hours later I got the golden email. I think half of Texas must know because I squealed so loud with happiness and relief. I’m in. One major hurdle is behind me, and I’m so looking forward to tackling the mountain of hurdles ahead. I tell you, jumping out of an airplane had nothing on the excitement and exhilaration I felt when I got that email.

Getting ready for the immersive interview

I’ve finished the MakerPrep course and am now getting ready for the interview for the immersive program. My interview is on Friday. I’m very nervous as 95% don’t get in on their first interview. Last week I did a mock interview, as part of the MakerPrep course, and I passed it with flying colours BUT it only covered the first quarter of what the actual interview will cover.

Me and algorithms are not yet fast friends and I know that there will be a significant “go up to the whiteboard and write out and explain the solution for X hideous problem.” I’m not fast with solving algorithm challenges under the most relaxed of circumstances (console.log() is my best friend with attempting them and figuring out where I’m going wrong, and dear old console will be not be with me at a whiteboard). When I am nervous, everything dealing with logic just takes a brain vacation. “Logical thinking has just exited the building on the way to board a plane to the Bahamas. Uh, Um, What The Hell, and What’s My Name Again? have now stepped in to replace it.”

Yeah. I keep telling myself to breathe and that if I don’t pass it the first time, I can re-interview for the later cohort starting in October. It is like having the option of a Moed Bet exam if you screw up on the Moed Aleph. I always disapproved of the whole Moed Bet thing (in the real world, like with an interview for a job, you don’t get a ‘do-over’), but now I’m looking at the idea of it with a great deal more fondness.

A garden update

I’ve published our July garden savings over at the Dara Sanctuary Garden page (http://garden.darasanctuary.com/). Feel free to pop over and see what we harvested last month and how close we are to meeting my goal of growing $1500 worth of organic vegetables in a single year (and in only 70 Sq. Ft). Can we say I’m ambitious much? Yes, I think we can, but I’m making slow and steady progress toward that goal!

We had a very unusual two days of rain in July last week –something I’ve never encountered during the summer in Austin! It helped the garden (and hopefully also the water bill) immensely. I had every bucket and container I could find out to collect the run-off from the roof and was able to get all the tomato plants in grow-bags watered from that for several days after the rain.

Honestly, I’ve been so busy that I’ve been neglecting the garden. I did manage to get some zucchini, butternut squash, and HaOgen melon seeds planted yesterday — hopefully, for a fall harvest of them. A combination of the heat and squash borers killed off the squash and melon plants I’d planted in late spring, so we’ve gotten nada in that department so far this year.

I’ve got to carve out some time from somewhere to start green bean seeds in the garden and lettuce, cabbage etc seeds inside so that they are ready to transplant into the garden in mid-late September.

Doing the MinxPrep

I’m vowing to update the blog as often as I can. This update will be short: I got a scholarship to take part in the MakerPrep course and I started it last night. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do the full immersive course at MakerSquare in September and to be able to emerge as a full stack software engineer.

I’m extremely impressed so far with the course. In four weeks we’ll be covering more, and in much greater depth, than what was covered in 4 of the courses I took via ACC. We meet every evening except Friday and Sunday from 6:30-9:30 and meet also on Saturdays from 1-5. The guy who is teaching the course is absolutely fantastic. I’ve already met some really great folks who are taking the course.

I’m really, really excited about it.

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