Sunday, December 31, 2006

I guess its Eid

Yesterday was the first day of Eid. We sat home as usual while hubby went to work. Today is Sunday. I'm on the computer, as if I don't get on before 10 am I am hounded until I let the kids have their turn. One just came in an informed me they would give me some more time as they were eating breakfast. Anyways may everyone else have a pleasant holiday. Mine is as usual. Bye probably till next year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Its 23 degrees outside

This morning it began snowing again. They are telling us up to a foot and a half of snow by Thursday. Here's the pics of the snow so far.

This is the view out my back door.

My front window.

The window on the covered side of the house seems to be deeper that's about 7 inches on top of old paint cans that are five gallons and they are nearly covered now. So I guess unless it warms up we will have a white holiday. I would rather be in sunshine.

Here is the update unless you have world news you may have missed that we are now under 2 ft. of snow and it is still growing! So not only am I home with five kids but hubby gets to spend another day home. Here is some more photos

This is out my back door. See the split rail fence that comes to my waist and the top rail is 2 feet above the lawn. With the blowing snow its not level but we are reporting 26" in Aurora as of the reports this morning.

This is my poor neighbors truck we will be shoveling him out I am sure. The snow has drifted to just about cover the front of his truck. Here's another.

Remember the paint buckets? They are vanished now. I can reach out my window and scoop up the snow.

All the city and county are closed and most business are trying to decide who will open and who does not have enough employees to cause them to stay closed. The airport will not even open again until 7 pm today. I'm sure not too many people planned to spend their holiday in the airport the count was 4,700 people last night. State National Guard was sent out last night to rescue people trapped on the various highways coming out of the mountains. For the first time in many years chains were required on Arapahoe Road again. I don't know if my friend got home who lives off of C-470 but I am sure she has disaster plans for her daughter. I can't even go get her! Finally the last time we had this much snow it melted and the ditch that is behind our property flooded from fencepost to fencepost as we are the lowest lying house along it. Never made it into the yard as it is uphill by about another foot so I was thankful but I did take videos in case I needed to call the insurance man. Too all of you out there who read my blog. Wishing you a happy and safe New Year. Rain, Snow or Sunshine may you all be blessed in the coming year.

What a difference a day makes! It stopped snowing around 2 pm in my neck of Aurora. We came in with 26 inches of snow not including the drifts. Then the fun began. My husband had gone out to get some milk just as the storm was going into full swing and got stuck in the lower half of the drive with the knowledge that if people did get out they could hit the car we all went out and helped clear the driveway so he could pull the car up. We made a walking path for the mailman as the city requires and went in. My hubby always refuses to listen and in winter especially I worry he will injure his back again. I had to give him a big massage in the evening to calm his back down. Thankfully this morning he can move. He called into work and found a human voice so guess that means he's going into work. The airport is still digging out so they can be back to normal. The malls are all still closed til Saturday I can see the stores, even if I wanted to, I'm not going out it will be insane. Guess I am stuck home at least till after Christmas. I hear Eid is coming I saw something on the Internet. My hubby didn't seem to care much when I reminded him. I guess we will do as usual stay home maybe get pizza from the local bakery. Sadly I took most of my games to Libya and left them there I'm a big board games junkie and all I have left here is Scrabble, Boggle and Risk besides a Monopoly Pokemon version. I do have a deck of cards or I can go through my videos again. Even most of my arts and crafts stuff is there, I was planning ahead so there would be less to bring next visit.
Time to go my little one is up and her sugar is 57 so I need to make sure she eats breakfast and gets her insulin. The roads must be passable if you get to the main roads as I haven't had hubby walk back home yet! I will try to get a few more pics before its gone. It's 25 degrees and the sun is shining! Next is the floods of water that turn to ice blocks at night.

Update: Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Northeast Plains. This storm shall bring high winds and heavy snows over much of the state. Travel in and out of the state may be canceled.
So here it is Wednesday and we are expecting more snow by Thursday. Another 12-18" is what they are shooting for. So yesterday I got the chance to go out and take a look at the state of the local area. Not bad if you don't mind the snow pack that makes it hard to tell where the sidewalks are. Oh, there the mountains that the bus people are standing on or in front of on the streets. No one cares to clean them. The city is still trying to get the streets clean so the sidewalks will have to wait. Watch out for people standing in the street. Another worry is the path can disappear quickly so beware. You are traveling 75 down Parker Road on your way to work suddenly the three lane becomes two lanes and you got a large truck next to you and a person standing in the street waiting for the bus. Thankfully I drive 25 when it is like this. Then the parking lots. Oh yes I had to go to a store. The water was pooling in one area and cars were trying to determine if they should go through. The jeep in front of me went through OK so I took a leap of faith. Thanks to four-wheel drive I made it through the maze of ice blocks and water. We went into the store and the shelves are eerily nude of items. The local grocery was low on just about everything. But I got a 24 pack of toilet paper and some milk to cover the next few days. I took a small jaunt to Lowes (home improvement store) and wandered around the tile and bath departments. I was getting idea booklets for my home in Libya. The glass doors are pretty but I saw better ones in Tripoli and they probably cost much less. At least in our eyes they do. I got a wonderful pamphlet on glass block for showers and walls. Oh I think I remember seeing some in Tajura. I wonder if it is more cost effective than concrete for a wall?
OK, back from my daydreams. Being indoors for over two weeks is making me batty. I did get a chance to go out but with 5 dollars in my pocket it wasn't the same. I was almost out of gas so I needed it just in case. I had asked him for a check to write the co-pay for the doctor and he just replied have him bill me.
Got back around 4 pm and the kids had not even fixed Fatimah some lunch. The neighbor was out trying to clear the snow around his truck but it had a flat tire and I told him that if the city came through they would likely bury his truck so to wait. A few hours later we got a snow plow through. We were elated. Oh yeah I forgot they are city drivers. He dropped his blade about one inch onto the snow and moved a few inches. I guess he was checking the depth? No he skimmed past us as we looked on in disbelief. He went to the end of the block and I have no idea if he did anything there. The cars on the end will be covered till June at this rate. He came back as I headed up towards him and we watched in continued amazement as he pushed a mound of snow about three inches. One that didn't even need to be touched. And if he had covered the drive it was for the house of a single woman so all the neighbors would have to be out there helping her remove it. He touched nothing else and disappeared around the corner of the block. So much for removal! We have two drainage ditches on the block that if we don't want ice blocks we have to keep clear you would have thought he would have scraped near them to allow water to drain, no, sorry I lost my head again. City worker. So even though we can get in and out if you have four wheel drive or a truck that is. We were alone again. I went inside and the weather reports started. I called hubby and told him we were expecting another storm and told him we should double check for needed items just in case it gets that bad again. His car is on E and mine is still out of commission, so I suggested he get gas tonight as there were shortages of gas in the area. He sat down and turned on the TV. I guess that is a good excuse not to have to work? Sorry boss I'm out of gas. I guess he can blame it on me for using his gas to take Aieysha to the doctor.
I found the house payment envelope on the dash and looked at it. I was going to take it to the bank for him and I saw that there was no check inside. When he got home I asked him about the payment. Yes, he knows its in his car. Yes, but the payment was due December 1st, no later than December 18th or late payment. No, that's the bill for next month. No, its not check again. Now he is angry and goes outside to the cold air and checks the bill. For once I am right as I can hear him bitching in the other room. Sorry not my fault I replied, I don't pay the bills anymore remember. Well why is it late? Remember we didn't get a statement last month because we were a month ahead and I called twice to get one so we could stay that way. We finally got it but he thought it was for January. No, remember I told you the bill was for December! So today is what the 26th? Late payment huh! I told him you know we could have done something else with that money!!! He always pulls that one on me.
Suhayb came up and asked for a game for Eid. Yeah right. AS if he will buy anything. His reason he didn't study. Good excuse dad lets see what you come up with for the others. Alright I am still ranting. But as I told the phonegirl at his job. I have been in the house for weeks and no money to spend and santa still didn't leave me a present.
I mentioned to him how Libya was not allowing for "New Years" celebrations this year. He told me that Libya has never celebrated the New Year. Well if they didn't why would they ban something that wasn't being done? Oh and I mentioned that they celebrate Christmas there too. He shouted no they do not! Ok then why do I have a picture of his sister standing next to a pine tree that is decorated with garland and balls? Humm must be some other strange holiday that uses decorated trees? He got angry and tossed the picture. He asked who was this sister. I told him he didn't say much after that. Its going to be a long winter.
I'll keep you posted with pics if I can. With this much snow and hardly any melting I worry that power can be lost. I would just loose Internet if the phones went down, but I would not have a electric source for long either. I have my camp stoves and oil lanterns and wood is around the house too. So don't fear I will make do. Its a few more days and the kids go back to school. Maybe then the city will clear the roads.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hard Decisions

What do you do when it seems no one but you wants to do something? I want to return to live in Libya but my children have various levels of refusal. I can only attribute it to our previous visit and how many things could have been different. I try to tell them how we can prepare better so we don't have as many problems as we did when we were there before, but I still am met with refusals.

My family was military and we moved so much in my life that I thought moving was normal. So after I married Taher I moved only six more times. We finally got a home when I was pregnant with Suhayl as no place in town had three to four rooms for rentals. As a result all the kids have grown up in one home, never knowing the heartache of having to say goodbye to friends and places you love. I try to tell them that life can be what we make of it, and that moving can be an adventure as well as hard to do. Yes, saying goodbye to people you have known all your life and a home that has so many memories is not easy. I remember days where I would have never sold my house now I would sell it in a heartbeat if the market was better.
I have even offered to allow the kids to decorate the rooms as they would like. My girls have a yellow room a nice sunny yellow with a white picket fence that surrounds the room, a bench with potted vines graces it sides. One one wall I have a vine arbor that waits for you to enter. Behind the picket is flowers like an English garden and golden bees flit around the flowers. Its one of my better achievements. The room took five days to paint and I had to stop on the final wall as my hubby wanted to get the beds back in the room. That was OK because on that wall I put my daughters bed and covered it with a iron arbor and use tulle and silk flowers to make a spring garden over her bed. I love the room.
So in Libya, Khadijah wants to finish that theme with a seasonal cover for her bed and decorations to match. Can I find decorations in Libya or will I need to bring some things with me? Aieysha wants a music inspired room with a scroll of notes of her favorite song along the wall. Maybe a few bars as I will begin to see notes in my dreams after that! I want to make a stage area for her drum set where she can practice her drums and I want to grace the room with instruments from all over the world. I have a bunch that I got at World Imports here. Suhayb finally asked if he could have a Hockey inspired room. Sure I had seen one done on Extreme Home Makeovers that I thought was real cute for a small boy I would just need to adapt it for a bigger guy.
Regardless of these ideas, the kids still do not want to move to Libya. So what is a parent to do. I tell them so what there is many times I didn't want to move in my life but life isn't always what we want. What about their father, he needs to come back and take care of his parents and as he even says "what goes around comes around", so he needs to do his share.
So as I sit depressed so many days this month, I wonder if I am doing the right thing. Should I force the kids to do as we wish? They are citizens of both countries and can always return to the USA when they are older. Sometimes I hate being in the US so much but that is me. Maybe if I could get him to move to a farm out in the middle of nowhere I would feel better. Since I never see anyone anyways what would be different! I don't know I guess I will have to continue to work this out. Lets see what next summer brings for now and then go from there. Ladies or Gents any suggestions on what you would do?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanks for Snow Days "Ode to Khadijah Teri"

A few weeks ago I commented to Khadijah that I would rather be in the sun than the snow. She noted me back that she missed the snow and I promised her I would post the next snow day in photos. So here is my snow day yesterday. Enjoy Khadijah I didn't....

By the way except for some bruises no one was injured..but my car!! My son who just got his license was bring his brother home from school. And hit a sheet of ice and landed in this nice ladies yard. Took out three sections of a split rail fence and nearly punctured the radiator of my car. See the log sticking out of my grill. Today we see a doctor and wait to hear from our insurance agents.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Doing a favor for a site that I found to be full of information. Ladies and Gents check out they have a free ebook full of great recipes that use products from food storage. They also carry a full line of food storage products. I would love to see if we could get shipments! When I get back to Libya next summer I will see. They may be a good alternative to the "gift box from home". Plus all their products are made for long term storage. I am checking into canning recipes as well. A followup letter from the company wonders what products we would most be interested in? They ship USPS. Feel free to message me and I can ask for you about certain products. Be prepared ladies....

A Womans Right

OK, another day of rants....Why is it that an American woman does not get the same rights her Arab sister counterparts do? How many sisters do I know that did not even get a decent wedding or a reasonable dowry when they married.
There was a trend for many years here in the USA for Muslim men to marry women from the USA. Most sadly end in divorce yet some remain. What are the differences that separate us for our sisters in other countries.
Family- many of us have bad relationships or none or lose family when we convert or marry our husbands.
Culture- either we have none or we give it up for a "Islamic" upbringing for our children.
Religion-most convert to Islam but not all and if so we know that our children shall be raised Muslim so our faith is put on the back burner.
Traditions-much like our faith is brushed aside as being a "kuffur" belief so we leave our traditions behind.
Lastly the idea of many men married us because we could be "bought" cheaply? Most of us have no idea of dowry and later we feel somehow cheated out of something that was our right.
In America we work along side of our husbands most of our marriage, raise our children and take care of our homes, while our counterparts sit at home and the men provide. Our earnings are put into that joint account and used to pay the increasing debts we make as our families grow. Yet somehow I wonder what happened to "a woman's money is her own" ideal that Islam teaches. OK so now I am ranting...How many of you ladies feel the same at one point or another? You work and raise the kids and clean the home all by ourselves and give the paycheck over to the "family" yet at the end of the day you have nothing for yourself.
I've worked since I was 17, and never had the luxury of spending the money solely on myself. It always had to pay the bills. Now I look back and yes I can see sometimes when I squandered money (Theresa will remind me) but in general all my spending went to my children or my home. Very little went to enjoying the money I earned such as a lunch out or movie with a friend.
I tell you this as until earlier this year I pretty much wore the pants in the family and the bank account and credit cards were under my control. I paid all the bills and managed the house and the food and clothing needs for my children so when something was "wrong" I was the one who got blamed. I have worked a fair share in the 20 yrs I have been married but looking back I wonder what went wrong. After many years of it being my fault that we could not go overseas I turned all the money and the bills and the needs over to my husband. We made plans to go visit his family and he told me the only way he saw that we could go was if he was in control of our finances. So against my better judgement I let him. I was to go over first with the kids and he would join us as soon as possible he needed to set up a few things first. He is paid by sales so we needed a buffer for while we were away. As you all know, he never came over. Well, I am back now and before we left I turned all the accounts to him. Now I have no funds unless he gives it to me. Now I have to account for why I want something, why the kids need something and yet when a bill comes that he doesn't understand, who has to call and solve the problem?
I know of no Arab sister who has to do this. Most of the ladies I know were given lavish weddings, honeymoons and a trip to the USA to boot and lavish homes to come to. They spend their days at home, or out with friends. Visiting or shopping...What is this shopping! How, they don't work so where do they get money from? Oh, from their husbands! Wow they get money to spend how they wish each month. This does not include the fact that hubby buys all the groceries and provides for the kids so her money is her own to spend, filling her closet with so many clothes that even a walk-in isn't enough. So you see where I feel we lost out. I never had a wedding party, I was married in work clothes. A store bought cake by a witness was our wedding meal and then home to my apartment. I never had a honeymoon and until this year never went any place. As for dowry, I was told I could ask for anything but hey he was living in the mosque so what could he give me? So I asked for a ring. I was bought for $750. Over the years going to a friends house has become non existent and we rarely socialize. He works and I spend my days with the kids. My family left me many years before, dysfunctional was not what I wanted my children to learn. As for traditions, what I had were Christian so they were out the door, I was converted but had no idea how to celebrate a "Muslim" holiday. So we never learned....when we finally needed to get a house instead of an apartment I was told I needed to work if I wanted a house. Would a Arab sister take this? NO. The house would have been built before their marriage or she would be living in a home with extended family. Yet, I agreed. Here in the USA we all must work for what we feel we "need". So here I am after 20 yrs of sharing my income to pay bills asking for money. Why? What happened to our rights? A woman has a right to be kept in a manner of which she was accustomed. A right to a dowry and a right to a home and to be provided for by her husband. But we American women are bought cheaply. We have miserly husbands, we shop with little funds, we live in places we long outgrew and in clothes that are barely substantial. We who must convince our husband why we need something, yet we stay on. Why to benefit our children? I was told by my husband that my dowry was with his parents and that when we went to Libya I would have it. Yet when I was there I was given nothing from his parents. A sister gave me a small ring and his brother gave me a ring for my birthday just before I left. Yet my sister-in-laws had many bracelets and even my mother in law sported a few on the one wedding she went to. So where was my dowry? Even the "home" that his father had built for his beloved son was empty. I had a bed set that was my in laws and a few cushions for the floors. No dishware, no linens, no applainces or bedding. Would an Arab woman have accepted this? I doubt it. So why do we? For the future promises? How many years have I been told we would move to a larger home, now that all our debts are paid off where is the money he earns. He goes to the store and buys things that had I bought I would have been scolded for buying. I must ask for everything from him. I have suggested getting gift cards for me so I have money just a set amount. Yet none are forthcoming.....Yesterday an old friend called me asking if her daughter could stay with us for a night while she went skiing. Sure I would love to take her. I had watched this girl since she was a 3 yr old. While we chatted she mentioned a lady that she worked with was needing a sitter for two small kids. She knows that I hadn't done daycare since her daughter turned 6 but she asked if I would be interested. I'm home all day now, as with the split schedules the kids have the youngest are home too often and not old enough to be alone, so working outside the home is out. My house is not quite what it use to be but the idea was interesting. She was offering 800 a month. I spoke to my husband about it, his answer was if you want to do it and the money could buy your tickets for next year! Sure pay my own way to visit his family again and start the plans for our new home. Some days I wonder if I will live alone in Libya. The kids have mixed feelings about going there to live and he shows little interest in going some days. Those plans I have drawn for a six bedroom home may not be needed. I tell the kids Libya is growing and with the changes it will get better all the time. I read an article on how Qaddafi is trying to find out how all those government officials are having so much money yet the facilities they are in charge of are suffering. He has given them two months to account for their funds. I'm sure a few heads will roll. (I hope not literally). I would steer him towards the zoo for one.. When I finally got a chance to take the kids there I was saddened by the conditions there. Mostly empty cages and the animals that were there were pretty sad looking especially the baboons...So if he would like tourism he needs to focus on these areas also the issue with trash dumping as Khadijah mentioned. So do I feel better yet? NO this is one of my oldest rants. I thought when I finally got to go overseas I would have my promised dowry, yet I came home empty handed. I have a house and a car (of which my son drives now to school) so I should be thankful. Am I? Yes and no, I am thankful that I do have a home as many here have less. And no, in that I was cheated out of a right that all my sisters are entitled too. I can only make sure that my daughters do not get less than what they should. I am not greedy, but that ring would not cover even one months needs if something were to happen to my husband. So I am prepared..not with money but the ability that I can work to take care of myself if I need. Something that my fellow arab sisters do not have...Your comments are welcome..I know this has been a moody week for me...I know I'm not the only one who feels this way so brothers if you are reading this heads up. Look back onto your life with your converted wife and ask yourself did she get what she would have had she been Arab....then go buy her some flowers and give her a kiss and tell her got off cheaply.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Holiday Blues

Ever feel like your life is nothing that you wanted it to be? Some days I spend remembering my childhood. Not that it was perfect, by many peoples standards it was pretty lousy. I try to not dwell on those days but the memories of the good ones. Birthdays, Christmas mornings, Halloween trick-or-treats, Thanksgiving Day dinners and Easter. How many of us have a fond memory that we retain of those days?
When I became Muslim I was barely 22 yrs old. I was recently divorced and my two daughters were living with their dad (that's another book in itself). I lost most of my family when I converted and kept some contact with aunts or uncles mostly on my fathers side. My fondest memories are of small things. Finding that one last Easter Egg down Grandmothers blouse, blowing out candles on my 16Th birthday cake, a pregnant hobo for Halloween costume and the pajamas we all got on Christmas Eve to dress in so we would look nice the next morning when mom was taking our photos. Those are the days I choose to remember.
So, lately I have been quite depressed. I returned back to the USA about two months ago now and most of my day is spent thinking of how soon I can go back. I married when I was Muslim about four years, and my husband had lived in the USA about 6 years by then. He had given up on celebrating Holidays as except for Ramadan meals with local brothers their were no families to spend the days with. By the time I came along he was starting to build a nice "rut" to live in. My daughters did not live with me so I never had holidays or birthdays to share. We were married Oct 3, and our first holiday together with my family was Thanksgiving. My family invited us to share the day with them. As usual mom and I prepared the meal for the day and the men sat in the living room watching a football preview. Things went pretty well until the meal prayer. Now you need to know that my family was in no way religious but two times a year Dad would say a prayer. One at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas dinner. Everything went smooth until Dad blessed the meal in the name of Jesus (pbuh). My husband mumbled something under his breath and hardly ate a bite of the meal. I apologised and later asked him why he had not eaten. He was angry that Dad had referred to Jesus (pbuh) when blessing the meal. OK, so next time I will ask Dad to just say "thank God". Next holiday was Christmas. This is also the day that the US Government says my husband has a birthday. He does not agree but who are we to argue? Anyway, the meal went smoothly as I reminded Dad to please just thank "God". But as the day wore on family came in and out and the fun of spending the day with relatives began to eat at hubby. He was brooding in the kitchen. My aunt asked me what was wrong. I told her well he may be missing his family and it was also his birthday. My aunt decided to solve his problem. She walked into the kitchen and asked him to stand up. She sat down and grabbed him quickly and pulled him over her lap and began to spank him (birthday spanks), boy did his face go red. He was later telling me that no one had ever touched him but me and his mom and he was embarrassed. Later he got use to my unusual aunt!
Finally, a few months later we moved to Colorado. Here there are no families. In the beginning we never celebrated the Ramadan or Eids as he said they were for kids. I went to the mosque and served dinners during Ramadan until my first son was born. Then it became "they are too young", quickly followed by "they don't want to go tramping in mud to kill a lamb", and now we are at "if mom does something we celebrate it" stage. I tried to make the holidays something. One year going for traditional ideas and the next using ideas from my pasts. None really stuck. Not if Dad is never home. And the ideas the community come up with are geared more towards the younger set.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day by which I have always tried to keep. Not for anything more than it is the one day when I can fix a "comfort" dish. Leave home and you will know what I mean by a "comfort dish". I started the day trying to find out when or if we would go shopping for computers on Friday. You know how we have those GIANT sales the day after. We had promised the kids a few computers and there was a sale that was good on them. But he was moody so I saved most of the discussion for later in the day. The night before I had injected the turkey with some butter and a mix of seasonings and placed it in the fridge. So by 11 am I pulled it out and started the cooking. Hubby made his famous mashed potatoes and I got out dishes for olives, salad and gravy's. A small dish of stuffing and we were set. I had recently got rid of two dining chairs and pushed the table down to a table for four, so we put a table cloth on the living room floor and placed the food on the table. We all sat together on the floor except Suhayb, who wanted to be close to the food. I wonder why? Well except for one we were all eating at the same time in the same place. A rare occurrence anymore. It was nice. No one was joining us this year. I had asked a friend who was recently divorced but she had plans so it was just us. We all sat and ate our meals in relative quiet. Nothing like the dinners of my youth. We finished and I gathered up the dishes and put what I could in the dishwasher. The rest sat on the table til early evening. By then all the turkey was gone but a few small strips of dark meat. I put away the leftover gravy, potatoes and olives and cleaned up the kitchen. Thanksgiving was over. Now you all know that just as soon as you put it all away someone comes in hungry. So, Aieysha made a second round for the leftovers.
About ten pm, I asked my hubby again what time did he want to go shopping. The stores open at 5 am and if you are not there by 4 am, you can pretty much forget getting something high on the list of wanted items. He said set the clock as I wanted and wake him in the morning. 3:30 am, and the house is quiet. I got up and dressed and went into the living room to wake my hubby. He was on the couch. He grumbled, no one had let him sleep all night and they had been up and down the stairs all night. OK, so sleep a bit more. At 4am, I walked into the living room again and sat down on the couch. After what seemed like an eternity he got up and dressed. We got into the car and headed for Best Buy. Laptops for 279.00$ a deal. We got close and I knew in my heart I needed to forget it. Thousands of cars were parked in the lot and the lines of people stretched til the main road. They even had cars parking in the Home Depot lot across the street. Hubby has a bad back so standing even 10 minutes would have made him a bear. So I turned around and headed home. Went inside and took off my clothes and crawled back into my still warm bed. At 9 am I woke again and after the kids woke up I decided to take a drive to the new shopping mall. Best Buy was out sorry. I headed to Ulta cosmetics and looked to see if they had my favorite perfume in a gift set. Sorry and the cheapest bottle was 26$. I looked at a beautiful makeup set and thought of my nieces in Libya how they may love a set like this one. It was 21$, and I could get a set of Hurricane lanterns as a free gift. Oooohhh tempting. But this was the only money I have had all week so I was not to spend it foolishly. I remembered seeing a World Import Market down the block and walked down the block with all but Suhayb in tow. He didn't want to go, he wanted to go home (sound familiar). The kids had stopped into the Pet store next door and had to show me all the birds. Yep their lovely but we have 5 so no thanks. It was a bit windy so we hurried down to the Market. Once inside I wandered around the store, browsing at this and that along the isle. OOhhh look at the Indian style jewelry! Look at the musical instruments from all over. Lets try the xylophone! Cool but the big one is 300$. Next time. Back to bedding, oh how I would love a room that looked like that! Beautiful bedding all nicely done. Yeah with five kids sure, on to the dishes. None that caught my eye. The herd was getting restless, Fatimah needed the bathroom no sooner than we walked in and the others were getting bored too. Why can a mother never have a few minutes to herself and her daydreams. Aieysha found a few stuffed animals that are magnetized and she wanted to buy a few. She had her money so ok. Fatimah was getting noisy so I told Suhayl to take her to the car. And Khadijah and I waited for Aieysha to finish her purchases.
Suhayb pulled up the car and we were ready to go. Fatimah had saved up 40$ and wanted a game so we had looked in one store and 30$ was high and we knew we could find a used one. So I dropped everyone off at the house, and Fatimah, Kahdijah and I headed to the game store near by. Yes, they had a used copy at 26$. So now she is excited and wants to leave. But wait mom wants to look at the movies. Hey a copy of "One flew over the cuckoos nest". A classic on my movie list for only 9.95$. I could also get Patriot and Titanic on DVD for 20$ for the three. Hum, in Libya I would have paid 5$ maybe, so no not today.
At home I had downloaded a program where you can see what a room looks like with different paint on the walls. The kitchen always looked good in grey but cover up my stencils? Nope not yet. The outside is what needs it the most. I had Suhayb go outside and take another picture of the house and bring it in and load it while I was gone. Now to play with the program. We tried on many colors until we came up with Storm cloud Grey for the doors, Camouflage green for the base and white for trim it looks nice, but we will wait for daddy to decide. So I saved the photos for later. I guess my day is more Grey than Blue.....I miss holidays with family...Next year maybe...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hijab or Niqba?

With recent news from European countries trying to ban the use of the Niqba in public places such as banks, I wonder what those of you out there think? I spend some time in the religion forum of Myspace and this topic makes it rounds quite often. One young woman insisted that we were oppressed sex slaves of men and that is why we cover. Sadly she felt it was better to bare all in society than to cover it up. Some ladies that are considered Regs (regulars) on the forum are of Catholic belief and one time I reminded them that the bible did in fact tell women to cover. If they believed in their holy books so completely then why do they not follow the tenents of their faith? Now we have a group of women who have picked up the cover at least in prayer. They have gone through the gamut of discussions with people in their communitites to support their right to cover. I support them. Yet somehow I feel that they will never understand a Muslim woman's need to cover.
When I first converted in the early 1980's I was working in the local university and we had 750 students from Saudi Arabia there on a group study program. Most were good young men, but a few fell to the ways of the American lifestyle and sadly they became far from being a good Muslim. I was interested in Islam. I also had some students from Iran. So I learned about both sides of the Muslim coin. One of my questions was why do women in your faith cover? Most could not give me a reason beyond it was something that the holy book said to do and that women had done it for centuries. So I resorted to reading every book I could lay my hands on. During the break between quarters I began to cover. My first cover was given to me by a Saudi man, just like my Quran which I still have and use. Also he gave me a set of slow recitation tapes so I could learn the Quran in Arabic as well as in English. I remember the uproar from my students that were Iranian. How could I do such a thing? Then they went on to tell me horror stories of life under the Khomeini regime. Did that deter me? No. Life in the USA was not the same and I was doing what Allah had commanded. I remember just after beginning to cover many of the young men went back and brought back wives. They asked me to teach their wives English as they did not feel comfortable bringing their wives to the school.
My first glimpse of these women was a mixed bag. I attended a few dinners at their homes. Men separated from women and me not speaking Arabic I was usually off in a corner playing with a baby or toddler and at worst reading a "Sadayati" magazine. That's where I learned the Arabic alphabet and the numbers. Word search puzzles in the back. But my most interesting days were ones when the ladies pulled out the wedding books and showed me the photos. Wow! How lovely they were these ladies. There wedding photos were the envy of many an American woman. But what really drew my attention was the ones the ladies showed me of their honeymoons. Here in the states the women were covered head to toe, all with the niqba and gloves and stocking to boot yet in the photos they were not. They had bikinis on. Laying in the sun of a Hawaiian beach in barely any clothes. How was this? Was God not in Hawaii? Here no one saw a inch of their skin yet there away from eyes they bare it all. Why I wondered. Now my question, the Quran says for a woman to cover her beauty, it never specified how this was to be done, but we have guidance from the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and his wives (pbut). He said that at puberty a woman must cover everything but this- hands, face and feet. So why do women use a niqba? I have argued this point many a year since I became Muslim. I can see if you have makeup on an going to a party why it would be good to cover your face, but why else. So in forum I see people saying that these women could be hiding their identity. Maybe they are not who they say they are. They are at risk for security because if they do something bad you did not see their face to say it was that woman....And many other lame excuses. Why target these women. I never really agreed with the niqba myself and I remember when my best buddy Janel wore it. It was hard to eat out in public and reading a pricetag in public was always a chore. Keeping an eye out for the little ones was difficult too as you got limited vision under there. Also in the USA people are very face oriented. Just like a handshake you need to see a persons face. If you are going to be in the public eye a veil is a hamper. But I respect the women who do want to wear them. Lately I have equated not seeing a face as equal to a blind persons view on the world. They cannot "see" ever persons face yet they must trust whom they meet. How often have you seen a blind person ask you permission to "feel your face" the only way they can "see" you I ask people.
Do people have the right morally to tell women who veil to remove it? I talked to a few banks in our area and all said that a fingerprint will work if the woman chooses not to use a photo id. Can this solve a problem. What about women who have traveled who veil? I remember one lady who had a photo passport but she would only show it to a female rep and lift her veil in private. What about drivers license? I know many women who veil that drive. Some with the full face on. Don't you think that limits your field of vision? One lady I know lifted her veil and used sunglasses. How funny that looks to outsiders. I guess my point is who's right is it to tell us how to practice our faith? Here I get so much of "well if you don't like the rules go home" well dammit I am home.... but for all the freedom we have as Americans I would gladly give it up some days. While in Libya I was never abused by the public opinion for being an American and not speaking Arabic. So why must I endure such nonsense in my own lands? As this issue of veiling becomes more predominant I wonder how the Muslim world will react to it. The veil is an extention of the command to cover, will it be a issue of the fundamentalist or the extremist? And finally why is this directed solely at Muslim women. One question I have asked in forum many a day is what crime has a veiled woman ever committed? None have surfaced yet! But with the rise in political issues will it merely be a matter of time before one lady does. Would like your comments on how you feel about this issue. And although I may not sound like it I do support the woman who veils its just not for me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Three Amigos

Today I thought I would share a bit of my life with everyone. I was married in 1986 to a man who at the time I felt was the hottest thing I had seen in a long time. He was the imam at my local mosque and was held in high regards by the community. Just after we married we decided to move to Georgia and live by a uncle of mine as work was scarce in Utah. So we packed up what we had into my old chevy truck and put what else we could not carry into storage and began our trip.
The next day we arrived in Colorado and we spent a few weeks visiting with friends of my husband. We finally landed in Denver and after a few days the local men had begged my husband to stay. Not having much money and no job a good friend of his allowed us to stay with his family. Abdulsalam and Theresa had married about two years before and they had a small son. They had a two bedroom apartment and we were given the master bedroom. After a short stay with them we moved in with Yousef and Janel another couple we had met. Yousef and Janel were expecting their first child due just about any day and my husband was nervous as to when we would need to move on. He had started working and was expecting his first paycheck any day. Finally the big day arrived and their new daughter Sakina joined the world. So we looked real quick for an apartment of our own. Thankfully we found one and we finally settled in to our own place. Over the years we had became good friends. Now if you are married to a Libyan you know that can be difficult. Three women from different backgrounds who's only common denominator is a Libyan husband. The men would say one thing and the women would say something totally different and things were always getting mixed up. About two years later we had finally made it to the world of parenthood and were expecting our first child together. Funny it seemed like every time one got pregnant one of the others would get pregnant also. Janel had added twins to her home and Theresa had finally had a girl and was expecting again and due any time. Our families were growing in leaps and bounds.
My husbands family so much wanted us to come to Libya so they had sent tickets for us to travel but since I had a history of problems I told them to wait till after the baby was born..
On October 17, 1989 our son Suhayb was born. Janel was in attendance and we both gave a hoot of joy when the doctor announced I had a son. The day I brought him home began years of waiting.....He had a seizure the first night home and we rushed him to the hospital. For three weeks I tried to convince doctors that he was having seizures when he slept. Not till one day at his first physical did they get a glimpse of what I meant. He had just fallen asleep and began to seize just as the doctor came in the room. See I was not a neurotic mom my son was having seizures. For the next three weeks we waded through hell. Maybe he had this or that? Hell they didn't know and they poked and prodded his little body trying to figure out what was wrong. After he was 18 months they finally went away. By then another child was on the way and I was having problems with high blood pressure and blackouts. So we waited. After Suhayl was born I got a whole three months and the doctor said guess what! You have got to be kidding! Nope another was on the way and the doctor suggested we wait again. We had quite a list of complications during that pregnancy. At four months my amnio came back as possible downs syndrome. And a few months later my father was diagnosed with Alzheimers and Parkinsons and in the same week a car accident nearly took my husbands life.
So we waited....Aieysha came out fine but she does have some learning disabilities. Dad died much sooner than expected he lasted just one short year and he died at 59, months away from retiring. Taher spent four years recouping from his accident and me with three small kids to deal with.
For many years we waited two more daughters were born and by then we never imagined we would make it back home. Yousif and Janel had traveled just after Suhayb got out of the hospital and Abdulsalam and Theresa followed shortly after. The Three Amigos had been broken up. Back then there was barely phones and mail was a joke so we lost touch with Janel, Theresa came back after a few months as one of the kids had developed seizures and she wanted to be in the states. Finally, after 17 years I had heard enough of it was my fault we never went home. And I set out to make it happen. As you know I spent months gathering information and trying to learn all I could about Libya. I contacted Janel now that internet was available and she introduced me to other ladies. Each month I pushed my husband to get things done. We were not getting any older and now with five kids the cost of tickets were quite more than we imagined. Not to mention passports and visas and all the things we needed like baggage and clothes and so many other things.
Everyone knows how my trip went and now that I am back I spend many days talking with Theresa. They hope to go this next year too. Many of the families here have begun going back and forth with the kids. But the bigger families it is much harder as the cost is multiplied. So now we are planning month by month. Buy a ticket, get a passport, buy a gift or stuff to take. Each month is spent figuring out how to make it work. I cannot wait till next year. The Three Amigos will be together again...We each have 7 kids now....We are older and wiser. The kids are growing and life is suddenly shorter. Twenty-one years ago three women embarked on a friendship that has lasted. Even distance has changed us very little. I remember seeing Janel after 16 years and yet is was as though we had seen each other yesterday....We had (at least I had) gotten older and grayer and starting to add a few wrinkles. We remarked how our babies had grown and we teased the older ones on how we had once changed their diapers, (moms love to do that) and how they were still our babies.
I cannot wait till next year when the Three Amigos are together again. Libya beware!!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

When Barbie becomes Fulla

No, I'm not talking about the dolls but our own daughters. When they are little we dress them up and put them in pretty dresses. Fix their hair and put on makeup and then take them out for the world to adore. So what happens when they reach puberty? Its a hard question, one that many a mom has stressed over. Do I tell my daughter to hijab or wait and let her do it on her own. What if she reaches puberty early? My girls hit it around 10 and although I let them cover since infancy, it is never been mandantory. Well today my 10 year old Khadijah joined the ranks of women. She is my barbie. I tried for many years to keep her modestly dressed and was set back a bit when we were in Libya and the family felt I was being hard by having the girls cover. "Oh she's too young"! No she is not I would say but they got their way. So was I being too orthodox or them too loose? What about those girls who are a bit more on the looker side? Do you suggest a veil for them?
We have about 10 girls in our school of 800 students that are muslim so she has others who are like her. She will not be alone and she has worn it before so kids know why she wears it. So what have you other ladies done? Do you keep with faith that says puberty or let time take the lead. How do you talk to kids about sex in Islam? My boys and I are pretty open but their father has never said anything to them. Do you consider them adults? What suggestions do you give other women who are contemplating this problem.
I have my girls cover plain and simple. Right or wrong they can be married and do as they wish then till then I hope they see my example and feel good about what Allah has commanded.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ramadan and Eid

One thing I hated about returning was the idea of missing the holiday with the family. Having grown up with the traditional holidays in the USA, I feel funny some years. I tried so much when they were little to emulate my old holidays feeling somehow I could blend the two. I found I was getting caught up in the commercial side of holidays. So being as the kids were growing and my husband was spending less and less time at home during the holidays I gave up. Also, with five kids, keeping up with the "Jones" was getting expensive. Lately, I give the kids one gift that they really want rather than spending money on a lot of little things. This year we decided it would be computers. We need four more to give everyone one. We want to get laptops as they require the least amount of space and the kids can take them with them to school as needed. My husband was mad he said he had watched the prices and could have gotten some right after we left for less than 300$ each. So why didn't he buy them? He was worried that someone would say something to him. Ok, why should anyone care if he buys four computers? I give up. So instead of the kids getting anything they have to wait until after Thanksgiving so we can catch the sales. Suhayb has a computer so he will get a new helmet for hockey and I guess I get nothing as I have a computer. Taher went to work on Eid morning (yes to work) and came back later in the day. He gave each of the kids 20$ and sat on the couch. Wow. My son Suhayl remarked "now if we were in Libya we could do something with 20$!" He wanted a few computer games and at 20$ plus in most stores he was a little dejected. But the promise of a new computer lingers in the air. The kids usually get a nice dinner on Eid and so I packed the kids up and we went out. Dad was left behind as usual. We got to the car and discussed where we should go. Finally, Village Inn was the choice. It was nice we had came during the time between lunch and dinner hour and we had the restaurant to ourselves. We filled our bellies for Suhayb that is a chore he ate his lunch and 1/2 of his brothers meal, but he is a growing boy.
The older kids are off from school for Fall Break so they are home sitting around the house bugging me they are bored. Well help with the laundry or dishes or clean your room! Nah, that's no fun mom.
On Eid morning we called his family. His dad was mad as to why I didn't come see them before we left? Well hum the don't come back idea was still floating in my head. I told him I was sorry that things had been hectic. (Like not having my bags til two days before leaving) and there were many people I didn't get a chance to say goodbye too. I told him I forgave him he asked me for what he did nothing wrong. And to understand that we are each different and set in our ways and next year would be better. I was asked if I wanted to talk to mom but the line was lost just after. Later we contacted his brother Salem. The family was happy to hear from us but his brother was not home and so we decided to call later in the day. When we finally did speak I missed them so much... All I can think is how different the holiday would have been if we had been there. My husband asks why I wished I was there? They just get new clothes and spend time visiting with family. Well that's more than we do. My husband said in two years if we go during the same time we will be there for Ramadan and Eid. Hum two more years. How about I stay for good from next year? Wait and see I guess.
Final note. I keep the weather posted on my computer so I can watch how things are while we are here. Today we have the first blizzard of the season hitting so far it hasn't done much as in previous years but its about 4 inches outside of my window and heavy as of 8 am. And in Libya its expected to be around 93 degrees. The ocean sounds great to me. This is the view out my front window now. We made it to about 4 inches. Last time it snowed this much we lost about 4 feet of height from this tree and about five large branches. This time thankfully we have no leaves. The leaves cause the weight of the snow to hold on the branches and the branches can give way under the weight. In 1997, we had a big one that killed a few people. Branches fell on them. One was quite sad an elderly woman who had just recently celebrated her birthday I think she was around 80's and was shoveling snow. A large branch fell on her and crushed her. We were snowed in for four days. Lots of fun huh.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New Blogs

Hey just a reminder I have two new blogs I am working on.
What to take if your going overseas and
Healthy Alternatives look them up and help me out if you have ideas.

Locking the doors

I was browsing my old posts and remembered that I had promised to tell everyone the lock story. Well here goes. My home in Libya consisted of a large three story building the main level being the guest level with a marble stairway going upwards to the two apartments above. Mine being the first one and my brother in law Asaid having the next. There the stairway continued to the roof where another level could always be added on. Each level you had a large two door entry and this door became the final straw for this camels back. I told you how the nieces and nephews thought my apartment was the hangout and were in and out all the time. Getting into stuff and constantly messing with the kids things. There were locks on every door in the apartment but with one key we didn't like to lock the rooms and with them shut you got no air coming through the rooms. Well we had issue with a few doors while there. First my bedroom door got locked and somehow the key for one side was not the same as the other side? So we went through a large box of keys trying to find one that would open the door. My room did not have a balcony and the only way you could reach it was with a very tall ladder. Finally one of my sons found a key that opened my room so I was off locking up my room. I took the keys out. A few days later a Motorola Razr was missing from my room and no one knew where it was. Its just a 350 dollar phone. I was blamed for not locking up my room. Only kids had been in my room and it was on a high shelf so someone knew what happened. The next problem was the front door and the girls bedroom door. The kids hated having everyone in the apartment and my mother in law was phobic about the balcony on my girls room that the room had to be locked all the time. So this room was kept shut and the kids kept the key. Again one key and they were always the one who did not have it. I mean how much can a copy cost? So we took to locking the front door only if someone was home to open it. Again one key. The computer sat on the only table in the house in the main room of my apartment. And everytime a niece or nephew was in the apartment it was prime target for little hands. My youngest niece loved to pull on the table cloth and try to pull it down. So everytime my kids heard her coming up the stairs they would reach over and push the door shut. The doors in Libya are solid wood and they would slam loudly that would get a yell from grandma downstairs as well. Why were the kids always slamming the doors! Well there was the air doing it too. So why don't I shut all the doors????? Duh its hot!!! One day the main door lock got jammed and as I explained my sons had to scale the wall of the main fence, go to the old house rooftop and then enter the balcony door that my mother-in-law was insistent should always be locked and they went inside and opened the door. When I got home I took off the lock and used my tools to fix it. I oiled the mechanism and pounded down the small bar that had been bent by shutting the door. A few days later it was jammed again. This time I was inside and I grabbed my tools and took the damn lock off for good. I was going to buy another lock as this one seemed old and did not want to work well. My bathroom door also did not lock. Now if you have no shower curtains why would you need a lock? And one bathroom to boot. I took that lock apart as someone had jammed paper inside it and found that the locking arm was broken off. I gave money to my brother-in-law to buy another one. It took a week to get it, and it didn't fit so he had to go back. Finally we got the new lock and he went up to put it on for me. When I arrived he was putting on the old hardware. Why? Because the new one would have made a small part of the unpainted portion of the door show. Duh do I have no brains? Ok, and he took the other parts to boot. Excuse me. I took the front door lock downstairs and told mom I was going to the plumbing store to get a new lock. But I got busy and she said wait and Asaid would take me later. When the day was cooler. Parts for electrical and homes are in the plumbing store. Well we didn't go that day or the next so finally I took it in my own hands. Where was the lock I pulled off the door so I could match it? She didn't know. Ok, I remember what it looks like so there were a few stores in walking distance and off I went. I found a lock and brought it back, wrong size. Ok go back the next day. The one I need he doesn't have but I can come back later. Ok, I gave him my number and told him to call me when he had the part. Two days later and I still did not hear from him. The kids were going nuts as there was no way to keep my niece or anyone else out of the house. So as I mentioned I was out in Tripoli a few days later and knew exactly the size I needed by then as well as the shape of the lock. I found one a stronger one of the exact same size. I got up the next morning I wanted to put the lock on. I started to put it on and the old one had a small pin for the locking mechanism while this one was a round bolt much stronger. But the hole was cut into a square and needed a bit of filing to open it more or a drill and I had brought bits to make holes. No one had a drill. Ok, I went upstairs and was using a kitchen knife to try to cut the hole slightly larger. I'm talking centimeters here guys. Now anyone that knows diddle about a kitchen knife knows they are far from sharp. Especially the ones there. So this was slow going, I was getting frustrated. I finally called my brother in law Salem, do you have a drill? Yes he did and he would bring it over later today. He arrived about an hour later. And I went down to see him. My father in law asked why I needed the drill. I told him I was trying to fix my lock on my apartment. Well he came up to see what I meant. He asked what happened to the old lock I told him I had removed it and a part was broken and I had fixed it a few times and just decided to buy another better lock. He informed me that the lock was fine before I came!!! I'm sure it was...He asked where the old one was and I told him that I didn't know I had taken it downstairs and it had disappeared. I told him I just needed to open the hole a bit more and the new lock would fit just fine. He looked and said no it would not, a small portion would overlap onto the frame trim and that would have to be cut and so the lock was too big!!! Hey were talking a centimeter again. I can trim it easily. No way was I too touch the trim. What did I know about locks? OK, I had enough... I've replaced every lock in my house and broken through dozens over the years. But hey he knew more than a I threw the lock down and walked out of the apartment. I handed the drill to my brother-in-law and told him to forget it. I had enough. The next morning I left the house for good. Another problem was at night. My mother in law would lock all the doors and windows on the main level and the gates as well. So if we were out later than 10pm, we were stuck, at 45 that's not a easy pill to swallow. I told her how is this my house if I am locked out of it at night and I cannot lock my doors inside as needed? They could keep their beloved house. Well I know its long but hey aren't most of my stories? hehe.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Few Giggles

In going through the pictures I found a few more that I thought might bring a chuckle to everyone. My youngest daughter is the model for these fashions.

This is the way the older women dress throughout the day. A bolt of about 5 meters of fabric is wrapped around the body and over the head then around the waist. This is how the ladies spend the day dressed. A small housedress or frock is worn under it. The next photo is the school uniform. We bought this one for 5 dinars.

The next photo she was probably overdressed for. She was given a toy machine gun for her birthday present. Hummm maybe a female military officer uniform should have been the proper outfit? The toy lasted till the next day she kept on shooting her sister and the sound was so annoying her sister grabbed it and broke the trigger! Oh well they probably would have given us funny looks if we had it in our baggage.

Oh and I came across this pic of three beautiful Libyan Chicks! Hope you guys like this one.

Oh sorry I meant chickens!

Finally something to make your mouth water. Sorry I know everyone is fasting!This was the table they set for my son Suhayb when he was leaving. Yeah they feed him the day before we leave. No, in all honesty it was just my inlaws that were short in the food category. But oh well, that's water under the bridge now. Hey I also started another blog that lists things that I wished I had or had more of while I was there. If anyone thinks of something leave a comment and I will add it to the list. Its , everyone's likely to have different experiences than I did but hopefully I can ease the suffering of at least one person.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Forgotten Memories

There is always someone in your life that plays an important role in who you are and who you become. Mine was my greatgrandmother. Etta May Bush. No, no relation to the man in the white house that I know of, if so we were the poor ones. She married young a American Indian woman married to a Irish immigrant worker. She had at least 5 children that I know of. Two of which were mentally handicapped. Her and her son Tom were a big part of my early years. Raised on a small farm in Florida they lived two houses down on the family property. My memories are of an aunt that use to call everyone "boys" and my uncle playing with us in the yard. He was old when I was young, he would chase us kids around the yard and catch us and rub his whiskered chin under the soft part of our necks til we squealed. I still remember those rashes. They both passed away long ago. My greatgrandmother died when my daughter Melissa was born. And Tom died a few years back from what I am told. My greatgrandmother was 101 when she died. State records have her as 104.
Well not too long after we arrived I was shocked to see an extremely elderly woman wandering the house of my sister in law Khadijah. I was told that she was her husbands mother. Her name is Aieysha and by family accounts she is 107. Not much is known of her past so I thought I would preserve what I can of her now. As I am given more information about her I will add to her story.
Family story has it she was found wandering alone in the city by members of the Faris family. She was very young and had no accounting of parents or family members. For all we know she could have been orphaned during WW2. The concentration camps set up by the Italians made many people orphans, widows and last remnants of family tribes. So she was taken in by the family. When I saw this petite woman barely standing 4'7" I was reminded of the one woman I held so dearly in my heart. So if she was around I was with her. At meal time I served her first, at naptime I got her blankets and pillows. Anything she wanted she just had to let known. This was one of the times when I wished my Arabic was better. Oh the stories she could have shared with me. I love history and I know she could have told me much. Maybe not as much as some people being a woman, her life was probably limited to the world around her home, but she would have told me about the life of the family. People born and died, marriages and lives that she had known. I wish more people would find a way to save these memories before they are gone. At 107 even if I wish I may not see her again so I requested my son to photograph her. Maybe there are other photos with family members of her younger years and if so I will try to get copies and add them. But for me her face is a cherished one. So full of the life she has lived. Worn like old leather and tattooed in the old ways, her front bangs colored orange with henna. She is beautiful.

GOLD Need I say More

I know there are hundreds of shops with gold around the cities but while I was there I stayed away from them. You could go nuts looking at all that gold. Now I get how those early goldrush men and women must have felt when they caught gold fever. So when I did finally go to one I took my camera along so I could photograph the ones I wanted or liked. So here are a few pics to entice everyone.

This is the set worn by older women. And it is made of real pearls and silver with goldplating. It is quite heavy and ran about 470 dinars. This set consisted of a head drape to each side of the face a necklace and a shoulder clip. The arm bracelet was new and was extra.

The next photo is the breast plate again with silver and gold overlay. The large medallions are coins that have been pressed flat. Sorry I could not rotate the photo. If I can figure out how I will fix it. But this goes to about your waist. And yes it is very heavy. Here is a photo of a bracelet.

Again that's what happens when you take long shots of a item. Included with these the ladies place long rings on their fingers that take up most of the finger. Here are some that I liked.

Well I hope you travel with lots of money when you go. I know that next time I will be more prepared. And ladies lets not forget our doweries for our daughters! I plan on buying each of these to put into our family gold collection so that they will have it when they marry. Hopefully you got a nice taste of the lovely quality of gold available in Libya. The shops are waiting.

The Clothing

Since I also noticed that there were very few pictures of people in traditional clothing I thought I would add a few pics. These are of my two youngest daughters who agreed to let them be posted for posterity. The girls are wearing the traditional Libyan dress with headgear for young girls. This photo is taken by every young girl while she is small. Then when she marries another series is taken with her wedding outfit. The small girls wear a cheaper jewelry unless the family is lucky to own the real thing. The older women have the real stuff and I will post some photos of the jewelry that goes with it. Also I will include the "ghost" picture. This is how the older women go out of the home. One eye can see through the cover and I saw many ladies still wearing them. It is more common in the smaller cities but I did see them around Tripoli.

Henna Days Part 2

For some reason I could not add these photos to the last post so here are the extras to accompany Henna Days. One the hand the first finger and the pinky would be completely covered in henna and the tips of the middle and ring finger would be covered. On the foot the big toe and pinky would be covered and the tips of the others would be covered. If I can do a henna treatment soon I will post a completed view. Thanks go to my daughter for letting me tape her up for the pictures. Caution ladies this one my sister in law says guarantees TWINS when your husband sees it. I'll keep you posted, at 46 I sure don't need twins!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Henna Days and Nights

I have read a few blogs over the internet all talking about Henna tattoos. None ever posted pics of the finished work. Mostly due to the nature of the modesty of the people having it done. Going through the photos from my trip I found some that were modest enough for me to share with the world. Sorry I don't have one of me all wrapped up but this one of the results should suffice. I also have a pic of the bowl that is used for the wedding henna.

But let me tell you about the process I went through. We started by getting a bunch of pillows. Your going to need them. A soft pallet was made and extra pillows were brought for propping up my feet and arms. Next the area to be hennaed was exposed. So roll up those sleeves and hemlines! Next they made sure the area was clean so if you are using stickers it will adhere well. Then the ladies plan the tattoo. If it is stickers they look for best placement of the stencils. If it is with tape and string the work begins. If your lucky you have a few ladies working on you and this will not take long. Then while you are being marked off someone is preparing the henna powder. I've been told that the henna mixed with lemon juice and warm water works best. Next there is an oil available in the markets that will make the finished product red or black. Add the correct oil to the mix. Now your ready. The ladies use their fingers to carefully apply the mixture to the areas that are to be hennaed and soon you have what my daughter's referred to as "cow poop" covering the hands and feet. Next the women take pieces of cloth and cover the henna and binding it firmly to keep any loose henna from coming out. If you are a bride another decorative cover is then placed over it as well. Then its lay back and relax. Four hours is considered the norm. Oh, I forgot one very important thing!!!! Go to the bathroom before you begin! Think your hands and feet are covered in goo, and you will need help! Well it happens so don't laugh until it happens to you. So back to the pallet we are. If it is a hot day the ladies will bring fans and help to keep you cool. Lunch is served as well during these times and the ladies are most gracious and feed you as well. If you are still waiting the ladies usually suggest that you take a nap. Hey you can be really pampered on such days. Think no one to bother you and you are treated like a queen.
When you awake the rolls come off. The thick paste has dried somewhat and now they gently pull away the paste. Then the next step is strange too me. They apply a coating of oil and salt from what I can tell. Please ladies correct me if I am wrong. This is then rewrapped and you get another hour. Finally the wraps are removed and you are wiped clean of any residue. The henna usually is bright red but over the next day it will darken to pitch black if that is the oil you chose. Finally ladies to help it last you don't do laundry or dishes for a few days! Darn now what are you going to do with that big pile? Otherwise use gloves to do the dirty work. Depending on the henna quality it can last for a few days to a month. One footnote. The last henna I had done was done on a warm day and they covered my feet and hands with plastic for the second covering. I think I got heat stroke as I was having a severe headache that night and all I wanted to do was sleep. So be careful if you are heat sensitive.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Medicines and Medical Concerns

Being the daughter of a military officer I have always learned to be prepared. As a young girl I was in Girl Scouts and most of my life I needed some form of CPR or First Aid classes for some job or license. So I have always been the one full of calm during the storm. My neighbors here in Colorado loved me during the first few winters we had after our move to our house. When the power went out I would walk the block seeing who needed candles or wood to keep little ones calm during a blizzard or snow to your ears day. My freezer is always well stocked and my fridge always had plenty of milk in case of emergencies. Well that is one reason I had a few run ins with my inlaws.
At my home and all my cars, I carry at least one first aid kit. I have a fully stocked medicine cabinet and bandages for just about any medical need. I can't remember how many patched knees or boobooed elbows I have mended over the years. My kids call me the street nurse. When my daughter Aieysha was 4 we were cutting some branches on the tree out front and my husband and I decided we were done for a bit and we went downstairs to change clothes. My husband being the careful father, put the giant metal cutters in the garage on the shelf and went downstairs with me. It didn't seem more than five minutes and I heard screams from my youngest daughter at the time. I told my husband "please go check on her while I finish folding this load of laundry real quick", well he trotted up the stairs and just minutes later I heard him calling my name in a panic of "Faiszah, Faiszah, Faiszah". Ok, so what is going on? I rushed up the stairs and to the door and found my four year old daughter standing with blood pouring down her first finger. I looked and although it was appearing to be attached I knew somehow that it wasn't. Thinking quickly I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and grasp her hand with it to staunch the flow of blood. I then ordered my husband to get everyone in the car. What was I thinking? Get everyone out I don't need a bunch of kids whining at the hospital. So, I got her into the passenger side and buckled her in and we were off. By the time I had driven 1/2 mile, she was blacking out so I pulled into the firestation and asked for assistance from the paramedics. I told them what had happened and they looked and said oh it is a cut but we will call an ambulance to take her in. Well I will save the long version of the story and tell you it was indeed cut all the way through too less than 1 cm of skin holding her little finger on. Suhayb had used the pruners to cut some small branches and let his sister hold while he cut and just got so carried away that he had severed her finger. We are still thankful till today that she did not shake her finger or it would have been a loss. The small centimeter of skin holding her finger in place also carried the main blood vessel to her finger and by not shaking it, it had survived to live on. A bunch of bandages and a fancy splint and we were on our way.
So this story leads me to our medical needs while overseas. My daughter Aieysha had a bump on the underside of her foot that I thought was the beginning of a planter wart so I told her that as soon as we got to Libya I would get some medicine and we would fix it. Here we have these cool freeze off packages that work well and I had used a few times before for other kids. Well after arrival her foot began to hurt her and I don't know how many days I asked for medicine to fix it. Like the headlice what was the concern. They all have feet that hurt them. Well she is 13 and should not have feet that hurt her. After a month and a half we finally got the opportunity to send my son to the pharmacy to get medicine for headlice and he showed me the store where he had bought the stuff as the man spoke English and I knew I may have to explain what I needed. Well you don't find the freeze off type there. So remembering the old remedy of wart removal I looked for compound W. No, but they had salyicilic acid. Just the right level of acid to put on her foot was 1% content the pharmacists said. And it was a cream. So I needed q-tips and bandages. And we began the long treatment of her wart that had grown into three bunches by then and another between her big toe and her next one. Now that we have returned home the wart finally came off. A stronger dose could have been more helpful but she hated to have her foot scraped so that delayed removal too. So after I came home I used a freeze off brand to get the rest. No scraping needed. I left behind a book on herbal remedies but no fear I have two more here in the states as well as you can find them at most Goodwill or Thrift stores. I would also suggest a basic first aid book and that you take most medical supplies that you know you use or need. I had a stethoscope and a othomological scope in my bag and darn I had left behind my blood pressure kits. Oh well add that one to the list. Although many of the families in the area had diabetic relatives I never saw a meter used. They were curious of mine and asked me a few times to check someone. No problem I had a abundant supply of strips. But I only used it on people who I knew had diabetes. How do you keep your diabetes in check if you don't use a meter? Oh well. Thankfully I follow the old girl scout motto of always be prepared. At home I have a bag that has a non battery flashlight a weather radio and TV and so many items that will go unlisted. You would think I was planning for Armageddon. Well if you missed the TV recently here in the USA, we had three incidents of hostages of children at school in one week. One in Colorado, that left one dead girl, one in Pennsylvania at a Amish school that left 5 dead and 6 wounded and one that is unknown to me as I have seen very little TV. I think I unpacked my bags too soon. Homeschooling is looking more beautiful every day. And I thought Columbine was bad. What kind of man goes into a school of little amish girls and sends all the people out and lines up the girls and binds them then shoots them point blank? And by the way he was a loving father of three kids. Boy if he had been Muslim the story would be different. Oh well.
Finally I recommend a book on medicines and their usages. I haven't really looked at one besides the one I own a doctors medical reference book. It is by maker the names of the meds so I didn't know yet if it will be useful but I will let you know. Also I looked into Baker's Ammonia here in the USA. I know you use it for baking there. Well warning for those of us who eat cookie dough. DON"T EAT IT!!! It evaporates into harmless product after cooking but can be lethal if eaten prior. We use baking powder. Well I looked it up on the internet and found it was what we use to call smelling salts. And the pharmacy did not carry it any longer. Only in vials for sports and not recommended any more for that purpose as well.
Or maybe it has some other use and she thought it best to tell me it was unavailable. With the use of over the counter cough medicines to make Meth drugs they have removed all that contain the needed ingredients from the shelves and now you must get it from an attendant. Then you must give them your name and address and show id. If you try to purchase more than a certain amount you are told no and the system is supposed to alert them if you try. Oh well what are us big families to do in the cold season? More than two people sick and you can go through a few bottles a day. But apparently now the makers have made copies that do not contain the needed drug so they are available but some people are saying they do not work as well. This applies to allergy meds too.
As I mentioned in my last article, I had two incidents of medical emergencies of young family members. One broke his arm both bones and a week later playing with his younger brother, he stabbed his brother with a stick and it went into his mouth and cut a huge gash into his lower gum line a the jaw. They pulled out the stick and Salem rushed him to the hospital. Well it seems as medical emergencies follow me or the old rule of "bad things happen in threes". My kids had just gotten back to school last week and the boys were delayed an extra day for meeting with the dean and counselors. Well come Friday we had another emergency. Suhayl was in Gym class outside playing Flag Football. You know the one where you throw a football but they can only attempt to remove a flag that is attached to your side as a way of "tackling" you. Well he finally got the ball tossed his way and the force of the throw or the uneven ground caused him to fall backwards onto an young mans knee who was behind him attempting to grab his flag. Well his spine impacted with the kids knee and he was down. Apparently he didn't get up right away and the coach yelled "hey your fine get up". So a friend helped him up and he went to the sideline to rest. He really didn't feel well so they escorted him to the nurse. Well we all know they have cut back on funding so nurses are overworked and overstressed at most schools. Fortunately, Cherry Creek Schools know the necessity of nurses in the system and pay the fees to keep them on but they have days when they are sorely stressed. Anyway she icepacked him and after a bit he said he felt ok and returned to his classes. By the end of day though the pain was unbearable and he could barely walk. He called me to pick him up. Why, had you missed the bus? He can't walk! What do you mean you can't walk? Well I hurt my back at school. Oh my god, so I rushed to the school to get him. We arrived back home and I began to look for my kids medical cards and to contact the provider to see what hospital I could take him too. (Don't you just love HMO and PPO's) Thankfully it was the nearest although going back to the injury to Aieysha I hated that hospital. I waited just long enough for hubby to arrive and we were off. I arrived and after a bit of a wait we were seen. They did a few xrays and came back saying something was blurry on one and they needed a CAT scan to be sure. Ok, can I worry yet? I was trying to reassure my son that he was ok. His father had a car accident before Aieysha was born that affected the same area and he is left with permanent injuries. So Suhayl was pretty worried. All the while we waited I wondered why the school had never called. The nurse there called a hundred times last year for my other son. Even the hospital was amazed that they did not call an ambulance for him. Well the CAT scan showed that he had fractured three of his vertebrae. Not the actual vertebrae thank god but the flange that radiates off the side like a undeveloped rib. He fractured the L1, L3 and L4 and possibly the sacarial area as well. We took him home and were told to see a radiological on Monday. Well I notified by email his teachers and my hubby made a unpolite call to the school Monday while I took him to the doctor. The nurse was horrified. And apparently the coach just mumbled about being sued. Yeah like you can sue the school. Here you sign a paper that unless you take out an insurance policy the school is not liable for injuries while on campus. REALLY. But I'm not sure if it covers lack of responsibility on the part of a teacher or nurse to seek medical care. Well after we saw the doctor on Monday we were relieved to know it was the small flanges not the actual vertebrae that was damaged and yes he will have some pain for a few weeks but he will be ok. No physical activities for a while too.
On our way out I was chatting with a young attendant who I mentioned on how prepared I was for injuries. I told her I was team medic for my sons hockey team as well and about the only thing I did not carry was items to make a splint. She was so kind she went into one of the rooms and brought me back some splints. They are foam with a metal interior that form to the injury. How sweet. I mentioned a CPR mouth guard as being the only item yet to acquire. Sorry she had left hers at home or she would have provided me with one as well. Since the hospital uses bags they do not supply them but she suggested a medical supply store. I thanked her for her kindness.
Ok, so now it is Tuesday and we go back to school. I took the boys so I could speak with the nurse about his limitations. She was happy to see him and again apologized for not calling or thinking more seriously of the injury. I told her I understood as the school nurse at my daughters school and I were good friends and I understood how their days could be. But she will be on alert now.
Well seeing as it has now been three injuries I think I am safe for awhile. We have a older home that many people feel is haunted. Many of the houses on the block have unusual accidents occur and weird things that happen. And I have had a few friends of my kids over the years refuse to stay the night in our home and they really hate the basement. They report a very angry male being in the home (not including my hubby hehe). Some of the houses on the block are more intense than others and we find for some reason or another the people don't stay long. They always seem to have marital issues that most report didn't happen before moving there. I find that injuries start occurring and I play Quran in the house and he settles down for a time. I guess I need to pull out the CD player again. Believe what you want but it works. I feel it too and sometimes when we are arguing in the house more than usual I pull out the CD and play Quran for awhile. I live on old settler land and one time pulled up data on the area. It belonged to early settlers and before they ran off the Indians it belonged to native Americans. I came across someone with the same family name who lost a large tract of land to nonpayment of mortgage. It was sold at state auction. The land now is worth billions. Too bad I can't go in and claim damages. But I know my native ancestors have much more rights than any settler ever had. But all of mine are from the southern part of the USA. Well in final thoughts I would say be prepared. I don't know where our world is headed too. Here we have nature to destroy our lives and gunmen to attack or schools. But each part of the world is facing its own problems so start preparing. When I have my new house built in Libya I am including a basement. I'm using it as a gaming room, movie theater, and playing area but also it will serve as a shelter in the event of storms or other disasters. And I will encorporate some ideas for using natural resources in my home as well such as solar power and a wood burning fireplace to boot. If I come accross any good websites I will let you all know.