Thursday, October 26, 2006
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
Monday, October 09, 2006
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 www.libyannecessities.blogspot.com , 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.