Friday, May 27, 2016

Keep blogging Libyans!

I want to share the link to a small article put out yesterday on the BBC website titled 'The Libyans Blogging for Change' which includes a short video featuring two Libyans; Haider Dawi, 27 year old co-founder of H2O and Khadija Al-Ramali who is co-founder of Project Silphium.

Links here:
Blogging in Libya has become increasingly dangerous in the past few years. Many bloggers have been picked up, tortured and even killed. A lot of Libyan bloggers have stopped blogging or are only posting infrequently. It's encouraging to see a resurgence of blogging, even on such a small scale. 

Keep blogging Libyans! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Watching the sunset

Lately we've been spending the evenings watching the sunset. The weather has been hot here in Florida, but beautiful in the evenings.  Getting out for some fresh air has been good for us. Soon it will be Ramadan and we'll be rushing to break our fast at that time of day. 

Here are some pictures I took. Enjoy!

The birds are soaring with a kite in Redington Shores.

Ibrahim bathed in the golden glow.... Redington Shores.

This bird seems to think it has a reserved seat. .... at Jungle Prada.

The air felt a smooth as the water looks.... at Jungle Prada

A man enjoying a rest.... at Jungle Prada

Night fall at Jungle Prada
The best thing about sunset is that it's free and you can enjoy the sunset just about every day. 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Butterflies

Whenever I have a free Saturday morning I head out the door early and check out the thrift shops in my area. Sometimes I come home with some good bargains and other times I come home empty handed, but I always meet interesting people along the way. I enjoy the adventure whether I buy anything or not. 

I headed out this morning with plans to visit three spots. The first place was a pretty large and well organized shop that was spread out between four buildings; furniture, clothes and accessories, household goods and the last building contained religious merchandise and gifts (this shop was sponsored by a neighborhood church). You took whatever you wanted to buy to the furniture section and paid for it there. I managed to find some good bargains there - a laptop table/desk that I thought my mother would find useful for ten dollars, some office supplies and some kitchenware. 

There were two women minding the check out. You could tell they were enjoying their morning as they were busily chatting and joking with each other and the customers. One of the women noticed that I was wearing a brooch in the shape of a butterfly and she exclaimed 'Oh! How pretty! Your butterfly pin is so pretty!' she turned to the other woman and said 'Look! Look at her pin. It's a butterfly!' Then she turned back to me and said 'I make butterflies and give them to everyone I meet' as she pointed to a row of crocheted butterflies laying on the table in  front of her. 'I'm going to give you a butterfly. Please take one! Take whichever one you would like!' 

I leaned over to have a closer look. The butterflies were made in a simple design with a chained string hanging from the bottom so that they could be used as a bookmark. There were red, green, pink and purple to choose from. I took a purple one.  I smiled at her and said. 'God bless you! This is so kind and thoughtful of you.'  She smiled back at me. The woman looked to be in her late seventies, she had white and grey hair and was carefully dressed.  You could tell by looking at her finely lined face that she was a kind lady who had led a happy life. 

'Who taught you how to crochet?' I asked. 'My mother did. When I was a little girl she gave me a hook and some string and taught me how to chain. I chained and chained and chained! I couldn't stop! My mother sent me off to school and I crocheted even while I was studying. I've been chaining ever since.' I smiled and told her how lucky she was to have such good memories of her mother and how wonderful it was that she used what she had learned to give people pleasure. The woman reached into a bag that was next to the table and said 'I want to give you something else.' She held a framed crocheted butterfly. I was so surprised. 'Oh... that's beautiful... it's too much for you to give me. There is so much work in this' She extended her hand and placed it in my hands. 'Yes. Please, please take it. I want you to have it.' she insisted. I looked at her, still surprised by her gift. I reached up and pointed to my brooch 'Would you like my pin?' I asked. 'Oh no! It's much too dear!' she exclaimed. I took it off and handed to to her. 'Please, take the pin. Now, look how nice. We've traded butterflies today.' We smiled at each other. 'God bless you ma'am. Have a lovely day. Have a happy Mother's Day tomorrow!' 

I brought the framed butterfly home and hung it on the wall in my bedroom. I have no idea if I will  meet the woman from the thrift shop ever again. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blessed with perfect weather

We've had beautiful weather the past week. Soon it will be summer and life in Florida will be the roar of air conditioners and miserably high humidity. For now we are enjoying the weather while we can. It's such a blessing to be living 5 minutes away from the beach. I love to relax and watch the waves rolling in toward the beach as the sun slowly sinks on the horizon.




Yes, truly a blessing. 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Road trip

This week I went on a quick business trip to Miami. I lived there for six years in the 1980s, but now many places are totally unrecognizable. It's a fascinating city that needs a lot more than a day to take it all in, but unfortunately I didn't have time - maybe next time. 

Florida International University 
I hadn't had a Fuddrucker's hamburger in nearly 30 years. They are still the best burgers ever!
 I rented a car for the trip - a brand new Kia Soul which was actually really fun to drive. The weather was perfect on the day I returned home. I stopped along the way in the middle of the Everglades - grasses and swamp for further than the eye can see.



The sky was so blue against the green of the grass. There was lots of wildlife, but strangely I didn't come across any snakes or alligators. 


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tulips

The fields surrounding my house in Libya are filled with wildflowers at this time of year.  Here in Florida if you let your lawn go crazy you'll get fined so we make do with cut flowers from the supermarket.  I do love tulips though!
Happy Easter to all of my readers who celebrate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Free Spring Break Entertainment

It's Spring! Last week we were having summer-like weather, but the past two days it has gotten cool again. We're all in various stages of a cold so the house sounds like an infirmary with everyone coughing, sneezing and blowing our noses. Why does this always seem to happen when the weather is changeable? 

Ibrahim is on spring break, but we haven't made any plans to do anything other than hang out at home. My mother has a home health care nurse and a physical therapist coming in a few times a week. She's stable at the moment and we are trying to keep her that way as well as build up her strength. She keeps asking Ibrahim why he isn't at school, and we remind her that it's spring break - only to have her ask again a little while later. Ibrahim is getting tired of answering, but I keep reminding him to be patient with his grandmother. 

We've been enjoying watching birds in the neighbourhood. Some White Ibis showed up one day, foraging on the front lawn and around the mailbox. Our backyard friends include a pair of Northern Cardinals, some Blue Jays and some Mourning Doves, and squirrels, of course. Maybe we'll head for the park tomorrow to see what other kinds of wildlife we can find. 



Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Sharing Three Interesting Blogs

There hasn't been much excitement in the blogosphere for a while. People get busy, move on to Facebook and forget about their blogs. I'm guilty of slowing down on the amount of posts I write too. Recently though, I've noticed an increase in the amount of posts of the 'old Libyan bloggers' and a few new blogs too. 

Two blogs written by American women married to Libyans have recently been brought to my attention: 

A Southern Mess, written by an American woman who is married to a Libyan and lived in Libya in the past. She posts about country life in Arkansas and Oklahoma and in contrast, her city life in Washington. She shares her recipes, crafts and DIY tips as well as information about life in America and being a mom to eight.

Connie's Painted Glass, showcases the beautiful art and designs of a creative American woman who lived in Libya at one time, but has since moved on. Her art is inspired by the myriad of colors and culture of her Mediterranean life. 

And on a different note:
Muaad's Blog, is the realm of geeks. Written in both English and Arabic by a Libyan graduate of Tripoli University's Computer Engineering Department, this blog focuses on evaluating different computer programs and operating systems. It's a refreshing look by someone who despite being unemployed (as most Libyan engineers seem to be at the moment) continues to keep busy, never stopping the process of discovery and learning - and he's funny too!

Have you seen any new blogs that have a Libyan twist? Share the links in a comment please!





Monday, February 29, 2016

Bomb Clean-up Continues

Over the past few years I've posted about a location near my home in Libya that has been used to store munitions. They've been cleaning it up, slowly but surely! Here are some interesting pictures of the progress that's been made from November 2015 to January 2016.

In the first image, which was taken on November 1, 2015 using Google Earth's history feature, you can see an abundance of bombs being stored on the triangular-shaped site. Especially notable  you can see the unexploded ordnance lined up along the walls in the bottom left of the triangle. If you look on the streets you can see the size of the cars and compare them to size of the bombs - they were pretty big! I'm no expert, I can't tell you what they are, maybe someone who knows can leave the information in the comments. 


In the second image, taken on January 10, 2016, a little over two months later, you can see that the land has been cleared with the exception of a few scattered bombs remaining. It appears that there has been some digging on the land and you can clearly see an underground bunker in the top part of the site. I'm not sure if the munitions have been removed, or if they've been buried at the location - I hope the former! 


Here are some links to other posts I've written in the past about this munitions dump:

August 2011 - Experience During the Revolution
November 12, 2011 - Flashback - Unexploded Ordnance in Tripoli
February 24, 2012 - Making Libya a Safer Place
October 24, 2012 - More Unexploded Ordinance in Libya - Type 314
October 10, 2014 - Positive Things Do Happen in Libya

Friday, February 12, 2016

Out and About

We've had a break this week from doctor's appointments. I'm not quite sure how we managed that because it seems that every week we have a few doctors' visits for my mother. We're enjoying the break. 

The medical care system in the United States is a mess. The doctors order a million tests and not all of them are covered on my mom's insurance plan. She's being charged astronomical fees for medicine too. She spends more on her health care than she receives for Social Security so she's dipping into her savings to cover her expenses. When I wasn't here she was deliberately cutting back on her medicine to try to stretch them and make them last longer which resulted in her getting blood clots in the arteries in her legs, more surgery, more stents... like a revolving door. She needs to be on the meds to keep going. Without the medicine she risks getting blood clots or having a stroke - or worse.

Mom seriously needs hearing aids. The television is blasting all day long, we are constantly having to repeat ourselves and shout at her. Unfortunately hearing aids aren't covered under Medicare or her additional insurance and they are too costly to pay for out of pocket. So we will just have to cope. 


Today I took my mother to a story telling event at the library. She struggled to get into the library with her walker. When we got to the designated room she sat down tired and out of breath. The story teller began promptly at two o'clock. My mother looked at me and said 'I can't hear anything'. The story lasted about 45 minutes. Mom waited as patently as she could, I had to put my finger to my lips to  remind her not to hum (she likes to hum). She fidgeted a bit and I worried that she would disturb the reader and the audience, but the only person that seemed bothered was me. I guess we can take storytelling off our list of things to do. 

Recently I took my mother and my son Ibrahim to the Museum of Fine Arts, My mother had her walker and could sit and look at the artwork while Ibrahim and I explored the museum's exhibits. My mother is a retired nurses aid - for many years she worked with the elderly and Alzheimer's patients. While she was sitting she noticed an elderly gentleman who was fidgeting - he had 'that look in his eye' that my mother recognized as someone who needs to use the bathroom. Her nurses aid role kicked in and she asked the man 'Would you like to come into the ladies room with me? I can help you there.' The man looked and my mother and said rather indignantly 'I HAVE a wife you know!'. My mother told him 'Ok.' 

Later when Ibrahim and I  finished out tour of the museum we caught up with my mother. She told me about the man. I asked her if he had asked her to use the bathroom and she said 'No, I could tell he needed the bathroom - I know that look'. I started to laugh. 'My goodness Mom! The man thought you were trying to pick him up!' Then we both laughed. Imagine that!

We enjoyed our time at the museum and plan to go back again when new exhibits are put out on display.

We liked the colors on this contemporary landscape titled: Sea of Grass - Sunset by American painter Jimmy Ernst

Ibrahim behind a large glass piece by Joey Kirkpatric and Flora Mace titled: Zanfirico Apple
This gorgeous intricate tapestry caught my eye. I tried to get close up of the details but it proved too difficult as the work was hung too high. It's part of a temporary exhibit. 
Next we plan to visit the Planetarium and Observatory. They have a special show about the winter stars and constellations. Mom might not be able to hear it, but at least she will be able to see the show - and it will get her out of the house for a bit. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

A moment to remember, a moment of forgetfulness

Last night the wind picked up and storms moved into our area. An hour's south of us there were tornadoes, but our area was spared. I looked into the newspaper to see when low tide was for the beach nearest us. A walk on the beach and some beach-combing would be a good way to spend time with my son Ibrahim.

 The winds swept the beach clean and the surf was rough. The air was cold but exhilarating. 

We had the windswept beach mostly to ourselves.
Ibrahim chasing sea birds.
We found some treasures, shells, limpets and a bit of driftwood.
It continued to be cold and windy all day but by evening the wind had died down. My mom needed some things from the pharmacy so I told her I would take her to get her out of the house for a while. I asked her to get ready and went to get ready myself . When I came downstairs I found my mother wandering around. "Darn it! I can't find my socks! Where are my socks!" she exclaimed. "Have you tried looking on your feet, Mom?" I asked. They were there, of course. We laughed and finished getting ready to go.

Lots of memories to remember.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year!

Another year has passed. I'm still in Florida with my mother, but my husband sent me this beautiful picture of the sunset in Ainzara taken on the first day of 2016.

Ainzara, Tripoli, Libya ~ January 1st, 2016
I hope and pray that Libya will find peace this year and move forward to a brighter future.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wrapping up the year...

It's been a slow year on my blog, but here's the roundup for 2015:

January  - was the Thumps Up(sp) Award for 2015 and the wrap up of 2014

February - The kids had a school holiday, power cuts, gasoline shortages and flour was also short. The good news was that Tripoli remained quiet and the rains brought the beginning of spring wildflowers.

March - I spent time in the garden and time reading. I wrote a review of a book about an American family that lived in Libya during the 1950s, setting up what was to become Tripoli University's Agriculture Department. I also reviewed the weblog of a Libyan poetess. 

I skipped over April and posted in May - The kids were getting ready for final exams and I promised an update of our adventures.

In June  I posted a panoramic photo of a peaceful looking Tripoli. On my site stats I can see that lots of people have clicked on the photo to have a better look.

July - Ramadan ended and I tried to predict what the murky future would be.

Just one post in August  that was a reminder to put things in perspective. 

In September  I headed out of Libya, time to visit my family back home in Florida.

In October  I settled into the peace of my mom's back yard, and life without the stresses of daily life in Libya. 

November found me sorting out paperwork, getting a driver's licence and decided what to do about my kids, school and other commitments. 

Now it is December. Another year is almost over. I watch the news about Libya from this side of the world. There's been the signing of a unity agreement which many people think might lead to a third government. The price of food and other goods is continuing to rise in Libya where people are still suffering from power cuts  as well as shortages of medicines and other essentials of daily life. Fighting continues in some parts of the country and the threat of ISIS doesn't seem to be going away either. We all hope and pray that Libya finds peace. Meanwhile, I'm still here in Florida for the time being taking care of my aging mother, watching the news from afar.  

Best wishes for a peaceful 2016! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

One more thing off the To Do List

The past few weeks I've been getting bits and pieces of paperwork done. For the last week I've been working on getting a new drivers license. It required making appointments, a few trips to the DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles) and studying the driver's handbook. I also was required to take a 4-hour online test which I could have done in a lot less time, but it was intentionally timed to make sure you spent the full 4 hours.

The final day came for the actual driving test. I was using my mother's car which is an older model mini-van that is all computerized. Unfortunately the circuit boards sometimes work and sometimes don't - so sometimes the right front blinker works and sometimes it doesn't!

After going through all the paperwork with the DMV employee we headed out to the parking lot. First he did an inspection of the car and of course the stupid blinker wasn't working so he said, "I'm sorry I can't give you the test unless the car passes inspection." I pointed out that I could do the test using hand signals. He looked incredulous and asked if I knew them, so I put my left arm up "Right!" then put my arm straight out "Left!" and then put my arm down "Stop!" He laughed and said "OK!". We got in the car and off we went. The examiner made sure that I made a lot of right turns. We laughed at every turn.

After the test we went back into the building to complete the paperwork - I passed! The examiner said that it was the first time he had ever given an exam with someone doing hand signals because no one ever knows them. I told him "Hand signals are nothing. I've been living in a war zone. I can dodge bullets when I drive!"

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! 


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The slowest year ever...

This has been my slowest blogging year in all the years I've been blogging. It's isn't because I am losing interest or being lazy. This year has been difficult and depressing. Life in Libya has continued to be a challenge. The thought of writing blog post after blog post of the same news..... issues with electricity, gasoline, cooking gas, internet connectivity, the hunt for bread and medicines.... the general lack of basic services. It's all the same old negative Libyan news. Someone (who has been living away from Libya for over 40 years) recently complained to me that I haven't got anything positive to say or write about. Well, I'm sorry, there is very little if anything that is positive to say!

This summer it was time to go home - home meaning Florida to take a break from Libya and spend time with my family. Mom needs me now, she's 80 and suffering from numerous health issues. Next month she'll have eye surgery so that hopefully she will regain some of her vision and be able to see clearly again. She can barely walk, has had over 20 stents put in the arteries in her legs, diabetes, hypertension, stage 3 kidney disease, COPD, hearing loss and some dementia just to name of some of her maladies. She needs me now, so I'm staying to help out. 

Meanwhile, some of the kids are returning to Libya to finish up university and school. Although people complain about the education system in Libya, university graduates can still go on to do their post graduate studies elsewhere. If they stayed with me in Florida they would have to start all over from scratch... what a waste of time that would be. 

I feel kind of like a refugee.... externally displaced and separated from my husband, children and home in Libya. I'm making the most of it though. Apart from spending quality time with my mom I've been doing some professional development; working with a literacy program, tutoring immigrants and also working at the local college's admissions test center and doing some online courses. Hopefully I will learn something and bring my knowledge back to Libya to share.  I've also been doing a bit of travelling, visiting friends, museums, festivals, the beach... There's also my mom's garden to sort out when I have a few moments to spare.... and maybe I'll start blogging again... about the positive things happening. 

Below are some photos, click for a larger image.
The Rainbow River, near Dunnellon, Florida

A sign at the beach 5 minutes away from my mom's house. 

A glorious Florida sunset, Madeira Beach, Florida

Part of the extensive butterfly collection at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

In a pine forest in the middle of nowhere, Taylor County, Florida.
My mother watching the kids at Rainbow River. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Some observations

Mom thought it was still May today and was surprised when I told her it was October.

The background soundtracks on TV programs and films make it impossible for my mother to hear the dialog. There is no way to fix that unfortunately. Consequently, the volume is turned up very loud most of the time and we shout a lot.

Mom's recently been diagnosed with macular degeneration, so on top of the rest of her health problems she's losing her sight. She can no longer read the newspaper and is having difficulty using her iPad.

Having non-stop electricity, Internet and phone service is so nice.

My mother's back yard is peaceful. I haven't heard any explosions or gunfire since I got here.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Long Overdue

It's time for a break from the Failed State, I'm heading towards the Sunshine State,
So tired of living with so much hate,
Tomorrow I'll be sitting at the flight gate.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another Ramadan is over

This year Ramadan flew by. It was certainly better than last year, but only for anyone living in the west of Libya. Those living in Benghazi suffered  the whole month long and the fighting continues even into the Eid.  Eid is supposed to be a happy time. I hope and pray that the situation in Libya improves.
 
Wishing that all my Muslim readers have a safe, happy and peaceful Eid. Qul am wa antum bi khair!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Future

Libya's future is about as clear as looking through frosted or patterned glass. You  can see something on the other side, but you can't tell exactly what it is. Sometimes the light looks bright and other times it looks murky and full of shadows.   You keep looking, hoping that the picture will clear.

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