Thursday, December 29, 2005

Are they back?

This morning I went outside to bring in the laundry. The weather was overcast and cool. I was quickly removing the laundry from the lines and nearly grabbed hold of a locust, thinking it was a clothespin! Last year Libya was invaded by locusts and I had thought that they were all gone, but here was a lone locust on my clothesline. It was stunned from the cold and barely moving.

I brought it inside to show Jenna and she took a break from studying for her exams to play with it. After a bit it warmed up and was jumping and flying all over the house with Jenna jumping and flying right after it!

Poor little thing! Locusts are big time pests and it will have to go. Now I'll be on the lookout to see if they are back. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 26, 2005

Very Useful! . . . well maybe.

You can find out all kinds of useful information on the internet. Click on the image above to learn how to control a runaway camel. - this might come in handy one day! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Exams again!

Yes, it's time for the kids to sit for more exams. It seems as though they only just finished doing that. For the next two weeks I will be doing my best to keep the kids noses in their books - believe me that is a difficult task. They look for any excuse to do something else, but if I suggest they wash the dishes or fold the laundry they say 'No way Mom! I have all this studying to do!'.

So, I have removed the electrical cords from all the radios and CD players, the satelite reciever has a new password, there will be no telephone and I've locked my room because they all seem to want to lay all over my waterbed with their books (and end up falling asleep there). Two weeks of me playing the role of dictator! What a headache.

After that they will break for about two weeks. This holiday coincides with the Islamic holiday - Eid al Adhah. So between two weeks of putting up with the kids for exams and following that up with two weeks of looking at the kids 24/7 - not to mention all the in-laws that I will have to deal with on the Eid - I may end up loosing my sanity! Pray for me!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

In just thirteen years . . .

I was poking around on the net and came across these two pictures of Dubai.
The first one was taken in in 1990 and the second one was taken just
thirteen years later in 2003. It's really quite amazing to see the
incredible growth that has taken place in this city. Posted by Picasa

. . .

It makes me wonder what the future holds for Libya and it's cities. There's
a great potential for progress, but there's also the possibility of
mismanagement and disaster. Time will tell . . . and if I'm still around in
thirteen years I'll tell you about it! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 17, 2005

5 things

Five things that most people don't know about me

This is a challenge given to me by Lisa - it's a hard one because I'm not one to hold back. If you know me then you really KNOW me! - But I'll put my thinking cap on and do my best.

1. Most people don't know that I have the dream to go to the Machu Picchu in Peru. I don't even know why I want to go there. Maybe it's because it's so green there (and being in the desert I certainly miss a green view - the only one we have here is the national flag). Or maybe I long to see the Machu Picchu because it's all the way up in the mountains, far away from anyone I know, or who knows me. Certainly it's not a spiritual thing. It's a wonder of the world - maybe I should try to visit all the wonders of the world - got to start someplace. I'm not sure I'll make it there - maybe one day . . . got to keep something for a dream.

2. Most people don't know that hate getting my back massaged, but I love getting my back scratched. Having a back massage always sets me off into a panic - I have this weird idea that my spine will get irreparable damage and I will end up in misery for the rest of my life. But scratch my back and I purr like a kitten! My father always liked to get his back scratched and so does one of my daughters, so maybe it's an inherited thing.

3. Most people don't know that I hate to have something covering my face - I can't bear to have the blankets in front of my face. It makes me feel like I'm going to suffocate. Mustafa thinks this is funny and he will sometimes try to cover my face while I'm sleeping and watch my response. Even while I'm sleeping it bothers me - torture! That means that there is no way that I'll take to wearing a niqab (face covering) - Hijab is plenty for me.

4. Most people don't know that I love to draw. When I started having all these kids I gave it up because there was no safe place to put all the drawing supplies. That's when I switched to digital art. I enjoy digital art, but I think I like drawing better. There is something about the smell of the paper and inks. Also the thrill of buying art supplies, you don't get that with digital art. My supplies are hidden safely away - out of the reach of the kids. They usually get into everything in the house - but they know that if they even dared to touch my art supplies that it would probably be a nearly fatal mistake - they leave them alone. Once in a while I take them out, but I haven't done anything serious in quite a while.

5. Most people don't know that I love spiders. I love all kinds of spiders. If I find any in the house I leave them alone to do there own thing. Of course there are cobwebs hanging about, but I only take them down if I think the spider has vacated them. I often go for walks in the countryside specifically to look for spiders. I also have a nice rubber tarantula that I keep around the house as a mascot. Nora, my daughter, used to be petrified of spiders, but I cured her of it by drawing spiders with henna on the backs of her hands, and on her palms I drew a web design. The whole time I worked on her hands we talked about spiders. Now she isn't afraid of them anymore.

Well, there you have it - five things about me that most people didn't know. I tag Kristen, Lonehighlander, Dunia, redenclave, nzinghas and whoever else would like to join in the fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Weather report - a special news bulletin

Winter has finally set in and we are having the weather to prove that winter is here at long last.

The following is an 'on the spot' weather report from my trusted friend and confidant - that lady in the 'Condo by the Sea' - Sydney! :

Good morning to you, well it's another early morning for me in "the Condo on the Seaside". It is 5 a.m. here in Tripoli, Libya and I want to go on record as saying "Houston . . . we have weather with a capital W!" Yes, I know I have been touting the fact that we have had cool fronts, coolish weather and so for several weeks now, but honey, was I wrong!

Yesterday morning around 3:30 I awoke with the sound of the wall behind (which is a outside wall) my head being pounded by some giant throwing fists full of rocks or other related objects at the outside wall. It was as if it was being sandblasted by the giant from hell with a twisted notion of a wake up call, much like a legendary sergeant in the Marines. I was compelled to get up out of my snug bed to investigate. I went to the living room balcony doors intending to open them but upon arriving there, quickly rethought that in seconds since I could hear the giant trying to throw the rocks through the shutters. I was hooked now. I just had to know what was happening outside, so quickly went to the opposite side of the apartment to check if it was safe to open a window shutter there. Now I could feel intermittent shuddering of the building from thunder. Oh this was serious Weather! Our buildings here in Tripoli are made of stout cement blocks and cement, so for a building to shudder, you can only imagine the force being exerted toward it. I opened the shutter to find a scene from Dante's facing me. Hail of varying size was being slammed into anything caught in its path. Rain was slicing into ethos, along with the strangest phenomenon I ever witnessed in my entire life, lighting stuck into a flicker mode of such speed that it was unable to suddenly produce the heretofore roaring thunder. It was flickering as if it was a neon sign in its last throe's of death.

This lasted for all of a half an hour. Then it was high winds and sprinkling rain off and on for most of the day until late afternoon. The evening began with howling winds that blew through our condo like an express train on a track out of control, determined to take all in its way with it. We are on the 4th floor by American standards, and the 3rd by European standards, but the long and short of it being we are high up with nothing to break the onslaught of the northerly winds coming straight off the sea all the way from Italian Alps nor the southerly winds out of the Sahara dessert .The shutters over the windows rattle, oh did I say rattle? I amend that to something more akin to a "shaken baby syndrome" for the shutters never stop their constant chattering, with the incessant sound of slamming and banging as they are flung back and forth inside their moorings. The rain can be heard now and then pounding the wall behind my bed for the second night in a row. The wind making its presence known by the freezing temperature in the apartment despite the two heaters blasting away. We are bundled into our warmest clothes in many layers to combat the wind that probes for any weak spots that might not be safely covered.

So here I am at 5:00 in the morning unable to sleep any longer in my nice and cozy bed due to the weather outside. It is so invigorating, making you come alive. Calling a sirens song that compels one to wittiness it in it's wild beauty. A gloriously wanton entity enticing you, as it sensuously moves before your presence, tauntingly beckoning you join in the activities. Who is strong enough to resist Her? Weather, you got to love Her. Here in Libya they have an expression roughly translated to mean "How's your weather?" that is asked when someone is enquiring of your state of being , much like our equivalent to "How's it going ?". So, you see the weather is always with us even when we take no notice of it. Maybe that is why She has such temper tantrums like Katrina, to make us pay attention to Her. Well, you have a nice day today, and by the way … How's your weather?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A positive Libyan medical story!


I found this interesting Libyan medical story that has a happy ending - Asoka Selvarajah says his father got 'extremely high quality of medical attention.........at the
hospital' while here in Libya. Click on the image to read the whole story.

Posted by Picasa

A very nice day!

Today the weather was fantastic! And I was in a fabulous mood too which made it that much better. It was one of the days that makes you feel so good and nothing gets you down. Perfect!

I went for a long walk and went shopping (got myself a beautiful sweater - the price was just right). I stopped in at the bookstore and saw that they have all of Naguib Mahfous's books translated into English! They were a bit pricey but I thought if I get them one or two at a time it won't be too bad. (You can get the entire set in one box for about 230 LD). For those of you who don't know who Naguib Mahfous is: He is an Egyptian writer that won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988. You can read more on his background here.

Bookstores here in Libya leave a lot to be desired. Mostly they sell dry, boring textbooks. There are some classic novels in English, but there aren't very many of those and because they are classics they've already been read in the past by me and most other native English speakers. Also, most of the books are in Arabic. Books are appreciated and treated like gold by the foriegn born English speaking community here. We trade them back and forth and do our best to bring new books back when travelling as well as share any books that friends and family have shipped out to us. Oh if only there was a decent lending library here! That would be wonderful - but we make do.

I was looking at the sidebar today and noticed that I've had about 8,000 visitors to my blog. Thanks to all of you who read what I have to post. I hope you enjoy reading the posts as much as I enjoy posting.

Truly a wonderful day! I hope your day was equally nice!

Libya pics!


Dessert Tripper has some really wonderful pictures of Libya and the Sahara uploaded on his/her Flickr pages. Go check them out - they are super! Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 09, 2005


I was playing with my camera today while waiting in the car and took this picture.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 08, 2005

some news

Ibrahim has tonsilitis. I don't remember that any of the kids have been sick for quite a while, thank God. I've got Ibrahim on antibiotics and I'm giving him something for the fever and of course the TV is on with cartoons. But he's bored and trying to drive me crazy.

Adam bought himself a mobile phone - actually he only has the card - the phone itself will come next. He has been itching to get one for ages but I refused to fork over the money. I told him if he wants a mobile that bad he will work and save for it himself. So he's doing that. I think he has enough money to by the phone but only if he gets one of the cheaper models - and of course who wants one of those? So he is putting off buying it and is going behind my back to his father to see if he can get more cash. If Mustafa gives in I will probably strangle him. If he caves in it will just back fire because he will end up running to his father for more money everytime he needs to buy more phone time. (God how I hate mobile phones!)

Nora is doing her usual things - she's enjoying herself at school and also working on improving her English writing skills.

Sara is Sara, she's been taking extra lessons after school to improve her maths. Other than that she's not doing any extra curricular activities at school this year. She has enough just getting through her lessons without adding anything extra.

Yusef is also taking some extra lessons, but I think he's mostly socialising and flirting with the female population.

Jenna was complaining that things were looking blurry so we took her to the eye doctor and they prescribed glasses. We went out last night to see what is available and everything that we've found so far makes her look like Harry Potter! We'll keep looking until we find something suitable - the selection is better now than it was in the past, but there still isn't much to choose from.

I've sent Mustafa to go see about getting the tile installed in the house. He's dragging his feet as usual. uuuugh!

As for me, life is ok - work and work, kids and kids. I'm enjoying myself and enjoying the cool weather.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

a long, hard, tragic week

It's been a long, hard, tragic week. My friend Margaret's husband, Khairi was killed in a car accident four days ago (Margaret was featured in my post about Halloween). Since there are always conflicting stories being told here in Libya about everything that happens, I still don't know all the details, and probably never will. It seems he was driving on one of these big traffic circles that they have in various spots around town (God, how I hate those things!) and either was run off the road by someone else, or hit by someone else. At any rate, God chose that day to be his last and he was killed instantly when he crashed. No one else was hurt.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun -This is something which a muslim expresses when he is afflicted by a misfortune, the meaning of which is 'We are from Allah and to Him are we returning.' It is taken from an ayat (verse) from the Quran (ch 2 vs 156). [this is usually said upon hearing of the death of an individual]

The traffic in Libya is awful. Drivers follow no rules. What are rules? Aren't rules meant to be broken? The speed limit is fast, faster and lightning speed. Drivers never stay in the proper lane. I don't even know why they bother painting the lanes on the roads. Bad roads with potholes are the norm. Top that off by adding constant mobile phone use by drivers. Even if you are a good driver and follow the rules, you must deal with the rest of the population who apparently think that the rules don't apply to them. Oh, what can I say? The situation is dreadful to say the least.

It's truly a tragedy. Margaret has six children now to raise on her own. Such a thing is hard to fathom, especially because being a foriegner, she is really alone here. This is the scenerio that all of my foriegn friends here that are married to Libyans dread. It's something so hard to think about.

more on tiles

Well, I think we are finished buying tiles! Yes, we have them all (I think) picked out and ready to be installed. Now it's up to Mustafa to get tilers that will do the work and tolerate his attitude at the same time. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully work will get started soon - but knowing how things work here, soon is rather a wide-ranging, broad spectrum kind of word. . . . sigh . . . .

PhotoFriday - Experimental


PhotoFriday - Experimental

I took this picture the day I bought my first digital camera when I was experimenting with how to work the thing. It's a picture of the tree I planted in our garden from a seed that I brought with me from my mother's tree in Florida (nice to have something special like a tree from home). The view is looking through the lattice on the balcony.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another level

Last night was another first for me. I became my oldest daughter Nora's chaperone. She came home the other day from school and said she had been invited to her friend's sister's wedding. She was all excited and of course just had to go. I said 'Fine, but I work that day and you will have to wait for me to get home from work and see if I feel up to it.'

The dreaded day arrived. Of course Nora had been getting ready for days in advance. Planning what to wear, and how she would do her hair, and all the fun things girls do. She kept the phone going non-stop with her friends, discussing the issue at length too.

I got home from work and found Nora ready. Pacing back and forth. I really didn't feel like going anywhere but the thought of letting Nora down and having to hear about it from her for days, if not weeks, got me motivated. In the bedroom, open the closet - presto-chango! - in no time at all I was ready to go. The whole time Nora was whining and complaining about being late.

Arriving at the wedding hall to find the bride still had not arrived (it was nearly 10 pm), we had a hard time finding a seat as the wedding hall was packed. Finally we got a seat at a table way, way, way in the back.

Nora's friends came running over and got me seated next to another chaperoning mother, who was the mother of one of Nora's friends and who turned out to live in my neighbourhood. I hadn't met her before, but we knew most of the same neighbours. She seemed to be a nice woman and spent the evening checking out Nora and grilling me for information about any other daughters I might have ( though I'm sure she knew all about my life already). Of course, she voluntarily filled me in on all the details of her wonderful son and the pleasant life they live. I just let her go on and on. It was kind of amusing. Finally after what seemed like forever she asked me a direct question. 'Do you agree to long engagements?' I said, 'No, we don't do that in our family.' That was the end of hearing about her son!

The wedding itself was a huge mess. Horribly planned. It seemed that more guests arrived than had been invited and the result was that they ran out of everything; chairs, tables, drinks, sweets and even food. Dinner, if you were lucky to get a plate, finally arrived after midnight. The music was loud and the girls, most were NOT being chaperoned, were behaving in ways that I found disgusting.

Thank God, it was time to leave! In the car, Nora who was pleased with the evening, gushed on and on about all that had happened. I had a throbbing headache! I've moved up to a new level. I am now the chaperone to assorted parties. I'm not sure I like this new job description.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Back on schedule

I went back into work today. We decided until we're advised otherwise that we would have classes. It was nice to see everyone again - one week was a long time. Imagine if we close the school for 40 days!

Anyway, I gave a nice speaking lesson about tourism - we discussed all the aspects of tourism. The amazing thing is that Libyans have very little concept of tourism. I imagine because most of my students haven't done very much travelling in their lifetimes (sanctions had closed the airport and borders had been often closed inthe recent past). Libya has so much potential as a tourist destination. But because they haven't got any personal experience with the idea they have trouble understanding just the basics. Funny thing is that they don't even know why anyone would even want to visit their country! Sabratha and Leptis are just a bunch of old rocks and broken buildings! Yikes!

I asked them to imagine they owned a hotel. Who would they employ? - Well, certainly they decided that all managerial roles would go to Libyans. The dirty work and hard jobs would go to foriegn workers. Ahhhhhh . . . a country full of bosses!

It will be a long hard stuggle if they ever want any major tourism to happen here I'm afraid. Oh well, it was a good discussion - I hope it opened some of their eyes to the potential of this beautiful country they live in. Maybe someday they will realise the treasure that is theirs.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


This little lamb was born about two hours before I took it's picture. The poor thing can't figure out how to get over or under the irrigation pipe. It's mother kept calling to it and finally gave up and came back to the other side to be next to her baby. After a while the worker came and collected them both and put them in the barn. Baaaaaaaaaa! Posted by Picasa

A rosebud from some miniature roses we are growing on our farm. They are so pretty and delicate. Unfortunately some kind of insect is finding them a tasty treat because they are nibbling away at all the blossoms. We'll have to spray them with something to save them. Posted by Picasa

Mosque in Ras Hasan, Tripoli, Libya Posted by Picasa

Farm growing lettuce and other winter crops - Ain Zarah, Libya Posted by Picasa

Autumn in Ain Zarah, Libya Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

PhotoFriday - yellow


Photofriday - Yellow
Sara with a rose from our farm. Posted by Picasa

Yusef and his spiked-look hair. He is going to drive me crazy - always worrying over his appearance and chasing the girls - or maybe they are chasing him! Posted by Picasa

Today is the day we've chosen to take out the winter clothes and put away the summer ones. It's always a big production with lots of clothes, bags and suitcases thrown all over. No matter how hard you try to keep things organized, it never seems to work. Total chaos - for a day! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My news . . .

Exams and people's meetings:
The good news is the kid's have finished their exams. They all think they managed to get through without failing anything. The bad news is that motomarat (the people's meetings) have not finished and might be extended to 40 days. Wow! They must really enjoy talking! I'm not sure what this is going to do about my work. We aren't allowed to open the school during the evenings while the motomarat is going on, and we're an evening school. Does this mean we have no work for 40 days? No work means no pay - oh dear!

Taxes - those evil things:
Another piece of exciting news is that every homeowner must pay 100 dinars tax (per year?) for their home. What are the taxes for? Will they go to improving essential things like medical care and schools? Will we have clean, paved streets without potholes? A system of public transportation? What is going to happen with all the money they plan on collecting? I guess I'm a little less than optimistic these days - must be because of the prospect of not having work for 40 days.

On to news about the house:
Yesterday Mustafa and I went out to scan the tile shops for floor tile for the kitchen. Finally, after about two and a half hours, we found one we both liked. The guy in the shop said it was available and we put in an order that they said we could pick up later in the day. So, later in the day, Mustafa went to get the tiles and instead got the news that they didn't have the tiles in stock after all. We are back to square one, having to choose yet again. I am fed up with looking at tile. Maybe we can have a dirt floor in the kitchen and I'll get a few chickens to run in there periodically to clean up the crumbs that the kids leave behind. sigh. . . the thought of going back to the tile shops just gives me a headache.

And then there is the weather:
We've been having rain the last few days! Nice climb under the blanket weather for a change! Nice Thanksgiving weather! -

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A child of mine

I have a child that I have never seen. This child is the most mischievous of all my children. Never a day passes without some kind of problem happening because of the antics of this, my naughtiest child, has done.

I'm not sure if this child is a girl or a boy for I don't remember giving birth to it. I never named this child, but it has a name that everyone in the family knows. It's name is 'Mish Ani' which in Libyan Arabic means 'not me'.
  • Who left the water running in the bathroom? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who spilled the milk on the floor in the kitchen? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who ate all the cookies that I was saving for guests? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who is going to take out the garbage? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who has the keys to the storage room? 'Mish Ani!!'

Why can't it be?
  • Who failed their math exam? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who wants to watch cartoons? 'Mish Ani!'
One day I may discover who this illusive child of mine is. In the meantime I will just hope Mish Ani doesn't drive me crazy!

For some reason I bet lots of people have a Mish Ani in their family too!

Friday, November 18, 2005

More mid-term exams and people's meetings

The kids are in various stages of mid term exams. When they come in from school I inquire, 'So how did the exam go?' and they invariably reply, 'It was easy!' Hmmm . . . we'll see how easy when the results come in. It will be another week of exam taking and me nagging about no TV, playstation, etc.

Aside from being the second week of exams, next week is also 'motomarat' week - Which means the Libyan population have something like town meetings. Big discussions go on at these, but I'm not quite sure who is doing the discussing because I don't know anyone who attends these things. They are televised and in the pre-satellite days that was all that was on TV. I'm not sure why they bother filming the meetings because quite honestly I don't think anyone watches. In the pre-satellite days we would just periodically turn on the TV in the hopes that a miracle happened and the meetings would be finished.
While the meetings are going on everything closes except for essential services like medical centers and pharmacies so that people can attend the meetings. People just wait around for things to open up, and usually, but not always they shut down the internet connection. It's an annoying fact of Libyan life that happens a few times a year. I've decided to take a positive view this time and take it easy and catch up on my reading. You've got to count all the blessings you can!