I had a lovely visit with a good friend this evening. I took Sara and Jenna so they could visit with my friend's daughter. We talked and talked, and in no time at all it was 3 o'clock in the morning. On our way home I noticed almost every shop we passed was still open. The day has switched to night for Ramadan.
I've invited my in-laws over to spend an evening and share suhoor with us. The girls have been careening around the house making sure there aren't any dust bunnies in the corners or any cobwebs hanging from anything. They're even cleaning under all the cushions... because they know their aunts will look there. I've been told to spruce up my desk and office area.
Yesterday Ibrahim and I bought a huge box of coloured chalk and a couple hundred balloons so that the kids will have something to do. I'm going to whisper 'water balloon fights' in Jenna's ear - that will keep them busy for a while. The kids will have a blast and my sister-in-laws will never forgive LOVE me. Last night hubby and I went grocery shopping for the big in-law event.
The first of the in-laws arrived, a niece, at 1:30. She walked into the house carrying a HUGE homemade cake and said she came early to help out. Bless her heart!
Well, I better get back to work. There's a lot of supervising that needs to be done.
Charity in Islam comes in more than one form; zakat, which is the compulsory annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets, and sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving, which is intended for the needy. The Quran emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person. One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.
There are many fund raising drives in Libya throughout the year, but especially during Ramadan. The main problem for me is that most of them are announced in Arabic - so I miss out on them. WhatsOn.ly has an announcement about a charity group that is feeding the needy during Ramadan. If you would like to make a donation or offer assistance you can find the information here: Ramadan Charity Event.
There's always the focus on food during Ramadan. Not just food but on pleasing all the senses. Facebook is full of posts about food, including pictures of what budding chef's have made. Bloggers are cooking too. Here are three food related blogs written by Libyans:
This is an interesting blog that doesn't just focus on recipes. There are all kinds of food related articles that pertain to Libyan cuisine, dietary issues, and food news. Very informative - I learn something from each post.
We've reached the half way mark. We're settled into the Ramadan routine; fast and pray, eat and sleep... and for most people, shop. I went to my in-laws the other day and invited them over for an evening and suhoor (the final meal before you begin fasting at dawn). My mother-in-law said she'd get back with me about when they can all come at once. All meaning ...all of my sister-in-laws and their offspring and my mother-in-law of course - a huge crowd. So far she hasn't called me. I'll have to call her tomorrow and see what's up.
Eid clothes are one thing that needs to be taken care of, hopefully this week. And school will begin as soon as Ramadan and Eid are over. I stopped at a tailor's to see how much it will cost to have school uniforms made... 50 dinars for a high school uniform and 45 for middle school. I'll have to take the kids tomorrow to be measured. Hopefully we'll get school supplies done this week too. ... and shoes... everyone needs new shoes.
We've had some pretty hot weather this Ramadan and I am so thankful to have an air conditioned house to stay in. My kids have been staying up all night and sleeping most of the day. I hate that schedule but I've found myself getting up later and later every day.
The whole country seems to be nocturnal. Down the road, under bright halogen lights, workmen are building a house all night long. Traffic in and around town at three o'clock in the morning is as if it were three o'clock in the afternoon. I know there are companies that have nearly normal working hours during Ramadan, but I can't imagine that much work is getting done.
We've acquired a new dog. Actually, Yusef rescued it from somewhere. He's a rather large, mixed breed that shows signs of having been abused. He has a scar on one leg, and it looks as though someone made an unsuccessful attempt at cropping the poor thing's ears. I don't know how old he is, but I would guess he's not very young. He's got a sad, defeated look in his eyes. He came with a card that says his vaccinations are up to date. At least someone did that for him... sigh... Animals have a very hard life in Libya.
He seems content and quite gentle. He loves to play in water, and he's found his favourite spot in the garden next to the wall and under a water faucet, where the earth is cool. I only wish he'd quit digging.
Digging in, sitting out the hottest part of the day.
Yesterday I tried to check my wimax balance and found they had a new system on LTT's website for the user's login. I fiddled around with it and finally figured out how to check my balance. Today I went back to the site to check and found this on the login link:
Last night the girls and I (minus Nora) spent some time with my good friend OTE. We picked her up and drove around. Whenever we'd see a shop that had clothes displayed in the window that the girls thought looked good we'd stop and the girls would get out and investigate. While the girls shopped, OTE and I sat in the car and visited. Then the girls would get back in the car and we'd drive someplace else. At one point the girls came back with ice-cream for all. Later we stopped for more snacks.
This system of Eid clothes shopping-visiting is working out great. The girls are getting their shopping done and I get to hang out with a friend that I can talk to without any kids (or husbands) hanging around listening (and interrupting). It feels so nice to get a chance to have a one-to-one visit for a change.
This certainly beats the conventional Ramadan visiting of friends and family. I'll have to see which one of my friends (or in-laws) wants to be my next guest.
Jenna and I went out today at about three in the afternoon. It's the first time I've been out since two days before Ramadan. It was hot and dusty and most of the shops were closed. We stopped at an office supply shop and bought art paper, and water colors. We're ready to go back into hibernation again.
I've settled into the book 'This is where I leave you' by Jonathan Tropper. At first I thought 'Oh no! Not another moaning, I'm so depressed' book - because it's about a guy who just left his wife and then his father dies. But it turns out to be quite funny actually, it's more about a dysfunctional family. I'll probably finish it tomorrow and then decide what I want to read next.
I'm really enjoying my break. Resting, reading, hobbies, and only cooking when I want to. The girls pulled off a lovely meal today of all Libyan food. For a treat, tonight I went into the kitchen and made tortillas and burritos for suhoor. Of course Sara insisted I clean up the mess... sigh...never mind, the burritos were delicious.
How many pages do you read before you decide 'this book is just not for me'? Yesterday I started 'Eat, pray, love' and so far I've read about a quarter of the book. I hate it. It's the tale of a whiny woman who searches her soul as she travels for a year, spending 4 months each in Italy, India and Indonesia. Whine, moan, cry and complain.... this woman is suffering serious depression. So far the majority of the book is a big boring monologue ... uugh... I hate it.
The torture ends today. I'm deleting the book and starting something else. I haven't decided yet what it will be. Decisions, decisions....
On another note, Ramadan is going smoothly. The weather was super hot today - it reached 109 F. No one wanted to do anything. The girls got a late start in the kitchen but managed to get a nice meal put together, finishing up just as the call to prayer began. I think they were hoping I would step in and take over with the cooking today - but I'm remaining adamant that they do all the cooking this year. It's for their own good - tough love.... hehehe... I'm such a mean mommy.
It's Ramadan... I'm eating food when the sun goes down, but during the day I'm devouring books. Yesterday I read 'Water for Elephants'. It was interesting but not something that I'd read again. Today I started 'Eat, pray, love'. I'm on the first part... eat... maybe this one's not a good idea for Ramadan - the author eats her way through Italy in the beginning of the book. I'm going to suggest to the girls that we have pizza and pasta for our fast-breaking meal.
It is a spiritual month after all, so of course I'm reading Islamic things too - Quran being number one on the list.
And while I was poking around on the internet, looking for books to download, I came across a whole bunch of books about the miserable life of women in Islamic countries. The other day I read 'I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced' about a Yemeni girl from an impoverished family who had been forced to marry at age 9 or 10 (there is no real record of her birth). If you look on Amazon at the page for the I am Nujood book and scroll down the page to where you find Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought you'll see a line-up of books about poor, abused women in Arab/Islamic countries. I was quite surprised to see so many of them.
So, now I have a question for you ...... Have you read anything good lately?
It was a quiet first day of Ramadan in my house. I spent most of the day just relaxing and reading. I've filled my Sony Reader with books from the New York Times Bestseller list and spent time reading articles on the internet, and of course some Islamic texts as well.
Late in the afternoon I roused the girls and got them into the kitchen. I've decided not to do the cooking this year but that doesn't mean I'm out of the kitchen completely because I still have to shout at the girls supervise. Today the girls made Libyan soup, garlic bread, salad, and rice pilaf. Later Sara made banana, kiwi and strawberry frappé for dessert. It all turned out very well (everything was edible!).
When I first came to Libya I had a neighbour who lived downstairs that had children the same age as my kids. She wanted to learn how to cook American food and so every afternoon we would put our kids down for a nap and we'd get busy in the kitchen. We went through an entire Pillsbury cookbook together, as we'd cook my neighbour would translate the recipe of the day into a big notebook she kept to record her recipes. It took us a little over a year, but we cooked and baked everything in the book that we could get ingredients for. She learned how to cook and I got to practice my Arabic. She still uses the recipes I taught her. I used that same cookbook to teach my youngest sister-in-law how to bake cakes and cookies. Maybe it's time to drag that cookbook out again.
If you are out in Tripoli for the next few days you'll notice even more traffic than usual. Everyone is out and about, going to the supermarket to pick up enough food to feed an army. Ramadan is just days away. What am I doing about it? Nothing. The tiny shop near my house has everything we need, there is a small greengrocer stand next to the shop. Hubby will manage to sort out meat for the month.
I have no interest in fighting through the crowds of people at the supermarkets. I've decided to stock up on other things to get us through the month: The kids have requested some new DVDs, and I think some craft supplies might help keep Ibrahim out of trouble. Nora wants to do some macramé. I need to hang some pictures that have been waiting, propped up in the corner, since we moved in last year. And of course, there are other things to focus on aside from food in Ramadan... spiritual things!
I had hoped that I would go to visit my family in America this Ramadan... but hubby is acting helpless and complained that no one would be here to cook for him if I left. What he doesn't know is that I have no plans to cook for him anyway this year. I've decided to leave it all up to the girls - it's time they managed it all on their own. Last year I slaved away by myself in the kitchen while they slept or watched TV. All they had to do was clean up after I got through. It's their turn now to take over the role of chef. I am just not interested in it anymore. I've had 30 Ramadans in my life so far... thats a lot of time spent stirring the soup pot. It's time to hand my apron over to someone else.
Way back in the 1990s, when satellite TV in Libya was a new and exciting thing and internet was just a dream, I used to watch 'Good Morning America' every day. It was great to see what was going on in the real world. I could find out what was happening in the news, learn about the latest trends, gadgets, movies and cooking tips. It was like getting a few minutes of 'home' on a daily basis.
This was fine most of the time, but there were times when it just made me homesick. One of those times was on a day when the presenter (I can't remember who) decided to move out of the studio to do an interview outside in a garden..... a very green garden (and Libya that day seemed so dry and brown). I remember watching the the interview and getting distracted by the greenness of the lush flower garden. And then I heard the birds singing.... north American birds... singing.... singing...singing..... All I could hear were the birds. Then tears started rolling down my face... soon I was sobbing. Sigh... there is nothing like the sound of birds from home.
I think the birds here in Libya are drab and boring in comparison to the birds I know from 'home'. But there is someone here in Libya who just might make me change my mind. Meet BirdingRob :
An English teacher currently working in Benghazi, Rob travels across Libya in his free time birding. He's a late developer on the bird watching front, mainly induced by boredom in Baku. Now bitten by the bug, he has bird watched mostly in Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Libya. And guess what? He has a blog - hooray! You can read about his adventures and learn about the bird life of Libya here: BirdingRob
Thanks Rob - for teaching Libyans English, and teaching everyone everywhere about north African birds and wildlife. You are a treasure!