Saturday, April 30, 2005

The School Fair

Well the day finally arrived! The school fair! Jenna flew out of the house at 8 in the morning to practice and get ready. We arrived at the school around 11 to see the fair.

First they had the national anthem, then a reading from the Quran. Then a boring speach from the principal. Some more singing, more singing, more singing, and more singing - all accompanied by accordians. (I didn't think they made those anymore). Then a group of dancers came out of older girls. The song they danced to was long, oh so long. And loud, oh so loud. I got some kleenex and wadded it up and stuffed it in my ears.

Finally, out came Jenna's group. The whole dance seemed to last only moments - I guess because the other group picked the longest Arabic song they could find, so it seemed like Jenna's group took lots less time. The girls all looked cute, and they were so serious about it all. Of course getting a good picture of it was difficult because all these idiotic mothers ran out with their cell phones to take pictures and blocked everyone's view. I was polite and only took pictures from my seat.

After all the singing and dancing was over, we visited the display part of the fair. They had it organized into sections - art, science, history, math, etc. Very typical, and in typical Libyan fashion it was obvious that most of the work was either done by the parents or some other adult. Actually I heard the ladies talking and saying that there are artists who will do the artwork for a fee and put the kids names on it for these fairs. The competition is so great. I looked around and only paid attention to the artwork and projects that were obviously done by the kids.

Survived it! - Another years fair is out of the way!

Jenna's big day - she has been practicing her dancing for about a month. We couldn't get her to settle down and go to sleep last night, she was soooo excited! Posted by Hello

This little girl was standing at the entrance to the fair where the book for signitures was - all dressed in traditional Libyan costume. She was so sweet. Posted by Hello

Jenna - backstage. Posted by Hello

It always seemd like Jenna was on the other side of the group. She's way in the back - dancing her heart out! Posted by Hello

All lined up!  Posted by Hello

Jenna (top left corner) and her classmates that danced with her, and teachers. Posted by Hello

Some of the kids artwork. Posted by Hello

The hall with artwork - that man is the school principal. He usually isn't dressed that nice - and he usually has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth - he must be on his best behaviour today! Posted by Hello

A few weeks ago I went on the balcony to hang the laundry and found NO clothespins. I looked to see if someone (Ibrahim) had thrown them off the balcony - but no - they were not downstairs. It turns out that Sara took them to school to have her class make things out of them for the fair - here are my missing clothespins! Posted by Hello


My husband thought that me being most like Hitler was hilarious. So he decided to take the test to see what famous leader he was most like. Well, guess what? I turns out that I am not only Hitler, but I am married to Hitler too!

I always wondered why we were so compatible!

Friday, April 29, 2005

things are ok here

Yusef is driving us all crazy - he won't sit still for a minute. I keep yelling at him and telling him that his arm will not heal properly if he doesn't stop messing around. Also, exams are coming up and no one seems interested in studying. . . . sigh . . .

Tomorrow is a very big day. Jenna's school is having a fair and Jenna is going to be dancing with a group of the girls. She has been practicing for about a month. She told me to make sure I have enough batteries for the camera and that she wants NO still shots ONLY videos! She informed me that she is to be at school at 8 in the morning. I'm not sure when this shindig is supposed to happen - time is a rather loose concept in this part of the world. I am thinking to mosey on over to the school around noon.

I tried to convince one of my friends to accompany me - but she said NO WAY and suggested I ask another of our friends. But I told her that there was a special reason that I wanted her to come - it's because she has such a lovely, and wicked sense of humour, and together we would find something amusing about the whole event. The friend she suggested I bring with in her place was definitely not suitable. She is way too friendly. She would end up getting to know everyone and they in turn would show their faces on my doorstep thinking that I must be just as friendly. It's not that I'm unfriendly - it's just that I try to get involved with Libyan ladies. I have tried in the past - but it ends up being nothing but problems. They don't understand my thinking or way of life.

I will go by myself - and bring the camera. Be prepared! Pictures will soon be on the way!

Me? Hitler? - well . . . maybe

I took one of these online personality test to see what famous leader I was most like. Well - this was the result! The funny thing is that one time when I was proctoring an exam (of a classroom of students who didn't know me) I introduced myself as Miss Hitler and told them I definitely would tolerate NO CHEATING. The students laughed but soon found out I wasn't joking.

Monday, April 25, 2005

some new Libyan blogs.

There are two new Libyan blogs out there! FatimasLibya is a blog by Fatima - an American with seven kids who's married to a Libyan and visits Libya with her family. Alsharif has Libya Our Home .

Welcome to both of you! Happy blogging!

Yusef is home!

We went to the hospital today and they said we could take Yusef home. He can finish his course of anti-biotics orally at home. We just have to watch him for any signs of infection. In two weeks he goes back to have the dressing checked, and in about 6 weeks they will remove the metal pins.

What a relief to have him home. Now we need to get him on to his studies - final exams are only a few weeks away.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


I found this on Highlander's blogg - From the Rock - but I'm doing it a bit different. The red bits are the countries I would like to see but haven't. Places I dream about visiting.

Create your own map of the countries you would love to see or the countries you have visited.

another day

Yusef is doing OK - has pain and is grumpy. I went to visit him in the hospital and he started to cry when I was getting ready to leave. It was hard not to start crying too. I spoke to the doctor this evening and he said that they will probably keep Yusef in the hospital till the end of the week - maybe they might let him out sooner. They want to make sure that he doesn't develop infection. He has a canula in his foot that they are using to give him his anti-biotics. Yusef says the needle in his foot bothers him and of course his arm hurts. He will just have to be patient.

Yusef wanted to know why his grandmother hadn't come to visit like she had the day before. He wanted to know if she was staying with his brothers and sisters. We lied and told him that she was at home with the kids because the stairs were too difficult (Yusef is on the 5th floor). That's so sad. Yusef knows that his grandmother would be sleeping over if it were one of his cousins and he expected that she would do the same for him too. I reminded Mustafa to make sure to tell his mother. . . sigh . . . when you are a foriegner married to a Libyan you don't always get the same treatment as if you were a Libyan woman. It doesn't bother me anymore - but it bothers my husband and the kids. . . sigh . . .

Ibrahim is jealous. He insisted that I take him to the toy store today and buy him something. He wanted a large remote control car. I told him no way - too many batteries and the thing was plastic and looked like it might last about 5 minutes (the batteries would probably outlast the car). We settled on some super huge lego style building blocks. He has been busy with them ever since. And they are shareable, so the other kids can play with them too.

In the meantime I am trying my best to get as much lesson plans done as possible so I won't get bogged down at work.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Yusef in the hospital

yusef Posted by Hello - in the hospital after surgery

Yusef's surgery went well and he is out of the anesthesia and in some pain. I went this afternoon and made sure that he ate and went to the bathroom and all that fun stuff. I took pictures and a video so the kids at home could see him.

Mustafa is going to bring Adam to stay with him tonite - we hope. Adam is at 'that age' thinks he has a mind of his own.

When we got home I downloaded the pictures and video onto the computer so the kids could see. Poor Ibrahim started crying when he saw the video.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and well wishes!

More about Yusef

This morning Mustafa took Yusef to the hospital for his surgery. I'm at home holding down the fort. Mustafa called to say they were taking Yusef in to the theatre and then called again an hour or so later to say that the surgery was over and Yusef was in recovery and that the doctors said the surgery went smoothly. When he gets into his room and all settled in Mustafa will come to get me to go see him.

I post an update as soon as I have a spare moment.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Another Update on Yusef's situation

We took Yusef to the hospital and he had all the blood samples taken, more x-rays and they opened a file for him and assigned him a bed.

His surgery is scheduled for Saturday and the doctor said we could take him home and either bring him back on Friday night (tomorrow) or bring him early morning on Saturday - but he must fast from the night before. Yusef is already worried about the not eating part and is doing his best to stuff himself in preparation - insisting on hamburgers.

So far things are going according to plan.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Update - Yusef

We've been inundated with visitors - relatives of all kinds. They are all adamant that Yusef was given the EVIL EYE by the old woman who had been prowling around in our garden. That's good news for me since I was worried they would somehow try to place the blame on me.

Yusef has an early morning appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon for tests and will probably have his surgery scheduled for Friday or Saturday.


It's a holiday here in Libya - Milud (Prophet Mohamed's Birthday). Of course as it's innovation and not Islamic, my family doesn't celebrate it. But it is a public holiday, so we have the luxury of two days off work.

In the afternoon we all settled down to watch Jurassic Park. I hate these kinds of films, but we the kids were enjoying it so I was just kind of dozing in front of the TV. For some reason, Yusef decided to go out side to play downstairs. While he was outside he noticed an old lady walking around in our garden and she looked up at him and then slipped out the garden gate. Yusef decided to chase after her and see what she had been up to. His attention was on the old lady and not where he was running - he tripped over a cement block that is used to prop against the gate at night to make sure it stays closed. POW! He fell and snapped the bones in his forearm in half!

He called out for help and his cousin heard him and my sister-in-law and mother-in-law brought him upstairs to us. I packed some clothes in a bag and off we went to the hospital. The doctors had him x-rayed, then tried to see if they could set the bone as best they could, x-rayed him again. Big conference with the doctors and they said it would need surgery. The moved him to a room and said because of the holiday nothing could be done till after ward and the surgery would be scheduled no sooner than a week away.

Well, we pulled some strings with help from friends, students of mine, etc. and we got Yusef released from the hospital. We will take him to a different hospital and see what can be done - but with the holiday surgery probably won't be until Saturday. Mustafa wanted to take him to Tunis, but I said to wait and see what could be done here first before we drag him off somewhere else.

In the meantime, Yusef is home, is comfortable, clean and being well fed. We all rested well with him at home - Tomorrow is another day - we'll see what happens then.

Expect pictures soon!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sara is peeking at one of the workers. Posted by Hello

Mustafa getting his hands dirty - actually he is knocking down part of a wall he built - he couldn't make up his mind how he wanted it. Posted by Hello

Newly planted corn on our farm. Posted by Hello

From our farm at sunset - Ain Zarah, Libya Posted by Hello

another friday

We went to the farm this afternoon. It was hot and dry today. I took a walk and the weeds were crunchy under my feet. Crunch, crunch, crunch. I think this summer will be a hot one. It's usually greener this time of year with more wildflowers. Summer is nearly here - the kids are almost finished with their school books and they will be preparing for their final exams soon.

Mustafa has been working like crazy on the house. He's usually out the door early in the morning and doesn't come home till dark. He comes home at night exhausted. He won't just oversee the workers - he has to get his hands right in everything too. Unfortunately it drives the workers crazy with Mustafa breathing down their necks all day. There's a holiday next week - hopefully we'll convince him to take some time off and have a rest.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

In the old city - Tripoli, Libya Posted by Hello

Satellite dishes on the roofs of Ben Ashur, Tripoli, Libya Posted by Hello

American Media . . .

Over at Baghdad Burning - the girl from Iraq has a post dedicated to what is going on in the Middle East / Arab world with all the new satellite television channels - her views on the subject.

In the last year we have been bombarded with American TV. Of course being an American in Libya and having gone through the 'woes of the TV situation' I find it all extremely interesting.

You see, when I first came to Libya in 1989 (God, has it really been that long!) there wasn't a whole lot of excitement when it came to television. We had one local Arabic channel that came on in the afternoon and was mostly propaganda, local news, some Arabic soap operas, and a few dubbed cartoons. The highlight of the week - and still is on Libyan TV, are Wednesday evenings when they have the accident and crime reports. You get to hear all the latest and goriest car accident reports, and see what the automobiles involved looked like. And you get to hear about all the petty criminals on the crime part of the show. A big bonus is the occasional hanging - not live, but certainly on TV.

The other channel was the English/French channel that came on for about three hours every evening. It had the news in English and French (most of it propaganda) and old, very old, re-runs of Dallas, Little House on the Prairie, and a few other shows - all of them highly edited - meaning not only cutting out kissing or SEX scenes but even cutting out the scenes of Ma, Pa, Laura and siblings saying grace. Once a week you got a movie - but they didn't have very many movies and they recycled them all the time. These movies were old too.

If you had a decent antenna up on the roof and clear weather you could watch Tunisian TV, as well as some Italian channels. Tunisian TV wasn't much more exciting then Libyan TV. Italian TV had all kinds of American shows, but of course dubbed in Italian. So you either had to know Italian or be proficient in lip reading to get much out of the Italian channels. Of course Libya at the time was a very closed society, so watching Italian TV in front of the kids or in-laws was risky as there were FLESH and SEX scenes.

Then came the advent of satellite. In the beginning it was only for the very rich - as it was very expensive. People that installed them would find themselves surrounded by family, neighbours and friends as everyone would come over to watch with you and bask in the glow of the eternal flame. This was the days of analog satellite - the craze started again when digital satellite was introduced. Now almost everyone has a satellite, or two (or four or five) up on the roof.

In the past year we've been bombarded with American TV shows on the satellite. In the beginning, I thought 'Hey, this is great!' But now I'm not so sure. It is all so organized. Disinfected of all the real news, I never feel like I really know what is going on in the world when I watch American TV. It's so fake, and it's really heavy on the propaganda too, but in a kind of 'in through the backdoor' kind of way.

One thing I don't like is the casual 'anything goes' attitude that is promoted on American TV. Do I want to have the idea pushed at my family that sex out side of marriage is fine - as long as you use a condom? There must be a gay or lesbian character on nearly every show. Whining, back-talking kids abound. Subjects that we definitely don't condone in our house are now in our house the minute we turn on American TV.

At first I got all excited that we had Oprah! Now even Oprah is a definite 'no, no' in our house. The 'no, no' started when she had victims of incest on. It's not that I don't think you shouldn't talk about these subjects with your kids, but I think being a Muslim and raising my kids that way, I would prefer to explain these thing to my kids using our religion to back me up. I don't want Oprah telling my kids what's what in life. Anyway, when Oprah isn't luring viewers to tune-in by handing out expensive presents to the guests in her audience, she is just trying to lure them in with the shock of weird issues (or house decorating and diet crapola). All this in the name of entertainment.

I can't get into the reality show stuff either. The show where they make over people giving them all kinds of plastic surgery is ridiculous - why not invest some of that money in some kind of counseling instead? It's all so superficial - so removed from the reality of what life is like for most people in the world. The idea of reality shows have spread to the Arab world - they've got Arabic versions of Star Academy and a few other things. My daughter Nora says the shows are boring and don't have any value - but she says the girls at school watch them.

I've got a password on the satellite receiver and I'm the only one that knows the password. The kids complain, but I don't care. They would watch cartoons 24/7 if they had the chance.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Busy, busy, busy. That's the story of my life lately.

Last Thursday a friend and I went to the old city in Tripoli. We had discovered that there was an old madrassa - a Koranic school that was used hundreds of years ago that was going to be renovated. The caretaker of the area was nice enough to let us in so I could take some pictures before the renovation work begins. That way, I can get some before and after pictures of the site.

It was in a pretty bad state and it had a second floor, but we stayed downstairs as we weren't sure how safe it would be to venture up there. Everything is cracked and crumbling.

It was early in the morning and the sunlight was soft and warm. The scene was quiet and peaceful. Even in its current state of disrepair the site has a beautiful picturesque quality to it. Whenever I visit places like this I always feel as though there are some kinds of spirits surrounding the scene - it's hard to describe. But it's a feeling as though there are others quietly watching you, but not in a creepy kind of way. Just a feeling you are not alone.

I'm looking forward to what it will look like after renovations finish - as with most things that happen in this part of the world; don't expect it to happen quickly. It will probably take them what will seem like forever to get the project underway and completed.

Friday - yesterday, was spent with friends in Regaat. On the way there I took a picture of a field full of yellow wildflowers with Bates Mountain in the background. We had a picnic - food was wonderful as usual. After lunch the ladies all sat and enjoyed the view of Bates Mountain while the rest of the party hiked up the mountain. You couldn't ask for better weather! I haven't had such a restful day in a long time. I usually do the hike up the mountain but this time I decided just to sit at its base and soak up the view.

Yusef came back from a hike and said he had disturbed a fox. He said it bounded down the mountain and he said he saw a hawk too. In the afternoon he caught a skink and put it in a jar so we could look at it up close. It had dropped its tail trying to escape.

You can see part of the second floor here as well as what the brick ceiling of the covered areas surrounding the courtyard looks like. Posted by Hello

A tree has sprouted on the second floor of the madrassa. Posted by Hello

The courtyard is surrounded by small rooms. Some were used for study and others were used as sleeping quarters for the students. Many of the students came from quite far away to stay and study Koran and Islam at the madrassa which is why there were sleeping quarters.

On the left is one of the main supporting columns. There are four main columns - one in each corner of the courtyard. In the center of each of these columns is a pipe that allowed rain water to drain down from the roof; this sweet water was collected in a storage tank beneath the courtyard. In three of the columns there is a hole near the top of the column open to the pipe - it looks as though it was made that way in case they wanted to divert the water for some reason or another.
Posted by Hello

A close up of one of the supporting columns in the courtyard. I thought it was interesting because of the Islamic crescent symbols. I'm not sure exactly when the madrassa was originally built - but I will find out. Posted by Hello

There is an old well in the madrassa that still has water in it. There are steps leading up to the well and a metal hook above for where the bucket and rope would be hung. The well is in a washroom right off the courtyard. There is an area next to the well with basins for the students to use for washing before their prayers. The area above the well is open to the sky but the other parts of the room are covered with a ceiling. It is an interesting use of natural light and ventilation. Posted by Hello

Here you can see the grooves that were made from the well's rope. Posted by Hello

Madrassa before renovations. Posted by Hello

Bates Mountain with yellow wildfowers - Regaat, Libya Posted by Hello

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