July 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

A quiet day of gardening, cooking couscous for lunch, laundry and reading.

In the evening they showed a huge demonstration in the Green Square on Libyan TV. 'Where did they get all those people?' we wondered. As far as crowds for demonstrations for Kadafy we know that the crowds are always bused in and made to demonstrate by force. I'm sure it was the same today.

Kadafy gave another audio address threatening that Europe will suffer a catastrophe. He hasn't shown his face since Zuma was here... weeks ago. On the other hand his son Saif Al-Islam did a television interview. He's grown a beard and let his hair grow! We joked that maybe his isn't being allowed access to sharp implements in case he commits suicide or tries to kill his father - hence the beard and hair. Oh what will they get up to next? As the sun set there was a fireworks display over the Green Square; the sound mimicking the sound of bombs.

NATO paid a visit after dark while we were in the garden enjoying our fried fish dinner. The sound of the planes roared above us, back and forth and turning zigzags for quite a while before unloading their missiles at targets quite nearby to the east and west of us.

A friend called from the US. She and her family had left Libya a few months ago. Now she was in America trying to make ends meet and not having any luck finding work. She was worried about us. In America nothing is being shown on the news about Libya. Participation by the US in NATO's campaign in Libya is unpopular.... it's all hush-hush - kept away from the eyes and ears of voters. If you want to find out anything you have to do a search on the internet where you find YouTube reports that are scary and probably misleading - each side trying to show the worst news possible.

I reassured my friend that we were safe for the time being, things in Tripoli were about the same as when she had left - just less gasoline and higher food prices. I assured her that we had stockpiled enough food to see us through the next few months, including Ramadan. We hoped this would be over soon. We are all waiting for this to end.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Our grapes are beginning to ripen. I've picked the first grapes of the season... nice tart black grapes. Sara wanted to know if we could make a pie with them but I am happy just eating them as is. I will have to look at my recipe books and see what we can do with them.

Ibrahim has been digging up mole crickets from our garden. They look like pale, sand-coloured worms with forelegs fopr digging and a head with a pincer mouth. At night they come out and fill the air with their loud song. At first Ibrahim entertained himself by squooshing them on the tile of the terrace. In minutes ants came to investigate and carried the crickets back to their nest. Ibrahim watched all the action with great interest. After a while he got tired of the ants and just started digging the crickets up and putting them in a pail. I wonder if Ibrahim's interest will continue until he's dug up all my garden's little pests.

I read two books yesterday. The first one was 'The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree' by Susan Albert. It was a light mystery based on the members of a garden club in a fictional small town in Alabama during the 1930s. Some of the characters reminded me of people I knew - and of course I liked the garden part of the book. The second book was 'The Delta Girls' by Gayle Brandeis. The story is divided between two parts of a girl's life with the chapters alternating between the two time periods (and the chapters were only a few pages each). Two light books in a row - just enough to keep me occupied. It's hard to concentrate on anything too deep.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Jenna and Yusef began their final exams today. The weather was hot - poor students who have to sit in a hot classroom without air conditioning and try to concentrate. I hope they pass.

The electricity was off for most of the day. We stayed inside and tried to take a nap in the afternoon.

NATO bombed as usual.

Monday, July 4th, 2011

It's Independence Day in America. NATO bombed to the north of us in the afternoon - I decided to consider that my fireworks for the day. Too bad there wasn't any corn on the cob, hot dogs and watermelon to go along with it..... maybe next year.

The weather forecaster said it was 38 degrees Celsius in Tripoli, but it felt hotter than that. The heat makes you feel lethargic. I stayed inside all day and went out for a walk with Sara in the evening. We visited my sister-in-law, staying until nearly eleven o'clock and then walked home in the dark.

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Cheese... the choices are limited and we have our favourites but they aren't available anymore. My husband came home with some substitutes. One kind was made in Libya: 'Oh what's this one like?' I said as I opened the box. A strong odor not unlike manure wafted out. 'Ewe!' I decided to see if the cat would eat it, but no, the cat sniffed the cheese and turned up his nose. Maybe we can feed it to the dogs... or maybe not. What are the symptoms for cheese withdrawal? I think we are having them, whatever they are.

One of the things that I could never understand was how awful Libyan-made products usually are. Why do Libyans insist on making substandard products? Why do they cheat each other? Libyan made juice - horrible (I've seen reports on the internet of insects and e-coli-laden dirt in the cartons)... milk that smells like dirty socks... soap and cleaning products that don't clean... cookies that taste like cardboard (and are crushed and broken in the package)... and now cheese that smells like manure... shit... uuugh. 

What is even stranger is that this type of cheese didn't exist before the war. When did they open the factory?

The weather was scorching hot all day, and dusty and windy too. In the evening we gave the dogs a bath to cool them off. Even after dark the wind was still blowing like a furnace.

Wednesday, June 6th, 2011

The weather changed some time in the night. When we got up it was cooler but humid and still not very pleasant.

I stayed inside all day working on a course I am designing to help my higher level students improve and maintain their speaking and writing skills. I might as well take the time I have to prepare things for the future. I got so involved in what I was doing – interruptions weren’t welcome. But of course, that’s when they occur, isn’t it.

My husband had a visitor in the evening - one that brought his two young sons along. Then my sister-in-law arrived with her two boys. Top that off with my Ibrahim. I wasn't in the mood for visitors or kids (especially naughty, active boys). Stop working... save everything... try to get into hostess mode.

My sister-in-law's boys ran around the house, climbed on the furniture with dirty feet, spilled tea, and touched everything that was breakable. Their mother sat oblivious to both her sons' behavior, and to my hints that she do something to control them. I counted the minutes until they left, the fake smile making my face hurt.

We've been inside the house with the air conditioners running for the past two days. The only thing I know about what’s going on in Libya is what we see on the news. The rebels are closing in on Gharian from the south and Zlitan from the east. How much longer will this last? I feel apprehensive and nervous. The TV news has been on in the background all day.

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The electricity was off all morning. I decided to go back to bed. Daydreaming, I just let my mind wander until I fell asleep. When I woke up again I listened to planes going over – all heading either south towards the mountains, or north as they made their return trip.

We were lazy all afternoon, relaxing and watching TV. Yemen’s Saleh finally made an appearance. If only he’d have stepped down sooner… sigh…

I went to bed early only to be woken up by the sounds of NATO’s planes and explosions. I stayed in bed while the kids went outside to investigate. The bombardment was nearby, less than two miles away, but I stayed put and soon fell back to sleep.

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Kadafy ordered that all mosques in Tripoli be closed for Friday prayers. Anyone wishing to attend Friday prayers should do so in the Green Square. I asked my husband if he was going and he said ‘No.’

I suggested ‘Maybe it would be a good opportunity for peaceful demonstration – worshipers bringing banners and flags.’ My husband looked at me like I was crazy. ‘Kadafy would be so happy for a chance to kill the opposition. Do you think he would care if no one was armed?’ In the end, our neighbourhood mosque held prayers as usual.

I cooked lunch…. I made a lovely pasta sauce that was unfortunately ruined by the poor quality Libyan-made pasta that my husband brought home the day before. The pasta fell apart in little bits when I cooked it. We ate it anyway, but the remaining pasta we’ll use to feed our dogs.  It makes me so sad to see how Libyans think nothing at all of cheating each other – making and selling poor quality products is a common occurrence here. I’ll have to remind my husband to buy Tunisian-made pasta in the future.

My husband and I took a walk on our farm to pick grapes and watch the sun set. The weather was cool and breezy. ‘Oh! If all of summer could be like this!’ we commented. Right before the sun reached the horizon, neighbours to the east of us started shooting off their guns. Then neighbours to the north-west fired their guns in response. Then we heard gunfire from the south followed again by our neighbours to the east. This show of intimidation carried on around the neighbourhood until after the call to the sunset prayers, each area taking their turn to shoot into the air.  We walked back to the house, what would have been a perfect sunset had been spoilt. Another Friday is over.

Kadafy made another audio address. He hasn’t made any public appearances in weeks. He threatened Europe and kept making references to ‘kumbula duriyah’ or nuclear bombs. God help us all.

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

NATO bombed to the north and north-east of us during the night. Not sure what was hit – back to sleep.

In the morning my husband took the kids into town for more final exams. As usual, I am the alarm clock. After I woke everyone up, I went back to sleep for another hour. Then I got up and started work on the window garden next to my desk. I want to set up a sprinkler system for the plants in the balcony area but the sprinklers that I have are too big and the water hits the window. I want something that gives out a light mist. I’ll have to give it a think…. maybe I can rig something up…. a nice project to keep me busy.

I felt restless all afternoon, probably because I haven’t left the house for nearly two weeks – and that was to go to a funeral. I go for walks on the farm but hearing gunfire in the distance (and sometimes right next door) is distressing. How do I feel? I feel an uncomfortable squeezing feeling in my chest and I feel tense most of the time. I have trouble concentrating, for example, I can only read a few pages of a book at one sitting, then I have to stop and do something else. It’s so hard to be patient. I have several small projects going on at once. I do things in short spurts. A little at a time.

I went to use my camera today but someone had removed the batteries. When I asked who took them everyone said ‘Mish ani’ Not me. I informed the kids that if they don’t turn up today then tomorrow morning I will do a search of their rooms. This tactic usually works. No one wants Mom to search their rooms. After a while the batteries turned up. Sigh… maybe I should search their rooms anyway. It would be like an adventure!

I got the news today that Hanna Naas passed away about a month ago. Without internet I had no way of knowing until the word spread the old-fashioned way. Hanna was a wonderful woman who really strived for the advancement of Libyan girls all over the world.  She was the motivating person behind the Tibra Foundation – a scholarship program for Libyan girls. She was truly a special person – always optimistic; a bright light for anyone who had the honor to know her. Hanna – God bless you and reward you! My sincere condolences to her family.

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

The roar of NATO’s planes accompanied us throughout our night’s sleep. We didn’t hear any explosions but the rumble of planes vibrated the entire house. Putting a pillow over your head to try to cover the noise isn’t effective because you can’t get rid of the vibrations.

In the morning I watched the news; Aljazeera English, BBC and CNN, none of them had news about Libya. Both sides of Libya have their own television stations but unfortunately with equal amounts of propaganda. I flipped through those and then turned the TV off.

I haven’t been shopping in about two weeks. We are running out of some things and my husband has never been very good with lists. He comes home with the wrong things, or things that aren’t on the list at all. Or he buys the smallest size of things – I have to keep reminding him that there are seven of us in the house – the tiniest jar of instant coffee and 10 slices of cheese aren’t enough. He complains about the prices, and the lack of products.

In order to conserve gasoline he stops off at the shops after the kids finish their exams for the day. List in hand, he attempts to buy what I’ve asked for, and is usually unsuccessful. My husband hasn’t had to do the shopping in years. He is completely out of practice. I need to do my own shopping. I need to see for myself what the shops have to offer.

In the afternoon my friend and her husband came for a visit. We sat in the garden and talked about how long this was going to last. We wondered if we should pack up and head for the border. It seems like a cop out. Leave… take the easy way out… get away from the stress.

NATO overhead; the planes heading to the south and then making a return trip north, back to the Mediterranean. All day long… all night long... the relentless buzz of planes above us.

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I spent the morning doing laundry, and gardening. At 11:30 I went inside to prepare lunch: a fish tagine, spicy rice and a salad. After lunch I sorted through books. They had been in storage in our flat in town and smelled a bit musty so I had spread them out on a table on the terrace in the sun.  Then I put them in shelves that I had cleared out in the guest room. I still have lots more books in town. The kids are bringing home a few boxes of them every day.

The planes were still doing their south-north runs. Zoom, zoom, zoom. Then during the night they switched to east-west and got louder and closer until finally at three o’clock in the morning we heard a series of explosions over a period of fifteen minutes. Then all was quiet and we were finally able to fall asleep.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

It was Jenna and Yusef’s last day of exams so we were all up early to get them off to school.  Sara went along with them so she could visit a friend in town and bring me back more books. Sara starts her finals next Sunday.

As soon as they left I started in on laundry, cleaning and poking about in the garden. I’ve spent so much time in the garden that my hair is two shades lighter than it was in February and I’m getting a suntan, which is amazing for me because I usually just burn. I imagine when a NATO plane flies over the crew looks down and wonders ‘Who is that blond white woman? Is that woman Libyan?’ Of course I’m also waving at them.

When I came in from the garden Nora told me ‘Mom, they’re saying on the Libyan news (the opposition’s channel) that France says Kadafy is going to leave.’ So I turned on Aljazeera English to see if it was true, but there was nothing on the news. Finally at three in the afternoon they finally had the report on the English channels. Could this possibly be true? Is this just another game Kadafy is playing?

My heart was pounding, ‘Please God let this be true! Let this war end! Let Libya be free!’

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Well, Kadafy hasn’t left yet. There is speculation that he could be going to either Israel or Belarus, more likely the latter. Meanwhile the fighting continues; people are still dying in Libya.

My husband and I went shopping at a few of the nearby supermarkets. We purchased cleaning supplies and some Italian pasta. The prices were higher than when I had been shopping two weeks ago and there were more Tunisian products on the shelves, especially juices, soft drinks and milk. Most of the customers were doing more looking than buying, including us.

We also stopped at a shop that sells bulk spices, various types of dried beans and assorted other things. I remained in the car because the guy that runs the shop creeps me out. He sleeps behind the counter when he has no customers and pops up when you walk through the door, rubbing his eyes and smoothing the wrinkles out of his jalabiya. He wears the long straggly beard of the devout.

On one occasion, a few months ago, I went into his shop to buy some spices and noticed that he also had a display of small personal items like combs, hairpins and nail clippers. I asked him if he had tweezers and he replied abruptly ‘NO. I don’t have any.’ I continued shopping; putting things in my basket, but I noticed that the entire time he was standing close to me, staring at me. He looked me up and down; lingering for quite some time on my recently pedicured toes that were poking out of my sandals. It gave me the creepiest feeling.

Finally he spoke; he asked me ‘Are you going to use the tweezers to pluck your eyebrows?’ ‘What?’ I asked incredulously, wondering at his boldness. ‘Are you going to use them to pluck your eyebrows? Because I do in fact have tweezers, but I will only sell them to you if you swear to Allah that you will NOT to use them to tweeze your brows. That’s a sin you know. And I DON’T want to be a part of SIN.’ he said, raising his voice on the last word.

I just looked at him in disbelief. I thought about pointing out that he had already sinned by lying to me about not having tweezers, but instead I assured him that the tweezers were for my son who had gotten thorns and stickers in his fingers from working on the farm. What I didn’t tell him was that Yusef had been using my good, expensive tweezers and I was getting him some cheap ‘one dinar’ tweezers so he’d leave mine alone.

From then on, I’ve avoided going to that shop. I was happy to wait in the car which was parked in a spot that gave me a good view of one of NATO’s targets. I could see that they had hit the buildings directly while leaving the wall that surrounded the site and all the trees untouched.

It had been hot and still in the afternoon but by evening the weather had cooled off and the breeze picked up. I sat in the garden with my sister-in-law and her two naughty boys. She had also been to the supermarket that afternoon and we talked about the prices and laughed when she said ‘Having a trip to the supermarket after being at home for so many weeks felt as though I’d taken a trip to Paris or Rome.’ We sat for hours, enjoying the weather; the sky was clear and the nearly-full moon lit the darkness and reminded us that Ramadan would be here in about two and a half weeks.

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Interrupted sleep last night – not from explosions though. My sister called at three in the morning. She had gotten a new phone and discovered that Google Voice’s calling plan was cheaper than buying international calling cards. So of course she wanted to try it out. For a half an hour I talked to my sister, my nephew and my mom. The call made me so happy! It took me a while to fall back to sleep.

In the morning we watched the news. The opposition is making some progress. We’ve heard nothing new about Kadafy leaving. Probably it was all a ruse to try to stall progress. We did notice a lot less planes for the past few days. But this morning they were back. Ibrahim and I went outside in the garden and waved at the sky and wished the pilots ‘Good morning NATO!’ as they headed south toward the mountains.

In the afternoon NATO hit two military camps nearby. Usually at night, after eleven PM I sit on my front porch reading and listening to the night’s sounds. Lately I can hear heavy trucks and machinery on the main road, especially close to the nearby military camps. At this time the night prayers at the mosques have finished and people are home for the night. I suspect that they are moving weaponry around, and that might explain why NATO struck there today.

A colleague of my husband and his wife and children came to visit in the evening. Also a good friend of mine (I’ll call her D) came to stay for a few days while her husband took his mother to Tunisia for medical treatment. It felt good to be surrounded by friends.

We sat in the garden and talked until midnight. The evening was peaceful - no planes, just the sounds of crickets chirping and screech owls hunting, and best of all, good conversation.

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Thirty countries including the United States have officially recognized the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the official representative of Libya. Kadafy still hangs on and the fighting continues. NATO pledged to continue strikes until there is a ceasefire and Kadafy steps down – even during Ramadan. They plan to increase pressure on Kadafy. When will this end?

The day was hot and humid and the evening warm and balmy. We relaxed and enjoyed the day. Cooked chicken curry and rice for lunch and in the evening my friend D taught the girls how to make Moroccan fateera – a type of flat bread.  We sat in the garden and enjoyed the evening.

Having D stay with us has been the best thing to happen in a long time. It’s keeping us busy and away from the TV and talk of the war.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

There were explosions in the distance in the early hours of the morning but I slept through them all. When I finally got up I worked for a while on my window garden.

My husband took D and me to town. We stopped at a wholesale shop and bought two 25 kilo sacks of rice, two cases of milk, a 50 kilo sack of sugar and fresh vegetables. We also stopped at a wholesale shop that specializes in restaurant and bakery goods as my friend D planned to make baked goods to sell to area shops during Ramadan. We picked up quite a few things. Our shopping trip was a successful one. We returned home in a happy mood.

When we got home we decided to make a joint effort to cook lunch. My husband cooked fish in a spicy sauce, Nora made salad and D made a wonderfully beautiful and tasty rice dish. The rest of us hung around the kitchen offering advice. We had a great time.

After lunch D asked the girls if they wanted to make donuts and cinnamon buns… they rolled up their sleeves and got busy mixing the dough. Meanwhile I sat down at the computer and created the logo for the labels for my D’s baked goods. I worked out an idea and then got Nora to do the Arabic part (the name is in Arabic and English). I printed it out for D to preview, then I got busy printing out labels.

Magic! I finished printing just as the donuts and cinnamon buns were ready to be eaten. Out we went into the garden for tea.

As we were getting ready to turn in for the night NATO began a bombardment of the surrounding area that lasted for about three hours. The barrage shook the foundations of the house, the sky flashed with white and orange light followed by loud booms. Planes roared… rockets screamed… explosions rocked the earth and waves of pressurize air blew windows open and at one point made my hair stand on end. What a weird feeling that was! I tried to sleep but it was useless. My heart pounded, my stomach ached and I felt nauseous.

My poor daughter Sara starts her final exams tomorrow. It’s been impossible to study, and she’s been without rest. God help her… God help us all.

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

By the time the bombardment ended it was about four o’clock in the morning. I’d set my alarm clock for six thirty so that I could wake Sara up to get ready for school. After she left with her father I went back to sleep for a few hours, even so I still didn’t feel rested when I finally got up.

The electricity was off in the morning when I awoke and remained off for a few hours. When it came back on D and I cooked lunch but by the time we finished cooking the electricity had gone off again. The house was beginning to heat up as the effects of the air conditioner wore off. I tried to take a nap but it was too hot. In the evening we sat outside hoping for a cool breeze, but it was hot and muggy and the air was still. All of Ain Zarah and Fornaj had been without power for most of the day and evening. Finally we heard the air conditioner click back to life – Yeah! We’ve got electricity again!

Being without power meant we were also left without news all day. As soon as the power returned we switched on the TV to see what was going on in Libya and the world. It was about the same as it had been from the morning. We expect more power cuts in the future as the oil supply dwindles. More days like today… uuugh… how will we manage in the heat?

In the early afternoon I went outside to take some laundry off the line and could hear the rumble of a truck driving slowly down our dirt road. The dogs started to bark like crazy and then the truck came to a stop just past our gate. I poked my head out the gate to see what was going on and saw a tanker truck that is used to extract sewage from septic tanks. The driver had pulled over next to our house to dump the contents of the tank - next to our house!

I turned around and ran to get my husband, screaming all the way ‘Mustafa! Mustafa! Come quick! Come quick! Ya Mustafa! Ya Mustafa! Feesah! Feesah!’ He met me at the door and I quickly told him what was happening. He was out the gate like a shot. He told the guy that it was illegal to dump human waste on the sides of the road and that he would take his tag number and report him to the police. The driver said ‘But the man from the house said it was OK to dump it here.’ My husband retorted ‘You know that it is illegal! It doesn’t matter who told you to dump it there, you know that you cannot. Would you dump that next to your house?’ The man replied ‘No, of course not.’ That made my husband so angry. I could hear his raised voice ‘So why would you dump it next to someone else’s house? If you don’t get out of here I will report you!’ The man got back in his truck rumbled off down the dirt road leaving a cloud of dust behind him. Thank God that’s all he left behind. Imagine what we’d have had to deal with if he’d dumped the entire contents of a septic tank just ten feet from my front gate. Phew! 

Today marks a full six months since the beginning of the uprising in Libya. Kadafy hasn’t been seen in public for weeks. We wondered if NATO would repeat last night’s performance. Would we be able to get a night’s sleep? Who knows? We made sure that all the water tanks were full and then turned in for the night.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I watched Libyan state run TV this morning while I drank my first cup of coffee. I noticed that they have added chants about Saif Al Islam to their repertoire of slogans and mantras. We’re beginning to see more images of Kadafy’s son then we have seen in the past. The son is making more speeches and public appearances too. In the meantime – his father’s image is fading from the forefront. Kadafy hasn’t made any public appearances in weeks – just audio addresses. We wonder if it’s really his voice, or someone else’s.

Meanwhile on the opposition’s network they are showing more and more videos of war crimes being committed by Kadafy’s troops. Who would video such barbaric acts? Mobile phones have certainly changed the world – and also the way wars are waged.

Meatless Monday: Pasta with a delicious sauce made from garden-fresh herbs and tomatoes, crunchy homemade garlic bread hot from the oven. Served with a cucumber, tomato, green pepper, onion and freshly chopped basil salad. Yummy!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Power cuts lasted most of the day and throughout the evening. The heat zapped our energy and made us all feel groggy. We’ve checked with people who live in different areas and it seems that rural areas have been having frequent power outages while most of the city’s power grid is still up and running. I know from speaking to people who work with the electric company that the oil that is used to power the turbines is running out and they are rationing the electricity to make it last as long as possible – hopefully through Ramadan.

Sara continues with her final exams this week and part of next. Today while she was at school NATO dropped leaflets on the military camp adjacent to her school and some of the leaflets drifted into the schoolyard where they were quickly collected and destroyed by the school’s guard. One of Sara’s friends had picked one up and read it before it was yanked out of her hands by the guard who promptly tore it up. The leaflet warned of a strike and requested evacuation. None of the students were asked to leave and thank God no air raids happened while students were at the school.

Our houseguest, D, is still with us. In the late afternoon we drove to D’s house to check to make sure all was well and water her plants. On the way home we stopped at a supermarket and were shocked to see that the prices were higher than just a few days ago. The shopkeepers don’t even bother to put the prices on the goods anymore so you have to keep asking ‘How much is this? How much is that?’ and do your best not to look too shocked. Things that I would have just thrown in the basket without a thought in the past I now look at and carefully decide whether it’s really a necessity. Most things get put back on the shelf.

Despite the power cuts and the heat we are enjoying ourselves. It’s wonderful to have D staying with us. Almost every day we try a new recipe or make old favourites; talking, laughing, and singing while we work together in the kitchen. It’s kept us busy and our minds off the war.

We spent most of the evening outside on the terrace hoping for a breeze. The electricity kept turning on and off. When there was power the lights were dim or flickered. I hope our appliances don’t get damaged by the fluctuating power. We finally went to bed around midnight with all of the windows open.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

In the middle of the night we were roused by the roar of NATO’s planes and huge explosions that rocked the house. Then all was quiet again and we drifted back to sleep. The power was restored at about five thirty in the morning so I got up to close the windows and switch on the air conditioner. By then it was nearly time to wake Sara up for school so I stayed up and watched the morning news. Nothing new was being reported.

Libyana, one of Libya’s mobile phone networks has been repeatedly sending out text messages calling for the people; men, women and children, to march to the western mountains to help defend the area. I guess they’re looking for human shields. Everyone is getting tired of receiving the text messages. It makes everyone pissed off that the company has stopped their SMS service – no one can send messages – they can only receive them and the only ones they get are propaganda from Libyana. How pitiful.

We had electricity all day and we made the most of it, basking in the cool air of the air conditioner and watching TV. In the evening the weather cooled off considerably so we sat in the garden under the stars until midnight, then we headed for bed.

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I woke up during the night when I heard NATO’s planes flying over. I lay in bed listening to the noise and waiting for the sound of explosions which happened only twice. It seemed a lot of noise for just two bombs. I finally fell asleep and didn’t wake up again until it was time to get Sara up for school.

The morning news reported that the US State Department declared that Kadafy must cede power but it’s up to the Libyan people to decide whether they want him to leave Libya or to remain in the country. All the Libyans that I know just want to see him dead. Meanwhile, the Libyan government is denying that it is in negotiations with the US State Department. I feel like I’m watching a tedious, never-ending Ping-Pong match.

There were more NATO air raids at various times throughout the day. It seems that NATO is changing their tactics and stepping up pressure. We heard that the opposition in Tripoli hit a hotel in Hai-Andulus with handheld rocket launchers where supposedly Abdullah Sanusi and Saif Al Islam were meeting with other key figures. Rumours say that Sanussi died or was injured and several others had sustained serious injuries and were taken to Khadra Hospital and placed in intensive care. We also heard that all other patients in the hospital had been evacuated and the hospital was closed to the public. It’s hard to know what is really happening. We rely on what others say and on the opposition’s news reports. Actually it comes down to just rumours. We wondered if these rumours were true. Later in the day Kadafy made an audio address stating that he has no plans to leave and says he will not talk with the opposition. How much longer will this last?

The weather changed – cool with a gentle wind blowing. We sat outside in the garden enjoying the feel of the unusually cool weather. Sara had made Lebanese style flat bread and a large bowl of caramel corn. We filled ourselves with home-made goodness and mint tea while we listened to planes and distant explosions and talked, and talked, and talked. After midnight we all turned in for the night.

No power outages for us today. Hooray!

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

We had left the windows open during the night because the weather had been so pleasant. Throughout the night NATO continued their air raids on different parts of Tripoli and the surrounding areas. Finally we closed the windows to shut off some of the noise. By morning the weather had changed, becoming hot and humid once again.

The electricity was weak for most of the day. The lights were like flickering candles and there wasn’t enough power to run the air conditioners. We turned off everything that wasn’t necessary. The temperature outside was hot as a furnace. We kept the windows and doors tightly closed and stayed inside the warm, but bearable, house.

After we got up from our afternoon siesta we went in the kitchen and watched Sara make cinnamon rolls for our evening tea. My sister-in-law joined us and we had a nice time chatting in the kitchen. The news was on in the other room with reports of a bombing and shootout in Norway. The reports were suggesting that there might be a Libya connection and we wondered if it were true - Kadafy had made repeated threats against European countries. What would happen next?

By the time the cinnamon buns were ready to eat the weather outside had cooled down a bit so we moved outside with a tray of hot buns and a big pot of tea. Soon afterwards there was a power cut. We stayed outside in the moonlight till midnight talking and listening to heavy trucks and machinery being moved about on the main road. Then we all headed for bed.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Not long after we drifted off to sleep NATO’s planes which had been flying over most of the night began to get louder and closer. The house trembled from the sound of the planes overhead and then we heard (and felt) the huge blasts. The airstrike seemed to be hitting to the north of us, in the city – at least six enormous explosions. In the morning the TV news reported that Bab Al-Azizia had been targeted.

The electricity went off in the morning and didn’t come back on until midafternoon. We cooked lunch in a sweltering kitchen, the humidity leaving us drenched in sweat and extremely uncomfortable. After lunch NATO started up again, hitting Bab Al-Azizia once again. Finally the electricity came back on and we took our chance to rest and take a nap in the air conditioning.

In the evening we sat in the garden and drank tea. By then the air had cooled off considerably. The power went off again in the evening for a few hours. We heard planes far off in the distance. At one o’clock NATO bombarded us once again, this time targeting an area only a few miles away with huge terrifying earthshaking blasts. Later on in the night we were woken again by air raids but drifted back to sleep as soon as the noise of the planes quieted.

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

My alarm clock rang at 6:30. Was it morning already? I had seemed as though I had only slept for a few minutes. I was exhausted. It was time to wake Sara up so she could get ready for school.  I went in her room to make sure she got out of bed and I told her I was going back to sleep. As soon as my head hit the pillow... BOOM! … Ahhhh! I let out a scream. The loud explosion had startled me. Normally you hear planes and automatically start to anticipate an explosion. But I had been busy waking Sara up and hadn’t paid any attention to the planes overhead. There were a few more blasts and finally the roar of the planes dissipated. I gave up on the idea of going back to sleep and headed for the kitchen to make my first cup of coffee.

Our houseguest, D, left in the morning. Her husband had returned from Tunisia. What was normally a 10 to 12 hour journey had taken him nearly twenty-four hours, eight of which had been spent at the border. It had been wonderful having D stay with us. Life will seem pretty boring now without her.

NATO airstrikes hit at various times during the day and evening. We think they are stepping up their bombardments to try to end the war before Ramadan begins. On the opposition’s TV channel they mentioned that Kadafy’s troops are hiding weapons in my daughter Sara’s school in Fashloum. Tomorrow will be her last day of exams. We pray that NATO doesn’t bomb her school while there are students inside. The school is in a highly populated area and directly next to a military installation. Why does Kadafy always put military sites next to schools, universities and hospitals? How can they store weaponry in schools? It makes me so sick.

We had another power outage that lasted most of the day but we were lucky that the weather was pleasant and in the evening we had dinner on the terrace under the stars. The cool breeze made the skin on our arms and faces cool. Oh how wonderful it felt.

Monday, July 25th, 2011

The Libyan opposition TV channel claims that Abdullah Sanussi has died and that Saif Al-Islam and others have been injured as the result of an attack by the opposition that took place last Thursday on a meeting held at a hotel in Hai Al-Andulus. One of Kadafy’s television channels is denying that any attack took place while another of Kadafy’s channels says Saif Al-Islam wasn’t injured in the attack. So was there an attack or not? There is nothing about this on Aljazeera’s English broadcast – their only news is that Kadafy’s fighters are still trying to take back the town of Qwalish. CNN and BBC rarely have any news about Libya these days. Watching the news has become somewhat of a game; you try to watch as many different news channels as possible and then try to fit the puzzle pieces together – hopefully by the end of the game you will have an idea about what is going on. Mostly it just makes you more confused. I think it’s time to turn off the television and face real life.

There were more air strikes during the night. We did the usual; wake-up because of the noise, acknowledge that there is an air raid going on, and roll over and fall back to sleep. In the morning I stumbled out of bed and tried not to look in the mirror while I washed my face and brushed my teeth so that I wouldn’t see the bags under my eyes. When was the last time I had a decent night’s sleep? As I sit here feeling sorry for myself I begin to feel ashamed. I’m living in paradise compared to what the people in Misrata and other parts of Libya have had to go through.

NATO bombed at various times throughout the morning and afternoon. I was so relieved when Sara came home from school. It was her last day. She made it through her final exams without the school being bombed. Hooray!

My husband heard that the government has ordered that certain food items such as milk, sugar and juice, and other products will have fixed prices at the supermarkets during Ramadan. This is to make sure that people will be able to afford food and to try to prevent (or slow) inflation. I wonder if the banks will have any cash, and if people will be paid their salaries. My husband also went to the jamiyah, the co-operative that sells food staples at subsidized prices, but returned home empty handed. He said the lines were long and people were fighting.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Planes roared overhead all night long but we didn’t hear any explosions. Now that all the kids have finished their exams there is no reason to get up early, so we stayed in bed until nine. All morning the planes continued to fly overhead. If they bombed anything it wasn’t anywhere near enough where we could hear it.

Yusef came home with a Siamese cat yesterday evening. She’s fully grown and pregnant – we’ll have to wait to see what the kittens look like. I named her Luluwah, with means pearl in Arabic. Our female cat, Dawn, and her kittens hiss at her whenever she comes near, but Demon, our black male, has been hanging around nearby looking at Luluwah with interest. Demon even decided to take a nap in the kitchen – usually he comes in to eat from his bowl and quickly sneaks back outside again. It’s funny to see him lurking around inside the house. It will take a few days to see where Luluwah fits into the hierarchy of our zoo.

My husband took the car to sit in line at the gas station. Maybe he’ll be home tomorrow. Most of the gas stations have closed. The few that are open have a system set up to get gasoline. You have to sign up and are given a number. There is heavy security in place and most people get gas after waiting about two days. A lot of people are just buying containers of gasoline on the black market – but it’s extremely expensive.

On the news today – the UN says Kadafy controlled areas are running out of food, fuel and medicine. The UK says Kadafy can stay in Libya if he wants to but he must step down. I guess that means that no country is willing to host him. The Libyans I speak with say that if Kadafy wants to stay he is welcome to commit suicide, or they will be happy to kill him CeauČ™escu style (CeauČ™escu was the leader of Romania who was overthrown in a military coup in 1989 and quickly put on trial along with his wife – they were put in front of a firing squad immediately following the trial).

The weather was glorious today; warm and sunny during the day with a gentle wind blowing in from the Mediterranean. In the evening the air was cool and the breeze felt wonderful. We had electricity all day long.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

An entire night of planes zooming overhead – there were times I thought they were scraping the roof above me. Explosions in the distance made the house (and my bed) shake. Needless to say it was a miserable night. I stayed in bed until morning and then got up for breakfast. I put the dirty dishes in the pile in the kitchen sink, went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and then went back to bed for a few more hours of sleep.

I stayed in bed for most of the day, reading and dozing. I was fed up. Tired of waiting for this to be over. Feeling sorry for myself. Depressed. I finally got up I watched the news. The UK has finally recognized the TNC, they are expelling the Kadafy appointed Libyan Embassy staff and will let the TNC send representatives to the UK in their place. Also they are releasing frozen assets to the TNC. This is all good news. What’s next?

Luluwah, the new cat, has been munching on some of the plants in my window garden. This isn’t going over too well with me. She’s a spoilt kitty who hasn’t spent any time outdoors. I open the door and she peeks outside, then backs off and resumes her perch on the sofa. Demon, our black male cat, has lost interest in her while the others continue to hiss at her whenever they venture inside to see if their food bowls have been filled in the kitchen. I’ll be happy when Luluwah learns that her litter box is the great outdoors, in the meantime we have a small box for her in the hall… slowly moving closer to the door.

We wonder if the rumours that Saif Al-Islam has been injured are true. He hasn’t been seen on TV in a while; his father hasn’t been seen in months.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

NATO played their nightly symphony. We tried our best to sleep through the music. The power went out in the early hours of the morning and was out for much of the day.

As soon as the electricity came back on I set myself to the task of cutting Jenna’s hair. Our hairstylist left Libya weeks ago; we are on our own now. Jenna likes her hair short. I did my best to follow the cut she had, just trimming about an inch off. It will do for now. Almost as soon as I finished cutting Jenna’s hair the electricity shut off once again and stayed off until late in the night.

On the news: the rebels are making a push to control all of the western mountains. The Libyan government was complaining that it was illegal for the UK to expel Libyan diplomats. Abdul Fateh Yunis, the military commander who had defected to the rebels, was killed by Kadafy loyalists. (I always had a weird feeling that he was playing games on both sides. I wonder if I’m right.)

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Planes and bomb blasts were heard all night long. In the morning we woke up to a bright, warm sunshiny day – but no electricity. We had breakfast on the front porch and my husband entertained himself by trapping small birds and putting them in a cage. Planes flew overhead, but we didn’t hear any explosions. Finally the electricity came back on and we went inside to catch the news.

The opposition TV is having three days of mourning for Abdel Fateh Yunis.  Kadafy’s TV showing a rally with Saif giving a speech – dated yesterday, but who knows really. He was saying that the opposition were not Muslims because they were not following their leader – who is also to be considered their spiritual leader. On Aljazeera English they were reporting that the opposition had taken an important town near the Tunisian border.

Ramadan is just days away. We’d hoped for an end to this before Ramadan. Now it seems unlikely.

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Once again we were treated to the sounds of NATO in the night and early morning hours, and once again we awoke to a power outage. I ate my breakfast on the front porch and then got busy working on my window garden. The electricity came back on at eleven and I hurried to put a load of laundry in the washing machine. Then I made lunch.

I had a good look around the garden today. We’ve xeriscaped a section of the garden and it’s coming along slowly, but nicely. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that uses plants that can sustain themselves with little or no care in the environment they are planted in. In our case, we’re using foliage native to Libya as well as plants that can withstand desert and semi-desert conditions. So of course we have lots of cacti and succulents. I’d noticed quite a few yellow-jacket wasps pollinating the flowers in my garden – now I’ve found their source; a large paper nest attached to one of the cacti in the xericaped area. The wasps are quite beautiful with their vibrant yellow stripes, and they’re very interesting to watch.

My husband left in the morning to stand in line for chicken at the wholesalers and to see if he could fill up our back-up cylinders of cooking gas. He came home in the afternoon with chicken (imported from Brazil – a box of ten for 40 dinars) but without cooking gas.

The evening was cool and breezy. Will this weather hold out for Ramadan? It’s unlikely, but it would be lovely. We’re watching the news to see if Ramadan will begin tomorrow or not. So far it looks like it might be Monday – Saudi Arabia will begin on Monday. I’m ready whenever it happens.

On today’s news: The opposition is still mourning Abdel Fateh Yunis but their oil minister is saying Yunis was killed by his own soldiers. The story of his death is still not clear – too many conflicting reports. Later in the day the opposition stated that they had issued an arrest warrant for Yunis not long before he was assassinated. The opposition is still lauding their takeover of border towns near Tunisia, they’ve found evidence documenting that Kadafy’s soldiers were using drugs – copious amounts of needles strewn about in areas where the soldiers had been staying. Meanwhile Kadafy’s forces are claiming that they’ve caused heavy casualties for the rebels – at least 190 opposition fighters killed since Wednesday. Despite NATO’s early morning bombardment of communications and television satellites Kadafy’s TV channels are still up and running.

Part of me wants to see the end of Kadafy’s TV network, but on the other hand it is certainly hilarious and entertaining to watch. Broadcasters blaspheme and lie left and right in such a ridiculously obvious way. The shows are full of blatant propaganda, and wild threats, and scare tactics.  The studios’ sets are garish and ugly and the presenters are clearly unprofessional, as though they gave the job to anyone that wanted it – not to anyone with any credentials as journalists. One presenter is frequently seen waving a machine gun during his show while another TV host practices black magic. They televise taped speeches by Kadafy’s son Saif Al-Islam, who speaks in the same meandering style as his father, complete with his followers chanting slogans for a minute or so every other sentence. We watch just to see what they will come up with next. It’s hard to believe that anyone would take these channels seriously. But then again, Libya is full of ignorant, uneducated people who have been swallowing Kadafy’s codswallop for over four decades.

It’s official. Ramadan begins on Monday, the first of August.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The power was out all night. We slept with the windows open, or I should say we spent the night with the windows open. It was nearly impossible to sleep with the sounds of planes rumbling overhead and explosions that sounded close by. We stayed in bed and listened, trying to figure out what was being bombed. Finally towards morning the electricity came back on and we immediately shut the windows and turned on the air conditioners. I slept a bit but woke up with a headache.

My husband went out in search of pre-Ramadan bargains. We’ve got everything we need except for fresh vegetables and milk but he wanted to see if he could get some more chicken. When he arrived at the place that sells the chicken he found a huge crowd of people – pushing and shoving, swearing and fighting. Soon there were guns out and shots fired. My husband decided we could do without more chicken. He brought home enough fresh vegetables to get us started; hopefully he’ll get milk tomorrow.  As for my part, I’ve organized the kitchen and the girls and I are ready to face the cooking for the month.

I called my son in America to see how he was doing. He’s ready for Ramadan too. My mother is going on her annual first two week of Ramadan trip to visit my sister in Seattle. This works out well – she gets to see my sister and is away while my son Adam goes through the beginning of Ramadan when he’s grouchy and miserable to live with. Mom will return when Adam has adjusted to fasting. Adam’s also decided to take the first week of Ramadan off work. His doesn’t want to risk losing his temper on the job.

Some of my old colleagues have been in touch. All of them scattered to the four corners of the Earth. I wonder if we will ever work together again in Libya. So many waited in the beginning, hoping the conflict would end quickly so they could come back. But it’s gone on too long and everyone has taken on work elsewhere. Sigh… When will this end?

Since Libyana and Al-Madar mobile phone service don’t allow text messages anymore, everyone has to make phone calls to offer their Ramadan greetings. My phone is ringing, friends are calling, and I’m calling friends too – it’s wonderful to hear everyone’s voices and wishes for a safe Ramadan and also hopes and prayers for peace.

For a list of news articles, images and videos of events in Tripoli during the month of July: Libya Uprising Archive - Tripoli - July 2011

1 comment:

  1. Hi khadija,

    Am back reading you. Feel great when i saw your blog started again. Thank God all of your family ok. Am trying to catch all the news in those 6 months of war. And am loving reading your posts. make me understand what my family experienced also there. I have one request, if i can: why you dont start sharing with us ur cooking recipes?? Coz they look delicious and i realy would like to learn how to cook libyan food. Regards.


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