Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Eid, Happy 2007!

It's Eid; it's New Year; it's so many good things happening lately!

We're having our formal dinner/celebration on Saturday, combining Eid and New Year. The Canada clan are not coming. We're not happy about it and hope it won't happen again! Do you read me guys?

We're having friends over to celebrate and have dinner with us; a Chinese couple and an American couple. We'll have roasted "racks" of lamb with mint pesto, rice with nuts, tebahaj, salad, and lots and lots of baklawa and magrood for Sol to dive in!

The Eid image above is from a greeting I received from a friend. It is the first time we receive a Eid greeting from an American--Thank you, DeAnne! I just wish the bland/average/white/Christian Americans wise up more and acknowledge other people's Holidays and celebrations and join them just like the others do. It does tick me off big deal that they don't, while on the other hand they get shocked if someone says "We don't celebrate Christmas!" So cocooned in their bubble that they're oblivious of other ways of life and other traditions. They talk about openness, tolerance, and acceptance of the other, but in reality they do it by ignoring the differences. In my opinion, that's adding insult to the injury. I've heard that it is different in other parts of the country, but I have yet to see and experience that.

We're all excited about tomorrow. Moody and Tala can't wait to open their Eid gifts; so do I! We'll drop them at the gym tonight for movie night so Sol and I could do more Eid shopping.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Up and Down the Family Tree

Mama, Safia Bensaud, is 63 today!

My sweet niece, Ruqaya Kambaraki, is 6 today!

Happy Birthday!

Picture taken today... Thanks Moony xox!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tis the season to be jawy!

OK, if I read one more thing about how wrong it is for Muslims to celebrate Xmas, then I'm just going to hurl! What's up with that? People sending questions to religious authorities asking whether they are permitted to attend a Xmas party. Dude, if you have to consult some authority on going to a party, then what the hell do you do with life's--slightly--more pressing questions? It's just fascinating!

We are not talking about some bizarre fringe elements. This is mainstream stuff. Today, I read in the government-controlled Libyan press that the authorities were rounding up merchants who sell Xmas items and symbols, treating the shops as "dens of corruption," and branding all participants in this trade as "people making jackasses of themselves." How's that for the free market of consumer products, let alone the free market of cultures, styles and ideas?

For the record, cultures copy each other. They have done it throughout history, and all too frequently, they have done it in bizarre ways. Christianity started in the middle east, but the injection of Christmas trees into Libyan and nearby popular taste (i.e. consumer culture) really has nothing to do with Christianity per se, as much as it has to do with importation of a "western" commodity, albeit cheaply produced in China! This reminds me of the last time I was in Libya on Milad (the anniversary of Prophet Mohammed's birth.) Nostalgically, I made it a point to go to Bab al-Hurriya and check out the scene. Kids were selling fireworks, officially "illegal" but somehow imported by the boatload, and the teenage vendors were being chased through the crowds by agents of the green-clad "Municipal Guard." OK, nothing changed--I loved it! But I did see something unusual that left me with an indelible memory: a plastic Christmas tree with a little palm chandelier (Khmesa) on top, and get this: the tree was hot pink! You get my drift about it being made in China? lol lol lol You gotta love globalism! You know, it is one thing to make a pink Christmas tree, but to find someone who buys the beast, now that's priceless! lol lol In short, Christianity was born in da 'Hood, got exported westward, embellished and infused with all kinds of local spices, then returned by way of China, and in a form that just takes it all off and runs out in Bab al-Hurriya! lol lol lol.

I also remember another cultural boomerang-in-the-head type of story from way back in ninth grade. In my history class, they were telling us all about the impact of Muslims on western civilization. (Or was it Arabs? Hard to say which way the mill spins sometimes.) So of course there was mention of the word "logarithm," and how it was a western hot-pinkification of the name of the famous mathematician, our homeboy al-Khawarizmi y'all! Then we'd have our math class, where we discussed something we awkwardly called "loo-gha-rithem," where we took a concept that had already been through the hot-pink transform, and instead of inverting it, we passed it through again! lol lol

All ye bearded dudes jawing about the immorality of Christmas trees: Chill out a bit. Cultures copy one another all the time, they even copy the horrid copies they make of one another. The results, if viewed in the proper light, usually make for fantastic entertainment. Support your local Bink Bushers, and if you ever want to bring me a gift with deep meaning: Please pass through Bab al-Hurriya.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells!

Yesterday, we went to the Rigney's Caroling Party, an almost-4-decade tradition for the Rigneys, and becoming one for us too. Here's Ann in the picture singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Ann is a wonderful lady. Her husband, Dave, is a professor with Sol. She was the first to take me out and about and introduce me to my surroundings when I first came to the US. Though I've been busy lately, we still manage to get together, especially when her grandson, Corey, comes to town.

The carol party was fun, but I think Moody went a little crazy with this boy Mathew that we've been meeting there every year. When we were leaving, they both said to each other, "See you next year!" They didn't want to be quiet during the singing; they thought it was boring! They also didn't want Tala to join their fun. Moody is into the "Boys only club" and what-have-you, and so is Mathew, according to his mom.

A couple of days ago, Moody cracked up this joke--his own!

Moody: Dad, you know what the snowman's sickness should be called?
Sol: What?
Moody: Warm, got it?
Lol lol lol! Did you get it?

Lately he's been saying he wants to be a scientist. Today at lunch, he asked, "Who's Albert Einstein?" Sol told him he was a great scientist. Moody added, "He rode his bike so fast when he was a kid, that he appeared in outer space and he was riding on a shooting star." Got it? lol. Then he asked, "Is Ben Franklin real?" We said yes. He added, "He made an invention that makes lightning come to life. He attached a key to a kite." Well, he's been reading for himself before going to bed. He got all that from the book Disney's Americana.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hip Hip...

Yesterday, I received the confirmed job offer that I'd been anticipating and waiting for. Starting September 2007, after my graduation, I will be working for Rolls-Royce. And no, I will not get any discount on Rolls-Royce cars; a jet engine, maybe! They stopped making the cars in 1973 when the motor car business was spun off as a separate entity. Rolls-Royce is a world-leading provider of power systems for civil aerospace, defense aerospace, marine, and energy. I will be with the energy division. I'm elated!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Libya-in-Video Challenge

Taking up Beacon's challenge and following Chatalaine and A.Adam, I made this video. I don't have many personal pictures of Libya, so I made a slide show with pictures of Libyans from 1924 to 1930. The contents of the slide show are used with permission from The pictures are originally from The National Geographic Magazine. The audio is al-Umm (The Mother) by Refaket 3umer. The first picture in the slide show is of my hometown Derna. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Shamsa is Coming Tonight!

Before 6:30 am today, Moody came knocking on our room and calling out full of excitement, "My tooth has fallen out! My tooth has fallen out!" Oh, how exciting! He came in and got in bed with us and started telling what he wants from Shamsa. It was the Lego white Bionicle, Toa Matoro, then the Nerf N-Strike Longshot CS-6, then some kind of a saber, then... He decided that he and I should go to the toy store so he would decide what to ask for. Of course, he's not going to settle for any of the toys he wants for Eid. Losing the tooth means one more gift--sneaky!

The baklawa is all done with. We have been enjoying the uneven pieces that come form the edges of the tray. When I offered the kids to try some the other day, they refused. It didn't look appealing enough to them! Yesterday, I was about to empty the last tray when Moody said, "Wow, that looks cool. What's this Mom?" He liked the pattern of baklawa in the tray. Then he asked to try some. I gave him a piece; he ate it in seconds and asked for more. He liked it a lot, he said. I have not made the magrood yet. I need to free almost a whole day to make it and haven't had the chance yet. Things keep popping up for me to take care of, so I'm putting it off till tomorrow, hopefully.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Festivities Have Begun!

Moody has been growing his hair for months. He wants it to look like Harry Potter's. He would scream at the mention of a haircut. Finally, yesterday, he conceded and we headed to the hairdresser. I have been telling him lately that his hair looks messy more than anything, and have been showing him pictures of himself with short hair and stressing how handsome he looked in them. The compromise was to leave it long at the top and cut all over. Well, it kind of ended up like that. Most importantly, he went into the hairdresser a Mr. Grumpy, and came out very happy and cheerful--he liked the way he looks now!

Tala didn't have a haircut since she did it herself last February. She too wanted to grow her hair long "just like Mommy." I assured her that we will only get the ends trimmed "so it'll grow longer and stronger." Once the hairdresser asked how we wanted it cut, Tala said, "very short." Just like Mommy! I many times go to the hairdresser for a trim and end up asking to take all the length off. I left Tala at the shampoo station and went to check on Moody. When I got back to her, I was about to open my mouth and ask the two hairdressers what she had been telling them, when they said, "She had been telling us how pretty her Mommy is!" Tala is so innocent and sweet; she could tell what we did that week in few minutes. Scary sometimes! She was chattering away with the hairdresser all the time. She told her how Alexis thinks "I'm just cute, and she is very cute. Actually, I am VERY VERY cute! Daddy said so too."

Eid is coinciding with New Year's Eve. I'm happy for that; it makes the season more festive for us. I decided to make some baklawa and magrood. I made the baklawa yesterday, and will be making magrood today. I used to make them every year during Eids and around this time and give some as gifts to friends. Last year I opted for Shatila's baklawa, not bad, but not as good. I will be taking some to the Rigney's Carol party next week and sharing some with friends.

We had planned to get the "Holiday" tree yesterday. Moody has been saying "Christmas" this or that, and correcting himself "Holiday" this or that. I told him that he doesn't have to be hung up on what word to use. It is Christmas anyway and calling it so is still correct. I looked up the farm and directions during the week, but didn't take note of the directions or the exact name of the farm for that matter. While taking care of the baklawa tray that just came out of the oven, I asked Sol to look it up and get the directions. He couldn't find it and started calling out and asking me questions from the den while I had the microwave oven on and other noises in the kitchen. So you figured, we both got annoyed and Sol "declared" that I should look it up. I did, and I realized that the farm is called Cackler not Crackle as I told him. I still haven't heard the end of it! I told him he could have googled "Christmas tree farm Delaware Ohio;" that's how I got it. Duh!

Finally, we headed out. I noticed that we were heading in the opposite direction of where the farm is, south instead of north. I commented and then kept quiet, or struggled to keep quiet. Eventually, we changed direction and started heading north, but taking Juha's tour (برمة وين وذنك يا جحا). Check the map: The red line is the route we took, the blue is the map directions. Typical what? Guy, Libyan, or both? We got to Delaware, passed it, got on route 42, and kept driving and driving past Ashly and into Morrow County. That's when Sol said, "I don't think it's here. We've come very far." I asked him if the directions said it was on 42, he confirmed.

We turned around. It was about 4:40, the farm closes at 5 and it was their last day of business for the season. Then Sol said it was on a road called Cackler off 42. Sure enough we came to that road and were at the farm at 6 minutes before 5! Since it was almost closing time we picked a tree that was already cut, though what's special about the farm is that you get a saw and a sled, walk around the trees, choose one and cut it yourself. There was this cute donkey at the farm having a blast with a ball. We had the tree netted, trunk trimmed, Sol secured it to the van and we were on our way back.

I kept my eyes on the tree through the sunroof opening all the way home. From being at the middle of the opening, the tree shifted to the very edge. I was so worried that it would fall off. Thankfully, we made it home with the tree and two little hungry buggers that wanted to decorate the tree that same day!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's Eight!

We were married in Djerba, Tunisia, December 10, 1998. The picture above was taken on December 11, the day after the wedding (etsendeera in my lingo اتسنديرة). That was the last day I saw my parents and siblings. Notice Sol's hat--don't laugh--it's a Misrati hat!

How we're celebrating? Moody greeted me in the morning, "Happy face-in-the-pie day!" And Tala followed suit, slightly modifying the greeting to "Happy face-in-the-cake day!" We have been having so much fun the whole day. And it's still continuing. We are cleaning closets--major cleaning--the first in more than four years! We started with Moody's, Tala's and the guest room yesterday. Today, it's our room. The fun is when we see the results: organized spacey closets, clothes we can see and reach. We had lunch break; now it's time to get back to the fun!


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cloud 9.5

Yesterday, as we were getting ready to go to dinner, I told Ahmed that he turned six and a half last week. He was absolutely thrilled by the news. "Now I'm older than Anthony," his classmate who is really only one month younger, but he's not yet officially six and a half! "Dad, when am I going to be almost seven?" That's the next tick on his age scale. So we went to dinner at one of our regular hangouts. Moody announced his promotion at every opportunity: at the door, while waiting for a table, and to the waitress--at least once. So Hana conspired with the waitress and surprised him with a little bit of celebration.

A few servers brought out the cookies and sang Happy Birthday. He was just elated by the whole thing. He made a wish and blew the candle, and then could not stop thanking everyone! All the way home and afterward, he was just full of compliments and very expressive. As I tucked him in bed, he said, "I really love what you and Mom did for me, Dad. You're the best." That pulled me up to cloud 9, just half a click below where he was.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I'm done with exams! I'm on break till January! Yippie! And watch out, I'm a certified Green Belt now!

Yesterday morning, Tala told me that she "had a very bad nightmare." She said, that she "uncovered" the toothbrushes, and I was "very unhappy" with her and then I flushed Moody in the toilet! I couldn't help but laugh, and of course, Moody joined me. Tala got upset, "Stop laughing about my nightmare. It is not funny; it was scary!" We don't really flush our kids down the toilet, so don't get any ideas! We just happened to see Flushed Away at the theatre on the weekend. And when I asked her how she "uncovered" the toothbrushes, she said "I lifted the carpet. They were under the carpet."

Moody Hip-Hopping!

Tuesday was parents observation day at Straub Dance for both Moody and Tala. Moody and I "observed" Tala in the morning. Tala was pouting and had a long face most of the time and kept saying, "I'm hungry." Talk about public embarrassment. Before we got to her class she kept complaining that she was tired and "weally weally need to sleep." Later, Sol and Tala "observed" Moody in his after-school class.

After the "observation" I went digging for the recital DVDs of last year. We got them sometime in June, but never watched them. The Friday recital DVD that had Moody's number didn't work, the Saturday DVD worked. Watch the video above (you need flash). Digging for the DVDs, I found the CD for Tala's numbers. The song for her Friday dance is All I Really Need by Raffi Cavoukian who was born in Cairo to Armenian parents. Interesting, isn't it? I like the song, especially the part that goes "All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly, love in my family." And sweet loving Tala was hungry! Enjoy the song:

And check out Raffi's Songs for Peace at this link.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Welcome to the new digs!

We decided to move everything to a real web host. This way we can have real storage space and a permanent address.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Tips of the Week

Tip #1: If you were born before 1970 and happen to be in a music store, don't ask a young rep to help you locate a CD!

The kids and I went to Best Buy for Yusuf's An Other Cup. I went to the "S" section and found Cat Stevens, but not the new album. I stopped a young salesguy, late 20s, and asked "Where do I find Cat Steven's new album, An Other Cup?" He said, "Cat what?" I replied, "Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam." He asked again, "Is that a group?" I got annoyed and pointed to the CD I was holding in my hand (shown below), "Read this: CAT STEVENS!" Still no clue! I went with him to a computer station and pulled it up from their web site. Now with the number he could find it, but not with the name. Are we that old?

I was driving with the kids the other day when they played In The End on NPR. Moody loved it and started asking about the singer and the songs. When we got home, I checked the album on iTunes and decided to buy it with The Very Best of... which I did today. Once we got in the car, Moody asked for In The End. I didn't know he picked the name of the song that day. And yes, Soad, Peace Train it is. It was my favorite in those old days, and still is... (I'm listening to it as I'm writing this)

Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come

And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again

Yusuf and Youssou!

The song The Beloved caught my attention; it had the same voice, and language that we don't understand, in Youssou N'Dour's CDs. No wonder, it is Youssou N'Dour himself singing with Yusuf. A great combination--awesome!

Tip #2: Don't get in a grocery checkout lane behind an elderly!

On the way back from Best Buy, we stopped by Kroger's. The checkout lanes were kind of long and the self checkout lanes are useless when I have fresh veggies in my cart since I'd have to wait for an assistant to ring them up. I picked a lane that had an old guy paying, followed by an old lady with 3 items in her cart. The man took his sweet time with the cashier arguing over something that was not on the shelf it was supposed to be. I placed a divider after the lady's stuff and started unloading my cart. She was so nice, and took on organizing my stuff on the conveyor belt. Then comes her turn to checkout. Remember, she had 3 items only! It took her 17 minutes to check out, arguing over the price of a pumpkin can that rang differently to what was marked on the shelf. Of course, the cashier needed a higher authority to override the price... Since I already unloaded, I had no choice but stand and wait, and remind Moody and Tala to keep their hands to themselves, "Don't touch anything! No, we're not buying candy! Because I said so! Please stop talking! For a minute please!" Finally it was our turn and the guy bagging the stuff asked me if I've seen the ad of a man who puts his girl in the back seat in the car and she goes on and on talking non stop. I said I have not, but I sure have two of those!

Tip #3: Before cooking today's dinner think what everyone had the day before!

I've been thinking about what to cook since I got up this morning. I didn't feel like cooking and was not in the mood, but knew I had to. Why? Because we ate turkey from Thursday to Saturday last week, had Chinese takeout on Sunday, KFC on Monday, some junk food on Tuesday, Pizza on Wednesday, went to Max & Erma's on Thursday! At Kroger's, I walked by the meat department and spotted Tilapia. Aha, there's a delicious, easy meal: baked Tilapia and brown rice with veggies (peas, carrots, onions, scallions, cilantro, and garlic). I was stirring the rice and veggies when the picture of what Sol had for dinner last night jumped to my mind: baked Halibut with rice and veggies! Oh, no! But, of course, mine is different and yummier. So Sol, just enjoy it, OK? Sorry!

Tip #4: Don't plan any electricity-dependent activities during bad weather!

The weather is terrible today. Rain, thunderstorms, and wind of over 40 miles-an-hour (~65 km). Tornadoes are expected in the region. Bad weather and thunderstorms could very likely lead to power outage. I started the cooking and the power goes out, back on, out again... till I gave up and put the cooking on hold. The kids got excited and were running around the house flipping light switches to see if the power is out everywhere in the house. When the power came back to stay, I found every single light in the house on!


Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Sigma-Digital Generation!

On Monday, Moody gave me the weather report for the three days. The report he gave, based on My Google, was "Sunny partly cloudy today; cloudy tomorrow; and rain on Wednesday." He was upset on Tue. because it was not cloudy, but sunny. He protested, "Why did they change the weather. They shouldn't change it after they tell us what it will be. That's not fair!" At 6:30 am today, while I was still in bed dreading getting up with the headache, I heard him telling Tala, "Let's go check the weather on My Google." I think we have to password-protect the computers in the house. It's scary what he might come across. It's amazing how much this generation knows. Moody doesn't even use the computer or surf the Internet unless we're checking a site together, getting some information for him, or shopping online together. Believe it or not, we still don't have a video game in the house! He's been talking about it lately, especially after he discovered that Ennis has PSP; he wants Xbox 360. We told him he can get a dog at age 10 and Xbox at age 12, or vice versa. Guess what, he picked the Xbox at age 10, and dog at age 12. I don't think so! I will delay getting a video game in the house as long as possible; books are better; board games are better!

The other day, I was studying for Six Sigma on, Moody peered over my shoulder and said, "Six Sigma?! It's Sigma Six, Mom, not Six Sigma!" So I found that there's a cartoon show called G.I. Joe Sigma 6. I was searching Google for that, and Moody said, "Just go to G.I. Joe dot com. It's easier!" Talk about getting kids in sync with their parents lingo and world! I guess it's the Six Sigma/Sigma Six generation!

I have not really gotten over the flu of weeks ago. I've had severe one-side headache for the last three days. Of course, I couldn't get an appointment with my doctor soon, damn the doctors! I knew I needed antibiotics, but she wouldn't prescribe them without seeing me, and she can't see me soon! This morning, the headache was severe, so I drove to the nearest urgent care. The doctor was nice, and very interested in Libya and what he read about it recently in some travel magazine. Veered off... So, I have acute sinus infection and got out with my antibiotics and decongestant/headache prescriptions. Finally, I'm almost pain free now after taking the medication!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Take

Thanksgiving was special in a special way for me. While the turkey was roasting in the oven, I dialed home in Libya. I had a very sweet chat with Amoola, then Ayman, followed by Mama. The call ended leaving a warm nice feeling of peace, love, and sharing of the occasion. Once I hung up, I was pinged on messenger. It was Ennis and Juju. Another sweet chat filled with laughter, warmth, peace and sharing of the occasion!

I'm thankful for having Suliman! Yes, he's my husband, and yes, he's supposed to be there for me in thick and thin. But what I put him through, or what the circumstances of my life put him through, is a lot for any human to handle. What we went through this summer, the combination of me being away for the internship then the Lebanon ordeal, was a test that would either make us or break us. I had many fears back then that it would break us. Suliman stuck through it all--all the way! A wonderful man; a wonderful husband--one of a kind! Yes, you bet, I'm lucky! We both are!

I am thankful for wonderful Moody and Tala, the very caring, very sweet, ever entertaining, never boring, little angel-devils, apples of my eyes. I'm thankful that they now wash up by themselves, they clean up their place settings when done eating, they make their own peanut butter sandwiches, they pick up the mess they make even if after they tire me asking them to do so.

I'm thankful for connecting the broken links in my life, for building bridges, for picking up again with Ennis and Juju, for the many amends with the many dear ones that took place over the summer.

The weather has been incredible and that contributed to the good times that were had during the Holiday. To top it all off, I have received word yesterday from a company I interviewed with that an offer is coming my way. I have been interviewing a lot lately, but that was the one single company that I wanted to get an offer from. I was so glad to hear that, though I was told the offer details are still in the works. I'm thankful that I don't have to deal with the anticipation anymore!

I'm thankful that 2006 is almost over, and a new year is coming our way with new beginnings--I hope!
I hope!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Follow Up

Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be a good one this year--very good one. It is a nice American tradition, although I now know that saying that much might rub some people the wrong way. I recently read and discussed Halloween with one Libyan blogger who was "nauseated" by discovering that some Libyans celebrate Halloween. It is a "pagan event," according to him, and as disgusting as a "Japanese with blond hair." How's that for telling your bigotry like it is? I believe he was referring to people like us and our friend Soad who had posted about Halloween and the Libyan tradition of scary storytelling. She recalled some interesting characters like Ms. al-Fattasha (The Searcher) and--now my favorite--Mr. Karkar Mesarinah (Dragger of His Entrails), and I sent her a note of appreciation with some more information, which you can read on Soad's Enchanted Sereeb blog.

It's strange that anyone would reject a tradition like Thanksgiving on "moral" grounds. Blogger Khadija Teri is an American living in Libya for the past 17 years--did you get that, American, OK? She was told by someone who called her "sister," OK?, that her celebration of Thanksgiving was a form of imitating the unbelievers, entirely forbidden for her as a Muslim now. Aayew-Keh! I gave my two cents on that one, too, and it actually took me back to my very first Thanksgiving--ahem--29 years ago. I had been in the US only six or seven months, and I was the guest of the Rietz family who had kindly offered to host university students for the occasion. After recalling the nice experience on Khadija's blog, I dug up an old picture that Mrs. Rietz had sent me afterward. Take a look and have a laugh--quietly, please.



Just a day's worth of difference! In case you're having trouble... I'm the one with the olive-tree thing on his head, not to mention the cobweb on the jaw and the hang-glider collar. Guys left-to-right: Bill, Gary, Mike, and Suliman. Girls: Gail and Connie (Mike's friend, I believe.) A nice memory.

Our guest, Taher,
is new in Columbus

We eat like this everyday!

I think this year's dinner was probably the best we've ever had. Hanu made everything at a good pace (two days). I helped on the sidelines, but Hanu really deserves the thanks for an excellent meal. You see that salad in the foreground, with the dried apple chips? I visited that three times! Actually, I think I tripled on everything lol lol. Taher had a nice time, too. Hanu actually helped him locate some relatives in Ohio, using Google! He only knew that they lived in a place on Interstate-80, and their names of course. He dropped off his number online and probably heard from them by now.

I'm thankful for the women in my life...

and this satisfaction-silenced critic!

We listened to music by Youssou N'Dour, who gives a whole "nother" flavor to the Mawwal (improv.) in his Egypt album. I usually can't understand a word he says, but I love the music. It is influenced by all sorts of factors, from local Senegalese, to Sufi and even Cuban influences! We saw him live last time he came to town, at the OSU campus actually. He was great, the crowd sucked! Here is a little bit of a track that fit the occasion.

We also listened to a favorite CD by VOX, which is a European group that produced this album called From Spain to Spain, featuring various pieces of Andalusi Sufi-style poetry by Muslims and Jews (not so odd then) as well as some Christian music. The group has a Lebanese female singer, Fadia el-Hage, who sounds a lot like the legendary Fairuz and probably comes from the same lineage of Lebanese Church music. It's interesting that the first Christian churches to play music were in Lebanon, way back, and of course they were met with pioneer's resistance. Here is a sample from the VOX album...

The weather was excellent: sunny, no wind and high temperatures near 70 degrees! (about 20 °C). We took walks on Friday and Saturday.


Moody had lost his glasses last week and insisted that it happened in the van. I finally found them by taking out his seat and shaking the hell out of it! Sure enough, the seat had swallowed the glasses--known to happen. There he is with newfound glasses, checking the trail map and reading away. He is doing very well with his reading at school and everywhere. He surprises us all the time now. Today, he gave Hana a weather report for the next three days. When she asked him how he knew, he said he'd gone to the office computer and "clicked on MyGoogle and read the weather." lol lol We walked the outer trail, which means I dragged the wagon for about 4 mi (6 km). No deer this time, but we saw a sleepy owl that was awakened too early I think. This park has a lot of deer, maybe too many, but we see them more often at twilight (am and pm) and sometimes in large groups.

The sledding hill awaits the snow
the sledding

After all the rolling, Ahmed's glasses
were lost and found again

Yeah, thanks to my unaided eagle eyes, we finally found those glasses! Why, it was like looking for... brownish-wire-rimmed glasses in the drying grass, that's all! I tell you, Hanu, nothing's wrong with my eyes, only my arms are getting too short. And never mind my olive tree, it barely qualifies as ground cover now! lol lol lol.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

This isn't just a turkey,
As anyone can see.
I made it with my hand,
Which is part of me.

It comes with lots of love
Especially to you.
I hope you have a very
Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Dregias Thanksgiving menu:
  • Turkey
  • Peach and mango chutney
  • Gravy
  • Rice with almonds, pine nuts, and raisins
  • Candied yams
  • Green beans casserole
  • Pecan chocolate tart
  • Pumpkin pie (Sol and I don't like it, but Moody insists "with whipped cream!" I doubt that he will eat it.)
Guest: Taher

Wednesday, November 22 updates

Pomegranate, yams, and the indian
corn that Moody got from field trip

Moody, Tala and I don't have school today. It's a looong Thanksgiving holiday that extends till Sunday--5 Days! I went grocery shopping with Moody and Tala. They were very very good; I was amazed. I haven't been grocery shopping with them for quite a while--I haven't been grocery shopping for a while, a year maybe? I'm sure Sol remembers exactly!

I got us some pomegranate. It fits so well with the menu, and with orange blossom water and some sugar--hm hmm, heavenly! I also got the "7bash" for salad: apple chips, dried cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts (to be candied), and poppyseed dressing, and yes, mixed greens labeled "No Spinach Sans Epinard!"

The store was crowded, but it was a happy, good-spirited crowd. I love the holidays. You can't help but be happy and cheerful too, it's contagious. There was a sign on one of the dairy fridges saying "Sorry, we're out of whipping cream!" Darn it! I should always buy it in advance. I remember I always have a hard time finding it the day before Thanksgiving. I had to make another stop for that and was successful.

All the time in the store Moody kept asking, "Did you get all the ingredients for the pumpkin pie?" And he would ask for everything I throw in the cart, "Is this for the pumpkin pie?" Well, the pumpkin pie is in the oven. It's my first. The smell is nice, and it's not overflowing yet--so far so good! I better get started on the pecan tart, then the chutney.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


A thrilling and beautiful game!

The Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines!

Next, it's Glendale, Arizona for the National Championship game. The second time in four years!


Friday, November 17, 2006

Game of the Century!

We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan
O, we don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan
The whole state of Michigan, the whole state of Michigan
We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from Ohio
We're from Ohio...O-H
We're from Ohio...I-O
O, we don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan
The whole state of Michigan, the whole state of Michigan
We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from Ohio

This is one of the songs that exemplifies the rivalry between the Ohio State University and Michigan University, as well as, the rivalry between Ohio and Michigan. The rivalry between OSU and Michigan can be traced back to a feud between their respective states which began in 1835. The state of Ohio and the Michigan Territory fought a bloodless conflict with one another in a border dispute known as the Toledo War. Some have proposed that the college football rivalry is a modern manifestation of this historical tension.

Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is the intense rivalry between the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University football teams. Michigan and OSU ranked first in an ESPN poll conducted in 2000 of the greatest North American sports rivalries. Since 1918, the game has alternated location between Columbus, Ohio, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has been played in Ohio Stadium since 1922 and Michigan Stadium since 1927. Since each school routinely ranks among the strongest in the country, the game often has implications upon the Big Ten Conference titles, Rose Bowl, and the National Championship.

It is no small wonder why We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan came about. Though a very popular song, especially when Ohio State plays Michigan annually in the Big Game, We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan's date of arrangement was written in this timeframe. The song appeared in the Broadway show "The Male Animal" (1940), and the subsequent movie in 1942, as We Don't Give a Darn for the Whole State of Michigan. James Thurber, an alumnus of The Ohio State University, and a famous writer and cartoonist, contributed his expertise to the production of the Broadway show. It is unknown if this song was written for the play or was already in use beforehand.

Even though Ohio State University is not mentioned in the productions, it is quite obvious that Thurber's Buckeye roots were showing. There is a reference to Hennicks, a former drug store and soda fountain that existed well into the 1950s on High Street; the main commercial center on the eastern boundary of The Ohio State University campus. The characters, in the productions, tune to frequency 1210 AM to listen to the game; 1230 is an AM frequency that is assigned to Columbus, Ohio.

[Sources: Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry, Wikepedia;
Songs of The Ohio State University]

Postscipt: Legendary Shadows

The champions of the OSU-Michigan saga are the legendary headcoaches Woody Hayes (OSU) and Bo Schembechler (UM). Interestingly, both OSU and Ohio in general can claim Bo as one of their own. He was born in Ohio, and while a student at Miami University (of Ohio), Bo actually played for Woody, then became his assistant coach at OSU, before moving on and coaching "that school up north" for a couple decades.

Woody is an American cultural icon, despite having left the game on a sad note, where he let his bad temper be his final memory. Woody gave a face to American hardass. He is still remembered for a lot of good, not least of which, the wisdom recorded in his sayings. One of my favorites is, "You can never give back, but you can always give forward."

Sadly, yesterday, on the eve of what could be the greatest episode, Bo Schembechler died at the age of 77. They're planning a moment of silence in his honor at today's game. I hope the game will live up to expectations and thus be the fitting tribute to Bo, that nothing else could be. I hope our boys show that we do give a damn for Bo! --S.D.

Go Bucks!