Friday, March 31, 2006

A Day of Excursions

The kids paid Sol a visit at work this morning. They brought back "materials, atoms, and treasures," said Moody. When I picked them up, Moody's first comment (when Sol was not there to hear) was "Dad's office is messy!" Tala was quiet all the way to the mall.

The mall trip was supposed to be two stops for specific things and then home so I can do some studies before we head out again to meet Corey and Ann. Well, it didn't exactly turn that way. At the cosmetics counter, Tala, spent some time trying on makeup with Moody lending a hand and offering advice. She put loads of powder on her face that made her look dusty and ashy! Walking by CPK, Tala said, "I'm hungry for pizza." Moody seconded, "I'm starving for pizza." So I promised them we'll have lunch there if they were good shoppers. We troted from one store to the next, trying things and forgetting about time. I bought myself a nice everyday handbag, and I realized that I haven't had one for a long time since it was diaper bags and backpacks for years.

More trotting and some more buying, and then Moody realized that he left his coat at Macy's. So we walked back across the mall to get his coat when I realized I forgot a shopping bag at the handbag store at the other end of the mall... more trotting back with couple more stops. We finally made it to CPK and had a nice lunch as the picture proves. When we got to the car, Tala announced that she left her lunch tote somewhere in the mall. It was too late to walk back in, but I promised her to go back for it another time.

Next excursion was to meet Corey and Ann at the Recreation Outlet. Corey visits "Granny" from Indiana and we try to get him and Moody together when he does. The recreations Outlet is an interesting nice place. It is a showroom for playground equipment that later turned into a playplace and birthday-parties place for children. Smart idea. They charge $3 per kids and have rest rooms, water fountains, and benches for adults. A good place to go to in rainy or cold days. Apparently not many know about it; it wasn't crowded. Hush! Don't tell!

Last excursion of the day is taking Grandma Jazz et al out for dinner... Off we go!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hanu in the news!

The MidEastConnect e-zine says it is "dedicated to young, driven, forward thinking and like-minded Middle Eastern professionals." They publish weekly features on individuals and organizations. This week, there's a feature on the Tibra Foundation; and the managing director, Hanu, is front-n-center! We can confirm the "long hours" part mentioned there, but we are also very supportive of the Tibra project and proud of Hanu, our own special Tibra. Way to go and keep up the hard work!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Bird Curse!

I have posted the following as a comment in Highlander's blog, From the Rock, but then I thought I might as well document it here so my children would know what awaits them if they decide to adopt birds!

My family, Dad's side, believe that birds bring bad luck to whoever owns them in the family. It goes a long way back, when my father's uncle had hens and his house was burnt down. Another had hens, years later, and his son died. My family took in the neighbor's birds while our neighbors were out of town and I fell really sick (I was about 2!) My mother took the birds out of the house and put them on the roof; I got better, I was told! My cousin came from Uganda to Benghazi with that beautiful parrot. A caravan of cars headed to Derna with my cousin, parrot, and all. The car that had the bird started fuming... The elders in the family demanded the bird be released at once and so it was! There are many other ancient stories of the bird curse in my family but can't remember them all...

Back on track... My mother doesn't want any birds around our house (in Benghazi,) so my parents sprinkle bird poison on the roof so no birds would nest there. The other day, they found a dead pigeon, and guess what. Gloves and masks came out... "The bird flu is here," declared Dad. After consulting with the neighborhood "experts" and “dignitaries,” they opted to bury the bird instead of burning it, and to sanitize the whole roof. Now, everybody in the neighborhood is on alert for dead birds.

I looked for a bird's picture to add to this post, but then decided not to... Better safe than sorry!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Big Ohio News!

OK, our local news media in Columbus... hmm, how can I be diplomatic? Let's say, they work very hard to define mediocrity. Almost daily, Hana and I would make bets on the number of crime items that would lead the evening news. What do we have, two shootings and an armed robbery, any straight up murders? Sometimes when things are fairly peaceful in town, you can really see their desperation! They'll go for anything, cheap imports from other cities, weird animal births, you name it! Well, tonight, I think I already know what will lead the evining parade of News without Clues... It's from Athens, our Athens here in Ohio, not that other place!

Burglary suspect flags down wrong car
Friday, March 24, 2006
Randy Ludlow


Two men driving the back roads of Athens County spied a muddied figure frantically motioning for them to stop. The man walked up to their pickup and asked for a ride, saying his car had broken down. They were more than glad to give the hitchhiker a lift — straight to jail. They were deputy sheriffs, and the man was the burglary suspect they were looking for.

and there's even more...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hanu is 40!

Happy Birthday!

You look bossy, Mom-- Moody.

Make room for the birthday girl, y'all, it's the big Four-Oh for Han-nu today!

Welcome to the age of maturity, Hanu, we love you and look forward to keeping you forever.

Our friend Nadia made a wonderful 'Aseeda for Hana's breakfast today, with honey, date syrup and all the fixin's. It was really delicious, and I am not usually a big Aseeda fan. Interestingly, Aseeda is made on various special occasions, including the celebration when a newborn reaches 40 days old. Well, thanks, Nadia, for making Aseeda on my baby's 40th.

عصيدة الأربعين

Suisse Almond

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is it spring, or is it not?

It was very sunny and bright over the weekend--so deceiving, yet tempting! On Sunday, the kids rode their bikes to Hoff Woods. The sun was nice, but the temperature was only in the forties. There were many people out, on the roads, at the park, and all garages were open—a sign that spring is here. It's amazing how the neighborhood seems deserted in winter as if nobody lives there; come spring, people come out of their hibernation!

Today—the official first day of spring—the high is 30° F and it's snowing!

This morning, Moody and I went to get some flowers for Grandma Jazz. He helped pick the flowers for the bouquet, and picked a rose for me. "You're a mother too, Mom," he said, and I thought, heck why not celebrate two mother's day a year.

Next, we picked Tala up from school. Morgan's mom said Morgan told her that "Tala should come and play with me. She doesn't have a sister." When her mother told her that she didn't have a sister either, she was surprised by the fact and felt bad for herself!

At home, we put my Libyan-Mother-Day-rose in a Libyan vase (it's actually Tunisian, I believe), and placed it near the children as per Moody's suggestion.

I'm in spring break and the kids are in school--sucks big time!

Happy Mother's Day, a la Libie!

Today, March 21st, is Mother's and Children's Day in Libya.

All you mothers out there: Happy Mothers Day!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thought of the Day!

I'm in Spring break--finally! This past quarter seemed to stretch and stretch and stretch. Like Moody, I'm so proud of myself; I got the grades for two classes and still waiting for the third. Lately, I haven't been keeping up with the blog and the same trend will continue next quarter too with me taking four classes and one group studies. There's so much to do around the house and we have to get to some of it during the break. Sol and I committed to cleaning closets... It seems like I'm always cleaning closets; in reality I'm always only talking about cleaning closets. There's also the yard with some prep work for the Spring. The tulips have already come up and got snow over them a couple of times, but they're still doing fine--I hope they survive.

Tala has a habit of making things disappear. For example, her Cinderella doll disappeared for months and months; we looked every where but couldn't find it. Every time we're at a toy store, she'd want one, but we remind her of the no-replacement policy for lost toys. Few weeks ago she told me it's under her bed, and sure it was. I struggled with moving the trundle, the rug, and keeping her and Moody out of the way, till we were able to "rescue" Cinderella. Coincidentally, she found the Barbie Fairytopia doll, that was missing for quite some time, on the same day.

In the house, Tala is always in her Cinderella dress... and I'm always "Stepmother!" One time I said to her "I love you, Cinderella." She replied, "you're my Stepmother, you should be mean!" For weeks, she had been wearing the dress with one slipper, because the other one went missing. She'd be walking around the house limping with the awkward sound of one slipper clicking on the floor. It fit the story perfectly to have one slipper and we were waiting for Prince to knock on our door one day with the missing slipper.

Yesterday, she came running, yelling with excitement, "I found my slipper!" Bummer, I guess we can't expect a prince to show on our door with a slipper anymore.

Now to the thought of the day. Yesterday, Moody was doing well eating his dinner, while Tala was only eating salad and nibbling on baked potato. Sol pointed to her that Moody is growing because he's eating his dinner, and she's not. She faked some sobbing and said "I'm not going to grow. I will not see my parents dead. I will not see my Mom when she's buried." Such blessing to have a daughter who knows her priorities in life.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"I Can Read!"

Tuesday, March 7, Moody read a book all by himself for the first time—cover to cover!

Barbi started him on sight words and then moved on to the Scholastic Phonics Fun Reading Program. His first read was "I See My Dad."

I wasn't home on Tuesday and came after the kids went to bed. Wednesday morning, he was all over me wanting to read me the book. He read it for me many, many times that day! He took it to school and Ms. Mason made him read it to the whole class. He's so proud of this achievement, he'd been telling everyone he meets "I can read!" That's what he told my Dad on the phone yesterday after telling him "Hana told me you are her dad."

Since that first reading victory, Moody reads more of those books in the series by himself and has taken interest in reading everything that comes into sight: street signs, store signs, traffic signs, restaurant menus... And now he's more interested in learning to write. If you come to our house, you'll find papers everywhere with "I my Harry Potter," for "I am Harry Potter." He's been on my case while I'm trying to write this post; he wants me to spell "Goblet of Fire" to him while he writes it down.

Oh, what joy! Barbi, you're awesome—thank you, thank you, thank you!

On Wednesday, last week, I spent about an hour with Moody on adding the numbers from 1 to 5. He didn't need more than that hour! He amazed us how quickly he picked it up.

Lately, both Moody and Tala have been artistic. This painting on the right is of our family by Tala. Moody gave me the one above and said, "Keep it in your room to remind you of me when I have my own house."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, Nahla!

Benghazi, March 15, 1983.

Happy Birthday!

My sister, the youngest in the family. Here she is in this picture taken a year ago or so with Mom. She's engaged and to be married this summer! Unfortunately, I don't really know the Nahla in this picture. The Nahla I know is the one in these pictures here.

We had a special bond in those days. She visited and spent times with me, when I was studying in Geneva, on her way to and from Pré Fleuri in Villars. Together, we used to go shopping for her at 012 in Malta. It was fun, and she was the best shopping companion, given her age. I remember her ballet classes at that place in Sleima on top of the movie theater at the corner of that one-way downhill street.

I was told that after I got married in 1991 and moved to Beirut, she spent times in my room crying. Mom keeps saying that I left another Hana there--Nahla looks, walks, talks, and behaves like me. Others in the family agree... Good for her!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Suliman!

Born in Mesrata, Libya, March 12 (not really,) 1960.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Many Meanings of Tala

In a comment on a previous post, our friend Aisha (the Misratiya) asked what the name "Tala" meant and whether it was Arabic. So I started to put this post together back then, and finally it is done! So here is the story of Tala's name to Aisha and all.

By the time Tala was born, my mother had passed away, and there was some expectation perhaps that we would name the baby after grandma. Perhaps the expectation was stronger because of my special love and care for my mother, and because it would have been the last (planned) chance to name a grand daughter after her. But when she was here for Ahmed, we talked about the subject and she made it clear that she really didn't want to put any pressure on me one way or the other. For my part, I think the gesture of honoring someone is out of place or misdirected if the honoree is not there to receive it. I also had "gotten my way" with naming Ahmed, which is a story in itself for another day. So, I was completely open minded about naming the second child and Hana and I picked it together from a name book, believe it or not! We both liked it, and in Arabic it happens to mean the same thing as the Libyan Wishka (young palm tree), which is very special to any Misrati.

When each kid was born, I got Hana something with the birthstone to commemorate the occasion. For Tala, the birthstone is Peridot, which is an appropriate color for a palm tree! And in Tala's case, I also found an interesting piece that relates to her name in a special way.

Tala's name in Arabic (تالة) has a lot of symmetry: It starts and ends with the same double-dotted letter, but the left one, called the "Ta" of femininity in grammar, looks and (informally) sounds quite different from the first "Ta". Visually, the name also has mirror symmetry. Now, with some calligraphic imagination, you might see how the pendant in the picture can be viewed as a rendition of the word (تالة), sort of transposed, with the gem representing both the first and the last letters, the four clamps representing the dots, and the upward arms representing the Alif (left) and Lam (right).

Shortly after Tala's birth, it occurred to me that the word seemed so simple and fluid that it porbably existed in other languages. Thanks to Google, I compiled a collection of the meanings of Tala in various languages, which is listed below.

In Libya

* Arabic: Tala (تالة) Synonym: Faseela (فسيلة) In the Libyan dialect: Wishka (وشكة)

A young palm tree, usually an offshoot growing next to a larger mother. Similar woman's name in Latin-based languages is Palmetta. But Tala in Arabic can be used on any kind of tree that is transplanted, as opposed to a tree/plant started from a seed.

* Berber: Tala (in Arabic letters تالا ) means Spring or Fountain.
Famous Person: Nana Tala, i.e., Grandmother Tala, a pious woman buried outside the city of Jadou, I believe.

Oddly enough, according to Libyan law today, it is illegal to name children with non-Arabic names, especially Berber names, even though the official government line is that the "Berbers are ancient Arabs." So, they're ancient Arabs, but their names are illegal because they are non-Arabic, OK? Go figure! This makes the name Tala uniquely qualified for the ultimate naming conondrum for Libyan official record keepers! She has no official record of birth in any language but English, which means her birth name is "Tala." If we were to register her in Libya, we would have to decide on whether to spell her name as (تالة)، which would be perfectly legal, or (تالا), which is different by one letter, and is strictly illegal as it would be explicitly non-Arabic! The only thing approaching a commitment on our side is probably the pendant in the picture above, but still, the possibilities are certainly worth contemplating to understand something about the reality of life under a totalitarian dictatorship. Can any law be more asanine than that?

* Places Named Tala: Across North Africa there are a bunch of different villages/towns named Tala, often with a spring and of course palms. In Libya there is a village in the central region, near Hoon/Waddan area.

In India

Tala: A music term meaning rhythm or beat. Also means palm tree, interestingly enough, as in the name of a palm forest Talavana, or just tree as in Imli Tala (Tamarind Tree), and apparently Tala can also mean shade.

In Thailand: Tala means Green.

In Samoa: Tala is the name of the currency, some say a modified version of Dollar.

In Persian: Some sources say Tala means "gold," but I found out the persian word is really written as طلا not تالة or تالا, so this one counts coincidentally: the words happen to look the same in Roman characters, but the originals sound quite different.

In Filipino/Tagalog: Tala means star, or bright star, or morning star, which is also used for Venus.

In Estonia: Tala means Beam.

In Mongolia: Tala means Land. (As in Bayan Tala = Fertile Land).

In Greece: Tala means to bear, support or hold up.

In Native American: A female hunting wolf.

In Burma: It means Owner and a title like King. [oddly enough, there is a closeness of the Arabic words Mellik (ملك) = King, and Malik (مالك) = Owner.]

To us... Tala means all that and some! A palm, a cool fountain spring, a beam of bright morning starlight... simply heavenly, and that's how she evokes memories of her grandmother.