Friday, August 18, 2017

Strangers on a Train in Egypt

Asalamu Alaykom,

This is a picture I took from the train window.  Obviously, it was a dirty train window which I kind of like since it gives the photo a kind of impressionistic style.

Traveling by train in Egypt might not seem like a good idea with the recent train collision that killed 43 passengers.  That wreck happened the day after we had passed over the very same tracks leaving Alexandria.  We survived and they did not.  That's mighty sobering.

We already had bought our tickets for a return trip Alex, so there was little chance of us changing our minds and going by Super Jet.  That name "Super Jet" makes it sound like lightning fast air travel, but it's actually a big bus.  I would rather go by train.  A train is more reliable; we've had two buses break down en route (and we don't even use them that much).  A train is steadier, roomier, and safer.

On average, over the last years, there's been twenty-two deaths a year from train.  Now, remember, the train accidents aren't even happening every year:  they've been maybe every three to four years.  I'm saying the yearly average to make a point.  Each year in Egypt, there are 12,000 road fatalities.  The numbers speak for themselves.

We had tickets for the  6 AM train.  We travel second-class.  It's funny how "second class citizen" is a really horrible epithet to call someone in the U.S., but it's an honorable place to be on an Egyptian train.  Our seats were going to be in the first row on the second class car.  It gets air conditioning, so that's a plus.  The seats are well cushioned and mostly clean.  It's all good.

The problem was that second-class is a financially unattainable goal for many passengers.  They wish they could afford it, but they can't.  For me?  If I can't afford it then I don't lament it.  We live within our means.  For them?  They come into second-class and crowd around the seats of those who paid extra for that space.

I told my husband that I would not allow for anyone to grab a hold of our seats during the trip.  I had seen that on the previous trip.  I had seen a group of five men occupy two empty seats and the one who was perched on the edge of the arm rest used an arm rest across the aisle for support.  That seat had been occupied by a hijabi and his hand had been centimeters from her breast.  It was upsetting to see the disregard for her space.  I wasn't going to let that happen to us.

Every time passengers came into our car, I would sit up straight and tall and look a bit tough with a "Don't mess with me expression."  They stayed away from our seats.  If they started to touch my son's seat back, I would tell them in Arabic that it was his seat.  They would let go.

My hub was sitting across the aisle with an older, rotund man doing Suduko puzzles in a little book.  The man was incensed INCENSED when the wishful passengers would come on.  Turns out he was a government employee who thought he could regulate every place he occupied.  You can't really.  All you can do is appeal to their goodness.  He didn't get that.  I think he was really pushing the issue with his strong seatmate, my husband, next to him; he thought he had back up.

It got dangerous when the man got up OUT of his seat to PUSH a young man's arm out of the train car into the passage way so he could shut the door.  Yes, we were losing AC due to their wish to have the door open, but NO TOUCHY the other other passengers!  The young man started to posture in defiance.  I was really worried.  When he sat back down and cooled off, I leaned over and told him nicely that it isn't right to touch anyone.  I understood him, but didn't support him touching and that it could start a fight.  If there was a fight on the train, my husband would definitely be involved and that would be dangerous for all three of us.

Alhumdulillah, the man relaxed.  I saw into his eyes that he really heard me and that he knew he had been wrong.  He didn't do it again.

Why didn't we complain to the supervisor?  We did!  The worker checking tickets actually told the man that he should be nicer about the men going off to work.  Give them some space in the second-class train car!  They could have AC too!

This was a 6 AM train, if you recall, so really no one had to have AC at that time.  If there had been a real need, the situation would have been different.

It wasn't just men.  Women came into the car to stand around us.  I told off two pairs that my husband was sitting there and that it wasn't right for them to have hands on his seat.  The whole car heard her in Arabic trying to explain why she had a hard time that day and heard me answering (again in Arabic) that we ALL have our problems.  I smiled and pointedly asked in Arabic, "Would you like me to put my hands on your husband's seat?"

She laughed and said of course not.

The two younger women in front of my husband's seat laughed and smiled.  They knew.

Later, a soldier got on.  He actually wasn't a second-class passenger, but no one asked him to leave.  Hard to ask someone to leave who's risking his life for you.  The next time that the old man lambasted a passenger, he joined in with his thoughts.

The soldier announced on the train that we are all Egyptians who need to share.

That's when I got up.  Ya, me, the American, I got up and addressed the solider.

My husband right away told me to show respect because HE'S A SOLDIER.

I answered back that I had called the man Erees, or boss.  I went on to ask in my choppy Arabic if he was married.  He smiled and didn't answer, so I asked again.  The whole train is watching this show, by the way.  He answered that he was not.  I joked that all the unmarried ladies were happy about this and the two younger women giggled.

I went on to tell him that when you have a family inshahallah, you feel more protective.  You aren't as OK with letting a group of passengers crowd your seat.  It's not respectful for men to be crowding me and my space or for women to be doing the same to my husband.  A male passenger vocally agreed.

The soldier tried then to school me on the Egyptian way of caring and sharing.

I told him what I know to be true, "How many Egyptians are there on this train?  Can they ALL fit in this car?  Where is the limit?  Because if we let these passengers in, so they can get more space and more air, eventually NONE of us will have either.  If we are all hot and crowded together, when the next group of Egyptians come to the second-class, guess what those people will be told?  Get out!  So either we say it now or later, but not everyone can ride in here."

He sat down.

One of the younger women tried to continue a kind of debate with me, but I told her that I didn't want her to talk to me about it.  I wasn't very nice, but I really had to shut it down.

Soon after, the supervisor, as he walked through, started to get complaints that that AC wasn't working.  He said that it was, but the niqabi women were in a panic.  The babies were getting sweaty.  I took out my Chinese fan.

One of the panicking niqabis was the mom of the young woman I'd been curt with.  Her mom was running back and forth to the passageway door to feel the air.  She was told it was dangerous for her to be there.  It was also weird.  The passageway was filled with men.  Somehow, niqabi sisters often end up being less modest even though they are trying so hard to be the MOST modest.

She started to talk anxiously to the man with the tea trolley for some sugar.  The heat was badly affecting her.  I told her that I had some candy and gave her a caramel.  She took it and took her seat again.

Guess what the supervisor eventually had to do?  He had to kick out the passengers who didn't have a second-class ticket.  He even shut the door on the arm of one of them!  That almost started another fight.  The supervisor recognized that he had to finally do something by the book.  Egypt has a LOT of bending/breaking the rules to help others which actually screws it up worse.

The joke was really how the three of us grown-ups in that first row had policed the issue the whole ride, with many of the other passengers AND even the supervisor thinking we were rude or crazy.  In the end, the whole train car came to realize that we suffer when we act like we can share everything we have with others.  We can't...or rather we can, but it's not going to feel good!

The door was now shut.  The cool air from the AC started to be felt and we all relaxed again.

Shortly there after, we started our approach to Sidi Gabour Station.  That's when I saw another train out the window.  It was bent askew on the other tracks.  I questioningly looked to my husband and saw a train on its side out his window.  Between the wreckage, a group of police men sat drinking tea.  Truly Egyptian moment!

Yes, this was the scene of the train collision.  I looked out my window again and saw how part of the train sat on the tracks with each chair empty.  Each chair represented someone just like me, or like the soldier, or the niqabi, the young women, the babies, the men going off to work...who wanted to get to their destination safely, but didn't.

The train was so quiet in that moment.  It was a walk in the cemetery.  Around us, there had been chaos, injury, and death.  I kept saying "Allah yer hamo" for the victims.  I then decided to use my finger joints like counters to accurately remember the forty-three who died.

The young woman, sensing our imminent arrival, leaned over and told me that she hadn't meant anything bad.  She apologized.  I told her that we just needed to stop talking about and I was sorry that I didn't have all the right Arabic to tell her in a better way.  We accepted each other's wish to end the trip nicely.

The next moment, we had arrived.  I don't know how many people said, "Alhumdulillah" but really we all should remember that not everyone arrives at their destination.  If we are blessed enough to arrive, then it's best to express our gratitude.

We all grabbed our belongings, said our goodbyes and exited the train.  A new day awaited us.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Luxurious Camping

Asalamu Alaykom,

This internet connection I'm using is temperamental.  I've got to be sitting at an angle, by the door to the veranda with the window open for it to work.  At any moment, the green on my USB could switch to red and the dreaded signing off noise would sound.

However, internet is not the foremost of my concerns two days after returning to Alexandria.  Everything is about survival right now.  We are living in an apartment that we are not agreeing to keep.  It's a kind of cave with no connection to the outside world---and this connection is even MORE important to me than internet!  Outside, it could be sunny and breezy, the BEST weather in the world ---and we'd neither see it or feel it inside this insular space.  I see walls.  I see more apartments.

See the little bit of sky?  It's there between the neighbor's laundry and the top of the building.

I'm getting depressed in only two days!  Can you imagine how I would get in the rainy winter season inside this place?!

We've got to leave it and get a different apartment.  We went looking today with a man from the school that's hired me.  He had shown us a GREAT apartment in a wonderful neighborhood last week.

However, today, he told us today that the owner only wanted a single, foreign woman renter, i.e., no families.  Instead of getting that classy apartment with tons of charming character

and three balconies, we were shown a dreary, mismatched working man's flat.  Yellow!  Pink!  Orange!  Red!  Nothing matched, or as my husband said, "koshary!"  The furniture was old and very clunky Egyptian.  Yes, there were windows with fresh air and sunlight, but looking out, all we could see was a kind of apartment community without any neighborhood feel.  Well, there was a government school where we could be sure to have lots of noise from early morning into the late afternoon.  The place was a standard below what we're used to.

It's fine to be lower middle class, but I don't want to live that way myself.  I'm not a snob.  I can live anywhere if I have to...but I just don't think we have to live lower than what I'm used to.  I left Giza for better (not for worse) and for richer (not for poorer).

Thinking back, the man helping us misjudged who we are.  Yes, my husband is Egyptian, but his taste is for the American/European style.  He married me after all!  I'm not accepting an apartment he wouldn't give to an expat who has arrived from JFK Airport.  I've lived here eight years (exactly  this week), but that doesn't mean that my standards or tastes have altered to such a large degree.

Until we find better, we are camping out in our cave.  Nothing is really unpacked.  We're living from suitcases and I'm unsure how we're going to start cleaning clothes and getting them dry.  I haven't tried cooking in this kitchen that was left dirty.  I've cleaned out the refrigerator that was more petri dish than appliance.  It's been gross.  How do I cope?  I can cope with the belief that it's luxurious camping better than realizing that it's really sub-par apartment living.  If you can't adjust the situation, then at least you can adjust your thinking!

One thing that helps is knowing how much I need to get out of here and explore the neighborhood.  The neighborhood is wonderful and if we could stay around here, for sure we would.

Around the corner was a GREAT Syrian take-away restaurant.  It was much better than the Ravoli restaurant last night which did not actually have any ravioli...or chicken...or lettuce for that salad we ordered.  The Syrian restaurant is always busy and I'm glad.  I watched the workers strive in their new home.  They are making it work.

One of the men was so beautiful---not handsome like I was looking at a man out of some kind of desire.  This man was simply amazing to see.  His eyes were this bluish shade and I don't normally even notice eyes on anyone.  I saw him taking orders and wondered what life he left and what life he has now.  None of this could have been easy on him.

I had been fussy as hell after hearing about the failure to rent the great apartment and being shown the dowdy apartment.  As always, seeing someone else, and thinking of someone else's journey jolted me from my miseries and made me grateful for what we have.

Once back home again.  We prayed and seriously that helped a LOT.  The shwerma was really well done and even better with the garlic sauce.  We watched Kangaroo Jack and laughed.  After dinner, we talked and talked over what's going on with both facts and feelings.  Life isn't bad.  It is what it is.

We're camping out in Alexandria, Egypt and eventually we're going to get an apartment we love.

In shah Allah.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Moving Time

Asalamu Alaykom,

It's time to move.  

After running around to schools, government offices, the US Embassy, banks, and stores, we are on our way up north.

We've made one trip up to Alexandria already.  This is a picture we took from high on top of the Cecil Hotel.  For me, it shows a new life filled with new possibilities.

This morning, my husband was busy around the house as I sat at my laptop.  He curtly told me to get up because he wanted to clean the floor.  I got up, and as soon as I stood up, he called me over to him and we shared a moment of quiet understanding.  Both of us have our coping mechanisms and neither one is wrong.

This time is going to be stressful and painful just like any good birthing experience.  Transitions are not easy.  We all suck at transitions because we are forced to grow and change; we have to shed our old skin in order to live inside our new selves.  As a couple, and as a family, we are struggling with the move.

Does that mean we should stay put?


I reminded my husband why we are moving.

"Remember:  I prayed istakkarah.  I asked Allah for better.  I felt like I didn't have peace in two different places."

"Here and school," my husband said knowing the story too well.

"Yes," I agreed with him.  "I felt like my blessings were done both places.  I prayed for something better---a break.  I didn't know how and I didn't expect both problems to be solved, but they were.  I didn't want to leave our house.  I tried for a job nearby and for SIX MONTHS I waited.  Then, when this job came around, I went for it and it was so easy.  Subhanallah."

That's when he confided.  "I'm depressed to be leaving our home," my husband said and thank God he said it.  It's important for him to voice this and wonderful for him to get past years of thinking he had to be strong and silent.

It makes sense that this move hurts more for him.  It's his name on the contract for this place, not mine.  It is his father's legacy.  He lived here as a child when it only had a dirt floor and a leaky roof.  He helped raise it up to four floors of high quality living space.  It means history, family, security, and all his efforts to build a life.

He started to work again, but I stopped him with a gentle touch on his arm.

"Uthman, Ruqaya, Abu Bakr Sadek, Ali (radallahanhu) and Rasullulah (peace be upon him) all had to leave on hijrah.  They left for Medina because all their blessings were done in Mecca.  They left because they felt Allah had something better for them.  We're going to leave, but that doesn't mean we aren't coming back.  The Sahabi came back.  We'll come back inshahallah for Eid, and maybe even once a month.  Later, we can come back inshahallah to live here again."

It feels overwhelming to leave---for all of us.  Yet, I believe inshahallah we are doing the right thing.

Last week, while we were staying in Alexandria after bringing up our first load, I prayed istakkarah twice.  Should I take a different grade level that was being offered to me at my new school?  I hesitated because I'd already been planning for first grade.  Should we take the first apartment we'd been given?  It wasn't exactly what I wanted...I mean, it felt like a prison without any way to see the outside world, get some direct sunlight and see the sky.  

Amazingly, that morning, both options resolved themselves.  Someone else was found to take the empty position.  We realized that we weren't receiving phone signals at the possible apartment which was a complete deal breaker.  I felt again the Grace of God after placing my trust in Allah.

We are not moving there without the most important thing to bring along:  our faith.  Our faith is coming with us and therefore we can handle the challenge.  Doesn't mean we'll handle every moment very well!

There was the Quest for Fresh Bread that ended in a fight on the street.  If you saw us squabbling, then I'm sorry.  I've told my hub that he's fired from being our tour guide in Alex.  He really can only hold that position in Giza.  In Alex, we have got to work together T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R to figure things out.  When he stopped walking ahead, being the group leader, and actually listened to me, he was able to get both the information from me and the bread from the supermarket.

"You are lost in Alexandria and so am I.  We are finding our way, but alone you're only about fifty percent and I'm only fifty percent.  It's together that we can figure it out."

He heard me.

I hear him too.  This isn't a one-way street---he's pushing me in ways that make me get off my rump and get in gear.  He's supporting me in my career and in our life together.  It can't be easy to watch your family's life be so changed due to someone's wish for better.  That's a LOT of trust!

As for me, I know it isn't easy to be that person who is making such big decisions and to know that our lives hang in the balance based on how well I perform in my new job.

Deep breath.

I've been deep breathing more!  I had three weeks of stomach problems.  Some of that might have been a case of leftovers that should have been thrown out, but I think a lot of it was stress building up.  I literally am breathing in through my nose for a four second count, holding for four, and then slowly breathing out through my mouth.  I learned about this calming breath technique while getting ready for natural childbirth.

Like I said before, this is a birthing experience.  We are giving our life the chance to come to fruition.

Insha Allah.

It's scary.  I won't lie.  Last week, we made it home from Alex on Thursday, and on Friday there was a horrible train collision in Egypt.  Forty-three people died while on some of the same track we'd traveled.  Subhanallah.

It is a risk to leave your house---your home---and venture out into the unknown.  That means we have to believe that the risk is worth it.  There is no risq or blessing without some risk.  World languages have some clever jokes which you find when you learn more.  When you learn more, you see more AND when you see more, you learn more---both outside of yourself and inside yourself.

I need to see and learn more.

When I see what's happening in the U.S., I'm not exactly surprised.  It was right to leave eight years ago.  It's been EIGHT YEARS this week.  Incredible!  That country wasn't interested in having me remain.  I wasn't meant to stay there after coming to Islam.  I needed hijrah.  Alhumdulillah, I left and took my son to a country, which although it has its problems too, has accepted me. 

Today, marks four years since the Rabaa massacre in Egypt.  That was the closest I came to leaving Egypt because it didn't feel like I knew it any more.  I stayed.  It didn't feel good (especially after me having thought that the Egyptian Revolution's tough time was the worst it was going to be and that it was all done).  Eventually, Egypt has settled down and I have remained.

Staying in one place isn't really my style.  I do like to move, to change, to reinvigorate.  This move to Alexandria is a way to leave the status quo while staying within the boundaries of what's familiar.  It is a blessing and a way which I couldn't have realized without being open to God's Plan.  It hurts to be open and yet the rewards are there.  

"Life is not for the faint of heart" my mother always says.

She got a little weepy on the phone when she told me that she hated to think of me moving farther away.

"Mom!" I laughed.  "I'm actually moving CLOSER to you!"

Closer.  It's still a wide distance, but it's closer.  

If you can spare a moment, then please pray for us during this transition.  It's not us fleeing Mosul, or us in a boat migrating over the Mediterranean; I get that.  It's thankfully easier than that.  Alhumdulillah.  All the same, if you can imagine us being able to stay open to God's Plan and accepting our naseeb, our fate, gracefully, then I'd appreciate that energy.  

I pray for love and light in the coming days and weeks---

for you

for me

for the world.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Giving Water

Asalamu Alaykom,

During the hottest week yet this summer, we had an errand to run.  As a family, we went down our street with the aim to catch an air-conditioned taxi.  My husband and son, being males, focused on the goal ahead.  I, being female, noticed the little boy too short to turn on a faucet.  The water tap, supplied by the mosque, was meant as a form of charity.  They hadn't figured on this small guy being all alone and thirsty.

Despite the fact that I got in trouble the last time I tried to help a boy in my neighborhood, I stopped walking.  I asked my husband to help the boy.  Ahmed went over and filled the cup---probably a germy cup since it's used by ever passerby---and gave it to the boy.  The boy drank without thanking anyone because that's what kids do.

I thanked my husband as he returned to me and we continued on our walk.

"Mom," my own boy began, "how did you even notice him?"

"Didn't you see him?" I asked.

"No, I can't pay attention to everything!"

I thought and then replied, "I can't either, but I do notice the needy.  If I can help, then I do."

Over Ramadan, I found so much solace in helping the mama cat and her kitten.  To give them water and watch them drink has felt so good.  I'm sharing the video at the top of this post because an eco-friendly man found a way to record just who it was drinking out of the pail of water he had been leaving.


Later, on the day we were running an errand, I saw that, across the street, the cart with the Eid hats and noisemakers.  It was still being pushed with hopes that someone...anyone...would buy.  I marveled at that and even turned my head to watch him as he went away.  Then, I saw his feet without shoes.  His feet were on city street's burning pavement and he kept walking along without any protection.

I stopped and asked my husband if we could help him.

"You're too soft, Mom," my son complained.

"Mashahallah," my husband corrected, "Your mom is so sweet."

However, he wouldn't join with me in finding a way to get the man shoes.  The man stayed on my mind the rest of the day, the week, and into today.  We had the money; we just didn't have the time.  Astragferallah.

If I see him again...

and then I wonder why I'm the only one who sees him.  Doesn't anyone else see those in need?

If you see him...

or anyone else whom you can safely help today, then please do.


My rescue mission expanded from the animal kingdom to the plant kingdom when I saw a plant in need of help.

Seeing living organisms in need of help isn't hard in Egypt because there is SO MUCH need.  Maybe there is in other places in the world----I certainly saw a lot in the U.S.  Because I'm still a foreigner in Egypt (and always will be), I perhaps see the need that others don't.

It wasn't hard to see this particular plant as it was stationed right outside my window.  It used to be that we had an openness outside our salon window, but building higher and higher became a necessity all over our neighborhood (and all over Egypt).  As the family with the three grown sons increased their levels, our view decreased.  We ended up looking directly at their balcony...and the plant.

The youngest son is still unmarried, so he  hasn't moved in even though three plants are stationed on his balcony railing.  Two of the plants seem to weather the desert conditions pretty well.  Their leaves stay standing at attention.  Then, there is the other plant.  I think it's jasmine.  It wilts.  Not right away!  It tries to be like its buddies and take the heat like a cactus, but it can't.  When it wilted, I felt badly for it.

Could I knock on the door and tell the men's mother about it?

Not really (unless I wanted to be labeled The American Weirdo).

Could I talk to the wife of one of the brothers?  She lived one floor down and sometimes I would see her hanging out the wash.

She doesn't know me and might not understand me in our first meeting if I'm talking about a plant.

Couldn't I just disregard it?

I tried.

I failed.

I couldn't stop thinking that there was this precious little life that had brought me joy in this area where any form of gardening cheers me up.  I couldn't let it die!  I therefore did what any half-crazed American does:   I got my gun!

It's a water gun; a big Super Soaker from the States.  It's not the exact one in the photo, but pretty much like it.  We actually carried it back to Egypt with us when El Kid put up a fuss saying that he couldn't live without it.

It was fajr when I went into his room.  He was sleeping.  I stole borrowed his Super Soaker and filled it with water.  It has a pumping action that you have to repeat in order to build up the pressure.  I started it up and it WAS LOUD.  I could have truly woken up everyone---including my husband who had gone back to bed.  I knew that if I woke him up I would NOT be able to water the plant.

I primed the mechanism only a couple more times and then stuck it out the window.  That must have been a strange sight!  I wonder if anyone saw me in my prayer clothes with an atomic space-age weapon.  I pulled the gun back in when I realized that worshipers were leaving the mosque from fajr prayer.  It probably would be a bad deed to super soak faithful believers.

I waited.  I scanned the street.  No one was there and I didn't hear anyone coming.

I stuck the gun out of the window again and squeezed the trigger.  The water shot from our window to the neighbor's balcony.  It worked!  Now, I had to aim it better to get it into the flower pot.  Some of the dirt splashed out and hit the wall behind.  Oops!  I didn't mean to dirty their home.

I stopped and wondered if I should continue.  Could I get in trouble even if I was doing my best?  Ah, that's the story of my life, isn't it?  I decided that a living thing trumped outweighed a cement wall.  I shot again with better aim and no more splashes.  I gave some water to the other plants as well.  Didn't want them getting jealous.

I stood back and looked.  I don't know what I thought I would see.  It wasn't snapping back into shape like a slinky.  It was still wilted and I wondered if I had been too late.  Nothing left for me to do but go back to bed.

When the sun was up, I got up a second time.  My husband was already awake.  I went into the salon to see him and then I headed to the window.  I couldn't tell him.  I could only look secretly.  There it was:  the balcony with three plants and every one of them looked beautiful.

It had worked!  I had saved a plant.  Alhumdulillah.

Later that week, the neighbor man came to check on his future home and watered his plants.  After that, he forgot again and I shot again.  That time was funny because El Kid was sure that I was going to shoot the noisy children in the street.  Hmm...

I eventually told my husband.  He laughed.  He knows me well enough to know that he can't really stop me if I'm on a righteous kick.

For me, when I look out the window and see the healthy plant I feel a tenderness towards this fragile world.  It needs us to care.  I'm glad I cared---not just about the plant, but about everyone and everything that has mattered to me.  I hope I have done more good than bad in my life.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Eid 2017

Eid Saeed,

There wasn't much of a schedule any more.  Didn't have to rise early and eat suhour!  Freedom.

Woke at 4:00 instead of 2:20. myself.  No one else was awake.  It felt lonely for sure.  Both of the guys were still asleep.

I woke Ahmed up at 4:30.  I had already looked out the window and seen all the new clothes worn by the young boys and girls ready to show them off at Eid prayers.  Ahmed always goes for prayers on the grassy...sometimes muddy...meridian strip in front of the mosque.  Usually, in the mornings during the year, we see rats running around in this area, or maybe old men or little boys peeing in the bushes.  It is NOT where I like to pray.  Maybe bringing a prayer rug makes it better, as Ahmed did, but I stopped going after the first year.

Instead, I listened to some nasheeds from Maher Zain and Dawud W. Ali and organized those computer files.  I couldn't do much else on the computer since I'd used up my limit (with help from El Kid taking half a giga without asking).

When my hub came back, we ate some Eid cookies from his sister's family and drank coffee.  It's weird to re-start our normal lives again.  It feels odd, like we're doing something wrong.  Ahmed went back to bed.  He was as tired as I'd been the day before.

I would try to make some peach waffles, but they turned out to be more like peach wobbles.  I didn't have a waffle recipe in my book, couldn't look it up online, and so made a facsimile of them from a pancake recipe.  Didn't work.  

El-Kid and I ate them while watching the Bollywood epic Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (known as DDLJ).

I used to own a copy of it and know it by heart.  I got rid of the movie when I thought I needed to get rid of everything that was not Islamic in origin.  DDLJ is a fabulous Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol epic.  Sigh.  How wonderful to be able to watch that.  The subtitles are always in Arabic here, but I knew the story (and it isn't a hard one to figure out).  El Kid needed a little plot input and it was fun to share one of my favorite movies with him.


When Ahmed woke up, he got a peach pancake with honey as I'd given up on the waffles...or wobbles.  It still didn't turn out!  Whatever.  He still ate it as he watched the news from Egypt.  Thankfully, it was all about peaceful celebrations, alhumdulillah.  It was fun to see Alexandria and places we knew and would soon see again, inshahallah.


The time was speeding through the day.  We didn't have to plan the menu so carefully.  We didn't have to do anything so carefully!  We were carefree, alhumdulillah.

The crazy thing is that Ahmed was thinking to fast again the next day.  No one is allowed to fast the first day of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan.  Remember:  Ramadan is the name for a month in the Hijri or Islamic calendar. It's always misunderstood as the name of a holiday and it's NOT a holi-day or even a holy day; it's a holy month.  Fasting a day in the holy month of Ramadan is the same as fasting ten (for a total of three hundred days).  A year has 365 days, so to get a full year's coverage, fasting six more days in Shawwal is a good idea as each is worth ten.  Only the most observant go for it.  I wasn't planing on it---not yet anyway.

I talked to El Kid about his choices after Ramadan.  He doesn't want to fast additional days at all and it would be unusual if he did.  Additional fasting is optional, not mandatory.  What is mandatory throughout the year is doing his five prayers.  I want him to keep his five prayers now.  He's almost twelve now and it's time.  Yes, he's done so much better than his friends, but we can't live our lives based on being better than our friends; we have to be better today than we ourselves were the day before.

I made a deal with my son.  He did not have to fast additional days UNLESS he does not pray his five prayers each day this month.  If he does not do five prayers, then he fasts.  He needs motivation.  It's hard to be a mom and know how much to push your child and when.  Inshahallah, this is the right thing to do and that it will be an effective transition from boyhood.

Everything started to go badly at this point in our day, or at least in my day.

"Happily ever after" hardly ever happens.

I had watched my Indian movie and now my hub had control of the remote.  He watched an Egyptian movie.  My hub is fond of telling me that old Egyptian movies are so much better than anything currently on the screen. Well, the plot of this "comedy" was how the men were all cheaters behind the backs of their wives.  They were in bed, drinking, dancing, and WHAT THE HELL?  The worst part is that I couldn't really complain because each one of those elements had been in my movie (all be it in a different, more palatable form).

I fell asleep as I often do when I hate a movie (the movie Brazil comes to mind).  When I woke up, it was with a sudden start because my husband had gotten up and made some canned fish into mush in a bowl.  He was now mad as he thumped his dinner down on the table.  He wanted to eat when he wanted to eat and it was NOW!

The time was 5:00 PM and I was surprised that dinner time was happening without me knowing about it.  I looked at the food and couldn't eat it the way it was.  Instead, I went out to the kitchen and boiled some potatoes while I cut tomatoes and onions.  My one-month stay in Spain at sixteen had taught me how to make a delicious fish salad.  I was only missing some olives.

By the time I was done cooking, my husband was done eating.  My son and I sat at the table alone, said our blessing alone, and ate alone.  It was sad.  I was so sad.  It was a definite end to togetherness, routine, and Ramadan.

As if that wasn't enough, when magrib happened, my husband went to the prayer rug alone and prayed alone while I quietly cried.  He turned the TV on to the last episode of Ramez, but I couldn't watch.  I made my wudu and prayed with El-Kid in another room away from my husband.

I'm not sure what exactly snapped in our family that night, but it hurt like hell.  It reminded me of my son's father back in 2006 when I had seen so much good in him during Ramadan only to have him race to the divorce lawyer right after Eid.  Telling that to my son was a mistake.  My boy had stuck by me to cheer me up, and now I had brought him down.

Bad mom.

I had to stop this spiraling down before I crashed----not just myself, but my son.  It was not OK to let anyone else dictate my mood or my mind.  Yes, this had happened before, so I didn't need to freak out.  It did make me wonder what this meant for our family, our relationship, and our future AND THEN I had to STOP.  It was one day---not even one day!  It was one evening.  One evening does not forecast a future.

What to do?

I read Quran. I really did.  Ramadan was done.  My quest to read as much of Quran as possible was over, yet I needed Quran.  I read Surah Hud in the dark on my tablet.  I got really quiet and really alone.  I got centered.

After that, I could spend time with El-Kid without ruining his night.  I could see my husband without crying.  I re-entered my life with some acknowledgement of how tricky the transition is from Ramadan to real life.

The next two days of Eid went better.  We regrouped, ate together, went out together, and prayed together.  On the third day, we went out, bought clothes, ordered pizza, and watched the third mummy movie.

I haven't forgotten how bad that moment on the first day was, but I have forgiven.  None of us stay mindful 24/7 of those we love.  We screw it up.  All of us screw it up.

Being so very alone in the world---without friends or family nearby---means that I have to deal with my issues on my own without them and without their input.  It's a blessing and a curse.  Everything is like that.  Somehow, we have to exist in the middle.

Ramadan places us in the middle.  Eid shakes us a bit to see how much we'll stay centered.  Will we continue to pray?  How much of dunya did we miss?  Is Quran going to remain an active part of our lives, or will it become a dusty decoration?  Who or what will we worship alongside Allah?  Astragferallah for all our missteps in Eid as we try to navigate back into daily life.  

May Allah accept our prayers and fasting.

May Allah forgive us our mistakes during the month.

May all of our bad habits stay broken.

May we live to see another Ramadan.

Ramadan Day 29 2017

Ramadan Kareem,

This post is coming to you late, thanks to running out of internet.  I did, however, write it off line on the twenty-nineth day of Ramadan in hopes of posting it eventually.  Eventually is now.



Crackers with cream cheese and peace slices.  It's funny how pared down the suhour meals became.

Would this be the last suhour?

We thought it might be, but we'd have no way of knowing until night.  It is one of the stranger parts of Islam for any Westerner used to calendars and planners.  Yes, something MIGHT be happening tomorrow that will alter the next day completely.  Wait until the moon is sighted before knowing your fate.

It's seems slightly annoying on one hand, but on the other, it's glorious.  It's wonderful to admit that you have no control over tomorrow and that you simply have to relax and let it happen.  Anticipation is something we don't enjoy enough in this fast-paced world.  The last day of Eid...or maybe the penultimate day of us that feeling of the awesome unknown.



Prayed together as we have every day.  Normally, during the rest of the year, even though my husband and I always pray fajr, my son, at age eleven, doesn't.  To be together every day like this has been very unifying.

I have to think back to the times at the beginnings of my time in Islam when I didn't pray fajr.  Astragferallah.  I knew it was a duty and I really struggled with it.  The first hurdle to making it happen is the intention and alhumdulillah our family's intention is to do our five prayers on time.

El Kid is new to doing all the five prayers.  I've told him to focus on doing all five from now on---no matter what.  That is how I handled it for myself.  Do the prayers.  Do them all five at the end of the day before bed if you have to, but DO THEM.  Spreading them out, obviously, is easier.  Waking up past fajr?  Still pray two rakhas before starting anything else in your day.  Start structuring life around prayers with them as the focus and everything else falls into place subhanallah.

 After praying fajr, we went back to bed.

I awoke to the doorbell.  This can mean either one of two things:  either someone is at the door at an ungodly hour, or the electricity has gone off and come back on.  It was the latter.  Both require me to jump out of bed (for some reason, men never hear the doorbell or crying babies when they're sleeping).  I have to unplug the refrigerator and make sure nothing is being charged---otherwise, we could lose that electrical item.

Up I went to unplug the fridge and was surprised to see that the plug was out already.  I guess I had been wrong about men---or at least this particular man.  Survival isn't dependent on me this time around.  I went back to bed with the ceiling fan keeping us cool.  Thank God for electricity!

Off the electricity went again and off the fan went.


Time to get up.  The off/on kept continuing.  It felt like the power outages had been holding back all month, but finally they had to be true to their nature.  It's summer, people are using their air conditioners (not us) and their fans (us), staying up late with their lights, TVs and computers on (guilty).

Every time the power went back on, I had to rush around and get done what I wanted.  Our apartment's water pump shuts off with every power cut, so that means NO WATER.   I washed the dishes quickly, hand washed my grimy school bag and lunch bag, and I boiled some drinking water.

Swear to God, water is where it's at!  That's why I always keep six liters of boiled drinking water at all times, as well as six liters stored in the kitchen for washing up, and two large pails of water in the bathroom.  It might sound crazy, but during extreme times, we've nearly used it all up.  Water is a blessing.  It's good to make du'as for the 2.4 billion of our brothers and sisters in the world lack clean water and sanitation. 

I had the goal of cleaning up my stupid school mess before my husband woke up.  I have NO IDEA how he can put up with me making our entry area into a dumping ground at the end of every school year.  He does.  He has patience with me about this.  For weeks, he had let the books, papers, posters, and costumes sit in wait.  There was more mess than usual this time because I wasn't just ending the year, I was ending FIVE YEARS.  On the twenty-nineth of Ramadan, I threw away so much that I should have discarded long ago.  I then dusted and swept.  It looked so much better.

Ramadan is a time of bettering---not just ourselves, but our homes.  I don't think I could have let go of so much except at Ramadan.  That break from dunya makes me get distance from worldly possessions and see them for what they really are:  entrapments.  They weigh us down and drown us.  I thought of allllllllllllllll the times I've spent managing my stuff---sorting, storing, piling up, re-stacking, on and on.  That was a lot of time I could have spent with my son; time that I'll never get back again.  I made things more important than people.

I've been stupidly hoarding AGAIN, even though I tried to convince myself that I wasn't.  Teaching allows us to feed this propensity for gathering and storing.  We fool ourselves that it's all good and useful stuff and we fill up cabinets and drawers until there's no space left inside, so we let it sit in a pile somewhere else.  It's dumb.  It isn't just teachers either, it's the scholars with their books, the crafters with their supplies, the wannabe chefs with their gadgets.  It's all of us to some degree.  I'm owning up to it openly because I see it at systemic in modern life.



The electricity was on!  Having gotten the center of my home clean, I could then get my self cleaned up and pray.  I felt like I had sloughed off my former workplace and it felt good.

My husband woke up and was pleased to see the hard work I'd done.  I got a "good job" comment and then it was now my time to lay down.



I woke up for asr, but I was still tired from the morning's work.  For most of Ramadan, I'd been careful not to get too tired out, but with the feeling that this was the last day, I had pushed myself to do more.  After praying, I lay down again to read more Quran.


I finished Surah 10 Yunus.  Alhumdulillah.  If that's that's all I read in Ramadan, then that's all I read.  It's more than I usually read during the year, and even more than I usually read in Ramadan.  Inshahallah, I will read the rest of the Quran this way (even the thirteen surahs on mp3 that I don't have) before next Ramadan.  It would be great if I could do it before the end of the summer.

I slept.  I hadn't meant to sleep.  When I awoke, I was shocked to learn that it was after 6:00 PM.  How did that happen?!  I must have been very tired.  We aren't machines and fasting is so taxing on our systems.  It isn't supposed to leave us feeling so strong the entire month; we are supposed to feel a bit broken down.

It's a reminder of our time on earth.  We start off life with more energy than we have when we leave.  If we think our life is hard now, then imagine how it's going to be at the end.  We need to get done what we can while we can.



The prayer came so quickly and it felt like such a relief since we were all thinking that it was the last day of fasting.  We wouldn't know for sure until later when the scholars would either confirm or deny.


We had three koftas left over from last night.  I've finally convinced my hub not to eat up all the meat in one night:  save a little for the next night.  It makes a good difference on both days!  He had cooked up some pasta, made a salad, and even fried up the frozen mozzarella sticks I'd bought.  God bless him!  We drank mango Tango (my quirky name for it) and it was beautifully chilled.  Nothing tastes better than a cold drink after fasting.  Subhanallah, we drink every day during the year without much thanks to Allah, but Ramadan MAKES us realize to be truly grateful.

When it was announced that Eid was the next day, we sang our songs of happiness in a mash up of mostly in tune harmonies.  We joked and played some music (a little too loudly in a bit of a payback to a very loud household and neighborhood).  Ahmed didn't have to pray taraweah any more.  He was able to stay and watch whether or not the celebrities would fall off the Lebanese cliff (they never did).



We could go to bed without feeling that our lives would go back to being difficult the next day.  We could finally relax.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 28 Ramadan 2017

Ramadan Kareem,

This picture illustrates how I felt when I woke up.  I woke in the worst way around 2:00.  My downstairs neighbors, my husband's brother and his wife, were yelling about something and their smallest child was screaming.  I woke in a kind of alarmed state.  I got out of bed to see my husband in the salon and he wasn't there.  I rang his mobile scared of where he was and what had happened to him.

Because it's Ramadan, and everyone's schedule is OFF---like it flew off the merry-go-round and landed on the ground bruised and bewildered---my husband was just hanging out with his buddy down the street.  If I had looked out the window, I would have seen him.  However, I didn't see him and I felt awful that he wasn't home.

When he did get home, I wasn't happy.  It's hard to start the fast while still having a bad disconnection to people around you.



He wanted an omelette for suhour.  I was still in a grumpy mood.  Let's just say, it wasn't the nicest omelette I've ever made for him.

For El Kid and myself, I made toasted aish baladi with domty cheese and cucumber slices.  This was followed by the remnants of the cake topped with yogurt and peach slices.  It was A LOT of food, but I had been feeling low on energy and thought food could cure this.  SPOILER:  It didn't.  I was tired all day.



We had to pray fast or we were going to lose El Kid to sleep.  He went back to bed A.S.A.P.  I stayed up long enough to check around the 'net for life outside of this house.  I haven't been out since Tuesday.

I didn't sleep that well.  Eating and drinking a lot means...well, you know.  There were some trips to the bathroom that interrupted what could have been good sleep.  My plan had backfired---like literally.

Eventually, I had to be up and busy with my day.  I had an improvement idea on those plastic file cases that were always falling apart.  I punched holes and put in brass brands.  It's such a geeky teacher project, but it made me happy.

I then chose the picture books to take up north this August.  I can't take them all!  I tucked in many of my favorites.  Here are a few I had to bring:

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Little Bear
A House for Hermit Crab
Flap Your Wings
Jessie Bear
The Big Orange Splot
Farmer Duck
Where the Wild Things Are

I filled up four files with books and then placed the files on the shelves.  It's time to plan and prepare, but not yet time to go.
In the meantime, I have other things to do, like two loads of wash.

While I was doing all this, my husband was reading Quran in the big, comfy chair.  I heard him say, "Sadaqa Allahu Adeem" and looked up.  He was smiling.

"Did you finish Quran?"


I always like this moment.  I like that we share it in a way.  He is the man committing his life to following his faith.  Yes, he is the same man who didn't realize how scared I'd be at 2:00 AM.  That's part of who he is.  He's imperfect!  Whenever I become a perfect person, I'll leave him.  Until then, it's the two of us together.



My husband left for Friday prayer at the mosque.  El Kid stayed home.  Nobody even asked him if he wanted to go; we knew he didn't.  The two of us stayed home together and prayed here.

When my husband came home, he was very tired and laid down.  I promised to wake him up so that he could cook dinner later.



After praying asr, it was time to clean up my mess in the salon.  This room is where I work, where we watch TV, read Quran, AND eat.  It's beyond multi-purpose.  There's no room for all that activity and my mess.  I put it away before waking Ahmed up.

Once he was up, I laid down.  I don't like to nap together during Ramadan.  Even good people can be tempted to make mistakes in the month.  It always feels better to avoid togetheness during the fast.


I hadn't read Quran yet because my whole Quran routine had been disrupted by the surahs not being loaded to my tablet.  I didn't really want to read the surahs while listening to mp3s.  I wanted the full experience.  I decided to skip Surahs 8 and 9 and go on  to 10.  I will inshahahallah experience these surahs with the reciter the next time there is wi-fi.  I can't handle everything while I'm fasting.

It was then time to get up and call my mom.  She had picked up the photos from the pharmacy and I wanted to hear what she thought.

She was happy to see the latest pictures of El Kid, "He looks as handsome as hell!"

"MOM!" I admonished with a laugh.  She truly had surprised me with that really American idiom.  I don't say it any more, but I'm sure I did once.  It is so strange, isn't it?  "We say, 'mashahallah'."

She's been good about learning a little Arabic.  She greeted my husband with, "Asalamu Alaykom" when I put him on the phone.  She told him to give me a little kiss.  Ha!  I told her that he'd have to wait until after we broke the fast.

We then talked what was going on in America.  You can't do that with everyone, but usually my mom and I agree on matters.  We talked over the case of Philando Castile.  I have seen every piece of evidence made public and my mom is always surprised that I have the same access (she isn't computer saavy and hasn't figured out the magic of the internet).

Then, she said something stupid.  "Of course a lot of attacks have been made in the name of Allah."

I wasn't very patient with the way our conversation just turned, and answered back, "Are you seeing all the attacks from white extremists?  That's what's really in the news."

My phone minutes went and those 16 minutes were all I got.  I had to husband for one more card.  I couldn't leave my mom like that.  I called her back and we eased away from her perceptions into a goodbye.  What's weird is that if my mom---with fifteen years of having a daughter practicing Islam, and a Muslim grandson---can jump from police killing black Americans during traffic stops to Muslim attacks, then that's messed up.  God bless her for trying to get news from the mainstream media in the U.S.  It's just painful to watch.



My hub was still dishing up food when the call to prayer came.  I tried to feed him a date, but he wasn't having it.  We prayed together.


We ate the kofta and rice, salad, and some frozen cheese sambusas I'd bought last week.  Everyone dove into the sambusas.  Their cheese leaked out something terrible; very unlike the ones I'd made before, but the cheese had a better flavor and consistency.  I wish I could duplicate that cheese mix!



I fell asleep on the couch.  I was so tired.  My son was livid.  He was so mad at me for falling asleep.  He was even mad that I wasn't snoring!  He said that it made it hard for him to know whether or not I was alive.

This was another hard way to wake up.

I was tired and groggy and getting yelled at my an eleven-year-old.  I cried.  I was just worn out from not feeling well all day and then having this Twilight Zone episode take place in my living room.

I tried to explain that feeling so tired like I did was like him sneezing.  No one could stop him from sneezing; he just had to do it.  I had been working all day and feeling ill.  He'd been playing all day.  Difference!  I wanted him to grow some compassion, but he wasn't having it.

I got up and left and did some tasks.  Then, I prayed.  By the time I was done with the prayer, my husband was home.  My son doesn't try out so much tough guy talk when my husband (and the ship-ship) is around.

I brought out the Eid cookies and the grapes.  El Kid did his prayer and then told me that he'd asked Allah to forgive him.  I told him that he might want to tell me he was sorry too.  We played the game Battleship and had a good time.  He won.

We all won because we all did what could to get through another day fasting in Ramadan.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 27 Ramadan

Ramadan Kareem,



pineapple yogurt smoothie
tamaya with salad inside aish baladi, pita



Prayed and I went to bed as soon as possible.
I'm really tired these last days.


Alhumdulillah, I finished Surah 7 Al A'raf.
I wanted to move on to Surah 8 Al Anfal, but the mp3 was not downloaded on my tablet.
I no longer have wi-fi this month, so downloading through the app wouldn't work.
I tried downloading the surah off
Although it worked, it didn't work with the app.
This is a bit upsetting since I had a goal to listen/read each surah.
Plan B is that I'll listen to the mp3 I have on my computer and read on the tablet.

El Kid and I had a talk about his inability to read Quran on his own this Ramadan.
"I'm talking to you as a young man, not as a child," I started.
He heard me and he obeyed (might've had something to do with a me threatening to take his phone).
He had the freedom to pick any surah and picked Nuh/Noah (pbuh).
It's only 28 verses.
Yet, he did what I asked, so even though my eyebrows raised, his duty was fulfilled.

"It wasn't that bad," he critiqued.
"It's the Quran," I reminded him.
"Ya, for the Quran, it was a good story," he went on.
I decided not to push it too much and offered, "Maybe you'll want to read more."

My husband is almost done reading through the entire Quran.
Good for him.
He upsets me, but he often makes me proud of who I have as a husband.



We offered some water for the mama cat and baby.
We're seeing them everyday and they are like pets, except they have their independence.
They're like independent contractor pets.

I spent some time writing to friends and reconnecting.
One woman and I haven't spoken since the second year I was in Egypt.
We had a falling out over a misunderstanding.
When I wrote to her, it was to make amends and get free from bad feelings.
She responded kindly and warmly.
It makes a difference; it really does.



After waking from a nap, I called my mom.
It's a day early, but I wanted her to pick up photos that I sent through
This is THE easiest way to get photos to my computer-wary elderly parent.
She was so upbeat and positive.
She had no idea that I was still fasting for Ramadan.
It's funny how out of touch my family is with my life.
I'll call her again tomorrow to see how she liked the pics.

I spent more time sorting through papers.
It's going to be a daily effort this summer to whittle down my hoarding.



I was more prepared tonight than last and was ready for the prayer.
My hub says the prayer so quickly that I get a bit dizzy.
The video below will show what I feel like with all that up, down, up, down.


My very tired husband made chicken, rice, and molokhia.

After watching Ramez, my hub and El Kid played Uno.  
I was busy trying to figure out the Quran Reading app.



We had the final three individual servings of the pineapple and cream cake.
My husband liked it better the second day.
There probably couldn't have been a third.

After my hub prayed, he went out to buy fruit and vegetables.
God bless.
He came back with grapes and peaches.
I'm not sure what all he got for veggies, but they are green!

El Kid and I got to sleep relatively early at 11:00.
We're all tired.
Seriously, living like this is tiring.
Alhumdulillah, it's only one month and not our whole lives.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 26 Ramadan 2017

Ramadan Kareem,

This was a less eventful day, which is is good because June 21 was the LONGEST DAY of the year, or Summer Solstice.  Alhumdulillah

Just in case you've been feeling like the fasting day is long for you, check out these times:

Winnipeg, Canada           fajr          3:25          magrib          9:41 pm          isha            11:36

Glasgow, Scotland           fajr          2:36          magrib          10:07 pm        isha            11:56

Oslo, Norway                   fajr         2:21          magrib          10:44 pm        isha            12:12



I made an omelette and split in between three different sandwiches all with domty cheese and tomato.  El Kid and I opted for a brown baguette, but my Egyptian hub can't be separated from his aish baladi.  I also had my favorite barley cracker and some foul medamnes (it must have been a long enough time without it).  We finished with some apricot yogurt.

For those who say that children should not fast, I gotta say that my kid eats BETTER during Ramadan.  He doesn't get junk food or fast food.  He works hard at drinking enough water and eating enough fruits and vegetables.  Go bother some mother who lets her kid eat crap all day and talk to her about nutrition.  Sorry, but I'm a little feisty on this issue.



We prayed and afterwards I stayed up to address some issues with my daughter in the U.S.

There are two schools of thought on resolving issues during Ramadan.  Should you or shouldn't you?  Honestly, I think it's better to come to terms with the truth and speak it during this holy month.  Shaytan is not whispering to you.  If you have to mend and make amends, do it.  If someone comes to you with their sadness or resentfulness, be grateful that it's coming to light and don't push it aside.

Our emails to each other were needed and I feel better about how we left it.  Alhumdulillah.  I went back to bed at 6:00


I made it through Surah 6 Al An-am and half way through Surah 7 Al Araf.  Alhumdulillah.  It is not the best I ever could have done it this year, but it is a new way to do and it's taken some getting used to.

Using technology in our faith doesn't always feel good because it's getting away from tradition (and tradition equals "the right way").  However, the Quran tells us to do things differently than our ancestors.  Do things the way that bring us closer to God.

I have gotten a fuller understanding of Quran by listening to it while seeing both the transliteration and the translation.  Alhumdulillah.  Whatever I don't finish during Ramadan, inshahallah I'll finish before next Ramadan.

El Kid and I got into a big, heated discussion (must have been the day for my kids to rebel) about Quran.  This was supposed to be his year for reading Quran on his own, and he hasn't.  He's sat next to me for short periods of time and shared in what I was doing, but he hasn't done a thing on his own.
We discussed his opinion that he already has read Quran with me; he knows it, versus me who feels it's constantly changing.

"How can the Quran change?  I don't believe it!"

I tried to think of an analogy.

"You know when you see a movie when you're little and then you see it later?  It changes.  Like, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a story about a car when you're little, and then later you see it as a story about a family."

"What?" he scoffed dismissively.  "It's always a story about a car!"

"OK, maybe that's not a good example."

I tried to get him to read one surah tomorrow, like Surah Yusuf (AS).  That surah is so different because it really is one easy-to-follow story from beginning to end.  He could read that.

No.  He doesn't want to.

He could read the last section with all the short surahs.

No.  He doesn't want to.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do.  He needs a balance in his Ramadan.  It can't be so much lazing 'round the house and not enough being active.  Yes, he's fasting, but it's not enough.  Ramadan isn't only about fasting and prayers.  It's got to be about the Quran as well.  Without the Quran, there would be no Ramadan.

He might be missing his phone tomorrow.

We'll see.



After I prayed, I got into the kitchen and made a dessert I'd seen on Tasty.  Al the ingredients cost a small fortune, so I was determined not to mess it up.  This is how it looked on line:

One of the problems in making it is that I couldn't find kiwis.  I used pineapple instead.  One of the ideas I read about the cake suggested pineapple and some coconut.  Sounded good!

Another idea I had was to use medium-sized bowls to make the cake into single-serving sizes.  This meant that no matter when each one of us would eat the dessert, we would all get a lovely dome.

It wasn't as much work as you'd think.  Here's the recipe translated from the Japanese site.

Tasty Kiwi Cake

18 cm diameter bowl


Castella a popular Japanese sponge cake made of sugar, flour, eggs, and starch syrup. Now a specialty of Nagasaki, the cake was brought to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century. The name is derived from Portuguese Pão deCastela, meaning "bread from Castile".

1 bottle Fresh cream 300ml
2 tablespoons sugar
Greek yogurt 150 g
Kiwi (slice) 2 pieces
Golden kiwi (slice) 2 pieces
Pineapple (square cut) 80 g
Orange (cut corner) 1 piece

How to make

1. Cut the cake to 5 mm width.
2. Make a cream. Add sugar in fresh cream and stand for 7 minutes with hand mixer, add yogurt and mix.
3. Place a lap in the bowl and line up the kiwi. Put the cream on top, gently stretch it and paste it so that the face of the cake follows.
4. Pour cream and put orange and pineapple. Place the cake and overlay the cream.
5. Repeat (4) once again, cool with a lap and refrigerate in a refrigerator for 3 hours.
6.If you cut it to the size of your choice, complete it!

After conquering the cake, I started in on the salad.    Dear God, I fight for our rights to vegetables and fruit.  They are so plentiful, yet they are not a big thought in Ahmed's head.  I pushed like crazy for getting a salad and he complained about

how hot it was to go out
how tired he was to buy anything
how we already had enough food
how we ate too long ago

and I stood my ground and in the end got my way.

Cue the Beastie Boys track

The salad actually gave me more troubles than the cake due to the peppers.  I have REALLY sensitive skin.  While cutting them, I felt my face having a kind of paralysis---weird.  Thankfully, that went away.  Then, after I'd washed my hands really well, I touched my face and felt burning, so I washed them again.  I really should have looked this issue up because I would have found  a few remedies.

Because I hadn't gotten enough sleep, I had to lay down around 3:00.  I read some Quran.



I woke up around 5:00, read some more Quran and got up to pray asr.

I kept trying to clean out too many papers from school.  It's a long process of sorting and discarding.  One of the verses in Quran today talked about not hoarding.  I'm on the verge of being a hoarder.  My husband has been kind about it, but enough is enough.  We are drowning in papers and books.

With me starting a new job inshahallah, I can let go of years of accumulation.  I won't be teaching high school.  I won't be teaching that book series.  I won't be returning to teach that curriculum.  Away it goes.  Sure, there's some sadness, but I weigh the stacks in my arms before they go into the garbage sack.  It's heavy and it's been weighing me down.  Ramadan is the perfect time to eliminate that which no longer serves us.



I was so busy in the kitchen after we broke the fast that I almost didn't make it the short distance to the salon to pray with the guys.  My husband ZOOMS into prayer after the azan whether I am there or not.  He has never done the prayer without me this Ramadan, but it's a strong possibility if I miss a beat getting out there.


We had the meat and potatoes leftovers (El Kid and I were uber American and added ketchup from our new Heinz Superman pouch).

Ahmed had made orzo from the leftover soup.  We were heavy on the starch. However...

We also ate SALAD!  The funny thing is that out of all of us, Ahmed ate the MOST!  LOL!



It was time to flip the cake and see how ours turned out.

I was happy with the result!  The taste was good---sweet, but not overly.  A lot of balance between the textures.  Even though the pineapple was canned, it sure tasted fresh and healthy after a day of fasting.


Each odd numbered night in the last ten days of Ramadan might be THE powerful night when the Quran was first shown to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  For me, I've always felt that the 27th is more special than the others. I've just felt this.  I might not do special prayers on the other odd nights, but I do on the 27th.

I prayed for goodness---not just for me, but for those in my immediate family and for those who are in my sphere.  I prayed for those whom I've never met, but who are suffering.  I prayed for the world to be a better place.  I prayed for Jannah to be my ultimate home.