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.

SUHOUR

2:30

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.

FAJR

3:08

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
Madeline
Little Bear
A House for Hermit Crab
Flap Your Wings
Jessie Bear
Corduroy
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?"

"Alhumdulillah."

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.

DHUR

11:57

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.

ASR

3:32

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.

QURAN

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 ask...beg...my 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.

MAGRIB

6:59

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.

IFTAR

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!

ISHA

8:32

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,



SUHOUR

2:40

pineapple yogurt smoothie
tamaya with salad inside aish baladi, pita

FAJR

3:08

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

QURAN

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 www.islamfactory.com
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.
Really.
He upsets me, but he often makes me proud of who I have as a husband.
Mashahallah.


DHUR

11:57

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.
Alhumdulillah.
It makes a difference; it really does.

ASR

3:32

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 www.walgreens.com
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.

MAGRIB

6:59

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.




IFTAR

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.

ISHA

8:33

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.
Alhumdullillah.
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


SUHOUR

2:40

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.

FAJR

3:08

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

QURAN

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.

DHUR

11:56

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

Materials:

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 veggies...um...not too long ago

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

Cue the Beastie Boys track
YOU GOTTA FIGHT 
FOR YOUR RIGHT
TO PARTY VEGGIES


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.

ASR

3:32

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.

MAGRIB

6:59

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.

IFTAR

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!


ISHA

8:32

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.

LAYLA TUL QADR

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.

















Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 25 Ramadan 2017



Ramadan Kareem,



What do you see?  Allah is everywhere, but sometimes we humans need reminders.


SUHOUR

2:30

No lie.  I was scared about getting the right things today.  We had an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to get my passport renewed.  Yesterday, we had made the intention to go as soon as possible, and when I had checked available appointments, there was ONE and it was for Tuesday---TODAY!  

Going to Cairo can be crazy tiring, but add fasting to the mix and it can be deadly.  What to eat?

I made a apricot-mango yogurt smoothie and ate those yummy barley crackers with cream cheese.  Today, I upped the ante and added a tomato and cucumber sliced and placed on top.  Both those veggies help hydrate and tomato has an extra bonus---sun protection!

FAJR

3:08

We prayed and then both the guys went back to bed while I stayed up.  The mornings in Egypt are so quiet so very quiet; they are magical.

There I was, typing away, when I felt like I was being watched.  I was!


I turned my head and saw out the window that the neighbor's goat was staring at me.  I cracked up.  Seriously, that's a funny moment.  He's a really social goat, apparently...might have a bit of a cold because he sneezed a few times.  I felt the need to say, "Bless you."  We'd developed a kind of friendship.

It must have been "Talk to the Animals" day at our house since as soon as I'd taken this picture, the mama cat and the kitten came by.  I brought another plastic yogurt container filled with water and both lapped up the life sustainer.  They seemed unsatisfied; Mama cat was meowing still.  I brought them a small pad of Kiri cream cheese.  They ate and enjoyed.  I know it's stupid to feed street cats expensive food because they can eat garbage, but it was this really wonderful moment to feed the hungry (even if they were only cats).

The kitten kept thinking of coming inside our open apartment door only to spring away.  After I went away from the door to get some cereal, I came back to only see the mama.  Where was the kitten?  I started to look around our house.  Probably not a good idea to leave the door unguarded.  Eventually, the kitten bounded back up the stairs and I breathed a sigh of relief.  That would have been a tough one to explain to my husband!  

When I gave the cereal to them, mama cat misinterpreted my movement and lashed out at me.  I've been scratched by a cat before, but these claws were like razors!  She couldn't have meant it as a fight, but rather as a warning.  I only bled a little as the song "Cat Scratch Fever" started playing in my mind.  I washed my hand, put on some Neosporin antibiodic, and made a mental note to keep my distance at all times.  

The scratch was worth it for being able to share this really sweet scene of relaxed, satisfied mama and playful baby.  



  

I went back to bed at 5:00 and woke up at 7:30.  We had to leave in an hour.  It all went well getting ready because we had planned and ironed outfits the night before.  I had packed my purse AND unpacked any needless stuff.

QURAN

I'm still in Surah 6 and I really wanted to bring the tablet to read while waiting, but that was pointless because there are no electronics allowed at the embassy.  Instead, I brought along a little pocket book of the 99 Names of Allah.

99 NAMES

This year, although I haven't been as good with plowing through the The Holy Quran, I have spent time memorizing the 99 Names.  Now, when I'm going through the ayahs, or verses, I can see the Names of Allah stand out and acknowledge them more.  They have become more meaningful with each one I have committed to memory; placed in my heart.

I have been playing the 99 Names matching game and I wish I could recommend it, but it seems to be gone from the Google Play.  It is a memory game that matches the name with the meaning.  That could be easy enough to create in Powerpoint or in real life.

The other way I've been memorizing is by watching my screensaver of the names which I made from the photos here.   I downloaded each and loaded them into the Microsoft wallpaper tool.  Each one is unique and beautiful.  May Allah reward the maker of these images.






8;30

We left El Kid at home and headed to Cairo.  One of the nice parts of fasting is being able to say, "I'm fasting, so I don't want to ____________" and the other person kind of respects your limitations.  No, I did not want to take a bus downtown.  I wanted to get there quickly and without any hassle.  My hub and I agreed on a taxi and immediately one appeared.  Subhanallah, our trip to the embassy was made so incredibly easy time and again.  

10:00

The embassy itself is never really a joy.  First of all, the other embassies are prettier; the American Embassy in Cairo is not just ugly---it's ooogly.  Then, there's the issue of how much fear there seems to be in the initial screening room.  Yes, it was a mistake that I brought ear buds.

DON'T BRING ANY WIRES 
TO THE EMBASSY

I thought I had read and followed all the information, but I guess not.  They didn't exactly place that info like I just did.  MAKE IT STAND OUT so we notice it.  Place an intersesting gif with the info amid the wordy words.  It's like America hates all the people who come to the embassy and makes the process as difficult as possible so no one wants to come back.

My hub had to leave with the earbuds, run across the street and leave them with someone.  I thought he told me there were in a safe, but it turns out that he meant they were safe.  "Safe" to my husband is a pencil case in the hands of some dude.  LOL!  We have different expectations.

We entered into the actual embassy and took our seat among anyone who wasn't American.  Where were all the Americans?  I counted three besides me.  Everyone else was REALLY Egyptian (and thinking that the States, where a young Egyptian-American was just killed) was a better place.

Ahmed helped me study the 99 Names.  I really didn't know how to say them all.  It was a good time, honestly.  I don't like waiting, so I always find something else to dow while I'm waiting (thanks to Mr. Rogers).  

When it was our turn about an hour later, I found out that I should have read one more line better on the internet site.

BRING ONE PHOTOCOPY 
OF YOUR PASSPORT

Because I didn't bring it, Ahmed had to run across the street one more time to get a copy.  I'm glad I brought him along.  He got a little mad at my inability, but seriously that website is too complicated.

Once we paid the thousands of pounds and handed over the copy, we could leave.  We could go aross the street and pick up my earbuds from the pencil case.  

On the way home, we were waiting on the corniche taking photos when Ahmed thought we could take a walk.  I started with him until I realized taht he wanted to walk allllllllllll the way to the Ramses Hilton where there is a bus station.  That was too far!  He hadn't asked me and when I figured it out, I told him, "No, please!"  Again, because I was fasting, he acquiesced to my wishes.

Subhanallah, a bus came right away and we got on.  It was painless.  We had to change to a different bus at Giza Square, but that took us all the way to our street.  Easy peasy!

We bought potatoes from UmAhmed on the way to our home.  We made it inside, saw El Kid was fine, and we prayed.  We were back home after getting a major task ticked off our "To Do List".  

We took a nap before asr.

ASR

3:32

We woke and prayed around 4:30.  Naps are so disorientating.  I wake up in Ramadan never sure if it's morning or night.  

Ahmed cooked dinner while I loaded all the photos I'd taken on our trip.  There are just snapshots from the bus.  Snapping pics keeps me happy.  None were masterpieces, but I was happy to see all of them and remember the day.

MAGRIB

6:59

The time snuck up on me!  All of a sudden it was time to break the fast.  Alhumdulillah.  We ate our dates, drank our water, and prayed.

IFTAR

Dinner was beef, rice and potatoes.  Notice any vegetables?  NO!  Of course you don't because my husband doesn't feel they are necessary.  I had some leftover soup with zuchhini and carrots, so I ate that up instead of potatoes.

ISHA

8:32

Time for some konafa and relaxation.  Soon enough it will be time for bed.

11:00

EXCEPT the kids were so loud in the street that I had to look.  There was a group standing around something.  A firecracker?  They do like to light those off---especially on the manhole cover.  Nope, even though they lit something, nothing popped.  It's a 

FIRE!

Yes, a group of small children (no more than eight years old) was spraying saving lotion and lighting it on fire.  Where were the adults?  There was one adult.  He scooped up the fire into his hands and played along with the kids.  Little kids were ecstatic as you know three and four year olds can get.  They started spraying it onto the neighbor's house and, when that was lit, the flames shot up almost reaching the many lines of Ramadan decorations.  

That's when I put on my prayer outfit and went downstairs to tell the moms and dads from this that their kids were in danger.  Maybe they could stop what was going on.  My husband wasn't back form the mosque or else I would have had him handle it. 

When I explained the situation, no one was alarmed.  It was so chill.  The fire setting stopped, but I'm not sure for what reason.  

The kids were still playing in the street the rest of the night unsupervised.

We went to bed.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 24 Ramadan 2017



Ramadan Kareem,


This is a mama and baby who needed water on this 40 degree day.  I've been putting out water and wondering if any cat actually was drinking from my offering.  Subhanallah, we give and it might not seem like anyone or anything cares, but they do!  When I think back on the times I would check the water level to see if any was gone, it was negligible because a tiny kitten tongue was lapping it up.  Mashahallah!  Such a cute scene.  

I showed the picture to my husband just now and he said, "Maybe that gets you to Jennah."  He was thinking of this hadith, a saying attributed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah had once forgiven a prostitute. She passed by a dog panting near a well. Seeing that thirst had nearly killed him, she took off her shoe, tied it to her scarf, and drew up some water. Allah forgave her for that.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3143, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2245

Mashahallah.  How merciful is that of the woman who everyone else thought was worthless and good for only one thing.  Allah knew her true nature better than she knew it herself.  She was rewarded by The Most Merciful on a day when she probably didn't even realize that her simple kindness was observed.  Subhanallah. 

This lovely moment of mama kitty and baby kitten didn't happen until later.  The day started MUCH earlier and didn't start so lovely.

SUHOUR

2:00

I woke up with a headache which is one of those horrible aliments you really can't shake during a fast.  I took some medicine and drank a coffee to shake it.

My efforts were made harder by the bombastic noise of our rollicking neighbors, a.k.a. Ahmed's family.  The family house has had its lovely moments over the seven and a half years we've lived here, however, none of those moments were at 2:00 in the morning.

We actually had the doorbell rung and I refused to answer.  I flat out refused to deal with my sister-in-law's child needing to rely a message as I was drinking my coffee.  Don't come a knockin' if this house is sleepin'.  That's seriously one of the worst parts of being that close to family; they are too close to see there's a BOUNDARY.

Since I didn't feel well, I didn't chow down on foul.  I ate two large barley crackers with baraka, black nigella seed, covered with cream cheese.  When I was pregnant with my oldest child, eating cream cheese on Wasa rye crackers was the only thing I could stomach.  This has stayed as a comfort combo some 23 years later.

I also cut up an apple, over plain yogurt and added a crunched up granola bar.

FAJR

3:07

Thanks to the coffee, I stayed up after fajr.  I got a ton done that needed to be addressed.  Our "To Do" list for summer has kicked off!  The downside is that I didn't get to back to sleep until 9:00


DUHR

11:58

I woke up about an hour after the azan sounded since I surely didn't hear it at all.  It was time to wash, dress, slap on some make-up, pray and leave for our first errand:  getting a new passport photo.  El Kid was going to stay home.

We don't own a car, which I'm actually pretty happy about.  It does mean that a simple trip takes three buses to make the round trip.  The buses have natural air conditioning thanks to leaving the side door slid back; it doesn't help much when sitting four to a seat stuck in traffic.  I always spend the first minutes making dhikr, remembering Allah on my fingers.  This doesn't mean that Allah will therefore protect me from an accident; it means that I am accepting of what Allah has in store for me.

Sitting home, is really so much safer than going out.  That's true anywhere, but it is especially true in Egypt.  So many weird things can happen.

At the photo shop, I had to wait to get my photo taken, which I had figured on, so I brought my tablet.  For the first time EVER, I turned on the Quran Reading app outside of the home.  I listened with headphones of course.  It was good that there was something meaningful to do, but I do feel that I was easily distracted---not ADHD level, but Short-Attention-Span-Theatre time.  I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think I'll be trying it again.  I'm a people watcher and that runs counter to studying Quran in public.

When we left, we did a little shopping at a Carrefour across the street  Just when we got to the checkout, the hubster thought to pick up some meat waaaaaaaaaay back on the other side of the store.  I had a place in line, so I stood there and let people coming up behind me to pass.  They thought I was being really nice!  It felt nice to be nice.  You don't get that moment staying at home.

I wasn't that nice when I talked twice to the workers to put away raw meat that was sitting at the check-out in the unwanted pile.  Seriously?  Do I have to be THE ONE to tell SUPERMARKET WORKERS to place raw meat back in the cooler?!  I'm not a good bystander.  I simply can't hold my tongue when I feel something wrong is going down that has an easy fix.  A lady behind me said I was right---I let her pass.  That's the deal, by the way, I say what other people think.

We started home on a bus.  I saw a sight out the open doorway that spooked me.  It was a very real reminder of what can happen to ANYONE when he or she is fasting.  There, on the pavement, was a prone body, legs propped up, and a crowd trying to splash water on his unmoving face.  Wallahi, I prayed that man was all right.  It was only a split second that I saw him---like that moment you're switching channels and see an upsetting image.  I prayed that he recovered from passing out and that he made it home safely again.  Ya Rab!

Fasting is no joke.  It can be extremely dangerous----especially in these hot summer months.

We jumped into the next bus and then sat.  I sat in this hot microbus, what they call a VW camper van, crammed in by our groceries, my husband and two other guys.  The air wasn't moving.  I started rummaging through my purse for something to fan my face.  I was not able to take a deep breath.  I thought again of the man sprawled on the sidewalk and warned my husband that I wasn't feeling well.  Alhumdullillah as soon as I spoke, the bus started moving.

The driver was mad---not at me, of course.  He was made that another driver had jumped the line in picking up passengers at the corner.  When that bus was neck-and-neck with him going down the street, he started chiding him.  It was not really the safest thing to do.  If you want to feel the safest, you do NOT go to Egypt.  Down the street we went:  a full bus load of people and a mad driver debating road rules and regulations out the window.  

BAM!  

CRASH!

AAAAAAAH!

That last noise was me screaming and grabbing for Ahmed.  Apparently, the conversation had distracted the bus driver (go figure) and he had drifted the side of the micro-bus into a parked truck.  The crash was the truck's mirror breaking off and thankfully landing on the ground and not in some passenger's eyes.

It's a good thing we were all fasting.  Only one older man shouted at him, and YOU KNOW that would have been different any other month of the year. 

"You are carrying PEOPLE not CHICKENS!"  was his memorable quote.

We got off at the next stop and we were oh-so happy to be going home.

ASR

3:31

When we came home, the mama cat must have heard us because down the steps she came with her baby.  El Kid came to the door to see. That is when I ran some water into the plastic container and then took the picture of the baby kitty drinking. 

Before we could pray, we had to put groceries away.  I was SO HOT.  I was scary hot.  I couldn't drink.  I made some apricot juice from the concentrate I'd bought (which is the way to do it, I've decided).  As I stood there, alone in the kitchen, I thought of how that big pitcher of cold water in my hand would feel cooling me down later.  LATER!  Not now!  I put it in the fridge.

After praying, I took off the hijab, and put my feet into a small laundry washbowl with the frozen icy blocks.  I turned on the fan and just enjoyed!

It was soon time for me to cook some pasta and vegetable soup.  my hub would then take over doing the chicken pane. I gave him the water bowl while I went out into the kitchen.  Sure enough, he tipped the bowl over and made a mess.  DUDE!  The good thing is that he didn't freak out.  Thank you, fasting!

MAGRIB

6:58

The food was dished up and then we prayed.  It runs so smoothly now.  It's kind of shame to bring it to the end---we were just getting the hang of it! 

IFTAR

Everything I mentioned was appreciated.  Yes, the hub-o-rama liked what I cooked.  MIRACLE!

There have bee a few miracles today.  Alhumudlillah for the ones I know about, and the ones I don't know.




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Day 23 Ramdan 2017



Ramadan Kareem,


Giza's Famous Leaning Towers of Kahk El Eid


SUHOUR

2:40

Beans.

We are so sick of eating foul medamnes at this point that I think it's GOT TO be something different tomorrow morning inshallah.  Remember how the Israelites complained to Prophet Moses/Musa (pbuh) about needing more variety in their diet?  We are all a bit like that.

We also had the yogurt smoothie.  When I'm done with the yogurt container, I'm now filling it with water and putting it outside our door for the mama cat that is nursing her kittens on our roof.  I saw her the other day meowing very politely outside our door until she got what she needed.  El Kid wants to have one of the kittens as a pet, but I'm REALLY allergic, so the answer is "no".

FAJR

3:07

After fajr, I went back to sleep.  I had woken up VERY tired even though I had gone to bed at 10:30.  Not sure how I could be so tired from having enough sleep!  I slept again until 9:00.

We had talked about going shopping because we're so low on food, but we delayed it with a "Should we?"  and "Shouldn't we?"  It reminds me of the Midwest when it's too cold outside and you don't want to go out.  El Kid and I were absolutely loopy and laughing, but my hub wasn't in such a coo-coo-achoo mood.

DHUR

11:16

After praying, we decided that we would go.  Usually, we walk a ways and then get a tuk tuk.  Today, we took a bus there without much thought of added time exercising in the sun.  The store wasn't too crowded, which is a blessing.  Crowded stores in Egypt suck more than in the U.S. because each individual seems to be more unaware of their behavior's effect on others.  We hardly had a full cart, yet spent more than we used to spend on TWO full carts---that's what a bad economy does!

Alhumdulillah, we made it across the streets safely and caught a tuk-tuk home.  The tuk-tuk ride was a little iffy and I had thought it might be because the driver was so young.  The young drivers all think they're playing a video game with our lives.

All these split second decisions

go or not
buy or not
run across the street now or stay
take this tuk-tuk or wait

have to be made without having full mental ability.  It makes me think of how those suffering from undernourishment cannot be expected to make good choices.

After we got home and put the food away, I had to lay down.


QURAN

I had listened/read some of  An'am in the morning with El Kid.  Laying down after the grocery run, I listened/read it again until I got too tired.

I slept and woke up around 4:30 and prayed asr.

It was time to start making the pasta sauce.  My hub was going to make the meatballs I had asked for last week.  It's not that an Egyptian husband doesn't give you what you ask for----but he does give it to you on HIS terms!  Together we made dinner and that kitchen was HOT.




MAGRIB

6:53

A date and a gulp of water before the prayer.

IFTAR

We had baked penne with eggplant in tomato sauce .  I should have put on more mozarella, but my hub kept telling me "BAS!"  meaning enough.  His meatballs were really good.

I had told him that I REALLY wanted guava and milk as our iftar drink.  He kept telling me "no" for him, but in the end chugged down two glasses.  I love being right.  Alhumdulillah.

One of the tricks is that I had frozen three guava juice boxes



and plunked their contents into the pitcher of milk and guava juice to really chill the whole thing without diluting it.

For dessert, we had the last three bowls of malabiya with a stroop waffle on the side.

So far, no power outage.









Day 22 Ramadan 2017



Ramadan Kareem,


It has been a sad time to be an American----no matter where you are living.  Even though I'm not in the States, I'm connected to it and probably always will be.  The verdict in the Minnesota trial of Philando Castile's killer came back as innocent of all charges.  The killer was shown holding a gun over a dying man, but because he was a police officer, he was allowed to walk free.  That was upsetting.  

After I had posted for Day 21, I found out the news and couldn't sleep.  I stayed up later than usual.  When bad stuff is going down in the States, I tend to monitor it from over here, as if I could really do anything whatsoever to fix it.  Staying up late meant that my schedule was off for the next day.

SUHOUR

2:40

When I woke, I was really tired and NOTHING but NOTHING looked good to eat.  We are low on food as well, so there were limited choices.  In the end, I did a batch of popcorn.  Honestly?  It's quick, it's filling, and it makes you want to eat.  This time, I didn't add any salt and that was much better in the long run.  We also had our yogurt smoothies---but I hadn't put them in the blender, so they were more like bumpies.  Ba-dum ching!

Suhour doesn't have to be any particular food, it just has to be something that you want to eat before three in the morning, and there's not too much you really want to do at that time of the day.  It should be low on salt, sugar, spice, and oil; there won't be any liquid during the day to dilute that.

FAJR

3:07

I went back to bed and slept until...

DHUR

11:56

Yes, I slept like an Egyptian.  I actually woke up before dhur, saw the time, and freaked out.  I had done plenty of nothing, so I made up for lost time.  I did a load of wash, did some dishes, and boiled some drinking water just in case our water supply was cut.

El Kid had been enjoying his mobile games, and I had to pry him from his relaxation to pray.  Seriously, those games are addictive.  I had originally told him that during the fast it was to be off, but I caved.  I can't police him and staying fasting without losing my temper.

QURAN

Surah 6 Al An'am

Alhumdulillah.

I checked back on line to see if anything had gone to hell in the States since the verdict.  Amazingly, there were not bigger protests than the one that shut down the freeway.

All the bad news made me want to escape, so I found some movie quote clips and I made one Ramadan meme (shown at the top).  It's from Tropic Thunder.  We only had seen it heavily censored here in Egypt, so it was a bit of a shock to see the real deal.

There's a lot in our lives that shocks us and we filter it out.  Autistic people can't, so that means that on one end of the spectrum, filtering doesn't work.  I believe that all of us are on the autism spectrum and the amount we can or can't filter determines our place---whether high or low.  Ramadan fasting makes it harder to filter, so it therefore helps us to learn what are annoyances in our life and eliminate them NOW so we don't waste so much time throughout the year blocking them.


ASR

3:31

We prayed asr as a family.  I haven't been seeing much of Ahmed, so it's good when we cross paths.  We really are like acquaintances rather than husband and wife during the daylight hours.  We're nice enough to each other, but a bit stand-offish.

He did like that I FINALLY cleared off the mound of papers from my desk and dusted it off.  Ramadan has that effect of making you hate clutter and mess.  Now that I am done with five years worth of hoarding materials for the eight different grades I've taught, I can release.  I don't need to keep it all.  It's drowning us and I need to reclaim the space that it has taken up in my life---our lives.

"Reduce my footprint," is a phrase I keep in my mind inside this relatively small apartment.  I shouldn't crowd out my husband and my son with my stuff.  When I pull back, they have more space to be themselves and we together have more room to be a family inshahallah.  Plus, with us moving in August, inshahallah, I need to realize what is going with us and what isn't.  If it isn't needed in Alex, maybe it isn't needed at all.

I didn't watch any TV the whole day---not even my home improvement show.

We had decided that El Kid and I would use the leftover rice to make Chinese fried rice.  Ahmed would eat it "as is".  That meant that I would have to do some chopping and some stir frying.  It came out really nicely.  Of course, I don't  usually taste it while I'm fasting---you can, as long as you spit it out and legit don't drool over the idea.

Stir Fry Recipe

I think you've figured it out by now that I'm not a chef---I make food.  Here's how I threw together our dinner.

First, I took out the leftover rice.  It doesn't look like it has any oil or butter on it, but it does, so really I had that ingredient as well.

There was one chicken thigh and drumstick we saved, so I took some meat off of it for the two of us and left the rest for my hungry husband.  I made the pieces bite-sized.

While that sat in a pan with deep sides (looking a little like a wok), I cut a large carrot, two zuchhinis, and a small onion.

I added a splash of light (low salt) soy sauce, a sprinkle of powdered garlic powder (because I was too lazy to cut a clove up), and a sprinkle of powdered ginger (because even though I love fresh ginger, we didn't have any).  Parsley or cilantro would have been great, but we didn't have any, and El Kid hates too much green leafy junk in his food.

I flamed up the pan to high and let the oil/butter (not sure which it was my hub had used the night before to cook the rice) saute the veggies.

Meanwhile, I cracked two eggs and whipped them up.  I heated up a small fry pan---like the smallest you'll ever see---and fried up an omelette.  Once it was done, I cut it in half, so we'd each get some.  In the past, I've put the egg in the rice and it weighs it down too much.  I like having it on the side better.

Because we had a small amount of rice noodles in the cabinet, I added those to a place I'd dug out in the middle of the pan, quickly regretted it, added some water I'd boiled, and tried to save the meal.  Eventually, it came together, but there's probably a better way to add those noddles than at the end.

MAGRIB

6:58

I was so busy in the kitchen, the guys had to yell for me to come.  We prayed together and I'm so glad alhumdulillah that we do.  I really don't understand how husbands and wives don't pray together, or fathers and their children either.

We didn't wait until after isha to have dessert tonight.  My hub had made malabiya, so we gulped that down while watching Ramez.

ISHA

 8:31

REALLY good that we prayed before the lights went out!  Having our electricity and water get cut means that we live in a constantly heightened sense of precariousness.  Keeps me on my toes!  Alhumdulillah, I had insisted that El Kid get to bed and that's where he was when we suddenly had no lights.  I was not as fortunate---I was in the bathroom.  It did help us to go to bed early.  We were asleep by 10:30.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 21 Ramadan 2017



Ramadan Kareem,



One of the wacky mind switches you have to do in Islam is the concept of when the new day starts.

Midnight?

Sunrise?

Nope, it starts at magrib, or dusk.  When we are breaking the fast is the start to a new day.  We therefore had the first night of the Layla Tul Qadr or Night of Power prayers last night.  They take place the final ten days on the odd nights since we don't know for sure the day in Ramadan the Holy Quran was delivered.  We do know that it was an odd night.  Hence, the 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29 are the possible days of power in your prayer.  The mosque here was broadcasting the prayer very late.

SUHOUR

2:40

Foul medamnes and some of last nights veggies, followed by yogurt, raisins and a Nutrigrain bar.

The only unappetizing thing at the table was my hub; he had all his hair shaved off late last night.  He knows I hate that look, but he hates his gray hair more!  I tell him that when he's bald it makes him look like an escapee from the insane asylum.   

FAJR

3:07

It was only El Kid and I praying together as my hub was MIA after suhour.  I really can't keep my son awake too long after suhour so it was important to have him pray and sleep.

QURAN

It felt so good to be able to read some Quran again.  I finished Al Ma'idah which is Surah 5.  Sure, I could focus on the 109 left unread, but that's not helpful.

I slept all the way until after 7:30.  I know that doesn't seem like very much, but to me it's crazy good.  Another plus is that I didn't have to do any laundry for the week coming up.  I mean, I do have some dirty clothes, but I've been doing them little by little through the week and there's no pressure to have a clean uniform by Sunday.

I spent time on the computer working on an old post Before and After Hijab.  Take a look if you get a chance.  A lot of the photos I had used before had broken links, so I fixed those and improved the list.

DUHR

11:55

Being Friday, it was jammah prayer.  My hub was ready to go with his baseball cap covering his now bald head.  El Kid was trying to negotiate a way to make up all his missed Fridays at the mosque.  I didn't give him a way out.

"That's too much," he complained.  "It's Ramdan!  I'm fasting!"

"Dude," I laughed, " that's when Muslim men make sure to go!"

In the end, he went and when he came back, he was none the worse for wear.

I prayed eventually.  I kept trying to finish my blog improvement project.  That's one of my downfalls:  I do wait too long to pray.  I very rarely miss a prayer, alhumdulillah.  What I do though is make the prayer an emergency situation rather than peaceful process.  

I was going to sleep some more, but instead I showered.  

ASR

3:31

I had tried to listen to more Quran on my Quran Reading app.  Found out that the file for Surah 6 had been deleted or poofed away.  Don't know which.  Anyway, I thought I had to download 30 mbs and started the sloooooooooow process (there's something wrong with the wi-fi this month).  About an hour and 25% later, I realized that I had been smart---well, I had been stupid and THEN I'd been smart.  I found that I'd backed up the Quran files on my computer.  Yaaay, Yosra!

If you are ever going to get a similar app, I would so recommend backing up the app's mp3 files on your computer.

All of a sudden, time had gotten away from me---without even watching any TV!  I realized that I had to call my mom.  We spoke for 27 minutes before the call cut.  We talked over the end of the school year and the end of an era, along with the new beginning.  It was good to hear her reactions.  She remains my touchstone to reality in many ways.

Off the phone, I had to get some of the food and drink together.  That meant that my bald bad guy and I had to do-si-do back and forth in our narrow space with chicken frying on the stove.  At one point, he lost his temper and left to cool off in the salon. You know what they say:  if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

MAGRIB

6:57

El Kid had been chatting with his big sister in the US and he neglected to get ready for breaking the fast and praying.  He had to run around to make wudu and almost missed the first rakha.  

IFTAR

We ate chicken, rice, and green beans.  I like having something to dip the chicken into and we were out of mustard, so no honey mustard.  I tried the apricot jam (so successful with the sambusas), but added a little apple cider vinegar in order to make a sweet and sour taste.  Even if the guys didn't want any left over salad, I gladly ate it up.  I'm always the last one at the table as they seem to be having an eating contest.  

El Kid cruises on to dessert requests while I'm still finishing up.  Since he's new to fasting, it takes some convincing that his body needs time to absorb the sugars especially.  To him, he doesn't see rice or potatoes as a simple carbohydrate.  Too much sugar means a quick coma.  Alhumdulillah, he waited those twenty minutes that I asked for.

ISHA

8:30

My hub---or the bald guy that resembles my hub from the eyebrows down---went to the mosque.  El Kid resumed his chat.  I drank some coffee.  

I'm not running around today and that feels so GOOD.  We're not worried about exams, laundry, or shopping.  Sure, there are tasks that must be done, but I don't think many of them are getting done this weekend.  We deserve this break.