Apr 30, 2012

Goodbye Morris...

Morris, my precious "little feller" passed away yesterday.  I took him into my home and heart last March.  This past week he became very ill and stopped eating.  Yesterday, I took him to the emergency pet hospital to learn that he had a rare form of FIV (feline autoimmune virus) or AIDS for cats.  I tried to think of every way possible to save my little companion but there was no hope. To prolong his life would prolong his suffering. I just couldn't do that to him. Morris came at a time when I needed him the most. We literally saved each other, he needed food and shelter and I needed love and companionship. I will miss him very much.

Apr 29, 2012

Arab Spring and Women's Rights: Are We There Yet?

Al Jazeera talks to author Amal Al-Malki about Arab Spring and women's rights.  She feels that Arab Spring has failed women. Arab women have traditionally been portrayed as voiceless and invisible, even in the media.  Women are only seen in Arab Media 1\5 of that of men. In my opinion, this is still a man-run world and will always be that way.  Even here in America, high positions in a majority of companies are held by men. Although there are two Women Presidents in Africa, women's rights are still being held hostage in Arab and African countries. The only thing that Arab Spring did for women is to expose their lack of rights and equality.

This video is from Aljazeera web site and I found it to be very interesting.

Apr 27, 2012

Mature at 12 for Marriage?

Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh is a Saudi Grand Mufti.  He thinks that girls are ready for marriage at the tender age of 12, maybe 10 if she is mature.  Seriously?!  He is quoted as saying: "Our mothers and before them our grandmothers married when they were barely 12,” he added. “Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age," and those who say women should not marry before 25 years are following a "bad path."

Just recently in the news, a 12 year old girl from Yemen, Fawziyah Abdullah Youssef, died during childbirth, they like 9 year old girls there. Another case where a 12 year old was married to an 80 year old man in Saudi Arabia was in the news.  The girl was basically sold (dowry) by her father for $22,667, since the girl was underage the money went to her father. The mother tried to get a divorce for her but it proved to be a fruitless endeavor. The case was turned over to the countries Human Rights Commission.  It is ingrained in the Muslim mind that to pattern their life after that of the Prophet, who married Aiysha at 6 but didn't consumate the marriage until she was 9, will produce a blessed life for themselves. A girl of 12 is not thinking about babies but dolls and candy. I cannot relate to this mindset and it frustrates me to think about it.

Apr 24, 2012

Misogny = Hatred of Women

Yesterday, I came across an article titled, Why Do They Hate Us?, written by Mona Eltahawy.  She is an Egyptian-American columnist.  In November, 2011, Egyptian police beat her, breaking her left arm and right hand, and sexually assaulted her.  She was detained by the Interior Ministry and military intelligence for 12 hours.  Her article focused on the hatred of women by the Arab world.  Her story begins with a story written by Alifa Rifaat, Distant View of a Minaret. As I read the story, I realized that my life had mirrored that of the wife.  My experience was certainly not the only one, nor will it be the last. Sexual satisfaction is not just his right but her right too! Women the world over are second class citizens, especially in the Middle East. The United States has problems with women too. We are looked at as sexual objects, rather than living rational beings. There is abuse, neglect, rape, murder, and a host of other things that women must endure in our society. But life here is by far the best that the world has to offer. We have our freedom. We can have jobs. We do not need to marry in order to survive. We can choose to have children or not.  We can live on our own without any worries. The Middle East is a century behind in the rights of women. It was at least 100 years ago that women were allowed to vote in this country. We are given equal rights to property.  We can travel alone and drive cars. Oh how lucky we are! I feel for these women. A southern man describes his helplessness in this situation on the Foreign Policy web site.  He says that now he is aware of the problem but doesn't have the resources to rescue one. Isn't that is what men are supposed to do?  Rescue us from a miserable situation and bring us to his castle. At least, that is what the fairytale is. 

Click on the link above and watch the video to see what this Egyptian-American woman has to say about women's rights. 

Apr 22, 2012

Pakistan: Their Living Corpses

Yet again, another acid attack upon a woman is in the news.  Again?! Why does this kind of abuse continue to plague the women in the east?  Shama, is the latest victim of an acid attack in Pakistan.  Her husband threw acid in her face as she slept. Then he ran away. The man took her phone so that she could not call for help.  He complained that Shama took too much pride in her beauty.  A mother of four, Shama now feels that her life is over.  My question is where is the love for the wife? She bore this man four beautiful children, all of whom he should be very proud. 

The wife, who is the foundation of the home, has been shattered into tiny pieces.  Where is the value of women?  Many times the woman is forced to return to her husband or her in-laws home after the attack.  What kind of life will she live afterwards?  No wonder so many take their own lives.  They feel there is no reason to live.  Did you know that 90% of abuse to women is not reported because the woman is totally dependent upon the husband for survival. There are at least 1-2 reports of acid attacks every week in Pakistan.  But let's not stop here.  Afghanistan has reported cases of acid attacks on women too.  A school for girls was attacked by the Taliban in 2008 and at least 15 girls and teachers were sprayed.  The reason, you might ask?  Educating women. Constantly hearing about beatings, murders, rapes, etc..., makes me wonder about goodness and mankind.  There is a religious saying," that we are to love our neighbor like ourselves."  What about loving those to whom we are closest? A wife, mother, sister, or daughter is closer than a neighbor.

Apr 21, 2012

Moroccan Belly Dance Festival Calls it Quits

The belly dance festival that was set to be in Marrakesh next month has cancelled because of the Israeli participants.  The organizers felt that it was unsafe to proceed because of the negative response from Islamist members of parliament and pro-Palestinian associations.  I don't quit understand all of the hatred for Jewish people.  My ex-husband talked about how much he hated the Jews but couldn't give a substantial reason for the hatred. It is sad that this had to be cancelled.  I think that the women would have had a good time dancing and having fun. At least 18 countries, including Britain, Japan, Russia and The Netherlands, were due to have taken part in the festival which was first held in Istanbul in 2010.

Apr 20, 2012

Mourad New Moroccan: The Cookbook

I don't know what is going on with me, but I seem to be collecting a lot of Moroccan cookbooks lately.  I have so many recipes waiting in the wings as it is to be tried.  So, what is another cookbook to the collection?  The cover consists of a bald headed man with tatoos.  This is not your conventional cookbook cover.  What is inside is the best part.  Coveted recipes from the land of tajines, olives, and preserved lemons.  I love the pictures.  I love the stories.  I am anxious to try a vegetable tajine with charmoula in a few days.  But until then, I am going to dream about all of the dishes that I can make. 

Apr 17, 2012

An African Find in America

I love to find bargains and I am not ashamed to spend hours looking for just the right thing.  Here is my new find.  It is a bowl from Rowanda.  Can you believe that?  It was love at first sight. 

I bought it at the GW, short for Goodwill.  I think that I paid two dollars for it.  Not bad huh?

Apr 13, 2012

Writing from your Soul to God

I have been an avid journal writer for many years. It all began when a relationship ended. Once I was healed from the experience, I kept writing. The thing is that I never wrote a letter to God in all of this writing. Maybe it is time I take my writing to a more spiritual level. I have prayed and things happened.  I have written down goals and achieved them. Maybe it is the power of suggestion or maybe it is something more. I feel that there is something out there that helps everyday people like you and me when we ask.

I came across a book called, "Writing down your soul", by Janet Conner while looking for a book to help me write stories from my childhood. The beginning pages talked of forgiveness. Oh this book is talking to me already. The more I read, the more I realized that I could be doing more with the spiritual side of myself. I could, also, be talking to my Maker and working out problems as they come along through writing. The author suggests that you write at the same time everyday for a few minutes to make it a habit.  I have not begun my journey yet, but I intend to once I had read the book. How do you cope with life's problems?  Do you write too?  

Apr 11, 2012

The Human Experience: You're Included

Four friends, each with their own story to tell. Two come from a home where their father was abusive in many ways. Another, lost his mother when he was only nine. All looking for love.  Each life is a treasure. When we have love and support of family and friends we are more likely to live a life more fully.  But what about those who don't? We live in a society that is "thing" oriented instead of the greatest gift of FAMILY. Nothing can replace the love of your family, especially the love of a father or mother as the young men in the filmed experienced. Four young men go on a journey. They are in search of the human experience.  Even though bad things may happen in our lives, life is still good.  We have that drive to get up every day in spite of things. They start off living on the streets of New York, City.  It was the coldest part of the winter. Brother's Clifford and Jeffrey slept in cardboard boxes along side many of the homeless people of the city. A woman they met while on this journey shared a story about her experience when she was first homeless.  Four dogs were living on the streets the same as she was.  People saw the dogs and felt compassion for them but there she stood, no one noticing her need.  A tear trickled down her cheek as she again felt the emotions of that experience. Each of us asks, Does my life matter?  What is my purpose? Is my life unique? People become depressed when they no longer see their life as significant. 

The four young men also went to see the lost children of Peru and a leper colony in Ghana. As I watched this documentary, I again felt the feelings that I had when my husband left.  I felt as though my life had no purpose.  Who am I going to take care of, I asked myself? Healing comes with time and willingness to forgive. When Jeffrey and Clifford met up with their father after his 10 year absence, Jeffrey spoke of forgiveness before it was asked for. The key to living a successful life is through forgiveness, which enables us to move on.  This is a very moving documentary and I would suggest anyone to watch it.  It will touch your heart.  

Apr 9, 2012

Biten by the Genealogy Bug and Family Secrets

Since the 1940 Census records were published last week, my eyes have been glued to the computer screen trying to find my parents.  On Saturday, I found my mother and today I found my dad.  I have been doing research on my family's history for a long time.  When I was in my 20's my Aunt Joye wrote me a letter giving me details about various members of the family.  But it wasn't until I was in my late 30's before I actually took my first step into actually doing research.  I had hired a woman to help me get started.  I thought to myself, if this woman can do it, then so can I.  The most challenging thing about all of this is that I am working with two very common names: Smith and Campbell.

One of the funniest things I have seen is that one of my cousins is listed two times in two different places two days apart in the same county.  He was 16 at the time.  He must have thought that it was funny. 

The great mystery in my lineage is my Great Grandfather Joseph Rufus Smith who was born in Hamblen County, Tennessee, eight years before his mother Sarah Jane Bailey married Pleasant Thomas Smith. Before Sarah married Thomas Smith, she married a man named Duke Manes, but Joseph was born before they were married too. Who is the mystery father?  Don't you just love family secrets?  I may have to take a trip to Tennessee to solve this mystery. 

Apr 7, 2012

Sheikh Abdul-Bari Zamzami Controversy in Morocco

There is an Imam in Morocco who is infamous for several Islamic sexual fatwa's that he has issued in recent years.  The man is Sheikh Zamzami.  Just recently, I read an article about him allowing women to use root vegetables or kitchen implements, or bottles to relieve sexual tension if she is unmarried, widowed, or has no hope for marriage.  I was shocked when I read this. Actually, I brought the article to work to see what my co-workers reaction would be and most were speechless.  Zamzami is a supporter of sex shops and sex toys.  This kind of stuff is hard to wrap my head around since he is a religious leader.  One always thinks that a religious man would be on the verge of divine, but I am going to have to re-think what I believe about these people.  Not only is he in favor of sex toys, etc...but if a mans wife dies he is allowed to still have sex with her.  Of course she has to be "fresh" when it comes to being dead. Reading this really blew my mind.  What man would want to have intercourse with a corpse?  Oh, I forgot, we are talking about men. Some may like the idea, but I find it repulsive. I know that this is not the view of all Moroccans or muslims.  My question is: When a religious person goes public with these wayside kinds of notions, how do the people of Morocco feel or how do muslims in general react to this? 

Apr 4, 2012

Spring, Glorious Spring

I love this time of year.  Everything literally comes alive.  I went to the park on Sunday and it was packed full of people wanting to look at the flowers and enjoy the sunshine. I, too, had to join in. I packed my camera and off I went.

Where is was once bare, has now come to life.

I saw a sea of tulips

A blooming tree with bright pink flowers

There was a garden of tulips, getting ready to open up.

Flowers coming out everywhere.

This is my view of spring.

Apr 2, 2012

Belly Dance in Morocco: Controversy or Delight

The third Belly Dance Festival in Marrakech has stirred up something this year. It is to take place May 10 - 14 in Marrakech.  Apparently, there are some Israeli participants and the other contestants are in an uproar over it.  In my opinion I don't think that having Israeli participants is the real problem, but women showing a bit of skin is. There are those who are in authority that feel belly dancing is indecent and encourages the "propagation of vice" in Morocco.  Sounds a bit like Saudi Arabia to me. Before long there will be "morality police" lining the streets to make sure that people are following all of the religious rules.  Besides all of the uproar and hoopla, I would love to be able to go to this event. Wouldn't it be a wonderful experience to see women dance in the true form of belly dance?   The only thing I don't like is all of the hair flinging.  What has that got to do with Belly Dancing? I see Moroccan women do that all of the time at weddings. 

Someone by the name of Hakima who owns a studio to teach belly dance in Europe said this about us westerners:

“No matter how Westerners try, they will never master belly dancing like we Easterners do.”

I think that I may get some attitude here...because I know that she is talking to us. We can shake our stuff with the best of 'em.