Monthly Archives: November 2007

On Mysteries, Snow-Angels and Pink Umbrellas

I hate the unexplained.  I really do dislike not being able to figure out the greater mysteries of life.  Like for example what happend to the cover of my Cure cassette about 15 years ago.  I would bet that one of my brothers played a hand in it’s disappearance but they would never admit to it.  It still rankles.  When I was a kid I’d daydream about when I’d finally get to heaven I’d be able to ask God anything I wanted to.  At the top of my list was who killed JFK and what happend to Amelia?  Big questions from an eleven year old with a library full of Nancy Drew books.  So now I have a new obssession I’ve dubbed the Mystery of the Bike-Trailer.   This particular mystery lies in a bike trailer that has been left locked up at the bus stop since around August.  I began noticing it when I was on my way to work in the morning.   At first I thought it belonged to an energetic parent who was carting their kid around at 7am.  Then I when I still saw it in the late afternoons I thought that said parent must be a workaholic because that is a heck of a long day for a little one.  When I was on my way home from a late shift at midnight and I still saw it locked up I began to get suspicious. 

Wondering who it belongs to and why they left  it at the bus stop has driven me crazy.  Who leaves a bike-trailer locked up for months at a time?  Those trailers are expensive too.  Did something happen to the parent?  The kid?  Did they bang their head and forget they had a trailer?  Or a kid for that matter?  The possibilities are endless.  My friends of course think I’m nuts.  Everytime I go by the bus stop I stare at it, point it out, snap a few pics…I am clearly re-living my Encyclopedia Brown wannabe days.  Jazz is threatening to put a big sign on the trailer with my number on it so anyone that has any info can call me.  I’m starting to consider it.

The Bike-Trailer

mana-kids-nov07-044.jpg

So the niece is still here.  The sudden snowfall left us unprepared and because all she had was running shoes we had to stay inside all day.  I convinced Jazz to come and take us out in the car tonight though,  which I am forever grateful to her for.  If I had to watch another Disney movie I was going to scream.  Anyways I bought the girl a new umbrella the other day because she was acting like it was her hearts desire.  Apparently all we need to be eternally happy is to wave around a pink and purple umbrella all day.  Take note people.  As we were getting ready to go out,  Jazz is like “is she bringing that thing?”  Meaning the umbrella.  H just looks at her.  

Me: Ummm… obviously, can’t you see it’s a magic umbrella?  That’s where she gets her power from.

H: Yeah Auntie Jazz.

Jazz: I hate that umbrella.

I don’t know why,  but Jazz has taken an unreasonable hatred to that umbrella …ella …ella.  It makes her very angry.  I don’t know if it’s the colour or what but there you have it.

So H walked around the mall with the freakin umbrella opened the entire time while Jazz snarled at her and I wished I was somewhere eating a big piece of cheesecake.  It was a grand time.

As we were getting out of the car I took H out and then busied myself getting some bags out of the backseat.  I heard H saying “Oooohh I want to make snow-angels!” , which I ignored because I was busy cursing the bags and the slush around my feet.  I heard Jazz say “All right” and I ignored that too because my mind refused to believe that she would be that stoopid,  because I was like it’s dark, it’s late, and the snow looks more like shit that snow at this point and she so did not just tell a ditzy 6 year old that she could make snow angels in the middle of the  driveway … aaaagghhhhh!!

Me: Get UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

H: Why?

Me: To make snow-angels you have to be in snow pants, boots, and preferrably snow that is not BROWN!!!!

Jazz is laughing hysterically.  H is giggling and skipping around with a wet butt and the bloody umbrella waving in my face.

And I marvel at the Wisdom of the Universe –  for I would so never have quit smoking if I had had kids earlier on. 

If I ever do have them now,  I’ll just be really fat from all the cheesecake I’ll be eating.

Putting H to bed tonight I crawl in beside her and almost pass out because she has plastered three different scented lotions on during her little night-time moisturizing ritual – it’s so strong it should be used as a weapon.  She is suddling her bear in one arm and the stupid umbrella in the other and she has a car tucked under her belly.  I read her Hansel and Gretel.  We cuddle for a bit.  She puts her face really close to mine and says “Auntie can you see me?”

Me: Yes

H: Are you blind?

Me: No

H: Well why do you wear glasses?

Me: Cause I’m blind

H: See, I told you

Me: Can I go now?

H: But I’m not comfortable with you gone

Me: But I want to read my book

H: You can read it here in bed with me

Me: I’ll fall asleep

H: You can sit up and read

Me: You’re just miss smarty smart,  aren’t you?

She smiles smugly.  

Me: I promise I’ll be back – if anyone scares you just use your umbrella to bash them over the head with ok?

H: Ok

———————–

I need chocolate stat.

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Food Thoughts

After having read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver I decided that what I had learned from her book was too important to ignore.  So I decided to try to implement some changes in the way I shop for my food.  My whole appraoch to shopping for food has changed …shopping for produce involves me wandering up and down the isles looking for locally grown items which can be scarce in a sea of imported food.  The first time you take a minute to check out where your food is coming from is quite surprising…New Zealand, South Africa, China, Brazil, the US of course, are just some on the list.  If you think about what your produce has been through as it was picked, washed, packed, and transported to its final destination it’s kind of disheartening.  Compare that to a locally grown item and the difference is huge – compare that to a locally grown organic item and it’s even more.  This is not even taking into account the positive effect buying locally has on the farmers in your area, and the (albeit small ) blow to those bastard billion dollar a year companies that try to control everything we eat these days.

Anyway I found a Canadian experiment done by a couple out in BC called the 100 Mile Diet.  I’d like to read their story too to get a feel for how much you can invest into this lifestyle longterm.  I don’t have a backyard so a home garden is out of the question, but there are community gardens that I am interested in joining in the spring. Also there is a farm just outside of the city that will deliver thier produce year round to your front door.  It would cost about 180.00 a month though and I don’t spend that on my entire grocery bill so I can’t really justify spending that much on just produce.  There is also a Farmer’s Market that operates on Saturdays year round that is not too far from me.  My biggest struggle at this time is finding organic halal meat.  I’ve taken to buying organic kosher meat because it’s easier to find.  It would be nice to see someone in the city offer organic meat that is not pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.

This new focus on my food habits has been a long time in the making .  It began for me by beginning to look at food differently.  I hate diets and diet fads.  I could never fully reconcile myself to believing some foods were bad for you and I would always try to make my point of reference the diet of the Prophet (saw) and his sahaba, as well as the diet of people who live closest to the land.  So on one hand I looked at reducing the amount of food I ate as in an exercise to “break the desires”, and on the other hand I looked at eating natural foods in their natural state as enjoying the bounty that Allah has put at our disposal.  As I said this has been years in the making.  And of course I love eating (have you tasted soul food?) and I love eating out and pretending that I don’t enjoy junk food would be dumb – I get cravings for junk food – usually at 2am during an overnight shift which is the worst time to eat a bag of chips but hey…I’m only human and I am no extremist.  What I am trying to do is increase the amount of good food I eat and decrease the amount of “bad” food.  I am able to find organic, shade grown fairtrade coffee but not organic Thai food for example.   I love Thai food and don’t want to give it up so I’ve reduced the amount of food I eat out.  And I’ve made a commitment to try and buy as healthy and as local as possible when I’m buying for the house.   It’s all about trying to maintain balance. 

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Weekend with the Babies :)

Oh my goodness.  I never thought going to work would be a break – but let me tell you when you have 4 kids milling around you for the weekend going in to work is a nice respite.  My niece is visiting me and I also had a good friend’s three kids here this weekend.  We had a lot of fun but they wear you out.  We did the museum, the baking of bread and cookies, the cooking dinner, the storytimes, the cuddling, all the fun stuff.  Then I packed them off home and collapsed on the couch.  Actually I did that before I sent them home.  The kids pretty much fended for themselves in the kitchen for supper.  I was like “eat what you want – just don’t hit each other and if your Moms ask if you had veggies say “yes” – just don’t tell them they were veggie chips.”

I had a wonderful weekend with them though.  Kids are so much fun to be around…they remind you of yourself when you were young.  Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see them dealing with the same crazy old world you dealt with.  I’ve watched them all grow up , from chubby babies to pretty 12 year olds who whisper confidences in my ear about boys, friends, and Moms who just don’t understand.  Their ages span some years – my niece is six and full of innocent wonder at everything around her, and F’s kids are eight, ten and twelve.  I love them all so much and want so much for them and it’s difficult to see the world doesn’t really offer them anything better 20 years later.  If anything things are more complicated.  But at night when they are all lying there whispering their du’as you realize clearly that life is no more than a cycle and they are part of it.  Every child has their path to tread and all you can do is love them and teach them and pray that they remain as full of love and life as possible. 

My Lovelies!

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erasing negatives

I started to write this post about some things that make me crazy and upset me but I realized that no one cares and it will change nothing and who needs to read another blog full of negativity…?  So instead I’ll jot down some of the things that have made me happy in the past few days.   

The other day I baked my first loaf of bread while humming to the music of Smokey Robinson – Sunday is my day to listen to the good old stuff.

I went to the organic store and bought some quails – all I need to figure out now is how to cook them. 

I am reading the best book!  It’s called Animal,Vegetable,Miracle and I’m busy driving everyone nuts with my new obsession:  eating locally grown produce…hormone free meat, milk, etc…  I have good friends who put up with my descriptions of purple potatoes and white carrots.

A few of us had a meeting about future endeavours – discussed food banking, education, counselling…so much to think about. The main thing right now is to figure out who is doing what in the city and moving from there.  We also discussed future events to plan- I anticipate my biggest fight will be to not sell chips and soda to event-goers.  The last time I had to sell cakes to kids at a fundraiser I got into an altercation with the finance guy who couldn’t understand why I was telling the kids they had had enough and to save their money.  I think he wanted to throttle me.  It just felt so wrong!  Maybe I can get them to sell veggie sticks and apple juice.  Okay that’s a bit much even for me.  I just think we should offer healthy food to people instead of junk.  This is our community and we should start teaching our children to eat well and to respect their bodies.  So many people, adults and children have diabetes these days, and when they go to these events all that is offered is cakes and soda.  No wonder this is the first generation whose life expectancy is shorter than that of their parents. 

Just bought the book , In Praise of Slow – don’t know anything about it but it looks interesting. 

Just noting all the good things going on reduces my blood pressure and now I can go on with my day 🙂

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collisions

past collides with present. 

i see looking through the mirror of time, myself – so much younger.  i see beauty and laughter and hope.  i see strength.  and more than anything i see youthful foolishness. dreamy impetuousness.  firmness of  resolve. 

present goes looking for past.

once you were an inspiration – now just a mystery.  what i loved has disappeared behind layers of hurt and in your voice i hear you asking me to go away. perhaps you know i’m just here to make myself feel better.  to stop the guilt and the questions.  yes you’re probably right.  just know that once upon a time you were an inspiration.  and i loved you.  and if you really want me to i’ll stop looking for you.

present as present.

how to tell fiction from reality?  what the heart knows as being real, the head challenges – and rightly so.  i cannot slide down that rabbit hole again.  yet every once in a while i will take flight when i’m feeling brave.  i allow myself this luxury knowing that it’s safe.  i will come to the edge of that wonderful wonderland hole, peer down into it’s welcoming, velvety darkness.  lie down next to it to catch my breath and then slowly walk away.

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City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection

Well we are finally back from a long road trip to Philly – otherwise known as the ‘city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection)’.  We stoped off in Albany first which caused us to miss the first night of the conference and one of my favourite speakers.  I was really disappointed to miss Dr. Jackson – he is the first person who lit my imagination on fire with regard to the indigenous muslim populations – taking what I intuitively had always known and putting it into words.

We had an awesome. time – the conference was a real testimony to the desire of the AA muslims in the US to become part of the solution.  Just having come back from the conference in Chicago, it was nice to see the one in Philly was a ‘working’ conference.  The audience played a major role in defining issues, and proposing solutions, all of which were drafted as resolutions to be taken back to the board and people’s respective cities.  It’ll be interesting to see how things move from here.

I reconnected with some people I conferenced with in Arizona a couple of years ago.  Hopefully we’ll be able to actually keep in touch now.  There were a couple of things about the conference that were a particular focus for me.  One was the overwhelming feeling of being normal for once.  I can’t describe how nice it was, and how emotional it was for me at times to recognize the faces of my father and my grandfather all weekend.  It was like being surrounded by love and warmth for me.  For me the muslim community has never been about seeing myself in others and knowing I belonged – it was always the opposite.  So whenever I go to the States and come across AA muslims my soul reconnects with a part of me I feel I lost out on.  I don’t know if people will understand what I mean, my friends were teasing me a few times this weekend because I was so happy.  I was content to just wander around and watch and absorb everything.  

My other focus was trying to translate some of the initiatives to bring back home.  It was so difficult because the population of indigenous muslims, especially indigenous black muslims is so small in comparison.  We have pockets here and there, but for the most part we are the minority in communities of immigrant muslims.   To do anything would require some serious strategizing, but I’m really interested in seeing what could be done.  Another thing I felt this weekend was an incredible sense of loss – knowing how so many of us have given up on the deen and turned our backs to the community.  The racism and isolation and disconnectedness that people felt translated itself into a rejection of their muslim identity. I wish they could have been in Philly this weekend to recognize that there is a place for them and that the fight is worth it. 

For pics and a more in-depth run down of the conference check out these sites Manrilla, Umar Lee and Tariq Nelson.

On a side note our van got broken into Saturday night.  The passenger window was smashed and a printer that was in the back was stolen.   I thought it was funny considering the last time I was down there the same thing happened.  So we had to drive home with cardboard and plastic duct-taped to the side of the van.  Very ghetto.

AND…drumroll please….. we took a cab and it was a nice normal experience with no cheating, no arguing, no getting lost, no car service mix-ups.  That for me clinched it.  Officially one of my favourite places to visit.

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A thousand and one ways to die

Had a wisdom tooth pulled today.  Ouch.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be but still my jaw is throbbing.  He had to put stitches in so I think that’s why it’s hurting so much.  The dentist gave me tylenol 3’s which do very little for me – I have to top them up with advil for me to get any kind of relief.   At least so far there is no swelling or bruising and no hemorrhaging (like last time!).  We leave tomorrow for Albany and then on to Philly so I have no time to be sick !

It’s been a weird week.  On top of it all, last night as I was lying in bed reading something came hurtling past me all of a sudden and hit the floor about a foot away from my head.  It happened so fast I didn’t even have time to react.  It was the light fixture – there is this heavy engraved glass bowl encasing the lightbulbs in my bedroom.  For some odd reason it came loose and lunged itself at my head.  I haven’t even touched it since last year so I don’t know how it happened but I do know it’s not going back up.  If that had hit me in the head it would have knocked me out for sure and probably caused some damage. 

I used to leave the house every day with the same thought: “I wonder how many different ways I could die today?” I don’t do it as much anymore because I’m trying to not use the remembrance of death as another excuse to let my fears control my life.   There is difference between remembering death as a spiritual excercise and doing what I was doing.  I should blame my parents for this – as bed time stories my father used to read us the hadiths from this book on death and the afterlife.  But we loved those stories…we used to ask him to read it to us.  And then my mother used to read us Hansel and Gretel evey night when we little- we used to love that too-I don’t think they anticipated turning me into a complete neurotic though!  🙂

You never know how or when you’ll go.  It could be something as stupidly random as a light fixture beaning you on the head.   Or it could be something as spectacularly random like the guy driving home the other day who got himself decapitated – a piece of metal flew through his windshield and that was it. 

These days I try not to focus on death as much as focusing on balancing my life.  Salat, Zhikr, Quran, Du’a, Good Company, Renewing my Shahada as Shaykh HY says.  And I work at decluttering my life, simplifying my life, reorganising my life.  And I remember that this life is fleeting, and short.   These are the things I think will  make my transition from one state to the other easy inshaAllah.  It’s a work in progress for sure.  And I am far from being anywhere close to where I want to be.  Hopefully I’ll have the time to fix that.

Sorry for being so morbid.  I’m tired and in pain.  And wary of flying objects.

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