Monday, December 31, 2007

*insert superlative here* of 2007

How many best of, craziest of, funniest of, whatever-else of lists have you seen as the year winds down? I'm a complete sucker for these lists and here's something noteworthy:

CBC's 2007 Top 10 Canadian Newsmakers in the Arts' list includes Zarqa Nawaz, the Little Mosque on The Prairie creator.

You go sister!



p.s. Did you know you can watch the episodes on YouTube??
p.p.s. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This says it all...

This cartoon from the Globe and Mail is sadly accurate in its representation of Canada's official position at the recent Bali conference on climate change. We have the dubious honour of having won something called "The Fossil Award" for being the country or group that held up the process.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Samwise the Bloated

So you've already heard about Samwise the Bloated and the whole "peas help bloatation" thing here and here.

Well, a few weeks ago, I captured Samwise in action. It seems he's found a solution (involving the water filter) to be able to get to the bottom of his tank despite his bloatation.

Observe, and enjoy:


Saturday, December 22, 2007

What do you mean they're bad for your teeth?

Having lived in a country where Christmas is a big deal all my life, I have to say that I appreciate how much more cheery and positive everyone gets this time of year. All through school, I got 10-15 days of holiday over Christmas and New Years, and that's enough to make anyone love the season. Now, in my third full year of work, I'm still adjusting to the fact that, in the federal government, there isn't a built in two-week holiday for everyone. If you want vacation at Christmas, you take your vacation at Christmas, and I almost always want my vacation in the summer time for trips to Calabogie and such.

Nevertheless, I enjoy the quiet time at work for that week when the office almost becomes ghost-town-like. Most of those still around are others like me who don't "do" Christmas, although some are people who are just saving their holidays for another time of year too. I like getting a chance to catch up on whatever I've fallen behind on (which is A LOT this year). I like chatting for a bit with whoever's still around.

As a child, I know I loved the lights on the buildings and trees. Now I'm not so sure because I worry about the energy it all consumes. What I definitely loved when I was little, and still love now, are candy canes. I can't describe it, can't pinpoint exactly why they're any different from those candies or mints you get at restaurants at the end of a meal, which I'm not addicted to, but candy canes are definitely a favourite treat of mine. Maybe it's because they're not available all year round, or because I forget about them and am pleasantly surprised every year when given one at some point in mid-December. This year, one of the gals at work stuck little stockings up on the outside of everyone's cubicles and filled them with Hershey's Kisses, Reese Peanut Butter cups (mmmmm.....) and Candy Canes. I've had one Peanut butter cup, no Kisses, and finished my Candy Cane and gone back down to the pharmacy to buy another package. I love these things. I try hard to ignore the fact that sucking on a stick of sugar all day and then only brushing your teeth when you get home must be a recipe for cavities. At the end of the day, it's ignorable. They just taste soooooooooooooo good.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Meaningful Gifts

There's a beautiful (and very short) Prophetic saying that encourages gift giving as a form of getting closer. In Arabic, it's "Tahaadu, Tahabbu", which essentially means "give gifts to one another and you will love one another".
It's very simple, and obviously it alone will not make people love one another, but I think it shows how much gifts mean to us as humans. We like being showered with attention and love. We like being given something we weren't expecting, and we like the feeling of knowing someone has thought about us and though about how best to make us happy. All of these are results of being given a gift.
At the same time, I think we've reached a point where sometimes gift giving is taken too far. Sometimes we seem to exchange gifts because it's what's expected, and not because there's actually any love, or need in the exchange. How many of us have spent hours trying to look for something to buy a loved one because an occasion like Eid or Christmas or their birthday is coming up, and they don't really need or want anything? How many of us have ended up buying them something that just sat there just to have bought them a present? I personally would rather get flowers, or a chocolate bar, or a phone call, or sit together and watch a movie then get something I don't need. These are all gifts too, and show that the person who gave them to you remembers and cares.
I heard about another great way of gift giving on the radio this morning. Both Green Peace and the CHF (another great Canadian non-profit) have these programs set up where you can buy a gift on behalf of a family member or friend to either send valuable food stock, or animals, or medical supplies like malaria kits to people in need around the world, or sponsor specific green peace projects. Both of these groups have a catalogue so you can pick the exact gift you want to give, and go with the cause closest to your heart or to whomever you're buying for.
And think how much more valuable contributions to an environmental project, or chicks, or fertilizer, will be to those who need it and to the earth, than a knick knack that sits on your friend's shelf collecting dust until she/he finally decides to donate it to the Goodwill or throw it out.
You can apply the idea to any cause you want by picking an organization that does good humanitarian or environmental work and then donating on behalf of a friend as your gift. Human Concern International is a great option, so's IRFAN-Canada (both are humanitarian groups that provide orphan sponsorship and medical and sustainable supplies in war-ravaged regions of the world).
So if you're stuck for what to buy and still behind on your Christmas shopping and starting to panic, or if you haven't gotten Eid gifts yet for some important people, and it's just hitting you that Eid's about to end, try something like this. It'll make you, and the person you're buying for, feel great.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

38 cm

and counting...
at 8 p.m. there were 38 centimetres of snow on the ground in Ottawa. Beautiful to look at, but not so much fun to walk through, let me tell you. When I opened my door this morning, the snow fell IN to my entrance. Brrrr...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Party Planning

From the Dilbert Blog, some amusing-ness (and I know that's not a real word, but it just fits here) about the holiday party season:

Which of these two things is easier?
A. Planning the invasion of Normandy
B. Planning a holiday party
If you are male, you might think a party involves invitations, food, booze, and decorations. It seems simple. But if there is a woman in your life, step one of the party preparation process can involve anything from aerating the lawn, to attending mime school in France, to lifting the house with cranes and putting it on stilts. There’s a whole other level that sneaks up on you, and it doesn’t end until the doorbell rings.
One of the most useless party customs is giving attendees gifts as they leave. These guests already gave you a hostess gift when they arrived. The obvious solution would be to tell guests to throw their incoming gifts in a pile by the entrance, next to the shoes. When people leave, they can rummage through the pile and pick something they didn’t bring. Pardon my French, but I think a “voila” is called for.
Remember, any problem that can be solved using the word “rummage” is bound to be efficient. And efficiency is the key to good party-giving.
A hard part of hosting is guessing the right amount of food you need, which usually means getting three times more than people will eat. Another problem is that people refuse to line up when the food is out. You can solve both of these problems by getting less food than your guests are likely to want. After you host a few parties, word will get around, and people will go straight to the buffet line as soon as they arrive and toss their hostess gifts by the shoe pile.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Real

I booked my 5 weeks off in my HR system and on my calendar at work last week. I'll be gone all of February, plus a little before the wedding. These things are little, since everyone's known since forever that I'd be gone that whole time, but having it entered in electronically makes it very real, and was bizarrely exciting. Am I a geek, or what?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Materialism

As the world around us gets geared up for the crazy shopping season, or is already somewhere in the midst of it, here's a reminder and a plea for sanity. Things won't make any of us happier, at least not material things. At least not for long.
More Jack Johnson. Enjoy:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Slater Avenue, Update

Back in May, this great "222" sign on Slater avenue caught my attention. Well, about a week ago (or maybe two?) I noticed a change.
I guess someone else thought the 222 would be a creative motif around which to build a club.


on the cold front, I'm still sniffling coughing and wheezing. For all of you in the same boat, remember these Buckley's-like remedies?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'Tis the Season...

To be congested (fa la la lala lala lala - Sing it!) My little angela has a viscious head cold and has managed to share the love with all in the family (parents, grandparents, baby brother, and your's truly - Auntie Noha). This morning I woke up unable to breathe. I'll spare you the details, but winter has definitely arrived. It's 20 below zero (celsius) with the windchill factor in Ottawa today. Winter has MOST definitely arrived.



On the bright side, Les Boys won 4-3 in Shootouts against those poor Toronto Maple Leafs last night, despite being horribly outshot and deserving to lose. I'm starting to really like our rookie goalie (46 shots, and no panicking). but the team needs to play better 5 on 5. Wow, I sound like such an arm chair coach

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cree Indian Prophecy

Beautiful and all too true. Thought I'd share:

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Homeless

Working downtown has its major ups, but also some downs. I love the easy access into the city centre on dedicated bus routes. I love that if I have to run errands after work, I'm at least already halfway to where I need to get. I love the busy-ness of downtown, how alive it is, and just the variety of people I end up seeing (writers are people-watchers, and my commuting time, combined with my coffee time and my errand time, is my people-watching time and gives me a lot of my inspiration).

The down of downtown is the poverty you sometimes witness. I get off the bus two and a half blocks from work, and depending on which stop I get off at, I am almost guaranteed to see 4 different homeless people every day, sitting on the different corners. Some of them are very cheerful and thoroughly courteous, smiling good morning, never asking for money, commenting that it's cold or warm, snowy or windy or rainy today, or telling me that they like my Habs' scarf.

One of my colleagues knows most of them by name, and knows their stories. If you've been working in my building long enough, you almost definitely know the man outside the Holt Renfrew with the big, brown dog, the long hair and the beard. He's cheerful, always. He has a mental illness that isn't obvious right away, and one of the breakfast places downstairs gives him free coffee whenever he goes into the building.

On Thursday, I decided to treat myself to a soy latte, and on my way into the Second Cup, I saw a homeless woman I had never seen before. She was sitting a few feet from the door of the store, hand out, staring off and looking sad. She was young, maybe 35 years old. I went in, and 5 minutes later, with my $4 coffee in hand, when I came out, she wasn't sitting anymore. She was standing in the same spot. Sobbing. Just completely caught up in her grief about something, and it was so incredibly sad. I can't begin to imagine what happened in those 5 minutes, and the scariest thing is that probably, nothing happened. Her life was already bad enough before I went into the store, and just as bad as I came out. But imagine yourself sobbing alone in the middle of the street, with commuters averting their eyes and passing you every which way. It was enough for me to nearly start crying myself, but not enough for me to ask her what was wrong. I was afraid, and somewhat shaken, so I took my coffee and continued to my building.

I didn't see her this morning.

I read in the paper this week that the homeless rate in Ottawa is rising quickly. I can't imagine what drives someone to such a terrible state, to the point where they lose everything and are alone with no one to look after them, invisible in plain sight of everyone who passes them in the busiest part of a city. I try to remember to thank God everyday that I don't know the pain of having nothing and no one, but my family, my shelter, my peace of mind and faith are all things I take for granted until I see (really see, not just absently notice) people like this woman I saw on Thursday.

I won't even try to analyze the reasons for it, or point fingers, or take political sides on the homeless issue, but I do believe that in general, our society would go a long way with more compassion. There is a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that says: "Even your smile to your brother or sister is charity". This is a charity we can all give to afford.

Friday, November 23, 2007

As promised

An update (with some pics!) on Samwise the bloated and the rest of the LOTR fish gang.
From my sister's email today: his bloatation is doing much better today after a strict diet of only peas.
I have to say, after looking at the three little fellas, Samwise it the cutest :D
(my apologies for the blurriness of Sam's pictures; because of his bloat, he's floatin' around and doesn't stay still long enough for the pic to come out clearly)

Frodo


Frodo and Gollum

Samwise the Bloated

The three stooges

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Changing it up a bit

Okay people, I think the minimal look needs a little break. To be honest, I've thought so for a while now, but I've also been WAY too lazy to do my own layout design / minor programming to make the page look the way I wanted it too (which was I'm-not-actually-sure-how, but-just-different-from-how-it-looked), and I wasn't particularly digging any of blogger's offered templates.
Well, I went back and looked, and I've decided to go with one of the standard ones (still too lazy to do my own, but also because I actually like it.) It's called "Harbor", and I'm kinda digging the whole waterfront thing. Also, M should consider this an olive branch extended on a little "question of contention" we have, because, really, doesn't harbor naturally make you think of that most famous harbour in Halifax?? (you know what I mean, M).

Anyway, hope you all like the new look... We'll see how long it lasts before I go nuts and return to something either way too plain or way too busy again.

Poetry of Social Awareness

One of the things I love so much about good songs and poems is that they say important things in a powerful, creative way, and rarely come off as a) boring or b) preachy as the same thing said in plain language. I've already posted the lyrics on here for "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer, which I think speaks to the apathy of a lot "young" people these days and why they feel there's no point in trying to make things better.
I write some of my own poetry and music, but I've never had a good knack for writing good "social/political commentary" songs, so when I find one I love, I like to share it. Here's a song that says a lot of things, speaking generally about hypocrisy and obsession with money, weapons, and power. Like I said, expanding it all out in plain language will likely be a) boring, and b) preachy, so enjoy the song instead. It's by Jack Johnson. A lot of his other stuff is great too, discusses nature, the importance of focussing on non-material aspects of our life, etc, but this song, Symbol in my Driveway, is the one that packs the most punch to me...
Here's a YouTube link to it... Never mind the "eSocialist" picture; I couldn't find his original vid.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Random Acts of Fishy-ness

So I haven't written in about a week, right? and I said I wouldn't do that again, right? Well... sorry? It's just that most of what's going on in my life right now is not blog-writin' material - not that it's bad, no! it's plenty good, it's just that my life right now pretty much involves a lot of wedding planning, and I'm greatly enjoying it, but it's not the kind of stuff I want to post...
From my sister in Montreal though, comes this rather hilarious situation:
A few weeks ago, my sister's sister-in-law (I never know if I'm supposed to call her my sister-in-law, or how exactly to describe our relationship) got my sister and brother-in-law some goldfish as a gift. My sis and brother-in-law (bil for short) named them Frodo, Sam, and Gollum (If you haven't seen Lord of the Rings, this reference is completely lost on you. If you have, each fish sort of resembles his namesake: Frodo is small, Gollum is a bit on the freaky side with massive eyes on the side of his head, and Sam is pear-shaped and large).
So it's all good in the fish world. after all, what are you gonna do with gold fish? Put them in their tank, feed them, and look at them, right? Well, last week, while my sister is away, Sam develops some "bloating" and starts floating to the top of the tank after dinner... My bil calls my sis and tells her he's floating, so she assumes he's dead, and my bil says: no, he's swimming, just on his back or side, but then he just 'rests' or floats every so often...
so my sis suggests calling the pet store, which my bil does, and they tell him the problem is bloating... Guess what you do for a gold fish with bloating? You feed it defrosted crushed frozen peas. Isn't that silly? So now, every night after dinner, Sam needs to eat peas. and then he floats and bloats (my sister says he's so bloated she's even made up a special word for this: "bloatation") and by morning he's fine again... My sister's actually convinced he just eats too much: one time, my bil had to hold him back with the net to let the other fish get a chance to eat when he put the food in...
Anyway, I promise that eventually there will be pics of these little guys, who've turned out to be more work than first suspected, but for now my sis says that the pic would just convince any of you that they're keeping a dead fish in the tank. I think maybe Sam just likes to back float, which is an unfortunate position to like for a fish because it's so synonymous with death for them?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Howdy-Ho Good Neighbours!

Did you ever used to watch Home Improvement, that incredibly corny family sitcom with Tim Allen pretending to be a Tool Man on a local cable show called "Tool Time"? Do you remember his neighbour in the show, Wilson? If you never saw the show, it ran for about 10 years (I think) and one of the insanely silly jokes / running themes of it was that the audience NEVER saw Wilson's whole face at once. He was always standing on the other side of the fence, so only the top half of his face was showing, or holding something that was covering the top half of his face, so only the bottom half was showing... In the very last episode, you FINALLY got to see all of Wilson's face in one shot. It was really quite a clever, if ridiculous, little joke.
I got to thinking of Wilson yesterday when I saw my uncle and said to him "Howdy Ho Good Neighbour!" which was something Wilson would always say to Tim over the side of the fence in the backyard... My uncle and his wonderful family have just moved in really close by to us, along with having my sister and her family next door... we're considering just changing the street names to our family names at the rate we're taking over the neighbourhood. It's funny, cuz when I tell people how close we all live to each other, they seem shocked. Like you would never CHOOSE to live this close to your family. but that's exactly what we did; we chose to live nearby... and now when I want to go for a walk, I can go with my parents, my uncle, aunt or cousin, my sister, my little angel and angela tagging along (in strollers or on foot, depending on whether we're planning a power-walk or a dawdle...) or if we just want to pop by and see each other for five minutes, or borrow a cup of sugar like the old cliche, we do it... If I don't see my sister, niece or nephew (read: angel or angela) for more than two days, I basically go into some form of mild withdrawal. three days and we're talking more serious withdrawal. 4, you don't even wanna ask. I love having my family near by, and I'm incredibly grateful for it. Case in point, we all had dinner together tonight, with little notice that this was what we would do. Exhibit two: this morning, my uncle and I happened to ride the bus into downtown together without even meaning it. It just makes for a lot more bonding time when everyone's nearby. So, welcome to the neighbourhood!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Very Very Sad

I read this article today about a sixth grade boy in a Montreal area school who died a few hours after getting into a fight with someone at recess. If you read the article, it doesn't seem like an incredibly violent fight. There's no mention of blood. Neither of the kids in the fight have a history of violence, but the boy who died did have a cardiac condition.
My condolences and prayers go out to the boy's family, and to the little girl who is probably feeling incredibly guilty and quite traumatized right now. I can't think of an 11 year old who hasn't gotten into a shoving match during recess at least once. I hope she's able to get over it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

An Extra Hour

Thanks to Daylight Savings Time (DST for short in the IT world), we all get an extra hour this weekend. I remember that in university, I was always so thrilled with the extra hour in the fall right around midterms, and always so devastated with the loss of an hour in the spring right around finals. Now, it just means one more hour to sleep, and I'm quite happy to have it...

Hope the cold weather isn't getting to everyone too much...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Update... I feel better

Sorry to have been Debbie Downer in my last post. All's good Alhamdulillah. Sometimes you just need to do a little venting...

One of These Days

Do you ever have one of these days? You know, the ones wear it's impossible to get out of bed, and even when you do, you're still asleep for the next 3 hours? The ones where everything you normally do so easily at work becomes inexplicably hard, and you suddenly have two new deadlines and you can't remember how you usually get stuff done?
I had one of those today, on the heels of a sick day yesterday, on the heels of a weekend the two days before, and so I felt like I really and truly had forgotten how to do everything I think I'm normally quite capable of.
Also, Hadeel is killing her blog, and for me, this is truly devastating information. After I finish writing this, I have to pop over there and check if my last comment maybe, just maybe, inspired her to keep it alive...
Sigh, deep breath. Tomorrow's a new day...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Don't Cry for me, Argentina

Interesting. A few weeks ago I saw a headline in the paper calling Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner "Argentina's Hillary". Now she's up and beat Hillary at her own game before Hillary has a chance. No strong opinions here, just sharing an fyi...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My nightmare job

I spent 2 hours going from one Staples Business Depot to another (3 in total, across the city) in search of a purchase I had to make today. I've concluded that one job I can likely never do is work at Staples on a weekend. These poor people were BUSY, soooooooooo BUSY, that despite the fact that
a) their inventory didn't match their stock,
b) they put the wrong thing on hold for me at a store and I didn't find this out until driving 25 minutes to pick it up, and then
c) kept the new kid in training on hold on the phone for 20 minutes when he tried to call a third store to check if they had my item

I managed not to lose my cool with any of them. It wasn't even a conscious thing this time to stay nice. It was more out of just feeling awful for them, just thinking that, when this is done, I get to go home and they have to stay and help the perpetual line up of 35 people, all trying to return something without a receipt and asking complicated questions until closing time. Customer Service is a talent. Smiling at people who are treating you rudely, and feel they have a right to it, is a talent. I salute the staff at Staples, but I don't think I'll be going there on a Saturday again any time soon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Insanity

I had a meeting in the building two blocks from my building this morning at work. It was starting to "warm up" so I wore only my sweater over my button up and my trusty Habs scarf around my neck, opting to leave my jacket at the office. On the way I saw several ppl moving supplies off trucks and into some office buildings in SHORTS and T-SHIRTS!!! It was 3 Celsius outside. no warmer. Maybe they thought by dressing down, they would encourage summer to come back??
I don't know, all I know for sure is that just looking at them gave me a cold.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are we good?

Dear Blog,


I'm sorry for the last week plus of neglect. I know I got your hopes up with constant writing and then kinda just left you hanging with no explanation. I know your number of hits have suffered as a result and there was little you could do without my getting back to it. I guess the following is a series of excuses for my erratic writing behaviour.

  • Wedding planning: A couple of months ago, M and I sat down and came up with everything we needed to do, and then saw that we had "so much time" left to do it all and Ramadan was coming up, and in general things were just busy on other fronts so… we let it slide a little. And rightfully so. But now, the wedding is not getting any farther away and the stuff still needs to get done. It's fun, but very very time consuming (and I like to think we're keeping it pretty low-key and I'm not being an insane Bride-zilla, but it's just something that takes A LOT of time)

  • I can't wear my hijab because WHAT?: So, lucky for me, I'm a federal government and not a provincial government employee. The Quebec provincial government is considering passing a law to disallow "ostentatious religious symbols" a la France, in public life. So my fellow hijabi's would be told to take off their hijabs or not come to work. Same with Orthodox Jews who cover their heads. Same with Sikhs. Same with Christians wearing crosses. Oh wait, what's that you say? Christians with crosses are welcome to keep wearing them? Well, then, I guess this isn't about keeping society secular after-all… Needless to say, I've very very concerned, upset, hurt about this whole debacle. I'm not sure what's so threatening to Quebec society about little old me in a headscarf, (or any other piece of clothing for that matter) or how it would interfere with my ability to do my job as a public servant, teacher, etc… And whatever happened to a woman's right to choose what she wore? Why doesn't forcing me to take off my hijab equate to oppression the same way forcing someone to wear one would? ... So, I've been trying to let as many ppl know to write their MPP's about it if they live in Quebec, and just generally to spread the word and stay on top of the issue.

  • Hockey: Ramadan is over, and the hockey season is young, and for a Habs fan like me who's been starving for good old Canadiens' hockey since that dreaded game last April (which they lost, resulting in their missing the play-offs), the time is NOW to catch up on what Les Boys are up to. So far so good. We have a young team (note the use of "we". I often talk as though I, not Guy Carbonneau, am the coach of the team) and we're still making lots of mistakes, but our young guys are a year more experienced, our overall level of effort is much more consistent than last year, and our newbies (rookies and free agents) are turning out to be an overall improvement over the bunch that left at the end of last year. Overall, I like the class of 2007-2008, though I wish Carbo would stop giving Kostopoulous so much ice time.

  • Rain, Baaaaaaah!: Yes, I know this is a lousy excuse, but I'm anti-rain, and when it rains I lose all creative/expressive abilities… and we've been getting a lot of rain lately, so…
I hope these excuses are enough for you to sort of forgive me. I don't really promise I'll be writing all the time any time soon again. And I'm sorry if I mislead you with my little spurt of posting pre-Eid, but time is just gonna continue to be tight for a while… Are we good?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Be happy (but don't mind if noone notices) & Little Mosque

I love reading these funny little articles about the human brain and how it acts in certain social situations. Came across this one today, and apparently, the brain often ignores, or reacts much more slowly to smiles than it does to frowns, or even neutral expressions... Don't let that stop you from smiling though! Remember: Your smile in the face of your brother/sister is charity :D


Totally unrelated, but I'm loathe to post two threads in the same day, Little Mosque on the Prairie is winning a humanitarian award for addressing conflicts in a creative way and encouraging harmony. Way to go, my fellow Canadians and Muslims! That's how it's done!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Eid-ing

Here's a funny little anecdote about my Eid prayer yesterday morning: As we walked into the already full Civic Centre hall for the prayer yesterday, I was holding the hand of my little angela as I like to call my niece. However, as she was having a hard time carrying her new doll (a gift from Grandma!) and negotiating her way through the crowd, she had handed me the doll while we were a few steps outside the hall. The result was that everyone who saw me at "adult height" level and couldn't see my little angela saw full-grown Noha walking in, all dressed up for Eid prayer, hugging a little doll. I got several looks, and several comments. Explanations were required. Hopefully, all is now cleared up ;)

But seriously, there's nothing more wonderful than the excitement of a little child to make Eid a really special occasion. My niece thought Eid was a person, and - not yet understanding the abstract concept of an event "coming" - she kept waiting for him to show up at the front door. By the end of yesterday though, I think she'd figured out that Eid is gathering of many people (all of whom lean down and look at her, give her hugs and kisses, and then turn to her mother and exclaim how she's grown!), the eating of chocolate and other tasty treats, the opening of presents, and just generally the having of fun.
I had a really great time, and have come down with a vicious cold to prove it (hey, you can't gather more than 5 thousand people in a place for a party in Ottawa in mid-October for 7-plus hours and expect to get away without catching something!)
I also had my first non-home-made Spelt chocolate cake (purchased by the wonderful M) from "The Wild Oat" on Bank and Fourth Avenue. If you're wheat-allergic, or celiac (they do egg-free, sugar-free and dairy-free stuff too), go! You'll find a lot of yummy stuff. My taste buds have been very happy since I discovered this store a few months ago. (I promise I don't work at the Wild Oat, and they're not paying me for this endorsement.)

Tomorrow, it's back to work, and back to 8 a.m. - as opposed to 5 a.m. - coffee. But even though I'm having coffee at a normal hour again, I hope that I can carry some of the Ramadan momentum into my regular routine. Like being more patient, more considerate, all that good stuff I don't always think about enough. My mom always says Ramadan's like a spiritual gas station, and you've got to fill up.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Worst Confession Ever

There's a McDonald's across the street from Work, and on my way home today, I had the HUGEST craving. Thankfully, it's the last day of Ramadan, and so the craving could not be acted on. See why fasting is good for you?

p.s. Happy Eid to all!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thanksgiving

Warning as we start this post: schmoopiness ensues in the following lines, and if you're a reader who can't handle sop and a bit of cheese (what are you doing on this blog exactly?? I've always been sentimental) then I would recommend proceeding - or not - with caution.
So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (for you Americans, Canada's Thanksgiving is the first weekend in October, not in November), here's a random list in no particular order of importance of things for which I am thankful:
  • A long weekend. Being able to get up late and wander down to see my beautiful mother reading Quran in the black chair at the far end of the family room; having snippets of the random conversation we've become so good at - pieces of meaning distributed and distilled between laughter and anecdotes, interspersed with inside jokes, dotted with queries of concern (Me: how's your back today? Any better? Her: Have you slept enough? Eaten enough?)
  • Walks with my sister. Both the power-walks of the someone-else-is-watching-the-little-angels variety, and the slow motion walks where my nephew is strapped into the stroller, eyes roving, the sky visible through his plastic sunroof, and my niece is ambling - dawdling really - beside us, so slow we stop walking and start strolling, walks where my back is perpetually bent at an odd angle so she can grasp three of my fingers in her tiny hand; that hand, held fast against mine, letting go to run ahead and discover, hold gravel, hold dirt, hold wild flowers and grass, small enough that the world spills through the cracks between her fingers, off her palm. On those walks, the contents of her hand are her world, and she is my world.
  • The joy of opening my inbox to find a message from M in a secret language, decoding only in my head and inventing new terminology, a secret etymology no language professor will ever teach, no scholar will ever translate.
  • Riding in the car with my father, an easy silence around the grip of the steering wheel, in his furrowed brow as he directs us home or away, here or there, a stop at Timmy's in the back of his mind and always at the next exit. He is our Captain because of the way we fall asleep and the car keeps moving, the way we wake back up and have our best conversations in that car and our best silences and still the car keeps moving, the way he pushes us, gently, to do, to act, to push the world a little bit forward ourselves in the same smooth way he pushes the car with all its passengers to our next destination. My father is not the passenger not because he cannot let others lead, but because he understands the burdens - as opposed to the privileges - of leadership.
  • Reading the story of Prophet Yusuf in the Quran, and feeling that lump in my throat at the end when he embodies forgiveness, when he succeeds, when he sees love in his brothers and they feel it for him and imagining having all that to hold over someone and wondering if I would ever be able to forgive. and hoping I would. and praying I would.
  • The thought of a poem, or a line of a poem, or a line of beautiful wording, unprompted, popping into my head and staying there long enough that I am able to write it down, that I have not lost it.
  • All the cleverness, all the emotion, all the "aha!"-ness of a good book on a long afternoon in a coffee shop with comfortable chairs. Reading with a sense of both urgency and lightness. Having all afternoon.
  • Grace. Not my own, because I do not yet think I have it, but finding it in others at unexpected moments, and being inspired by it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Time

It is the simplest thing that reels you in and ties you up, the first in a series of actions that paralyzes beyond stillness, that drives you to pause and once paused makes you frenetic with the impossibility of the motion you have lost. The impossibility of once-there now-gone in half an instant of not-understanding, of every reference-point burning into non-existence until behind your eyes the after-glow of your vision is fading and the reflection is a reflection of an imagination and reality is not your eyes open or your eyes closed, is not your hands grasping or your hands lying still by your sides, is not your mouth moving, making words you do not understand, or your mouth silent, afraid of the words because you understand them, but reality is that plane on the other side of a dimension you can’t touch can’t taste can’t smell can’t hear can’t see – out of range.

A moment is a fluid, watery piece of thought you pretend you can parse through, the second ticking to the time of the minute to the time of the hour to the digitization of a heartbeat, but why then is this moment so much more than the one before it? Why is this the moment that stretches into a second dimension, then a third, growing first into a line and then a wall to separate BEFORE and AFTER, to separate THEN and NOW, to separate WAS and IS.
And that point, when a point, was still erasable, now irascible, no longer removable with the edge of a pencil and a few soft strokes, with the breeze from an open window, no longer removable even with every tool of demolition we rush to employ, first with the hammer, then the bull-dozer, then the wrecking ball; a wall of impossible strength, permanent, opaque.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ordinary Miracles

Beautiful. Just wanted to share...
Listen to the song and don't worry about the Charlotte's Web Video

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Double Standards - Violence in Hockey

If you know me, chances are you know I'm a very big hockey fan (this is always a fun realization for my non-Arab, non-Muslim friends who don't expect Muslim women of an Arab background to have any interest in such a "Non-Arab" sport, but the novelty always wears off when they've heard me chatter on about Habs prospects and playoff chances ad-nauseum).

If you've watched Hockey, you've probably realized it's a very physical sport. And I don't mind that. I don't mind checks and some jostling along the boards and full contact play, as long as it's clean. The problem, of course, is that "clean" is often defined by Hockey apologists as a very mechanical term, and seems to ignore the very essence of what that cleanliness is supposed to be aimed at doing - namely protecting the players on the ice from injury.

Why am I suddenly talking about dirty vs. clean hitting in hockey? Because of Steve Downie's hit on Dean McAmmond a few nights ago during an Ottawa-Philadephia exhibition game. Exhibition game. As in NO.POINTS.AT.STAKE. As in "even if you think violence has a place in hockey, why would you do something stupid and dangerous on a night when the stakes are low?"

But the stakes were high, for Steve Downie. Downie is a prospect trying to make the Flyers team, and he felt he needed to leave his mark. It's unfortunate that the way he chose to do that was with a dirty check that has left his opponent with a possibly career-ending (not to mention quality of life reducing) concussion.

And he's not sorry. When he was asked about the play afterwards, Downie responded that, "I was finishing my check. That's my game."

By that logic, it follows that it's okay to hurt others as long as that's your job. By that logic, hit men should not be punished for killing or injuring those they were hired to "take out".


Last year, after a vicious Chris Pronger hit on I-can't-remember-who at one point in the playoffs, I remember Pronger making a similar argument that it was a clean hit. This was clean defined in the mechanical terms, not based on the fact that the other player had ended up with an elbow in the head and a serious injury. And Pronger is one of the game's best defensemen, but still justifies this play.

The Globe and Mail's Stephen Brunt has a great article on this debate, and how we can't pretend to be disgusted by these dirty hits when they happen every few months, and yet encourage aggression and temper in between the incidents.


It makes no sense.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Silly-ness Endures

I think I feel a bit like this right now... That's a good thing ;)

taken at the old port, Montreal, in August

Friday, September 21, 2007

All About the Wordplay

I got these from a friend and, as I'm mentioned before, I LOVE corny-ness and puns, so I had to share...
p.s. I think I got most of them right (which would DEFINITELY not happen in French or Arabic)


The English Language: Isn't it Great?
Can you read these right the first time?


1) The bandage was wound around the wound

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present , he thought it was time to present the present

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

At the Risk of Increasing my Competition...

I heard this on the radio a few weeks ago, and since that time have alternated between "Yeah! I can do this! My writing's good enough to warrant an entry" to "Do I really want some poor soul to have to read over my pretentious poetry and then go home and comment to his friends/wife/kids about the TERRIBLE writing he had to read today?"

And I'm still undecided, but regardless of whether I enter the CBC's writing contest or not, I think some of you should. Especially Jen, and Sajda. Then I'll be very pleased that someone I know put some good writing in, even if that someone wasn't me...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Not Writer's Block but Writer's Lack of Focus

Over the last week, I have written so many random snippets of poems and prose that may or may not all belong together that I've lost track. I suspect this all began with Daniel Moore's poetry reading last Sunday, and since that time, my head's been swimming with writing, but so little of it has any order, that even though I write it down, it still seems useless.
I am unable to string together enough of one idea or one coherent beat to come out of this with any actual pieces, though at the moment I begin writing, it feels as though there's a poem, or a paragraph, or something waiting for me at the other end of my thought.
Back in high school, when I used to write with some regularity, I was forced to finish my work for assignments, good or bad, and so due to the law of averages at least some of the finished product was acceptable.
I've started reading through Bird by Bird, which Jen lent me after I explained in my meme how I never finish any writing, and it sort of helps, if only because I can relate to the writer's struggles (mind you, the woman is published, so...)
I've spent most of today working on a story I have to finish which started off so well, middled so well (you know what I mean) and now just refuses to finish. I'm close to the end, really, it's just that conclusions and denouements have ALWAYS been the weakest link in my writing.
When I think about it, any writing at this point should be a good sign. It's the engine sputtering back to life after being dormant for so long (and it can't be expected to run smoothly right from the start!) Still, I'm frustrated and trying not to be. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coffee Dilemna

If you recall, ages ago (aka roughly last year) I planned to quit coffee, and successfully did so... for 2-3 weeks, before work/life got hectic again and I just needed one which eventually spiraled into just needing another, and another, and, well, you get the picture. Earlier this summer, I copped to my addiction and faced the fact that for the time being, I'm not going to stress myself over quitting and feel bad for something for no good reason (it's like, either fix it or forget about it. Guilt without action is pointless, even destructive as far as I'm concerned, at least for a measly coffee addiction that's hurting no one but me, and even that only a little bit.)


All of this, of course, is a prelude to a "but..." - 'what's the 'but', Noha?' you ask? Well, the but is that Ramadan is soon, as in tomorrow, and during Ramadan we don't eat or drink between dawn and sunset, and that, of course, includes not drinking coffee. For a few years, the first few days of Ramadan have always been difficult for me for this reason - not because I can't eat, or because I don't drink water, but because I don't get my caffeine fix, and so it would only be logical that as Ramadan approaches, I phase coffee out gradually, so the lack of caffination doesn't hit me like a ton of bricks tomorrow.

Now, ask me if I phased out the coffee gradually over the last few days. Go ahead, ask: Did you phase the coffee out, like a reasonable, future-looking person would, as the inevitable approached?

NO! No, I didn't phase it out. I drank my usual mug every morning. In fact, I even went from a medium to a large the last couple of days, not because I'd gotten especially less sleep than usual, but just on a whim, just because I figured I was gonna miss the coffee.

So there. There's my confession. If I seem groggy or just kind of out of it if you run into me over the next few days, you'll know why...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ramadan Kareem

Insha Allah on Thursday September 13, Ramadan will once again be upon us! I just wanted to say Ramadan Kareem to everyone, and to wish everyone good fasting and increased spirituality over this beautiful month.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ottawa Muslim Poetry Night - Tomorrow!

If you're in to good, clean artistic fun, come on out to Cafe Supreme on Bank Street Tomorrow (Sunday night) from 5-9 p.m. for a poetry reading by Brother Daniel Moore and some yummy coffee. Some local writers (myself possibly included if I can get rid of my to-do list by that time) will also be reading their poetry.
See you (maybe, insha Allah) there!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Official "Summer Being Over" Post

It's so strange seeing kids waiting at bus stops on the way to work this week. Then of course, there's wearing a jacket in the morning in the 9 degree weather, and having to carry it home in the 30 degree weather in the afternoon. Then there's seeing co-workers who've taken the entire 2 months off return, and there's realizing hockey season (and scarf / hat / mitten / wool jacket / boot season) is just around the corner - but hey, we're Canadians, right? We live in one of the most insane climates (when it comes to cold) on the planet, so we might as well embrace it....
but before we do... one last idyllic summer picture.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Stolen Post of Beautiful Words

I found this on Sajda's site, and I think I've heard it before (either spoken or in song), but it was very nice to see it again:


The Final Analysis (a version of Keith M. Kent’s The Paradoxical Commandments)

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you try to help;
Help people anyway.

If you give the world the best you have, you may get kicked in the teeth;
Give the world your best anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it was between you and God;
It was not between you and them anyway.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

House Shrinkage

My sister’s daughter sits on the stool
before her grandma’s chair
face twisted in a semi-wince
at the pressure of the hairbrush coursing through
her thick black hair

This is the last time I will watch
her four year-old pigtails
twin braids with pretty hair bands
in the making

her little brother and cousin fight over a picture book
neither one really wanting it
neither one wanting the other to have it
and one of the mothers (one of my sisters) comes to the rescue
seats them both around her and reads the story
until they are bored and can’t remember why they were fighting
to begin with

My other sister is packing
Long-sleeved shirts and pants
Extra pj’s
Extra diapers
Extra pull-ups
Packing summer-wear that she’ll pull out in California
And re-use for winter-wear

I don’t see her
Drink her tea, always cold, before they leave to catch the train
Probably, she had no time this morning

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tree on the Causeway

I promise I'll write again soon instead of just posting pics, but it's been a very busy week
a) getting back to work
b) getting back into the city and catching up with ppl.

Two quick and random "friend notes": baby shower on Thursday for a friend, should be quite fun, and, drumroll please: HADEEL'S BACK IN OTTAWA! (those who don't already know of her brilliance, check my blogroll and start reading!) Of course, you already know she's back if you read her blog, but I'm SO thrilled. We chatted briefly (and I mean briefly) last night, and I can't wait to sit down and here all about her excellent adventures (seriously, I would watch a movie about Hadeel's life if one existed) straight from the horse's mouth...

Now, off to sleep, but first a pic I took last week in Calabogie of a tree on the causeway in the middle of the lake. Good night all!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Random Montreal Pics, Part II

Here's a few from my trek through downtown Montreal via St. Catherine, Renee Levesque, Peel, and McGill College, as well as a few streets I can't remember the names of (K, I know you're probably shaking your head at the "of" at the end of my sentence, and I know I'm not supposed to put "of"'s at the end of a sentence, but I can't remember which grammatical rule I'm violating, and I can't be bothered to find a better way to write the sentence...)





Sunday, August 19, 2007

Random Montreal Pics

Back from cottaging, and will have a lot of pictures to post soon (after laundry, eating, sleep, returning to work, etc... so maybe not as soon as I hope!) but for now, some of my random Montreal pics I promised from my trip a couple of weeks ago.
This post includes a pic of my beloved Bell Centre (home of the Habs, for you non-Habistanis), and several shots from our walk through Old Port. In a future post, I'll include my "getting lost downtown" pics.
Hope you enjoy.

Go Habs Go!


Old Port

The View from Old Port across the river (to Laval I think?)

The "BeaverTails Beavers" at the Old Port

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cottaging

Off to the world of lake and canoes and kayaks and tennis tomorrow... Wish me good weather. See you in 10 days, Blogger!

To part, here's a pic from Montreal's Old Port to tide you over.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lost City...

Or rather, me, lost in a city. That's what happened this morning on my little walk around downtown Montreal... I've discovered that the best thing that can happen to a person trying to get a sense of direction in a new(ish) place is to get semi-lost in it on her own... this forces you to figure out, using whatever internal map and reasoning works best in your head, where exactly you are:

I wandered a little further than any of the directions I'd been given, and in trying to find my way back to my sister's place, I now, for the first time, despite NUMEROUS descriptions of the city grid by my sister, my brother-law, my dad, M, and seemingly everyone else who's ever been here that wouldn't stick in my head, I think I (sort of, kind of, maybe) finally have a little internal downtown Montreal map in my head. Victory!

Random pics of the city to follow in the coming posts...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Breezer is Back!

All fans in Habs Nation are currently either pulling their hair out and screaming frustration, or welcoming back one of Montreal's most damaged hockey sons in recent years. Consider me of the latter grouping:

Yesterday the Canadiens announced the signing of Patrice Brisebois, who left 2 (3? Can't remember) years ago via free agency after the boo-birds at the Bell Centre made this guy's life so miserable, he developed an irregular heartbeat from their merciless treatment. Breezer, as he's called (or Breeze-by as the crueler fans call him), didn't exactly light it up in Colorado, with his (then) new team, and as his back problems acted up again, he only played about 30 games last season. Even so, Gainey has signed him to a one year, $700K deal, and he'll be used sparingly in Montreal on even-strength and saved mostly for time on the power play.

I'm happy to have him back for the following reasons:
  • We, the Montreal fans, always complain that no one wants to come play here. Well, here's a guy who does, even though he knows first hand how abusive and vile we can be all under the guise of our love of hockey
  • Last time Breezer played here, he was being used as the #1 D. And he's NOT a number one D. He was playing against the other teams' top lines. This time, Markov, Komisarek, Hamrlik and probably Streit are all above him on the depth chart, with even Dandenault and Bouillon likely to get more ice time on even strength if they play well again. Montreal's D is drastically improved from the corps that once included Patrick Traverse playing regular minutes. Brisebois will not be expected to play the hard minutes, and used in a limited role, he should be effective
  • The fans are constantly complaining that we don't have enough D who can make that first outlet pass. Last year, with the exception of Markov and maybe Streit, none of our D did it. This year, we've added both Hamrlik and Brisebois, who can. This is the key to getting out of our zone and getting on offense, so DON'T underestimate.
  • Our biggest (read: only) weapon on the power play (ahem, Souray) has gone and signed in Edmonton. Brisebois may not have Souray's crazy slapshot from the point, but he's always been a very effective power play point getter.
  • Our poor memories convince us fans in Habs Nation that Breezer had TERRIBLE defensive numbers his entire 14 seasons in Montreal. We go on and on about the -31 we all had to watch. In fact, this happened ONE season, the season he was played on his wrong side the whole year. Otherwise, he never came anywhere close to that level of disastrous Defensive play, and in fact, was reasonably adequate on D and quite solid for points offensively.

I hope other fans are willing to give him another chance when the puck drops this October. Those who bemoan the 5 steps backward the Habs have just taken by signing Brisebois should remember, this isn't Breezer at $4.5M a year playing first pairing minutes against the other teams' top lines, this is Breezer at $0.7M playing third pairing....

Monday, July 30, 2007

On Witty-ness

Two of my favourite comics in the whole wide world are The Far Side and Dilbert. The Far Side appeals to the side of me that's read some history and anthropology and psychology, and just enjoys the quirks of human nature, while Dilbert appeals to the "I spend 40 hours a week in an office and sadly most of this is relatable" side of me. But the thing I truly love about both of these comic strips is that they find a way to capture the hilarity of the situation they're describing with a very short amount of words and pictures (The Far Side tends to use 1 panel only for each comic). They're truly "witty", in the quick-witted sense of the word.

I take to forwarding my friends Dilbert comics almost everyday, because I could never say what they say so well in so few words, or in such an amusing fashion. I'm actually fairly long-winded (as if you haven't noticed!) and I often wonder if wit and long-windedness can go together, because I do like to thing I'm good with jokes and can make astute observations. But my conclusion is that for this to qualify as "wit", it has to be brief. Isn't there an expression: Brevity is the Soul of Wit?

I guess I don't qualify after all. Oh well.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Excercise Ball is No More

If you've been reading my shadow for a long time, you'll know that a few months ago, I was considering bringing an exercise ball to work to sit on for a few hours of the day, which would force me to straighten my crooked back. Well, my friends, I did, indeed, bring in the exercise ball and have been using it for a few hours a day (except when very lazy)... until today.

Today, the folks from the Workplace Health and Safety Group at work came by and told me that sitting on an exercise ball at work is faux-pas. And why, you ask? Well, it seems that if I fall off said exercise ball, I could hurt myself, and then it would be considered a workplace injury, and then any subsequent physiotherapy, medical procedures, etc, would be billable to work, and they would like to avoid that cost...

All fine and dandy, except have any of you seen an exercise ball? They're like 2 feet off the ground. First of all, I hope I would have the balance not to fall off of one, but say I was a total klutz, and I did indeed fall, the drop would not be far, and our floors are carpeted, and well, my point is, why don't they force us all to sit in bubbles and cushion the floors and walk 10 feet away from each to avoid the risk of tripping over each other's feet and - heaven forbid - fall the horrendous distance of 2 FEET! 2 FEET!

Now, I'm a compliant person, and I follow the rules, so I deflated my beautiful exercise ball, and took it home with me tonight, but I shook my head (in bemusement of course, I'm not bitter, just mildly irritated/amused) the whole way home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pah-tay!

Below, some flowers from the party last weekend (I can't take credit for the picture, it was someone else who took it...)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Home Remedies in the Tradition of Buckley's

i.e., they taste awful, but they work...

Following in the "Noha has a BRUTAL cold" theme, here are some ways to deal with that scratchy, agonizing throat (that keeps me up all night, because every time I lie down, I feel the overwhelming need to cough), that congestion, and the constant sneezing and coughing:

  • honey, honey, honey... fill a bowl or a container or whatever, and take a lick every few minutes. By the time your cold is gone, you won't want to touch anything sweet with a 10 foot pole (so you'll lay off the chocolate for a while) and the honey soothes your throat, which helps with the coughing, not to mention it's a natural antibiotic. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) frequently recommended honey for its medicinal properties.
  • garlic. yeah, raw garlic. Best to do this one when you're not going out... but it's also a natural anti-biotic.

  • Oregano Oil; incredibly hard to swallow, somewhat numbing, and only for the strong of stomach, but one drop will clear your congestion through your sinuses and throat. It's hard, but if you can manage not to water it down with any water, juice, or food, eventually (and I'm talking 5-10 minutes) you start getting sensation in your mouth again.

  • Ginger tea; all you need here is hot water and ginger powder, great to help you clear your throat. Warning, the taste is rather strong, but the more ginger powder you can put in, the better (try 1/4 of a teaspoon for 1/2 a cup of boiled water
and lastly, if you're losing your voice (like I am), and you need to conserve it for a little party you're attending on Saturday (like I am), speak as little as you can... For those of you who know me, you know this is the hardest 'get better' task for me to pull off :0

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th, Y'all!

Random thoughts:
  • I find superstition an incredibly silly thing.
  • When my father played soccer in various leagues around the city while I was growing up, he often wore number 13, just to prove to everyone it wasn't a curse. This usually worked because he scored about 2 goals a game, on average.
  • Really, every Friday is a happy Friday, what with its strategic positioning right before the weekend. I plan on taking this weekend to recuperate and hopefully rest enough that my voice comes back (I've almost lost it thanks to the lovely cold I was telling you all about here and here).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Language Expressivity

I love making up new words, words that certainly don't exist in any dictionary, but that anyone with a good grasp on the English language will understand due to the their construction. Case in point: "expressivity" in the title above. I'm almost certain (didn't actually bother to check in a dictionary) that this word does not officially exist, but you know what I mean, don't you? It's like a more expressive way to say "expressiveness".

I have expressivity in English because my language is strong enough. Currently, though I speak both French and Arabic, I DEFINITELY lack expressivity in either of these beautiful languages. BUT, and this is a big BUT that I'm quite excited about, I'm working to change this. For French, I've taken to listening to French radio basically all the time (in the car, as white noise at work (I work so much better with background noise)) and it does seem to be helping. My French teacher actually told me to "entendre sans ├ęcoute" (hear without listening) and just let it seep in. So this is what I'm trying to do. I don't concentrate, I just leave it go in the back ground, and once in a while, my ears perk up at a specific "je ne sais quoi" I find interesting and I pay attention for 23 seconds to the story. It's actually quite easy. Anyone who wants to try this and is a CBC junkie like I am, I recommend 90.7 FM in Ottawa, which is the French equivalent of CBC Radio One (91.5) and really quite a fun station...


For Arabic, my plan is much more elaborate. It's to talk talk talk all summer, and eventually the expressivity will come! You see, my Arabic is actually much much better than my French, but also significantly weaker than my English. I can say almost anything in Arabic, but I lack the 'thesaurus' element of extra vocabulary when discussing "deeper" topics (aka emotions, belief, philosophy". I have Zero problem discussing a recipe in great detail (chop, dice, simmer, boil, stir-fry, pan, pot, ladle, grater, etc... all of these I can say in Arabic) but the different words for "confounded" and "confused"? or "ecstatic" and "delirious with happiness"? or "thoughtful" and "pensive"? I don't know these. Every time I've needed to really "express" myself, I've switched to English, even if I've started off in Arabic.

Fortunately, I have something that will MAKE me improve my "expressivity" this summer, and that is the fact that I have 4 adult relatives around this summer with limited or no English visiting from Egypt, and I really do want to have these great, deep conversations with them. I know it won't be that easy at first, but language is something you only master if you use, and I'm okay with using it and making a slight fool of myself at the expense of coming out on the other side of this with expressivity... Those of you who live in Ottawa and speak Arabic, remind me of this when they leave in the fall and I laze back to almost exclusive English, please...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Head Case...

Nothing quite as fun as getting a classic Ottawa-winter head cold with all the trimmings in the middle of a semi-heat wave in July. My body wants iced tea and lemonade, but my throat is screaming for hot ginger with honey. Is it hot? Is it cold? I can't tell anymore... I wear sweaters inside our air-conditioned building and then step outside for a second and WHAM, the stagnant, humid air hits me and I want to go for a swim... (There's one of those outdoor fountains near my bus stop. I swear, one of those days when the humidity is just too much, you'll probably find me sitting on the edge dipping my toes in!)



In the last day and a half, I've finished a full box of Kleenex, the size of which I usually take 2 months to get through; I'm so congested that I was joking with a fellow-down-with-a-cold co-worker that we should just forget about breathing and grow gills. Now I just have to figure out how to do it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Happy-ness/Busy-ness

I had lunch with a dear friend from high school today who was in from Vancouver (very sweet of her to come down and meet me at my place of work because things are just a little too hectic for me to actually make it anywhere after work these days) and we just ate Chinese in a food court and chatted away about wedding planning and being busy in all the happy ways that a million things happening at once can make you feel...


I used to be bothered by the being busy, see... I used to feel like "how am I going to get everything done?" and look at the clock each night and realize it was past eleven and that half the things on my to do list from 2 weeks ago were still there and this was the day I was going to finish everything and I hadn't and I still had to be up at 6 a.m. for work and I was coming down with a cold and ... well, you get it, right?


Factually, not much has changed. I'm still rarely asleep before eleven. I'm still usually up at 6, my to-do list is never finished and I'm still perpetually coming down with a cold and I've temporarily (I don't even think about when I'm going to make my next attempt) shelved my quitting coffee attempts, because I can't imagine getting through the day without it right now, but you know what?? All of that is OKAY, and it being OKAY is a conscious decision...


Because right now, my life is busy, and that's lovely. It's lovely that I have loads of my beautiful, wonderful, extended family coming to visit for the summer. It's lovely that I can get a hug from a niece or nephew, or three of them at the same time (and get them a glass of water, and sing "Allahu Rabbi" with them (or "Bubby", as my youngest toddler-angel calls it in her toddler-talk), and kiss their knees when they get a scratch, and try to burp them and feed them and wash their hands after they've made a mess, and try to quiet them down when they're crying) whenever I so please. It's lovely to be getting closer to the day when I will, insha Allah, get married, (and thus spending a lot of time planning a wedding, remember the table linen colours I never thought I'd get excited about?). It's lovely that when I get to go out for a bike ride, I really truly savour it because I figure it won't happen again for quite some time. And it's lovely coming down with my perpetual cold, because every time I do, my sweet, doting parents bring me honey and chicken soup and make sure I'm eating enough and tell me to take care of myself and sleep on time, but we all know there's no possible way I can with all the awesome conversations and catching up happening in the living room.


Life is happening this summer, and when I come out on the other side, I'll have my memories (and lots of pictures) to remind me of how fun it was, despite the insanity. and besides, all I need to do is grab a cup of coffee and stay awake to enjoy it, right?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hope

The last two days of cloudy weather have made me rather thoughtful/introspective... I read this lovely poem by Emily Dickinson, whose poetry I usually can't relate to, and felt the words were so accurate that I thought I'd post it. Hope you like:


Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops . . . at all
-- Emily Dickinson

Saturday, June 30, 2007

What Stephen Harper would say if he opened his mouth and his actions came out

I found this beyond-hilarious letter from Stephen Harper, our Right Honourable Prime Minister, on Rick Mercer's blog today. The letter outlines the Conservative Government's 5 new priorities... The 5th Priority:


This fifth priority is a secret. Any suggestion that we couldn't come up with a fifth priority is scurrilous and unfounded. Any individual, group, media outlet, political party or church group who suggests we have run out of ideas supports the Taliban.



Do you love it or what? Read the whole thing in honour of the sad state of our Country as we approach our 140th birthday this Sunday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chaos Theory

When I get home from work tomorrow, God Willing, my little angels and angelas (read: nephews and nieces) will be all gathered together in the same house in the same city for the first time ever. I can't wait to see what will happen with all of these tiny little bundles of joy in the same place, fighting over the attentions of their grandma and grandpa, whom they're not used to sharing with so many other little munchkins... If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the fact that I'm talking about 3 pre-schoolers and 2 infants: fun will most DEFINITELY ensue... and as always, I'll have my camera ready to capture the chaos. It's going to be an AWESOME summer. I can feel it ;)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Draft Day

and by Draft, I'm of course referring to the NHL player draft taking place this weekend, starting tomorrow night... I'm nervous for my Canadiens because a) I think there's a big trade coming (always happens when all 30 GMs are in the same place, and there are rumours Patrick Marleau could be a hab when all's said and done), and, b) I think my Habs are going to pick Angelo Esposito with their first pick, and rumour has it he's another Mike Ribeiro, and I'd much rather they pick a defenseman...
It'll be interesting to see how things have played out on Monday. I'll be biting my nails...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Meme"-ing

My dear Jen has tagged me to do a meme, which I'd never heard of before she told me to do one... now, because I'm lazy, I'm downright stealing the definition of what a meme is from her blog post where she "meme"d:


Meme's appear to be like chain letters for blogs. You pass them onto people and they pass them on again... and again... You get the idea.

Meme's are like the blog version of those emails you get that ask you (among other useless questions):

"do you like sunsets or sunrises?"

"if you could meet anyone living or dead who would it be?"

"shampoo or 2-in-1?"

"paper or plastic?"



Here is the meme I was tagged to do...

Rules:1. Each player starts with 8 random facts about themselves.

2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their 8 random things and post the rules.

3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and post their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.



Now, I'm one of these ppl who rarely forwards forwards, but these emails are pretty much the only kind I do enjoy forwarding along... The problem, of course, is that most of my fellow bloggers have either been tagged by Jen already (she stole Hadeel!!! I wanted to tag Hadeel!) or don't really blog on their blogs (that's M, who only posts pictures); so while I'm participating, I doubt I'll find 8 players to tag. Maybe 2 or 3...



Here are my 8 random things that I'm willing to disclose:




  1. I love punctuation. Like LOVE. With capital letters. As a writer, I think punctuation is the greatest gift in language, and I constantly use it for creative license in a completely-ungrammatically-correct way (see previous use of hyphens, (and current use of parentheses)). To anyone reading my writing, it may look like my misuse of punctuation is completely random, but I assure you, 90% of the time, I know I'm making a "mistake" and I just don't care. I'm using a system I've devised and I'm bury brackets within brackets, or over-use hyphens, or constantly toss in ellipses ... It's probably because I almost always write the way I talk, and I'm a very long-winded talker... but rest assured: there is method to my madness. Not all of my punctuation is deliberately misused. For one thing, I am quite proud of my use of the comma. If a comma can go there, I'll put it there. Every time. When editing papers/essays for my sisters, or articles/books for my parents, my correct use of the comma has resulted in my family nicknaming me the "comma queen". It's dorky, but it's also VERY appropriate. And I like my crowning title.

  2. I think of myself as a tomboy. Currently, and at this stage of my life, this makes little-to-no-sense: 45% of my wardrobe is pink (as I write this, I'm wearing a white and pink striped button up, and a pink wrap-around scarf); I'm a notorious movie cryer; I am the perfect example for the "women can't shut up" argument... but I'm still certain that I'm a tomboy. I think this is because, a) no matter how fashionable I try to become, my comfort-freakness wins out, and b) I love watching sports, especially hockey

  3. I also think of myself as a writer, despite the fact that I've never formally published anything outside of school papers, this blog, and my section of my parents' "Meet our Family" chapter in their "Parenting in the West" book, when I was 13. I've been writing silly poetry since I was 8. I went to a special arts school for creative writing during high school and the sheer number of hours I spent writing stories/character profiles/plot lines/poems/common place pieces/articles instilled in me a sense of 'writer'ness so great that I can't shake it, even seven years later. And I'll be honest: I like being a writer, even if I don't actually write as much as I wish I did. It's releasing; it's expressive; it's intense and relaxing at the same time. I was taught during my 3+ years in the writing program to carry around a writer's notebook in which I could scrawl anything any time I got an idea or saw/heard a great line that might later inspire me. I still carry a book around. This is part of the reason I always carry a massive purse. It has to fit my notebook, the novel I'm reading, and all my other junk.
    In my attempts to remain "writerly", I've started 4 stories/novels, none of which I've finished. These "novels" have filled multiple notebooks, and I'd read them to my poor younger sister as I wrote, using her as my audience to see if my story was interesting/follow-able... my problem was always with plot... Either I'd spend too much time on the character development that I'd never get a plot started and the story would just run out... or when I managed to come up with a plot intensive story, I'd reach the literary equivalent of critical mass where I'd be three notebooks of scribbles in, right around the climax, and needing to bring it all together when I wouldn't be able to remember all the pieces I had to tie up, and the writing that came so easily would need to be replaced by reading through what I'd written to refresh my memory... all of this would be easier to do if a) I had typed up my stories, and thus could search for the necessary information more quickly, or b) I had more time to dedicate to the writing... as it is, I have a full-time job which has nothing to do with writing, and do most of it on my commute to and from work, into notebooks, so when the going gets tough, the writing stops... My poor younger sister still nags me at intervals to finish the stories so she can get her necessary resolution. This both guilts me and comforts me. At least it means she was interested.

  4. I can be incredibly silly with kids. My sisters and nieces and nephews know this first hand. If you're leaving kids with me, be prepared for the fact that I will talk to them using made-up words, silly animal sounds, and swing them round and round until we're both exhausted (usually starting with me)... Don't worry though, I will respect your wishes not to feed them chocolate or sugar...

  5. I am actually enjoying wedding planning. This comes as a big shock to me because as I mentioned in 2, I think of myself as a tomboy, and I've never really enjoyed party-planning. I guess there's something special about a person's own wedding though... This is incredibly cliche, but I actually spend time thinking about table linens and colours...

  6. When I'm reading fiction, my writing tends to take the tone and style of the author whose book I'm reading (except nowhere near as polished). This becomes especially obvious is in long pieces (such as my unfinished novels) or pieces that I start while reading one book, and finish while reading another... When I was writing one of my doomed novels, I went through Timothy Findlay, Margaret Atwood, a Michael Connelly mystery, and some chick lit all at the same time. No wonder the novel was doomed, right? Can you imagine all of those mixed together???

  7. In an attempt to waste less time and learn more, I'm trying to read more non-fiction. In the last few months, I have started about 6 different books. I haven't been moved to finish any of them, but baby-steps, right? Besides, I'm learning that with non-fiction, unlike fiction, you can take quite a bit away from each bit you read. You don't necessarily need the whole thing to "get it"... Or maybe I'm just making excuses?

  8. I love corny jokes. Anything with puns is like chocolate for me. Long after Don Cherry had started getting on my nerves, I continued to watch Coach's Corner on Hockey Night in Canada just so I could hear the pun Ron MacLean would make at the end. The worse the joke, the harder I laugh. I firmly believe in the "so bad, it's good" concept when it comes to corny jokes... some of my favourites:
    -"Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a pair of curtains"
    -"Well pull yourself together then!"
    And
    Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, "I've lost my electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."
    And
    Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good) a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis

So who am I tagging? Well, I'm going to ask Sajda to do this... I think she'd have fun with it, and Majdi too... and K, I'm going to challenge you to post something more personal and less intellectual on your blog (I LOVE reading your stuff, although it sometimes hurts my head, but I would just like to see what you'd say for this)...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer Hockey Talk

If you don't care about hockey, stop reading now. This is an unabashedly hockey and habs-specific post... I'm not going to bother explaining much. It's only out there if you just can't get enough about the Habs over what has been our long, slow off-season, and because, as a Habistani, I need to vent...



It's going to be a painfully slow summer for Habs fans, who are dying to know who goes, who stays, and whether there will be big changes at forward (will we be able to get rid of Sammy? will Kovy finally be quiet and just play, hopefully better than last season? will we get a #1 or #2 centre to help out our poor Captain K? will Chips, Kosty, and Grabovski move to the big club permanently, or stay on the farm?) at D (we got Markov (YAY!!!) now will the Habs brass go after Souray? Or will they try to pick up a Hannan/Rafalski/Timonen instead? Maybe none of these? Maybe a trade? Can we get Emelin over from Russia? Even if we do, will he be ready?) and at Goalie (this was the only position where we THOUGHT we knew what would happen: Huet the starter, Halak the back up, but then Carey Price had to go all Patrick Roy on us out of Junior and lead the farm team to the Calder Cup title... not that I'm complaining, but this could result in an earlier call up for the kid...)



The most interesting and pressing issue for the Habs is our D (I'm certain that if every other position is not improved, but the D gets an upgrade, we could still be a MUCH better team next year)... and of course, the most interesting question on D is the Souray question: To Souray, or not to Souray? Over at A theory of ice, I found a great article on this very subject. Enjoy, fellow habs-fans!