Diversions on the Path to Paradise Diversions on the Path to Paradise Diversions on the Path to Paradise Diversions on the Path to Paradise Diversions on the Path to Paradise

Monthly Archives :

June 2016

This Last Week of Ramadan

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I have faced some severe health challenges…

this past week that caused me to put aside fasting for a few days, per the doctor’s orders. In addition to being severely dehydrated, I have 2 infections and a level of inflammation raging in my body  that is through the roof! I am on medication to address the infections and feel 100% better than I did a few days ago. I am pretty in-tuned to my body and can tell early on when things are not right.  Alhamdulillah (All Praise is due too God), I am afforded the opportunity to still reap the reward of fasting.

“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days” [Surah (or chapter)– al-Baqarah 2:185]

So far, I have 4 days I will have to make up provided I can get through these last 7 with no problem. The doctor even advised that I wait to make them up during the winter months when the days are shorter, InshaAllah (If God Wills).

The children and my son-in-law’s sister stayed up last night and decorated the house for the upcoming Eid celebration.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan

and celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting.  There is a particular obligatory Salat (prayer) that must be performed in congregation.  After the prayers, Muslims visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances or hold large communal celebrations in homes,mosques or rented halls. Eid gifts, known as Eidi, are frequently given at Eid to children and immediate relatives.

We are planning to travel AGAIN to celebrate the end of Ramadan. My son-in-law’s sister and his brothers’ family will be here as well. Not sure exactly where we are going but rest assured, I will chronicle it with updates and pictures!


The Community Park

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There is a lovely community park

located in the back of the villa where we reside. It was intended for the residents of the community to enjoy sitting, playing, and frolicking in at their  leisure. No one was prepared for the pack of wild dogs that has taken up living, breeding and pretty much “barring” any humans from so much as walking through it! So needless to say, it is not taken care of due to the absolute takeover by the dogs.

We (the grand-kids and I ) have decided to enlist the help and support of the neighbors and other community members in taking back this park from the dogs. We will print flyers and have a massive clean-up day once Ramadan is over.  We  even plan go to the local municipal office to get their support. The park could use a couple of additional dumpsters to place at each end for trash collection.


I will give you updates as the plans progress. Pray for the success of this project!

The Middle of Ramadan, the Summer Solstice, and the Full Moon!

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June 21st was most significant in a number of ways.

As a Muslim, it marked the completion of half of the month of Ramadan 2016. Since the beginning of Ramadan is indicated by the sighting of the new moon, the midway point would be indicted by a full moon.  As this date  also happened to fall on the day of the Summer Solstice, we were blessed with a rare sighting of the “Strawberry Moon”. According to astrologers, this has not occurred in over 70 years!

I missed it the first night. My grandson said it was spectacular! It was full and so big, you could almost reach out and touch it, according to him.  the next night, I was dead set on getting a view of what remained of the moon from the previous night. At sunset, I went up and down the block with my phone in hand to look for the moon. It was nowhere in my sight of the night sky! read more

It’s Been 60 Days Since My Arrival in Egypt!

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Time sure does fly when you’re having fun!

I have just crossed the 2 month mile-marker of the next iteration of my life. Thanks for joining this adventure with me! Another major milestone reached today is we are halfway through Ramadan! Day 15 has come and gone; by now most Muslims will have read half (15 juz) of the Quran as  well.

In Islam, we have 5 Pillars we are obligated/required  to practice/follow as Muslims (the Arabic word for Believers). The first is our proclamation/declaration of faith/belief that there is no God but Allah (God[SWA]) and Muhammad (SAWS) was His last Messenger and Prophet.  Second, we must pray (Salah) 5 times a day, at the prescribed times, in the prescribed manner. Third, we must fast (Saum) the month of Ramadan.  Fourth, we must make the pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca at least once in our lifetime, if we can afford it. And last, we must give in charity (Zakat) out of what we earn.

Ramadan is a time when many Muslims  feel inclined to give in charity.  The  deprivation we feel when fasting has a way of invoking feelings of empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. One of my goals was to find a way in which I could give out of my income and have it make a real impact on someone’s life. I believe I have found my calling.  Watch this short video; I will explain after.

This was filmed in a village in the Beni Suef region of Egypt.  The people here live in abject poverty, except they don’t know it. They are a proud people who farm for a living. They do not beg. The young man speaking is 1 of 3 brothers who live with their old, infirm mother in the 2 rooms pictured in this block of “residences”.  Their father is deceased so the boys are considered orphans, even though the mother is still alive. Fathers are the sole breadwinners so when they die, the children are orphaned. The mother receives the equivalent of $32.50 from the government. the youngest boy (in the background) is 12 years old. The older bother is not pictured and is out working the farm.

As you can see, one room has no roof so is pretty much uninhabitable. There is electricity, but no running water. It will cost $250 to run a water tap in their house and $1500 to put a roof on.  There are a  group of sisters (including me) who are working to make this happen for 10 houses at a time. Then we will continue, moving from one village to the next and so on, until we have done as much  and as many as we can.

In this world, where we take so much for granted, there are people without running water or a roof over their heads.  I have lived to see it with my own eyes; now God is blessing me to help with my own hands and from my meager resources. Al Hamdulillah ar Rabbil Al Amin (All Praise is due to God, Lord of the Worlds)!


Baking, Gardening, and Life Reflections

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When I was invited to a sister’s house the other day,

I asked if I could bring something to go with iftar, the meal for breaking the daily fast during Ramadan. When she replied “maybe something sweet”, I decided to use a recipe my granddaughter tried a few weeks ago.  She made these little shortbread kind of cookies with a spot of jam in the middle of each one.  I tripled the recipe so we could have some here at the house and am I ever glad that I did!

These cookies are the bomb!

You know the kind that just kind of melt in your mouth and you can’t just eat one?  The sister I visited and her daughters are still raving about them. And the grand-kids, too! This will be one that goes down in the books along with my recipes for chocolate chip w/walnuts, Mexican wedding cakes, lemon melt-aways, and sugar cookies I make every  year!

The garden has been growing in leaps and bounds. What has been most interesting  and thought-provoking though is WEEDING the garden. I have been pulling some little weeds that have been sprouting up around the corn and okra, but they have come back with a vengeance. So this morning, I got my chair and a gardening hand tool and spent almost 2 hours thoroughly weeding these 2 small beds of vegetables.


What I realized was this.

A garden is much like our lives. As we begin to grow, there are many things that can happen external to us to stunt and even destroy our growth.  I noticed that the weeds start off very small and some even begin to take on attractive forms to make you question if they really are weeds.  They look so plush and green and if left unchecked, grow as healthy  and strong as the plant! But their roots are running deep and seek to choke out the roots of the plants that are growing. To just pinch their leaves off is to no avail; out of sight, the roots continue to dig deeper until when they bloom again, they are well below the surface!

Green Beans

Green Beans

I found myself out there talking to the weeds! As I took the hand tool and turned the soil, I  could actually see how deep those roots had traveled.  Some of them were up to 2 inches long, needling their way toward the roots of the corn, okra, and green beans!


SubhanAllah (Glory to God). This is how the evil of this world works upon our bodies, minds, and souls. We believe that all that looks good is good for us. We allow people, places, and things to get us all tangled up into a web of “weeds” that before we know it, our light has been slowly choked out! The garden is a stark reminder to me that the work is never done. Even after the 2 hours spent out there today, I must be vigilant and consistent in keeping the garden not only nourished with water, but as weed free as possible.


It has been interesting to see what would survive and what didn’t make it in the garden. Much like life, not all will last. some will fall prey to the weeds, and some will be destroyed in the process of killing the weeds. Or they’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For right now, I will continue to try and get to the root of the problem, getting the weeds out by any means necessary in order to allow the plants to grow strong til the end.

The spinach and lettuce did not survive; maybe this is not the best environment suited for them to grow.  And so it is with life. If you find yourself surrounded by a lot of negativity (weeds), trying to squeeze the life out of you, get up and remove the weeds or transplant yourself to an environment in which you can thrive.

Just don’t sit still and be devoured!

Cleopatra’s Bath… more from the Vacation

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So I didn’t realize my son-in-law had taken pictures at the little private beach we found.

He had an even closer picture of me floating aimlessly in the sea; another of me and my daughter sitting on the beach, and one of me  playing with the grand-kids in the water. Have you ever seen any water so clear and blue in your life???????


On the final day of the trip, we visited Cleopatra’s Bath. It is a rock in the sea about 50 yards from the shore and can be reached by motor boats, sail boats and  by wading out on foot.  Its clear waters surrounded by rocks give the impression of a vast, square pool in which, according to the legend, Cleopatra came to bathe  with Mark Anthony. Ruins of one of her palaces were uncovered on the hillside opposite the pool and it seems that a subterranean passage lead from the “villa” to the beach.


After this brief visit to Cleopatra’s Beach, we were back on the road for the 6-hour ride back home. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.

Next road trip is at the end of Ramadan – stay tuned!

More From Our Brief 4 Day Holiday in Porto Martruah

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With my Lenovo Yoga Laptop in the shop for warranty repair (I hope), I had taken to posting pictures of the vacation on Facebook .  I forgot I hadn’t shared all  of them with my non-FB members. Please pardon the oversight!

So here we go.

We visited a  rocky beach inlet called Agebaa. The  name is taken from the Egyptian language, which means magic. It is named such because it the sea has seven colors when viewed from a distance. It is a very popular attraction with a long staircase leading down the side of the cliff  in order to reach the beach.  I had to forgo the steps while the rest of the family ventured down to the beach.  I sat up in an outside cafe overlooking the cliff and enjoyed the lovely Mediterranean Sea breeze along with the view that was absolutely breathtaking!

It’s the 9th Day of Ramadan

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Tuesday, June 14th

10:14 am

As soon as we returned from vacation, it was time to prepare for Ramadan, the month of fasting, for the 7 billion Muslims around the world, including me!  Depending where you reside in the world, the length of time to fast during the day varies. Here in Egypt, it is around 15 hours and 45 minutes, giver or take a few minutes.  The first few days are typically the most challenging as the body adjusts it’s  eating/drinking cycle and the stomach begins to shrink.

The Islamic calendar is  lunar and based upon the measure of the moon’s  rotation around the earth with a year on the lunar calendar consisting of 354 days. The Gregorian or solar calendar (which the rest of society follows) is a measure of the earth’s rotation around the sun with a year on the solar calendar having 365 days.

Every year the Islamic calendar is 10-11 days less than the Gregorian calendar,

so the month of Ramadan rotates around the seasons over a span of about 33 years. This year happens to be unique in that it is the one in which the day will be longer for the most number of days. Ramadan began on June 6th so the summer solstice ( June 21st) will fall directly in the middle of the month of fasting. This phenomenon will not occur for another 33 years!

For those of you who may never have experienced Ramadan in a predominately Muslim country, just imagine Christmas on steroids!

By that I mean, streets, businesses, and homes are decorated; the most delectable dishes are cooked and served for both suhoor (before the fast) and iftar (breaking the fast). Families and friends gather daily to start and break the fast. The streets come alive at night! And this goes on, non-stop for 30 days!

The work day is shortened for the whole month so as not to overburden the workers. And then the Eid ul Fitr begins the day after Ramadan ends and celebrations can lasts upwards to a week and beyond before things get back to normal.

Oh, I forgot to mention that there is TONS of shopping going on at this time as well!

The most significant thing about the month of Ramadan is that it is the month in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the first revelation from Allah (God) (SWA) from the angel Jibreel (Gabriel). It is the most revered of  “holy”days with the last 10 days having the most significance and spiritual benefit to Muslims. It is within the last 10 days that the first revelation occurred and that particular night is called the Night of Power or Laitat al Qadr. This blessed night is meant for supplication and seeking forgiveness, with  the worship and supplications on this glorious night greater than that of a thousand months.

Porto Martruah!!!!!

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We traveled from from May 31st through June 3rd by car to the north coast.

It was beyond the port city of Alexandria to a coastal town called Marsa Martruah. The resort was called Porto Martruah and offered all the amenities of a swanky resort on the rise.


I say that because they are still in the building phase and the rates are really reasonable because of that. In fact, we found a little private beach about 10 minutes away, since the resort will not allow patrons onto their beach because it is still undeveloped.

The resort also offers villas with there own private pools and play areas for families. This is a side of the Middle East, no wait, AFRICA that mainstream media does not project or promote. In turn, folks remain in their familiar surroundings and fail to get out and see the world for themselves. Come on my people, we only LIVE once!!!!

My Absence

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Let me apologize for my almost 1 month absence from blogging.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my brand spanking new Lenovo Yoga laptop had developed a mind of its own. It became increasingly frustrating to try an type or load pictures with the cursor just taking off and opening new tabs, typing strangely encrypted messages, and making the funny looking bubbles appear all over the screen! My daughter and I attempted to research (Google) the problem and found there were others having the same problem.  We followed some of the suggestions, but to no avail. It continued and even got worse! read more