Friday, 30 November 2007

the rapid and backward

The only reasons curbs exist on the streets and sidewalks of Morocco is so that the cars have something to hook onto when they park on the sidewalks!

24 April 2007: A few days ago three of the boys from the street knocked on the door, grins ear to ear.
In Moroccan: "We are collecting money for a football."
Me: "You pirates! You have a football. You are outside my door kicking it every day!"

The grins get wider.

They had put a blue velvet drape with some sort of crest on it over the football box. That sort of initiative deserves a reward. I dug into my change and gave them money. I hang my head as it is my firm policy NOT to give the children candy or money, but if you had seen them you would have given them money too!

A question asked by Hamid, Q’s tutor, in all seriousness, as they were discussing religion and American culture:
“Would it be more important for a Protestant or Catholic to go to confession or be on Dr. Phil?”

Present time: In the past two days I have passed as many demonstrations and in both of them women were well represented – and in both of them the women were grouped together at the BACK. Grrrr I acknowledge that it is likely this bothers me more than them.

I have found that my pace of walking is proving a security measure. I walk faster than any potential thief, and a stalker would be oh too easy to spot if he were following at my pace. Handy eh?

Abdul Latif has warned me away from walking along the river to Marjane, but only at a certain time of day – early I think. He said the danger is thieves? Traffic? Rain? Potholes? I’m just not sure but I am thinking if it is thieves that they are monumentally stupid – to be in the same place every day at the same time… perhaps it was aggressive birds?

Come by this week-end as I am posting the observations and photographs from my trip to Chellah this week.


Wednesday, 28 November 2007

‘Tis [always] the season…

Reading the world’s newspapers on any given day is enough to make us throw up our hands and say, “There’s nothing I can do. What can one person do?” I know you say this lovely readers because several of you have expressed that hopelessness on this site. I have an answer for you she said smiling. This is my pet project discovered some ten years ago – Project Heifer International. It is an organization that practices that old tale about teaching a hungry man to fish rather than giving him bread for the day.

Heifer International is a worldwide organization that has had an enormous positive influence on the planet toward ending world hunger. Look around you, how obscene is it that in the world of 2007 there is a problem of world hunger? It is absurd and we need all to feel a bit ashamed. This organization works on a marvelous principle of spread the wealth, or what they call pass on the gift. You give a rabbit, a goat, or a cow to a family. When that animal produces (the organization makes sure it has a little romantic friend nearby) offspring, the family is obligated to give one of the animals away. Now think about that, how that can spread through a village. Go to the site and read. They tell their own tale much better than I can.

For years it has been my own routine to “sacrifice a goat” whenever something good happens. True the phrase has shocked more than a few people in the more urbane parts of the world… What I mean is that whenever the Universe gives me a gift, I go to the Heifer International website and buy a goat for a family. It is only $120/58 pounds for one goat, and amazingly the price hasn’t changed over the past ten years. There are more expensive animals and less expensive. It is the price of a day at the salon, or a new shirt, or a pair of gloves – and how many of those do we need? For that small price you get to feel smug, joyful, and generous. It DOES work to change the world. There is an old Korean proverb: To build a mountain, you start with a grain of sand.

I believe that every time we commit a good act it affects the Universe, just as every time we commit a bad act it affects the Universe. Now do the math, if we have more good acts….

Think it over and then go sacrifice a goat eh?


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

to stroll perchance to walk an adventure

I am a flaneur, a walker. To walk, to stroll (not my pace but it works for others), to see things at eye level with the ability to explore farther – this is the way to discover a city. I love great walking cities: Paris, of course, Prague, New York, London, and San Francisco are a few. I like walking in the sun, the rain, the snow and I will walk in the heat, if I must. This day the sun was sparkling in a sky so blue you could fall into it and get lost. A few high flying white fluffy clouds just to define a nice chill and I was set.

I went out this morning with the intention to visit the bank in New
City to get cash, like you do, and then have lunch, read a bit, and pick up my new djellaba that is being altered; but as often happens in Morocco that’s not how it went. The bank, as it is so often, was out of money, which I needed to have to lunch at Le Grand Comptoir as I thought to have fish. I walked as far as the Gare de Ville rearranging my day in my head as I walked. Taking a taxi to Chez Paul in Agdal, I then walked over to the bank, which always has money, and made my withdrawal. As long as I was there I visited La Vie en Rose and did a small bit of shopping – something white and lacy. Having traversed the boulevard I decided not to return to Paul’s but instead to lunch at one of the sidewalk cafés where Q and I had eaten before. Wonderful service, great French fires with mayonnaise, and delicious lamb for a pittance.

After lunch I started walking in the direction of New City thinking I would catch a taxi as soon as I no longer recognized any landmarks. I walked past the computer stores that are located past the clothes-shopping district, only HP and Dell – Apple is located somewhere to the north I think.
I continued over the bridge as I remember coming this way. Now I was walking past the shops for house paint and mirrors and other items for refinishing and refurbishing a house or apartment.
Then the auto parts of every ilk.
Next were antiques, chandeliers, and lamps; with one cedar table and set of chairs to die for – but as I reminded myself I have no use for at present.

By now I was far enough along that I was thinking I could make it to the train station, pick up my djellaba (as it was now past three p.m.) and take a taxi the rest of the way home. I continued in the general direction of west even though I recognized nothing by this time. I stopped at a pharmacy and then a furniture store to “ask” directions. It’s amazing what you can garner from a conversation when you understand not-one-single-word.

As I rounded the next curve in the road I saw the walls of the Medina ahead and began to recognize landmarks. I had completely bypassed the New City and come around to end on the other side of the Medina! Some six miles or better I guess. Inshallah. I can pick up the djellaba on another day.

Looking to the right I saw what appeared to be a mini-Marjane, Label’ Vie Supermarche’. It is indeed a small market with fruit, a meat section in the back (under glass!), and Haagen-Dazs ice crème! I bought some apples and Clementines – this year’s crop is sad compared to last year where there were carts of them in the street and you could buy a kg. for less than ten dirhams. Something happened, not enough rain – something I’m not certain what. The “orange juice man” in the Oudayas has converted his hannout to selling gas for the winter as he says the price of the oranges is too high to make it profitable for him. And yes I bought two (!) pints of ice crème, Pralines and Crème. At the check-out I had not had my fruit weighed and priced (didn’t know I should, didn’t know where) and instead of stopping the line and looking at me like I was a stupid git, the nice young woman called over some one else who took my fruit and had it priced, bagged, and returned while she moved the line along around me. I’ll be back.

Coming to the Medina walls I saw Oued Dahab, a shopping mall of sorts that I keep meaning to check out. I went in to find I’m not missing anything – it’s full of sneakers and not much else.

As I took an unfamiliar road into the Medina I saw six old men lined up along the walk, sitting at rickety tables with ancient typewriters, some with an umbrella for shade. They had people sitting in the extra chair at the table and were typing letters and documents for them. What an enterprise, out of time.

The dates are spectacular and cheap this season as I noted coming past the Medina market. The King’s dates are marked down to 100 dirhams/kg. and look delicious.

Arriving home I had tea, dates and Clementines, and cake while watching “Amazing Grace” with Ioan Gruffudd, as William Wilberforce the Englishman who was the driving force behind the abolition of slavery in Britain. A wonderful film, really well done. I recommend this one.


Monday, 26 November 2007

and today there will be oysters and popcorn in the market

Now THIS article makes me smile! Teachers are listed right at the top with firefighters as the "most prestigious" professions! There you go!

As there was no sleep to be had in the Oudayas last night due to the party next door (I think the parents went out of town…) I finished “World Without End”. It did not disappoint. I highly recommend this one. History, sex, war, murder, plague, and politics – it’s got it all.

Abdul Latif and I met each other in the cobbled streets of the Oudayas this morning and both threw our hands up and said, “No sleep!” It is however an isolated incident and I think a good time was had by all, so no problem. I am tempted to rouse them from bed this morning with a blast of the Corries at full volume but… no. he he Walking through the Medina there are no more sfinj being offered, but there is popcorn and fresh oysters for sale.

It is a gorgeous day out. The sun is shinning from a sky that is clear and blue as the sea that is crashing in on the beach below the fort. It is 18 degrees C and I am a happy camper even though I feel a bit knackered from very little sleep. Once again I wish I was a “napper”, but alas it is not a talent I posses. Q learned this skill from her grandfather, one of the great nappers of America. I always think I’m going to miss something, or the world will be in danger and they will need me – I don’t know why. Q says I have a “rescue complex”. Could be worse, I could have a “victim complex”. Yuk.

I see, speaking of rescue, that Ms. Rice has decided to settle the Middle East matter before her boy is out of office. Good luck with that. Australia is considering dismissing the monarchy; Sharif has returned to Pakistan to stir the pot even more (aren’t we thrilled they have nuclear weapons?), France is making francs building airplanes for China, and Columbia and Venezuela are having a political crisis because the leaders of both countries like the little boys they are have been insulting each other.

Aside from the world-shaking events is the decision I have to make. Where shall I go for Christmas? I am thinking I will go to Paris, as there are some old memories I’d like to visit, but the lure of the North Sea or Dunvegan is strong as well. Then there is London, and at Christmas it’s like walking through a Dickens novel but with the retail delights of Knightsbridge and Harrods. Sigh, such a problem. Or……. Lyon, Madrid, or Lisbon? What do you think? I’ll take opinions and suggestions. Indulge your fantasy – if you could go, where would you choose?


Saturday, 24 November 2007

our world, our problems

Two shocking articles that give rise to concern:

This about Iraq veterans living in Britain. I find it hard to believe anyone would treat veterans in this way, but then again only recently I read another article about the hundreds! of veterans living homeless in the U.S. As this was a war of choice how can we allow the soldiers who fought to be treated this way? There should be an outcry. This is my part - for now.

and this about the future of terriorism in my back yard.

I went out yesterday, for the first time in days, to find grey, overcast skies, chilly wind, and intermittent pouring rain. It was brilliant! The three people in Morocco who did NOT think I was a bit “off” are now convinced that I am. I can only assume they are unaware that in Scotland we bring our crazies, I mean eccentrics right down to the parlor where everyone can see them.

The rain in Fez falls in soft intermittent showers; the rain in Rabat falls as if Thor is empting a bucket on your head. The rain rolls in, sits just off the beach beyond the breakwater and sends in what can only be described as a celestial bucket that then dumps the rain onto Rabat, then there is a quiet period before the next bucket makes its appearance. There were real splash-your-feet-in puddles, and yes…. I did. By the time I arrived back home my jeans were soaked through and I was being very pleased with myself that I had chosen the Moroccan version of proper rainwear – in leu of wellies, sandals. I’m smiling.


Friday, 23 November 2007

I am returned

I continue to be amazed at how supportive the cyber community is; we need to be reminded I guess that it is flesh and blood people writing these posts. When you get out in the world and meet members of your cyber circle, like sally, Geoff, and jmb, you become certain it is a brilliant medium. This is my roundabout way of saying “thank you!” to everyone who was so kind to leave a message during my recent indisposition. I apologize to all my lovely readers for the lack of material these past few days and I shall endeavor to make it up to you by being extra witty and entertaining.

I must admit I have no adventures to report as I have been confined to my bed – alone. Not a lot of material there. We have had rain here; a good solid rain, enough to come through my sometimes-leaky glass ceiling. Fortunately it kindly always leaks in the same place so I am at the ready with a towel on the floor. I am going out later to retrieve my laundry from the Press and to see the city, as I am sure it has exploded in green. after the rain; always a glorious site.

I began reading a new novel yesterday when I started to feel better and I am going though it like a knife through warm butter. It is Ken Follett’s “ World Without End”. That man can spin a tale so well. It is a sequel of sorts to “Pillars of the Earth” which was brilliant, about the building of a Cathedral in England. If you are an architecture or history buff, or just like a good story, I highly recommend both. You don’t need to have read the first at all to read the present offering which takes place some hundreds of years later and follows the lives of several children who witnessed a murder in the forest. Yes…. I am reading it and as I find myself hundreds of pages past where I was going to stop I ask, “How does he do that?”

Here are some observations from Fez this time last year:
4 December 2006, Fez Morocco, 1144 hours local time

I have in amazement noted the presence of many liquor shops, and a large liquor section at Marjane’s, with a back door… for the French, the tourists, the Muslims gone astray?

There are a section of women with hair the color of shoe polish; an odd purple color that comes from henna applied to jet-black hair I believe.

I have made note of a great many people – men, women, and the occasional child – with eye patches. It appears to be medical, not from an injury, and I wonder if it is some endemic disease, or something environmental?

None of the government offices in Fez, and I had cause to visit them all in pursuit of a residency card, have a single computer. They all work on paper and the files are kept in flimsy tin cabinets.

The cab driver I had recently on my trip to Marjane’s: “You must learn Arabic to read the Koran, to enter the mosque, the Koran takes all (after the explanation I am Buddhist) people under Islam. “You are a writer woman. This is good.” It was the kindest of proselytizing.

The distance between rich and poor is vast, but they don’t clash up against each other on a daily basis; the culture is “inward” like the houses. Even more than in other places of the world, you can’t go on outside appearances.

Overheard in conversation at lunch with Q and some of the girls: We were discussing the differences between the Catholic and Buddhist views on sex before marriage.
P: “My parents have accepted that I sinned and we moved on, we just don’t talk about it?”
Q: “I think it is great that you learned to speak Italian just to sin.”

There is no “Health and Safety commission”, no OSCHA: at the construction site you see the workers hauling the bricks up with rope on precarious wooden platforms, chaps on the ledge smoothing the cement with trowels and no safety ropes or helmets; and the welder with no gloves, glasses, helmet, or coveralls.

Moroccan men cannot parallel park, but they can dance.

I have been here long enough now to tell the difference between couture and off the rack djellabas.

The scariest rooms I know are – empty. The bureaucrat from the Residency cards took us upstairs to “the boss”. I long for the simplicity of the bajeesh of India where you simply hand over the bribe and you’re done) the bottom floor is like any bureaucracy, but notably bare of decoration, personal or otherwise. The second floor sent me reeling back thirty years to a similar set of bare rooms with long dark hallways set with closed doors with numbers set above. Shiver.

Morocco is lousy with birds and full of bird song. The birds come in all sizes from the tiny brown and grey songsters that perch in our window’s iron grating to the huge black majestic that fly the thermals.

Ciao lovely readers.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

back soon

dear readers,

I have been quite ill, some better today. I shall be back soon.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


Consider this:
If a single miracle occurs it removes all possibility that we have free will.

The question of free will looks different from the dusty pathways of the parched Sudan, the bloody streets of Palestine and Israel, from the banks of the filthy but sacred Ganges, the dizzy heights of the breathtaking Himalayan mountain peaks, or the lush cornucopia of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Did the sixteen-year-old child in the Democratic Republic of Congo holding the AK-47 to the head of the twelve-year-old, and forcing him to rape and then kill a young woman six months pregnant question free will? He thought there was no choice; he was repeating the same horror that had been visited upon him because he knew no other reality.
During the climbing season of 1996 twelve of the people who attempted to scale Everest, did not come down alive. One of those who did return walked out of the blizzard after spending the night in the open – no one survives that. Two of those who died were among the most experienced climbers in the world. Why did he live, why did they die? If they had chosen to not go on the expedition would they have died some other way that spring, or would they still be alive?
If there is some power outside ourselves that has predetermined our fate, should we not all retire to the library for cigars and brandy? If we are in control of our own fate, why should we feel compassion for anyone who is not doing well? It is, after all, their choice, yes?
The question of free will is like the question of reality in that it deals with perception. The reality of any given student at Oxford University is likely to differ significantly from a villager in the Hindu Kush, or does it? Does the student at Oxford have more or less free will than the villager within the scope of his own existence?
If we perceive that we have free will, whether it is true or not, do we live our lives any differently? If we do not have free will who or what has predetermined our fate? Is accepting some form of fate abdicating responsibility or embracing faith?

Miracle is a noun, not a verb, it is a result of action taken. The definitions in one and three have to do with how the act is perceived. Definition two lists a miracle as an unusual event. I would say in order to explore the nature of miracles; you first have to define the phenomena. Is it an event independent of other events, or an event that is the culmination of a series of events? In either case divinity, in whatever shape, can be optional. If one allows “the Church”, and by that I mean any religious organization, to define miracle; the definition is tainted by bias.

1. Determinism: every event is caused by another event.

2. Indeterminism: not every event is caused by another event.

3. Simple indeterminism: some events have no cause at all.

4. Libertarianism: (every event is caused, but) some events are caused (not by events but) by persons.

5. Every event has a cause.

In “simple indeterminism”…if human actions have no cause at all, then we in turn have no responsibility or freedom of action. Libertarian views state there are two causes of actions and events: event causation, and agent causation. This view leaves the door open for “forced” actions with prior events, as well as the intercession of will by the “agent” or person resulting in free will causing actions resulting in events.

Following the determinist, one would have to follow the path she is destined to take. She is “free” in the sense (according to the soft determinist) that this is what she “wants” to do, she would choose no other path, she is wired for these actions alone.
The Libertarian would say she is free to choose any of the paths she chooses.
Responsibility requires avoidability however; if according to the conditions stated the individuals have no choice, they have no responsibility. Does this then set the stage for divine interventions/miracles?

Fatalism follows the line of causal determinism – an event is “forced” by a previous event, which was forced by a previous event, which was forced by..bada bing bada boom, you have yourself a miracle– no choice, no discussion, no dither.

Divine foreknowledge is the concept that the individual is not responsible because his/her “path” has been predetermined by some divine intervention or knowledge. Humans seek the comfort of the divine in fatalism. The “freedom and foreknowledge” dilemma has been eliminated to some extent here, as divine intervention/miracles are reserved for the worthy.

Divine intervention/miracles must take place in a certain agreed upon reality. Indeed there are those people who convince themselves daily that what they want to be true is real, rather than what is in actual fact, reality. Speak with any fundamentalist, be they Christian, Muslim, Communist, or Nazi party member. Those who think that the beliefs of others make him/her so wrong as to require the death of those persons is creating a reality unto himself or herself. The more people in agreement with that version of Reality, the larger the reality ( the film Matrix). I do believe this behavior reaches a level that equates to the Matrix. I have had many opportunities over a span of years to observe and speak to such persons on different continents and it never ceases to astound me – even to the point of me checking my own reality just to be certain!

It is simple to understand. I mean really, the ease of it. A world where you believe in black and white. It is true or it is false. People are either on your side, or they are your enemy. There is a book, or a person, or a group, that tells you what to do – and you believe totally that this is Truth. The level of Justification is real for you; it never has to be questioned again. Do you see the lure of that? You decide once what is True, and you are done. What a relief! Divine intervention/miracles in this reality would be a natural consequence of the actions preceeding it/them.

Thinking, questioning (Socrates), finding (Descartes) what is true for you - is an ongoing, daily, difficult task. If you acknowledge life is an ongoing journey of discovery, that every day is the opportunity to find a better truth, a more expansive Universe, that means you question your reality every day. It means you acknowledge that there is more than one road to the Truth, and you may not have the map. Socrates, Descartes, Nietzsche, Jung, and Wheeler, Hawkins, and Einstein were all chaps poking at the edges of their reality to check that it was not a Matrix. This environment also leaves room for miracles, but would be more likely to question a divine origination.

The question, which has been asked before – are we the dreamer, or are we the dream; are we playing the game, or are we the pieces of the game; are we observing the hologram, or are we unknowingly being observed in the hologram? Just how can one be certain that the knowledge you are in possession of is “the” truth? How much do you want to know what is true, as opposed to what is real, if what is real is not as attractive as what is believed? Is it possible that more than one reality can hold the knowledge leading to what is true? Can there be more than one truth about the same belief? Is there more than one way to get to the reality that holds the knowledge that reveals truth? Is there more than one explanation for miracles, one that would leave free will intact?

What constitutes reality? Is reality a matter of agreement or a matter of fact, or a question of dimensions? I offer string theory and bubble universes, as well as the levels of reality described thousands of years ago in Hindu and Buddhist text, among others. If one is inside the box, and is unaware there is reality outside the box, does that reality outside the box still exist?

What is the sound of one hand clapping? If you cannot comprehend the reality of another, does that physical reality then cease to exist? What about the quantum realities of Schrödinger’s cat, forever at the mercy of the opening of a box? Because one cannot physically observe atoms, quarks, or muons, do we doubt their existence? At present, the scientific fact, truth, and reality is - all we can observe is where quarks have been, not where they are. Reality, truth, belief, and knowledge are indeed, tricky business.

If one believes it, then is it true, so now is it knowledge? Or does one have knowledge of belief, which leads in turn to truth?
Is it as simple as Descartes would have it – “cogito ergo sum”? Why is it important to find our way out of the Matrix? Is not one reality as good as another? Truth is insufficient to stand-alone. If one does not have knowledge of the truth, can one hear that rather infamous tree fall in the wood?

Nietzsche pointed out that “language is the first stage of scientific effort. …it is the belief in found truth from which the mightiest sources of strength have flowed. “ He goes on that Logic is, in and of itself, not anything real in the world, and that mathematics would indeed have had hard going had it been known at the onset there is no “exactly straight line in nature, no real circle, no absolute measure.” It poses the question, are these beliefs, this knowledge, built on straw? Is it all simply an agreed upon reality like - ‘time’? Is the miracle the act itself, or the reality in which the act can be accepted as Truth?

From the concept of realities, how great would it be if (and according to string theory, or more exactly M-theory it is possible) that for every wrong turn you took, there existed a reality where you took the right one? For every time the elevator door closed just before, you thought of the great comeback line, there existed a reality where you nailed it just in time. Where every possibility was a reality - the check did arrive in time, the vaccine did work, the guy got the girl, the peace talks were successful.... Yeah, String Theory there’s a miracle.

Friday, 16 November 2007

a walk to Hasssan Tower

SUNDAY STROLL IN RABAT 11/11/2007 19:54

click on the photograph to take you to the album with descriptions.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

what's happening here

An Award from Sparx: Thank you sweet girl. Since I love your blog, it is twice as sweet.

cash advance

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A reading test:
I’m not at all sure what this means, but it sounds good eh? I think it means that all my lovely readers are of genius level.

Just finished watching:

American Gangster”: Denzel Washington (love him!) and Russell Crowe (good actor) I hate it when Mr. Washington is the ‘bad guy’ but as Q pointed out, “he does it so well.” Very violent, so no kiddies. If you are a fan of Mr. Washington or Mr. Crowe I would recommend it.

Five Fingers”. Laurence Fishburne (love him), Gina Torres (love her) and Ryan Phillippe (don’t care for the characters he always plays, but he does it well). This is an excellent movie with a twist for an ending that has you going, “Well of course.” I do recommend it. It is not a family film – keep the audience above 15-years I should think. It is a movie that will hopefully cause those who view it to think about the issue it addresses.

Home of the BraveSamuel Jackson (always fun to watch) Jessica Biel, Brian Presley, and Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent. A film that addresses the soldiers AFTER they come home, an issue that needs addressing I think as I read last week about the shocking number of returning soldiers (usa) who are now living on the streets! It’s very well done, not sappy but it does touch the heart. I recommend it. Again, not a movie for the children.

Just finished reading:
At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon. This is the first in what has become a very successful series. It is written very well, and I enjoyed it until about 2/3 of the way through when I got bored. That is the death knell for any book for me. She was so invested in the characters that she didn’t give them anything interesting enough to do to hold my interest. In other words I thought they would do just as well if I left, and so I did. I recommend it for those who like their books character based.

A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines. I do not understand the popularity (won the National Book Critics Circle Aware for Fiction) of sad books set in the southern region of America before 1970. It is well written and kept me there until the end, but I knew what was going to happen and I knew I would not like it. I admit that I read the last half of the book at warp speed. I only recommend it for those who are in need of a good cry and want an outside excuse.

The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. I’m going to climb right on the bandwagon (A New York Times Bestseller) and say that this book is wonderful. Not reach up and grab you by the throat, or a mystery that needs solving – albeit she launches that possibility – but a nice steady read that will keep you there until the end, and you close it for the last time with a satisfied sigh. I recommend this one.

/Reading: “April 1865” by Jay Winkik. I picked this one up as research for my novel, but it reads like one. So far I am enjoying it.

HRH” by Danielle Steel. I picked this one up for research and it is crap. It is soooo boring. There is no real plot and the characters are one dimensional and cardboard. Yuk, I do not recommend but you can’t argue with the woman’s success; she is doing something right. That said I think I can finish it with my eyes closed.

“The Best American Short Stories 2007
” editing by Stephen King. I bought this solely because Mr. King was involved. I have so much respect for the way that man writes (not what he writes, I dislike his plots intensely). I have only read two of the stories so far, and I didn’t care for them but that’s only two.

Tomorrow! A visit to Hassan Tower. Ta da!


by request of Welshcakes

My new cushy play shoes, and my new very expensive (!) running shoes.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Part IV

to refresh your memory, Part I - III.

Part IV (for all of you incurable romantics who have been nudging me, and you know who you are (– jmb, sparx, jenny, wuastc, debio,…)

The breeze blowing in off the sea was cool on my face, and the moonlight was bathing the rocks in a soft glow as Hassan took my hand and we walked along the beach. The Moroccan night sky was doing its usual number – a light show of uncountable bright stars on a bed of black velvet stretching along a limitless horizon. It’s been a while since I took a romantic walk on the beach, all right it’s been a long time since a man held my hand; both actions were having an effect on my psyche and my physical vital signs (increased heart rate, flushed face, nervous tension in the abdomen). I felt my skin in such awareness I was sure I could feel the moonlight touching me on the backs of my legs.

“How long are you going to stay?” Hassan asked without looking at me.

“No chit chat, no small talk first? You want to go right for the blueprint?”

“If you are leaving Africa it puts a different perspective on my blueprint yes. I found in my absence from you that I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I’d like to know your favorite color, and the first time you ate ice crème, the name of the first boy you kissed, and why you have no husband now. I want to know if your eyes always change from brown to green in the sunlight or only when you wear blue. He stopped walking and put his arms around my…. Blackout

This is not a story lovely readers, it’s my life so there are some things you will have to imagine for yourselves.

When we returned to the tent there was café au lait and Delamain Re’serve de la Famille cognac. “How did you get a bottle of the Reserve?! I haven’t even seen a bottle of this in years. I didn’t think Delamain sold the Reserve?”

“The vineyard began selling it in 1984.”

“That explains it, that’s about the time I stopped drinking obscenely expensive brandy,” I grimaced. “You aren’t having any?” I asked as I noticed the one glass on the table.

“I take Ramadan seriously.”

“That’s something we’re going to have to talk about isn’t it? I mean other than the fact I’m staying in Morocco for an indeterminate period of time, if we are going to continue seeing each other – it’s the elephant in the room isn’t it? I’m a Buddhist, you’re a Muslim. Q put it succinctly when she said you could either covert me or kill me. Is that true, or is there another option? Oh gods this is delicious!” I said as the cognac exploded in my mouth. It was a gastronomical orgasm as it flowered in the back of my mouth and paved a heated path to my stomach.

Hassan smiled then started to laugh so hard he had to put his coffee down on the table so that he didn’t spill it. “Gods you are magnificent! You are the only woman I’ve ever met who when beginning a serious discussion of the impact of our personal religious and political differences, and the worlds apart difference that can have on our budding relationship, stops for a sensuous appreciation of a singular taste.”

I stopped with the glass halfway to my mouth for a second sip, “And that’s a good thing?” Yes, yes, I was giving him my “aren’t I adorable smile”. I’m pleased to report it still works.

I’d love to tell you we settled our differences, it all worked out; that religion and politics don’t matter – but that’s a Danielle Steele novel. We decided we could put it off a bit longer and just enjoy the night. Ali drove me home around two a.m. and, of course, walked me to the door and insisted on checking the house before he would leave. I like that chap.

Hassan has gone back to Saudi Arabia. His six-month mission has been extended to a year by the king. Never fear, romantics among you, we have a date in Istanbul or Madrid (my choice ☺ the last week in November or early December. I find him more attractive each time I see him, and his depth and sensitivity are hard to resist. Yes, sparx, he kisses like you would expect _ warm, soft, lingering, and it makes me dizzy. Sigh.


Monday, 12 November 2007

passions and fears

Passed to me From Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

8 things I’m passionate about

1- my child
2- separation of church and state/freedom of religion
3- child abuse of any ilk/secular education for all children
4- books, art, music, writing, beauty in all its forms
5- the necessity for us ALL to THINK, in relation to religion, politics, bigotry, culture, et al.
6- freedom of self-determination and respect for ALL persons/the present downward spiral of civil liberties in the West
7- good shoes
8- good manners

8 things to do before I die
1- get as close as I can to a state of spiritual self determinism
2- make the New York Times Best Seller List (more than once)
3- do as much good as I can (whatever monies I can give, whatever kindnesses I can bestow)
4- put my opinion out in the world and hope it has a positive affect on people and how they treat those they love, those they hate, and those they do not know
5- go back to New Zealand
6- Take Q to Machu Picchu, and take my grandchildren climbing in the Himalayas
7- never stop learning; never stop flirting; never stop appreciating
8- find some physical proof of a fantastic truth I have told Q, but that she must take for true solely on my word – to give her that piece of mind.

8 things I say often
1- “Bloody hell !” (since Q’s departure has replaced, “Sit up straight dearest.”)
2- “Thank you.” (in several languages)
3- “Let’s move it people.” Or “Make a hole.”
4- “I do NOT speak French, but I DO speak Spanish, English, Tibetan, some Hindi, some Chinese, and Pashto!” (said with a tinge of defensiveness it’s true, as in – because I do not speak French does not mean I am a dunce, but I am learning the language out of politeness)
5- “Bonjour.”
6- bad word that begins with an ‘f’, in several variations
7- “May I help you?”
8- brilliant

8 books I’ve read recently

1- Infidel by Ali
2- All the Shah’s Men by Kinzer
3- White Gold by Milton
4- (re-read) Inner Revolution by Thurman
5- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
6- Inside Terrorism by Hoffman
7- Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud by Navarro (reading)
8- At Home in Milford by Karon (reading)

8 songs I could listen to over and over

1- the arias from La Traviata (all of them) (Callas and Domingo)
2- Scottish songs: Amazing Grace, Bonnie Dundee, Ye Jacobites by Name, … (The Corries)
3- Someone to Watch Over Me (Sinatra)
4- Lhasa Pumo (Yungchen Lhamo)
5- La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf) and La Marseillaise
6- This Time Around (Linda Eder) (makes me cry)
7- Chain of Fools (Aretha Franklin) (makes me dance)
8- Candy (Big Maybelle)
(and Pretty Woman (Orbison), Folsom Prison (Cash), and Great Balls of Fire (Lewis) my list, my rules ☺

8 qualities I look for in a best friend

1- loyalty
2- loyalty
3- an appreciation of my dry/warped sense of humor
4- compassion
5- loyalty
6- has to love my child
7- a similar, but not necessarily identical, worldview
8- must love animals and children

8 people I’m passing this on to

1 – jmb
2 – welshcakes
3 – kaycle
4 – annie
5 – debiO
6 – omega mum
7 – mountain mama
8 – mama zen

Now that was fun, while this is too frightening for words. The slow but sure loss of civil liberties across not only America, but in Britain as well, is in danger of becoming permanent, something I don’t think we can permit. We need some of those radical hippie people from the 1960’s (I was not one, I missed the sixties – I was reading – in India). If not that, we need to do some severe speaking out in print, and with our votes.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

for the day..

Really not very reassuring: So, What About Those Nukes?

Attempt at survival, denial, or humans takeing the Road less Traveled?: here

Torture not a laughing matter? try this

Saturday, 10 November 2007

The photo journey


I did not do well in Vancouver I fear - photo wise - but my mind was elsewhere, and you can always go to jmb's site for the best photographs of that area.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Here we go..

It worked!
I had an idea, like you do, that I would bribe the Universe. I mean why not? It’s just creating karma eh? Before leaving Boston, I bought a large bag of Lindt dark chocolate truffles and decided I would give one to everyone during the day that I had an exchange with (the airline ticket agent, the young woman at Starbucks, the baggage man, the security guy outside the gate, etc.); this was my idea to get my bags to arrive Casablanca at the same time I did – a feat which has never happened before I might add. And it worked! So cool! Along the way I also made several people smile and arrived home in Rabat with only two truffles left, and ALL MY BAGS. Not only did my bags arrive as I did, but they were first off the aeroplane! Now that’s results.

I was surprised, and pleased, at how glad I felt to be back in Morocco. You should see my little house; not only did Abdul Latif, the world’s nicest landlord, put in the promised central heat and air, but he cleaned up after the painter (did all the white walls) and the handyman! And, he repaired the door bell, and closed the terrace grill for the winter. Now THAT’S service! He was so cute when I presented him with a giant jar of Skippy peanut butter: “You remembered,” he said quietly and then grinned like a six-year-old on Christmas morning.

Back to the baggage story for a moment, not only did I get all my books and tea in the bags, but the red one weighed in at 69#, and the other at 67# (the limit on RAM is 70#); I’m reasonably sure, after hefting it a few times, that my carry-on was above the legislated 40# as it was packed with books. Can I pack or can I pack?

I hardly know where to start to bring you up to date! A brief overview yes? The trip to the conference in Vancouver was exhausting, but informative and enjoyable; I would say I really got my money’s worth (no higher complement from a Scot). Meeting the wonderful jmb and her scientist guy was a highlight I must say. She is every bit as wonderful, effervescent, and beautiful as we all thought. She and her scientist guy showed me a great time, which was most welcome after the demands of the conference.

Then on to Boston where Cath’ and Bob picked me up at Logan International in the rain! More rain, I was so happy. Up the road to the picturesque village of Dunstable which for the rest of my stay showed the most glorious fall weather, and was dressed in the deep, and comforting colors of the changing of the season. I ran every day along the old French road trying to drink in the colors through not only my eyes, but storing them in my mind. I did get caught a couple of times by the locals, talking to the cows… but I really like cows you know. Could be all my time in India, I grant you, albeit the cow poop in the streets never really endeared me to Brahman. No, it it’s the bucolic appearance and gentle, non-threatening aura of the country cows; I think even more so now that the world seems full of threat.

Cath’ and Bob did their usual number of feeding me up with all the delicious food I like best. I was quite surprised to find I still fit in my jeans when I dressed for the plane home – but that’s what the running was for, eh? I spent an inordinate, and blissful amount of time in the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. I did get new running shoes - $ 180.00! My goodness, I do remember when running shoes were outrageous at 30 pounds. My rule is you spend the money for the best on shoes, bras, and moisture crème (La Mer) – support you know is essential. And I splurged on a new pair of pumps that were just too cute to resist. A quick visit to Banana Republic, which I tell you ladies is the best place for jeans for bodies past forty, regardless of price, to refill my jeans supply. I bought every box of Chai tea I could find (unfortunately bags, but what are you to do..?), and that B&N Hot Cinnamon Tea, delicious.

I pulled my old but still lovely blue Spode teapot from the cedar chest and brought it back with me along with a couple of sterling silver tea spoons; because really, we have to have civilization don’t we (or the British version of it that I am comfortable with…). I also brought back some additional spiritual comfort, as Buddhist Temples are thin on the ground in Morocco. A lovely rendition of the goddess Saraswati, goddess of creativity and inspiration; a timely choice I thought, as well as a miniature prayer wheel, and a replication of the goddess Tara for protection, and a larger portrait of His Holiness for above the altar.

My visit to the dentist, the wonderful Dr. Crane of North Chelmsford, went well. He repaired in good order the tooth I had broken over a year ago, and told me I have very healthy gums – always good new eh? I am a white knuckler dental patient; so when I say he has a reassuring manner, take me at my word. The man could work OB delivering babies, or the terminal ward easing the dying! His lovely daughter Amy is assisting him just now in the office and in complete deadpan he replied to my question, “Are you enjoying working in the office with your father?” He said, “Oh yes, it’s a dream come true for Amy. She is thrilled to be here every day.” It took me a minute all right, but I was terrified and sedated after all! Just what you want, a funny dentist! They are a great team and I survived in good shape.

My other medical visit to the ophthalmologist was equally reassuring if not as amusing. I don’t have a detached retina as I feared, but I shall continue to have this floater for some indeterminate time. As it resembles a (thankfully) shrinking gnat, I am thinking of naming it – a constant companion after all.

Reading! So it begins.. I have a recommendation for you, INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It is the story of a young woman’s survival; it is of further interest that the young woman is African and Muslim. My impression, aside from the obvious insights into their culture, was the realization (once again) that while political and cultural correctness (and simple good manners) are required of us, we must engender that with the knowledge of fact and not ignore that in bending too far the other way. As I am guilty of this myself, it made the point especially to me. I am so antithetical to bigotry and ignorance that I sometimes skim over the ugly facts of a culture or religion in order not to give ammunition to those who would use such to further their own ignorant and hateful agenda. As thinking people we must see the gray. I really hate that you know, it is exhausting. I totally understand the allure of fundamentalism, of any ilk – religious or political. The sheer relief of knowing you are right and they are wrong; no more decisions, no thinking, no reversal of opinion, no discussion, no giving over or giving in, and no possible exceptions. Unfortunately my education and upbringing do not allow me the luxury, and so I continue to examine the grey areas – as must all thinking beings eh? And so back to the book, it must also be seen (as Q has reminded me since I tend to leap to my soapbox, sword afire and words of passion and right to the ready) that publishers print what will sell – and a woman, an Arab or African woman who does not write about genital mutilation is less likely to get published. This does not make what Ali has to say any less true, or any less valuable, but it means that we, the readers, must take into account the environment in which her book was written, edited, and published. Exhausting eh?

Oh my I have rambled on past 1000 words, and I do try to keep posting to that limit. More tomorrow then?


Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Please act now

I am back, in all the ways that is meant, and I was going to post a cheery update until I read this. Please go now, read, and follow your sense of right.

For something uplifting go here.

I will post cheery tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

back in the air

On my way to the Boston airport shortly, and then a good wait at JFK for my eight p.m. flight to Casablanca - but that's fine, lots to do! Everyone cross your fingers, legs, and eyes that my bags arrive will you? Or use whatever your superstitious bent may be.

I have much to tell you, and many stories. As jmb has pointed out, I have an adventure cloud that follows me, and it has been busy - but all to the good.

I leave behind the glorious colors of fall after drinking them in as much as I could, and find myself looking forward to the greens of winter in Morocco. This is the most glorious time of year, weather wise, in my new home.

The baby is well and graduate school is coming along nicely. She and her grandmother are knee deep in wedding plans: I'm sending money. I think the best way to insure it is HER wedding is for her mother to maintain physical distance, as I tend to be a fixer, as well as an organizer. I am once again wiring my jaw shut, nodding my head and listening when appropriate. She has a new kitten in the bathtub! Yes, just as we suspected - there is an international bulletin that has gone out over the animal network: Need a home? Find Q. She is really quite grand.

I shall post a bit a bit from JFK, if all goes well.... Otherwise I shall spend next week playing catch-up.