27 Sep 2004, 11:37am
Comments Off on What Shall We Eat? Noodle Blogging

What Shall We Eat? Noodle Blogging

Today? Spelt (a kind of grain) macaroni, one veggie dish of fried red cabbage, black beans and carrots with anise, a second veggie dish of steamed celery, red and green bell peppers, a sauce of peanut satay, with wakame (green seaweed) salad or homemade naan on the side. For dessert, deferred to eat another day, fresh plum and mandarin oranges stewed with cardamom. Or else, frozen spinach thin crust pizza.

P.S. went with the naan, made a spinach dip, homemade biryani rice with a sidedish of wakame. The rest tomorrow? [yes, it was]

Link:Powers of 10 Java video to view the Milky Way at ten million light years from the Earth towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree and into a microscopic world.

23 Sep 2004, 10:43am
1 comment

Clothes Make the Muslim?

Before I go on to clothing more broadly, I want to plug the Pre-Ramadan sale now on at (the fast loading, well-designed) http://www.alhediya.com/with turn around time being 15-25 days with styles from India to Africa to across the Middle East with pin-free tube hijabs (sort of track pants or clip-on necktie of the head covering world to hooded pantsuits to gauntlets. I’m not sure how I found it originally but found it again among Kadija’s directory .They have beautiful garments.

Why the fuss over clothes? Are clothes not only meant to keep the sun or cold out, give a veil of privacy of what is public or private. But, clothes mean more than a simple, neutral bolt of cloth, don’t they?

Our clothes are in contact with us more than any person or object is and most are in a position to choose with care. Clothes are our mating plumage, our camouflage, mark our membership, our allegiances, reflect our assets, our mental state, beliefs and and our relation to our gender. It speaks before we can get a chance to and at a greater distance (except by the miracle of the internet). For social comfort we want to often dress more of less like our counterparts. It’s non-verbally saying, I’m your tribe, trust me. You’re my tribe, I trust you. We can work out any difficulty.

Whenever we’re physically with people, speaking from a woman’s standpoint, people feel constrained compare notes. We feel we should impose norms on others. Many people don’t dress their “true colors” to blend in or to refuse to become invisible, remain distinct from the group they are incidentally with. When forced to comply with uniforms to appear equal, we still revel in subtleties to separate ourselves as unique whether it is school uniform pinned higher or elaborate embroidery to decorate the hem or a simple mourning or prayer cloak.

Clothes makes the man? For that question, most everyone can nod and say, no…not completely. Some people who dress modestly are brassy and some who dress to the nines are an uncouth donkey in chic’s clothing. Misconceptions abound over what is just a simple personal choice of cloth, between you and the people that matter to you, or between you and your conscience or your god. We’ve all felt our impressions of someone shift by seeing them dolled up. Fabric, from Mao jackets to tuxedos and ubiquitous jeans, continually become re-politicized, tribalized, religicized, yet taken as a marker of the person inside.

In Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, Jill Schnoebelen contemplates gender, clothes, group identity and Islam’s modest dress’ attempts to encourage right thought and navigate moral behavior:

Dealing with the male gaze is a big part of being a white woman in a non-white country. The stare is of a different variety than that which we’re accustomed to in the US (where if you’re caught looking, you quickly divert your eyes and pretend you weren’t). No, this staring is blatant. Though the attention is not always sexual, frequently it is.

In Egypt, Western women are bombarded with comments from men on the street, even if not dressed provocatively.

I thought my suspicion that veiled women were not treated as sex objects was correct,… But my judgment was premature…You know what they say, Layla joked, — anything in a skirt, or scarf

Clothes: it’s a lot to iron out. Or sew up airtight when all the conflicts of human nature and individual are shaping and reshaping significance.

In a world of choice, clothes help to simplify our persona for the public to give us some in-road to getting to know us better, to know how and where to take us. We fill our clothes, match out roles to them, delight and decry them in a scarf dance of exploring our own warp, weft and content.

Sew? Final Word? Get patterns to sew your own chador or abaya or other modest outdoor cloaks for unobtrusive modesty where the social context allows you to be modest. We could hardly do without clothes. Well, some do but that’s a whole other story.

Words of the Day: sentence, tense, polyester or yes

23 Sep 2004, 10:16am
Islam Ponderings

Significance of Muslim Clothes

Does Islam makes the person? Clothes make the Muslim? Clothes mark the Muslim? I have worked with Muslim ladies for about 10 years now. Many were Somali but also Muslims coming from countries including Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, China, Pakistan, Djoubouti and Malaysia among others. Individuals interpret the need to cover on different levels.

Some ladies police each other and tell each other to be more modest and not let a single stray hair be seen and not a photo of a Muslim woman get out to any man’s eyes. Some say this matter of covering is between Allah and me and they weigh in on the side of doing the pillars of Islam, and living well because external dress is not the core.

From the core there should be consistancy but who is to judge that? Our sisters? our brothers? strangers? Beliefs and how to express them are personal choices, as unindicative of much, any more than accent, earlobe shape or height is the way to know someone’s relationship to God. Clothes are only meant to be a reflection or true inner goodness, just as the spirit of most any law is meant to inform you on how to play fair and live nicely. Just as laws can be twisted to be how to win or cheat instead of how to be grow in empathy and brotherhood, clothes are letters of the law that when made compulsory or made illegal twist people away from each other instead of looking eye to eye with due respect.

The reasons, ostensibly, behind Muslim dress are to obey Allah, to mark gender, to honor and enjoy culture, to be feminine, to be free from harassment and prying eyes, to be modest and keep minds on more important stuff than bodily distractions. In any case, any one person’s reason is more interesting than any generalization.

If one were to generalize, the point of hijab is that we should not go out of our way to distract another from their tasks or from Allah. It is a way to say, I mark myself as being in a public space where I may not be seen except by my chosen few. We are to see each other’s hearts, not be distracted with lust. That’s the heart of the intended smoothing of path through the modest covering. Men also are to dress and in their hearts, be, modest.

I find absorbing the experiences of a Buddhist teacher as she explores her own perceptions among Muslims in Malaysia. When you have the privilege of knowing real people, hearing real stories with all the pieces that don’t dovetail in, it is far more useful than what “should be” or officially “is”. People make choices at personal individual levels for fascinating reasons that more often than not blow apart the simple model of the other we have subconsciously built in our head. People keep turning out to be complex flesh and blood too.

We met Ferdida at the women’s side of the mosque. She is [at this point in her life] preparing
to wear niqu’ab, or the full veiling [including face covering and gloves]…Once in her room [Ferdida] took off the black veiling but kept her head covered with a long bright cloth.

Later, she and the other women explained that even though there were only women present, because Jill and I weren’t Muslim, they would not fully unveil even in front of us. [because] We may gossip about the women later, saying,
“This one has such-and-such kind of hair, and that one has such-and-such kind of body.” So I’m doing my best not to violate the veils the women wear both on their heads and over their privacy in this post….

So far this afternoon, every conception I’d had of Muslim women had been blown away. I try not to stereotype, but images and archetypes are in my head.

[Radical] Feminists have pounded in the image of the oppressed Islamic woman beneath her heavy veil for years, and the horror stories of sharia courts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Nigeria dominate the popular understanding of Islam and women.

But Ferdida, Norah, and the three other Muslim women sitting with us were all smart, educated, and vivacious women. They didn’t act like oppressed women, and their decisions to veil at whatever level were entirely theirs.” –from Ditch the Raft

Any blanket statement or law to ban or mandate anything is saying “your attitude will be constrained thus” risks taking away a portion of the opportunity to fully believe 100% because truth colors outside the lines as well as inside.

A Franciscan Travel Blessing

May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers,
half truths and superficial relationships
so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
at injustice,
oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

— From a Buddhist site found via Watermark

15 Sep 2004, 10:40pm
Comments Off on Canada Wins!

Canada Wins!

Times like these, I could use a TV. Mind you, I get the outcome. The momentum and excitement has been building for weeks. It brings new life back to the patio-pubs when the weather is inclimate.

Tonight it’s been continuous honking of car horns, air horns, people hollaring yeah and yahoo and cheering, whistling, screaming as people come onto the streets to celebrate the victory. It’s been over an hour and a half since Canada beat Finland and won the World Cup Hockey Series and the hooting and cars running circuits through the streets is growing, not abating.

The winning team got $1 million, to be split equally between Hockey Canada and the players, who are to donate the money to a charity of their choice. The joy isn’t in the sum or even really having won. The joy was in all the near misses and the excitement of worthy competition, then victory.

The joy rolls on firestone tires with horns just a tootling. Beautiful.

15 Sep 2004, 11:48am
Comments Off on Good in the World

Good in the World

You ever try the onerous task of counting your blessings
when you feel lousy? It shrinks them, doesn’t it?
Not only can you think of far more miserable things, but the good
you can think of, you disparage and the effect on the blessings
can last past the lifetime of the passing funk and sour down a
later good mood.

I’ve learned: Don’t ever try to fake happy to yourself.
It does more harm than good to forcibly "cheer up".
When you’re low, any counterbalancing good only
counts as "not good enough" and the bad is one ounce
shy of overwhelming. When the scales tip, the same counterbalancing
bads only counts as "minor bugaboos". Much of life is
what you decide.

So let the dark clouds sail high or low. Let the sun
shine without confining yourself to someone else’s need for gloom.
Both are just moods. They’ll pass. neither are entirely real anyway
but that doesn’t means we don’t have to, in some measure, obey

Right now I’m feeling so enthused about all this good
that I feel I’ve broken through. What’s so good about it?

Well, updated news on people we care about:
got news or photo of our two sponsor children (one a
teen in Zaire, the other a girl in Colombia, unnamed for their
privacy). I got books in the mail by two of my published friends.
I got a postcard from a student couple. I got a phone call from
a dear friend. I got an msn chat with my dearest cousin. We got
a note in the mail from gramma and I mailed a letter and a postcard
to two other family members. We emailed photos to my in-laws.

Work-like: I broke most of the way
through a long term task that had been dogging me. The cat has
not vomited all week. I made the hard and responsible choice of
doing volunteer work deferring on the movie I want to see. I finally
wrote some poetry again. A learner who was sick showed up to school
well. Another is happily engaged in puja festival, singing for

Future: Leonard Cohen’s newest CD release is
nearly released and may actually have money to buy it. I found a CD
I forgot I bought and have only heard once.(Alabama:
In the Mood
) Wonderful to hear it’s romantic sounds
again. The hubby and I had time to spend reading and talking and
we have plans in pace to go walking in the autumn color shortly.
It’s weekend and despite all doubts to the contrary earlier, I
did make it through with brain intact.

As far as the counterbalancing negatives, we won’t
go into all that. Just float on the other side of the balance
sheet. Hope you all are in touch with how you are because,

"I’ve learned –
    that no matter the consequences,
    those who are honest with themselves
    get farther in life."

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