There is a richness in the textile heritage of this region, the clothing, the embellishments, the techniques . . . influences from Africa, from India, from Europe all meeting and blending in the most spectacular ways. This is textile heaven!
Today I was trying to find an example of a traditional Jordanian head-dress so I could show Little Diamond but instead I found this blog Arabesque Rhapsody and her beautiful article on everyday Palestinian embroidery. When you look at these women, wearing dresses that took hours, days and months to create, it is a feast for the eyes.
An Irish joke:
Paddy’s wife bought a new line of expensive cosmetics guaranteed to make her look years younger.
After a lengthy sitting before the mirror applying the “miracle” products she asked, “Darling, honestly what age would you say I am?”
Looking over her carefully, Paddy replied, “Judging from your skin, twenty; your hair, eighteen; and your figure, twenty-five.”
“Oh, you flatterer!” she gushed.
“Hey, wait a minute!” Paddy interrupted. “I haven’t added them up yet.”
The heat has hit me like a building crashing down around me. It changes everything I do. Somehow I don’t remember last year being so hot, but I know it was, and I think I just didn’t go out very often. Now that I am driving all over town, man, the heat KILLS me.
I just checked Weather Underground for Kuwait and the temperatures (Fahrenheit for my US readers) is going to be between 107 and 114 for the next five days. Kuwait DOES cool down at night more than Doha, but if you are outside after nine in the morning, you feel like a steak thrown into a hot frying pan to sear. It is sizzling hot!
I find myself trying to get everything done I need to get done early in the day. Sometimes when I get home, get the groceries put away – I need a NAP! I feel like I’ve run a marathon! It’s embarrassing to be so effected by the heat, but I am.
If I have had things going on and don’t get a nap, then by nine my head is nodding. I can be in the middle of a great book, a thrilling movie or a nail biting tv program . . . it doesn’t matter. Sleep calls me like a siren; I can’t resist, I crash. Around three in the morning, having had six hours of great sleep – Hey! here I am! wide awake!
Even my husband, born in the heat of the south, who gets cold easily, even my husband who never complains about the heat – told me this morning he hated the thought of having to walk today from here to there because of the heat. I can hear him wheezing a little at night. We no longer have the dust storm of earlier this week, but the residual dust has made breathing a little harder. I hear a lot of my friends wheezing mildly, too.
It’s just like jet lagging. I’ve got to get it under control, and I’m at a loss. I think most of my friends cope with the heat – by leaving! Others stay inside most of the summer – even the thought of meeting up with a friend for coffee during the day just seems like too much trouble, when I think of the hot hot hot walk from car to air conditioned mall or restaurant!
How do you cope with the heat?
Does your life change?
Do your hours change?
No, no, no sorcery involved in making this chocolate cake, althought you might think so when you taste it – it’s so good! The magic in this cake is using a lot of cocoa powder (not cocoa mix, which has milk and sugar added – cocoa powder, which is all chocolate) and some very strong coffee to boost the intensity of the flavor. Everything you need is available here in Kuwait.
This is the very best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. The batter seems thin when you make it up but it cooks to a very moist chocolate cake with a fine crumb. And best of all – it’s EASY!
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong black coffee (secret ingredient!)
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk (In a pinch, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup, let stand 10 minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine dry ingredients in large mixer bowl. Add remaining ingredients – beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Batter will be thin. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees (180 degrees Celcius) for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool completely and frost.
Black Magic Chocolate Icing
(makes about two cups)
1 stick butter, softened
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 t. salt
Cream all together until smooth.To thin, use just a little milk at a time until you have the right consistency.
HINT: After you grease the baking pan, use cocoa instead of flour to sprinkle in pan, and shake really good until it adheres to the butter or Crisco you greased the pan with. This helps the whole cake release without those pesky stuck spots.
According to Catholic belief, the Pope, the head of the Catholic church, is infallible. When he downgraded the Council for Interreligious dialogue, and merged it with another office last year, many people thought he had made a big mistake.
So the re-instating of this department can be seen as an admission of the mistake.
I think this is a brave move. For the head of a religion larger than most nations to make a mistake, and then acknowledge the mistake, and even better – to correct a mistake – that takes a lot of moral courage. Bravo, Pope!
Here is the story, from BBC News:
Pope reinstates Islam department
The Pope has been repairing damaged relations with Muslims
Pope Benedict XVI has reversed a controversial decision he took a year ago to downgrade the Vatican department which deals with the Islamic world.
The Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be restored to its former position as a department in its own right.
It is not clear if the department’s former head, British archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, will also be reinstated.
His removal was seen as a sign the Pope was more interested in improving ties with other Christian denominations.
The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says that by reversing his decision, which was interpreted negatively in the Muslim world, the Pope has tacitly admitted that this was a mistake.
Relations between the Vatican and Muslims have deteriorated over the past year, particularly over remarks made by the pontiff during a visit to Germany last September, in which, some thought, he appeared to equate Islam with violence.
The Pope insisted his words had been taken out of context and that he meant no offence to the Muslim religion.
In a rare about face, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, that the Council for Interreligious Dialogue would again become “a dicastery in its own right”.
You can read the rest of the article here.
This is what a storm looks like rolling into Kuwait. The normal day is on the right, the storm rolling in is on the left. Nothing has been enhanced; this is the way it really looks:
You really can’t imagine what an orange sky looks like:
The rate of building in Doha is astounding. You have to wonder, sometimes, how the building inspectors can keep up with it all. I am guessing in Doha they lose one or two workers a week to unsafe construction practices, and I wonder at the quality of the construction . . . .
I particularly love this building, facing the Gulf. I call it the Doha twist. I think it has a spectacular look:
They have been working on the foundation for this building for years now, with nothing to show for it. The design of the building totally cracks me up.
From time to time, in both Doha and Kuwait, I have seen honest-to-God wild Parrakeets, Flamingos and Cranes. But when we say that the crane is the Qatar national bird, this is what we mean: