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Christel's Diary


19 July 2012

Hot and cold

It is the second half of July and we cannot rely on fresh nights anymore to get the temperature in the house down.

Tomorrow or the day after Ramadan will start and I do pity the people living around me, but somehow they will get through it. The first 3 days are the hardest. The second week fasting gradually becomes a habit.

At this moment we are moving the cooker outside. It doesn't make sense to do everything possible to lower the heat in the house and then raise the temperature several degrees by preparing dinner.

Zakaria is watching too much television and spending too much time at the PC. I've decided he has to cut down. This means we have to provide more challenging distraction.
Moving the cooker is a challenging distraction, such as is cleaning the bath room.

He has been quite ill the last weeks, his troubles resulting from eating a large ice cream. Tummy ache prevented him from sleeping, throwing up on his bed sheets made him believe he did something terribly wrong and a soar throat made him go without food for a few days.
He is back his old self again. Talking a lot and liking his food.

He is complaining about toothache. It looks like one of the permanent teeth is pushing, but Zakaria blames it on the 'doodies' (little beasts) that are eating his teeth.
At almost 4 years, it is early to have permanent teeth coming through, but Mohamed says a few of his other children changed teeth at a very young age.

Zakaria started learning about letters and figures. He can count from 1 to 10 quite well, but usually does it wrong on purpose, being the 'tease' he is. Yesterday, he surprised me by reading letters from my T-shirt. It was just a few, but he is obviously working on it.

I hope to get him reading and counting in Dutch before he goes off to school in a few years and will learn to do it in Arabic and English.


23 June 2012

3 instead of 2

Mid June we were struck by unbearable heat. It was like living in a furnace. The fans were making it worse as they were blowing hot air. In the house the temperature rse to a record high of 37 degrees Celsius and outside it was well over 40. The worst was the hot wind blowing from the East.

During 3 days we were suffering, drinking as much water as possible and not feeling like eating much.

Then the wind changed and clouds started appearing, temperature dropped and a storm passed by.

We are feeling comfortable with 30 degrees in the house and with the freshness of the nights cooling everything a few degrees more until the midday sun warms things up again.

The fans are useful again, but no need for them. We adjusted to worse conditions or were in the process of doing so.

Some plants in the garden need to recover. Other plants such as the tomato plants have grown withmany flowers. Some green tomatoes will soon become red.

Another umbrella shaped shadow tree has collapsed. These trees keep growing as from March. After a few years the big branches become so heavy that when strong winds keep blowing through the leaves for many days, they fall apart.

This is very unfortunate for the turtle doves living in them. They have to move.

A few monhs ago I notices tha 1 of the pair that is living in our garden seemed to have disappeared. Its partner was crying out for many hours every day. Then the calling stopped and I saw them flying together again, into and out of the shadow trees.

Yesterday I was surprised to see 3 of them. 1 is smaller than the other 2 which leads me to believe that it is a young one that left the recently. That would be the first. I never noticed any offspring before.

Definitely something that needs more observation.


29 May 2012


Thanks to the very wet winter and the water flowing to the wadi from all directions, camomile is growing all over the garden.

It adds a nice scent in spring and is a free and healthy medicine.

At the peak of the hay fever season, I've been carrying dried camomile with me all the time smelling at it as much as possible, even at night. It alleviated a lot of the respiratory problems.

It makes you feel happier too.

When Zakaria has a cold, he drinks camomile tea. Only with sugar and only when he's coughing. He doesn't want to drink it when perfectly healthy.

He has actually become very picky for his meals. Does not eat anything with peppers, while before he lived eating hot. Onions are out of the auestion, Peas, beans and alike are simply left on his plate.

He prefers not to eat when above is presented.

The dislike for onions runs in the family. He shares it with one of his brothers and a few cousins.

Luckily there are many other things to eat. And what Zakria likes, he loves.

He would eat watermelons 3x a day, with or without cheese.


10 May 2012


The weather allows us to be outside most of the time. This is the way we like it : not too hot, not too sunny.

We are not watering the plants and flowers until now. Just have to make sure the soil is loose for the sun not to burn cracks in it or not to harm the plants and trees.

Soon the game will be different.

This type of weather made the hayfever season peak late. Since a few days the fields are turning yellow and the sinus is suffering heavily with all the inconveniences that go along with it.

Zakaria is also suffering from allergies. He is itching all over and sneezes a few times day. It is not as bad as the red rash he had a few months ago. We still don't understand what it was. The doctor claimed he ate something he shouldn't have which is quite possible. I think it was because we stopped using diapers at night and he was bedwatering for about a month still.

Nowadays, we only have a wet night occasionally. The trick that worked was : no playing on the computer when wet in the morning.

He accepts without arguing which is not his habit. He is always in for an discussion.

Yesterday, I asked him : did you notice how Hamoodi Amer (2-year old cousin of his) does everything immediately that is asked from him. After 1 second came the answer : I am not Hamoodi Amer.

Zakaria is 3.


07 April 2012

Spring is in the air

The storks were spotted and the swallows are flying around.

Every afternoon just before sunset one of the turtle doves is calling out. I wonder whether it has lost its partner because I never see the second one.

This is the time I am getting rid of the last patches of weeds. The sun is usually too hot during the day except for today. It is overcast and it looks like we are going to have lightning and thunder this evening.

3 turtles are living in the garden. The smallest is the dominant male harassing the bigger male when it comes near the back of the garden where a female is crawling around. There might be new turtles this year.

The only one the small male turtle is afraid off is Zakaria. As soon as it spots Zakaria it is running away to the nearest hiding place. If not, it gets picked up and moved around the garden.

We are enjoying the blossoms and the greens coming out.

Most spices are a success. On top of mint, sage, citronella and rosemary, I am now trying for oregano. A few lavender plants have survived, but the thyme which I had since 2 years is dead.

Cumin, black sesame, strawberries and tomatoes from scratch are other experiments this year.

Zakaria loves to help out in the garden and loves to see everything grow. He is also very interested in all the insects and copied from others how to manage those using twigs.

Once in a while the garden is not enough and a visit to Mohamed Khaliel is needed as a distraction. This is in general done by taking a ride on the tractor when Khaliel is taking a tank full of water to his family.


15 March 2012


I learnt yesterday that England is coping with a drought which is predicted to become more severe during the summer and autumn.

The weather is crazy... we had the wettest winter that anyone can recall. Spring showers and storms are adding to the water level.

Winter is over... many birds have arrived. I have been watching and listening to them carefully hoping I would hear or see our bird.

Zakaria has opened the cage last week on the balcony. I was watching the news while he was out in the sun playing. It suddenly went very quiet over there so I checked and found Zakaria with a guilty expression on his face, but I did not see immediately what happened, so went back inside.

About an hour later I discovered the empty bird cage while Zakaria was watching cartoons.

I called out : ; 'What happened to the bird'. Zakaria rushed out and said : 'It doesn't matter. We will buy another one. The bird has flown to Africa.'

Until today he pretends that the bird opened the cage itself and when we are in the garden he calls out for it to come and join us.

I do not believe the bird has survived that long without its usual feed and the numerous cats looking for prey all around the place.


21 February 2012


Again, we had pouring rain for 24 hours. The soil was already saturated, so all the water had to run down to the wadi flowing through the garden. Since then we have cold but sunny weather. Winter is coming and going.

The bird has become a part of our daily routine. After breakfast he is allowed to fly around the living room. A routine loved by both the bird abnd Zakaria.

About 10 days ago, Zakaria couldn't wait for me to open the door of the cage. I was doing something in the kitchen. He did it himself and let the door snap back when the bird was not completely outside. The bird's paw got caught.

Zakaria came to me and reported 'blood'. I investigated and found the bird with a wounded paw. Losing a few drops of blood can be dangerous for such a tiny bird. I did my best to stop the bleeding and to desinfect the wound.

For the rest of the day, the bird sat on 1 paw quietly next to his 'mirror' pal. He needed 1 week to recover full capacity of his paw while improving his relationship with Zakaria.

By now, he likes to sit on Zakaria's arm or head in no way blaming Zakaria for the accident.

Zakaria has learnt that he cannot open the cage's door himself. He still has to be supervised when around the bird, because he doesn't know the impact of his strength when dealing with his small fragile friend.