Friday, September 28, 2007

Power Outages; Salma is Better; Ramadan Half Over; Microwave is Dead

We've had two long power outages this week, for several hours each time. These usually occur in the late afternoon or at night. Whenever this happens we get out our candles and light them, wind up our lanterns and flashlights, and settle down for an evening of quiet reading. We have a pair of very nice crank-powered lanterns. 100 turns of the handle gives more than an hour of light.

If I want to work I get out my large UPS device, basically a super-duper battery back up unit that can power my computer for up to eight hours on battery power alone.

I don't mind any of this. I'm kind of glad that Salma gets to grow up in a place where the power goes out. I remember this happening during my childhood in Libya and other places; it's kind of exciting for a child, like camping in your own home. Now, as an adult, it remind me how thin our veneer of modernity really is: take away the power, and we're back to doing things much as they were done by our ancestors.

Today when the power went out I went to the Centro Commercial and bought several more votive candles with stickers of San Jose (the saint, not the city) on them. That's the only kind of votive they sell - I just peel off the stickers. By the time I got home, the power was back.


Salma was sick for almost a month, vomiting at night, eating very little, crying a lot, and carrying a fever. We took her to the doctor, had a stool sample tested, and just worried a lot. We thought it might be a virus, or a food allergy. Well, it turned out to be her teeth. She had four molars coming in all at once. Apparently this can cause all the symptoms mentioned, and of course the pain would be bad as well. Poor baby.

The teeth have now come in and she's back to normal - Alhamdulillah, thank God. Playing, laughing, shrieking at cats, dogs, balloons and piƱatas, eating, and sleeping well.

We just received a gift for her from our friends Jen, Brian and Greta - thank you, guys! It's a wooden, articulated crocodile on wheels with a string attached. See the photo to the left (click on it for a larger version). The crocodile undulates and clacks loudly when Salma pulls it. Salma loves it and likes to hold her Mama's hand and walk while pulling the crocodile with her other hand.


Ramadan is about half over. I do miss being around other Muslims during Ramadan. I go to Panama or Penonome for Friday prayer, but that's about it. The rest of the time I pray at home, break fast by myself, listen to Qur'an on my iPod... still, Ramadan is a special time.

I find myself eating less and less. My appetite is simply drying up. I break my fast with a date and a sandwich, maybe a banana, and then I'm full. I mean really, I feel stuffed, and cannot eat anymore for several hours. I don't even feel the desire to eat. It makes me realize that outside of Ramadan I eat so much more than my body really needs - it boggles my mind.


Our microwave just quit for good. Enter the time and press start and it will count down the time ok, but no microwaves. Not even an itty bitty wave. I'll have to go to Panama and buy a new one next week, but I've been to Panama and Penonome three times in the last week and for now I need a break from driving. We'll just have to get by with an oven and a toaster, like cavemen!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ramadan Mubarak

I'd like to wish a belated Ramadan Mubarak (blessed Ramadan) to all my readers. May your Ramadan be full of joy and may God accept our sacrifice and our pure intentions. Many of us have experienced difficulties and pain in the last year. Let's use this holy month to turn to our Creator and ask for mercy, forgiveness, guidance and tranquility. Remember that fasting is not just about hunger and thirst. It's about re-dedicating yourself to Allah; trying to become an excellent person in every way; and remembering those less fortunate than us. It's a spiritual recharge to carry us through the year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trip to the Doctor for Salma

Salma has experienced several bouts of diarrhea and night-time vomiting over the last few weeks. Monday night she began vomiting around 2am and continued every few hours. She couldn't hold anything down. We called Dr. Medrano, Salma's pediatrician, and make an appointment to see him that same day. That's him with Salma in the photo above. You can see that she's not in a good mood.

Dr. Medrano speaks fluent English, and despite the photo above he's good with children and Salma is generally quite comfortable with him. He's a good doctor.

By the time we saw him in the afternoon Salma seemed to be doing better. She had not vomited since 8am or so and she was able to keep her drink and food down. Dr. Medrano says that there are some viruses going around, and if the problem reoccurs we'll get a stool sample and analyze it, but for now just keep her hydrated.

Today she's much better. It's hard to know what the problem is exactly. Our house is clean - we have a full time maid - but we're going to have to start keeping the floors pristine, because Salma will eat anything she finds on the floor, including cat food, insect parts or gecko droppings. Lovely, I know.

Also, I believe that Ani, Salma's nanny, is a very clean person, but just in case we'll have a talk with her about the importance of thorough hand-washing after changing Salma's diapers or going to the bathroom.

We also went to the Riba Smith grocery store for things we can't get here in El Valle, like tofu, diet root beer, almonds, cauliflower, and nice cheeses. We got back from the city late, and Salma went straight to bed. Here she is this morning doing one of her favorite things:

Now, before we get any lectures, we only let her watch a little TV each day, and she normally sits in her mama's lap a good distance from the TV. But if we let her up she heads straight for the TV, holds on to the edge of the cabinet as you see here, and dances to the Sesame Street songs by bobbing up and down and shaking her rump from side to side. It's very funny to see. We'll have to make a video.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Salma Loves to Walk

Salma has been practicing walking while holding a parent's hand. She can walk fairly well now with one hand. She enjoys it tremendously and she often laughs as she walks. She has taken a few tentative steps on her own, but she only manages two or three steps before she falls on her rump.

Laura was feeling restless the other day and wanted to get out of town, so we went to Panama city on Friday. I made it to Friday prayer just in time, then we went to Multicentro mall for lunch. We haven't seen Nora Smith (of Paradise Services) in a while, but luckily she had a few hours free between appointments and happened to be in Paitilla, so she joined us at the mall. I fed Salma and walked her all around the food court while Laura and Nora visited.

Nora says that some property sellers are asking $75/m2 for land here in El Valle. Unbelievable. I'm glad we bought this house when we did, Alhamdulillah. I've been convinced for years that good timing is one of the secrets of a happy life.

Afterwards we went to our post office, where a bounty of goods awaited us. I received a DVD I had ordered from - Searching for Bobby Fischer. I heard an interview with Josh Waitzkin, the subject of the move, recently on NPR (I download the podcasts). After becoming a chess champion he went on to study Tai Chi and win national championships in that as well. He says he seems to have an intuitive understanding of certain learning principles that he applies to anything he does. He's written a book about this, called, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence.

I also received some mail and magazines from my parents, and Laura got a number of surprises, including children's books that friends had sent, and some new shirts. Someone must know of my interest in the domain name business, because I received a new magazine called Modern Domainer, that I have not subscribed to.

It's always fun to get packages in the mail.

We always stop at Arrocha as well. This time we picked up some cabinet guards to keep Salma out of the kitchen cabinets, and two Swiss chocolate bars - our favorite!