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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The streets ran with blood

We're off this week for Eid, a Muslim holiday where:

Affluent Muslims who can afford, i.e Malik-e-Nisaab; sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son.

(Direct copy and paste from Wikipedia)

It's a major holiday here in Cairo, but one that Ryan and I have never actually seen because we've always traveled abroad. This year, since we're trying to save a bit of money, we decided to relax at home with Q instead.

I knew that the 15th was Eid, so it wasn't going to be a good idea to go anywhere, things would either be closed or very busy.  But I had some errands to run, so I waited till the next day and headed over to the Souk in Al Rehab where we live.  It's a big open market with lots of shops in the center of town.  It's close enough to walk, so I put on my flip flops, kissed my boys goodbye and headed out to complete my errands.

I returned home about 30 minutes later with empty arms and Ryan wanted to know what happened, so I proceeded to explain my trip to the souk with the pictures I'd taken....

I wasn't sure that any of the shops would be open since we're still out of school on vacation and yesterday was the big feast day, but I thought I'd check.  As I walked up to the souk, I saw people sitting outside in chairs and there was smoke coming out of many of the chimney's so I was encouraged.  

The moment my feet hit the steps that take you down into the souk I was hit by a powerful smell, one of those smells that transports you immediately to a feeling, or a memory in your past.  It smelled like the zoo, like manure and hay and that earthy, tangy, slightly nauseating smell of many animals in close proximity.  I looked over the ledge of the staircase and there was a cow and a sheep chilling behind the ledge.  Hmmm, I thought... I assumed all the animals had already been slaughtered.

When I came around the corner there was a woman standing in the middle of the street by a huge trash truck.  She was holding this pile of stuff in her arms, long tubes and this huge bulbous sack, which I quickly realized were probably intestines.  This was the moment when it finally clicked in my brain that this might not have been a good day to come to the souk.  When I started walking down the street this is what I saw.

It was an odd experience for me because I'm normally very soft hearted when it comes to animals.  If an animal is crying or in distress it breaks my heart. So I've avoided scenes like this in Cairo, assuming I wouldn't be able to handle them. Today I felt oddly curious.  Not curious enough to stay and watch them continue butchering the animals, but I wasn't going to start crying or anything.

I started looking for the shops I needed and one after another they were all closed.  I guess it was only food type places that were open for people to buy their groceries.  But the main store I wanted to go to was on the other side of the souk, and I didn't want to come all this way and not at least check to see if it was open.  So I kept walking until I came to this...

A lake of blood running across the street. Hmmm, what to do, what to do?  this was the only way I was going to get to the store I needed, and I couldn't go to the sides of the street because that's where the animals were being butchered.  The ones creating this lake of blood.  And I was wearing flip flips, which made the prospect of stepping in blood even more unappealing. (By the way, when I got to this point in the story with Ryan he immediately looked at my feet in horror.)  :)

So I waited for the cars that kept driving through the lake of blood to stop so I wouldn't get splashed with it while also trying to hop across.  Which is what I did because I'm brave, and stubborn about meeting my goals, and also possibly a bit stupid.

In the end I made it to the shop, which was also closed, and then had to hop over the lake of blood again on my way back.

It was in interesting day, where I accomplished nothing, but will probably never forget what I saw. The day the streets literally ran with blood.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Craft time

The craft bug bit me hard over the summer. I had all these cute ideas for things I wanted to make,  and I was heading to the land of the craft stores, aka the USA.

All of the things I've made so far have been centered around Q, surprise surprise!  It's remarkable how much having a baby takes over every little aspect of your life.

The things I made turned out pretty well, so I thought I'd share in case anyone else wanted to make something similar.  Might even put it on Pinterest.

My first project was a framed photo set.  When Q was a few weeks old I was sitting with him in bed one day and he was fighting taking a nap, and the expressions on his face as he tried to settle into sleep were hilarious.  We noticed right away how expressive his face is, but on this day, I turned on my phone and just kept taking pictures.  For about 20 seconds I captured every little change that came across his face, and the results were hilarious.  The range of emotion and feelings were something I wanted to remember forever.

So I looked for a suitable frame when we were back in the states and at Michaels I found the perfect one.  I think it's made to house all of a child's school photos, there is one large 4x6 slot that had a kid in a graduation cap in the background picture.  And then there are 12 little slots that hold a wallet sized photo.  Kismet was working for me on this one, because that was pretty much exactly the number of pictures I had taken.  Don't you just love it when things work in your favor?

I uploaded the pictures online with the Walmart photo center and was able to pick them up later that day.  Then it was just a matter of getting some double sided tape and putting them all in place.  My grandma helped me with this, and it didn't take us very long at all. I kept the photos in the order that they were taken, because it felt like a story to me and I wanted you to be able to see it develop.  The end result turned out beautifully, I'm really happy with it.

My favorite part about the end result is how everyone that see's it instinctively wants to tell you which picture is their favorite.  Mine is the third from the right on the bottom.

Unfortunately, since we know we're moving this summer, it didn't make sense to bring the frame back with us to Cairo.  It was unnecessary weight that we would just end up having to move again in a few months, and the likelihood of the glass breaking with so many transatlantic voyages was too great. So we decided to leave it with my grandparents.  At least someone gets to enjoy it on their wall until we're more settled.

The other project I started just a few weeks ago.  I've been seeing all these awesome canvas projects on Pinterest that really sparked my interest because a canvas is so much lighter and durable than a traditional picture frame.

I decided I wanted to take Q's hand and feet prints (since they were never done at the hospital here) and put his name in between them.  Something light and easy to hang in his room and that we can take with us wherever we end up next year.

At first my plans were very detailed, with the goal of taking his handprints every month so you could see them get bigger throughout the year.  Like a memory of all the growth in his first year of life.

Ha Ha Ha! Wow I was really optimistic and a complete idiot.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a handprint of a 4 month old?  If you've never experienced this, I dare you to try.  No really, I double dog dare you.  And if you can actually pull it off then please come over to my house and teach me how to get my kid to open his fist.

Therein lies the problem with trying to do this with a 4 month old.  A newborn is a limp noodle most of the time, while messy, it could totally be done.  An older child could at least understand the idea of opening their hand.  A 4 month old clenches their fist around the paint you've carefully applied and either tries to stuff that paint covered fist in their mouth, or starts to cry when you wrestle their fingers open.

We had already successfully done his feet prints, and I carefully painted his name.  The canvas was a beautiful work of art that I proceeded to mess up 3 times.  Yep, that's right we tried to get his paint covered hand onto the canvas 3 times, and all were utter failures.  And yes, I even tried it while he was sleeping, which was an even worse disaster because it didn't work and I ended up waking a sleeping baby.  Yeah I know, I'm a dumb ass.

So eventually I gave up, repainted the canvas white for the 37th time (yeah because it took like 12 coats to cover each failed attempt)  And this time I just painted his birthday at the top.

Sorry Q, you do have handprints.  Lets wait about 5 years to try again.

The canvas turned out pretty well despite my stupidity, and I painted the sides blue as well, which adds a nice layer of depth when you look at it from an angle.  Is it what I really wanted, no, but oh well, you can't cry over messed up handprints.  :)