“Let Yourselves Go and Enjoy Life to the Full”

 

timthumb.php“Cease being concerned whether you are growing spiritually or whether you are
 on the right path, or in the right place, or doing the right thing. Cease being self-concerned and simply open your hearts and think of those around you, give to
 those around you, let yourselves go and enjoy life to the full – life in all its
 abundance – all its wonder and glory. Give and give all the time, with never a
 thought of what you can get out of life, for the more you give the more you will
 receive.”

This is guidance which Eileen Caddy (One of the founders of Findhorn) received while living in a caravan in Findhorn, Scotland. It is one of those beliefs that I believed in wholeheartedly while living in the UK and Ireland! Here in Egypt, however, I struggle to enjoy anything. I don’t worry about whether I am on the right path, I know I am, and I don’t worry about whether I am growing spiritually, I am doing that too! I just wish I could FEEL something, other than – nothing! Well – nothing happy, or excited anyway.

2014-10-18 07.25.10This week, after raising our hens from chicks, we finally got our first eggs. A joyful occasion I would normally be over the moon about. But I feel absolutely nothing! I’ve been thinking about why I feel nothing and I think its because there are so many people waiting for these eggs, and coveting them, that I don’t want to feel happy about them. As soon as I feel anything good here about the animals, or the garden, some bugger comes along and kills it!

All of the women here have been debating when the chickens should be laying. We are looking after 1 point-of-lay pullet for Fatma, four for Kalsoum, and three of ours. The other woman, Eman, has her own hens, which are a little while off laying yet, but that doesn’t stop her coming into the enclosure and pointing out that they should be laying by now, hoping that I will give her some too! She’ll be lucky! This is the same woman we have given three ducks to, and still screams after her daughter, when Omar wants her to keep an eye on the sheep as they graze the grass out front, that she is not a slave to look after anyone’s sheep! Her daughter then has to come indoors.  No matter how much we give to that woman she never gives a bean back, but demands her ‘rights’ all the time. So she can say goodbye to any eggs from our hens. DSCN9665

Because children here are brought up with few boundaries, they are brought up to steal and to lie, as if that were a perfectly normal way to live. So they will sneak into the animal pen to look for eggs, while we are upstairs. I have put the hens into the henhouse to make sure they steal nothing. I think that’s the problem. Its very hard to enjoy anything here when you are constantly having to protect it from other people’s lack of morals and covetousness. It takes all the joy out of everything.

Last Tuesday we went to the souk at 6am. I wanted to buy my own veges, now that it is cooler. We had a look at all the sheep for sale and Omar found one that his brother had been looking for, for weeks. He bought the sheep, a lovely little white ram with brown spots. I suggested that Omar build a separate pen for the young rams as the older females eat everything, head-butting the babies out of the way.

It turns out that the older brother was actually buying the ram for the middle brother. The same brother that we had tried to help with sheep twice before and who twice before spent all of his money on rubbish and then had nothing left with which to buy anything. I don’t help him anymore. He sabotages everything.  Apart from that he doesn’t speak to me anymore anyway, since I shouted at him to get out of my flat after Omar and I had rescued his wife when he was beating the lard out of her! That was weeks ago, and he still doesn’t speak to me! 2014-09-02 08.33.17

Omar’s older brother told him that the ram was for the other brother and then we heard from Mother, that the two brothers had been discussing our new ram’s pen. They thought that we had built it to keep the brother’s ram away from ours so that we wouldn’t have to feed it! Yeah…and that’s why we put our ram in with him, because we wanted to starve it to death! Idiots! I couldn’t figure out why they kept coming to check and why the middle brother kept turning his nose up at it when Omar proudly tried to show him what he’d done.

Mother told Omar later what had been happening, as he was quite disappointed that his brothers were not more impressed with his handiwork. It was only when they saw that we were actually feeding the rams very well that they had to eat their words. But they said nothing to Omar! Its a constant battle, so Eileen’s guidance about give, give and give again doesn’t actually work here very well! 2014-09-19 10.14.55

When you give generously here it creates a situation of envy wherein the person you are giving to then feels envious, because you have something to give in the first place! Then they start to try to undermine your efforts or make nasty comments or steal what they want. If you give everything here you end up with nothing! So I think that Eileen’s guidance might have worked well in Scotland, but it sure doesn’t work here.

To give you an example of how people think here, Omar came home from the  field where he grows sweet-corn, last week. For three days he seemed to be ignoring me, but I couldn’t figure out why. I always know when he is avoiding being around me as it feels very different to when he is just busy ‘away’.

On this occasion he was spending all of his time in the field or downstairs with his family. It is as if he feels more aligned with his family than he does with me on those occasions. But I did not understand what was going on, as everything was normal here with us.

When I asked him what was going on with him he finally told me that he had overheard a guy in the adjoining field, talking to his neighbour. He was commenting on why Omar was working like a donkey in the field when he was the richest man of all of them! (I wish). There is a belief here that if you are married to a European woman then you are rich, because all of us European women are rich, right? DSCN9441

However, other people thinking Omar is rich because of me, makes him push me away. Maybe he suddenly thought that he should be with a Rich European woman and that farming was a fool’s game? Or maybe is scared of people thinking that he is rich? Here, if you are a ‘normal’ person, i.e. not from a rich family, you have to hide any money you have so that people do not know that you have it! Otherwise they will try to ‘relieve’ you of it!

Even Mother has to hide little bits of fruit, or a few pounds, as her grandchildren, steal everything she has. Very frustrating. I gave her one of my suitcases to lock her stuff away in so that the kids could not get into it. It didn’t stop them throwing it around, however! Little sods!

So, back to Eileen, I think altruism has to be reconsidered here, taking into account cultural beliefs about generosity and wealth. Its a constant battle trying to maintain boundaries here, and I think that that issue is probably one of the most undermining. If people were taught about how to have boundaries, and how to live honest lives, it wouldn’t be so hard!

Where the hell is Moses when you need him?

Home-grown Wheat.

 

I finally learned how to prepare our own wheat for making into flour. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Listening to Omar it sounded like quite a production but it took a half an hour to clean and a few hours to dry! 2014-09-25 09.36.56

This was the wheat which we grew last year and which the family ended up with most of, as usual! I wanted my own grain as we had paid for it and produced it. I was tired of having to be a beggar when we provide it all! Ludicrous. So we brought a large bag upstairs to the flat and I washed enough to keep us going in bread for a couple of months.

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This entailed rinsing the wheat through a large sieve to get the soil out. Omar told me to wash it all in our plastic laundry bin but this didn’t remove the soil so I used our sieve instead. It took longer but was much more efficient.

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Once I had washed enough I laid it all out on a sheet on our bedroom floor, under the fan, to dry. Omar came in and said it needed to be in the sun. I didn’t agree. My father owned a corn factory when I was a child and he used drying machines to dry it. I was pretty sure that if I left the warm air coming in through the window to be circulated with the overhead fan, that it would dry well enough for the mill! It did! Omar took it later that evening to the local mill and picked it up the following day. 2014-09-25 11.29.23

When he came back he was thrilled. He said that the miller had commented that the woman who prepared this wheat did a brilliant job, that it was exactly as it should be. The flour was fine and good enough for cakes. The removed wheat bran/germ was also as it was supposed to be. The miller was also a little surprised as the wheat they normally got from our house was way too dry. Here, the women wash it and put it in the hot sun to dry, which leaves it hard, dry and brittle. The bran that is removed is then used for a base to place the rising dough on so that it doesn’t stick. They don’t actually eat it!Needless to say Omar didn’t mention that his wife had done it. He takes the credit for all my work! God forbid a woman should be smarter or more successful. Egyptian men!

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Omar was so pleased with the flour that he took some down to his mother for approval/competition. Never a good move. I knew it was only a matter of time before there would be consequences for bragging!

That came yesterday. It is the big feast in a couple of days and the women all traditionally make Fiteer. a thin flat bread baked in the oven. It is Fiteer when it is thin and crispy, but Grus when slightly thicker, and layered with oil! However, they had stored their flour badly and beetles had gotten into it, so they wanted some of mine! Every time they are careless with their food and they know I have some, they will just ask me, or rather Omar, who then gives it to them. I was not happy. Normally, when their flour has beetles they sieve them out, so what was different about today? The difference was they knew I had good flour!

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Like a ‘good wife’ I gave them a week’s worth of flour, and told them how to store it so that it didn’t get ants or beetles in it. Why am I, an Irish woman, telling Egyptian women how to store flour they have been storing for  years – badly? Don’t they know this stuff already?

Later on Omar told me that the wife in question had complained that the flour I had given them was not enough so they mixed it with the other flour, which they sieved to get the beetles out, as they normally do! I told Omar that never again is he going to brag about anything that I produce because these women are just downright ungrateful for everything!

I am glad though that I learned how to prepare our own wheat, because when we do have our own place I will know how to do this stuff. However, now we have to keep everything quiet when we do something well, or get anything new.  If we don’t, they demand it all and then ‘send me to Coventry’ if they don’t get it. Personally I’d rather be in Coventry. Its a lot more peaceful there, but it does make me feel sad that they take us so much for granted. These dynamics can make it a pretty lonely place to be.

Crazymakers.

2014-04-03 17.22.35Yesterday we got back our sack of freshly ground wheat, which I had cleaned the day before for the mill. It was lovely and fine and the miller was impressed with how clean it was. (I’ll write that process up in another blog). I should have felt overjoyed, after all Omar grew the wheat, harvested it by hand, and brought back more bags than all of his neighbours. But I felt completely flat! I had no sense of achievement, or pleasure in eating something baked by flour we had grown and processed ourselves.

Back in England, after spending a full day in the garden growing veges, with my friend Chris, I would go to bed at night feeling absolutely and completely satisfied. The feeling came from the knowledge that we were taking care of some of our nutritional needs, rather than depending on the supermarkets. Growing food gives me a feeling which no other activity on earth gives me. It is completely satisfying and nourishing to my soul. DSC_1674The fact that the work in the garden went hand in hand with the knowledge that we were creating an energy-space made a huge difference too. Every plant had its purpose, and was important to the over-all energy.

Here, I never get that feeling. The men grow things, not the women. The men will grow stuff for the women, but they can choose to remove it if they want to grow something else, and the women have no choice about it.

But that is only half of the problem. I spent all night, and most of this morning, thinking about why I feel so dead inside, when we have produced our own food. Some of it is because I personally have not grown it, and have no real part in it, except for financial, and doing the energywork in the field. I have not had the pleasure of planting the seed and nurturing it to maturity, then of the harvest. Omar does everything himself.

The biggest part of it though, I realised, the part that is really important, is that it is not safe to enjoy, or take pride, in anything here. My time here has shown me, that to achieve anything good means to incur the jealousy and envy of everyone. People here are afraid to be proud of themselves, to pat themselves on the back, or to enjoy anything, because they are constantly having to protect what they have created from other people’s bad eyes, or atrocious behaviour! People with money lie about it, and pretend to be poor, because to show you have money means there is someone who is willing to take it away from you, by force if necessary!

DSCN9566Every time we achieve something here that Omar is proud of, he runs to tell his mother. But in so doing he is opening us both up to her jealousy, but I think he does it on purpose too! Perhaps it is an unconscious way of proving that he is better than her, seeking her approval, and sabotaging himself, all at once. Everything is a competition!  It always makes me nervous when he wants to ‘share’ with her what we have managed to achieve as I know that within a couple of days her jealousy will make her do something mean!

So I take no pleasure in what we achieve, because the others in the house make it so difficult for us to get anywhere and I know now that it will result in pain, and not pleasure.

I noticed too, that once they started eating the ducks, which we had raised, that I cut off from them to an extent. I stopped enjoying their play in the water. I used to watch them for ages. Now I feed them and fill their bath but cannot afford to enjoy them. We started with twelve and now are down to four! We are constantly worried too that the family will take away the tiny part of the garden we have cordoned off for them to live in, because now they don’t have any ducks. They only belong to us. They have complained about everything so far and we fight to hang on to every tiny bit!

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This ‘emotional cutting off’ thing started when I was a young teenager growing up in an equally abusive environment in southern Spain in the 70’s. The Spanish people were so abusive to animals, and to each other, that as a young girl I found it impossible to understand it. I was abused too for those two years, so between the abusive boys, and the animals, my only protection was to cut off my emotionally. Every time I did open up and love an animal I lost it, which caused even more pain. The same thing applied to relationships!

Living here in Luxor is like re-living my childhood in Spain, only this time I try to change it and heal it. I knew that coming here would open up old wounds but it is difficult to heal those wounds when people are behaving the same way as they did in my youth! I still find the behaviour hard to manage emotionally, but I try to change it and fight in a way that I couldn’t when I was young. But I cannot change the beliefs of an entire society! All I can do is try to keep Omar from talking (ha!) and not ‘share’ our accomplishments, not share our birds and animals, and take more care of myself. But I want to FEEL! I don’t want to cut off from enjoying something here; there is so little to enjoy already!

artistswayLife here could be so much better if people enjoyed each other’s successes instead of trying to destroy them! Like Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way, don’t share your ‘art’ with people who are negative and don’t surround yourself with ‘crazymakers’, if you want to succeed.

Crazymakers: Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centres. They are often charismatic, frequently  charming, highly inventive, and powerfully persuasive. And, for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive. You know the type: charismatic but out of control, long on problems and short on solutions.
Crazymakers are the kind of people who can take over your whole life.

I think Luxor is full of them because everyday we have a dramatic storm! This house is Crazymaker central!

…time to change the weather…

The Birth of a Bread oven.

When we built the new animal enclosure last year we had to re-build the bread oven, putting it outside the new walls. This entailed dismantling the bricks and the concrete disc, a heavy pre-formed disc, which forms the heated base for the bread to sit on, beneath which lies the fire. 2013-06-21 08.48.22

Then the Bread Oven maker came and started to re-build it. He first had to make a circular brick base, about three bricks high, to lay the concrete disc on. This was all coated in mud. The opening at the bottom is the fireplace, where the fire is built and stoked. The opening in the concrete is for the hot air to reach the domed ‘cooking space.

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Once this has been mudded into place, he begins to build the dome with red-bricks, one layer at a time. He continues to build it up, one row at a time until he has his dome shape.

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He builds it up around himself until he is left standing in a hole!

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He tidies up the remaining bricks at the opening of the hole so that he can fix the four bricks that make up the vent at the top.

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Mud is then applied to the vent to complete it. The vent allows the excess air to leave after the bread is cooked, but it is ‘plugged’ while the oven is in use.

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The next step is to build another reinforcing brick wall at the bottom of the oven. This adds to the insulating ability of the oven where the fire is lit. 

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The next step is to apply more mud and finish the shaping of the bread oven opening and the air vents. He also spends time smoothing down the mud with water to give it a smooth, even finish.

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The finishing touches are to apply the decoration!

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And there you have it, a working bread oven. It took the man a few hours to build this oven and he charged a little under £15 for the making of it. The mud dries quickly in the sun so the women were able to use it within a couple of days.

Once the bread is cooked and the oven is cooling down, the women then put fava beans in a pot of water and leave the pot to sit in the hot ashes overnight. By morning they have Fuul, which they can eat for breakfast with freshly baked sun bread!

Bettaw

Bettaw is a traditional, Egyptian sourdough cornbread, but one that you do not see made so often today. It is one of those traditional breads, which seems to be dying out as more people eat wheat bread, especially the nice soft white rolls that you can buy from the local bread-makers.

2014-09-03 08.28.04My mother-in-law was once famous for making Bettaw. When she baked it in the clay oven, where the women here all make their bread once weekly, it could be smelled for miles around and all of the neighbours would beg for just one round! One old neighbour was given three loaves and he ate it a little at a time, everyday. When he died, his daughter was cleaning his room and found a cardboard box beneath his sofa-bed. In it was his last remaining, hidden,Bettaw loaf, as hard as a rock.

Now that we have found the last remaining corn grinding mill in Luxor and we are growing our own corn, Mother was happy to be able to make it again. However, after two tries she gave up in frustration. It just wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, the oven was too hot…she felt dizzy etc. She became depressed and took to her bed, the oven was working against her…It has been six years since she made it last. To her it was a disaster, to me it tasted delicious; the second batch being better than the first. There was far too much emphasis on how it looked rather than on how it tasted.2014-09-06 10.55.33

I decided to do some research online to find out how to make sourdough cornbread, as trying to decipher Mother’s rather secretive info on how to make it was risky at best. I mainly found recipes, which also included a commercial yeast and white flour; but this Bettaw was basic stuff, with nothing fancy in it. Basically, Mother took some cornmeal and added water to it; she let it sit for a few hours, then she added it to a large pan of corn and water mix with a little salt and left it to prove. When it had begun to crack on top, she took a large wooden spoon and made medium-sized loaves with it, putting some cornmeal on the bottom to stop them sticking to the oven floor. It cooked pretty much as you’d expect cornmeal to cook, hard and dry. I really couldn’t see what they were all going on about! But, it was a dying tradition so I wanted to see if I could figure it out!

First, I needed to understand the whole sourdough thing, so I made up a batch as Mother had made it. I also made a white flour batch. The following morning I inspected it, the white flour starter had lovely big orange spots of bad bacteria on the top, and smelled foul, so out that went. I started again with a jar, instead of a stainless steel bowl. I threw away the cornmeal starter because it too smelled ‘ill’ and started another one in another jar. This time I let them both sit on the counter in my hot kitchen for a few hours but then put them both in the fridge after a few hours of bubbling fermentation.

The following morning I checked them and they were still fermenting, probably because of all the power cuts we have been having thanks to this countries wonderful inefficiency! Everything else was going off in my fridge but it was perfect for my sourdough starters! I fed them both, left them out for a few hours again, and then popped them back in the fridge.2014-09-06 10.58.15

This morning I mixed up my cornmeal, salt and water and added the cornmeal starter, then left it for six hours to do its thing, whatever that was supposed to be! After six hours it had risen and was smelling sour; the top had begun to crack and I had heard Mother saying that that was when you knew it was ready. I decided to try it two ways. I put half of the mix gently in a loaf tin, and spooned loaves with the other half.

Still experimenting, I had no idea how hot the oven was supposed to be but my oven is a Chinese joke and it has taken me the three years I have been here to master it so…I just did what I normally do when making Irish soda bread. I have to be really careful as everything burns in the metal trays and loaf tins if I have it too high, so I have to keep it low, and I can’t have it so low that the bread doesn’t cook at all. A tricky business. 2014-09-06 14.59.08

But they cooked. They look nothing like the traditional Bettaw but they do taste rather delicious with butter and honey, and are not dry. They also have a lovely sourdough taste I have my starter on the go so I will try letting them prove in my muffin tin next time to see how it makes a difference. I’ll also try it with less water and see if I can get it the same as mother’s, then it will look like Real Bettaw! Getting the natural yeasts to work is going to take some practice but I’ll get there. This bread is far more nutritious than the wheat flour bread, as all of the germ and bran is removed from the wheat, but it is left in the cornmeal, and we get two crops of corn a year, which also feeds the animals so a win-win for sure. I’m going to get some Hopi blue corn seeds and grow them here and see how we get on with those.

Hmmm – Blue Bettaw. Sounds interesting, and if the man who owns the corn mill decides to give it up We’ll buy it from him. It is far too valuable to lose! I’ll have to get Omar to take some photos of it next time…or I might just go with him­­ – .

Qurna Homestead update. September 2014.

I haven’t written here in quite a while so I thought I would share how things have developed during the past 6 months.

DSCN9417Omar is still working the eight Kirat field down by the Nile and we are still eating the onions he grew there last winter. However, our flat is the only flat where there are still onions, because the women here have no idea of how to store things and will use veges, etc. in huge quantities as soon as they get their share of the harvest. The result is they have to buy their onions from the souk within weeks.  Omar tells his mother proudly  that I still have most of mine. Bad move!  Mother then goes and tells all the other women who then come to my door asking for onions! We’ve now put a stop to that! I budget my produce so that it lasts me until the next harvest, which is still six months away! I am not giving any away, especially as they received twice as much as we did to begin with. They’ll have to learn just as I did.

We now have a bull calf and cow, 5 ewes and 1 young ram, 4 white ducks, 11 white chooks and 1 beautiful cockerel and 3 hens…and a partridge in a pear tree. No, we don’t have a partridge…or a pear tree…but we have considered quails…

We eat bread made from the wheat Omar grew over last winter’s season, and corn meal from last year’s 2014-04-27 16.21.14maize crop. It is hard to find a mill that still grinds the corn into meal for human consumption, there are a few for animal feed though. Since last year’s harvest Mother had kept back some corn cobs while Omar sought out a mill, but he had no luck finding one. Then, a few nights ago he had a dream where he was given detailed instructions on where he might find one. He woke up telling me about it and wondered if it was real.

At the souk, the following week, he randomly asked a friend he met there if he had ever heard of a mill that ground corn meal in the place he had been told of in his dream. His friend said that there was! Omar couldn’t believe it! He took the bags of maize and took a tok tok (A motorbike with a trailer) to Bairat, (another village a couple of kilometres away) to find the mill. It took him two hours, but he came back with hot meal, freshly stoneground in the only remaining mill to grind flour for human consumption on the Entire West Bank! His mother was elated. She had been dreaming about Bettaw, a sourdough cornbread, which she knew from years ago. She was going to make some in the morning. Omar told her to wake me up so I could see how she made it. 2014-09-03 08.28.04

The following morning she woke me up and I went down to the bread oven, which she was firing up with the straw and dung from under our cows and sheep. All the kids were there watching too. However, mother was guarding her secrets and had already made the Bettaw mixture. Sharing is not a word in her vocabulary, unless of course everyone is sharing with her! I got Omar to ask how she had made it and it took ages because she avoided giving the right info, etc. until Omar became confused and didn’t understand any more. I pushed until I understood that it was just a basic sourdough cornbread! Her final remark, as she put the breads into the oven, was “Of course you have to cook them in this oven…you can’t cook them in your  ‘gas oven’. This is because I bake all of my bread in my oven upstairs and never use the clay oven! I have mastered my oven’s idiosyncrasies! Cheap rubbish from China! But, this was Mother’s way of owning her Bettaw-making! She is the only one who can make it…or rather, was! Mother likes to be the only woman in the house who can do anything…or own anything.

A few weeks ago she did a sneaky thing with me. She has her chicken house and I have mine. Mine is in with the animals and none of the kids are allowed in there unless they are doing a chore. Because of previous disempowering episodes with Mother I decided to push myself into the 2014-05-02 11.19.53space of this house. If we are paying so much to support the twenty people in this house then I want to be able to use a part of it, especially when it benefits the entire household. I refused to be pushed back up into my flat anymore, just passing out finance when they wanted it. It took quite some pushing!!! But, we built a chicken house and Omar bought me some day old chicks, which I raised upstairs until they were old enough to go downstairs. All the women in the house bought some too and we bought some for one woman who had no money. But the tom cats decided that unguarded chicks in boxes on top of fridges in houses with no doors, made a very good meal. The result? A lot less chicks!  So the women gave me their birds to raise upstairs until they were old enough to come downstairs. When they were ready I told the women, but they asked me to keep caring for them, as I do a good job of it, and they have nowhere to keep them  So all the chickens went into my hen house.

2014-06-26 12.46.50All was fine for a while. Omar went to the souk to buy me three ducklings and came back with twelve! So I decided to give each house three. Amira, the eldest girl in the house, and daughter of the brother who everyone thinks of as the ‘Authority’, took hers and kept them with her mother’s chickens. Her mother generally takes care of her own as she keeps herself quite separate to the other women. Mother does not like her because she gives Mother nothing! However, when they saw how well our ducks were doing Amira’s mother said to put them with mine in the garden to fatten them up! At my expense. They were not being fed properly and were half the size of the others. We had made a separate pen in the garden and put a hole in the wall so that the ducks could come out and swim. They spend the day there, while the chickens stay with the animals pecking around in the ground. Good for the cattle and good for the hens!

Mother bought 100LE worth of older chickens and put them in her hen house. But they started dropping like flies. So she put the remaining ones in with mine, thinking that it was the food or something. They feed their birds household scraps, which also DSCN9640includes rusty wire wool from cleaning the saucepans and plastic wrappers from the stock cubes! One by one, all of mine started dropping like flies also. Wasn’t the food! We bought some Dettol and completely cleaned both houses and put Mother’s back in with hers. She had one survivor!! We had quite a few more!!! Thank God! Then Mother began to make her take-over bid, just as she did last time. But this time I was on to her. She wanted me to keep her one cockerel in my house, then she started to feed the ducks and her one cockerel, in my hen house, with the same rubbish she feeds hers with. She kept doing it, purposefully and defiantly. It was her way of saying ‘she owned it’. But we fought her at every turn and put her birds back in her house. If she was going to try and play nasty games with me then she looks after her own birds. Being nice here is not an option! I have lost far too many chickens to that woman!

Everything was fine, Mother was being nice, even swapped her cockerel for a hen but insisted that we keep the hen with ours…again! We looked after her two Muscovy Ducks when one of hers died and fed them. We are still looking after the women’s birds and their ducks for 200LE a month! Mother was singing my praises telling everyone how I had saved her duck and her cockerel. Then the following day Mother has nearly forty new chickens in her hen house, not including the little white ones we had all bought in the souk the previous week. When Omar investigated, it turns out that all of the women had banded together, even the one who didn’t get on with Mother, and had bought fourteen chicks each, which Mother has complete control over in her hen house. But no-one had told me.  I was very hurt as they had all discussed this behind my back and had done everything without thinking of asking me if I would like to have bought some too. Mother was up to her tricks again.. Omar was furious as everything we do is to benefit all of the women and children, and the women know that they are free to take their birds whenever they want. They know we do nothing for ourselves, we have very little compared to what we give them. But because Mother was jealous and wanted to be in control she did a nasty thing.

DSCN9625On one level I was glad that the women all had birds now. Before I came here Mother was the only one who had birds. Now the women are thinking ahead. That’s a good thing. But the way it was done was mean. The woman I had sold our ram for, so she could pay for her C-section, felt guilty when Omar  said that no-one was to come to our door and ask for anything again. She said that walahi (I swear) she bought the three naked-neck chickens for me as she knows how much I like them. A month later however, I still have not received them. I didn’t want them, but the offer would have been nice as it would have meant it was genuine.

Omar and I made a selfish decision then. We decided, that from now on, we keep birds only for ourselves. So the women were given their ducks, which they all promptly ate without so much as a thank you! I still have the original hens, we have four as so many of ours died when Mother had her hens with ours, and I divided the survivors equally between the three women as I didn’t know whose had been killed. One woman has only two, the other has four, which mother sees as hers also, but that woman has since left and I don’t know if she will return. But Mother is not getting her hands on them if she doesn’t,  the eggs will be shared with everyone. We have one cockerel, which we call prince as he is so handsome, and three hens. More than enough for our use.DSCN9632

We have four ducks left, two pairs, and Amira still has one male, which she will kill and eat when her Mother is ready for it, or until it is bigger!!! Mother now knows that my hen house is under my control and even though I share freely I won’t be manipulated or conned into giving her what she wants and more. I know all of her tricks now. But it is all so bloody exhausting.

However, I have learned some valuable lessons! Being too generous and putting ourselves last is not a good idea here. No-one will ever think of us, they will only think of themselves, so its OK to be selfish and take care of ourselves, so long as we are not taking away from anyone else. This is stuff I learned before I came here, but because of the apparent poverty it is hard to be selfish. But we have to be. Or we will have nothing left for ourselves.

Keeping really strong boundaries is a must here, as no-one seems to have any!! (But that will be another blog!) Using personal power wisely is also a must, not allowing myself to be manipulated or controlled by lazy men and selfish women. Its a sad fact that the good women in this house just do not last here. They can’t cope with the games. I have to develop a really tough skin to survive here and stop looking for approval. All of those wonderful things I was learning about on my path of self-discovery become necessity here!!!

You really do have to ‘walk your talk’!! If you don’t, you will be walked on, just like the proverbial doormat!

Mixed Marriage in Upper Egypt

cooke-familyI’m just watching an American series called Texas Ranch House. It’s one of those programs where they put modern people into an old world setting and then film them for a year. I have always had fantasies about living on a Texan ranch, I have no idea why, but it is possibly a past life desire! Obviously my subconscious is remembering the good memories of that possible lifetime, because watching this series feels very much like watching my life here in Luxor and that ain’t no fun!

Its not so much the way they live as the way the roles of men and women change, the more time they spend in the ranch. There is the ‘rich’ family, with their one female helper/servant, and then you have the cowboys and their cook living some way away from the main house.

Somehow, as they progress through the dynamics of life on an 1867 ranch the men seem to take control of everything and the women get pushed further and further into the house. I’ve only watched the first two episodes but already I am recognising the same dynamics as I experience here. The Ranch House mother summed it up for me. She was the driving force behind getting her family to do this project, but slowly she experiences that ‘position’ slowly ebbing away. “I was the driving force to get us here but I felt like I disappeared. I’m kind of doing the backbone job, I’m holding it up, getting it ready, making it move forward but, its so not about me, so you have to trust those around you…well you have to recognise that.”

Sucks to that! That is how I feel here. I wasn’t aware that women have no power, no input, and no value here, other than to take care of the men. What makes it worse is that the men are so inept! They are chaotic, they have no boundaries and absolutely no common sense whatsoever and yet, as a woman I am expected to trust them.

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For me, being the main financial backbone is completely disempowering. I feel like Rapunzel, kept in a tower by the wicked witch (no guesses as to who that is) and I am visited by my ‘prince’ who uses my hair/love to climb to me. But of course the wicked witch cannot know that the prince loves me, it has to be kept secret, or rather, in our case, his role is take care of her and the family of brothers and their wives. If he starts to pull away from her and his caretaking role of protector to be in relationship with me then she does everything in her power to bring him back to her. I am constantly reminded that I have no place or power here and my job is just to provide for them. Everything is fine so long as I am here in my tower/flat and do not interfere with how they do things here.

Just like the woman in the Ranch series I feel like I have disappeared. I have to be here to ‘take care’ of everyone’s needs and as soon as I try stepping back into my power and focus on my own needs and goals then I too am pulled back into focussing only on husband and family. It’s nearly like a survival tactic on their part. If I focus on my own life then somehow I won’t be focussing on theirs and to them their survival is more important than mine.

I see this happening to many Egyptian/foreign marriages. The Foreign women are there to provide security and financial wealth to the families they have married into. Instead of marrying a husband they have married an entire family and that family is very large with lots of ‘needs’. If you stay with the husband and his family then you are just the finance and you have no real relationship with our husband. You become a wife, but not a wife in the way we in the West see it, no…you are just the provider and support, nothing more. Your husband may well love you dearly but could he live with you somewhere else and just focus on your relationship as we do in the West? Would he be able to build a life as a couple, without having to take care of dozens of other people too? I don’t know. I’ve not seen it here!

The problem with being the financial backbone is that they do not recognise that European money does not grow on trees. They will manipulate and emotionally blackmail you in order to get their needs met, but your struggle is not recognised at all. The fact that you have given them every penny and are left with nothing for yourself is not their problem. They don’t really care. They care about the men’s health and welfare, but if my husband was not here with me would they care about my needs after they have bled me dry? Somehow I’m not so sure. I have seen other foreign women, married to Egyptian men, who have been fleeced and left destitute. The husbands and their families took what they wanted and dumped her, leaving her with nothing.

Thankfully my husband does care enough about me and I am careful enough to know how this works so I keep myself safe. I haven’t given up my whole life in order to be here, but I have left behind people I love. I know I have someplace to go to, so if everything went wrong I know I would be OK! The same cannot be said for other foreign wives however, who may have nothing to go back to; having spent their life savings to be with a husband who swore he loved them but really just wanted her money…or body…or both!gty_oprah_green_mi_130204_wb

Anyway, back to the ranch. I was speaking with one of my daughters on skype recently about a woman she saw on ‘Oprah’ who became a multi-millionaire by writing a book, and who subsequently lost it all to a man who swore he loved her! This woman had altruistic motives in being rich. She wanted to use her money to help people just as someone had once helped her. However, she found that people, instead of being just being grateful and using the money to help themselves began to expect her to give them money! She felt drained, recognised what was happening and stopped giving her money away. She was surprised at how this had happened, but I experience the same thing here. It reminds me of the scene in the Jesus movies when Jesus goes into the leper colony and all the lepers mob him trying to get him to heal them! They took what they wanted without thinking of him, not caring if he was damaged in the first place. 

Because people do not have any boundaries here it is very difficult to set them. Nobody wants to acknowledge them and will actively break them until they get back to their comfort zone, even if that means hurting you. You are not allowed to say no, or to refuse what they give you. If you do you are upsetting the apple cart and they do not like it at all. If you step out of your assigned role they will do everything in their power to put you back in it. They have a system here, if they borrow something from you (and they borrow things all the time!) they then will pay you back by giving you some of their food. ‘How lovely’, you think…initially! Over time however, you realise that you cannot say no without the entire house being up in arms. You are now obliged to both lend them stuff or give them what they want…because after all they give you food in repayment! The whole system here is based on obligations.

We tried it before, refusing, nicely, their food and bread etc. because I was tired of handing things out the door every time someone was toplant-growing-through-pavemento lazy to go to the shop, which is a minute’s walk from our house! It became a huge battle and this battle was waged everyday. I was no longer flavour of the month, mother killed my duck out of spite and jealousy and my life was made miserable. I gave in. I wasn’t strong enough…yet…to deal with the fallout of stepping outside the ‘box’.  And perhaps too I had not yet healed enough my own childhood guilt about being from the rich family while other people around me were not so ‘privileged’? I also did not have enough experience about what actually happens when I step outside the box! Now I know what will happen but now too I am more prepared. If I  am ‘sent to Coventry’ then so be it. I have no ducks or chickens or rabbits. They disappeared downstairs…like everything else. At least I can live a life I actually want…and can enjoy, and will be free to write, to weave, to live in the way that is me!

I often feel like a small plant trying to grow through the cracks of a concrete path. I send my little shoots up only to get squashed back by the footfall of a passerby. But I keep trying to grow. I think that maybe I’m tired of it now and I need to send my shoots out to find another crack to grow through, one where there are fewer people to step on me and squash my tentative growth.

Now I’m going to watch the rest of the Texan Ranch house to see how the ‘helper’ girl becomes a cowgirl despite all the men freezing her out! I might learn a thing or two!

The White House, El Tod, Bayrat, West Bank built between 2008 and 2009

Originally posted on Hidden business of famous Luxor West Bank companies :

ImageYou may find the 4 storyes building right across the banana field on the right hand side of the road starting after Kareem Hotel in Gezira. It has a domed upper floor and was initially purely white.

This building was stolen, his initial owner and designer robbed of all means, by the West Bank mafia: (the family of Mahmoud Jahlan Abd El Al Omr, Hassan Shabban Abd El Al Omr, Mohammed Abol Naga, Hamada Ahmed Khalifa) .

The property is currently put on sale and is being rented by Hamada Ahmed Khalifa and his Dutch wife Karen Khalifa.

One might be renting or buying from thieves…

 

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Energy-work Journal Luxor. Qurna 2011.

This is the record of the energy-work I have been doing here in Qurna, Luxor for the past two and a half years. I have been working here in Luxor since 2008 during ‘holidays’ here and this is the continuation of that work. (Links to previous work in Egypt below post). Often I have to live on a point which is connected to lots of points so that the work layers can be built and expanded on. My present time in Luxor is one such time.

9 September 2011. El Qurna.

While Omar and I were cooking and we were talking about an offering tray which had been found while they were building a toilet I tuned in and was trying to get more information about it when I suddenly felt a ‘wind’ blowing towards me. It was the energy of a Egyptian woman from ancient times. She came in and told us that she had been buried alive with her mistress when she died. It was the tradition that the closest servants, who looked after them in life, would also look after them in death, but she said that the reason for this was because, as the persons closest to the Mistresses/Masters, they were buried alive with them so that they would keep their secrets, not to look after them in the afterlife.

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She kept wanting to move in a certain direction and she told me that she was connected to the place beneath Omar’s uncle’s home across the souk from our  flat. Yet, when I looked in the direction she was pulling me in it was the opposite to his uncle’s shop! Omar could feel her strongly and felt that we needed to go now, before dinner. So we followed her. Once we were outside the house we walked to the souk area. I could see a line going from beneath our apartment straight out through the gate then separating, like the letter Y. One arm went directly to the shop and the other went in the opposite direction. I was being pulled to go in the latter direction. So we walked where she guided us, avoiding the stray dogs! I knew where I wanted to go but Omar was wearing shorts in public, and even though it was night-time, he felt he was not dressed properly so we went back. But he understood her message. It appears that some time ago people dug in that place where we were being drawn to, and found a lot of artefacts, which they then sold for a lot of money. Omar’s family found the offering tray, and the one which was broken, a few feet away from our house. And they are aware that there is something beneath his uncle’s shop. Tuning into the energies it feels like there is a triangular connection between the shop, the place where they found the artefacts and a point just outside Omar’s garden. This is then connected via a line to this house, beneath our flat. Right beneath our bedroom.

Later on, while in the kitchen I heard her say “Buried alive. Right in front of you.” Did she mean right in front of our house? She said that when she was living her name was ‘Jayna’ and that she worshipped an Isis-like Goddess, but this goddess felt much older than the Isis we know of today. She said that she existed before Seti the first built his temple and in her time you had to pay to have immortal life. It was not for the poor!2001-01-01 00.00.00-72 3 I heard ‘hear our voices’.

The following day  I went and tuned into the bedroom; I stood in the centre of the room and raised my arms. A large column of blue light appeared around me and a gold ankh appeared above it. I saw the ankh move down the column and move into a key-hole in the ground where it turned in the lock, opening up the energies. I stood back while the dark energies which had been stuck there were released. It wasn’t too bad. Then, when this was complete I saw myself standing in a pink lotus flower, opened. I had to create the first elemental layer of the diamond merkaba and I pulled in an energy from my left and my right, north and south, and joined them together. Next I pulled in the lines from the two points which Jayna pointed out last night and anchored them in the lotus. I pulled down a gold cord and attached it to the lotus and then a gold cord from the ground and anchored that in the lotus. It reminded me of Hathor’s chapel in Hatshepsut’s temple.

I’m struck by the fact that these lines of the triangle are black. Why? This morning I kept being reminded of the point right in front of the house. Then they were speaking of something beneath the holy mountain. I also heard references to the ‘old Religion’.

27 September 2011.

Down in the garden this evening I had to stop and tune in about two meters from the end of the garden. I had to face the four directions and then proceed up the garden, where I stopped again and this time raised a giant lotus energy there. It reminded me of the lotus pillars of the temples but I don’t know why it was there.

Yesterday I had a strong energy come in and I was strongly pulled to the point beneath the balcony where they found the other stuff. It was such a strong pull that I felt I needed to go down into the ground. This is where they found the offering trays. The first point in the garden is where other people have picked up ‘ghost’ energy there and Omar found a carved fish on the lotus point! So what is the lotus point? Usually the lotus points are on the ground level but this is above, in another layer possibly? I drew out the lines I saw and it creates an interesting network. The whole network is connected to the red line between Luxor and Karnak temple.

29 September 2011.

2013-09-11 11.39.36I had to bring down a golden dome around this house to bring in protection of a high frequency. There has been a lot of bad things happening here, accidents, attempted murder in a family feud etc. which has spread like a fire of negative energy. I noticed that even here in this house the negative energy effected everyone for a few days and there were arguments and fights between everyone.

Once the golden dome had been anchored I had to bring down the energy of the moon! I placed the full moon in the centre of the dome and it looked like the khonsu symbol upside-down. I had creative fires all around me like I was a fire goddess and I had to join together a gold line to a blue line. The gold line came from the south and the blue line from the North.

A few nights later, as we came back from Omar’s cousin Asheraf, we noticed as we stepped into the garden, a different energy. I thought it was our guardian and serving girl, Jayna’,  back again but after a few minutes the feeling dissipated and then I understood. It was our golden dome energy, and because the frequency is higher we noticed the difference as we stood into it!

Observations.

Our first few trips to Luxor laid the groundwork for my permanent stay here. I can see, in hindsight, how I have been moving through the energies which I was ‘opening’ when I first came here. Usually when doing earthwork we are not ‘in’ the energies as they are clearing so this is my first time actually experiencing moving and clearing ‘at the same time’. It has not been easy. It still isn’t easy but most of my work here seems to be finishing up. I still have work to do between the major temple sites but not so much here in this house.

The energies I was connecting to turned out to be from approx 4000bc and the Nagada period, so when I was told ‘hear our voices’ I now understand what they meant! We are surrounded by Nagada II cemeteries, which we only found out last year.

 http://gaiamethod.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/visiting-luxor-2007/

http://gaiamethod.wordpress.com/2009/07/30/1011th-february-2007-dendera-and-karnak/

http://gaiamethod.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/medinet-habu/

http://gaiamethod.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/abydos-february-2007/

Fukushima…my own Experience.

This was one meditation that I knew I wanted to do. I never usually do these World healing meditations unless I KNOW that it is one that I feel a strong connection to. But…a few years ago, before comg to Egypt, I was shown, by my guides, a vision of something which would harm the waterways.  They showed me post-apocalyptic zombies, dressed in rags, just like you see in all the horrow movies, emerging from beneath the ground, as though they were the dead coming to life. En masse, these zombies slowly walked until they came to a river. I thought that they would stop there but they didn’t, they just dropped silently into the water, their contaminated bodies merging with the riverwater. This water then flowed into the world bringing its death with it.

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At the time I thought this was about a disease which would re-emerge and contaminate the waterways but my guides kept pointing me towards nuclear waste and radioactivity. I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. Even when the Japanese earthquake happened I still didn’t twig. It was only when I started to read about how the radiation was damaging the pacific ocean did I realise what it meant. But I still didn’t know why they were telling me. What could I do about it?

Then, last night, I received the Newsletter from Tom and Judi about the meditation. Aha!! As I work with the elementals I knew this was for me too! I understood too the vision I had been shown a few years previously. So…I downloaded the meditation and I played it three times until I was finished. This is what I did in my healing:

Sound healing meditation for Fukishima.japa-MMAP-md

Initially I saw a green spirally design, above the coast beside the nuclear station, and I felt my connection to the elementals above Japan and the Pacific. I connected my energies to them and then felt myself move up in a spiral of energy until I was with the air elementals looking down on Japan, but I was looking at it from the north pole so that southern Japan on a map was North Japan to my vision. I had a pencil in my hand and I drew a line from one end of the island to the other, south to north. Then I opened it up as though I was doing surgery. As I held the ‘cut’ open hundreds of elementals flew in, like bees, to do work underground. When they had all entered I zipped it up again. This meant that there would be more work here in the future and could be opened easily.

I was still aware of being in my elemental body and now I felt a huge surge of joy and connection which brought me to tears. I felt that familiar pulsing of healing energies on my eyelids and black and deep purple seemed to be prominent colours, usually they are green and purple so this was the first time they appeared differently.  I saw a large object above the island which looked as though I was looking into the crater of an active volcano except that it was upsidedown in the sky and the lava was a purple-black colour. Then, from breaks in this deep purple cooling lava, streams of light broke through and they shone down in focussed beams onto different places in Japan. There were to stabilise the country energetically, as though the energy beams could ‘hold’ the space. I was aware too of the whales facing the plant and ‘holding’ the energy in the ocean. That made me feel really joyful.

kannon2Next, I was still experiencing the eyelid pulsing, when from out of the earth in Japan rose an ancient woman. She had long silver hair and a deep purple and black gown. She was the Mother of Japan, the ancient female energy of the island. She stood above, and yet on, the island as she was part of the fabric of it; her gown was the landscape. She reached up into space and plucked a brightly lit star from the dark sky then she placed it in her forehead. She merged back into Japan again, bringing this stellar energy with her. That filled me with joy.  I stayed with this feeling for a while until it felt ‘done’. Then I was told that it was complete.

It was a lovely experience doing this meditation and I felt no negative emotions at all. After reading Tom’s experience of it I half expected to but I felt nothing but joy.

I would be really interested in hearing other people’s experiences of this meditation. So many people work on so many different levels it would be wonderful to hear about their work. It will be interesting too to see how this work, which we are all doing, impacts on Japan and the Pacific. I will keep a watchful eye on it for now…