Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year’s Eve

Why is it that New Year’s Eve is so exciting? I think it is about new beginnings and the prospect of something better in the coming year. It’s not that we really have a new beginning on January 1st any more than we might have one on June 1st, but culturally we have been conditioned to expect something magical in the New Year. At least we like to think that a few of the things on our wish list will come true. We count down the seconds to midnight in unison, kiss our family and friends, and think of those we love who are absent. As I welcome the New Year, I wish that we all will feel the thrill of a new beginning every morning, and with that powerful thought in mind, we might grow, little by little, to become the person that we want to be. May tomorrow be the first day of new beginnings, and may 2008 be a good year for all.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Testing Versus Teaching

Jordan Journals has been slow to publish these last 10 days because of the Moslem and Christian holidays. As nice as all the celebrations have been, I regret that I wasn’t able to spend as much time with the grandchildren as I would have liked. They return to school the day after tomorrow and immediately begin their mid-term exams. It seems to me that their time and ours is always measured by testing schedules.

Mid-terms and finals are probably inevitable, but I think that my grandsons have had one week of studies and two weeks of exams since they started to go to school eight years ago! (Or maybe it was the other way round.) Regardless, it looks as it Jordan has adopted the practice of testing over teaching! I was interested in an article I read yesterday about the extremely unpopular law in the USA called No Child Left Behind. Teachers abhor the law because it penalizes schools by withholding Federal funding if test results are poor. Presidential hopeful, John Edwards, commented on the law that you don’t make a hog fatter by weighing him, you feed him. It follows that you don’t educate a child by testing him, you teach him! And I, for one, would love to enjoy my grandchildren while they are still children without the pressure of their studying for exams all the time.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Let Earth Receive Her King!

This Christmas day I thought it would be appropriate to recount this story I found in my father’s memoirs of Oman:

One day Mr. James Cantine, the Mission Padre at the time, said to Sir Percy Cox (British diplomat 1864-1937 who served in Oman for a time as the Sultan's advisor), “Why is it, Percy, that your government would appoint you to Muscat --- the end of the world --- when you are so knowledgeable and experienced in world affairs and diplomacy?” “Well,” said Percy Cox, “it is this way, Jim. You see, I serve the King and where he sends me I go.”

A couple of months later Sir Percy dropped in on Mr. Cantine who was in his office pouring over some Hebrew texts, and Sir Percy said to Mr. Cantine, “Jim, how is it that your Mission Board appoints you to Muscat --- the end of the world --- when you are such a student and could teach at any university?” Mr. Cantine paused a bit and then said, “Well, Percy, it is this way. You see, I serve the King of Kings and where he sends me I go.” ..........z

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Retiring Rudolph

Many years ago a friend gave me a wooden reindeer made by her father who was a cabinet-maker. I call the reindeer Rudolph and assemble him a week or two before I put up our Christmas tree. He stands about 20 inches tall, has a red nose, a bell around his neck, and his body is an open box to hold Christmas cards. I place him on the living floor, and when my children, and later my grandchildren, see Rudolph, they know that the Holiday Season has officially begun in our house at least.

For the past few years the number of Christmas cards we received dwindled. Since the beginning of December, I have been getting humorous and musical Christmas cards by email. Many others are newsy letters detailing family happenings of the sender which I always enjoy. All are welcome, thoughtful, and appreciated because they allow us to stay in touch with one another.

This year Rudolph’s belly is empty. Of course, there is still time for some mail to arrive, but I don’t think that much will. It is finally obvious to me that the method of sending season’s greetings has changed to the detriment of Hallmark and other producers of greeting cards not to mention the post office. Anyway, time has ravaged Rudolph somewhat. The screw that attaches his brown wooden head to his body is loose and occasionally his head flips down and hits the floor chipping a little more wood off his antlers. I will need to retire him soon – maybe after this season. I’m not really sure how I feel about electronic greetings replacing the old-fashioned nostalgic, artistic, and glittering cards. I will have to get used to it, and I will.

Happy Holidays to all who visit Jordan Journals.


ob! I wish I could walk on the sidewalks

Parts of shops in the middle of the sidewalk

I wish the traffic police would spend more time walking round and giving tickets to cars parked like this and those double parked. Instead they seem to spend their time at various circles and junctions smoking and chatting with occasional arm waving at the traffic

I don't know who puts up the bus stops with shelters - the Municipality or the bus companies?

ok, so now we have to bend our backs to get under the foliage or step into the middle of the road

I think there should be a law that owners of empty lands should keep them neat and tidy

Walking in Amman is an absolute nightmare and so dangerous. If there is not an obstacle in front of you to bend down under or step into the road, there are holes, steps, bumps, broken stones and pipes. I blame the Municipality for not keeping the sidewalks in a decent state and allowing individuals to place trees, containers, shops etc etc wherever they please. I also blame the police for not giving tickets to those double parking, parking on sidewalks and various other inappropriate places. As you can all gather from this moan, I was out walking today!! T

Friday, December 14, 2007

come to the bazaar!

On Saturday December 15 (tomorrow) the Al Hussein Society for the Habilitation/Rehabilitation of the Physically Challenged with the Diplomatic Corps and International Ladies Clubs is holding their Annual Bazaar at the Le Royal Hotel at 10.30 until late afternoon.

This bazaar has been held for many years and is my favourite as is the Society which is a down to earth, practical one. Helping children and adults face their lives of difficulties with their various programmes, this society spends its money on those who need it. They have a nearly new shop (which has a large section of used books)which is open during the week and is well worth a visit. The Society is housed near the Seventh Circle.

Please do come to the bazaar. T

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Article 12 A of the Transport Law - honestly!!!

Article 12 A of the temporary Transport Law stops, or makes it difficult for, business owners from transporting their employees to and from work. Hospitals and hotels are apparently exempt. What an incredibly stupid decision unless there is some Machiavellian reasoning that no one else can see!

Yusuf Mansur in his economic review in the Jordan Times discusses this subject in the Jordan Times on December 4. How on earth does the government think people are going to get to work? Factories have shift work and are often situated outside urban areas. Public transportation is pathetic and taxis are too expensive for low earning employees. What is anyone gaining by this article? It just seems utterly pointless and penalises both employees and employers when they should be encouraged to make their businesses efficient. T

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Date I Remember

Everyone has a date or two they will always remember, and one of mine is December 7th. It commemorates the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into World War II. We supposedly entered the war to make the world a safer place, to save other nations from totalitarianism, and to preserve freedom – among other admirable principles. I think the United States and other nations truly believed that was why the war was fought. Now 66 years later, the world is no wiser, certainly no safer, and the United States has become an aggressor. My country is also complicit in perpetuating one of the longest military occupations the world has seen in several centuries. Today on this particular anniversary I hang my head in shame.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Spirit of Christmas

She is English, in her 80’s and living alone in her apartment. She has lived in Jordan for many years. She reminds me of those English characters of a bygone era that we read about in books that were hard working, loyal, forthright, determined and with that ‘stiff upper lip’ when things were down. These days she often says to me, ‘I just don’t have the energy I once had’ and then laughs and says, ‘but I have to keep going.’ So in the late afternoon and evening when she is watching her sports channel on TV she keeps knitting. The yarn she has brought back with her from England whenever she manages to visit. She knits and she knits and she knits……..big sweaters, small sweaters, baby sweaters, colorful sweaters, plain sweaters, fancy sweaters….you name it, she knits it. Each is beautifully done, carefully finished off and then ironed.

Every year once, if not twice, she calls me up and says, ‘I have another batch of sweaters for you’. So I drive over and pick them up……two huge black bags filled with sweaters. These are then distributed to children in areas outside Amman. The mothers are thrilled with the sweaters and appreciate the handiwork. The children of course, are happy to be warm. The women have often asked me to bring this generous lady to meet them. They would like to make a ‘mansuf’ for her, but so far it just hasn’t worked out. ‘Never mind’, she says, ‘just take some pictures.’

Yesterday she called again and gave me another batch to distribute. As I lifted the bags to go I laughed and said, ‘These bags make me feel like Santa Claus!’ We both laughed again but as I was leaving I thought to myself, this lady is what the spirit of Christmas is all about!.................z

Sunday, December 02, 2007

hurrah for Mercedes and Pharmacy 1

We are all so ready to moan and complain about this and that. Well I am ready to give a bit of praise out!

My car decided to jump out of gear whilst driving along a highway which could have been dangerous but luckily I managed to coast to the side of the road and it then righted itself. So, off to Mercedes (Gargour) and they got their roving mechanic to check it before allowing me to drive anymore (safety so important) and it has gone off today to be mended. It was a pleasant experience (although a nuisance!) to be taken care of in such an efficient and polite manner.

Pharmacy 1 - went to get a prescription and they were so helpful and nice. They did not have what I needed but immediately checked their stocks to find out that they did have the medicine and then offered a free delivery to my home within two hours and it arrived as they had promised!

So there we are, it can be done and two companies in Jordan have one very satisfied customer. T

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Of Garbage and Plastic Bags

I applaud the Ministry of Environment’s plan to completely phase out the use of plastic bags in Jordan; their reasons are valid and overdue (Jordan Times, Friday-Saturday November 30, 2007). We can take home groceries and other items that we buy in paper bags, baskets, cloth bags, or boxes – this isn’t a big problem. In fact, it will not be difficult to make the change. Disposing of the layers of packaging that many of our purchases come in is not a problem either. They may be bulky, but they are dry and easily manageable. However, getting garbage out of our homes is another matter.

When I was a child, plastic bags didn’t exist. Every morning my mother wrapped the wet garbage - coffee grounds, orange peels, and egg shells from the morning’s breakfast - in yesterday’s newspaper and took it out to our garbage can in the back alley. This can wasn’t lined and after the garbage was collected, someone, usually Mother, hosed the empty can and cleaned it with Lysol. Not a pleasant job, but a necessary one then. Now most homes have two or more garbage cans for collection because refuse must be separated for recycling. Many homes today have garbage disposal units connected to their kitchen sinks. As useful as this appliance is, it is a luxury for Jordan. Here, we put wet garbage in plastic bags and place them in the dumpsters on the streets.

The Ministry of Environment must offer alternatives for garbage disposal. Either import only biodegradable plastic bags and/or offer a safe, sanitary, and convenient method for us to get rid of our garbage. Maybe some company can recycle paper into corrugated sheets that will absorb enough liquid so that we manage to get our garbage outside without dripping it all the way to the dumpster. There are answers out there, and we need to find a few before we ban plastic bags.