I’m trying to get back into the rhythm of blogging. I have several planned posts rattling round in my mind, and I’m hoping to get to them soon before they are hopelessly outdated. In the meantime, how was your 4th, for those of you who are in the US? I have to admit that I wondered if any of my Iraqi friends were having flashbacks. It’s a long time since we spent a 4th of July in an American neighbourhood. 3 years ago we were in the US, but we were invited by friends to celebrate way out in the country.

It seemed that everybody around me had huge fireworks, the kind you used to only see in public places. 10 years ago, I’m really sure it was different. Right? Or is my memory even worse than I realized?

Where did they get them? Why? Aren’t they expensive? Aren’t they scary? Aren’t they gorgeous? Isn’t it nice that I can now stay home and watch great fireworks for free without fighting the crowds? These and other questions ran through my mind as I watched oranges and reds and greens and whites bloom and blossom in the sky around me, while the walls were rocked by explosion after explosion. It was great fun!

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I spent yesterday afternoon being shown all the costume jewelry owned by an Iraqi friend who loves costume jewelry, which she calls “joory.” Leslie and I were careful not to show too much enthusiasm, so that we didn’t end up taking it all home. “How lovely that is on you!” I kept saying. “How nice that you have that!” “Congratulations!” It worked; we managed to leave with nothing more than we came with (except that we each brought cookies home).

We were also shown her boxful of gold chains and pendants. I showed appropriate enthusiasm and wondered again what they think of me. I do not have much gold jewelry, but by now, in their minds, I really should—married a long time, a mother, obviously rich since I’m American. I should have a box full of chains and pendents and be covered wrist to elbow in clinking bangles. They are disappointed with my paltry silver bangles, even though I am very fond of them.

It reminded me of a hilarious scene from Guests of the Sheik, Elizabeth Warnlock Fernea’s account of her 2-year stay (as a newlywed no less) in a rural village in the south of Iraq. She described her white gold wedding ring being passed round by a group of women, who don’t believe it’s really gold and tell her kindly, “Even if it is gold, it’s not very much gold.”

My wedding ring has 3 diamonds, one each for my children. (No it’s not my original ring. I kind of, um, lose wedding rings.) It’s beautiful and I never tire of looking at it. My silver bangles are from Mauritania, and my thick silver bracelet is from Morocco, and was bought for me by Abel when he was on his desert camping trip. I also wear a bead bracelet made by Ilsa. I don’t mind if my Arab friends don’t appreciate them; to me they have meaning.

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Our ESL class starts Monday. I have managed to find other people to do a kids’ program, and to make and serve tea and refreshments. Books have been ordered; Leslie has been prepped and mentored to within an inch of her life! (I don’t even know what that means. It’s just that we spend a lot of time together) My house is a wreck. I have this idea wherein I go off to visit and work, and my 3 teens, on their own initiative, do their own dishes, wipe down the bathroom, sweep floors, and I come home to sparkling countertops and crumb-free floors. So far, this isn’t working exactly as planned. Anyone have any ideas?

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