I’m a bit dismayed by how long it’s been since I posted any news and notes, and any of my stories. Of course, there’s a good explanation for the absence, but not everyone wants to read all of the details (a.k.a., excuses.) So, for the moment, I’ll just say it’s good to be back, and thank you for being here, as well.
Red Oak Writing. While I haven’t recently posted any stories on my website, I’ve continued to write and to attend Round Tables led by Kim Suhr, director of Red Oak Writing. Over the next couple of weeks, beginning today, I’ll post a number of new stories that will be included (in one version or another) in the collection I am preparing for publication (through one channel of another.) Kim, with her customary skill and vision, is playing a major role in editing and organizing the stories. All of my fellow writers who participate in Red Oak Writing have provided much needed criticism and encouragement. Please stay tuned.
Lake Effect. If you go to my Home Page or List of Stories, you’ll see that one of the new posts is a link to LAKE EFFECT, a very popular Milwaukee radio show (WUWM, our local NPR station.) I was given the honor to be a guest on the show last December, and to read a story about surviving December and the celebrations of Christmas and Chanukah. The short version I read was drawn from a longer story with a much different tone. I like the short version better. On the WUWM LAKE EFFECT site, you’ll be able to read, or listen to me read, “Genesis Among the Crabapples.”
Two interesting and important websites…
wethehabibis.com You have to check out this wonderful website of musing, recipes, videos, and more, all created by Taif Jany, a dear friend of our family and, I happily hasten to add, our daughter. The site is relatively new, and Taif will be adding to it on a regular basis. Here is an excerpt from his bio, and another from the Home Page.
I was born and raised in Baghdad. When I was 16 years old my father was kidnapped on his way home from work. I was forced to flee Iraq with my remaining family and seek refuge in Damascus, Syria. We’ve never heard a thing about dad.
After spending about two years in Syria, I came to the United States as a student. I went to school at Union College in Schenectady, NY and moved to Washington, D.C. right after graduation.
Being alone in America, away from my family and my favorite falafel stands, I was forced to teach myself how to cook. This is mostly because I really missed my mom’s homemade food, but also I started craving Iraqi food in general. When it comes to food, Iraq (in my humble opinion) is the hub of food in Western Asia (YES, IRAQ IS IN ASIA! Bet you didn’t know that.) From world-famous sumac kebabs and lamb stews, to dolma and masgoof (grilled fish), Iraq is where it’s at!
That being said, I quickly learned that America is a place of abundance in many ways, and food ingredients is no exception. In the United States, I can access many items that we don’t have in Iraq. One in particular has forever changed my life. Let me tell you all about it.
We the Habibis offers delicious homemade food, promotes cultural exchange, and builds community…Wait, tell me that you know what “habibi” means? No? … Okay, “habibi” … means “my love.” Don’t get too excited. I don’t know you, and I’m taken. More commonly, “habibi” is a term of endearment that we use back home when we greet friends and relatives.
Here’s a free Iraq-Arabic 101 tutorial:
You’re outside in your garden smoking hookah. Your buddy roles through, you go: “Shako mako habibi?” which loosely means something like “What’s up dude?” Get it? Good!
Oh what? you said “habibi” is for men only? Not here it isn’t! I use “Habibi” to describe both ladies and gents. Technically the female alternative is “habibti”, but I’m only allowed to use that for my girlfriend.
I have created We the Habibis not only because I wanted to share my passion for food with you, but also because I want to create an environment that promotes cultural exchange and builds community among readers.
ethansuhr.weebly.com Also, take a good look at the website of Ethan Suhr, a first-year film student at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Ethan has helped me build my own website and maintain it. In truth, I’m not sure the site would be up and running without his help and encouragement. I’ve been impressed by his creativity and technical knowledge, but also his ability to listen carefully to his clients’ needs and aspirations, and address them in his designs. Ethan’s talent is very apparent in his own film, art, and music he has included on his website. And he answers his phone calls, or responds to them promptly!!