Hilda's Column

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-----Original Message-----
From: HATshurbaji@aol.com [mailto:HATshurbaji@aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 08, 2001 9:40 AM

Subject: Shopping at 44

I am about to fall asleep, yet I should not so I thought I will tell you about my trip to the mall.  Call it "shopping at age 44"...First of all I never thought I will be so tired after this trip.  After all it took me, pushing Sally in the stroller when she was three and on our first trip to the mall 45 min. to conquer that place.  And of course she triumphantly declared with her whole heart her intention to GO BACK TO BALTIMORE after that.

Anyway what was remarkable today is that  I did not know what to do with my hands.  I was not hawling any shopping bags, I was not trying to goad one kid in one direction and coax the other to move.  I did not even have to juggle a kid in the stroller and another in tow....NO diaper bags to worry about  and no teethers or stuffed animals to lose.  Here I was walking and my hands were free: To do what? I kept thinking....I managed to keep my hands held together or on my side or clutching on my purse.  It was not an easy exercise.  I thought Sally and Sami should have been there....

There were lots of sales- and lots of variety -At Victoria's Secret : 3 different styles of thongs! can you imagine?  how can they make out of this tiny thing three different styles you may ask, I tell you: they varied their width.  And lest people did not know which was the front and which was the back, they turned the manikins back to the viewers.

Well the  American Eagle  Co. won the prize in tops.  I could have never imagined making 10 dollar tops with this many variety,  all with one thing in common: each style covers exactly two thirds of your top....  When I finally saw a regular V-neck t-shirt I was stunned- such a rarity!

Next I went to the eyeglasses place.  I wanted something new and affordable.
 Of course "New" does not go with "affordable" so I decided to put off shopping for those for another time.

Every color seemed in style and all different styles are in.  Choices, choices, choices....even when it came to choosing night ware. All the places seemed to have racks of tops and racks of bottoms to mix and match.  Long time ago,  you had no choice, the night ware was packaged and you picked up one pajama or a night gown.  And poor men, their pajamas came in one style....

Well, I guess I am getting older, as I fail to fully appreciate the styles of the "young and the restless" among us.  But there is one thing I sure do appreciate and that is  the power of marketing.  So the sooner I get a crash course in that the more wise I would be financially...


Author Topic:   A seminar
posted 06-17-2001 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hilda      Reply w/Quote
In a charming yet old Library building on the VA campus, there was a seminar held and it was open to the public. The announcement was posted on the local university's web -site and it asked participant to register to attend.

The seminar was called Mindful living -learning from the sages. The seminar was put on and coordinated by an internist from India in collaboration with a pediatrician from the area.

I did not know what to expect when I signed up for it...

The Library building is an old brick building with heavy thick wooden doors with massive doorknockers. It is at least a 100 years old but its interior has been recently renovated. It is now used as a meeting room where chairs are placed in what used to be the reading room and it is equiped with a screen and a good sound system. Surrounding the reading room are balconies with bookshelves all around. In earlier times those shelves held the books, now they are bare but what shows is the very dark rich brown wood that was made into these shelves.

The speakers were numerous. I had onlly expected two. The topic was very ancient. The culture that brought that topic is alien to me too. Yet in a very 21st century way, using a power point presentation and integrating pictures that depict the life of the Buddha, te internist brought to life the history of the Buddha and his journey to enlightenment. He went on to describe briefly the buddist philosophy. The subsequent speakers elaborated further on it, as they described the thought and work of later buddhist monks and related it all to modern day life.

I do not think I will be a practicing Buddhist, but for a 4 hour period, in that enchanting library building in the US, I got a good glimpse about the ancient Eastern philosophy that moves so many millions of people world wide.

Needless to say, it was very interesting.

PS;For a quick reference refer to Huston Smith's book The World's Religions.


What this web means to me...

Excerpt from an email recieved Jan 25, 2001:

I quite simply put it like this:  what does this web site mean to me and how much can I afford...I discovered that thru this web site I got connected again to my roots and to people who share similar traits, values etc.... so
do not underestimate the power of this site ...  

Ideas for sharing...

Posted by Hilda on January 13, 2001 at 17:56:20:

I am at home, trying to do some work, but every now and then I peak at this web-site... and I now re-discovered the Lebanese music section. It has gotten so much better than when it was first started... I guess a lot of thank yous go to Rabih.

I wish visitors to this web-site can share their favorite recipes, music titles, the latest fads in Lebanon or any where else in the world, pictures and post cards from the corners of the earth were we all are... that will be so enriching to all of us...

It is just a thought, I hope it will not turn out to be a nightmare to our Web-master... 

A dollar and some change!

Posted by Hilda on January 12, 2001 at 20:25:08:

My son Sami had a basketball game tonight. The league teams play their games in some location, usually not at all close. Tonight was no exception. Upon leaving the parking lot of this new school in a new but fairly empty subdivision, my gas light and alarm startled me. I needed gas. It was 8:30 pm and I was a good 8 minutes away from the next gas station on a dark unlit winding East Tennessean country road. Not bad I 'll fill this car up at that station, I thought. When I thought it can be worse, it was actually very bad: I had forgotten my purse at home and had neither money, nor checks nor any credit cards. I did not trust that the amount of gas that was left could actually get me home. Also, my cellular phone that would have come in handy to call for help was back at home, in my purse, of course!

I panicked, for a few seconds -that seemed like eternity - until I remembered that I had some change in the car. Change that I have put in a little holder as I 'd be busy going through the drive through window of fast food chains.

I opened my holder and to my delight I discovered 2 whole dollars and some change... I was close to the gas station by now and closer to a shopping area...should I use all the money to fill the car with gas or should I use some, saving the rest for a yet unforeseen emergency. I acted wisely: I filled the car with $1.25 worth of gas, enough to ensure my getting home to get my purse. I still left some change in the car. I got home grabbed my purse and went and filled the car with gas...Back at home I thought that having had those two dollars and some change was the best thing that I could have wished for today...

'tis the day after Christmas...

Posted by Hilda on December 26, 2000 at 16:15:32:

I love Christmas...The season never ceases to surprise me. I took this day off to relax after the rush to do all I need to do for the BIG day and I finally realize that it was all worth it. I was a kid again playing all kinds of games under the pretext of teaching Sami how to play them...I helped in construction of toys-something that girls were not supposed to do when I was little...I watched as Sally and Sami listened to my tall tales and I absorbed their interest and curiosity about the whole thing with presents. It was fun. I really had a good time, I did not want to even spoil the fun by posing for pictures-that i will miss one day... Never mind how the house looked, I stopped noticing for a day or two TIME can stop or even waite...I was not going to hurry to clean up, cook or worry...I finally learnt to seize the moment: a tremendous achievement if you knew me...

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Hilda on December 21, 2000 at 17:21:32:

Just a little message to wish everybody a very safe and merry Christmas. Hoping the New year will bring your best dreams to life....

I must say that it has been such a joy to be a participant on this web page, and I have to render my best regards to the web-master who has creatively kept up with all of us....

Also my best wishes go out to all of the shweir.com family and their families...and may you all have a Happy New Year.

An obligation...

Posted by Hilda on December 16, 2000 at 18:37:20:

I always enjoy talking to my aunt Amal. I like to listen more than talk. Today, she was more in the mood of talking to me, and I listened. Bottom line: it is so sad what is happening in Lebanon.

It has become incredibly expensive to live and earn a living there. People who in their previous lives could afford to send their children to private schools can no longer do that. Private schools are a luxury nowadays. Public schools are the place were children are schooled these days. This should not be a problem if the public schools were as effective as the private ones in their endeavor. However, the question is: are those schools good enough? Is there enough support to make these schools and their graduates competitive? What can be done?

Being a believer in the importance of education to further one's goals and improve one's lot, I feel that it is so important to assist the local( public) school in furthering its mission. Many of us are here and can afford to earn a living, here or somewhere else in the world (except in Lebanon!) because of our education. As such I feel that as a group we got involved in a worthwhile project namely assisting the Shweir High School bring computers to its students.

The offer to help has a monetary dimension as well as a moral one. And both are equally important. The material dimension allows students access to new technology helping promote their intellect. The moral one is that as a community we care about the generation to come. In supporting the school, we will cultivate the natural intellectual resource that we were born with and ought not to let go of or waste, period.

I would hope that we as a community "bil mahjar" can forge a partnership with the school, using the web to communicate with the school principle , mentor some students, and maybe support excellence and achievement amongst the students somehow ( through a special award or recognition program). Those awards may not be monetary, but the mere fact that a bright aspiring student or an inventive one or an artful one gets recognized by the community as such will bring tremendous boost to them.

I am sure this will strike a cord with every Shweiry here. If we remain focused and committed to effectively help, we can do it.

I only wish that we can hear from the people in Shweir!

Re: An obligation...

Posted by George Matar on December 17, 2000 at 07:50:59: 
In Reply to: An obligation... posted by Hilda on December 16, 2000 at 18:37:20:

Hilda, I am speechless except for three little words "VERY WELL PUT".

Posted by Fr Dcn George on December 18, 2000 at 05:41:15:
In Reply to: An obligation... posted by Hilda on December 16, 2000 at 18:37:20:

I agree with my God Brother George Matar, and add that I am willing to be involved with Computer related studies, general support and spiritual matters.  Also, if we can start a Rotary club in Shweir, we could sponsor bright kids into an exchange program with other clubs in the world thus bringing a new dimension. 
Hilda keep the good work for us you are a good conscience...

The Servant of Christ
Deacon George


Posted by Hilda on December 14, 2000 at 11:23:22:

Najib Matar, George's brother, has written a beautiful novel that he decided to share with me. It is his memoir while growing up with his grandma. He wanted me to share it with the rest of the web readers too. Now having no scanner, I am typing it, and then I will either put it in parts on the bbs or e-mail it to our Web-master and he can post it somehow.

I feel like I want to tell you all of Najib's intent but warn you of my slow process. All I can say is that I will get it done somehow...and hope that as you anticipate it you will enjoy it when you get to read it too.

Re: "Milia"

Posted by George Matar on December 14, 2000 at 14:59:41:

In Reply to: "Milia" posted by Hilda on December 14, 2000 at 11:23:22:

Milia is the name of my Grandmother on my Mother's side. The book is based on her true life story. Some back ground on her.
She is the daughter of Farris Gibrael Moujaes, Sister to Khalil Farris Moujaes(featured in the Saif wo Terse book). She was Married to Ayoub Yacoub Moujaes. and Had three Children, Salimi Beder (1908-1995), Victoria Matar (1913- )and Souliman Moujaes (1915-1955). She lost her husband to the Turks when they took him "Safar Barlik" before WWI. She struggled to raise her family on her own.  
George Matar

Voluntary projects need organization too....

Posted by Hilda on December 13, 2000 at 15:30:13:

So much has happened in the last couple of weeks. New computers were purchased and delivered to the school, a non-profit organization is in the works, donations to support the computers purchased has been posted and I unknowingly that we need to start off with $0 balance went ahead and sent my meager contribution.

The way I see it, absence some kind of survey as to what will make people want to donate to charitable causes in Shweir and what kind of sustained support will that effort entail, I feel a drive to furnish funds for a small defined project would have been sufficient.

I may not have much insight into the goings on, but in principle, I wish our voluntary efforts are as organized as our fervent wish to do good to Shweir. I also hope we are creating something that will be sustainable on the long run...particularly that few volunteers are to shoulder the burden of that and be responsible for its survival.

A Chance Encounter!

Posted by Hilda on December 09, 2000 at 18:13:05:

In Reply to: Where are the articles from Hilda? posted by Fr Dcn George, Ihsan Bou Sader on December 05, 2000 at 03:43:35:

To answer the question from dcn BouSader, I was busy and on a business trip to Nashville, TN 300 miles away to attend a work related workshop.

The first morning there, I was in totally unfamiliar surroundings. My breakfast was paid for and all I had to do was to line up get the food from the buffet and find a suitable seat. The place was full. Luckily ,I found a table that seats four and I grabbed it. However, I felt guilty for having a table all for myself. No sooner had I started eating, then a young man asked to join me. I welcomed it: that relieves my guilt and I will have someone to talk to while I eat. He set his juice glasses-for him and a partner- and lined up to get his food. In his seat again, he noticed my name tag and my name. So he asks:" Are you Arabic?" I answered that I am an ARAB and Lebanese"...He proceeds to tell me that he is also of Lebanese decent, as his grandfather immigrated to the US at the turn of the century at the age of five... Neither he nor his dad has ever visited but he comes from a village "near Zahle'" and he carries its name. so I asked him about his name and it is a "Shweirie" but the way they write it is different. I was shocked by the coincedence. He was in Nashville on a business trip, his US hometown being Portland Oregon! He was equally surprised. He could not believe that shweir still exists and actually he was sitting face to face with somebody who actually knew the place, let alone be from shweir.I reassured him that Shweir still exists and gave him this web-site's address to look up history and pictures. His partner joins in and I get introduced as someone from his Lebanese hometown. In total disbelief the partner asks how we met; Chance, we explained...

Now all the shweir.com family needs to do is waite to hear from the Schwary family signing the guest book....


Re: A Chance Encounter!

Posted by Fr Dcn George on December 11, 2000 at 04:35:45:
In Reply to: A Chance Encounter! posted by Hilda on December 09, 2000 at 18:13:05:

Hilda, What a great story and what a way to write about it. In a way I envey you for the opportunity, here in NZ we are lucky if we can meet some one from Lebanon... Still can't complain.  I will be looking for your articles and trust all goes well with you...
Servant of God
Dcn George

Posted by Anwar on December 11, 2000 at 02:06:38:
In Reply to: A Chance Encounter! posted by Hilda on December 09, 2000 at 18:13:05:

Hilda, First of all, just like Ihsan, I wish to let you know that we miss your articles... you have established a following who value and appreciate your writing. Thanks for the explanation and we wish you the best in your work.
What a great coincidence... It sure is a small world. Imagine how many of these shweiries who never seen Shweir are out there around the world.
This reminds me of a meeting I recently attended in support of a dynamic lady, Patricia Nabti, who has established an organization in Lebanon to unite all the volunteer organizations to be represented on an international level and to facilitate education and communication among the different volunteer groups. It was a small meeting, just a handful of people, to brain-storm some ideas about her organization. among were an Arabic radio and TV personality, a doctor and a tech exec. It turned out that one of them, tech exec. Souheil Saliba was from Btighreen and the doctor, Kelly Skeff, his mother is from Shweir and his father is from Zahle. Here, all the way in Northern California, Two out of five with connections to Shweir... that is impressive.
When I have a chance, I intend to write more about what Mrs. Nabti fine and dynamic organization is about. I know that the volunteer organizations in Shweir will benefit greatly from joining and participating in this worthy project.

"with a click click here and a click click there..."

Posted by Hilda on November 24, 2000 at 18:30:24:

I hurt my back...
Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and I celebrated it in my own way...writing all the things I am thankful for and praying that all the people I care for will be as happy, healthy and well wherever they may be: you all included.

Feeling good about myself, I went to Wal-Mart and got some lighted decoration: a waving Santa. I thought that would look cute peeking out of my window. I then headed down to the basement, located up my 7 and 1/2ft artificial tree and as I reached to lift it heard a click in my back. Never mind that tiny click, I carried the tree up the stairs. With another click( in my back) I turn around my dining table that seats 6 and of solid oak. Not having heard enough clicks in my back I continue to assemble the tree, twisting and clicking under it as I string the lights...

The house looks beautiful from the outside. There is a lighted christmas tree peeking out of my bay window, a blinking merry Christmas sign on another, a lighted lantern on the third and of course the waving Santa high up.

My back,however,is sooooo sore. I am in pain and I can hardly get out of bed. Now I reflect: what was I thinking of, pursuing all that work while those clicks were warning me of my back being hurt. I tell you if your back ever clicks, be warned. It is serious...

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season...

Posted by Fr Dcn George Ihsan Bou Sader on November 25, 2000 at 05:04:14:

In Reply to: "with a click click here and a click click there..." posted by Hilda on November 24, 2000 at 18:30:24:

Hilda,  From the South West Pacific, I lift you in prayers for a quick recovery.

However, having enjoyed backpain for 17 years I know what you are talking about... after a car accident I usffered and still suffer from back lockups... Solutions:
1 - Stretch befor you leave your bed in the morning. Warm up and stretch when you are to undertake a manual job with physical movements.
2 - If you forget and get those clicks and pain remember the old Olive Oil trick and saves me every time. Just warm some and let someone rubit in, in three nights you will be as good as new.

Our best wishes for you and every one reading the post for a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.

The super mom ...

Posted by Hilda on November 18, 2000 at 08:12:16:

When we arrived here in the mid-eighties, the image of a "super mom" was in full bloom. The ideal of a woman with a career and a family and being good at all was all over the media. I was fascinated by the glamoure of it . I was intrigued by the idea that for once women can have it all and it is attainable.

At that time I worked in Baltimore and was in contact with other moms who were trying hard to manage family and work, but they seemed a little stressed out about it. I thought they are probably not able to manage all the demands because they were not such good organizers. The image in the media was so strong,that I did not heed the realities that I encountered working with real women and mothers. When it came to me, I surely thought: I can do it!

How simplistic that notion was....

I became an expectant mother, and all my coworkers were thrilled about that, they followed up my pregnancy just like I did. They would ask how the "two of us" were doing, they would comment on when I started showing, they wanted to see the picture of the ultrasound, they followed the ups and downs of it all filling me in on the wisdom they have...

Finally I was given a very nice baby shower....and Sally arrived...

All that led me to believe that: yes, it is doable and I can have it all.

Salah was a supportive parent, he enjoyed his new role as a father. He took pride in being able to participate on equal footing with me in the care of Sally. Of course he did not have much time, but then there was this cliche' of "quality time" and Salah did spend quality time with Sally and I worked part -time while he was with her. As a physician, he was supportive of me in more than one way, for in addition to his being a proud dad he would help me figure out my anxieties as well. God knows how many times I would start worrying about my child - who was healthy- having one syndrome or the other or one ailment after the other...He would reassure me that Sally and then Sami will be fine and if there seemed to be a problem, he will outline for me a plan of action that will put a halt to my concerns and they'd fizz away...

I got confident in my ability to parent...I felt I could be the mom and have the career.

I elected to be a full time mom. I did not trust my children to day care....

On trying to get to work after 10 years of being a mom, I was faced with the problem of having no recent working experience. I went back to school.

Now armed with a wealth of knowledge, I felt ready to go to work full force. Still the thought of having Sally and Sami come to an empty home after school or stay in after school care makes me cringe. The drive that propels me to make a greater commitment to work crashes on the foothills of my being a mom first. I increasingly find that I cannot put my career ahead of my children, yet. Maybe sometime in the future; for now Sally and Sami come first.

Now I wonder, will I ever be able to put my work ahead?Or is being a supermom a carefully crafted myth????

On being a neurotic of a mom...

Posted by Hilda on November 15, 2000 at 20:32:28:

I always knew that I am a neurotic mother. I still get surprised to know how much of a neurotic mother I am. I always exceed my own expectations and drive myself crazy worrying about one kid thing or the other. Now I can't claim that my mom did not tell me that, for she did, but she never explained to me the mechanics of it.

Today I had the wonderful chance to observe myself. I wake up to Sami beng restless at night, I immediately run through my head a list of possible causes for his restlessness. A simple cold, a strep throat, an ear infection etc...

I gave him something for his congestion and he fell asleep. On the way to school, I notice him pulling on his ear:Ah ha! He definetly is developing an ear infection. I ask if his ear hurts and he says "no". I ask if it tickles and he says "yes". No fever, kind of taking his time to wake up, we get to school... I give him explicit instructions to let the teacher call me if his ear hurts...and I head to work..

A normal person would not have thought twice about that (I'd suppose) but here I was at work wondering if I will get the call, I get home and check my answering machine for messages. None at all. I should be happy but I feel anxious nontheless...

After school Sami complains of a headache, I give him tylenol off he goes with Dad. Dad is in charge and I know he will take care of Sami...

Hours later, I am still left with a feeling that Sami is brewing something between a cold and an ear infection...

Now if this is not neurosis what is? 

Re: A follow-up

Posted by Hilda on November 17, 2000 at 16:30:15:

In Reply to: On being a neurotic of a mom... posted by Hilda on November 15, 2000 at 20:32:28:

Two days later:I was right, my neurosis was at work; I was worrying myself away while Sami was just fine...

The carefully guarded secret...

Posted by Hilda on November 09, 2000 at 21:36:33:

A senior co-worker became a grandmother a couple of weeks ago. Shortly after she returned to work, I met her and said that I had something for her- I meant a work related something- she however thanked me profusely in a manner that I felt I need to give her something for the baby's arrival. She'd be disappointed if I don't. That evening I got her an album for her to show off her grandchild. The next morning I pass by, drop it in for her, and we chat about the joys of having a grandchild. Through her eyes I could read my mom's. She was ecstatic about her grand-daughter. Just like my mom was...My mom never hid it and placed the bith of my Sally as an occasion more joyous than my own birth...(now that I thought was weird). I learnt, however, that that was a grandmother thing.

Days later, we met in the office, she starts relating to me all the habits that her only daughter had. She loves gold jewelry, horses and enjoys lamb. She said this girl was conceived in Saudi Arabia and it shows! Now, she continued to say, "she has no time for all that". She is much enamored by her baby she doesn't care about anything else. I said that will surely change, and her face beamed with a smile: "Yes it will and she will know how hard it is to be a mother especially of a teen." "Of course She does not know that now and I will not tell her yet. Let her find on her own..."
I thought this may as well have been my Mom talking....

Then it hit me, is this the Mothers' conspiracy, their way to avenge for all they had to put up with while we were kids? And if it is so bad why do people keep perpetuating the same course of events across cultures and borders. I guess I am not there yet. Some day I will find that out on my own...for I assure you my Mom did not tell me...

Walking partners...+

Posted by Hilda on November 05, 2000 at 13:01:22:

I have a special friend in the neighbouhood. She and I have been walking partners for close to six months now. We walk for close to 45-55min each time. As we walk we talk about the children, the shopping, cooking as well as her catering business. Today it was different. She just went out right and told me a joke but with a good dose of seriousness to it, the conclusion of which is: Sex is good for your eye sight!

Well, I went on to explain to her my Serious reservations against casual relationships and the the risk involved. So she thought I was a puritan.... I told her that I am not a puritan, and I do not think ill of people dating, but it is not for me...She insisted that I can derive a lot of support from such relationships. Her friend is currently dating an electrician and she hopes that she can get him to rewire her house for her at a discounted price...

Still being a stubborn person, I insisted that I may just as well hire a handy man for the house chores rather than invest in a relationship to accomplish my tasks around the house...but it is fun she contended, she had been around with her friend when she found that guy and everybody had a great time....Not for me I insisted...

Now I wonder was my reaction a result of a cultural shock or is it the result of having convictions that are not necessarily related to culture....whatever it was we had a good laugh about the whole thing and I explained to her that I am not in search of an electrician or a handyman yet...and hope to never be...

The following are few translations about old Shweir in the Shweir 1922 Guide.  To see more of the Guide book click here>

A Traveler's Guide....

Posted by Hilda on November 04, 2000 at 21:49:11:

Today I had the pleasure of leafing through and reading some sections of the tourist guide of Shweir that was published in 1922. The copy of the guide came to me from Anwar in California who received a copy of it from Rosalie who has had it with her in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It was very interesting. It amazes me that our forefathers had the insight into the land, the climate and the beauty of both as they marketed it as such to the Egyptians, Syrians and Iraqis as early as 1922. In their marketting they talked about the healthy attributes of the moderate dry weather in the summer encouraging all who have means to come to benefit from the healthful effects of summers in Lebanon. They emphasized the fact that there is no language barrier for people from the surrounding countries to adjust to should they choose to come to Shweir for their summers as opposed to going to Europe.

It was noted that Dhour el Shweir had obtained telegraph services to help keep the guests connected to their homes and work and they boasted daily mail service to shweir!

They spoke of the woods and the way the pines as well as other trees help produce the oxygen that we need for a healthfull living. They spoke of the availability of water from the springs. They restricted the hunting of small birds for they recognized both their beauty as well as their importance in keeping the environment free of pests and other small insects. They were against carrying of arms unless one has a permit. They were attuned to the needs of their guests so they made every effort to make their guests feel welcome, at home and safe. And should any one fall ill, Shweir had four medical doctors...

They knew that people who came once will try to come again and will bring their friends too...

The guide is very informative. It tells of distances between towns and how to gain access to each town/ resort. There were some paved roads, but there were roads that were only trodden on the back of "beasts"...By the way those days it took two hours by car from Beirut to Dhour ...

The guide had ads for a popular car then as well as restaurants, furniture stores etc.

It has some history about the Shweir, its people and the surrounding areas too and that is so interesting as well. I thought I would translate parts of it for everybody to read but it is not that easy.

It fascinates how much I learnt about Shweir, the people and myself after this site came to being.
I can only suggest publishing some selected pages of it on the web. It will definitely enrich and give meaning to the lives of the many of the shweirieh who visit this site...whether at home or scattered all around the world...

...Incidentaly, when the book was published, they had a count of the shweirieh who lived in the town and they tried to keep track of those who emigrated to the Americas, and the rest of the world...Its is just fascinating...

Thank you Rosalie and Anwar...

"trees that communicate..."

Posted by Hilda on November 05, 2000 at 20:27:09:

Following is a translation( to the best I can) of an essay by Amin Reehani as it appeared in the guide to Shweir in 1922:

"The woods of California in the USA boast trees that are more ancient and grand than the ceders of Lebanon. The (redwood) trees are big enough to allow a tunnel to run through the tree trunk large enough for carriages to go through; now that is a sign of the trees' greatness. As to the age of the redwoods, there is evidence of fossilized trunks that speak of the age of these trees. The California trees are surely one of the wonders of the world. However the redwoods are gigantic structures that are at once blind and mute...

They are ancient, yet they tell of neither story nor history. The redwoods provided shade to the wild of beings, that have neither the thought nor the feeling...The redwoods are celebrated however by the scientist that studied them and the tourists that visit them...

The Ceders on the other hand like the other pious trees of the hindus and Muslims(AL-cider)have an aura of greatness that by far exceeds their visible beauty and grandeur. The voice of the ceders echoes through life till eternity. Ceders speak of clandistine history and of the human spirits' secrets.

So wherein lies the religiosity of the ceders that bestows onto the trees their grandeur and beauty?

Is it in vain that man blends something of himself and of his dreams with the soil, sun, water and air?

And if that is the case, then what is that dream that whispers to me the voice of King of Jerusalem through the ruffling of the ceders' branches? What is the secret union between the spirit of the trees and the religious devotees? I intend no vagueness in my speech ...I imagin that with every seed that a human hand has planted and that grew into a tree there was a core of faith and a drop of love that was entrenched with the seed. Love and faith grew together with the branches, flowers and fruits to rise as incense. Absence the love and faith results in rotting and death .

Love is eternal, and so are the ceders. Profitts and poets praised them hence they loved them. And as the proffits remain immortal, the ceders that they praised remain so too...The ceders of Lebanon speak immortally of the secrets of nature and life. As such in the ceders there is the devine,the human spirit as well as nature."

Shweir of 1922

Posted by Hilda on November 05, 2000 at 09:11:32:

Much as I try not to think of the Shweir-Rosalie-Anwar "time capsule", I find myself gravitating back to it.

Hence to relief my obsession with this find, I will try to translate -to the best of my ability -sections of the book to share...

It is worth noting that the Shweirie people did the work on the guide, but they did not restrict their discussion to Shweir only. They included in it information to help guide the tourist through out the Matin region. They believed that people who were to visit were interested in what the whole area has to offer, so in it there is discussion of the other known summer resorts in Matin, how to get there and what to expect. So it makes me proud to know that the Shweirieh were the leaders in that effort...

In the following is thetranslation of description of Shweir and surrounding areas as depicted by the author:

"the Shweir district is an elevated area in the Matin with an average altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. It lies 26 km away from Beirut and is 29km far from Zahle'. On its east and north, shweir borders ( the district of)Baskinta, from the west it borders the (district of) al-kate'ha and to the south it borders the (al matin alshimali) north matin.
Shweir district -Nahiah-consists of Shweir, Dhour, Khinsharah, Btigreen and Al-jwar. Its area is 810 Drahim as per the survey of 1860. In the last census count, its population was 2650 residents and 960 emigres. However the count of the emigres is not accurate having failed to account for the people whose whereabouts were not known and also due the lack of information about the descendants of some.

"Industry" (as in craft or profession):

The shweiries and some of their neighbours, travel to various states in Syria building houses. Some of the people from al-jwar and Khinshara work on the plumbing. They are all descendants of the Samaha family that became known for their talent in this field.

Industrial plants ( maamel):

to date there are three Tobacco plants: two in Shweir and are owned by Simaan Sawaya and sons and the third in Khinshara owned by Hanna Kasouf and brothers.

There are six factories to produce silk, one in shweir,three in Khinshara, one in btegreen and one in al-jwar.

Agriculture/ woods:

there are no grains grown in the area. However the trees are:

Pine: found in abundance and of good quality but the pines are neglected. But to educate the populace about the pines a group of experts were brought in, they took care of the needs of large woodedareas and showed the locals how to best take care of the pines and harvest them. The harvest of pine nuts will be plentifull.

Black berry trees (tout):

Little, and neglected. The silk yeild prior to the war (( I assume WWI)was 7000 ika (?1 ika=200grm)but the volume of silk has dropped to 500 (Ika)after the war.


Enough to produce grapes for the populace, with a little extra to make molasses and wine.

Ain al-Sindianeh: Its is area is small/narrow and its agriculture is similar to that of shweir.

Btegreen: by far the largest of the surrounding towns, and its produce is plntifull. Grains are grown but not in sufficient amounts for popular consumption. Prior to the war silk produced totaled 9500 (ika), but now it produces 2000 (ika). Grape harvest totals 200 (kintars) and is made into wine and molasses sold in the vicinity and the land. Its wood is harvested made into charcoal and sold in the surrounding areas.

Al Khinshara; no grains are grown and produce is little. silk produced prior to war was 5000(ika) that too dropped to 1500(ika. Its vineyards produce 600 kintars of grapes most of which is made into wine and molasses and sold in the country.

Al-Jwar: Endowed with good soil for growing wheat, lentils chickpeas and " KRISNEH". Its area is 36 (dirham). the silk produced is 600(ika) and grapes harvested are 200 kintars.

The towns are rich in trees(Sindian, Ballout and Bitim etc.)

The water: the area is not noted for its strong flowing springs but it boasts smaller springs that is sufficient for the local use by people for their personal needs and for agriculture purposes.

Metals: iron ors are found in Bitigreen, however the lack of "feul" hindered the extraction of its iron.


In Shweir there are two schools, run by American missionaries one is an elementary school while the other is a seconday school.

The convent schools run by the nuns of the sacred heart are also two; one for boys and another for the girls.

Betgreen has two schools one run by the Catholics and another run by the Greek orthodox ( Mitranieh)

A school for the clergy is run in the monastry of Mar Yohanna. This school accepts students from the populace.

Trade:Shweir boasts a souk brimming with different kinds of cloth and housewares. The souk attracts people from surrounding towns. If people were to use new trade techniques, the trade as a business will flourish in Shweir.

However the most important "capital" of all is the God given beauty of the land that was given to us free(by God). This capital will provide the jobs for the doctors, pharmacists, farmers, property owners and labourers of the area.

this trade can be profittable if we expound on the our abilities to attract the capital and the people from the surrunding countries...."

I will end this now ... to be continued later..

Pines: Trees and cones!

Posted by Hilda on October 28, 2000 at 20:22:21:

I have some pine trees in my back yard,they were planted to make a nice barrier between our property and the neighbours. I think they are called yellow pines.

They do remind me of home, although the pine trees of Dhour were different. The dhour ones were more like overgrown mushrooms. I liked those trees. I never knew enough about them or what made their shape the way it was.

I remember inviting my aunt Rowayda to visit us at home in Dhour and she would resent it..." I do not want to sit and look out to see the pine tree tops"... To me that was the highlight of being at home...

Anyway living close by to pine trees kept its "mark" on me. It was around this time of the year when walking in the woods I'd notice the new little pine trees growing...some seeds from the past spring have germinated and made it into being a little plant and thriving... that fascinated me, for despite all the adversity , that seed managed to grow into a potential tree.
In December, when I was very little, and it was still acceptable, my family would go out and choose a pine tree for a christmas tree. That was special, for not only we could have presents under the christmas tree, but we could all sit under one comfortably...pine smell, oils, decorations and all.

I know my mom must have a picture somewhere.

Pine nuts will be a part of our "mouneh" for winter and will enter every dish and stuffing.

Pine cones were the fire starters in stoves and I still can see the red hot cones burning in the wood stove making that "swishing " sound and emitting the pine scent throughout the house...

Pine cones entered into our christmas decorations and floral arrangements...

As for the pine wood it kept us warm when wood stoves were popular...and I never associated the wood burning stove with pollution...on the contrary , when we got the whooping cough, a local remedy was to take us to the woods and build a slow burning fire and have us breath and inhale the smoke from it... I don't know if we felt better afterwards...(I still can not find the rationale behind that treatment)

Come snow and we'd enjoy the snow capped pine trees, come spring and we will want to pick the green pine cones, peel them and eat the sour seeds dipped in salt for a special treat and a lot of stories to go with the occasion....

Summer will bring with it the opportunity to climb them trees, everybody will attempt it, even our cat one day got stuck atop of one...

Pines are a solid part of dhour, as I look through the pictures from shweir, I miss them much... 

Intuition or experience: to follow it or not!

Posted by Hilda on October 27, 2000 at 08:24:54:

Today I got my new washer in and installed.

When I smelled the smoke it emitted I thought to myself that the motor was damaged and burnt down. The fire department people had a different assessment of the whole situation. They thought that a "belt" was damaged and that was the cause of the smell. They recommended that a technician look at it and fix it.

The technician "looked" at it for five minutes and for $54 tax included and determined that the motor has burnt down.

Now I think, if I just trusted myself, my own sense of smell and intuition, I would have been $54 richer and gotten a new washer anyway. As I think of what made me go with the fireman's assessment, I realize that I trusted his expertise in detecting and analyzing smoke smells eminating from burning things in the line of duty. I forgot that in the line of my duty, I have burnt enough appliance motors to recognize the smell of one. Too bad, I did not think much of my experience...

Anyway, now five hundred and some dollars later, I am glad the fire was contained in the motor...

By the way, the technician explained to me that the washer would not have burnt to the extent that fire would have spread because the motor is enclosed between two compartments of metal... I don't know if armed with that bit of knowledge I could have saved the fire dept. the hassel of responding to my call...

I guess now I know and you'll know too...

 "Right Home and Fate!"

Posted by Hilda on October 22, 2000 at 18:58:41:

Okay I did it! I damaged my washing machine and had to call the fire department. That thing did not stop smoking. It set the fire alarm on for what seemed like eternity...

At the end of the incident,Sami called me and said: look out the window mom! See what you have done? I did not dare look out, so he told me: there were two fire engines, two police cars and an ambulance in the neighbourhood. He excitedly added that there was no place for all the vehicles to park so they had to use the cul-de-sac at the end of the street. At that news I stayed 10 feet away from the window! The fire department was so unobtrusive, so, out of the tens of firemen, security officers and paramedics only three were sent in, one was a fully attired fireman with gas mask etc...

They all reassured me that my washing machine was not on fire-though I believe now it was close had I not unplugged it.

Now I have to live in this world for a couple of days without a washer...

I did not think much of that the first day after my washer broke down. I did not think much 2 days after the event,however, today after a quick cleaning spree that set off a load of laundry, I started thinking of the consequences of not having a functional washer on hand. Suddenly I was aware of every piece of cloth I set aside to launder wondering how to live till tommorow to know when the technician will be able to come to fix it.

I had called the service people. They reminded me that my washer and dryer were purchased in 1990 and they were offering a tune up on the dryer for $29.99 for me as a service when the technician shows up. Recovering from the aftermath of a fire hazard, what was I to do? Sure, I agreed to take that offer that seemed so right at that moment...Do I need to have the fire department come again for the dryer this time? I thought not...

The service call will be $49.99 with additional expense for labor and parts. I thought that was steep... however NOW I am impatiently waiting to have all this money spent so that I can rest assured that the next round of laundry will find the "right home and fate" in an anxiety free, fire free environment.

Do you know your caloric needs per day?

Posted by Hilda on October 22, 2000 at 14:56:30:

"How do I change my mind that is set to think that I need 2200 cal a day to the meager requirement of 1800 cal. per day?" is the question that I have been grappling with for the last 2-3 weeks.

First of all was the question of where did I get the notion that I needed 2200 calories a day from? and then what can I do to stop my self from continuing on such a diet, and actually eating 400 calories less.

It all started when I "discovered" that I have actually added 10 pounds. At that time I was still in good shape having been a regular at the local gym for 2 yrs. Then, came my mostly desk job, which requires more sitting than an RN job, or a plain mommy job, where moving around is the name of the game. Due to time constraints, I stopped going to the gym. Add the two together and the additional weight is easily explained. I am exercising less and sitting more and eating the same, therefore I add weight.

To alter that formula in my favour, I decided to exercise more; the choice was not to cut food! I started a 50 min. walking routine with a friend 3-5 times a week. My weight stabilized. Come the first cold front of the season, and I reach to my old favourite compfy warm pants and feel in trouble again: Hardly wearable! so I rush to create a new wardrobe of one -size bigger clothes that are comfy and warm. The situation gets favorably remedied, but...

Attending a seminar called "nutrition update", I realized the root of my problem: I only need 1800 calories per day...That was a shock: what happened to my need of 2200 cal per day! ( It turns out that that was when I was 19) I have been consistently eating above my required needs for the last 8 months and of course I will add weight. Now I can balance the equation again: exercise + eat less =arrive and maintain suitable weight.

Though the equation is balanced on paper, I am far from getting it equal in the real world.

Now I find my problem is really in CHOOSING to stop eating some way, preferrably mid way, in my meal. That is the issue. I discovered through reading and experience that this is THE most difficult thing in reducing and maintaining weight...so help me God!

Wait, It Gets Worse

Posted by George Matar on October 23, 2000 at 09:52:59:

In Reply to: Do you know your caloric needs per day? posted by Hilda on October 22, 2000 at 14:56:30:

Ya Hilda

I am sorry to hear you got a desk Job, And Trust me 1800 cal is way too much for a desk job....Ask me!
I was able to maintain 160 lb (waist 29)until I started working behind a desk. 25 plus years, I am finding out that I gain weight on a cup of noodles a day and the older I get the worst it gets, my calculations tell me by the time I reach my retirement age I should be able to survive on a glass of Lemonada, A DAY!!!! So What is the problem?
Does buying larger size cloths a good Idea?
From the time I graduated college until about the early 90's I refused to wear a pants that is larger than 32W x 32L. Then I started rationalizing that the reason my eyes look and feel like Idah Potatoes is because the flow of blood is in only one direction, UP. That possibly explaines why my headaches approached the concussion of an Iraqi Scud missile. The blood circulation to the legs was minimal, that probably explains why my legs are still thin. We Chemical Engineer love to Analyze situations like this in hydraulic terms....
Food had nothing to do with it, right? I was eating the same no need to count Calories.

To improve and relief the pain I made a committment to increase the size of my pant to 34w x 32L, but no bigger than that, that is it, that will be my limit forever.

Three years ago I happen to be at My brother Nabil's house. Showing his brotherly love, he said. "I have this white jeans that don't fit me, they are brand new, you can have them if they fit". Now wait a minute , I thought Nabil is supposed to be older and bigger than me he wares 36W. Don't try them George I thought. Nabil being older and wiser, must have deticted my uncomfortable state said: These are small 36 W most likely they were made smaller than 35W. I checked the tag "36Wx30L". What have I got to lose.
Ahhhhh I can breath so much better with these pants, maybe 36W is my size after all. But wait, Where is this increase coming from, I still have not increased my food intake. 38W will never be my size I need to figure out the problem (See, I can do that too Hilda).
Alfred, and occasionally Nabil, come to Houston and I found myself with them eating at Lebanese resturants. You know, after every Lebanese meal, I notice that the 36W is getting tighter, could it be the Lebanese Diet is the problem????????
Let us think about that. Our Diet was designed for people living in mountains. Transportation was on foot, a trip to Shweir meant nice walk a million stair case steps to climb around Harf Mourad(people pay money to do this stair case excersize), a jog on the steep incline, and then a return trip with a 1000 ft elevation difference. The Calorie Burning mechanism came naturally to us that has got to be it.
Our life style here is much different, we ride a car to go the the corner store we don't need that many calories. To Lose weight, we simple, have to change the Diet, And that's where the cup of noodles came into the picture, and the result.....It's not working. I am still inching up towards 38W x 30L pants, why? Darn if I know.
I resolved to the fact that my waist will increase as I get older, Maybe, maybe definitely, our metabolism is constantly changing, I tend to accept and like such a comforting analysis. But, CAN ANY OF YOU EXPLAIN WHY IN GOD'S NAME I AM GETTING SHORTER????

Re: Wait, It Gets Worse

Posted by Ghassan Zghaib on October 23, 2000 at 11:37:46:

In Reply to: Wait, It Gets Worse posted by George Matar on October 23, 2000 at 09:52:59:

Does "because you're getting older" answer your question? ;-))

A woman thing!

Posted by Hilda on October 18, 2000 at 18:27:14:

As I was hurrying to get myself out the door to work today, something crossed my mind...Aren't I glad I live in this time and age? I thought: I sure am...

If I had to live to be a working mom 35-40 years ago, it would have been a daily disaster to get me to work. I will be stuck somewhere between the silky tights and the nylon ones, a one that has a line in the back that needs to be straight to indicate elegance and one that had to be repaired at my grandfather's store by some special lady for a set price. In short I would have ended being a nervous wreck before I even start my day.

Does any of the readers remember the times when such was the way women dressed?

It is so clear in my mind: Women coming to check out the latest in stockings. They would slip sample after sample of different color stockings over the hand to ensure that the color would match the client's skin color... then the make will come to matter as well as the size. It took quite a bit of interaction to make that purchase. I used to be both delighted and distressed as I listened on to the concerns of clients with regards to the tights/stockings etc purchase.

Not to get any body distresses,the interaction always ended up with the customer leaving happy with her choice and I would marvel at how my aunts always managed to help the ladies by rendering the right advice...I always thought:it will be difficult for me to do that or to be a salesperson for that matter...

Now I know I am neither a salesperson, nor the am I the consumer of the tights of decades ago, and for that I am doubly happy... 

A man thing... ahem, I mean ....

Posted by SKARAMOOSH on October 18, 2000 at 19:24:36:

In Reply to: A woman thing! posted by Hilda on October 18, 2000 at 18:27:14:

I am not talking about the man's thing...you women can get away with it but we can't.

Isn't it great to be a man, we are happy with a pair of black socks even if one of them is dark brown. It doesn't matter, different color socks are conversation starter and a lot of fun to explain why.
Morning is just a piece of cake, jump in the shower, comb your hair quickly before it dries, shave, brush the teeth, underarm deoderant, light color shirt, darker pants, the tie closest to you, socks don't have to match BUT MUST BE CLEAN. Oh O Go back, I forgot the underware, also must be clean. Shoes must be comfortable, style not important preferably without heals. And Hi Ho Hi Ho it's off to work we go....Simple

But our Women Must be tops, To all of you we say "we love you the way you are, So don't go change it"
This ladies and Gentlemen is how a society must be balanced, but please keep the budget in order.

Re: A man thing... ahem, I mean ....

Posted by sacred mankoush on October 19, 2000 at 17:25:14:

In Reply to: A man thing... ahem, I mean .... posted by SKARAMOOSH on October 18, 2000 at 19:24:36:

660, Azeer, Skaramoouch, Your style gives you away. Keep up the good work. we need "A LIGHTER SIDE OF LIFE" every once in a while. 

Re: A man thing... ahem, I mean ....

Posted by Hilda on October 21, 2000 at 05:44:31:

In Reply to: Re: A man thing... ahem, I mean .... posted by sacred mankoush on October 19, 2000 at 17:25:14:

I think it is more like the substance that gives someone away, sir!

I am honored

Posted by SKARAMOOSH on October 21, 2000 at 09:26:38:

You have Humbled me, comparing my keyboard name to such giants like V660, and the ZEER. They bring up real issues that address the success of this page or the town, Yours truely is just happy the way things go regardless of the direction. I picked the name SKARAMOOSH, because it sounded happy. I think the original french Character's appearance was not so graceful but It fits the personality of the article's character.
Hilda, your Material is so good, a person can not help but read and enjoy it, the proof is in the number of people that respond to it. You have good talent, do you write books? Maybe you should. By the way, your psycho-analysis was semi accurate.
Sacred Mankoosh, Love the nick name. I think I know who you are and I disagree with Hilda on your gender. I challange you to write more than a one liner.

Atu ta lur(?) Mons Amees, at least for now.

Re: I am honored

Posted by Hilda on October 22, 2000 at 14:05:46:

In Reply to: I am honored posted by SKARAMOOSH on October 21, 2000 at 09:26:38:

This is wild you'll! I find it interesting non-the-less...but quite nostalgic..."how about our chatting in real life in real terms?" is the first thing that comes to my mind....

I always think of me retiring somewhere on some hill-top overlooking the sea( my home in dhour/or in a country called Belize) among lots of greenery and writing: fiction or my memoirs or a blend of both!

So to answer the question: no I do not write except for the shweirie community and other lost souls who stumble on this site,intentionally or accidently....

I must admit there is a little secret pleasure-not any more, I guess- in knowing that my writing may entertain some out there and that thought is in itself rewarding.

Of course the quality and number of responses are the "direct reinforcers"...I like those a lot.

So chat with you all later, and bye for now!

Change: is it plausible or merely impossible?

Posted by Hilda on October 13, 2000 at 17:57:20:

 Yesterday, I was asked: have you ever tried getting a project done in shweir ?

: The answer to that is a little more complicated than I expect. I remember the time when my dad was trying to get a buildng permit and all the hassels associated with that. Then I remember, the little volunteer activity that I got involved in with the church organizing the " Ta'awnieh " that was put together in the churche's basement with other youth.

: That volunteer activity ended with a lull in the fighting and the hope that university classes that resumed will not be halted again, and our lives will go back to normal... That was in the Fall of 1976.

: We, as a group, were thrilled to be together and had successfully done a project that helped many. We celebrated by having a picnic at the Sarfad, and I still remeber the very delicious and spicey Armenian meat pies ( lahm b'ajeen), the tabuleh etc. as well as the time we spent talking about all kinds of things... It had gotten a little cool, but other than that it was picture perfect.

: That Fall I also taught in the intermediate school and earned my first income ever from outside my family circle...I felt closer to the community since up until that time, we were more visitors than actual dwellers.
: People will kindly make the excuse for not knowing who I am because my family lived away from Dhour el Shweir(in Brummana and later in Beirut) most of the time. Visiting relatives 3-4 times a week not withstanding...

: Anyway, despite the war, the falling shells on the town, and the saddness that resulted after that, I still have good feelings about being a part of shweir for that time.

: Now as I reflect on how many people would actually be there, if the place ,country , region etc. were not in turmoil, and do not have the kind of corruption that people even back home complain about( yet all are helpless to change)I wish that maybe all of us who do share a better visions of the place may somehow act in unison to reclaim to that part of the world what we enjoy abroad...

: I mean how hard is it to stem out the tradition of corruption when everybody really resents it and would rather do without it? Obviously that tradition is deeeply rooted, the economic and social realities don't make it easier, either. But what also stops anything from happening is the feeling, among our generation at home and abroad that no matter what we do, things will stay the same...

: The question is: Can a change in our mindset result in a change in reality? ie if we were to believe that "yes we want to make a difference back home to the better", can we as a group based on our abilities -not necessarily monetary-influence the state of affairs back home?

: As for the monetary help, I for one still own property back home, my family pays the taxes on my share and I am sure many others are like me in the same boat...So we, whether we acknowledge it or not, continue to have stakes in shweir...As such, can we affect any kind of reasonable change from such a distance?

: That is the challenge and the question...

Re: Change: is it plausible or merely impossible?

Posted by Ihsan Bou Sader on October 13, 2000 at 19:07:49:

In Reply to: Change: is it plausible or merely impossible? posted by Hilda on October 13, 2000 at 17:57:20:


You see that you need your own Column?

Well I agree with all that you said... in fact in NZ we have a large number of third generation Shweirieh etc... And some yime "in funerals we lament if only we were all in Shweir what a difference it will make!

Once it was said "all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing". How do we then change the apathy how do we transform the man?

Only through education and higher thought. When, that happens then people get paid according to what the economy will provide "Shelter, clothing food, education, health, retirement" unfortunately in Lebanon you are paid on the assumption that you are going to make money by bribes!
Therefore the perception becomes reality.

So the education should aim to lift the perception of Shweirie to higher plane and then their reality will follow.

At the moment we are scattered but on the right time we should all go back and help rebuild the Perception and the reality.

In the past we had Harrier, and Tanback in addition to the Building and Education to day we have the Goubeh! We need to change that by creating Cottage Industries or other type of Wealth generation in Shweir . Then people would stay and we can solve the perception.

Thank you Anwar and George and Hilda and Nora for this opportunity to share with other Shweirieh some thoughts...


Our psych and the need for masks...

Posted by Hilda on October 07, 2000 at 17:31:15:

What makes one use a pseudo name or a number to sign a message?

If one thinks about it, it has a protective value like wearing a mask.

But, why wear the mask in the first place? Is it a fear of others or of our own ideas and actions being exposed and we would rather not...

If we want to hide, then we probably are not that comfortable with some thought or action that we may display...so the next question is why do it, think it or act on it in the first place?

Any answers out there? Unlocking our psyche may help solve our eternal problems of turning feuds into fights and wars...

Mind you I read all the messages, irrespective of who signs them...I learn something from them everytime...

To top of page

 A Question!

Posted by Hilda on October 07, 2000 at 11:54:46:

Today I watched the Miss Lebanon 2000 pageant. Amal, my aunt from Texas sent me a video-tape of the event as she gets it through the LBC.

I was so impressed by the Lebanese beauties. I wondered if I actually looked that good at 18, 19 or 22. If I did, I failed to notice...My family just like the rest of the Middle East were easy to say you still need to do this or be good at that, so in other words I always had ways to go before achieving perfection...A very fleeting goal, I realize...

What stuck me in this pageant is the need for the Lebanese to not think of the sad aspects of their realities-it is like if you don't talk about it, you forget it and it will go away. I guess that is a blessing if the alternative is to talk about it and end up fighting over it...I always wish for contructive dialogues.

The other thing that hit me was that out of our select young and beautifull, only one was able to name three things that happened in the 20th century that will impact our lives in the 21st century...And I wonder: Why?

I was very impressed by the music, the elegance and the presentation, although I wish we can speak either straight Arabic or a straight foriegn language without mixing the two...

All in all,I enjoyed the show. True, I had my questions, but I,also, had a bird's eye view of Lebanon 5000 miles away. Our world is shrinking, thanks to satellites, internet etc. The interesting thing is how much time would it take for the world to blend altogether as a result of this new closeness that technology achieved..And would that blend decrease the divisions that culture,religion,geography ethnicity etc. has created over the past centuries...

It is just a question...

It will be interesting to see!

 Re: Wishes for a beautiful place called HOME!

Posted by Hilda on October 05, 2000 at 18:32:34:

In Reply to: Defacing Dhour posted by Zeer on October 05, 2000 at 15:22:15:

We sure are a very passionate people...but keeping that in mind I am glad that we have the internet to exchange views through...I can't imagin having such a discussion in the Saha at the Salwa over a serving of Fava beans and not accompanying it with a fist fight.

I think everyone wishes to have a beautiful Shweir. I, for one, would like to think of a time that I choose to retire there and would love to have a beautiful place to go back to.

I know realities are different... maybe an objective, look at the issues can be a good start coupled with effective policy making and applying.

Hopefully all can participate...


Posted by Hilda on October 02, 2000 at 19:12:55:

This afternoon, my daughter dropped back into the house-from the neighbours- and carrying her pair of shoes in her hand, was describing to me-in a perfect American accent- what she needed by way of supplies for her school work: a one inch 3-ring binder "in purple color, but if you did not find the purple then in white but in the absence of the other two colors, then black is fine...

She then proceeded into the kitchen, dropped her shoesneatly on the floor, and with her other clean hand, reached for her favorite Middle Eastern food-spinach pies (fatayer)and ate one, explaining to me her need for any set of 5 dividers...

Her beautiful deep brown eyes twinkling, and her pony tail twirling as she turns her head and gestures...
Needless to say: She was very cute...AND I AM being OBJECTIVE!!!!

Done with her explaining all that, she left picking her shoes up and carrying them, barefooted out the door, across the street to her friends house in the neighbourhood...

Her grandmother, Salma, a Damascene, remarks "bintik Amercanieh" (you have an American Daughter!) so I said " Why? don't you see them girls in Damascus or Beirut walk barefooted in the neighbourhoods?

We both grinned...and decided that kids are better off here...

It is true, BUT to me I wish I could have said that they would be just as well off back home, growing up knowing Shweir, Damascus and Beirut as their hometowns!

The Shweir Connection

Posted by Hilda on October 01, 2000 at 15:46:24:

I have been trying to figure out computers since they first got into use. I learnt enough to teach my daughter Sally, who was three then, to manipulate the keyboard and use some preschool programs...

Later in graduate school, I had to be proficient in using computers. So,I learnt to use special programs and do the internet searches...

Still computers in and of themselves remained a mystery to me. Lately, I thought that I needed more memory space and then I will be fine. So, as you all know, I purchased a newer one: faster, bigger and better.

Still that did not teach me a bit about computers. True I assembled it, but to me it was a frustrating thing that refuses to talk back to me in such a way that I would understand. Letters in various compsitions, commands, etc. pop on the screen, I'd follow my instinct as to the next step to take and voila I would be transported into a totally different function, like traversing a door to a new world I came across...What keys I punched to get me there, I am clueless; how do I reverse that function is anybody's guess...All was frustrating to me. But potentially hilarious to some other knowledgeable person watching me, negotiate if not outright fight, over stuff and functions with my computer.

Now enter, a very special shweirie friend whom I had the honor of meeting via this site and he decided to patiently help me. Over the course of an hour on the phone he was asking me to do certain fuctions and I realized that had my computer had any oportunity to talk back, it would have been yelling at me.

I found that those computer are sensitive: every stroke I make with my hand alters or produces some function. Computers are specific, a click here is definitely different than a click 2mm away. And above all the alphabet soups stand for something, other than sound sweet....I chose to store my pictures in PDD format rather than JPG, because the letters sounded cute together and I thought that JPG was so common I needed something new....And new it was...

I e-mailed a bunch of pictures to my friend and I left him guessing a long while how I did manage to zip the files of pictures into one! After he managed to unzip the files, he could not open them because the format is so unique....for me not using the JPG format, he or anyone else I send pictures to, would need a program that costs $200~$500.

What is my point you all are asking by now, I suppose.

I decided to go take some computer courses that would teach me about the different things that computers and programs can do...

Also I remain indebted to my special friend for putting up with my ignorance and deciding that he can teach me things no matter how long it took...And he surely did!

Get on board the Bulletin Board

Posted by Hilda on September 26, 2000 at 20:15:16:

It is so heart warming to hear from the ladies of the global shweir community. It is always nice to know how far people have gone and yet keep in touch. No, I do not know personally any of the ladies, but it is sufficient that they are shweirieh or related to shweir by marriage to shweir. Of course we obviously,as always, extend a very warm welcome to the Shweir sons-in-law...

Ladies, please share your ideas, stories, recipies, anecdotes, your trials and tribulations with parenting children in a culture different than we grew up in, at times way too different too...

There will always be a lesson to learn as you put your thoughts into words on this site...and we will all be better for it.

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Re:  Defining "Al Bwaheer"?!

Posted by Hilda on September 27, 2000 at 06:29:43:

In Reply to: Re. posted by Elie Matar Rahbani on September 25, 2000 at 21:08:56:

Again just for the record, and to refresh our memories, Al-bwaheir are the twelve days that follow eid Mar Takla (according to Elie) or eid As-salib(the day to celebrate the Cross) according to my faint memory -only because the day of the cross was "hollier" than Mar Takla...
Both of the feasts, however, fall in September.

It is believed that the weather pattern on each of these days will be a predictor of the weather for an entire month in the upcoming year.

It follows then that the weather after the said eid will predict the weather in October of the current year, the next day will predict the weather in November and so on... until the the twelve days are passed and then we would "technically" predict the weather for the entire year till the next September.

Long, long long time ago those predictions were rellied on to manage the amount of food, wood to be stored for winters, and the way the planting season were to be managed....

Please feel free to correct any of this information. It is important, it was part of our history, and practices...It may have helped us survive as a town, get through bad weathers and good ... to where we are now..

I do not know if al-bwaheir were a part of the practices of others in the area...maybe someone can answer that....

Re: Predictors of fortunes and weather!

Posted by Hilda on September 26, 2000 at 21:06:25:

In Reply to: Re."Al-Bwaheer" posted by Elie Matar Rahbani on September 25, 2000 at 21:08:56:

It is pure nostalgia that made me inquire about al-bwaheer.

Those discussions occupied quite a bit of our time-I was a teenager then. And to think of it, it made sense. In the US they look for the ground hog day to predict the arrival of spring and they talk about it for a couple of days. Well, we had 12 days to contend with: a day for every month and depending on someone's interpretation, the weather pattern will change!

You see, in the early fall days twenty -five years ago, my aunts would gather together at Jeddi's store and they'd make coffee. The presence of a coffee cup reader will instigate everybody to have coffee... Turn the cup upside down and wait for the coffee residue to dry on the inside of the cup, then the readings of fortune begins: promises of romance, travel, fortunes, visits will fill the air...then there will be a chill and Oh! its getting cloudy and this day is for March or whatever and discussion will shift from predictions of fortunes to predictions of the weather.

Many a time, the women would argue amongst themselves about the predictions of the cup of coffee as well as the predictions of the weather.

My aunts were notorious for interrogating and cross examining the reader of the cup for further details...I 'd think well my aunt has a point in her question and a good fortune teller can answer that...It must be that "today the lady (coffee -cup reader) isn't with it"...

I would secretly wish that somehow my aunts would figure out to drink coffee from a tea cup, that way, there will be more fortunes to tell!!!
...I thought I'd do that when I grew up..for I was too young to drink that much coffee then!

Curl Power 

Posted by Hilda on September 23, 2000 at 14:44:26:

Needless to say that as a Lebanese woman living in Upper East Tennessee, I do attract a lot of attention. In a predominantely white city, people figure that I am not Hispanic-I don't know how- but every other nationality is a possibility.

Naturally, I have a dark brown straight hair with a gentle curl to it. When I let my hair grow, then it is straight and people around here think I am Indian.

My own natural hair and color made me look Armenian in LEBANON!

Recently, however, I got tired of wearing my hair short and straight and decided it was time for change. So I grew it and put a permanent wave in it.

Now I look French/Italian!

Mind you, I usually don't keep people guessing about my natural national origin, but people still delight in trying to figure me out.

The irony of all this is that no one, who has ever tried to guess my origin, got it right, not in Lebanon and not in the US... Now having been a US citizen for a while and still wearing my ethnicity around, I wonder what should I do with the curl? And for that matter does it really matter?

I do not worry about it much, but for now I will be a French/Italian if I can't be a Lebanese-American!

Life can be complicated...

Posted by Hilda on September 23, 2000 at 09:59:22:

As some of the Shweir.com readers may know, I am divorced. I share joint custody of my children with dad...
We work hard together to ensure that our children know that we both love them and we both are there for them... we traverse little struggles with stride and everytime we "lose" one of Sami's homework papers and recover it without a major breakdown I feel I am very well accomplished...

Yesterday, I even put together my 21st Century computer almost flawlessly and that felt good...

Then the issue of Sami's navy blue zip off pants came about...

For all the happy parents that are clueless about the zip off pants, I tell you they are a marvel! Children can wear them long in the cool morning and as the Fall day warms up, they can zip off the lower portions of the pants and be comfortably cool in the resulting shorts...

Now how can such a wonderfull clothing item be a hassle? It is not really if a child keeps track of the three pieces of the pants... However when divorced parents have to do a ground search for the three separate items of one garment the result is a nightmare. Who has which piece becomes a major headache...It is like we needed pants for puzzles...

Now I am convinced that if Salah and I smoothly sail through the zip off pants period, we can happily see our children through college...

As for those who have no idea what I am talking about, I assure you that in this instance ignorance is a bliss!

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Old habits die hard...

Posted by Hilda on September 20, 2000 at 08:30:43:

I just dropped my son off at school, and on the way back I was thinking that I'd like to write something for the BBS.

It is such beautiful fall weather that we have in NE Tennessee, so much like the Fall weather in Dhour. the only difference of course is that here in East TN. we are 600 miles away from the ocean, and for some reason, I miss a body a salted water...the area has a lot of lakes but there is nothing like looking at the horizon and seeing the see /ocean merge with the sky...

The feeling of openess is exhilerating...

Anyway, think, if you may that this weather triggers in me a sequence of behaviors whose root come from Dhour...it is like pushing A Fall Button in me!

So in addition to my increased tendency to cook and hord food, there is this NEED to knit!

This is what women and girls did in the Fall. Aubusson, and Nayla's Store were two places to go to to find some very nice yarn with vibrant, rich warm colors in wool that I fail to find a match for here.

I'd always knit me something... every fall...

Women will gather in the cool afternoons on the balconeys, visit, sip coffee, talk about the happenings in the town, world etc. and knit away...I remember knitting a navy blue sweater one year and my mom, my mom's aunt our neighbors and Auntie Aida Khoury were in that knitting circle... We would follow the progress of the knitting projects as the evening hours settle in and as the days go by...

This year, I went out and bought some yarn-the response to the fall thing- I wanted to knit a sweater for my daughter. I thought she'd look great in a red one.

Now, Sally does not want to wear anything her mom knits! She feels she has outgrown that...
I still want to knit... so my son will have the red sweater, if ...it ever got done that is...
for last friday, I went out to purchase a computer- I need more space on mine and Sally,my daughter, believes what we have is so slow and a relic of three years ago.

This upcoming week-end I will spend time rearranging my computers around, figuring out the newest addition and all the while trying to work on my knitting project...

...As for the sweater, it may see the light, for Sami's paternal grandma is here and SHE likes to get things done!

"Eid Mar Takla"

Posted by Hilda on September 17, 2000 at 17:28:46:

A September feature was the yearly "pilgrimage" we ought to make to the Bois de Bologne's Mar Takla church. It used to bewilder me. The church would be sitting there year long, yet we would pass by it on the way from Dhour to Aintourah without stopping by or stepping in...until of course Eid Mar Takla. (if I recall correctly it falls on Sept.15.) Then EVERYBODY has to visit the church. We probably attended the mass of the eid once, yet every year, we would visit, make a donation, pray, light candles ( my favorite thing to do) get the holy water and oil ...We would do that with all the massess that would pour on to the church. And to make things more interesting and hecticly nightmarish were all the toy and sweets vendors that line up the roundabout in front of the church... But we were there for the religious experience: no toys, no sweets... Of course "those were the cheap ones that would break the next day"... if they were to survive our squabbly car ride.

Needless to say, celebrating this eid is imprinted in my memory. First, my dad would get worked up by the traffic jam, then by the fact that we cannot park the car anywhere close to the church, so we end up parking far away and we will walk to the church. Did I forget to mention that we were three nagging kids at that time?!

The weather will be unpredictable. It can be hot or cold and we would invariably be not dressed right for the weather. We will be told that we should have listened to mom while dressing...we did not, hence the misery.

One time we returned to a dented car. That did not sit well with my dad...He was really upset...

Basically we had to get to that church on the set day, put up with all or else....probably the wrath of Mar Takla will settle on us...

By the way, the same used to happen for eid Mar Elias and eid Al-Saydeh minus of course the vendors, but never without the fire works. It used to be arduous to make the pilgrimage with everybody on that small winding road to DEIR mar Elias and be stuck trying to turn the car around without accidents. My prayer would always include a wish to have us turn the car around safely without falling in the ditch off of the cliff. Yet we did it every year! There was this strong belief that that is what we need to do and that is exactly what we did.

If I were to go back now, I will just as well pray as hard as I did in each church any time I can make it (and avoid the full pilgrimage experience), to spare what seemed to end up being a nerve wrecking family experience...

However, having lived through each and every eid while in Lebanon, I'd say:"kull eid wo intom wa al-jamie' bekhier" and "akbal kull senneh...." 

Past Septembers!!!

Posted by Hilda on September 17, 2000 at 11:19:11:

Today is kind of cool here in Upper East TN. Fall has finally set in. Did the fall make it to Texas yet?

Long time ago and while in Nursing school there was this theory that we talked about. It states that as the weather cools off we, as humans, have the tendency to eat more in order to store more fat to survive the lesser amounts of availablre food in winter and also to have an additional layer of fatty insulation from the cold.

So, I woke up today full of all that energy to cook stews,hummous, home made pizza... of course non of the things that we'd be eating at mom's at this time of the year.

September was the month of harvest and consequently "mooneh". My mom would drive me crazy with all the bulgar that has to be dried, all the okra to be "peeled" washed, dried or frozen, the Mulukhieh that had to be washed and washed, chopped and dried.

Not to mention the kishek, the Za'atar, the purchase of onions, garlic, potaoes, lentiles( to be washed and manually cleaned) etc. A lot of work and much to spoil the fun of the Sept. weather: Shop for the mouneh, set it out to dry in the sun; get that in at the end of the day and take back out the next morning...it was all so tedious, yet predictable...

....Until we get to the jams.

Then mom will make fig jams and Jam of "sfargil". Here I would feast. Every morning, snack time and after dinner, I would have my share of either one. I would do that guilt free. If I add weight then its the only normal thing to do...ain't I supposed to get my body ready for winter- remember the theory at the top of the page. Eating those jellies as well as the fresh dark figs were the highlight of those times. So as not to scare any body I will refrain from telling you the exact number of calories in a single fig ( and
of course the bigger the beter...)
I did all that guilt free... we would spend mornings picking figs and eating them off of the trees from uncle Fouad Halabi's tree garden...It was fun ..It was delicious...

I do miss all those Septembers now ... how about you?

Warning label: My favorite things...

Posted by Hilda on September 14, 2000 at 21:05:50:

Well I hate to have caused George so much trouble for my mentioning the manakeesh. But his article brought to my mind the tastes of many favorites from the dhour days that my grandparents and aunts allowed me to enjoy. The Ka'ak with thyme, the brioch... To this day,I dream of Hawi's pistachio nut ice-cream and their chocolate ice-cream. It was the chocolatist and creamiest of them all.

This is not to say that I do not miss Candy's strawberry ice-cream and their strawberry cream pies (or tarts)when the strawberry season was full blast. Of course there are always the eclaires and cream puffs to fall back onto after the strawberry season is done with. Now as for dinner sandwiches, I loved the Basterma sandwiches ( I don't remember the vendor) and Samir Khoury's Falafel. It was DELICIOUS!

Now having written all that I do not want to be near George at all. There is no way in the world that any of those things will be experienced again...Now they dwell in our memories and dreams...But then: who knows, things may change TO THE BETTER AGAIN....

This time...long ago...

Posted by Hilda on September 09, 2000 at 14:43:54:

It is around 3:00 my time and I came down-to my basement office- to check my e-mail. Nothing impressive this afternoon... so the next thing to do is to check the shweir web-site and then I thought I'd write....

Summers ago, my mom and dad would decide they'd need a break from me, so I would spend a week or so at my grandparents place.

I would wake up early in the morning to my grandfather's rooster call. I'd definitely spring out of bed! By that time, "jeddi" would have already been up and gotten fresh eggs from their chicken coop, probably gotten some "manakeesh" made and depending on the route of a farmer from Aintourah we will have "goat cheese". There will definitely be grapes to go with the manakeesh. Watermelon to go with the cheese and freshly baked bread from the bakery... all those were treats for me. For while at Brummana, all those things were not attainable. And definitely not at 6:00 in the morning.

Jeddi would be busy getting ready to open the store, so it was up to me to negotiate waking my aunts up to get MY day started...

Assuming I was successful at plucking either Amal or Rowayda out of bed, I 'd be done eating breakfast in no time and ready to go down to the store.

The morning breeze would be crisp,weather oh, so nice, little traffic that early, except for people using the seha to go to Beirut.

Morning walkers were the "intellectual" types and jeddi's friends.. Efficient homemakers would do their grocery shopping at around 10:00 and then the notable Mustafeen: moms and their children would come shopping.

Lunch break was a must. My grandfather closed shop between 12:30 and 2:00pm. I never napped. And was always glad to be the one to wake jeddi up.

The early afternoons belonged to walking vendors coming through the seha. Depending on the season, they may have green almonds, pistachio nuts, persian rugs etc.

It used to amaze me what they hauled on their backs..

At 5:00pm or so, the Seha would be the place for the young to loiter and walk around, some will drive up and down the seha. I should not be out-in front of the store! Smells of pasteries would reak from Candy. Smells of Tammrieh from Ramez and Pop corn from al Hawi, peanuts from a Sudanese vendor by the church and later french fries from Pom Frite would all be so enticing.

It will be my snack time. Jeddi or my aunts will give me money to get something or the other.

The evenings: loud music from al Hawi and Nasser will blare and used to be heard all the way to shweir. I used to wonder how does anybody in either establishement hear what they are supposed to hear not somebody elses...It probably was loud enough inside.

Jeddi would still be oen at 10:30 or 11:00, Seasonal visitors would walk out of the cafes'and wander in to the store to shop for something or the other, like china, make up, perfume, hunting gear etc.

I would be exhausted, but I'd still believe that I am not sleepy. I did not want to miss the action. The crowds-mainly well to do couples with shawled women-will leave the seha by midnight and that is when I believed it was my bedtime. Never mind that I was less than 10 years old....

I think this was in the mid-sixties!!!! 

Hilda's Subliminal Message

Posted by George Matar on September 13, 2000 at 08:57:05:

Your Story of a long time ago, was very well written, I got it all even your subliminal message was very well received. What message? Oh, well after reading your story and the breakfast with your grandfather, and the MANKEESH.....I just could not stop tasting Zaatar all day long. I went to Abdullah for lunch and found myself buying a bag of Zaatar wo simsom. I don't know why I bought it! I already have a bag at the house. Anyway, needless to say the car smelled like zaatar all the way to the house. mmmmmm, got home, Janice has already fixed a pan of kafta wo batata, real delicious. I dished me a plate then unconsciously, sprinkled some zaatar on top of it. Well that was not enough, got up early the next morning but not enough time to to fix a dough, and no "Hungry Jack" Jumbo biscuits to use as dough. So I mixed the zaatar with olive oil and spread them on sliced bread, threw them in the oven, and when they were done, pulled them and used them for provolone cheese and smoked turkey sandwiches. Michael, coming down the stair...."What smells so good?". Anyway they were FANTASTIC.
No more craving for Zaatar for a while. Hilda, next time you need to put a "warning labels" on your articles.
I left the house with a sense of accomplishment, got to the office, decided to check the shweir.com, noticed a new message from "Zeer", and decided to read it and find out why visitor#660 is retiring....BIG BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!! Where in Gods Name I am going to find BIRYOSH TAAZA in HOUSTON, TEXAS. HEEEEEELLLLLPPPPP

Webmaster's note:  
Call it coincidence or subliminal message or the power of suggestion.  Fact is that I had two mana-eesh bizaatar that same morning that my mom Antoinette made.  I did not make the connection until I read George's article above.  Are we in sync or what?  

Do you smell something???...  It must be the mana-eesh from Shweir, hurry get your ticket fast so you can get some mana-eesh taaza. 

World Wide Community

Posted by Hilda on September 07, 2000 at 19:53:17:

I just checked the updated web page. It is rich!

I don't particularly like the fact that I am a cheerleader, but I can't seem to be able to define myself. However, and for the record, I was intrigued by the number of people on Nabil Matars mailing list when he would e-mail me jokes. I'd recognize the names, but having been so far away from the day to day happenings of the town, I could not put a face to any of the people. I would laugh my heart out at the jokes, but then I 'd also wonder what if everybody could actually communicate together? It will be even better.

...As a graduate student of Public Health, part of our education is community based interventions that target groups of people in a defined community for the purpose of promoting networking and effective partnerships for a good cause. Seeing that the shweirie community is world wide,with my own extended family spread across 4 of the five continents I thought that the www can be a means of uniting the shweirieh together across boundaries. I suggested that to Nabil and the best was yet to happen. George found Anwar and teamed up to form this web site.

It impresses me that I have not ever met George nor Anwar, yet we communicate together frequently and have through meticulous communications shaped this site.

However to sustain it, contributions are needed from the visitors of this site. Anecdotes, pictures, personal interests, good times and bad can be shared and it will bring everybody ever so closer together. And then, for once the wide world will seem small, accesseble and pleasant for the people from Shweir to navigate, enjoy and relate...in the same old Shweirie traditions...Everybody made this site what it is now. It will be us, through it, that shines!

A Favor for Shweir!

Posted by Hilda on August 13, 2000 at 10:11:03:

Last night I had a great time chatting with Anwar -our webmaster and Mr. Jamil Eid....

Jamil recalls that as a youg child, he would visit the home of Rashid Sawaya in Antelias with his family and relatives and they would talk about our grandfathers and great grandfatherrs...Rashid Sawaya had a family tree that goes many generations back and supposedly traces the Sawayas and Khniesers back to when the Sawaya and The khneiser were brothers.

Jamil maintains that Rashid Sawaya should be quite an old man now, but his descendants could possibly have this family tree in their possession..Won't it be wonderful for all to know of it and the family who preserved it? As such it would be delightful to have someone go to Rashid Sawaya's home "ala kou' Antelias and ask the grocers there about the whereabouts of Rashid and his descendants and give us all the gift of knowing our ancesters...

I know that many shweirieh world wide will acknowledge the work acheived by completing this task..any volunteers, please?


A favor for You?!!

Posted by Hilda on August 13, 2000 at 08:18:52:

It is so gratifying to hear from relatives I have lost contact with long time ago, or never knew existed before...The feeling is quite special..try it! and here is your chance dear Shwerieh... if you sign the guest book, you'd be surprised at the responses. So as I ask of you to sign the guest book, think of it as you doing your own self a favor...
it is so rewarding...no matter what you ended up doing and no matter how life dealt you its hand, you will still be rewarded by the contacts you re-establish...Try it:its free...

In search of Helen!

Posted by Hilda on August 13, 2000 at 03:34:04:

I am writing to express a special interest in bringing Helen Anis Samaha Nuweihid on board as an active participant in the shweir.com site.

I haven't heard much of Helen lately. I know that she is busy with her family and three young boys, work etc. But I can't deny too that Helen with her can do attitude can contribute to keep this site alive! So for all you readers out there, let Helen know of this and I'd love to hear from her personally...


A Sad Day in Town

Posted by Hilda on August 12, 2000 at 06:44:50:

Winters were harsh and cold in dhour some 40yrs ago...and those days had their toll on the town's people. I remember waking up some mornings, to a somber home at grandpa's house.

My grandmother would be looking sad and my grandpa would be concerned and trying to help out with the rest of the town's people in final arrangements for the funeral of a close friend...everbody was close. Shweir had a way of putting petty rivalries aside and pitching in to help each other on such occasions...The early morning hours ( around 4-5:00am) would have broken to the sad bell tolls from the church announcing a death, then by the time everybody had the chance to get up and get going the black bordered death announcements would already be at the door step...and the saddness would prevail...Going down to the store with my grandfather, I'd hear all kinds of stories then: about the deceased, the accomplishements, merits as well as the family that he'd left behind. I would hear of who is coming from where to attend the funeral and the glitches that would need ironed to go through the event. I remember that everybody closed shop in honor of the deceased during the funeral procession. My grandfatherr would attend while my grandmother and I watched from the family room window as the funeral procession made it through the seha. Between the sad bell tolls and the tunes of the marching band ( al nawbeh), my grandmother will tell me how sad it all is and the fact that life is unfair citing all kinds of reasons...We would view the procession and I'd marvel about the number of people walking in it, in snow and cold to the final resting place of the deceased...and i'd wonder why the marching band...Incidentally I never saw a marching band in a funneal procession except in Dhour... Now I believe that had been a special tradition

More sad bell tolls to indicate the start of the mass, then to indicate its end... It seemed like my grandmother will follow the whole event from the family room by following the sounds of the bell tolls. When people and cars start dispersing away from Shweir, she'd announce the end of the funeral.

That evening people would relate the events of the day. Who came, who was absent and why, who talked to whom and who turned a cold shoulder to another...All the while expressing sympathy for the family...and fear and awe to the unpredictabily of life...

The night will settle and I would go to bed atuned to the outside calm or noise..rain , storm or snow... trying to listen more acutely to see if there will be another owl screeching that night..for during that day someone would have heard the owl's screech and predicted a death in town... Owls were bad omens!
It would take me a while before I go into a dark room unattended and I would not want to leave my grandmothers side for a long while...


Deforestation: a search for a comprehensive plan

Posted by Hilda on August 10, 2000 at 07:59:21:

Acting on a big tip from the web master and viewing the pictures of the shweirie volunteers planting trees and trying desperately to repair the damages of deforestation, I feel that shweir needs an agriculture person who knows the native trees, soil, climate etc. to help in the effort to bring back the bueaty the pine trees bestowed on shweir. Mike Sawaya has been spear heading this effort,I wish an agriculturalist would offer the volunteers a blue print to follow in their effort, and then we will have to consider ways to fund this project... Just a thought. 

Re: Deforestation: a search for a comprehensive plan

Posted by Web Master on August 11, 2000 at 02:34:46:  In Reply to: Deforestation: a search for a comprehensive plan posted by Hilda on August 10, 2000 at 07:59:21:

Thank you Hilda Sawaya, George Matar and Mike Sawaya. This is a very important issue. As part of the design upgrade, we plan shortly to test some interactive web pages so that you, our readers and visitors can express your opinions right on the respectivelt titled web pages. It is kind of similar to what our Al Mukhtaar suggested in his message above. Our Environment page will be one of first web pages to have this feature.
Hilda, some of your hidden talents are bubbling to the surface... interviewing, writng and environment concern. This is wonderful... keep it up.


Posted by Hilda on August 09, 2000 at 14:23:19:

Ghassan,  I knew that my great aunts had several on-going and left to simmer feuds with the neighbours over different things. I did not know that you all were related. Can you explain that to me in terms other than purely aunt or uncle...

I am curious. We loved them dearly and I knew the things they feuded over with their neighbours were petty in nature but enough for them to be upset about...



Sorry if I sounded like I was complaining from the showers, after all we deserved them for 2 reasons:
1. We were very very noisy on the afternoons.
2. The temperature was hot :-)).

I loved your aunts as my dad and all of my uncles always did. They were always nice with us.
I think they were very close parents to my grandma (Malbina married to Assaad Zghaib).
I still have to confirm with my dad. My dad always called them "Khalti Latife or Khalti Wadiha".
Wadiha would always give us a share of "Maoussam el-tout".
My mother, Noha Touma Sawaya is the daughter of Youssef Touma Sawaya and the sister of Georges Touma Sawaya and Sawaya Sawaya.
I don't know if that rings a bell but, after all, all the Sawaya's and Touma's and Kneisser are somehow related in Shweir.  I hope I answered your questions and if not, give some time so I can phone my dad and get the correct answer. Have a nice day...


baby sitting shweirie -style!

Posted by Hilda on August 09, 2000 at 04:54:58:

I loved mom's aunts, Zehreh, Latifeh and Wadie'ah Abou Izzeh.
They loved us too...Upon the occasion of some function were "kids were not to be seen" like weddings, funerals and the such, my mom and dad would deposit us in their care. Depending on the season, We would have our fill of "maacarron" (a special kind of cookies) in winter or home made ice-cream with vanilla and "Mahlab" in the summers. Either way Elie and I would keep all three aunts busy.

Winter baby-sitting would keep us inside the family room around the woodstove huddled up listening to the rain banging on their tiled roof, wondering if it is snowinng when all of a sudden it quiets down out there but we know that the weather is up to know good!

To entertain us aunt Zehreh would tell us stories about old times,while aunt Wadie'ah catered to our ceaseless appetites. All, however, kept close watch to keep us from using the metal poke thing to poke the red hot logs in the wood stove.

Aunt Zehreh told me that good girls of her time had " a mouth to eat but not to speak". Those loud ones were no good! "Loud" women were quite vocal and would stand up for themselves or what they believed in. Of course that was a no-no to aunt Zehre!

The female gender it seems came in 2 kinds little women and women, with the little women( young girls) helping out with raising the younger siblings- quite a feat when the families were to have 7 to 13 kids each- and then growing up to be women, marry and have children of their own.

As girls got to their pre-teen and teen years each had to prepare her own troussau and store the linen, embroidery and such in a chest of her own. My mom's aunts never married and at 50 some years, having given up on marriage put some of their fancy embroidery and linen into use yet saving the more delicate ones. To this day I am curious to know what those chests contained, but they were off limits...A wedding gift was to include a number of golden bangle bracelets, and each womens bangles had a different ring to them, hence helping identify the right partner in the dark when differnt members of the same household shared the same living space..

Homes were consistent of one to three rooms, depending on the wealth of the family, with stuffed mattresses rolled over in the day time to make for a sitting room and they would be rolled open at night for sleeping. I guess bangle bracelets had a very good purpose!

If a woman were to be divorced or widowed she'd have to wear 2 rings on her ring finger. aunt Zehreh had 2 rings...she was I think either divorced or widowed.

Good women percived marital ralations as a duty, they were quite away from women's lib. needless to say we would be banished two rooms down the hall if sex was to be discussed. The aunts idea of PG ratings!!

Stories from the bible wete told to us during the seemingly enless nights, and those stories were peppered with awe, mystery and a lot of fear of God...

Summer time baby sitting had a totally different flavour, but I'd better stop now!

Re: baby sitting shweirie -style!

Posted by Ghassan Zghaib on August 09, 2000 at 12:31:16:

In Reply to: baby sitting shweirie -style! posted by Hilda on August 09, 2000 at 04:54:58:

Hi, Zehre, Latife and Wadiha are my dad's aunts (Naim Zghaib). I used to live next to their building in
(Hay el Zghaibieh). One of the things I remember most are the showers we used to get from Wadiha because we would make lot of noise while playing in front of the building.

Ghassan Zghaib. 


Posted by Hilda on July 17, 2000 at 21:24:49:

As the grand-daughter of Edmond Saba Al Halabi,some of you may remember me as "bint Ollie" the little girl who'd be running around his store or simply eying the visitors from a distance. I loved it when my grandfather had people stop by either to tell of happenings around the town or to relate stories from their travels :about their toil and acheivements.
The memory of such discussions is very special.
I marveled at how far some people went and what they did during their travels. Those stories ignited my curiosity and somewhat adventurous spirit.

This web-site as a medium for shweirieh to connect with each other reminds in some ways of the way people used to relate to and connect with each other at my grandfather's store. Maybe visitors to this web would like it too...and join in with their stories...just to feel connected too...  


Posted by George Matar on July 18, 2000 at 11:06:30:

In Reply to: ABC posted by Hilda on July 17, 2000 at 21:24:49:

So that was you the cute little baby girl infront of the ABC?????
Do you Remeber a bunch of teenagers walking back and forth infront of the ABC, looking like they knew exactly where they were going but all they were actually doing is yebroo Naal es'sbabeet????
That was us.
We did use to sit on the drabzeen infront of Nasr, watching the Misayfeen passing by. Oh yes that was a great spot. Sanin to our backs, and the Nasr musical bands in front. Can any place beat that?
To our right we can smell the Gateaux from Candy, In the front the smell of Maksarat fro Mahmsat xxxx. A little to the left the smell of falafel and shwarama from Abu Samir Khoury's resturant.
Man, we were poor we couldn't afford these goodies but we were not deprived of the aroma. Rich isn't it?

a position for you

Posted by George Matar on July 18, 2000 at 11:12:05:

In Reply to: ABC posted by Hilda on July 17, 2000 at 21:24:49:


I would like to nominate you to be the "Master of the Bulletin Board". What's that George?
Well, it is for somebody to respond to new enrties and coordinate with Anwar what to do with these messages. I honestky believe you will do great

How about it? Counting on you.

Re: a position for you

Posted by Hilda on July 19, 2000 at 09:37:16:

In Reply to: a position for you posted by George Matar on July 18, 2000 at 11:12:05:


I will do as much as I know and can do with respect to your request. To me its such a delight to feel connected again to the shweirieh and the net is an excellent tool.

By the way, I remmenber the teenagers at the rail.... I was not that little girlof 2 or 3. That was my sister Randa...I was more like 9 or 10, interested in those teens, but my dad had strict guidelines for my behavior...so I was not to be seen so much in public. I was even banned from riding a bike wearing shorts in the saha...
Your depiction of the Saha in the summers of those years bring those memories to life. I can still smell the smells and feel the breeze and experience "al agkah"...

I will tell about my trip. More importantly I will urge the shweirieh there and elsewhere to write...

Thanks for the Web site!

Posted by Hilda Touma Sawaya on July 14, 2000 at 20:15:46:

I find myself checking this site daily and tracking down its developments. I loved the pictures and the mission statement among others. To me, this site is a great achievement particularly because it is just a voluntary endeavor. Many thanks to the people who put it all together...
...I read the names and they all ring a very good bell in my head but I wish to put a face to each name and I cannot... I am sure whoever is reading this will feel the same... But it is good to be in touch anyway...and it is nice to see Shweir going global...

See other articles by Hilda in the Memories and Environment Web Pages