Are You Ready for Ramadan?

Ramadan is just a mere hours away, who is ready? I’m ready and looking forward to a month of reflection and lots of home-cooking!

May you and yours have a joyous and rewarding month, amen. Ramadan Kareem to one and all!

SF Sundays – A New Normal

The last time I wrote for SF Sundays rant series was right before the local and state-wide shut down due to a surge in covid cases. Now as we approach the winter season, we are once again seeing a surge in cases. California alone has reached over one million cases but still persisting to flatten that curve with the lastest shelter in place curfew being enforced this week.

This latest entry is being written with the knowledge that some businesses are still safely open as we continue living during this “new normal”. I was honestly hesitant these past few months but I think it’s an appropriate time to slowly relaunch this rant series to show some much-needed support to our local businesses and organizations.

So let’s see what’s open and how we can enjoy the Bay’s “new normal” living this winter season.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of Frida Kahlo’s personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art.

The Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving exhibit at the de Young Museum is open to the public through February 2021. Whether or not you are a FAMSF member, you need to book your tickets online, marked with the scheduled entrance time with respect to the museum’s limit capacity protocol.

In other museum news, the lovely Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) was expected to slowly reopen to the public this Thanksgiving week. Sadly, the reopening has been postponed until further notice. I’ll be sure to post once a reopening date has been announced.

If you’re looking for an activity to do safely with the family, my brother and I headed out to Mulatto Meadows recently for a horseback riding lesson. I got really lucky to meet and ride the one and only Dapper! This is the same lovely horse that Mulatto Meadows owner and activist Brianna Noble rode during the Black Lives Matter protests in Oakland. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to continue taking lessons in the near future. Interested parties are asked to call ahead and schedule their lessons in advance.

LET’S EAT

My foodie family and I have either been cooking more at home or ordering take out from our favorite local restaurants these past few months. However, I’ve only allowed myself to go out to a handful of places that have been keeping up with safety protocols such as outdoor seating and limited capacity to allow distancing. One of these favorites have been Pacifica Brewery.

Off the CA Highway 1, this spot is literally spot on. You don’t have to be a drinker to appreciate the beautifully plated dishes and friendly service that bring me back for more. Their menu is seasonally changing except for a few staples and crowd favorites like the PB burger and their delicious take on beignets. This season, you must try the chestnut and butternut squash ravioli of their dinner menu.

How are you going about the “new normal” this winter season? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

How to Help Those Affected by the California Wildfires – 2.0

I’m disheartened as I find myself writing another version of a similarly titled rant.

The wildfires burning across not just the state of California, but the entire western US region is alarming and heartbreaking. Mainly caused by the effects of climate change and a few dumb human mistakes, these fires have now become one of the largest yet on record.

In California, fires have now claimed over 25 lives, burned over 3.2 million acres, with some fires barely 50-70% contained as I write this rant. Even while being many miles away from the closest fire, the smoke has made the air quality all across the Bay Area and the state one of the worst in the world. At one point, according to IQair, we in San Francisco hit 200AQI or “purple”. San Francisco air is now in the “green” for the first time in over a month.

Since my asthma attack earlier this year, I haven’t used my inhaler as much as I have these past several weeks. I have been home for almost three weeks straight and finally went for a walk for the first time this week, masked of course. Yet I keep thinking, how are the people in the heart of this disaster even coping?

The first responders have put their own lives on the line helping people evacuate and attempting to put out these fires. They’ve even gotten help from firefighters from as far as Australia, who battled their own wildfires barely a year ago.

If you still deny that climate change is real, please educate yourself!

So how can we help our fellow Californians in their time of need? Below are a few organizations I’m aware of that are on the grounds. Your donations in the form of finances, awareness, and time would be greatly appreciated.

– The California Fire Foundation is providing both financial and emotional support to our hardworking firefighters on the grounds as well as fallen officers and their families. Let’s be sure to show your appreciation to the amazing s/heroes out there.

Islamic Relief USA has a Disaster Response Team that is helping those affected by the fires all across the western coast.

– The American Red Cross is also providing assistance for all those affected by the wildfires, from temporary shelters to blood drives.

– The North Valley Community Foundation is continuing what they started during the Camp and Butte fires back in 2018 and providing continued support to local resources across Northern California.

– Of course, the World Central Kitchen is still helping provide hot meals across Calfornia as well as Washington and Oregon states. You can also donate to local food banks in the region through Feeding America.

I’ll update this rant with any additional information I come across to do our part in helping our fellow Americans throughout the west coast. If you have additional information to share, kindly email me or post the sources in the comments below.

How to Support the Beirut Relief Efforts

As you many all be aware, on August 4th, at 6pm local time, a massive explosion took place at the Seaport of Beirut in Lebanon. It appears the cause of the explosion was due to the accidental ignition of over 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely for many years at the ports.

This very preventable explosion has taken over 125 lives, injured over 3,000 people and destroyed the homes of more than half the city’s residents. There is a dire need for blood donations, volunteers, and funds to help with an already strained healthcare system due to COVID-19.

If you are in Lebanon, you can safely go to any local hospital or clinic to donate blood and see if there is a need for volunteers. There are many groups gathering to help with the cleaning and rebuilding efforts as well. Every little bit counts.

For the rest of us outside of Lebanon that can donate, the best resources I’ve found so far are the Lebanese Red Cross and the Impact Lebanon crowdsourcing initiative through Just Giving. You can search for your local NGOs that may be offering assistance but I’ve listed a few I’ve come across below.

Kindly note that when making a donation to Lebanese NGOs, do not make it in the country’s currency (Lebanese Lyra/Pound), as it sadly has been collapsing over the past year. Your best bet will be to do so in either US dollars or the Euro.

Baytna Baytak has been helping house healthcare workers and first responders across Lebanon during the pandemic response. Now they are working to help the more than 300,000 displaced residents of Beirut find temporary shelter.

International Medical Corps is helping survivors get life-saving care, deploying medical units and mental health care efforts in support of the damaged facilities and overwhelmed healthcare.

Islamic Relief has an office in Beirut and thankfully their staff is safe. Now they are working to bring much-needed aid and relief support to Beirut.

World Food Program of the UN is helping bring food to the area after the major food sources, like the grain silos, were destroyed at the Beirut port.

If you know of any other organizations providing relief support and assistance that can use our donations, please share them in the comments or tag me on any social media platform, my handle for most is @mshalaco.

May God have mercy on the beautiful people of Lebanon, ameen.

Picture of the Day

Alhamdulillah (Praise God) for the beauty of the small things in our path. Blessed Friday to one and all!