There are two main streets in the little town I call home, Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle. One street is called Main Street (no surprise!) and it ends at the dock where the ferry loads up passengers and cars to go over to Kingston, so it is called the Kingston ferry. Just up the street from the ferry dock – and it is UP, Seattle is full of hills – is Claire’s Pantry.
I don’t remember a time when Claire’s wasn’t there. I remember going to the same place for seafood buffets; but maybe it wasn’t Claire’s at that time. Mostly we go to Claire’s for breakfast.
They have everything. Mom opens the menu and says “I am NOT going to have Eggs Benedict this time” and scans through the huge variety of pancakes and omelets and breakfast specials.
I already know what I want. Not Eggs Benedict. CRAB Benedict.
Mom sighs and closes the menu. When the waitress comes, she orders.
“I’ll have the Eggs Benedict, please.”
I only took one photo because her Eggs Benedict looked just exactly like my Crab Benedict.
And before you ask – NO! No! We didn’t eat it all! We could never eat it all! Mom took half home in a box, and I just ate the eggs and crab and a little bit of the hash browns and left the rest. It was too much and too rich!
By DONNA ABU-NASR
Associated Press Writer
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia —
Much of the world knows Petra, the ancient ruin in modern-day Jordan that is celebrated in poetry as “the rose-red city, ‘half as old as time,’” and which provided the climactic backdrop for “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
But far fewer know Madain Saleh, a similarly spectacular treasure built by the same civilization, the Nabateans.
That’s because it’s in Saudi Arabia, where conservatives are deeply hostile to pagan, Jewish and Christian sites that predate the founding of Islam in the 7th century.
But now, in a quiet but notable change of course, the kingdom has opened up an archaeology boom by allowing Saudi and foreign archaeologists to explore cities and trade routes long lost in the desert.
The sensitivities run deep. Archaeologists are cautioned not to talk about pre-Islamic finds outside scholarly literature. Few ancient treasures are on display, and no Christian or Jewish relics. A 4th or 5th century church in eastern Saudi Arabia has been fenced off ever since its accidental discovery 20 years ago and its exact whereabouts kept secret.
In the eyes of conservatives, the land where Islam was founded and the Prophet Muhammad was born must remain purely Muslim. Saudi Arabia bans public displays of crosses and churches, and whenever non-Islamic artifacts are excavated, the news must be kept low-key lest hard-liners destroy the finds.
“They should be left in the ground,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Nujaimi, a well-known cleric, reflecting the views of many religious leaders. “Any ruins belonging to non-Muslims should not be touched. Leave them in place, the way they have been for thousands of years.”
In an interview, he said Christians and Jews might claim discoveries of relics, and that Muslims would be angered if ancient symbols of other religions went on show. “How can crosses be displayed when Islam doesn’t recognize that Christ was crucified?” said al-Nujaimi. “If we display them, it’s as if we recognize the crucifixion.”
In the past, Saudi authorities restricted foreign archaeologists to giving technical help to Saudi teams. Starting in 2000, they began a gradual process of easing up that culminated last year with American, European and Saudi teams launching significant excavations on sites that have long gone lightly explored, if at all.
At the same time, authorities are gradually trying to acquaint the Saudi public with the idea of exploring the past, in part to eventually develop tourism. After years of being closed off, 2,000-year-old Madain Saleh is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to tourists. State media now occasionally mention discoveries as well as the kingdom’s little known antiquities museums.
“It’s already a big change,” said Christian Robin, a leading French archaeologist and a member of the College de France. He is working in the southwestern region of Najran, mentioned in the Bible by the name Raamah and once a center of Jewish and Christian kingdoms.
No Christian artifacts have been found in Najran, he said.
Spearheading the change is the royal family’s Prince Sultan bin Salman, who was the first Saudi in space when he flew on the U.S. space shuttle Discovery in 1985. He is now secretary general of the governmental Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.
Dhaifallah Altalhi, head of the commission’s research center at the governmental Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, said there are 4,000 recorded sites of different periods and types, and most of the excavations are on pre-Islamic sites.
“We treat all our sites equally,” said Altalhi. “This is part of the history and culture of the country and must be protected and developed.” He said archaeologists are free to explore and discuss their findings in academic venues.
Still, archaeologists are cautious. Several declined to comment to The Associated Press on their work in the kingdom.
The Arabian Peninsula is rich, nearly untouched territory for archaeologists. In pre-Islamic times it was dotted with small kingdoms and crisscrossed by caravan routes to the Mediterranean. Ancient Arab peoples – Nabateans, Lihyans, Thamud – interacted with Assyrians and Babylonians, Romans and Greeks.
Much about them is unknown.
Najran, discovered in the 1950s, was invaded nearly a century before Muhammad’s birth by Dhu Nawas, a ruler of the Himyar kingdom in neighboring Yemen. A convert to Judaism, he massacred Christian tribes, leaving triumphant inscriptions carved on boulders.
At nearby Jurash, a previously untouched site in the mountains overlooking the Red Sea, a team led by David Graf of the University of Miami is uncovering a city that dates at least to 500 B.C. The dig could fill out knowledge of the incense routes running through the area and the interactions of the region’s kingdoms over a 1,000-year span.
And a French-Saudi expedition is doing the most extensive excavation in decades at Madain Saleh. The city, also known as al-Hijr, features more than 130 tombs carved into mountainsides. Some 450 miles from Petra, it is thought to mark the southern extent of the Nabatean kingdom.
In a significant 2000 find, Altalhi unearthed a Latin dedication of a restored city wall at Madain Saleh which honored the second century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
So far, there has been no known friction with conservatives over the new excavations, in part because they are in the early stages, are not much discussed in Saudi Arabia, and haven’t produced any announcements of overtly Christian or Jewish finds.
But the call to keep the land purged of other religions runs deep among many Saudis. Even though Madain Saleh site is open for tourism, many Saudis refuse to visit on religious grounds because the Quran says God destroyed it for its sins.
Excavations sometimes meet opposition from local residents who fear their region will become known as “Christian” or “Jewish.” And Islam being an iconoclastic religion, hard-liners have been known to raze even ancient Islamic sites to ensure that they do not become objects of veneration.
Saudi museums display few non-Islamic artifacts.
Riyadh’s National Museum shows small pre-Islamic statues, a golden mask and a large model of a pagan temple. In some display cases, female figurines are listed, but not present – likely a nod to the kingdom’s ban on depictions of the female form.
A tiny exhibition at the King Saud University in Riyadh displays small nude statues of Hercules and Apollo in bronze, a startling sight in a country where nakedness in art is highly taboo.
In 1986, picnickers accidentally discovered an ancient church in the eastern region of Jubeil. Pictures of the simple stone building show crosses in the door frame.
It is fenced off – for its protection, authorities say – and archaeologists are barred from examining it.
Faisal al-Zamil, a Saudi businessman and amateur archaeologist, says he has visited the church several times.
He recalls offering a Saudi newspaper an article about the site and being turned down by an editor.
“He was shocked,” al-Zamil said. “He said he could not publish the piece.”
Associated Press Writer Lee Keath contributed from Cairo.
I arrived in Seattle just in time. My dearest, oldest friend’s father died as I was en route, and the service was this week. On a cold and dreary day, fortunately I had a dark dress with me, and I quickly ran and bought stockings, which are so irrelevant in the heat and humidity of August in Doha, and so necessary for a relatively formal occasion in Seattle.
Last night, we got together and walked, something we have done through the years, and then grabbed a bite to eat. We walked along Sunset Avenue, in Edmonds, just as the sun was setting.
In one of the yards, we saw this wonderful tarted-up piece of driftwood:
The light was glorious:
The Edmonds Market is one of my favorite things in my hometown, just north of Seattle. Street vendors set up early, and by nine in the morning the market is already going strong. I like to get there early, to get a good choice and – to get a parking space.
It was a wonderful, cool, cloudy morning, but there was no rain. I stopped at Celebrations, a bakery/catering booth, and bought chocolate covered brownies for a gathering later in the day, and an orange/cinnamon roll for my own sinful indulgence. (It was sticky and wonderful!)
All of the people photographed here gave permission for their photos:
The honey man who mixes all his own honeys and brings his bees to pollinate crops for various farmers:
The relish makers – a variety of homemade chutneys, condiments, relishes, made by them from herbs and vegetables they grow:
This lady sells wonderful lotions in divine fragrances – sandlewood, ginger and lime, etc.
This woman and her daughter knit and crochet darling little clothes for babies!
I found these wonderful squash / pumpkins:
There are all kinds of vendors selling flowers, at wonderful prices:
Just outside the Edmonds Street Market is the gazebo round-about, and every now and then, some kids think it hysterically funny to pour a little detergent into it, making it bubble over:
There is a Starbucks by the fountain, with several tables outside to accommodate dog walking patrons:
A sixteen year-old boy came home with a new Chevrolet Avalanche and his
parents began to yell and scream, ‘Where did you get that truck???!!!’
He calmly told them, ‘I bought it today.’
‘With what money?’ demanded his parents. They knew what a Chevrolet
‘Well,’ said the boy, ‘this one cost me just fifteen dollars.’ So the
parents began to yell even louder. ‘Who would sell a truck like that for
fifteen dollars?’ they said.
‘It was the lady up the street,’ said the boy. I don’t know her name -
they just moved in. She saw me ride past on my bike and asked me if I
wanted to buy a Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars.’
‘Oh my Goodness!,’ moaned the mother, ‘she must be a child abuser. Who knows
what she will do next? John, you go right up there and see what’s going
on.’ So the boy’s father walked up the street to the house where the lady
lived and found her out in the yard calmly planting petunias!
He introduced himself as the father of the boy to whom she had sold a new
Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars and demanded to know why she did it.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘this morning I got a phone call from my husband.. (I
thought he was on a business trip, but learned from a friend he had run off
to Hawaii with his mistress and really doesn’t intend to come back)
He claimed he was stranded and needed cash, and asked me to sell his new
Chevrolet Avalanche and send him the money.
So I did.’
(Are women good or what?)
We had decided on one restaurant, an Italian restaurant we both like, and were on our way, when Mom thought of another restaurant we might like to try, but it was on the way, so we could look at it and decide whether we wanted to eat there or go on to the Italian one.
This is very normal for our family. Our son used to call it “bait and switch” because we would say “Hey! Do you want to go to Tortilla Gonzales?” and he would say “Yeah!” and we would all jump in the car and then on the causeway, AdventureMan would say “You know I really have a taste for Chinese . . . would anyone prefer Chinese?” and I would jump in and say “We’re really close to that sushi place we all love!” and then our son would have to rein us in “NO! You said we were going to Tortilla Gonzales!”
Once he went away to college, we switched all the time. Later, we learned that now he and his wife do the old switch-a-roo, too – family culture is a hard thing to shake.
So we are en route and Mom suddenly shouts “RIBS!” and I say “What??” and she said “We just passed a rib place!” We were at a stop light. “Mom,” I asked, “Do you want to go to that rib place?”
I pull into the U-turn lane and complain “You’ve got to start dealing with me directly; if you want to go to the rib place, you have to say so!” The complete irony being that I was already making the U-turn, which is what she wanted me to do. . . . Family culture being a hard thing to shake . . .
But as we pulled into the already crowded parking lot, the smell was absolutely divine. There was already a line. Good thing, too, it gave us time to read the menu and decide what we wanted.
We both ordered ribs. We are both forbidden to eat ribs. I eat ribs maybe one time each year, like once, at a buffet, I ate one small rib. It is so rare that I allow myself to eat a rib that I can remember even that one tiny rib. But this time, I ordered ribs, because my Mom did. She ordered Sweet Potato Fries and Cole Slaw and I ordered Hush Puppies and Cole Slaw.
You are going to be so so proud of me. I took pictures before we ate the food this time, well, except for one tiny bite I took out of the hushpuppies, but that was to show you what they look like on the inside. (My Mom has NEVER had a hushpuppy in her life before having one of mine.)
We sat down in the large outside sitting place – I can’t help but wonder what they do in the winter time, because it can get really really cold and damp in Seattle, but I am guessing that they do a huge take-out business.
They have a map that they want people to put push-pins in to say where they are from:
I made a little addition:
And, as I promised, here is the food. Actually, they gave Mom this HUGE portion, about double my portion, but since I got four ribs and only ate two, Mom took home a huge box of leftover ribs to package up and freeze and have a little at a time.
Did you know sweet potatoes are really really healthy for you?
(I think sweet potatoes are healthier for you when they have a lower surface/interior ratio and have absorbed less fat, but these are totally, incredibly delicious. That’s sugar on the sweet potato fries, not salt.) Mom took leftover sweet potato fries home, too.
I can’t even pretend that there is anything healthy about deep fried cornbread. I ate them all, except the one Mom ate. They . . . they were really really good. Yes, I am so ashamed, but I would do it again.
And no, I didn’t take a photo of the sweet potato pie, generously seasoned with fresh nutmeg, it was divine, or the key lime pie we couldn’t eat and Mom took that home, too.
Oh, this food was good. As we left, the line stretched way out to door and into the parking lot.
Casper’s Taste of the South
15030 Bothell Way
Lake Forest Park, WA
Their slogan is:
Put a Little South in Your Mouth. LLLOOOLLLL!
Holy Smokes! Have you seen this?
Kidnapped British soldier leaps off balcony to freedom
A British soldier who was kidnapped by Muslim fanatics in Kuwait leapt from a balcony to escape his captors.
By Ben Leach
Published: 9:26AM BST 27 Aug 2009
Private Peter Walker was ambushed by five men wielding knives in Kuwait City before being beaten up and bundled into a building.
Pte Walker, in his mid-20s, was then left alone while his captors talked into mobile phones. The soldier, who had gone for a pizza in civilian clothes, struggled free and scrambled up a flight of steps – to find he was trapped on the first floor.
He then jumped off the balcony as the gang chased after him and managed to land safely before running to safety through the streets below.
Pte Walker, who was serving with 59 Movement Control Squadron, 29 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, in Iraq before the pull-out of British troops in May, is back in Britain after the ordeal last Sunday.
It is believed the gang pounced after they heard him speak English. A source told The Sun: “Pte Walker had gone out to the local pizza shop but found it closed.
“He was ambushed by five men. He feared they were going to sell him on to terrorists. They were all talking on mobiles. Pte Walker tried to speak to them in English but they blanked him.
“He ran up the stairs and had no option but to jump off the balcony. If he hadn’t escaped he could have been held to ransom or beheaded by terrorists.”
The Ministry of Defence said that Kuwaiti police and the Royal Military Police are investigating.
This is what really happened:
The soldier was part of the UK’s team at KIA looking after RAF aircraft going in and out of Kuwait. The detachment is due to withdraw in September and they had a “farewell” party last Saturday (the first full day of Ramadan). There was alcohol at the party!
The soldier was at the party and in the early hours (0530 hrs) of the following morning decided he wanted pizza. He took a vehicle from the detachments villa in Mesilla and went to Dominos Pizza (off the 207/30). He found the shop closed (hardly surprising as it was after dawn during Ramadan). He looked around the shop, was banging on the door and then tried to force the door open. He was seen by some locals who intervened. Things became heated and the locals tried to detain the soldier and called the police. The soldier put up a fight and was put into the harris’ room in the adjoining flats.
Whilst in “custody” the soldier picked up a bottle of water and drank it!
The soldier got out of the room (he certainly didn’t jump from a balcony), got to his car and drove back to the villa. On the way back he hit several other cars.
On returning to the villa his CO was informed what happened and the police arrived at about the same time.
The MP’s and police did not believe that this was a kidnapping and no charges will be bought against the locals. The soldier was repatriated to the UK last Monday and will face charges.
There is no way that this soldier is a hero. He is young and immature and should never have been allowed to serve in such an environment.
Yesterday Mom pulled out a clipping from the Seattle Times about an unknown sculptor who had left a collection of fascinating sculptures – papier mache’ with golden highlights – of people emerging from their shells. They were delivered by stealth to the park by by the artist and friends, and left displayed to the wonderment of runners, joggers, walkers and picnicking families who discovered them at the Gasworks Park.
“Guerrilla-art in Seattle
In what was advertised as a gift to the citizens of Seattle, a gold-colored sculpture by an unknown artist turned up in Gas Works Park on Tuesday, August 25, 2009. “Anew is gifted to the citizens of Seattle in the spirit of awakening,” the artist wrote in a plaque attached to the sculpture.”
(This is not my photo; this photo is from the Seattle Times Photo Gallery and you can purchase a copy of it from them)
How cool is that? The park officials were all set to pick the art works up and dispose of them, but people started calling in, by the hundreds, “no! leave it there! It is wonderful!” And, amazement of amazements, the city listened, and left the sculptures there.
In today’s Seattle Times is a follow up:
Guerrilla artist goes public; golden man already taken
By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter (you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type)
The artist who left a sculpture in Seattle’s Gas Works Park earlier this week says she was “amazed and overwhelmed” by the response to the art.
“I spent some time both in the afternoon and evening standing with the crowd, watching their reactions, and I am overflowing with joy,” said Cyra Hobson, 31, in an e-mail sent Wednesday night.
The Seattle Parks Department said Wednesday it will leave the multipiece sculpture in place until Labor Day rather than removing it today, as had been planned.
So Mom and I decided we wanted to take a look, which is a lot braver than you can imagine. Mom has always been active, but she is no longer able to walk as long as she wants to walk – at 86, she hates to accept any limitations, so off we go.
We get to the Gas Works Park and it is another gorgeous day, warm, without being hot, and we walk. And we walk. And we don’t see one single piece of sculpture. People have taken her at her word – they are all gone!
Oh well. We missed an ephemeral moment in time, a great happening, but we still had a great adventure. The view from the Gas Works park (which is – no kidding – on the site of a defunct Gas Works factory, so they turned it into a park for families, joggers, dog walkers, etc.) is phenomenal – at one time, there was a jet, a helicopter and a pontoon plane in the air, a car/boat, several kayaks and a fishing boat in the water, and dogs and children everywhere.
Of course I took some photos to share with you:
This is a “Duck.” Right now it is a boat, but it can also put down wheels and function as an open tour bus on land:
It’s another gorgeous day in Seattle, hitting around 87°F/29°C, blue skies, not a cloud in sight, a day everyone heads for the beach.
My Mom LOVES the beach.
“How about if I pick up lunch and we eat on the beach?” I ask her, and she agrees almost before I ask. “But I don’t need a big lunch,” she adds, “only two pieces of fish and no fries, I’ll just eat a couple of yours.”
I hardly ever order fish and chips. I almost never order fries. How could she know me for so long and not know that?
After running my errands, I hit the Ivar’s Seafood Bar and order – two orders of fish and chips.
I remembered to take a photo of the fish and chips before the fish was entirely gone
I picked up Mom and we drove to the waterfront, scoring rock-star parking and a park bench with a view that went forever, right off the beach and watching the Edmonds ferry come in and out of the dock:
And then we went home and waited for Mom’s new red chair to be delivered, which it was, and it is beautiful!