Today – from WeatherUndergroundNews:
Behold — a way to capture a maximum amount of solar power in one of the sunniest regions on the planet.
Located in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates that cozy up to the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi announced the opening of the Shams 1 solar plant last month. Shams 1, which translates to “the Sun” in Arabic, according to the BBC, utilizes more than 250,000 mirrors to capture and harness the power of the sun.
Officials in Abu Dhabi hope the new plant will save 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year, reports an NPR blog. That’s the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road, they say, and several more of these mega-plants are in the works.
The other reason for building the Shams 1? The country will be able to export more of their vast natural oil reserves instead of using it within the country. It will lead to even more profit for the UAE, says Bloomberg. The plant cost $750 million to build, but according to the report, it’s just the first step in a plan to generate one-third of the country’s energy from solar power by the year 2032.
AdventureMan and I were up early yesterday, headed for early church, then he headed home to vacuum (God bless him mightily!) and I headed to the commissary. We expected house guests today, Monday, but they were coming by car and I had hopes they might arrive a little early, which they did.
As we were cleaning, putting away groceries, making sure the guest suite was in top condition, we could hear a symphony of buzzing, humming, clicking, sawing – we had the windows open, and with the temperatures in the 70′s, climbing into the 80′s (F) it was one of those irresistible days for yard work, and all the neighborhood was out mowing, trimming, weed-whacking, etc. We could hear the hmmmmmmmmm of air conditioners turned on, and the clicking of pool cleaners whirring and cleaning.
We treasure these rare days; warm enough to enjoy having the house open, to hear the birds and cicadas. It’s one of those days that energizes.
And then, the wind shifted, and grew cool. From the 80′s, around three in the afternoon, to evening, it dropped 30 degrees. This morning, it is in the high 30′s – a fifty degree shift! I hope the pool is warm at the Y.
We’ve been in Pensacola three years this month, or anyway, I have. AdventureMan retired, but went back twice to help out and to start things up on a major contract. He was retired, but useful.
The longest we’ve ever stayed in any one place was 6 years. The second longest was 4.5 years. There were some 6 month places, 10 month places, and three years was a long posting. I feel the internal clock ticking; I am cleaning out closets and drawers. No, I am not packing. No, I am not moving, but the habits are still there and don’t go away. Go through everything. Weed and cull. Pass along. Give away. Evaluate.
AdventureMan is fully engaged in a very different life from before, and it requires some adjustment – for both of us. You’d think my life wouldn’t be that different, I still do aqua aerobics, I spend time doing volunteer work, serving the church, meeting up with other quilters, etc., same life, different location, right? No No Noooooooooooooooooooo!
Take the spice drawers. AdventureMan still tells the story of when we first got married and I did my first big grocery shopping, setting up household. As he lugged bags and bags into the house, he jokingly asked if I had everything (his bachelor refrigerator kept beer cold; there was nothing else in it!) and I said no, that I had groceries, but I would have to go back for spices.
When I got back with two bags full of herbs and spices and cooking things like baking powder and baking soda, he was wide-eyed. He was thinking “salt . .. pepper . . . what else is there?” He still laughs about it, lo, these forty years later.
Three years in Pensacola has given me time to think about the spice drawers. They frustrated AdventureMan, and he offered to re-arrange them more logically, which almost started a nuclear war in our family dynamics. Logically, he is now doing more cooking and he should have more input, but it is really, really hard for me to give up territory in the kitchen, and, well, AdventureMan can be a little bit aggressive in amassing his territory.
But, after three years, I agree, the spice drawers are not working, and one reason is I got this state-of-the-art rubberized drawer liner, but it crept back and made the spices rise up and then the drawers got stuck open or closed and it really was frustrating.
Yesterday, I had the house to myself and because I hadn’t planned it, it wasn’t something I dreaded, I just started fiddling with the spice drawers, just editing, getting rid of some really old stuff, combining duplicates and . . . well, because I hadn’t put it on the “To Do List” it was fun. So much fun I decided to go all the way, take out the annoying rubberized liner and have some fun.
I’ve always loved great drawer liners. Good thing, huh? I’ve lined a LOT of drawers. There are some wonderful liners out there, but I love to use wrapping paper. Every now and then I’ll see a design I love, or something that thrills my heart. Because I moved so often, I knew it wasn’t a lifetime commitment, so I just had fun with it. And that is what I did yesterday.
I have some great wrapping paper I brought back that I went to a lot of trouble to get, flying down from Kuwait to Doha to go to the American Women’s Bazaar in November, where I knew there would be the vendor from Saudi Arabia who makes and sells these quirky, whimsical Arabic-themed wrapping papers that I loved to use for all the Christmas gifts and house-guest gifts I would take back three or four times a year. I hand carried several rolls of this paper back to Kuwait, then shipped it back to Doha when we moved back there, then shipped it again, carefully protected, to Pensacola when we retired.
Here in Pensacola, however, it seems less and less relevant. I don’t use it to wrap my Christmas gifts like I used to because the gifts are no longer exotic surprises from the Middle East. And I still have a lot of this paper, paper which delights me, but for which I have no real purpose . . .
So I decided I would use it to line my spice drawers. I can see it every day and smile. It is making itself useful, and two or three years down the road when it is worn and needs replacing, I can find something else that delights my heart.
When AdventureMan comes in, I am just finishing up. I warn him, because he, like me, likes to know where things are.
“What’s the logic?” he asks, and I think “this is one of the reasons I married him; he knows to ask the most pertinent question.”
“Here are whole spices, seeds, peppers,” I tell him as I indicate a section, “and here are exotics, spices from the Gulf and Jordan and Tunisia. This section is grill mixtures and all kinds of chili powders and Creole mixes. Over here you have aromatics and baking spices, and here are the Italian and French herbs. The last section is onion and garlic powders and salts, flavored salts of all kinds, and frequently used multi-use herbs.”
He totally got it.
People all around Pensacola are dropping like flies; the weather fluctuates between hot and humid and cold and dry, with thunderstorms marking the boundaries, and there are colds and flu popping up everywhere. I’ve flown serenely through the season without much problem, just a little four day cold around Christmas, feeling thankful for my strong immune system. I may have been a little smug.
And then, WHAM, it hit. One minute I was in a meeting, and the next, as I headed home, I was sniffing and reaching for a tissue. It quickly got worse. It was one of those nights where you can’t sleep because you are drowning in your own mucus. I know, I know, too much information, too graphic. Trust me, the reality has been worse. I stayed in bed most of Friday, and Saturday, when I was feeling better, we discovered our water heater has sprung a leak. All that mopping up was probably good exercise; once we got all the water up we were OK. Yesterday, my sniffles had turned into aching, irritated sinuses, so I spent the day putting warmth on my face.
This morning, we have the plumbers coming in with a new water heater, I feel marginally better, and I know I will feel a LOT better once I can get a hot shower
There was a huge blessing in all this. Our calendars for January and February are full, winter is the active season in Pensacola. We have events, we have commitments, and we have house guests coming. In the entire period, I only had five dates with no obligations, and that was this weekend. It’s a strange thing to be thankful for, but I thank God to be sick during a time when I can stay home and take care of myself, and I don’t have to call anyone and renege on an obligation.
It’s also wonderful that if the water heater was going to go (and it is ten years old) it burst while we were here, and we were able to stop the flow and mop up the water before it caused a lot of damage. We had a water heater go out several homes ago, while we were out of town, and oh, what a mess we came back to, and it took forever to get all the carpeting dried out and replaced. It’s wonderful that we could take care of this BEFORE our house guests start arriving.
We’ve been exploring tankless heaters; our heater is smack in the center of the house, a terrible location, where, if it goes, it can cause a lot of damage. We’ll go ahead with a regular old-fashioned heater this time, but suddenly, we have some urgency to trying to install tankless – maybe in the next couple of years. We had tankless heaters in Germany, and in the Middle East; we are used to them and comfortable with the idea. I like the idea of not keeping water warm when we are not using it, and heating it only when we do. I also like the idea of not having gallons and gallons of water spilling into my kitchen, dining room, living room and family room when the tank goes
I miss my energy . . . I no longer feel smug, no longer assured of my good health. I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to be normal, without sinus pain, without this thick-headed draggy feeling. I think I’m on the mend; the last three days I couldn’t even begin to think about writing a blog entry . . .
I was making a salad to go with today’s lunch and remembered AdventureMan warning me we were just about out of roasted pecans, and needed more. It is a cool – almost cold – rainy rainy day in Pensacola, a perfect day for cranking up the oven to roast some pecans. We still have a wealth of pecans from a generous donation made by my dear daughter-in-law’s Texas aunt, who has a heart as big as Texas.
As I roast the pecans (425°F for about 10 minutes) the house becomes fragrant with that luxurious smell. I am transported back to Kuwait, where I remember paying a fortune for a small packet of pecans I needed to bake a pecan pie. Normally, we didn’t even bother looking at the prices, but the price on those pecans was so high I really had to think about buying them, it’s like paying an extortionist. But I needed pecans. I paid.
Now, we have this luxurious blessing of pecans, and not just pecans, but these fresh, fragrant, tasty Texas pecans, and as they roast, they are blessing my entire house with a rich roasty fragrance. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. This wonderful aunt gave us this wealth of pecans, and the gift just keeps on giving and giving, through the Christmas season, well into January – and we still have pecans left. I’ve paid a lot more and gotten a lot less joy from a purchase. I think of this wonderful woman and her gift every time we use them.
Yes, I roasted a lot of pecans, because we sprinkle them on all kinds of things, and that roasted flavor just enriches everything they touch. Yes, they keep in an air-tight container, for as long as it takes for us to eat them, which can be two or three weeks.
And here is the salad, post-pecans but pre-salad dressing:
It’s another luxurious blessing. About twelve years ago, when we had a posting in Germany, we packed everything into storage and just bought what we needed to live with. As days go by, however, you – or I, anyway – just need a few little things to make life nice. You pick up a few gorgeous dessert plates here, a few Christmas ornaments there . . . some cookie sheets, just a little extra, and before you know it, life is no longer so simple. To help keep it simple, I mostly bought things I could just leave behind when we left the country to head to the next country, or I transported things home in those big bags we used to be able to take on the transoceanic flights. I ended up having to rent a storage locker in Seattle for all the treasures I accumulated in our second round of overseas living, LOL.
The first year we were living once again in Germany, as we were buying some wardrobe units, I spotted two salad / serving bowls at IKEA. They aren’t costly porcelain, they are just ceramic bowls, but I love the shape, and inside each one are two beautiful purply-blue irises. I looked at them and loved their conception, their design. I pointed them out to AdventureMan, and then promptly forgot them. Because he is a very smart man, I found them under the Christmas tree a few months later, and was thrilled to recognize them. We have both treasured them ever since.
With each subsequent move, I carefully wrapped those bowls and used them again and again at each posting. We pull them out all the time, these bowls are a perfect size for a salad-to-share or a side dish, and to this day, they look like new. It makes me laugh; I’ve had much more expensive dishes which were not so long for this world; these are go-to serving bowls, and still look brand new.
So today I am feeling extraordinarily thankful for the great luxury of pecans, the wonderful aroma of their roasting, and the great blessing of serving them in a bowl which gives us joy every time we use them.
AdventureMan, half way to his goal of becoming a Master Gardener, spent the last week cleaning out the pots and gardens in back, but couldn’t bear to get rid of these two valiant tomato plants which continue bearing well into January. We’ve had delicious tomatoes since August! Who know we would live in a place where you plant tomato seeds in June and continue to have fresh tomatoes growing into January?
We also have a wonderful aloe plant, which got a little confused in the warmth of a couple days of December and sent up a flower. The first year we were here, the flowers came up in April, but Spring seems to be coming earlier and earlier . . .
We’re having a little tree work done, and AdventureMan is studying pruning techniques, so as to judiciously and minimally trim back some of our fruit trees, and clear some of the dead branches off our huge oak tree. I’ve got two avocado trees that I’ve grown from seeds, in large pots now, and some basil plants that still appear to be doing well. I still remember the hedges made of basil, which grew year round in Qatar at the Ramada Hotel, and in Kuwait would go dormant during the brutal heat of summer but come roaring back once the heat moderated.