Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“It’s Going to Be Painful!”

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A week after the wedding, I am talking with the mother-of-the-groom, my old friend and telling her she has inspired AdventureMan and I. A friend has contacted us, someone we like, but also someone from another culture. We’ve been friends for a while, but we don’t know him well.

He asked if he and his 10 year old son can come stay with us.

AdventureMan and I looked at each other. This is a man we like and admire, but the cultural differences are profound. We agreed that it is the right thing to do, and the thing we want to do.

So I’m telling my friend, whose home has been a revolving door informal hotel as long as I have known her. She knocks herself out helping people. Lives have changed because she and her husband “welcome the stranger.”

“We want to do it,” I told her, “but we know it is going to be painful.”

“It’s going to be painful!” she enthusiastically agreed. We laughed. This is the basis of our friendship, the ability to tell each other the worst things in our lives and to laugh about it. She knows I am an introvert, and love my peaceful quiet.

“It’s also going to be worth it.” She added, and I believe her.

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May 25, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Humor, Quality of Life Issues, Spiritual, Travel, Values | , | 3 Comments

Busy Edmonds Saturday (and Mukilteo, too)

It’s a short trip, and we’ve stayed on Pensacola time, so we are up early on a Saturday morning; we know the Edmonds Pancake Haus will be open. I’ve been going there for about 20 years and it always looks the same. It’s an institution. When I lived in Edmonds, a large group of “8-o-clockers”, i.e. those who attended the 8 a.m. service at Saint Albans on Sundays would head down to the Edmonds Pancake Haus afterwards, hoping we could beat the Lutherans (or Baptists or Methodists or Presbyterians) to the coveted larger tables in the back room. There are a lot of Edmonds people up early.

The menu has undergone some renovations; prices up, a few things gone, a few added, but they always have Swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce (sigh, yes, it is a Scandinavian thing). I think lingonberries also grow in Alaska; I can almost remember going out on a boat somewhere to pick them, but I was a kid and memory is fuzzy.

My memory of Swedish pancakes, however, is sharp, as is my appetite :-)

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AdventureMan has his favorites, biscuit and gravy, and hash browns, and bacon, LOL. Now that we are all grown up and childless, we can do what we want. Sometimes, we even order dessert first, no, I am not kidding. Why waste calories on something healthy when you can have dessert?

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From the Pancake Haus, we head for the Edmonds Market. “It’s not a full market yet, not until June,” Mama warned, but it was actually a fairly large market, with bakeries, pizzas, many flower vendors, a few vegetable vendors, and a lot of assorted vendors – soaps, jewelry, knit goods, pictures, plants and fresh fish and frozen meats. Lots to see, lots to buy; we found a bouquet of flowers just right for Mama, to replace the Mother’s Day bouquets which have bit the dust.

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We visit for a while with Mama, then head out for a drive to Mukilteo, where we almost bought a house once. I still go visit that house from time to time, knowing it wasn’t right for me, I am glad someone bought it and is enjoying the view.

AdventureMan loves me, he suggests we eat at Ivar’s in Mukilteo. I LOVE eating at Ivar’s in Mukilteo, and by one of life’s amazing and wonderful coincidences, we are seated at my favorite table.

This is the view:

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Choosing something from all the great options at Ivar’s is hard, and just this very day, Copper River Salmon has come in.

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I’ve been yearning for something else, however, something we can’t get in Pensacola. I would call it a Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse, and I think that is what they used to call it, but now they call it something else. AdventureMan ordered the same thing, and because it is messy (Alaska crab legs; you have to pull them apart and crack them to get the sweet crab meat out of legs and claws) they bring a large plastic bib, which I am not to proud to wear because cleaning crab is truly a messy job.

We got so into it, I didn’t take a photo, LOL, but here is the description:

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Actually, it was something a lot like that, something on the fresh menu last Saturday but not today. It was sort of like a ciopinno, something made specially for that day, I guess. It was so good, so good, we savored every morsel.

Outside the restaurant, fishermen are trying their luck at catching something as the ferry comes in and out, bringing waves of fish:

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This is what the ferry boat riders see as they arrive, a view of Ivar’s from the water side:

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And this isn’t even a holiday weekend; there are always lines for the ferries, but on weekends, especially during summer, those lines can take hours. Some people keep cars on both sides of the ferry, because you can always walk on; it is cheaper and you don’t have to wait in line.

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The sign telling you what matters at Ivar’s in Mukilteo:
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As we are leaving Mukilteo, we have a stream of historic planes coming towards us; it is part of the historic flight air show out of the Mukilteo flilght museum:

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May 24, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Shopping | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Glimpses of North Seattle

“As Sallam wa alaikum!” I smiled at the Sudanese women coming in to their jobs in our hotel.

They stopped still in their tracks.

“You speak Arabic!” they said, astonishment clear on their faces.

“Only a little!” I smiled back.

I had a whole squad of new friends.

Now that financial times are easing, many hotels we have visited over the last few months are renovating and getting new mattresses. This was a real bonus for our Sudanese friends, and all of their friends.

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Have you ever tied a mattress on the top of your car and tried to drive? It is a wild and dangerous adventure; the wind lifts and pushes the mattress toward the back as you drive. Unless the mattress if firmly and thoroughly tied down, you are in for a wild ride.

And then again, if you are new in a country, and in need of a mattress, a wild ride is a small price to pay.

On our way back to the hotel, we see protestors in red shirts at every corner. This is not protestors Ferguson style, these are Seattle style protestors, making a big demonstration for fully funding public education, and all the signs are grammatical :-)

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We are so full from lunch that we just want a small dinner. We find a good Ethiopian restaurant listed near our hotel, and head there, but when we arrive, there is plywood over two windows and a sign saying “Sorry, dear customers, but due to car accident our restaurant is closed until it is fixed.”

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We end up at Ivar’s Seafood Bar, which is quick food, but not cheap food, and very very good food. We are greeted by an older man as we enter, he says “Welcome to Ivars! I hope you have a great meal.” We thought he might be an official greeter, but no, he was a customer like us. We ended up sitting in a booth next to his, so he stopped on his way out to see what we had ordered (halibut and chips, smoked salmon chowder, Dungeness crab cocktail) and just to chat. It’s an Edmonds kind of thing, neighborliness and civility.

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Hotels, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Renovations, Seattle, Social Issues, Values | , , , , | Leave a comment

Arnies Restaurant in Edmonds, Washington

Mama loves Arnies restaurant, and specifically, she loves the bar in Arnies. It’s not that my Mama is a big drinker, but that the bar in Arnie’s has the best 180 degree view of Puget Sound and the ferries coming and going. Arnies it is.

We had actually talked about going to a really good Chinese restaurant not too far away, but all the reviews stressed that you don’t get good service unless you are Chinese. I’ve been there many times – but always with my Chinese friend. She did all the ordering. We think today might be a more positive experience if we stick with Arnies.

And a positive experience it is. This is the view from Arnies:

00ViewFromArnies

The food was awesome. Everything was delicious. Even AdventureMan was raving, and he can be a hard sell. I had the Pacific Northwest Seafood Louis, with salmon as well as shrimp and crab, and a cup of Seafood Bisque, which is always reliably delicious. I love Louis salads; and I can’t get them in the South:

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Mama ordered the soup and sandwich combination, so she had Seafood Bisque and an open face Seafood Melt, which she said was also delicious:
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AdventureMan had the Seafood Grill, and was almost out of his mind with happiness, it was SO good:
00ArniesSeafoodGrill

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Marina Beach Park

Marina Beach Park has a wonderful rocky beach, tidewater flats and a few sandy places. There is a great playground with equipment for children (in addition to all the huge logs and driftwood and adventures you can have on the beach, upturning rocks and seeing what is crawling there!) There are walking paths, paved, so you can push a wheelchair. There are benches where you can sit and watch the ferries, or have a little lunch. There are picnic tables and a large grassy area for running and playing.

We finish our walk, and there is a wonderful kite flyer, using two controls, and he has a kite that spins and twirls and reminds us of The Kite Runner. A man in a nearby car tells us he wins kite competitions with his maneuvers:

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School groups are on field trips, examining the beach and its aquatic inhabitants, having a wonderful time. Lunch on the beach is a special treat.

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Can you see all the loops the kite tail has made?

00KiteFlyerThere is a separate enclosure for dogs, where they can be unleashed and let to run free.

Edmonds is very strict about dogs being on leashes. Who wants to be walking on a beach and step in dog poop? Not me! But what I love about Edmonds is that they have created a very large space just for the dogs, and the dogs can play together, run together and have a great time. Everyone is happy.

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Quality of Life Issues, Seattle, Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Edmonds Bakery

There is more than one Edmonds, in fact there are several layers of Edmonds experience, but the biggest distinction is between the day-trippers and the locals.

There is a great Starbucks, and it is usually packed. There is another cafe, on Walnut, and it has wonderful pastries and a loyal clientele. And then, there is the Edmonds Bakery, where the locals go.

We go the first time because we are killing time before my Mom’s hair appointment is over and we can take her to lunch. We are also two hours past our normal lunch time, so we tell ourselves we can have some tea and a cookie just to tide us over until lunch.

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The Edmonds Bakery has the best pies, wonderful pies with a home-made taste, especially when berry season comes in. They also have maple bars, which we stop and buy for my Mom the next day, as she has always loved maple bars.

The Edmonds bakery also has a notable collection of cookie jars. Everywhere you look, a different cookie jar. I imagine a few of them are probably very valuable on the collectables market, but most of them are just so much fun.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to be the one to dust them all!

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The Edmonds Bakery has a limited number of booths and tables where you can sit and enjoy your pastry :-) This is where the locals gather, and find out what’s going on in Edmonds.

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, ExPat Life, Food, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Quality of Life Issues, Seattle, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Quick Trip To Edmonds, WA

I’ve shared many photos through the years of my home town, a little town north of Seattle where ferry boats comes in and go out to the Olympic peninsula; the ferries are part of the highway system. It is a small town with several beaches, homes with great views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains, home and headquarters for Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door, and a great community with a lot of emphasis on civility, community and the arts.

This trip is even better – AdventureMan comes with me. He hasn’t been in Edmonds for a while, and has forgotten how charming and fun it is. We check on our house, discover we love it as much as ever, and then head out around town.

Edmonds has an annual tour of gardens, and there are public gardens everywhere, and hanging baskets on the major streets.

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They have invested in a lot of public art, funded greatly by their annual Edmonds Arts Fest, held in June, usually on Father’s Day weekend:

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Down near the ferry, Adventureman spotted a bald eagle sitting on a piling:

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This is one of those photos I kid myself about. Yes, it’s a cool sign, and the photo also includes that bald eagle, the Olympics, the sound, and the ferry landing. Can I include anything more?

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There are all kinds of people gathered on the Edmonds beaches, soaking up the warm sunshine. These young women gave AdventureMan a candy bar; they had a bunch with them and were just giving them out. Anywhere else, you wouldn’t eat it, but in Edmonds . . . you might be safe

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May 22, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Birds, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Gardens, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Values | , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Is My Neighbor?

We just finished our year in EfM, Education for Ministry, and the overall theme was a multi-cultural world, where we confront our own assumptions and prejudices. It has been a grand journey.

We have friends, friends whose son is our son’s best friend for lo, these many years, and they know how to be good neighbors. They are the soul of hospitality. They take in immigrants, fresh-off-the-boat, and teach them how to survive, help them find furniture, apartments, and a living. They welcome visitors, and care for them and their children. They are helpful. They do all this because it is the right thing to do, and they do it tirelessly. I am in awe of these friends; they are the essence of the Good Samaritan.

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This is Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of The Good Samaritan

THURSDAY, May 21 (from Forward Day by Day)

Luke 10:29 And who is my neighbor?

This beloved parable is about more than being kind to our neighbor. It’s about the grace that is shared and the miracle that is manifested each time we help each other, and each time we allow ourselves to be helped. Both of the main characters in this story, the man who is beaten and left for dead and the man who rescues him and has him cared for, had to humble themselves in order to be in relationship.
Mutual distrust and mutual prejudice could have cost the injured man his life, either by the Samaritan refusing to stop, or in the injured man refusing help from such a suspicious source. Jesus asks us to look past the natural lines of religious creed, racial and ethnic identities, socioeconomic status, and all the other words we use to separate “us” from “them,” and to see his face in the man in the ditch. Jesus is asking us to look up and see his face in the man who is saving someone who cannot save himself.

We are invited to see the face of Jesus on each of these men—to realize that when we reach out in love or when we are being helped, Jesus is always present. Are you willing to be humbled in that way? Who or what can you help, today? Who or what can help you?

PRAY for the Diocese of North West Australia (Western Australia, Australia)

Ps 105:1-22 * 105:23-45; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32; Hebrews 7:18-28; Luke 10:25-37

When I think of the Good Samaritan, I think too of a very pregnant friend, pregnant with triplets, a Jewish woman working in Qatar, whose car broke down. In this day of cell phones, she called her husband for help, but in the time she waited for him to arrive with help, many many Qatari men and families stopped to offer assistance, insisted on giving her bottles of cold water, stopped and waited with her until her husband came and she was safe. They saw a stranger in distress, and they didn’t hesitate, they stopped. Good neighbors :-)

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Character, Charity, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Qatar, Quality of Life Issues, Spiritual, Values | , , | Leave a comment

When is Ramadan 2015?

Ramadan in 2015 will start on Thursday, the 18th of June and will continue for 30 days until Friday, the 17th of July.

Note that in the Muslim calander, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Ramadan on the sunset of Wednesday, the 17th of June.

Although Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This difference means Ramadan moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. The date of Ramadan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not.

The dates provided here are based on the dates adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America for the celebration of Ramadan. Note that these dates are based on astronomical calculations to affirm each date, and not on the actual sighting of the moon with the naked eyes. This approach is accepted by many, but is still being hotly debated.

Info from When Is

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Quality of Life Issues, Ramadan, Travel | 1 Comment

ISIS Seizes One Third of Palmyra

This is dire news for anyone who loves history, historical and archeological sites. Ancient Tadmor/Palmyra is a great draw for tourists in a poor region of Syria. It’s destruction will be tragic.

From BBC News

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Islamic State fighters have seized the northern part of the ancient World Heritage-listed city of Palmyra in Syria, a monitoring group has said.
Militants seized part of the town of Tadmur located on a strategic east-west route next to Palmyra on Saturday but had been pushed back from the ruins.

Palmyra contains the ruins of one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, according to UNESCO.

It is feared IS fighters may now damage or destroy the site.

Syria’s antiquities chief said the insurgents would destroy the ancient ruins if they took control.

The group has demolished similar antiquities in Iraq, seeing them as symbols of idolatry.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said a third of Palmyra had been taken.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Quality of Life Issues | , , , , | 1 Comment

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