Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Glassy Shimmer

This morning, it is once again only 81°F / 27°C at 0700 – it gets hot later in the day, but not so much humidity as before. Yesterday, after being outside only a short time, I felt like my skin had turned into cracked alligator hide – the dry heat just sucked all the moisture out. My eyes also felt gritty, even through it appeared fairly clear.

Another gorgeous morning, just a hint of that sulphery yellow haze on the horizon, sea flat as glass:

A fisherman is trying to snag something for the pot for tonight’s dinner:

September 22, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Food, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Weather | 2 Comments

Change in the Weather

At 0700 this morning, it is only 81°F / 27°C. What a change! No steamed up windows, the humidity is also down.

I love October in Kuwait, when the temperatures swing dramatically into the comfortable zone, and we can even start eating outside at night. We are yearning to go back to the Souk Mubarakiyya after church on Fridays, or on a relaxed Saturday night. Or Paul’s in the Fehaheel Al Kout Mall, out by the fountains. For six months, Kuwait is a delightful place to be. While my fellow Americans – or at least those not stationed in Kuwait or Iraq or Qatar – are slogging their way through the rain and wind and snow, we are basking in a sweet mostly-warm climate, our reward for the brutality of the summers here.

Although – there ARE people who love the heat! I even notice that I am not so uncomfortable in the summers as I once was. Unless it is humid, I don’t even break a sweat when I am out, or else it is so hot that it is just evaporating off me and I don’t even know it.

Yesterday, when I got up, it was too late to catch the sunrise, but what I did catch was lovely – a whole fleet of boats out fishing. Thanks to Enviro Girl telling me about the enhanced zoom capability on my camera, I was able to get some fairly clear shots, even at a distance:

Here, they’re hauling in something for dinner!

(Or maybe they are just hauling in the anchor. 🙂

If you want to see all the photos from the Souk Mubarakiyya, just do a search in the search box to the right and it will show you all the articles and photos I have taken there.

September 21, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Food, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Weather | 2 Comments

Kuwait Tsunami and Earthquake Warning

This is from Al Watan (thanks to Mrm for telling me what a good, reliable source they are!)

Expert warns of powerful earthquakes in Strait of Hormuz

Al Watan staff

KUWAIT: A leading Kuwaiti expert on earthquakes has warned that the Gulf region may face a devastating earthquake that could measure 7.0 on the Richter scale and cause a devastating tsunami.

Dr. Feryal BuRabee said the prospect of such an eventuality is great, particularly since repeated earthquakes have been reported in the Hormuz Straits.

Stressing that such a forecast must be taken seriously; the expert said the shallowness of the area where the earthquakes took place makes the possibility of repeat earthquake very likely.

“Though there were no huge losses from the 6.0 degree earthquake that took place on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008, experts should realize that such a sequential order of earthquakes began since early August and still continues to date,” said BuRabee.

She recalled that an earthquake measuring 5.7, which is part of this sequential order of quakes, took place on Sept. 17.

BuRabee pointed out that an 8.3 earthquake that hit the Strait of Hormuz in 1945 caused a tsunami that destroyed a number of areas. The Kuwaiti expert called for the establishment of a regional early warning system that alarms the Gulf of any possible tsunamis. She stated that it would be difficult to accurately specify the date of such a high magnitude earthquake.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking Al Watan.

September 21, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, Technical Issue | 7 Comments

Peter Bowen and Nails

Three men trundle a naked woman through the desert to a remote place, where she was placed in a container, 6 x 6 x 6 with only a candle, a cot, water and a holy book, until she could come to her senses and behave.

Four girls were strangled, one each day, for refusing the sexual advances of their father and his brother. The two youngest girls, their older sisters dead, complied.

Women with inconvenient views, women who start having thoughts of their own disappear. Many in this tribe are home-birthed and home-schooled, so there aren’t records of their existence, and when they disappear, no-one is the wiser.

Saudi Arabia, you ask? Pakistan? Afghanistan? Where on earth are women treated this vilely?

Peter Bowen, in Nails, gives vent to his frustration of minor fundamentalist Christian cults roaming the American West, many of them ending up in Montana where they believe they will have the privacy to practice their beliefs without interference, and where those who are well-funded can influence poverty-stricken school districts to toss out Science classes and incorporate Intelligent Design. Bowen has utter contempt for their studied ignorance, their need to be the sole authority on what the scriptures say, and their insistence on the utter submission of women.

His worst scorn is for their treatment of women – he attributes it to their fears about their own sexuality. Women are often the victims, Bowen states, when men worry about their size, worry about how to keep women faithful, tractable, and docile. (And let’s face it, who can successfully control a woman? 😉 )

This is the latest Gabriel du Pre novel, or at least the latest I have read. Gabriel du Pre is a retired brand inspector (he goes back every now and then when needed, when the brand inspector is overstretched, insuring that the cows sold are from the herds they are being sold from), Metis (French and Indian mix), a renowned fiddler, and a deputy sheriff when the sheriff – or the FBI – needs help solving a particularly tricky murder. It takes a while to get your ear used to his dialect, and he spends a lot of time in bars, but the man has a real knack for figuring things out.

Gabriel du Pre is everything a straight-living woman like myself shouldn’t like. He drinks, morning to night, keeps his flask of whisky under the driver’s seat in his car. He drives way over the speed limit. He doesn’t go to church, he goes to an ancient Indian spiritualist / medicine man when he needs guidance. He isn’t married to the wry, very smart woman with whom he lives. He breaks the rules, he goes outside the boundaries.

For all his flaws, du Pre has a deep down, rock solid core of decency, and a way of looking at life and situations that is practical and . . . forgiving. He is charitable toward his brothers and sisters. He detests cruelty, especially when the strong take advantage of the weak or the arrogant walk all over the humble. There is something about this flawed hero that keeps the reader coming back for more.

His Gabriel du Pre novels are not heavy reading. You can toss one off in about half a day, but they are not so simple as they appear. You find yourself thinking about the issues he raises, and you find yourself looking to see when the next Gabriel du Pre mystery will appear.

You can find this on for $16. new or from $3.07 used, plus shipping of course. (Yes, I own stock in 🙂

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Family Issues, Fiction, Law and Order, Local Lore, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , | 4 Comments

Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children

I received this e-mail this morning:

Hi there,

My organization, International Medical Corps, has the ability to save the lives
of malnourished children around the world and we just received some very
exciting news. We have been nominated to be one of the Top 25 in American
Express’ Projects, “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children.” Our project was
chosen out of 1,190 projects and is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million
to help feed hungry children. Because your blog, here there and Everywhere, has
a loyal following, I thought this would be an issue you would want to share with
your readers. I’ve put together this microsite explaining everything.

If you could post about this on your blog it would really help to spread the
message and potentially could save many lives. At the minimum, please vote for
“Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children.” Please let me know either way.


Chessia Kelley, International Medical Corps

I googled the organization and it is legitimate. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

International Medical Corps (known also as IMC) is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization established by volunteer doctors and nurses. The organization provides disaster relief, delivers health care to underserved regions, builds clinics, and trains local health care workers with the goal of creating self-reliant, self-sustaining medical services and infrastructure in places where that had previously been lacking.

IMC’s focuses include primary and secondary health care, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera, dysentery, and HIV/AIDS, supplemental food for malnourished children, clean water and hygiene education, mental health and psychosocial care, and microfinance programs that allow people to earn their own income.

International Medical Corps is a founding member of the ONE Campaign and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Fund Raising, Health Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Social Issues | 15 Comments

Sunrise 17 Sep 08

Such a change from yesterday! Still a little hazy, off in the distance, but beautiful silvery-gold shimmer on the water, and the temperature still hasn’t broken 100°F – the weather is shifting, you need only the eyes to see!

Thanks be to God for a beautiful day in Kuwait!

September 18, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 14 Comments

Sparkle and Talk Like a Pirate Day

In my e-mail this morning are two notes from my sister, Sparkle. Sparkle is a very special woman who, with her husband, Mariner Man, takes in damaged animals. Some have been abandoned or neglected, some have been physically hurt. They had a great big husky who had been lost or abandoned and hit by a car, one of the nicest dogs you could ever meet. They have a diabetic cat with a damaged leg, and several emotionally disturbed cats whom they nurse and teach to trust in goodness and kindness once again. Their newest dog keeps us in stitches – she is young and just learning about the larger world. Life is sweet when you are walking this dog!

Sparkle is also very very funny. She wants me to know that Friday, tomorrow, is the annual Talk Like a Pirate Day. You can learn more about Talk Like a Pirate Day from this WordPress Blog.

Here is a very abbreviated list of words from the website, in case you want to Talk Like a Pirate:

Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! – exhortation of discontent or disgust
Ahoy! – Hello!
Ahoy, Matey – Hello, my friend!
Ahoy, me Hearties! – the same as saying “Hello, my friends!”
All hand hoay! – comparable to all hands on deck
Avast ye – stop and check this out or pay attention
Aye – yes
Batten down the hatches – put everything away on the ship and tie everything down because a storm is brewing
Bilge-sucking – insult
Blimey! – exhortation of surprise
Blow me down! – expression of shock of disbelief akin to “Holy Crap!”
Blow the man down – command to kill someone
Booty – treasure
Buccaneer – a pirate
Bucko – a buccaneer
Cat O’Nine Tails – a whip with nine strands
Corsair – pirates in the Mediterranean Sea
Crow’s nest – small platform atop the mast where the lookout stands

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Family Issues, Language, WordPress, Words | 2 Comments

Hildegard of Bingen

I don’t often do this, reprint an entire article. I usually leave it to you to click on the blue type and read it for yourself. I am guessing very few people would make any effort to read this article, so for the few who have the interest, I am making it easy for you.

The article is written by James Kiefer, who writes many of the articles on saints in The Lectionary. He makes them human; his articles are so readable.

I like Hildegard of Bingen because she was a woman ahead of her time. She followed the yearnings of her soul to become a religious person, a nun, but rather than escaping from life, she engaged in it fully, as an administrator and as a musician. She engaged fully – and capably. She would probably be a remarkable woman in any age.

(This photo is from Geocities where there is another extensive article on Hildegard von Bingen and her life and times, with additonal information.)

“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.”

Hildegard of Bingen has been called by her admirers “one of the most important figures in the history of the Middle Ages,” and “the greatest woman of her time.” Her time was the 1100’s (she was born in 1098), the century of Eleanor of Aquitaine, of Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux, of the rise of the great universities and the building of Chartres cathedral. She was the daughter of a knight, and when she was eight years old she went to the Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode to be educated.

The monastery was in the Celtic tradition, and housed both men and women (in separate quarters). When Hildegard was eighteen, she became a nun. Twenty years later, she was made the head of the female community at the monastery. Within the next four years, she had a series of visions, and devoted the ten years from 1140 to 1150 to writing them down, describing them (this included drawing pictures of what she had seen), and commenting on their interpretation and significance. During this period, Pope Eugenius III sent a commission to inquire into her work. The commission found her teaching orthodox and her insights authentic, and reported so to the Pope, who sent her a letter of approval. (He was probably encouraged to do so by his friend and former teacher, Bernard of Clairvaux.) She wrote back urging the Pope to work harder for reform of the Church.

The community of nuns at Mount St. Disibode was growing rapidly, and they did not have adequate room. Hildegard accordingly moved her nuns to a location near Bingen, and founded a monastery for them completely independent of the double monastery they had left. She oversaw its construction, which included such features (not routine in her day) as water pumped in through pipes. The abbot they had left opposed their departure, and the resulting tensions took a long time to heal.

Hildegard travelled throughout southern Germany and into Switzerland and as far as Paris, preaching. Her sermons deeply moved the hearers, and she was asked to provide written copies. In the last year of her life, she was briefly in trouble because she provided Christian burial for a young man who had been excommunicated. Her defense was that he had repented on his deathbed, and received the sacraments. Her convent was subjected to an interdict, but she protested eloquently, and the interdict was revoked. She died on 17 September 1179. Her surviving works include more than a hundred letters to emperors and popes, bishops, nuns, and nobility.

(Many persons of all classes wrote to her, asking for advice, and one biographer calls her “the Dear Abby of the twelfth century.”)

She wrote 72 songs including a play set to music. Musical notation had only shortly before developed to the point where her music was recorded in a way that we can read today. Accordingly, some of her work is now available on compact disk, and presumably sounds the way she intended. My former room-mate, a non-Christian and a professional musician, is an enthusiastic admirer of her work and considers her a musical genius. Certainly her compositional style is like nothing else we have from the twelfth century. The play set to music is called the Ordo Virtutum and show us a human soul who listens to the Virtues, turns aside to follow the Devil, and finally returns to the Virtues, having found that following the Devil does not make one happy.

She left us about seventy poems and nine books. Two of them are books of medical and pharmaceutical advice, dealing with the workings of the human body and the properties of various herbs. (These books are based on her observations and those of others, not on her visions.) I am told that some modern researchers are now checking her statements in the hope of finding some medicinal properties of some plant that has been overlooked till now by modern medicine.

She also wrote a commentary on the Gospels and another on the Athanasian Creed. Much of her work has recently been translated into English, part in series like Classics of Western Spirituality, and part in other collections or separately. If your university library or bookstore cannot help you, try a Christian bookstore. If they do not have it, try a trendy (feminist, New Age, ecology) bookstore.

But her major works are three books on theology: Scivias (“Know the paths!”), Liber Vitae Meritorum (on ethics), and De Operatione Dei. They deal (or at least the first and third do) with the material of her visions. The visions, as she describes them, are often enigmatic but deeply moving, and many who have studied them believe that they have learned something from the visions that is not easily put into words.

On the other hand, we have the recent best-seller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks, Professor of Clinical Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and author of Migraine and various other books. Professor Sacks is concerned with the relation of the brain to the mind, and ways in which the phsical state of the nervous system can affect our ways of perceiving reality. He views the pictures in Hildegard’s books of what she saw in her visions, and says, “The style of the pictures is a clear indication that the seer suffered regularly from migraine attacks. Migraine sufferers tend to see things in this manner.” And indeed, it is true that Hildegard suffered throughout her life from painful attacks of what may have been migraine. Professor Sacks hastens to add that this has nothing to do with whether her visions are authentic insights into the nature of God and His relation to the Universe.

Hildegard has undergone a remarkable rise in popularity in the last thirty years, since many readers have found in her visions, or read into them, themes that seem to speak to many modern concerns.

For example:

Although she would have rejected much of the rhetoric of women’s liberation, she never hesitated to say what she thought needed to be said, or to do what she thought needed to be done, simply because she was a woman. When Pope or Emperor needed a rebuke, she rebuked them.

Her writings bring science, art, and religion together. She is deeply involved in all three, and looks to each for insights that will enrich her understanding of the others.

Her use of parable and metaphor, of symbols, visual imagery, and non-verbal means to communicate makes her work reach out to many who are totally deaf to more standard approaches.

In particular, non-Western peoples are often accustomed to expressing their views of the world in visionary language, and find that Hildegard’s use of similar language to express a Christian view of reality produces instant rapport, if not necessarily instant agreement.

Hildegard wrote and spoke extensively about social justice, about freeing the downtrodden, about the duty of seeing to it that every human being, made in the image of God, has the opportunity to develop and use the talents that God has given him, and to realize his God-given potential. This strikes a chord today.

Hildegard wrote explicitly about the natural world as God’s creation, charged through and through with His beauty and His energy; entrusted to our care, to be used by us for our benefit, but not to be mangled or destroyed.

You can listen to some of her extraordinary and ethereal music of worship by clicking on the YouTube video below:

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Biography, Character, Community, Cultural, Germany, Music, Spiritual | 11 Comments

Big Blur Sunrise

By the grace of God, I have been up since 5 this morning. Once I stopped jet-lagging, it was no longer so easy to get up and exercise. I have been hating myself, knowing I really NEED this, but not enough to actually do it.

So I prayed. And there I was this morning, wooo hoooo, wide awake at 5. I got up and went to the pool, which was CHILLY, and I exercised. I had a note from my niece, Little Diamond giving me lots of encouragement yesterday – thanks, Little Diamond, I think it worked!

I was waiting for the sun to come up, to take a photo, but all I have is this big grey-yellow blur. Whatever is in the sky – dust? sand? – the sun cannot break through it. At 0600, however, it is still only 88°F / 31°C, and comfortable.

Whatever is in the air is worse now than it was an hour ago. Yesterday, my left eye felt like it had a piece of sandpaper in it; people tell me they get that all same thing all the time, or headaches. Thank God, I don’t have a headache, and today my left eye feels better but my right eye feels a little gritty. What is this???

I have a million projects lined up today, and time to do them! I love it when I get up early; the day has more hours, I get more done!

Hang in there, my fasting friends. Today is supposed to be a little cooler than it has been – only 105° F / 41°C – not the scorching temperatures of earlier in the week, and apparently not the humidity, either.

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Community, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan, sunrise series, Weather | 4 Comments

Dusty Sun

Here is what the sun looks like on a dusty morning in Kuwait. I can’t call it a sunrise; it is too high in the sky, up for too long, but it just broke through:

Isn’t that a sad little sun?

Good morning, Kuwait! 🙂

September 17, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 3 Comments