Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Missing Dottie

My Mom sent an e-mail today about an old friend, she’s not doing well. She lived next door to us in Alaska, and would take care of me and my sister when Mom needed to leave us with someone. She was older, so we weren’t really friends then, but we became friends as adults, years later, when AdventureMan and I moved to the Tampa Bay area and my friend and her husband lived just blocks away.

I’ve been missing my old friend; twice when I moved, she was there, the big-sister-I-never-had, helping me to move in while AdventureMan was far away. The first time, she loaned us her truck for several weeks while we settled and searched for another car. When I moved back to Seattle, she cleared out my overgrown garden, and then unpacked all the china and crystal and washed it and put it away in the cabinet. She was so much fun.

Through the years, she loved life and lived it to it’s fullest. She loved her time living in Egypt, and in Ramallah, and she travelled and sailed just about everywhere in the world. She exercised and watched her weight. She passed all the best books along to me, and kept up with the news. She was fit and active, and engaged with the world around her.

Statistically, and in all probability, she would never have seemed a risk for Alzheimer’s. I’m still angry about it. This should never have happened to her. It isn’t fair. She should be laughing, enjoying her grandchildren, dancing, swimming, sailing, running, biking, cooking, entertaining – all the things she loved. She DESERVES better. And I guess I am angry because I am selfish, and I want her to be around for ME. And I know that all this is stupid and childish, I should just accept and be calm, but it’s just so unfair and it makes me so angry. She is still in this world, although we don’t know for how long, but then again, she isn’t, not really, she is not a part of this world any longer, she just exists. It’s not right and it’s not fair and Alzheimer’s is a robber and a thief.

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Alaska, Character, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Seattle | 4 Comments

Señor Driving

You get a reduction on your insurance rates if you take the safe driving classes for seniors. AdventureMan still isn’t all that comfortable with being a senior, so he calls himself “señor,” which is ‘Mister’ in Spanish. He tells people we are taking “señor” driving classes, and everyone looks at him like he is a little nuts.

Well. . . he is, actually. More than just a little. And now he has the time and energy to be a full time nut, and more power to him.

The “señor” driving classes were actually all right. We learned some things we didn’t know, and we met some interesting people, one, a retired New York fireman, and his wife, a retired nurse. They invited us to go eat seafood after class, and we learned all kinds of things.

On our way back from the ladies room, his wife leaned over to me and whispered “Is he helping you?” I laughed. I knew what she meant. “Yes!” I whispered back, “So far, so good!”

Living in Kuwait and in Qatar, most of the people were younger than us. Countries with all kinds of imported labor put upper limits on workers, so they don’t have a lot of old guys kicking the bucket in their countries. You can get exceptions to the rules in certain jobs, and we had a lot of good friends around our ages, thank God, but here in Pensacola, we feel like YOUNG older people – there are so many older people, and so much to learn. They are all really good about sharing their tricks for survival, and we find that keeping our ears open is a good thing.

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Qatar, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 5 Comments

The Last Box

Today, as the Cox Cable man was setting up our TV, Internet and Phone bundle, we were unpacking the last box.

“Where are you going to put the phones?” the Stan-the-cable-guy asked.

We looked blank.

It has been so long since we have relied on a land-line. We hadn’t even thought about it. We carry our mobile phones with us, or at least I do. Now that AdventureMan has semi-retired, he has his people (me) carry the phone, LOL!

We actually do have a phone; we put in out in the box to send to the Jr. League big sale our daughter in law works with. It’s an old princess phone. I don’t even remember using it, it’s so old. I don’t know where the other phones have gone, but that’s phones . . .

Guess we have to go out and buy some phones, LOL!

After all our moaning and groaning, we think we have everything. Only some weird things are missing. Like we have ONE cushion for our outdoor seating area; two identical benches that used to have two identical cushions.

Now that we have internet again, I will share some photos of the last week. The first photos are from the day the movers are arriving – two days before we expected them. Notice the nice peach/rose on the walls, please. 🙂

We are lucky to have this room, although we didn’t care that much about it when we bought the house. It is a butler’s pantry, with lighted glassed shelves for glassware, and two wine refrigerators, one to keep white wine chilled, and the other to keep red wine at cellar temperature. Actually, it is good for water, and beer, too. 🙂 But since our major china cabinet has a broken foot, I really needed a place I could put things away, and this turned out to be a Godsend.

Butler's Pantry


Above is my bathroom; I love the little orange trees painted on my cabinet, and the little step that pulls out to make me taller.


LOL, here is where we were really camping out, in the guest room, while we waited for our storage goods to come. Yes, it’s a mess. There is actually a chair in the room, too, but aside from the bed and the chair, we had no furniture. We had thought we would cook, but who wants to eat standing up? Or sitting on a bed?


The moving truck arrives, some things are packed, some things are loose. It’s not all our goods; the driver tells us he has four different loads on the same truck. Aarrgh.


One of the first things off the truck was my dressing table mirror – broken. The driver said off the top that he had broken it when he was packing the truck. His honesty took away any anger we might have felt, and I know we can get a new mirror cut. It was the only major damage we had, and it wasn’t that bad.


Some of our pieces had some mildew on them, but it came of with just a little vinegar. We had to toss two old featherbeds and some of my clothing, which also seemed to have been in some area which had moisture problems while in storage.


This is the family room after the delivery.


The living room – we love these little loveseat/couches and were astonished at how well they weathered 12 years of storage without a mark – they still look new, and they are twenty something years old, but reupholstered. No, not by me, I didn’t know how yet.


First, we created an area of sanity. You have to have a place you can go where there is no mess. You create one, and then . . . you start widening the area. We started with this outside area, then the living room, then the family room. The kitchen is still a little bit chaotic, but that is because I have to wash all the dishes and china and crystal before they can go back on shelves. It isn’t that hard, it is just numbingly boring unwrapping each piece.

I think I told you about each spoon being wrapped separately:

Each piece has to be unwrapped . . . horrors!

That was the last box. 🙂

No, not everything is in place yet, but our areas of sanity, of order, are larger now. We have moved upstairs to our bedroom and study area; we have another bedroom next door to ours for visiting grandchildren or overflow guests for larger family gatherings. Our clothes are unpacked and put away, and we still have some empty places on shelves and in closets for the final wave – the Doha shipment – which won’t arrive until late June or July, we are guessing.

We still don’t have any phones. That goes on our “To Do” list, which is monstrous, no matter how we keep nibbling away at it. And the Qatteri cat is happy; the fuller the house is, the happier he is.

Whew!

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Biography, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Moving, Work Related Issues | 15 Comments

Music Banned in Somalia

We are in our own world these days, boxes needing unpacking, deliveries interrupting tasks, and no connection – no TV, no internet, no land line phone. We do have a cell phone, and Friday night our son called to ask us if we have heard about the weather.

Nope.

Heavy rains, strong winds, possibility of tornados. It was lively!

I hadn’t heard about Somalia, either.

This is really scary to me. This is the kind of thing I worry about in my own country – who makes the rules? Who gets to say what music I listen to, what movies I watch? Who gets to restrict my access to information?

Who gets to tell me that as a woman, I can’t have a checking account in my name? Or that I have to wear a burqa? Or that I am not allowed to wear a niqab (if that’s what I want?)

Somalia Radicals Declare Music ‘Un-Islamic,’ and Radio Goes Tuneless
POSTED: 04/25/10

If, as my colleague Sarah Wildman reports, the Francophonic world is intent on curbing expressions of fundamentalist Islam belief, then the radical Muslim world is taking no prisoners with the West, either. Last week, the Somalian fundamentalist Islamic group Hizbul Islam announced that music of any kind is “un-Islamic,” warning of “serious consequences” for those who dare to violate their decree. In response, radio stations all over the country, including those run by the moderate Muslim transitional government, cut all music from their broadcasts. Even intro music for news reports was scrapped. In its place? “We are using sounds such as gunfire, the noise of vehicles and the sound of birds to link up our programmes and news,” said one Somalian head of radio programming.

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Somalia has been wracked with inter-tribal violence for nearly two decades. In the last few years, increasingly radical Muslim militants, including the dominant Shabab group, have taken over large parts of the country and become closely affiliated with al-Qaeda. A moderate Muslim transitional government, helmed by a former teacher named Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, controls a small part of the country. His government is largely propped up by African Union peacekeepers, with United Nations’ and U.S. support.

In the meantime, Islamic radicals like Shabab have gone on a campaign the New York Times described as “a quest to turn Somalia into a seventh century style Islamic state.”

The music decree follows a string of fundamentalist decrees, including prohibitions on wearing bras (also “un-Islamic”), the banning of modern movies and news channels, including the BBC and Voice of America.

As evidence of a power struggle between the moderate Muslim government and the hard-line radicals who control many parts of the country, Sheik Ahmed’s government responded last Sunday by saying any radio stations that stopped playing music would face closure. In the government’s eyes, those radio stations that complied with the ban were colluding with the radicals.

In the meantime, the radio stations have been caught between a rock and a hard place. “The order and counter-order are very destructive,” radio director Abukar Hassan Kadaf said in the Times article. “Each group are issuing orders against us and we are the victims.”

In the escalating tug-of-war between Western and Islamic powers over freedom of expression, what remains to be seen is how much of a causal relationship exists between the two. Is a proposed burqa ban in Quebec a result of the shuttering of a radio station in Somalia? Does a call for prohibition of headscarves in Paris force a bra-burning in Mogadishu?

If Islamic decrees do, in fact, fuel the fire for legal actions in the West (and vice versa), then continued and increased prohibition seems inevitable. But if radical Islam and a skeptical West are destined to one-up each other in a battle of bans, the powers that be might remember the men and women caught in the crossfire. That is, the women in the West who wear niqabs by choice, or the men and women in Somalia who just want to listen to music. What is perhaps most strikingly absent in all the brouhaha surrounding sharia vs. Western law are the voices of the moderate Muslims themselves. In the end, perhaps the gulf between the two sides will prove too great to be bridged, but for the immediate future, we would do well to remember the ground we share in common. Before there’s nothing left to ban.

April 25, 2010 Posted by | Africa, Bureaucracy, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Interconnected, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Music, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Venice | 4 Comments

Hell

Hell is unwrapping household goods when every tiniest piece is wrapped in a whole sheet of moving paper. Every spoon. The stopper for a crystal decanter. Every single piece, individually wrapped. It is endless. . . .

It is also why I do so much of my own packing. That, and finding my muddy riding boots packed with my formal gowns.

An occasional mover cares.

Most movers are casual labor, insufficiently supervised. Things can disappear.

This move is in waves, and we are in the biggest wave right now, the goods that have been in storage for 12 years. It had gone well, but we think some things are missing. Also, some serious pieces of furniture are incapacitated. One in particular, a china cabinet, handles the gazillion pieces of china and crystal collected through years of Army wifedom, but lost a foot. You can’t store china in a very tipsy cabinet, and I don’t know how we are going to get it fixed. Meanwhile, how to store all these pieces???

Aarrgh.

We are just taking a break before we submerge into the world of putting things away again. Aarrgh.

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Communication, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola | 7 Comments

Tax Day Tea Party in Pensacola

We don’t really understand the Tea Party. It is clearly against Obama, but then again, it is clearly the party of “against” and it is hard to find anything it is for. This is a problem; it is easy to tear down, and it is a lot more difficult to create – to formulate solutions which will provide benefits for the majority of participants.

As we were approaching our hotel, we saw this huge crowd of ‘protesters’ who appeared to be partying. But every sign was different! As 15 April is Tax Day, the day our income taxes are due, maybe about 10% were carrying signs that had to do with taxes, preferably NO taxes. The rest of the signs protested other things – constitutional amendments (what – women voting? black people being counted as full people? the repeal of prohibition?), no abortion, putting God first – it was a total potluck of causes.

The weather was mild, the sun was shining, there was a breeze – great day for an incoherent protest, LOL. I took pictures from the safety of our car, although everyone seemed very friendly:

Here is what cracks us up. Pensacola is a highly military reliant community. There is a huge military presence here, from Eglin Air Force Base to the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Pensacola is glad to have the military business. So where do they think the money comes from that pays the military salaries, and thus, gets spent in their economy, at their businesses? Few Americans have saved enough to comfortably retire, who do they think is contributing to their Social Security support, and Medicare, and Medigap? Tax dollars! Who do they think supports public education, and guarantees law and order? Who do they think runs the justice system? Who do they think provides emergency fire and medical services? Tax dollars! Who builds and maintains the roads and bridges, insures safety in our food supplies, construction and medicines? Our government, supported by our tax dollars!

Do I like paying taxes? No! Not one bit! But in the interest of the greater good, we pay our taxes honestly, and thank God to live in a society with order, thanks to our tax dollars.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Education, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Generational, Health Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Safety, Social Issues | | 3 Comments

Short Break

Tonight is our last night in the hotel, and tomorrow morning we move into our house, with all it’s fresh new wiring, and fresh new paint, too.

I was in the house, picking up mail, when our contractor was there.

“Have you picked a color yet?” he asked.

“I’m still not sure, ” I said.

“Do you want the electricians to leave the receptacles off so you can paint and then replace them?” he asked, and I didn’t know what to say because yes, what he was saying made sense, but no, I wasn’t so sure I was ready to start painting.

“Look,” he said to me. “We’re coming in under budget. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking you can do this cheaper yourself, but with the house empty, our painters can come in and get this all painted for you and you will still be under budget.”

I almost cried. I know the paint is very fashionable, but it made me think of mushrooms, and caves, and it was just too dark for me. I need light.

“Lilting Laughter,” I said.

“Lilting Laughter it is,” he said, “But if you want anything done differently, like one room painted something else, it is OK. We can do that. How about the ceilings?”

“White” I said, without a second of hesitation. I need light! I want the rooms to be light and airy!

What a difference. The color is peachy in some lights, rosy in others. In the morning light, you think it is a white, but it has all these subtle undertones. I love it, and we love this company and the way they do their work.

It still smells a little painty, but we have our air shipment arriving tomorrow, and a house full of furniture we haven’t seen for 12 years arriving next week. We’re going to have our hands full.

I will blog if I can, but we don’t even know when we will get internet connected. I’ll be back. 🙂

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Blogroll, color, Community, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Moving | 4 Comments

The Hacienda Restaurant in Pensacola

While we have really missed GOOD Mexican food during our time in the Arabian Gulf countries, we find that we are on an endless search for our favorite Mexican restaurant here in Pensacola. We have had good food – and then had bad, umm. . .er . . . repercussions.

Finally, we found a restaurant we loved. The next day, we also realized that we were fine! No gastric fireworks, no problems.

First, the Hacienda is very welcoming, and the service is fast and attentive without being intrusive.

Second – the restaurant is colorful. You really know you are in a Mexican restaurant:

Third – the food was really good. Chips were thin and quickly cooked so they were not coated with fat.

AdventureMan had a tamale with shredded beef, and he says it was outstanding:

I was not so hungry, so I ordered a taco salad – but it was really delicious, too.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 1 Comment

Groaners (Truly clever puns)

Thank you Grammy, for sharing these! AdventureMan will love them!


Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. Unfortunately, all the Swiss
league records were destroyed in a fire, and so we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

*

A man rushed into a busy doctor’s office and shouted, “Doctor! I think I’m shrinking!”
The doctor calmly responded, “Now, settle down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”

*

A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly
stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with…
transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

*

Back in the 1800’s the Tate’s Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products, and since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California. This, of course, is the origin of the expression, … “He who has-a-Tate’s is lost!”

*

A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have absolutely nothing to go on.”

*

An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day.

After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, “The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on.”

*

A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official who apologized profusely, saying,
“I must have taken Leif off my census.”

*

There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant. The first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This just goes to prove that …
the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

*

A skeptical anthropologist was cataloguing South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal Brujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the Brujo looked him in the eye and said, “Let me tell you, with fronds like these, you don’t need enemas.”

*

King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great
possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan.
Croesus said, “I’ll give you 100,000 dinars for it”.

“But I paid a million dinars for it,” the King protested. “Don’t you know who I am? I am the king!”

Croesus replied, “When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are.”

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Humor, Joke | 3 Comments

AdventureMan Finds the Sunset

It was getting close to five p.m. and AdventureMan had just awakened from a much shorter nap than usual. There is no pressure to adjust to the local time, so he is taking it slow. I love to watch him take a nap.

“So what do you want to do?” he asks me, and suppresses a groan when I remind him he said we would find some places where I can watch the sun set.

We decided to head over to Perdido Bay, me navigating, but sometimes I miss the right turn and we have an “adventure.” It’s all OK, it’s not like we have to be anywhere by any time, so there’s no such thing as a wrong turn, just another opportunity to make some additional connections in the brain cells as we try to figure out Pensacola. Or that’s the way I am telling it, and it is my blog. Anyone can make a mistake, right?

Pensacola has very funny roads. Almost all the roads curve. Like the road we live on is the same road my son lives on, but where he lives, the road is north south, but where we live, it is almost east-west. A road called 9th, you would think would be a straight road, but it is more like a parabola! Fairchild road will turn south and become Navy Boulevard, but the real Fairchild road actually continues, considerably diminished. You just have to get used to it; it doesn’t have to make sense.

And there are Kuwaiti drivers everywhere!

(So, OK, now it comes. I apologize for all the bad things I ever said about Kuwait drivers. American drivers are also going through the orangey-red lights, even going through the red lights, and American drivers are also making left turns from the far right turn lanes. Yep. I’ve seen it. Guess I’ve been gone a long time. I wonder if even Seattle has become the Wild West on the roads? The difference between the really bad American drivers and the Kuwait drivers is that the Americans are mostly driving a lot slower when they do these things. So Kuwait, I apologize.)

We discover there is no state park along the band of land from where we thought we were going to watch the sunset, and there sure are a lot of slabs where houses used to be – which usually means they were blown away or seriously destroyed in one hurricane or another.

AdventureMan found a fabulous place, though, Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. They have two walking trails, and since it was getting close to sunset (and I have a thing about being in swampy areas after dark) we chose to do the short hike, like one mile, out to the Bayou, but next time we will do the 7.2 mile hike out to the Bay.

We didn’t know we were going to do the hike when we left the car, so I didn’t have my camera. At first, we were walking not too far from the busy highway and thought it wasn’t such a great hike, but then AdventureMan spied the endangered white pitcher plant, a carnivorous plant that traps insects. Pretty fantastic!

This was one fantastic adventure. I am going to show you some pictures I got from the Florida State Parks website, focusing on Tarkiln Bayou.

This is a view of where the trail ended – it was unbelievably beautiful. The sun was setting and we were on a bayou with not another human being in sight, not a house, not a trail – it was pure nature surrounding this gorgeous tiny little bayou. But . . . the sun was setting, and I don’t like to be out in a park after dark. No, I am not chicken, I am a realist, foolish people who are where they should not be can find themselves in big trouble when the sun goes down. Also, I hate mosquitos and mosquito bites, and they usually come out around sundown, so we did our return hike at a healthy pace.

As we headed home, AdventureMan said “I think I remember a good place where you can see the sunset.”

And within five minutes, we were there.

You know how I love those sunrises in Kuwait. Sunsets are what I love even more. Here are some photos of last night’s sunset, thanks to AdventureMan 🙂

And so I ask you – is this not a magnificent way to end a day?

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, Exercise, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Sunsets | | 5 Comments