Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

True Blood Season Three

First, if you have never watched True Blood, go to the library and check out Season 1 and Season 2, or buy them, or download them – whatever it takes, watch every episode so you will get where this show is coming from (grammatical: from where this show is coming).

We don’t watch this show to learn about Louisiana. We watch this show because the writers are truly gifted, and sometimes in the midst of yet another totally over-the-top situation, there is a line tossed off that is hysterically funny.

As the vampires discussed ethics last night, the Queen of the Vampires said “isn’t moral anarchy kind of the point?”

LLOOOLLL! When we first met the vampires in Season 1, they were mostly a nasty bunch, no morals, living in viperous “nests” and preying on humans. Little by little we have begun to know a few as ‘people’ and discovered they are not all bad. Vampire Queen reminds us that long-lived vampires live by a different code, and that the problems arise when mingling with humankind.

Don’t expect any of this to make sense. Just grab that speeding train, get aboard and hang on for a wild ride. 🙂

As they warn – nudity, sexual content, adult language – none of this is for children. This is definitely grown-ups only.

Warning: As raucous and raunchy as True Blood gets, it has a thick underlying morality. It may not be my morality or yours, but it is exploring some interesting and pertinent issues.

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Entertainment, Humor, Local Lore, Mating Behavior | 9 Comments

Truth in Packaging?

I am always skeptical of the products I call “hope in a bottle” (to my great amusement, there is actually a great product line which is now called Hope In A Bottle) but people will buy anything in hopes that it will keep their skin looking young and fresh.

When you live in heat, and when you do water aerobics, you need more. I was looking for something light I could put on often, something for day, and something for night. This is above and beyond the magic elixirs I put on my face that show “amazing, visible results in 7 Days!!!!” although seven days later I wonder what my face might have looked like if I hadn’t been using Product X . . .

So I bought some hope in a bottle to use days and nights, and yes, partly I will admit I bought the beautiful packaging. It is beautiful, isn’t it?

And it wasn’t that hard to open, which is a bonus. But wait! What is this inside? I paid for a lot of AIR!

The next package was the same – beautiful packaging; a lot of air . . .

Maybe, in its own way, it is more true than fiction. After all, when we are buying vanity, when we invest in the hope of beautiful skin, a lot of it is illusion and air, isn’t it?

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Beauty, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Experiment, Financial Issues, Humor, Marketing, Shopping | 5 Comments

Checking Out Pensacola Beach

After our water aerobics class this morning, AdventureMan and I drove out to the beautiful sugar-white sandy beaches of Pensacola to check the damage. The clean up crews have been busy, and the beaches look gorgeous. People are sunning, swimming, and sharing the beaches with the clean up crews.

A big huge electronic sign announces that the road to the beach will be closed all day tomorrow. How can you close a major road? Is this Kuwait, or Qatar, where the will of the Amir says “Make it so!” and it is so? Oh. Wait. President Obama is coming, so the road will be his and his alone to go out to the beaches and see what we saw today.

The huge, gigantic glob of oil has only sent tendrils, so far, to the pristine white beaches, but doom impends as storms and winds blow the thick oily sludge toward the shores. God willing, President Obama will find a way to encourage British Petroleum to work with a little more conviction and energy to find a long term solution to this unthinkable TWO MONTHS and hundreds of thousands of gallons spewing into the Gulf.

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Beauty, Community, Cultural, Environment, ExPat Life, Florida, Health Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Leadership, Pensacola, Qatar | 8 Comments

Breath of Fresh Air at Christ’s Church, Pensacola

AdventureMan and I slid into our seats just as the bell started ringing, and looked at one another in concern – “Does it feel hot in here to you?” “Yep.”

It was only eight in the morning, but the church was breathless.

It made me smile, remembering our church in Tunisia, St. George’s, where there was no air conditioning, only fans – when the electricity was working. St. George’s is the oldest Anglican Church in Africa, and is located in the large Tunis souk. Summers were long and hot, and many a Sunday I had to gather my squirming two-year-old and take him out to the garden for a stern talking-to. It was a wonderful, diverse church, and we loved our time there – breathless or not.

And we got through the service, heat and all, it wasn’t that bad.

The sermon was really good. Father Neal was talking about Jesus, invited to a banquet, having his feet washed by the tears of Mary Magdelen, and dried with her hair.

As an aside, one of the things I love about Jesus was his kindness to women, including them when he talked, healing their hurts, defending them against stoning – in a culture not unlike that in which we have been living, where women are contracted into marriage, “protected” by laws which often deprive them of independence and choices, and living lives greatly separate from men. Jesus spoke to women, and he spoke to their hearts. He included them among his followers and supporters. In the context of his society, his behavior was radical and challenging to the status quo.

Father Neal totally got that. He talked about the scandalous sensuality of Mary’s act, washing Jesus feet and then drying them with her long hair. He talked about hair, traditionally covered in that part of the world, being a woman’s glory, and only privately displayed among family and to husband. He talked about her remorse, and her humility, and that through her loving act, her spirit was cleansed and her sins forgiven. And he talked about the customs and traditions of hospitality, and the shock of Jesus criticizing his host – who was criticizing him – for his lack of welcome, and signs of hospitality to an honored guest.

His sermon was a breath of fresh air in a very warm church. We held on to every word.

Later in the day, old friends came for dinner, and our son and his wife and our grandson. Cannot imagine a more wonderful day. 🙂

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Spiritual, Weather | Leave a comment

Save This for a Down Day

Thank you, Kuwait friend, for this wonderful video “Free Hugs.” You can’t help but smile after watching it. 🙂

June 11, 2010 Posted by | Communication, Community, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Social Issues | 8 Comments

Where The Wild Things Are (Apologies to Maurice Sendak)

First thing, early every morning, I get up to water my herbs and vegetables. I could do it later in the day, but later in the day is unbearable for me. It is hot. It is humid. The temperatures are in the 90’s, with humidity that makes you drip with sweat. I feel like a vampire; I try to get everything watered before the first rays of sun rise – directly into my backyard garden – and strike me with their heat.

Things are coming along. This weekend I will pick the first of my Black Krim tomatoes. I can hardly wait. I bought it at a garden club sale, as a little tiny plant. The tomatoes are supposed to have a smokey flavor, and very tomato-y.

There is a lot going on in our backyard.

We have a bright red cardinal who comes at late afternoon to take a bath in the birdbath. He is very cautious, looking around for maybe five minutes before he feels safe enough to splash. I don’t have a photo of him, yet.

We have all kinds of squirrels, because we have oak trees, and they are busy gathering and saving for the winter. They seem to be finding lots to eat in our backyard.

We have a dragonfly who is a regular visitor. He sits atop some of the bamboo stakes in the garden. I don’t know if he is looking for smaller insects to eat, or just enjoying a little perch in the late afternoon sun:

Our house is surrounded by chameleon, fortunately, unlike Qatar, they are not INSIDE my house! I am delighted to have them as neighbors, as they are wonderful for pest control, and in Florida – there are a lot of pests. The dreaded cockroaches, but also ants, and fire ants, and hornets, and wasps, and cutters, and lovebugs – well, you get the picture. I need all the help I can get. Insects love me, the eat me up. 😦

I think this little chameleon is looking for a mate!

(Maurice Sendak is one of my very favorite authors of children’s books, especially books for lively little boys. They have fabulous illustrations. As our son was growing up, one of our favorite lines from a Sendak book was “Let the Wild Rumpus begin!”

June 11, 2010 Posted by | Beauty, Books, Florida, Food, Gardens, Mating Behavior, Pensacola, Photos | , | 5 Comments

Pensacola Weekends

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but we have great, sunshiney weeks in Pensacola, and then Friday nights, the heavens open and a deluge pours forth.

It’s Thursday, a beautiful Thursday, but here is what most weekends look like:

Forecast for this weekend: Hot and Rainy

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Pensacola, Weather | 2 Comments

Skinniest People Shop at Whole Foods

This study is hysterical. It tracked who shopped where, and found that the people who shop at Whole Foods had a far smaller probability of being obese. They concluded that the poorer the consumer, the less healthy the foods.

I found this on AOL Health.

Skinniest People Grocery Shop HERE
By AOL Health Editors Jun 8th 2010 10:56AM

The skinniest people shop at Whole Foods where only 4 percent of the shoppers are obese. Why? It’s all about money–or lack thereof.

People who are poor and have less to spend on food try to get the biggest calorie bang for their food buck. That means they not only shop at cheaper stores, but also buy less healthy food.

The study: A University of Washington research team tracked 2,001 Seattle area shoppers between December 2008 and March 2009. They compared their choice of supermarkets to data they collected on the participants’ education, income and obesity rates. Obesity rates were measured by asking consumers to report their height and weight so their body mass index (BMI) could be calculated. People with a BMI higher than 30 were identified as obese.

The results: The percentage of obese shoppers is almost 10 times higher at low-cost grocery stores, compared with more upscale stores. And poverty is the key reason.

Lead study author Adam Drewnowski, an epidemiology professor who studies obesity and social class, says people who can pay $6 for a pound of radicchio at Whole Foods are obviously better able to afford a healthy diet than those who buy $1.88 packs of pizza rolls at Albertson’s to feed their kids. “If people wanted a diet to be cheap, they went to one supermarket,” Drewnowski told MSNBC. “If they wanted their diet to be healthy, they went to another supermarket and spent more.” He found that only 15 percent of shoppers chose a store based on its proximity to their home. Instead, almost all the shoppers chose a store based on price or quality.

Sticker shock: All the stores offered the same type of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables. But the prices were vastly different. The average price for a market basket of food at Whole Foods was between $370 and $420, compared with the same basket of food at Albertson’s for $225 to $280.

“Deep down, obesity is really an economic issue,” Drewnowski told MSNBC. Eating healthy, low-calorie food costs more money and requires more preparation skills and time than consuming processed, high-calorie foods. MSNBC reports that in a separate study in 2008, Drewnowski estimated that a calorie-dense diet costs $3.52 a day, compared with $36.32 a day for a low-calorie diet. “What this says is your social economic status is clearly associated with how overweight you are,” he told MSNBC.

Grocery stores and percentage of obese shoppers:

• Whole Foods Markets: 4 percent

• Metropolitan Market: 8 percent

• Puget Consumers Cooperative (PCC): 12 percent

• Quality Food Centers (QFC): 17 percent

• Fred Meyer: 22 percent

• Safeway: 24 percent

• Albertsons: 38 percent

— From the Editors at Netscape

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Seattle, Shopping, Social Issues | 4 Comments

Sorting Through Our Lives

At lunch, on our anniversary, AdventureMan and I played a game, a game we call “the top three”. He started it. “What are your top three thrills in our life together?” he asked . . .

We came up with contenders, debated relative merits, but agreed on #1 – the birth of our son. Then there were the top three vacations, the top three surprises, etc. It’s always fun; and together remember things you wouldn’t remember on your own.

Every now and then you get a glimpse of what makes life worthwhile, and you are additionally blessed by knowing how happy you are at the time you are happy.

One of those days was today.

Yesterday, we went by to see our son and his wife and our little adorable grandson had a cough.

“Do you need for us to take care of him tomorrow?” we asked.

Oh! If we could take care of him in the morning, that would be wonderful! And so, promptly at 0730, we were at their doorstep, and our morning passed – oh, happily! – taking care of our adorable grandson. He has a bad cough, but he is on the mend, and we had some fun.

He loves his jumpy-thing, which we call a Johnny Jump-Up, but it isn’t, it’s like calling all tissues “Kleenex” or all copies a “Xerox”:

He has discovered his hands and feet; I love watching him, it’s pure motion, every leg and every arm going at once:

Well, he can’t talk yet, not clearly, so he blows bubbles to tell us how much he loves us:

“Oh!” exclaims AdventureMan, “You have to take a picture of him while he is sleeping, he is so beautiful.”

LOL! I had swaddled him, and he tried to tell me I had done it wrong, but I didn’t listen. When I went back 10 minutes later, he was still squalling AND he was no longer swaddled. I re-swaddled, this time, doing it right and tight, and before I even put him in his crib, he was sound asleep.

He did manage somehow to get one arm out:

On the way home, we picked up some roasting chickens for dinner, to roast with fresh rosemary and basil from our own garden. Yummm. AdventureMan will deliver one to our son and his wife around dinner time.

We are happy AND we know it. It’s a great day in Pensacola.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Biography, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Relationships, Work Related Issues | 7 Comments

Credit Card Fraud

The call caught me totally by surprise, so much so that I suspected that the call was a scam.

The caller asked for my husband or me by name, and asked if we had charged two thousand plus on our card. Ummm. . . nope. That card is now closed down.

I suppose the good news is that our credit card company has such excellent security that they identified the fraudulent charge immediately.

The bad news is that we have had this card for a long time, and I have the number memorized. There have been a couple problems previously, small things. One time I found some calls to a phone sex number. They showed the number the calls were made from; I called that number. The woman who answered assured me that no calls were made from that number to a phone sex number because her husband had promised her he wouldn’t do that any more. I called our credit card company, told them what had transpired, and my account was not charged for the calls.

Another time, the company called and asked me if I was trying to make calls to Nigeria using my credit card. Nope.

But this time, their solution is that the card has to be shut down, and new ones issued. Oh aarrgh. I will have to memorize a new number.

Our credit card company’s security division never asked for any information a scammer would ask, like the security number on the back of the card, the expiration date – none of that. They already know that information.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Crime, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions | Leave a comment