Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Hilarious Book by Kuwaiti Author Danderma

Wooooo HOOOOO, Danderma! Published!

It’s easy to get addicted to Danderma / Dathra; she is unpretentious, sharply insightful, and hilarious. She pokes fun at herself – and at the society in which she (dys)functions. Side-splittingly funny stuff.

By the book or download Here.

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April 27, 2011 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Character, Cultural, Kuwait | 5 Comments

Too Much Month at the End of the Money

First, let me set it straight – we have enough. We have plenty. We have planned and saved, by the grace of God, we are doing OK.

Second, even after a year of being ‘retired,’ and those of you who know us know that retired and ‘retired’ are not quite the same – even after a year, we have yet to have a normal month.

So when AdventureMan asked how we were doing, I told him fine, but we are watchful. He asked me to explain.

For several years, living the expat life in Qatar and Kuwait, we didn’t pay for our own housing, or utilities, or my husband’s car. There was always, literally, more than enough, and at the end of every month, I wrote a check to savings, even though we were automatically banking savings. It’s not like we stayed home and ate cheese and crackers, as you know from this blog – it’s just we didn’t have a lot of expenses, nor a lot of major purchases, nor a lot of repairs, nor upkeep – all the things that drain a normal monthly income.

So when AdventureMan asked, I told him it was kind of like when we were young; I am having to make sure we maintain a minimum balance in our accounts (this year the banks changed the rules, and if you weren’t paying attention, you could end up paying huge monthly charges, like I found a monthly ‘service’ charge of (are you sitting down?) $25 on one of our checking accounts.

$25! A month! I talked to the bank, they fixed it. But what if I weren’t paying attention? A charge of $25/mo adds up quickly. That’s like . . . robbery!

So now I am trying to pay attention to the rules, trying to keep repairs up, trying to make sure insurance bills are paid (there sure is a lot of insurance to be paid, and Florida is the WORST state for insurance, except maybe California, and I am not talking knowledgeably here, just talking about how it feels to be insuring a house in Florida. Like in Florida, you buy ‘hazard’ insurance – you know, like fire and things like that – from one company, and then flood insurance from a government insurer, and then ‘high wind’, insurance talk for HURRICANE insurance, from yet another – it feels like another kind of robbery), car maintenance, utility bills, oh holy smokes, I’m learning all the rules all over again.

And taxes! As expats, we got a significant exclusion on our income tax, but we no longer meet the residency requirement, so when AdventureMan does a stint overseas, it isn’t the same, now we pay TAXES. Lots of TAXES. oh Aarrgh.

The bright spot in all this is that after all these years of being focused on work goals, AdventureMan has the time to focus on many of these issues, and is taking on insurance, and health insurance, and taxes – all the things I hated the most. God bless him, God bless him mightily! Wooo HOOOO (she dances around the room), I don’t have to do taxes!

We are still trying to save, to keep our reserves high, against some unseen disaster, like $4/gallon gas for example, (LOL!) or hurricanes, or earthquakes (another house is in an earthquake zone) so we agreed on what we thought we could live on per month, and now it is not quite the end of the month. We are not at the end of our money for the month, but it isn’t like the old days, when I am going to be writing a big check to savings. It’s kind of funny, to be paying attention again, and honestly, it’s kind of fun.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Humor, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, Moving, Pensacola, Work Related Issues | 5 Comments

Hissing on Easter and other Rambles

The 0815 service this morning was glorious. We got there early, because those who had gone to the early-early service and had stayed on for breakfast would be leaving, and this is Easter – we needed a parking place. The front of the church was laden with flowers, so many flowers it looked like a private garden, and the flowers scented the entire church, an odor of sanctity.

Getting there early was a really good thing – just after we entered, the brass trio started serenading us, exultant music, full of joy and triumph, perfect way to start an Easter morning service. It’s a special treat, having music and the full choir at the 0815 service, but a member of the choir told me earlier that this is the only Sunday of the year that they sing at all three services. If you like music, oh, what a treat!

The church filled up quickly. I couldn’t help it, I had to look around to see if there were any Easter bonnets. I remember being a kid – a girl kid, that is. We always had hats for Easter. Being kind of a snotty kid, I was often critical of the one I got and somewhere along the line that tradition was discontinued. I guess it must have been discontinued widely, as there were only six ladies wearing hats (we couldn’t help it, we counted), but very nice hats they were. The little girls were all dressed in lovely dresses, some even with chiffon and lots of ribbons.

As we reached the offering, people behind us were criticizing the parents whose children were making noise.

“They should know better! Why don’t they just take them out, so they won’t bother the rest of us?”

“It’s SO disrespectful!”

There is child care available, but I personally love having the children in the service. Maybe it’s a little disruptive, but you know – we’ll live. And I just thank God they are there! I want them to be welcome! I want the parents not to have to leave, but to know their children – and their antics – are welcome! I miss our noisy services in Doha and in Kuwait, with the babies, the children. Even though they left, there was always a little serendipitous bedlam in the service to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously.

As we left, we also sighed – we miss the gorgeous colorful displays of all the saris on the high holy days, the saffrons and fuschias and peacock blues and greens and golds.

Later this afternoon, when the Happy Baby wakes up from his nap, we’ll be having Easter Dinner. He got going too fast this morning and split his lip when he fell. I remember our son at that age, and the doctor who looked at me meaningfully and asked “does your son often have bruises?” I was so offended, but all I could do was laugh – when they start running, they fall down. Once, I was right there when he tripped – inches away from me – and fell against a sharp edged table. It all happened so fast there was nothing I could do (except take him to the emergency room for stitches).

Actually, we were at a school friend’s house in Jordan, his father owned the hospital, his driver drove us, he Dad-the-doctor put in the stitches and we were back at the party before ice-cream and cake were served.

We try to protect them. We do our best. We try to teach them how to behave at public gatherings, like parades, like church, like change-of-command ceremonies, things we are not born knowing. It takes practice. Like parenting. 🙂

April 24, 2011 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Doha, Easter, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Holiday, Jordan, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Random Musings, Safety | Leave a comment

Your Words Make all the Difference

Thank you, Kimberly, for sending me this great message:

April 23, 2011 Posted by | Communication, Fund Raising, Interconnected | 1 Comment

Good Friday for the Non-Christian

When I saw this on AOL News it struck me that if I post Ramadan for Non-Muslims, then it also makes sense to publish Good Friday for Non-Christians.

Different Christian groups have varying traditions on Good Friday. In our church, Good Friday starts on the evening before, Maundy Thursday, with a stripping of the altar. In some churches, there is also a gathering where the priests of the parish wash the feet of members of the congregation, as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, as a demonstration of the humble spirit required, that we are to serve one another.

Good Friday: Origins, Observances And Fasting Rules
by Neha Prakash

Good Friday is the Christian commemoration of Jesus’ Passion story; specifically his betrayal, trial and crucifixion that are described in the Christian gospels. In the sequence of Holy Week, it follows the rituals marking the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and precedes the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Since Jewish tradition dictates that Friday begins at sundown on Thursday, the events of Good Friday traditionally begin with the betrayal of Jesus by his apostle Judas in the garden of Gethsemane. He is subsequently brought before the Sanhedrin council, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and King Herod of Galilee with the ultimate outcome being his condemnation to death by crucifixion.

The trial of Jesus and his crucifixion are described in varying detail by all four canonical Gospels, the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman writer Tacitus. While the specific events and theological implications are widely disputed, the historicity of the occasion is widely accepted.

Good Friday church services generally revolve around the reading of the Gospel accounts of the Passion story. The Catholic liturgy for Good Friday also includes the distribution of the Eucharist that was consecrated during the Mass on Maundy Thursday and special veneration of the cross by inviting individuals to approach the altar and kiss the wood of the crucifix.

Many Christians also mark Good Friday by participating in or watching processions meant to replicate the journey that Jesus took through the streets of Jerusalem while carrying his cross to the site of his crucifixion at Calvary. Two of the largest and most famous of these occasions are Rome’s Way of the Cross that leads to the Colosseum and is presided over by the Pope and the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem — a procession along the traditionally marked route of Jesus that is attended by thousands of pilgrims each year.

Good Friday is also a day of strict fasting for Catholics and some other Christians. As with all the Fridays of Lent, Catholics are instructed to abstain from eating meat. As with Ash Wednesday, the fasting rules for Good Friday dictate that adherents should eat only one full meal with two smaller meals being permitted as long as no other food is consumed in the interim. The use of other meat-based products such as lard, chicken broth or dairy is not traditionally forbidden, although many individuals elect to make their Good Friday meals entirely vegetarian or vegan.

In many countries with strong Christian traditions such as those in Latin America, Good Friday is observed as a national holiday. Good Friday is not a federal holiday in the United States, but several states observe it as an official state holiday by closing government offices, courts and banks. Many private businesses also choose to close on Good Friday in addition to financial markets.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Cultural, Easter, Events, Lent, Spiritual | 4 Comments

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

I’m at the age where we start worrying we are coming down with Alzheimer’s if we forget a name, or why we went up the stairs. Here are the official guidelines to things that indicate onset of this insidious disease from Everyday Health:

Caregiving in Early Alzheimer’s Disease

By Chris Iliades, MD
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MS, MPH

A caregiver’s role often starts with the diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. At this juncture, it’s important to deal with both long-term planning and with immediate medical and psychological issues in order to make life as normal as possible for your loved one. To begin, it’s helpful to become familiar with some of the more common symptoms of early, or Stage I, Alzheimer’s disease. These often include:

Misplacing items and/or storing them in odd places. A person with Stage I Alzheimer’s, for instance, may put things in strange places, like a wallet in the freezer.

Repeating the same phrase or story, completely unaware of the repetition and having difficulty finding the right words when talking.

Resisting decisions, even of the simplest sort.

Taking longer with routine chores and becoming upset if something unexpected occurs.

Forgetting to eat, eating only one kind of food, or eating all the time.

Neglecting hygiene and wearing the same clothes day after day, and insisting they are clean.
Becoming obsessive about checking, searching, or hoarding things of no value.

Lisa Gwyther, MSW, the director of the family support program at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C, notes that depression is also very common in early Alzheimer’s. “A depression that comes on later in life, especially in someone without a prior history of depression, is often the first symptom of Alzheimer’s,” she says. Once the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has been made, it is a difficult time for the person and the family. In addition to feeling depressed, the person with early Alzheimer’s may go through periods of anger, fear, and anxiety.

What Can Family, Friends, and Caregivers Do to Help?

There are a number of measures that can be taken to help a loved one cope better with the challenges presented by early Alzheimer’s disease.

Get a complete medical evaluation.
The first step in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is to make sure the diagnosis is accurate. Some possible treatments depend on a precise diagnosis, and your health care provider may recommend a number of tests. Because people with early Alzheimer’s are often not aware of their own forgetfulness and can get quite adept at hiding it from others, family members and caregivers can help the doctor take a good medical history. The doctor will do a functional status assessment to determine if it is safe for the person to live alone, drive a car, or do their own finances. “The ability to do financial calculations is lost early in Alzheimer’s disease. The person may pay bills twice or neglect to pay bills and get themselves in a financial mess. A trusted family member and financial advisor can be a big help at this point,” says Gwyther. Finally, your doctor may recommend a number of possible treatments or referral to an Alzheimer’s specialist.

Don’t shut the person with early Alzheimer’s out.
“One of the most common mistakes that family and caregivers make is to marginalize the person with Alzheimer’s. As time goes on, the family and the caregivers will have to take over more and more decisions for the person. But in the beginning, let them participate as much as possible,” says Gwyther.

Help the person with early Alzheimer’s stay active and healthy.
Research shows that social and mental activity may slow the progression of the disease. A diet high in natural fats such as fish, nuts, and olive oil can help too. Vitamins such as B, C, and E have all been recommended for early Alzheimer’s disease.

Provide a stable environment.
People with early Alzheimer’s do better if their day is very structured. Help them by creating routines around eating, bathing, and sleeping. Keep the environment familiar by making sure things stay in their usual places. Avoid surprises and confusion as much as possible. Sometimes the most helpful thing to do is to just be nearby.

You can also help by getting help.
Contact one of the many national organizations that help with Alzheimer’s care. Most of these organizations will have a local chapter near you. The Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral Center, the Alzheimer’s Association, Children of Aging Parents, Eldercare Locator, and Family Caregiver Alliance are all nationwide, nonprofit organizations that offer information and services for Alzheimer’s disease caregivers.

Finally, remember that although it now possible to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it can’t yet be stopped. As a family member, friend, or caregiver, you can be a tremendous asset to the person with early Alzheimer’s by being an advocate, as well as supportive and available. While someone with Alzheimer’s may not be able to show or express it, they always feel your affection and compassion.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Health Issues | 3 Comments

Oral Sex More Lethal to Men than Women

This article from AOL Health News makes the point that while all females in the USA are encouraged to be vaccinated against HPV, young men, who are statistically more vulnerable, have not been vaccinated. Many women find themselves unexpectedly at risk when they are exposed to HPV by an unfaithful husband or boyfriend who has picked it up during oral sex.

Research: Oral Sex Puts Men at Risk for Oral Cancer

Mara Gay
Contributor

Rates of oral cancer are on the rise among men, and researchers say the culprit isn’t the devil you might think.

The rising rates of oral cancer aren’t being caused by tobacco, experts say, but by HPV, the same sexually transmitted virus responsible for the vast majority of cases of cervical cancer in women.

Millions of women and girls have been vaccinated against HPV, or human papillomavirus, but doctors now say men exposed to the STD during oral sex are at risk as well and may have higher chances of developing oral cancer.

About 65 percent of oral cancer tumors were linked to HPV in 2007, according to the National Cancer Institute. And the uptick isn’t occurring among tobacco smokers.

“We’re looking at non-smokers who are predominantly white, upper middle class, college-educated men,” Brian Hill, the executive director of the Oral Cancer Foundation, told AOL News by phone.

Tobacco use has declined over the past decade, but rates of HPV infections have risen and affect at least 50 percent of the sexually active American population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

HPV-16, the strain of the virus that causes cervical cancer in women, has become the leading cause of oral cancer in non-smoking men, Hill said, citing research in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“When the No. 1 cause of your disease goes down [tobacco use], you would expect that the incidence of disease would go down, but that hasn’t happened,” he said. “In our world, this is an epidemic.”

Dr. Jennifer Grandis, the vice chairwoman for research at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on head and neck cancers, said doctors have been seeing the HPV virus in most oral cancer tumors. She said the massive push to vaccinate girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 against HPV should have included boys and men from the beginning. Gardasil, one of the two major vaccines used to prevent HPV, wasn’t approved for use in males in the United States until 2009, three years after it was approved for women.

“The thinking is changing,” Grandis told AOL News in a phone interview. “But at the time [the vaccine] was licensed, there wasn’t such an awareness about head or oral cancers or a willingness to accept that males played a part in the transmission of the virus,” she said. “I think this idea that we only protect our daughters with the vaccine is nuts anyway, particularly because they’re having sex with our boys.”

Men have a greater chance of contracting the HPV virus from oral sex than women do from the same behavior, though researchers aren’t exactly sure why. Oral cancer has a low survival rate because it is generally not discovered until it has spread to other areas, according to the CDC. Only half of people who’ve been diagnosed with oral cancer will live longer than five years.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Family Issues, Health Issues, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Apalachicola Oysters

“Where are the oysters from?” AdventureMan always asks. He eats oysters raw, and the oysters from Apalachicola are really, really good.

He is eating Apalachicola oysters every chance he gets, to make up for not getting fresh oysters last year. It was almost a year ago when the oil spill seriously impacted on Gulf Seafood. They say it’s OK now, but no one is really sure what the long term implications and impact may be.

For now, he is really enjoying these oysters:

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Holy Week Evensong at Christ Church, Pensacola

My favorite service of all, Evensong. Everything is just moving along, peacefully, penitentially, as we enter Holy Week, when all of a sudden, the choir is singing Gounod, the Jerusalem anthem from Gallia. Oh, WOW! Gounod makes me grin, and he moves me. Gounod . . . Gounod ROCKS!

And here you can here the anthem:

I was introduced to Gounod in Doha. Our priest, Ian Young, led a group called the Doha Singers, and he chose challenging music. We learned Gounod’s Mass for St. Cecelia, and the music is the kind that gets into your blood. I couldn’t get enough of it. I never get sick of it. Gounod is music with a sense of drama and a sense of humor about itself. I think it is his sense of timing, how you hold a note just a little longer than you would expect, and then rollick on to the next. I had never heard this piece before, but Gounod is so individual, so unique – it had to be Gounod.

It was a perfect evening, a lovely service, and the sun shone in through the cross as it set:

At the end, we sang one of my very favorite hymns, The Day Thou Gavest Lord, is Ended:

I admit it, I am pretty tough, but these words make me weak and weepy:

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

All in all, a lovely day. Our son joined us for the first episode of The Game of Thrones on HBO. He’s read all the books, I am on book 2, and AdventureMan is reading the first book, the one on which this series is based. Great way to begin our week. 🙂

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Easter, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Music, Pensacola, Spiritual | Leave a comment

Scamese

This was in my newest New Yorker magazine, originally given me by Little Diamond, now I can’t live without my subscription. 🙂 There is the kind of news you get on television, like what they have pictures of, maybe not the most important stuff but visual. Then there is National Public Radio news, and the New York Times, and The New Yorker. The New Yorker also has some of the greatest, funniest covers ever, and great cartoons. This one, as you might imagine, is near and dear to my heart:

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Communication, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, Entertainment, Financial Issues, Free Speech, Health Issues, Humor, Interconnected, News, Political Issues, Social Issues | Leave a comment