Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Social Network Interactions

I do go to FaceBook now and then, and I have connected with old friends, college friends, high school friends, and people from the many ‘places I remember’ in my life .  .  .

It’s pretty public, don’t you think? And you do one little thing, and it’s like glue, you’re stuck with that relationship. I am now careful who I ‘like’, because I seem to end up linked to them, and honestly, I try to be careful to limit my connections to people I know, or have known, people I have something in common with, like a family member, etc.

It’s like if you indicate any interest at all, you get linked. Is it just me? I don’t think of myself as isolationist, but time is precious, and I try to spend it wisely, focusing on genuine long term relationships, family relationships and people with whom I have commonalities.

I find that magazines who which I subscribe, cultural organizations, charitable organizations are all sending me surveys; they want to get to know me better. (? ? ? )

It’s too much relationship for me. I know there are people who can handle a huge number of social acquaintances . . . that’s not me. I am civil, even cordial. I don’t want to get to know organizations through surveys, nor businesses, relationships take TIME. So many of the ‘relationships’ make me feel rushed, and when I feel rushed, or pushed, my reaction tends to be to drop the relationship; it just doesn’t work for me.

I do believe we are all supposed to be connected, to be kind to one another, to care about one another. It’s asking too much of me to expect it to happen quickly. Am I the only one? Does anyone else have any problems with the instant sort of intimacy that seems to spring up so commonly on the social networks?

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Privacy, Values | 4 Comments

One of the Worst Scam Letters Ever

This scammer hasn’t gone to any trouble to make the letter believable – or grammatical! She hasn’t gone to any trouble to put my name in – or even to call me ‘dear friend!’

How are you hope you are fine and your family,This mail is for you the MTN card is ready now.
i will advice you to contact the lawyer immediately for the MTN CARD.
The value of the MTN CARD is three million five hundred dollars and you can withdraw it from any part of the world 50% will mine while 50% will be your’s too.
Don’t waste more to contact the lawyer for the MTN CARD regarding the receiving of the MTN CARD from the lawyer.
This is how come this fund,The owner of the fund suffered and died by cancer,She died on 8th Dec 2011.Her name are Mrs.Rowena Green from Ameica and works in United Union office here in Burkina Faso.
Her age was 48 years before her death she had no child and willed her property out and submit to the Bank Of Africa,I am one staff in the bank of africa too i am in account department therefore don’t be afraid of receiving this fund because i have done all the banking produres that will be needed.
Thank you.

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Crime, Scams | 3 Comments

A and E Drugstore in Pensacola

When I got here, the only quilt shop had closed, leaving me with JoAnn Fabrics as my only alternative. I’d been here about 10 months when one of my bible-study buddies asked me if I had ever heard of A & E? Well, yes, I had heard people mentioning they were running there, but I’d never been there. My friend took me there – took me to heaven for a quilter. You would never guess this place had bolts and bolts of just-what-you-never-knew-you-needed.


I went back yesterday looking for something exotic and out of the ordinary, and I found it – of course. As I went in, I had to laugh. I had been telling my friends what I really needed was the Kuwait or Qatar souks, where shiny fabrics are everywhere, and I needed some specific shiny fabric. I grinned because I realized this is the Pensacola souk, where you can find just about anything, especially if it sparkles. This is just a small part of the selection for Mardi Gras:


If you’ve ever watched Treme’, you will understand that there were a lot of people in A and E buying sparkle – sparkly masks, sparkly fabric, sparkly everything. As I was checking out, I even saw a separate section where you could buy beads in bulk, a really good thing in a town with a lot of parades where beads are thrown to the crowd.


But it isn’t called A and E Fabrics . . . it’s called A & E Drugstore! There is a pharmacy there, and a whole lot of home health care supplies. Just all part of the serendipity and quirkiness that is Pensacola. 🙂

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Mardi Gras, Pensacola, Shopping | 3 Comments

Open Faced Crab Sandwiches

Remember Qwon Chi Rolls? No self respecting Alaska girl would eat a roll make with “Crab with a K” which we all know is really Alaskan pollack re-textured to remotely resemble real crab. My friends, don’t eat that pretend stuff. Look for real crab. It’s out there.


When I was a little girl, my parents would go out, and sometimes they would come back, bring their friends, and my mother would make open faced crab sandwiches. To me, they are still special; I get hungry just thinking about them.


They are fun, and easy to make.


You get Crab – the real thing. I like claw meat, but any crab you prefer, as long as it is REAL crab, will do. You put crab meat in a bowl. You add just a little horseradish, just a little fresh ground pepper and a little fresh ground salt. You add some of the green from green onions, not a lot, just a little, and then you add just a little mayonnaise.


Toast English muffins, and spread crab generously on the muffins.


Top the crab with grated cheddar cheese, and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted.


Now, they are ready to eat!


I think I had better go eat dinner . . . . I’m HUNGRY!

January 18, 2012 Posted by | Alaska, Cultural, Food, Friends & Friendship, Recipes | 5 Comments

Qatari Cat’s Happy Place

Winter in Pensacola is mercurial, one minute the temperatures are in the seventies, and the next minute we are covering our more fragile plantings and hoping they make it through the freeze. This year we had hibiscus blooming that has suffered from the winter two winters ago, a very cold winter, and we weren’t sure they would survive – for two years!

When the temperatures go down, the Qatari Cat begs to go out into the garage (he remembers it is a very warm place) but two minutes later he is saying “I made a big mistake! Let me in!”

Last year we bought an electric bed for him. It doesn’t get really warm, not as warm as a heating pad, but it gets warm enough that he thinks it is heaven. He could stay in the bed just about all day, rolling around so that every part of him gets some of the warmth some of the time. He doesn’t leave it much except to eat.

I keep it in my office, at my feet. He dreams, snorts, shudders, moans and growls, and nothing I do bothers him in the least. He has found his happy place. 🙂

January 18, 2012 Posted by | ExPat Life, Humor, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Pets, Qatteri Cat, Weather | Leave a comment

Qatar, the Magical Kingdom

I just finished watching the 13 minute segment 60 minutes showed this last weekend on Qatar:

Oh, to be in the Souk al Wakif in January / February. My Doha buddies and I are getting together next weekend; if only we could have breakfast once again together at the Beirut. We truly enjoyed our years in Qatar.

It was fun seeing the shiny sparkly skyline, only five or six of those buildings were there when we arrived in January of 2003. When my husband used to travel to Doha in the ’80’s, it was called “sleepy little Doha” or even “Doh-ha-ha-ha” but no one is laughing at Doha any more, and sleepy little Doha has gone uptown in a big way.

The Emir used to carry a lot more weight – literally. He looks good, he looks healthier and more fit, and consequently younger, and more vital. I’m betting he has the Sheikha Moza to thank for that; don’t we all nag our husbands a little to encourage them to take care of themselves? We want them to live a long, healthy life.

Not a single mention of the Sheikha Moza in the entire segment, nor of her influence in the creation of the Qatar foundation, bringing reputable American and Canadian universities to Qatar, the creation of the Islamic Museum of Art, the face-lift to the Souk al Waqif, the creation of the symphony. Not a mention of her influence on the schools, the health system, the modern face of Qatar.

Only a passing reference to the appalling conditions under which the laborers work in Qatar, treated like animals, worked to the bone. Not a mention that many of those glorious buildings don’t meet any codes, that proper building standards have not been enforced, and that the standards for safety are noticeable in their absence. Not a mention of the malls where the laborers are not allowed on Fridays, their only day off, or the beatings they get if they wander into the Souk al Waqif. The miracle of this richest city on earth is built on the back of the Indians, Philipinos, and Nepalese who sacrifice health, family and comfort to be able to send something back in hopes that their children will be educated and live better lives.

Not a mention of the concerns among the conservatives that Qatar has modernized too fast, that traditional standards are not being respected, that English is the language spoken in all the stores, not Arabic. Not a mention that this ‘richest nation on earth’ is now also the fattest nation on earth, that the Qatari children are suffering obesity, and are greatly raised by the household help. Not a mention of the crisis of intermarriage, and the tragic health problems the children suffer from inbreeding. The 6 minute segment showed a Qatar that was all shine and glitter, and none of the dark underbelly.

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Qatar | 2 Comments

Martin Luther King Day

From A Word a Day, in honor of Martin Luther King Day:

I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. -Frederick Douglass, Former slave, abolitionist, editor, and orator (1817-1895)

January 16, 2012 Posted by | Values, Words | Leave a comment

Grandparents Move Near Children and Grandchildren

Fascinating article published this week in the AOL News Huffpost section on Life and Style on a growing trend for people in the grandparent stage of their lives to uproot, sell the family home and move to be near their children and grandchildren while the grandchildren are little.

Karin Kasdin, Author, ‘Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy: Confronting Motherhood, Womanhood and Selfhood in a Household of Boys’

Grandparents Uprooting Their Lives to Move Near Grandchildren

Edye was the first to leave. In her late 50s, she sold her home, packed her belongings and her cats, and left her close circle of friends to pursue a relationship and a job three states away from those who love her most. My inelegant and somewhat selfish response was, “Seriously? In late middle age you’re going to LEAVE ME AND START ALL OVER?”

Apparently her answer was “yes,” because she lives in Chicago, and I live near Philadelphia. She owns a house that she renovated from the floorboards up, and she has meaningful work she loves. It’s been a decade since the big move, so it’s almost time for me to accept the fact that this could be a permanent situation. And I would accept it, if it weren’t for another fact … the fact that she now has a grandson on the East Coast. She’s talking about how nice it would be to live near him. Grandchildren trump everything else, even best friends.

I know this because Elayne moved next. She moved to California permanently in order to enjoy her grandchildren’s formative years. After managing a bicoastal relationship with the kids for nine years, she simply could not bear the distance any longer. So off she went, leaving me bereft and confused.

“I suddenly realized I have very few years to spend with the kids before they become teenagers,” she explained to me one day as I sat in her kitchen crying into my tea. “When that day comes, they will prefer to spend time with their friends and I will become irrelevant.”

She was right. The frequency of her grandchildren’s visits had dwindled considerably over the years as the kids became engaged in school and neighborhood activities.

Gathering the fragments and memories of one’s entire adult life to begin anew in an unfamiliar place is not on most middle-agers’ to-do lists. But those lists were most likely compiled before we thought about grandchildren, and today baby boomer grandparents are moving in droves.

A recent AARP study revealed that 80 percent of adults 45 and older believe it is important to live near their children and grandchildren.

Nancy and Harm Radcliffe are among this number. After spending much of their adult lives living abroad, they returned to the United States and established a happy home in Bethesda, Maryland. In the 13 years they resided in Bethesda they made lifelong friends, became very involved in their church, and looked forward to spending their retirement years there.

Their plans were discarded in the blink of an eye when their daughter and son-in-law called from Philadelphia and hinted that they could use some help with their 7-year-old special needs son and his two siblings.

For Nancy, the decision was a no-brainer. She said, “As soon as I was off the phone, I asked myself, ‘Why am I here in Maryland when my daughter and three kids need me in Philadelphia?'”

Convincing her husband, Harm, to leave the Washington, DC area, was a bit challenging. He was retired and had fashioned a contented life for himself in Bethesda. Reluctantly, he agreed to the move and now says he has no regrets.

For the first two months the Radcliffes babysat 12 hours a day, five days a week. Their daughter, Laurel, works fulltime as a doctor. Today the Radcliffes spend three days a week engaged with their grandchildren. They like to give each child one full day alone with them.

Friends have been plentiful in their new neighborhood. “I don’t wait for people to come to me,” Nancy said. “I extend invitations to the neighbors. You have to be proactive with regard to making new friends.”

Sally Fedorchek followed her grandchild from Yardley, Pennsylvania to Austin, Texas when her son-in-law’s job took him there. It was a move she never expected to make, and it happened so quickly that she and her husband had little time to find a house.

“We found something reasonable. It’s not the perfect house, but the longer I’m in it, the more I like it,” she said. “At first it felt like this was just an extended visit. I had to keep reminding myself that I’m here permanently. I miss my friends back home, but not as much as I missed the kids when I was living in Yardley. I’m not worried about a new life. So far the kids have included us in everything. I’m well aware that won’t last and I’ve already made a list of activities I’d like to try.”

We boomers encouraged our kids to be independent. In many cases we sent them to college far from home. Our children have traveled more than we ever did at their age. Cellphones, Skype and email have made it possible for them to feel close to us even when they live a continent or two away. Sometimes the price we pay for the independence we granted our children is the disappointment we feel when they decide to leave the homestead for other adventures. If we want major roles rather than cameo appearances in our grandchildren’s lives, it becomes our burden to make that happen. Some of us choose to move. Others practically live on airplanes and manage their lives around their frequent flyer miles.

Susan Newman, PhD, a social psychologist and author of 13 books about family life, asks grandparents to consider the following questions before making the big move:

Is your child or his/her spouse likely to relocate in a year or two? Will you continue to follow them if their careers involve living in several different places?

How jarring would it be for you to move in terms of your own social network? Do you make friends easily? Can you give up the friends you already have?

Remember your adult children will have lives of their own. When they have commitments that don’t include you, will you feel cut off?

If you’re still working, what does the employment picture look like in the new location?

If you’re single, what activities will be available to you?

I am no longer confused by Elayne’s move. Still sad, but not confused. I know exactly why she did it. At the moment, I have a 6-month-old granddaughter and a one-month lease on an apartment in California. We’ll see how it goes.

We did this. After carefully planning our retirement, when our son told us they were going to have a baby, suddenly all our former plans paled in comparison to being near our son, his wife and coming baby. Within months, we had bought a house in an area we had never considered living, and had begun a life totally different from that we had envisioned.

There are risks. Especially in this economy, things can change. For us, it was a calculated risk – we kept our house in Seattle, because it’s there, if we ever want to live in Seattle, and meanwhile brings in income as a rental house. We calculated that while our son and his wife have adventuresome spirits, that she also has a lot of family in this area, and the odds are, at least in the early years of marriage and child-bearing, that they will stay put long enough for our investment in living here to pay off in terms of growing a solid relationship with our son as an adult, his wife, and our grandchild(ren), before he/they hit(s) those independent pre-teen and teenage years.

We had actually spent some time in Pensacola, through the last five years, visiting our son. We knew there was a church here we liked, and I knew there was a quilting group. We knew the cost of living was within our means, and that there were military resources nearby. There were a lot of factors to consider, which we did, but the deciding factor was our commitment to being a part of an extended family.

My next younger sister and her husband recently made a similar decision, and I know they are as happy with their decision as we are with ours. Time passes so quickly, and we want to know our grandchildren, and to be a part of their lives. We are thankful that they feel the same way. 🙂 I find it interesting to know that we are part of a growing trend; we thought it was the influence of the Arab world on us, but it appears to be a part of a generational shift in paradigm.

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Pensacola, Relationships, Values | 6 Comments

Men Things

Last night, we had such a fun evening. Our son called, we talked about weekend happenings and he said “Hey, why don’t you and Dad come over and hang out, maybe we can order out or something” so we did.

We figured out what to order, ordered, and then while the guys were sitting on the couch (AdventureMan, our son, and our grandson) watching Thomas the Train films (LOL) the daughter-in-law and I drove over and picked up dinner. We always have a lot to talk about.

When we got back, the men were everywhere. Train parts were everywhere. Tractors, cars, fire engines, were everywhere. The chairs from the chair and table set were carefully placed on their back, each in it’s proper place. It was bedlam!

And hilarious! The Happy Toddler is catching on to so many things. He can feed the cats, he can imagine, he is better able to say what he wants. His ideas are, for the most part, unfettered by our conventions. Playing trains is not just making trains go around the track, it can also be making them go around the track and crash! Why can’t he take his ‘motorbike’ (Big Wheel) up the stairs? Why don’t the cats want to play with him? Why is Mommy sleeping when she could be up and playing with him? The world is a wonderful place when seen through the eyes of an almost-two year old. 🙂

It is also amazing to me how even as a tiny baby, this little boy was conventionally all boy – loves mechanics, loves anything with wheels, loves to make things go, loves to make things crash. Loves to rumble, loves to run, loves to jump and doesn’t much get why anyone would want to sleep, even at bedtime. He also knows how cute he is, and exploits it shamelessly. 🙂 He’s already a little man, into men things.

I suddenly realize how while I am talking about how active he is, all my photos show him sitting and doing a quiet activity. . . but have you ever tried to shoot a two-year-old in action? ? ?

January 14, 2012 Posted by | ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola | Leave a comment

Saudis Investigate Dancing Nurses

Unfortunately, I can no longer find the video sent me by John Mueller on U-Tube; it has been removed, but you can see it for yourself here:

What the Saudis are investigating – and yes, there were men and women present – is a game of musical chairs, a game even children play at birthday parties.

Hospitals are a high stress environment – and these are sweet young people having a good time. Lord have mercy, and “investigation.”

Saudi health authorities have opened an investigation into three films published on U-Tube showing Asian nurses dancing at a mixed-gender birthday party inside a government hospital.

The three separate films showed several male and female nurses were involved in the concert that included music and dances, which are strictly banned at Saudi hospitals and other public facilities.

The films showed the party was held at King Fahd Hospital in the eastern town of Hofouf and the participants were apparently from the Philippines and Indonesia, according to Saudi newspapers.

One film was titled in Arabic “a scandal at King Fahd Hospital in Hofouf” while the heading of another video read “in the absence of supervision at King Fahd Hospital”. The third read “a dancing party for a nurse’s birthday.”

“We have been instructed to open an investigation into these films to determine whether this party was really held at King Fahd Hospital,” said Ibrahim Al Hajji, information director at the Health Department.

Hajji, who was quoted by Sharq newspaper, did not elaborate on what measures would be taken against those involved in the party.

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Humor, Saudi Arabia | 8 Comments