Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The North Douglas Road

AdventureMan spotted this along the North Douglas Road as we explored all the routes that do not lead out of Juneau. Juneau can only be accessed by air or sea; there are no roads in or out of Juneau that connect to anywhere else. There is talk of “A ROAD” and people will ask you whether you are for it or against it. What do you think?

It is possible that Juneau has maintained much of its character and values by being somewhat isolated. On the other hand, perhaps this isolation has restrained Juneau from achieving its full potential.

Once the tourist season is over, there are to big things. Skiing and the Crimson Bear basketball games. Who would think that high school basketball would be so engrossing, but in a small town, the Crimson Bears are king.

We loved this gateway, made of old skis:

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August 24, 2013 Posted by | Alaska, Public Art, Travel, Values | 2 Comments

Here be Bears!

While our first day had been exciting, it was also full of drenching cold rains and while AdventureMan NEVER complained, I could see he was . . . hmmmm . . . . supportive but underwhelmed. Fortunately, our next day dawned with high clouds and not a drop of rain in sight. We went immediately to the Mendenhall Glacier, something everyone sees when they are in Juneau, and, thanks be to God, it was not fogged in nor covered with rain clouds, but there, in all it’s icy blue glory:

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There were iceburgs floating away, looking cool and serene:

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The glacier is always awe inspiring, but there is also something else. The municipality knows that all these tour boats coming in need things to do and see, so in addition to the glacier, they have built a state-of-the-art walkway along a stream flowing from the glacier, a stream full of salmon. And when there are salmon spawning – as they are in August – and bear who are trying to store up fat for the winter, there is a wonderful confluence of needs. The salmon need to spawn, the bear need to eat and the tourists need to see something exciting. Bear chasing and eating salmon fits the bill.

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This was a very very good day 🙂

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Beauty, Birds, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | 3 Comments

No Internet??? No Wi-Fi??? No Phone Service???

No, I have not abandoned you.

When my son asked about communicating with us from Alaska, I confidently assured him “oh, Alaska will be like Africa! Land lines are so expensive to install, there will be cell towers everywhere, and besides, my iPhone is covered everywhere! I can use the internet.”

Oh Pride, Intlxpatr, Pride. You speak whereof you do not know!

Our time in Juneau was a lot of fun. From the moment we arrived, it was just so smooth. The airport is small, like Africa. You can be in and out of the airport in minutes. We picked up our car; it was so easy, the reservation was waiting, and the car is out in the small lot. It is a car a lot like our own and we really like it. Not five minutes later, we are in our room at a nearby hotel, and it is a nice room, and of course it has Wi-Fi, that’s how I sent the earlier entries.

I called an old friend of my Mother’s, a friend I remember well from my childhood, she and my mother would laugh a lot together, and our families travelled together, out on a big old Coast Guard cutter fishing in Alaska, or out to islands where we would pick berries, or out, just out, because it was a beautiful weekend and when the weather is good, Alaskans go outside.

We planned to meet up for coffee, and when we did, she was just like the old days, only older. I laughed and told her I am now older than when I knew her before. She laughed at AdventureMan’s jokes, and she had a beautiful living place near where my family used to live, with a view to die for. It reminded me of Kuwait. I could lose hours looking out her window, if I lived there. Eagles flying by, cruise ships coming in and out, the weather changing on the mountain across the way – it was a magnificent location, and it was all made even better by good coffee, good conversation and a great deal of love based on old relationships.

But we needed to go! We had things we needed to see!

This is the view from our friend’s house in West Juneau:

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My old school:

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Alaskan Indian art, painted over a garage door:

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The beach we used to go to, called Sandy Beach. Occasionally a dead walrus would wash up there, causing no end of excitement to us young people.

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AdventureMan found a piece of the sea glass I love:

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I thought this school above was a lot bigger than this . . . . I remember it being a lot bigger . . . LOL!

This is our old house, many many years ago. It used to have a much bigger front yard, before they widened the road. It also seemed farther from the little grocery store near the bridge that my Mom would send me to, but it’s gotten shorter!

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This is the Baranof Hotel, where my parents met. It used to be a very grand hotel, but it is now a Westmark hotel, and while it pretends to still be grand, it is shopworn and tired, and needs a major overhaul to be back in the game. We ate lunch there – to honor my parents meeting – and it was also a very mediocre meal. The very chipper waitress, Holly, tried to make it nice, but the Capitol restaurant needs better lighting and brighter colors. It was very, very dark.

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Some public art. Later as we passed the same location we heard guys call out “The police are coming!” and saw them approach three men who looked like maybe they were drinking or drugging.

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AdventureMan is so patient with me. When I spotted a quilt shop, he said he was going down the street and to call him when I was finished. 🙂

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The best part of the day was picking up our friend for dinner, and hearing her stories. We loved hearing about Juneau in the old days, and hearing her laugh.

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Alaska, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Travel | 4 Comments

An Unexpected Adventure

I thought we were traveling on a partner airline, but Alaska Airlines does things its own way, and I laughed – it’s a lot like most Alaskans. They board Alaska Airlines team members first, then they board from the BACK of the plane – whoda thunk?

We fly for a short time, then descend into rain and more rain and the small fishing village at the very southern tip of Alaska called Ketchikan. My Dad used to fly in and out of all these small Alaskan towns, and I grew up hearing all their names, but had never visited myself. Those getting off in Ketchikan, with all their fishing gear, de-planed, and the party began – a lot of people aboard knew one another.

Then came the announcement that there might be something wrong with the plane, and a mechanic was coming in on the next ferry, so we could all deplane and spend a little time in Ketchikan – well, the Ketchikan airport.

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You know who all the Alaskans are because they head directly to the bar. We followed them in to see that the seaplanes come in on the other side of the Ketchikan airport.

Whatever the problem was, it was soon solved and we headed into Sitka, where we landed on a field that looked like an aircraft carrier.

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Getting into Juneau just an hour late, our car was waiting, a car we liked, and our hotel was minutes from the airport. All in all, a great day, an easy travel day, with just enough adventure to let us know we are beginning a great holiday.

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Cultural, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The SeaTac Food Court

“Terminal T? Is that new? I don’t remember arriving at Terminal T before!”

Not even two weeks have passed, and we are going through SeaTac again, this time en route to Alaska. As we enter “Terminal T” we discover terminal T is like saying “Shrimp scampi” you are saying the same thing. T is the Terminal, it used to be the only terminal. It’s what used to be the original airport before all the South Terminals and North Terminals and others I don’t even know. Oh yeh, A, B, and C.

But the Main Terminal is a delight. Seattle loves public art, as do I, and arriving in Seattle at the main terminal, you find schools of little brass fish swirling under your footsteps, if you think to look. These little touches delight me.

We are flying out of Seattle to Alaska, and Alaska Airlines flies out of terminals C or N, and as it turns out, our flight flies out of N, or the North Concourse. On our way there, we are wondering if we will find something healthy to pick up for our dinner, when we come to the Food Court.

We’ve eaten here before, breakfast. They have an Anthony’s-in-the-Airport, and my best friend recommended their breakfast egg dishes. I hate oatmeal, but discovered that the oatmeal at Anthony’s is delicious! It must not be good for me; how can oatmeal that is good for me taste so good?

And, as it turns out, Anthony’s has a take-out section! Woo Hooo!

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Well, hmmmm, not quite. They don’t have the Ceasar Salad with a piece of grilled salmon or halibut on the top, but isn’t salmon and chips almost as healthy? Although in intend to wait to eat on the plane, the odor of delicious deep fried salmon calls to me, along with a cup of freshly brewed mocha, and I go ahead and eat my dinner in the Seattle airport.

I love it that there are so many options. Anthony’s has a great restaurant, right in the old main terminal, with floor to ceiling glass, it is a glorious situation. There are other eating establishments where you can order and then sit in the same area at tables and chairs – Ivars, some Mexican, some others which are good, it’s just I love the take out from Anthony’s. Normally airport food can be a total drag, unless you go through Memphis and have some BBQ – or Seattle. Seattle does airport food right.

August 18, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Civility, Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Public Art, Seattle, Travel | , | 2 Comments

The Littlest Angel

A fresh baby! A sweet baby girl!

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August 17, 2013 Posted by | Family Issues | 6 Comments

For Unto Us a Child is Given . . .

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I am hearing those wonderful lines from Handel’s Messiah, because on this wonderful day, just after noon, a new child came into this world, a treasured girl-child, a warrior-princess is born. Thanks be to God, al hamd’allah!

Her Mother’s prayer for her is that she be the child that God created her to be. She hopes her daughter has courage, and a heart for adventure. When we met her, this amazing daughter-in-law, she played rugby, and she went off to France for a year to teach English.

We all pray that she will be healthy, and compassionate, with a heart for others. Courageous and passionate, and a woman of strength who will, like her Father, “give voice to those who have no voices.”

It is taking all our strength not to run to the hospital to visit. We feel very Middle-Eastern at this time; I am remembering my friend who went to Hamad hospital to have her babies. I took her daughters there the next morning, laden with canisters of coffee to serve guests.

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“Guests?” I thought to myself. I had NO idea. Our Western idea is to give the new parents and their new baby time to recover from the physical and mental exertion of giving birth, time to bond as a small family unit.

When we got to Hamad Hospital, my friend had a huge suite, like a hotel suite, and her hospital bed was maybe King sized, with a curtain that could be drawn around it. She had a wall of mirrored closets and a seating area for about twenty people. No. I am not kidding.

We got there around seven in the morning, and within fifteen minutes, guests started arriving, all women, of course, come to give congratulations to the new Mom. Each came, greeted the new Mother, sat and drank a couple cups of coffee served by the delighted older daughters, greeted their friends, cousins and new arrivals, and then departed. Waves of guests arrived, and, thank God, waves of re-inforcing coffee pots.

So so different from our own customs, but today, oh, how I would love to fill a canister or two and be at the hospital sooner, rather than later, to greet the parents and to meet my new little lion-hearted grand-daughter, who insisted she would arrive when SHE wanted, LOL, not on schedule.

Here is the quilt I made for her:

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And here is the guide to the colors; I bought the border five years ago:
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When AdventureMan say it, he said “that doesn’t look like a baby quilt” because it is so black and white, but, if you have eyes to see, it isn’t all black and white, it also has shades of purple, fuchsia, and a celery Spring green. I made the center Kaleidoscope pieces with a variety of blacks and whites, because babies LOVE black and white, and it can fascinate them and calm them.

I call it “I See Things Differently” because no, it doesn’t look like a baby quilt, but it is very much a baby quilt, it just doesn’t meet our cultural expectations. The longer I live, the less I meet any one’s expectations, LOL!

Thanks be to God! Thanks be to God for the safe delivery of this precious baby!

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Parenting, Qatar | 6 Comments

ARCO Gas Station: Something Doesn’t Feel Right

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Just before leaving Seattle for the airport, I filled my gas tank. I went to an ARCO station, opened my tank lid and went to swipe my card when I saw a sign saying everyone must pay inside.

Annoying. It’s so convenient when you can just swipe your card at the point of service. I go inside and the Ethiopian woman at the counter asks me how many gallons I want.

I said “I need to fill the tank; I don’t know how many gallons. Swipe my card and then I will come in and sign the charge receipt when we know how much it is.”

She said that’s not how it works, they need to charge me and then they will give me back change. My bad. At that point I should have walked. I should have gone to the next gas station. I didn’t.

So I guessed 15 gallons, and she charged me $60. My car didn’t even take nine gallons. When I went inside, she gave me back $26.81 in cash, not refunded to my credit card. That is just such a strange way to do business.

It bothered me. What bothered me more was that when I got home and looked at my receipt, I had been charged $61.00. It’s only a dollar more, but the cost of my gas ($33.19) and my change back (26.81) add up to $60. Why was I charged $61?

Here is my dirty suspicion – she thought for $1. no one will bother complaining. If you read my previous entry, you can see why – my life is busy in its own way, but other people’s lives are busy in their ways. Who is going to made a big deal over $1.00 overcharge?

I don’t have time to deal with it right now and I will hold on to the receipts to see if I want to spend my precious time later trying to make it right. Or will I just figure my time is more precious than arguing over $1. in which case the scam works every time?

If this was a $1. charge for something, I don’t see it anywhere on the receipts. Do you? Why would they charge me for the inconvenience of buying gas in such a convoluted way?

I will NEVER go to that gas station again.

Second thought: Maybe I should just think of it as a charitable contribution?

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Customer Service, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Rants, Scams, Seattle, Travel | 4 Comments

God Laughs; Life’s Craziness

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 2, which advises us to humbly submit to the will of Almighty God or suffer the consequences of our own actions. I’ve heard God laughing all week, sometimes at me, sometimes with me.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3 ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.’

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
with trembling 12kiss his feet,*
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

I’m a planner. I figure out what I want, and then I figure out how to get it. When we decided we wanted to take a trip to Alaska, we booked – and paid – a year in advance to get the kind of room we wanted. We also planned to buy a new car, and started saving for that, being pay-cash kind of people.

Then, early in the year we discovered we were going to become grandparents to a granddaughter! She would arrive shortly after we get back from our Alaska trip.

This week, God laughed. The doctors told our son and his wife that she needed to go on bedrest, and that this baby will be coming early. All the grandparents have been helping with childcare through the summer, now we just ratcheted it up a notch.

Do you know why God gives children to YOUNG parents? LOL, a three year old has SO much energy! So much curiousity! We have such a good time with him and when at the end of the day, we return him to his parents – we need a nap!

We are also trying to pack and prepare for our trip, get the Qatari Cat prepared for the cat hotel, get the guest suite prepared for the people who will stay while we are gone, and oh yes, finish up the purchase of that new car.

I had thought the first week in August would be a snooze, isn’t it always? Those long, hot humid days hit Pensacola, often one of those violent and emotional thunderstorms that clears the air in the late afternoon, lazy day after lazy day, right?

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Not this year. This year was fly to Seattle for my Mom’s 90th birthday celebration, fly back, take care of our grandson for a week, do whatever we can to help out our son and his wife while she is on bed rest, buy and sell two cars, do our normal volunteer work – oh, and we had scheduled two meetings at our house, so we had to be presentable, and have some delicious things available. I could hear God laughing.

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In the midst of all this, we are healthy. We have a good roof over our heads. We have the means to get a new car and travel to Seattle for Mom’s birthday. We pre-paid much of the Alaska vacation. Our little grandson is happy, and strong, and articulate, and fun to be around. Our son and his wife are wonderful, loving parents, and hard workers, and are preparing for this sweet new arrival. God laughs, and we thank him for his abundant blessings, and his abundant patience with us thinking we have any control over the months that come. We pray for the safe and healthy arrival of this little granddaughter who may arrive while we are gone, for a safe delivery, and a speedy recovery for her mother, and for strength and courage for her father, our son, who is a valiant man. We welcome your prayers.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Parenting, Relationships, Values | Leave a comment

I am an internet fraudsters and a terrorist (suicide bomber)???

Holy Smokes! The head of the FBI writing to me! Accusing me of internet fraud and terrorism (suicide bomber)! All I have to do is wire my service fee to Cletus in Nigeria and all will be well and my record will be cleared. Only $98.00, such a small, reasonable fee to prevent all this mayhem. (LOOOLLL!)

Scammers: Grammar! Usage! Craftsmanship! You can do so much better than this!

Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
J. Edgar Hoover Building,
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

Attention: Beneficiary

This is the final warning you will receive from me. This notice has been sent to
you several times but you ignored it.

I have warned you so many times and you decided to ignore my e-mails because you
believe we have not been instructed to get you arrested, if you fail comply this
time around, then we will first of all send a letter to the MAYOR of the city
where you reside and also instruct the bank to close your account until you
comply with our directives. Note that all your properties will be confiscated by
the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We would also send a letter to the
company/organization where you work and instruct them to issue you a “SACK
LETTER” because a suspect is not supposed to be working for the government or
any private organization.

From our investigations, we discovered that you were the person that forwarded
your identification to internet fraudsters in Nigeria and other countries when
they had a deal with you in regards to the transfer of some illegal funds into
your bank account which is valued at the sum of $10,500,000.00 only. Your ID
which we have in our database has been sent to all the crimes agencies in
America for them to upload you in their website as an internet fraudsters and a
terrorist (suicide bomber). I will also warn people to stop having any dealing
or friendly communication with you anymore. This would have been solved all this
while if you have gotten the NECESSARY TRANSFER DOCUMENT ENDORSED AND SEALED
legally.

I, ROBERT S. MUELLER III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
wish to inform you that there is no more time left to waste because you have
been given enough grace, therefore you have been mandated to comply immediately
you read this e-mail if you don’t want to be arrested. As stated earlier, to
have the document endorsed and sealed without any delay, you must adhere to this
directives to avoid you from blaming yourself at last when we must have arrested
and sentenced you to life imprisonment. Note that all your properties will be
seized and bank account will be confiscated too.

However, I have decided to see how I can be of help to you because I will not be
happy to see you end up in jail and all your properties got confiscated because
your information was used to carry out fraudulent transactions. I called the
EFCC NIGERIA and they directed me to a qualified attorney who can help you get
the process done and when I called the atorney he told me that he will go to the
bank and sign the documents on your behalf and put his “SEAL” on those documents
at the sum of $98 service fee and I believe this process is cheaper for you. Be
informed that I pleaded on your behalf to the board of directors of this agency
to give you till 08/20/2013 to make the payment. Bear it in mind that this is
the only way that I can be able to help you at this juncture. But if you fail to
comply, you will find yourself in a severe field of dilemma.

You need to try as much as you can to send the money today because I have been
informed by the ARREST WARRANT ISSUANCE DEPARTMENT that the warrant of arrest
has been prepared against you and once is being signed by me as the FBI
DIRECTOR, then the arrest will be carried out if you fail to send the money
within the given deadline and we shall apply for litigation against you
immediately. Thereafter, you will appear before the ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT
COURT OF WASHINGTON D.C for terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking
charges. I believe you know that it will be a shameful thing to you and your
entire family. Also it will be announced and published in all the local channels
and newspapers that you are wanted by the FBI. Therefore, you are advised to
make the payment for the signing of the documents immediately you read this
e-mail. Be warned, we are monitoring you from our satellite.

You will have to make the payment through western union money transfer with the
below information then Send the payment details to me as stated below.

NAME: UZOUKWU CLETUS
ADDRESS: LAGOS, NIGERIA
TEXT QUESTION: BETTER
ANSWER: BEST
AMOUNT: $98
SENDER’S FULL NAME:
SENDER’S FULL ADDRESS:
DIRECT PHONE NUMBER:
MTCN:

Do not hesitate to make the payment today with the above outlined information so
that the attorney will go to the paying bank and have all the necessary transfer
documents endorsed on your behalf as soon as you send the money. After all this
process is being carried out, then the transfer of your funds valued at
$10,500,000.00 only which should have been transferred to your bank account
before legally will now take place legitimately and hitchlessly.

Note: As you can see below, all the crimes agencies have been contacted on this
regard and we shall trace and arrest you if you disregard or ignore this
instructions. You have been given a grace till 08/20/2013 to make the payment
for the attorney to endorse the necessary transfer documents on your behalf and
put his “SEAL” on it.

Expecting your anticipated co-operation. You can also contact me here.
rssmusa@aol.com

Yours in service,

Robert S. Mueller III
FBI Director

CC: Canadian Police Association
CC: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
CC: GENERAL INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT (GID)
CC: Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG)
CC: Egmont Group
CC: FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI USA)
CC: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
CC: Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
CC: International Monetary Fund (IMF)
CC: International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO)
CC: International Banking Security Association (IBSA)
CC: International Air Transport Association (IATA)
CC: Institute de Formation Interbancaire (INSIG)
CC: World Customs Organization (WCO)
CC: Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
CC: Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors (OGBS)
CC: WORLD CENTRAL BANK (WCB)
CC: NIGERIA POLICE FORCE (NPF)
CC: NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE (UK)
CC: ECONOMIC FINANCIAL CRIME COMMISSION (EFCC)

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Crime, Cultural, Financial Issues, Law and Order, Scams | , | 2 Comments