Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Cottage Cafe Across from Pensacola Library

“How about lunch?” our friend asked as we left the book club meeting at the library. This was not a meeting we usually attend, but they were discussion Donna Tartt’s book, The Goldfinch, which our group had also recently read and discussed, and we were eager to continue the discussion. She suggested the Cottage Cafe, just across the street, and it looked really cute.

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We weren’t the first customers, although we were the only customers in the small dining room. A steady stream of phone calls were coming in, and a steady stream of orders were going out. When I ordered the Oriental Chicken Salad, they were already out of it! I sadly watched an order of about ten boxes leave on a bicycle delivery vehicle, knowing “my” salad was in that delivery.

Ah well. There were plenty of other selections on the menu. AdventureMan started with chili and cornbread, and raved about how good it was.

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Our friend ordered the Cottage Cafe Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, and it looked scrumptious:

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I ordered the BLAST, which was bacon, lettuce, avocado, sprouts and tomato, and it was tasty, and I could kid myself it was all veggy and healthy fats, etc, so good for me, right?

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AdventureMan’s main meal was barbecued pork. He groaned as he finished it, telling us not to let him order a chili starter AND a BBQ Pork, but as he groaned, he was eating every bite and licking his fingers.

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The downside was that it was all so delicious, we really did eat up our meals and did not have space for dessert, and their dessert options sounded fabulous. We’ll have to go back soon and start with dessert 🙂 They are only open until 3, as they also run the Pensacola Victorian Bed and Breakfast next door, the huge Victorian:

00PensacolaB&B

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December 30, 2014 Posted by | Books, Community, Customer Service, Eating Out, Pensacola, Restaurant | , | Leave a comment

A Prayer for the Innocents

Today the church remembers King Herod’s slaughter of all infant boys in his territory to put to rest these rumors of a newborn king of the Jews. The prayer for today is for all innocents killed by those who seek their ends through violence and oppression.

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

December 29, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, Faith, Interconnected, Leadership, Lectionary Readings | , | Leave a comment

My Christmas Day 2014

It’s been a great day.

Like every great day, there have been a glitch or two.

I did something very funny, I gave AdventureMan a FitBit for Christmas. He is setting it up now. He loves medals and badges, and I know he will love looking at what the FitBit tells him about how many steps he is taking and how he is sleeping at night. I know he is going to have fun with this, and it makes me smile. Oddly, the FitBit site was down most of the day for scheduled maintenance. Wouldn’t you think that a lot of people would be getting FitBits for Christmas and would want to get started? They are back up now, though.

One of the glitches for me today was that I was scrambling a little this morning to get Christmas dinner prepared in advance so I could just have it all in the oven ready for when we were going to eat. I had five minutes while the dinner rolls cooked, so I ran upstairs to dress and comb my hair, ran down the stairs again and only hours later – like five hours – discovered I had forgotten to move the FitBit so I DIDN’T GET CREDIT FOR ALL THOSE STEPS! Oh aaarrgh.

Small potatoes in the larger scheme of things.

We had a wonderful day, all in all, a day of peace and joy and delight in family. All our years of living overseas have made us grateful for the comfort of time spent together.

I see on WeatherUnderground that Kuwait and Qatar are having wonderful weather; I always loved the winters there:

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Tomorrow I have a job, a painting job, painting my adorable little granddaughters bedroom a color called Bubble. Just the thought makes me smile.

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December 25, 2014 Posted by | Christmas, Family Issues | , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Christmas Photo 2014

Great-Grandmother sent this lamb. As soon as she walked in, Baby N went straight for it, calling “Baaaaaaaa!” She hugged the lamb, climbed on and gave the lamb hugs throughout the morning. Great gift, Great Grandmother GiGi!

00NaomiAndBaaaaa

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Christmas | Leave a comment

Another Reason to Love Weather Underground

Weather Underground is one of my daily stops; as I check today’s weather, I can, at a glance, see what the weather is doing in Kuwait, in Qatar, in Damascus, in Juneau, Alaska, in Seattle, in Denver – at a glance!

Last night we had a huge booming storm, all night. This morning, I clicked on the Weather Underground map with radar; you can see it at the local level, the regional level and the continental level. I wanted to see how much more booming we can expect before the clearing. Tomorrow is supposed to be cool – and sunny.

What a relief! The worst has passed, and there is nothing more headed our way! Clear as a bell!

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December 24, 2014 Posted by | Christmas, Quality of Life Issues, Statistics, Weather | | Leave a comment

Isaiah: the desert shall rejoice and blossom

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The Lectionary reading in the Old Testament today is from Isaiah, one of my favorite books in the bible, and when I read it, I think of all my time in the Arabian peninsula, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. I think of this land, on the route from the rift valley in Kenya where man is supposed to have originated, how earliest humans would have crossed through these countries as they moved slowly away from their origins.

My Qatari and Kuwaiti friends tell me that legends say that these countries were once lush, green and beautiful. They are still beautiful, but the lushness and the greeness is only in small pockets when and where the arid land has water. I think nothing is impossible for God, and how wonderful it would be to see these countries lush and green and fertile once more.

The King is coming, coming as a tiny baby in human form to live with us and turn us away from our wickedness. He sees things differently. He tells us to love one another, to love our enemies, to take care of one another. He makes the blind to see, the lame to leap, and the deaf to hear. Come! Come, Emanuel!

Isaiah 35:1-10

35 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,*
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8 A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,*
but it shall be for God’s people;*
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

December 24, 2014 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Doha, Environment, ExPat Life, Faith, Interconnected, Kuwait, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Poetry/Literature, Quality of Life Issues, Saudi Arabia, Spiritual, Weather | Leave a comment

4901 :-)

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December 21, 2014 Posted by | Blogging, Statistics | Leave a comment

The Christmas Spirit at the Pageant

There is nothing on earth as heart warming as three and four year olds at the Episcopal Day School doing a Christmas pageant. The teachers and aides are truly heroes, teaching Christmas Carols and a script to children so young. Getting the children in, getting them in their places, keeping them on track – it was adorable, heart warming – and totally hilarious. The songs were so sweet, the kids so delighted to see their loved ones in the audience (“Hey, Dad! Dad! DAD!”) and their joy in being a part of it so palpable. The little Star of the East who missed her cue and followed the Wise Men, the little girl belting out the Christmas songs, the adorable sheep – I grin just thinking about it.

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Herding cats, LOL!
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Joseph and Mary start their trip:
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Joseph and Mary are presented with a pillow for their trip:
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Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
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The Star of the East:
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The manger, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, all the barnyard animals, and the Star of the East:

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It didn’t last thirty minutes. It is a highlight of our Christmas season 🙂

December 21, 2014 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Entertainment, Events, Generational, Humor, Parenting, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships | Leave a comment

FitBit: Close Friend, Not Perfect

Who wants a perfect friend? I know I am flawed, would a perfect friend want to be friends with me? Ummm . . . probably not, and I would have a hard time living up to a perfect friend.

Having said that, my FitBit is my constant companion. She would like to be my nanny, but I don’t allow her to nag me, I just share time with her where we have things in common.

The cons:

She can’t go in the water (so far as I know, and I have searched intensely to see if it were possible for her to go into water aerobics with me) so I don’t get any credit with her or on my daily stats for all the hard work I do in the pool.

She is so unobtrusive that sometimes I forget her. Not often; she is mostly part of my routine, but the other day, a very busy day, I realized as I was getting ready for bed that she was not with me. I always, routinely, put her on my nightgown. She wasn’t there. I had left her on a shirt as I changed clothes. I had lost stats for an entire five hour period, horrors!

The pros:

She really encourages me to move more. Did you know sitting is the new smoking? Too much sitting correlates to dying earlier than you need to? So when I am watching a show and AdventureMan is not with me, I pull out the running trampoline and run for twenty or thirty minutes as the Kilchers celebrate Thanksgiving or take a friend out to a distant Alaskan island. I don’t usually manage 10,000 steps a day, which is the goal, but I manage more than I would without FitBit; she keeps me aware that I need to move.

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She tracks my sleep. I have discovered I am not a good judge of how well I sleep. There are some nights I think I was awake a lot and I discover that no, I might have been awake for a ten minute period, but I slept well most of the time. There are nights I believe I have slept well, but she shows me I was restless 14 times (that can happen when the love-of-your-life has a cold and is coughing). She even gives me a percentage of how efficiently I sleep; I find this very reassuring.

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She also tracks – if you ask her to – food, activities, glucose, weight and some other factors. She will also – if you ask her to – share all your information with your closest 1500 friends.

(Gasp of horror)

No! No! That’s private information!

She also has a partner, a wireless scale that will send the information right to your dashboard, and to your monthly evaluation.

Again, no. No, not for me. I don’t share that information, not with anyone. Some things are just private.

She is faithful. She warns me when she is running out of steam and needs to be recharged. She is always with me, unless I forget her. She’s been with me about a year, and I find that unlike some devices that I quickly decide are not-the-real-me, she is a good, helpful friend. She lets me set the pace, and she respects my boundaries. Her respect for my boundaries allows me to step up my pace to try to please her. 🙂 She acknowledges my flaws, but she is faithful anyway, and, as I said before, she minds her own business and doesn’t nag me.

All in all, our friendship is a great success.

December 20, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, Exercise, Friends & Friendship, Quality of Life Issues | | 2 Comments

John the Baptist and Brood of Vipers

It is a rainy, chilly morning in Pensacola.

Even as I write those words, I smile. Our grandson inherited my cold genes through his father. By cold genes, I mean we are more comfortable being cool than hot. We sleep cool. We need less clothing to stay warm. He told his Baba, AdventureMan, that “chilly is not cold” because he didn’t want to wear long pants, he prefers shorts.

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(There are a lot of images of John the Baptist, but this one made me grin; he looks a little Rastafarian, and I hadn’t thought of him as so long haired and skinny, but he was living in the wilderness and eating locusts and honey . . . )

I can still feel the air grow still as the British Ambassador to Kuwait read a very odd scripture about John the Baptist. It was odd because while it talked about John, it was unfamiliar to me. At the end, he said “A reading from the holy Qu’ran” and I was astonished for two reasons. First, I didn’t know that the Muslims recognized John the Baptist (they do, he is called Yahya Yahanna, and they have a beautiful tomb to him in the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, where many visit and pray) and second, I didn’t know I belonged to a church that would allow the Qu’ran to be read as Holy Scripture.

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Life is long, and full of surprises. I love it. I think the ability to be surprised, and to ponder those quick flickers of perspective keeps us young in heart, and young in spirit.

Today, John speaks to us, each and every one. The true path is coming, the word of God embodied in a human being, born a tiny baby, a human baby, God come down into flesh. (My Muslim friends are quivering with fear at this point, waiting for me to be struck down for such blasphemy. They don’t believe Jesus was the son of God, but that he was a messenger, like Mohammed. They also believe Jesus will be the judge at the end of times.)

Life among the Moslems. Bible study with the Baptist. My very Mormon friends. My own very Episcopalian faith. All these influences – and my Alaskan heritage – mashed together with smatterings of others, have gone into making me a very odd sort of Christian.

I’m OK with that.

Luke 3:1-9

3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler* of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler* of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler* of Abilene, 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

December 20, 2014 Posted by | Advent, Alaska, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Kuwait, Lectionary Readings, Spiritual | , , , , , | 2 Comments