Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Jon Snow Sings “Wildling”

This just totally cracks me up. It’s hard for me to see Game of Thrones actors out of character, but they are having such a good time hamming it up that it makes me laugh.

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May 31, 2015 Posted by | Entertainment, Humor | , , | 1 Comment

Learn to Linger

One of the most painful criticisms I would hear of Americans as I lived overseas was that we were all happy, friendly people, but we didn’t really care about people. We didn’t maintain relationships. While painful, it was also, as I looked deeper, true. Our lives are fast-paced, and we move from place to place, person to person, job to job and rarely develop the deep relationships that come from building a long, deep friendship. Today’s lesson from Rick Warren talks about how we can do better in our relationships:

“All of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (1 Peter 3:8 NIV)

You’re never going to live in harmony with your wife, your husband, your friends, or anybody else without empathy. You can’t have a team without being aware of what’s happening in each other’s lives. That’s why when people work together in an office, they may do work together, but they’re not a team unless they know what’s going on in each other’s lives.

Empathy is so important because it meets two of our deepest needs: the fundamental need to be understood and a deep need to have our feelings validated.

If you’re going to build a team of friends or at work or in your small group, you have to build empathy into the structure. So how do you become an empathetic person?

Slow down. Because our culture teaches us to move fast, we end up relationally skimming. That means you’re hitting the high points and missing all kinds of details in the lives of people you care about most. James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (NLT, second edition).

Ask questions. Proverbs 20:5 says, “A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out” (GNT). Most people hold their emotions pretty close, and they don’t automatically share how they’re doing. “I’m fine” is the standard answer, but that doesn’t really tell you how they feel. If you ask, “””How are you doing?” and the other person says, “I’m fine,” here’s how you draw out a more telling response: Learn to ask the question twice. That’s how you develop empathy. Pause and say, “No. How are you really doing?” The other thing you do is learn to linger. That means don’t be afraid of silence. Just be in the moment, ask the question, and don’t be afraid to sit there and wait. Don’t immediately go into your agenda. Just listen and learn.

Show emotions. The Bible says in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (NASB). Empathy is more than saying, “I’m sorry you hurt.” It’s saying, “I hurt with you.” You’re willing to cry with them, and you’re willing to rejoice with them. There’s only one way you’re going to be that empathetic — stay filled up with God. If your tank gets low on God, you’re not going to be empathetic at all. You’ve got to stay filled up with God.

“All of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude” (1 Peter 3:8 NIV).

May 31, 2015 Posted by | Character, Civility, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment

“Mama Cranks it up to 4!”

AdventureMan laughed as he told me how our five year old grandson teaches him new things every day. In the heat and humidity of a Pensacola summer, grandson told him to “turn it up to 4!”

AdventureMan never turns it up to 4. On a rare occasion, to accommodate my sensitivity (as he sees it) to the heat, he will turn the car air conditioning up – for a very short time – to three, and then, quickly, turn it back down to 2, or even 1, claiming he is feeling chilly.

“Mama always cranks it up to 4 when we start the car!” grandson states emphatically, and grandson is used to getting what he wants.

Me too. Now when I get in his car, I tell him “Crank it up to 4, Mama” and he does it – and he laughs.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | Cultural, Family Issues, Generational, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Weather | 2 Comments

Any Ship Can Be a Submarine

Pensacola license plate and stickers:

00PensacolaLicense

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Communication, Cultural, Humor, Pensacola | Leave a comment

Female ISIL Recruits Surprised and Disappointed

They sign up for Hunger Games and get domestic drudgery and uber-control:

From Associated Press via Huffpost

PARIS (AP) — When three British schoolgirls trundled across the Syrian border; when a pregnant 14-year-old ran away from her Alpine home for the second time; when a sheltered girl from the south of France booked her first trip abroad — they were going to a place of no return.

Only two of the approximately 600 Western girls and young women who have joined extremists in Syria are known to have made it out of the war zone. By comparison, as many as 30 percent of the male foreign fighters have left or are on their way out, according to figures from European governments that monitor the returns.

In interviews, court documents and public records, The Associated Press has compiled a detailed picture of European girls and young women who join extremists such as the Islamic State group — a decision that is far more final than most may realize.

The girls are married off almost immediately, either in Turkey or just after crossing into Syria. With an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters — among them 5,000 Europeans — in Syria, there is no shortage of men looking for wives. That number is expected to double by the end of the year. Once among the jihadis, the women are not permitted to travel without a male chaperone or a group of other women and must remain fully covered outside, according to material published by Islamic State and researchers who follow the group. Otherwise, they risk a lashing or worse.

European women who blog about their lives under Islamic State tend to be chipper about the experience, but reading between the lines of an e-book of travel advice shows a life that will be radically circumscribed, with limited electricity, lack of even the most basic medicine, and practically no autonomy. Women do not fight, researchers say, despite the Hunger Games-like promises of recruiters.

“The lives of those teenage girls are very much controlled,” said Sara Khan, a British Muslim whose group Inspire campaigns against the dangers of extremist recruiters. “I don’t think that discussion ever comes up. It’s so romanticized, the idea of this utopia. I don’t even think those young girls have necessarily considered that there’s no way back now.”

The two exceptions to the rule of no return are perhaps most revealing in the very paucity of details about their journey — driving home how murky life is behind the Islamic State curtain.

Sterlina Petalo is a Dutch teenager who converted to Islam, and came to be known by the name Aicha. She traveled to Syria in 2014 to marry a Dutch jihadi fighter there and managed to return months later — apparently making her way to the border with Turkey, where her mother reportedly picked her up and brought her back to the Netherlands. Back home, she was immediately arrested on suspicion of joining a terror organization.

Her family, lawyers and prosecutors refuse to discuss the case. She was released from custody last November and has not been formally charged.

The second woman known to have made it out of the grip of Islamic State reconsidered after just a few weeks. The 25-year-old Briton, whom police have not named, had taken her toddler son all the way to Raqqa, the group’s stronghold, when she decided she had made a mistake and called home. She made her way back into Turkey and her father met her there. How she was able to travel the 250 kilometers (150 miles) from Raqqa to the Turkish border city of Gaziantep is not clear. Back in Britain, she was detained and is now free on bail pending formal charges.

Without knowing how the two escaped, it is difficult to say whether other girls and women could follow their path out of Syria, said Joana Cook, a researcher at King’s College London who studies the links between women and jihad.

“There are clearly many human smugglers working within Syria right now, helping Syrian civilians escape the violence, and I wonder if there is a similar, perhaps even growing market, for those trying to escape after joining ISIL,” Cook told The Associated Press in an email, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State group. “There is great disillusionment for many who have traveled to Syria to join ISIL and you’ll find many stories of those who went abroad noting ‘this isn’t what we signed up for.'”

The question is whether the girls understood from the beginning how limited their choices would be once they crossed the frontier.

The case of a 15-year-old Avignon girl exemplifies such doubts. The girl hid her second Facebook account and Islamic veil from her moderate Muslim family, thereby managing to join a jihadi network, according to the family’s lawyer. Once within a unit of the al-Qaida offshoot Nusra Front, she was not permitted to leave, according to her brother, who went into Syria to fetch her and was turned away by the extremists. A French boy who joined the group around the same time was allowed to go home.

“I think they understand the premise of that, but not that they understand it in reality,” said Melanie Smith, another researcher at King’s College ICSR.

The networks that bring the women into Syria are increasingly organized around the extremists’ dream of building a nation of multinational jihadis, meaning European girls are particularly prized. Each new Facebook post, each new cheerleading Twitter account — and they pop up by the hour — helps them subvert government efforts to prevent young people from radicalizing and leaving.

The doggedness of jihadi methods for recruiting girls can be seen in the case of Amelia, a 14-year-old girl from France’s Alpine Isere region.

Amelia was first contacted on Facebook by a French fighter on Jan. 14, 2014 and within a month agreed to go to Syria and marry the man, who identified himself as “Tony Toxiko.” After she was turned back by airport border police in Lyon on her first attempt, “Tony Toxiko” persuaded another French adolescent girl to join him in Syria.

Amelia, meanwhile, ran away from home to Belgium, where an imam performed a religious ceremony that wed her to a different man, an Algerian jihadi. She returned to France homesick and pregnant, just long enough to speak to investigators building a case against a middleman who helped her run away. This winter, Amelia managed to deceive her family and left again — making it to Syria with the Algerian fighter, who is more than twice her age.

“It’s particularly difficult for these families. For them, radicalization is happening on the Internet and outside the family sphere,” said Sebastien Pietrasanta, a French lawmaker working on a program to de-radicalize young people. “For a girl of 14, I believe we can clearly save her from herself and save her from these barbarians.”

A French journalist got dangerously close to jihadi recruitment methods by creating a fake Facebook account that attracted a marriage proposal from a fighter in Syria.

Under the pseudonym Melodie, the journalist shared a video on the account, almost immediately getting a message from a man identified as Bilel, who asked how she’d liked the montage of him showing off in a 4X4 and with his weapons.

“I passed myself off as a 20-something, not stupid but a little lost, who suddenly found a huge response from a man in Syria,” said the journalist, who wrote a book “In the Skin of a Jihadist” under a pseudonym.

Bilel’s doubts about her began to grow as her reluctance to join him became clear. She ended up getting threats that she said would likely frighten a bewildered young woman into submission. As it was, the journalist, who never met Bilal in person, remains under constant police protection a year later.

“We’ll find you, we have the best operators here, you don’t know what you’re getting into, you’re messing with a terrorist group, you and your family will pay,” the woman said, recounting the litany of threats she received after returning to France. “If they were speaking to a 20-year-old, it would be very hard for her.”

___

Associated Press writer Mike Corder in Amsterdam contributed.

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Middle East, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , | Leave a comment

“Do All Americans Worship Idols?”

We have guests in town from another country who are living with Americans and visiting many others.

One of them asked her host “Do all Americans worship idols?” and the host was flummoxed.

We have been in private houses of the most religious Muslims, and their houses look very different from ours. They have nothing on the walls, except perhaps a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca, or a beautiful calligraphy in Arabic with one of the Surahs. To us, the houses look very plain, but they are being careful to observe carefully the word of the Lord.

We don’t consider the objects in our homes idols because we don’t worship them. When I read today’s Lectionary reading from Deuteronomy, I have to rethink what God might thing idols are.

Deuteronomy 4:15-24

15 Since you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, 16 so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves, in the form of any figure—the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven. 20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.

21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he vowed that I should not cross the Jordan and that I should not enter the good land that the Lord your God is giving for your possession. 22 For I am going to die in this land without crossing over the Jordan, but you are going to cross over to take possession of that good land. 23 So be careful not to forget the covenant that the Lord your God made with you, and not to make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.

May 26, 2015 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Lectionary Readings, Saudi Arabia, Spiritual, Venice | | Leave a comment

“It’s Going to Be Painful!”

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A week after the wedding, I am talking with the mother-of-the-groom, my old friend and telling her she has inspired AdventureMan and I. A friend has contacted us, someone we like, but also someone from another culture. We’ve been friends for a while, but we don’t know him well.

He asked if he and his 10 year old son can come stay with us.

AdventureMan and I looked at each other. This is a man we like and admire, but the cultural differences are profound. We agreed that it is the right thing to do, and the thing we want to do.

So I’m telling my friend, whose home has been a revolving door informal hotel as long as I have known her. She knocks herself out helping people. Lives have changed because she and her husband “welcome the stranger.”

“We want to do it,” I told her, “but we know it is going to be painful.”

“It’s going to be painful!” she enthusiastically agreed. We laughed. This is the basis of our friendship, the ability to tell each other the worst things in our lives and to laugh about it. She knows I am an introvert, and love my peaceful quiet.

“It’s also going to be worth it.” She added, and I believe her.

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May 25, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Humor, Quality of Life Issues, Spiritual, Travel, Values | , | 5 Comments

Busy Edmonds Saturday (and Mukilteo, too)

It’s a short trip, and we’ve stayed on Pensacola time, so we are up early on a Saturday morning; we know the Edmonds Pancake Haus will be open. I’ve been going there for about 20 years and it always looks the same. It’s an institution. When I lived in Edmonds, a large group of “8-o-clockers”, i.e. those who attended the 8 a.m. service at Saint Albans on Sundays would head down to the Edmonds Pancake Haus afterwards, hoping we could beat the Lutherans (or Baptists or Methodists or Presbyterians) to the coveted larger tables in the back room. There are a lot of Edmonds people up early.

The menu has undergone some renovations; prices up, a few things gone, a few added, but they always have Swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce (sigh, yes, it is a Scandinavian thing). I think lingonberries also grow in Alaska; I can almost remember going out on a boat somewhere to pick them, but I was a kid and memory is fuzzy.

My memory of Swedish pancakes, however, is sharp, as is my appetite 🙂

00SwedishPancakes

AdventureMan has his favorites, biscuit and gravy, and hash browns, and bacon, LOL. Now that we are all grown up and childless, we can do what we want. Sometimes, we even order dessert first, no, I am not kidding. Why waste calories on something healthy when you can have dessert?

00GaryBreakfast

From the Pancake Haus, we head for the Edmonds Market. “It’s not a full market yet, not until June,” Mama warned, but it was actually a fairly large market, with bakeries, pizzas, many flower vendors, a few vegetable vendors, and a lot of assorted vendors – soaps, jewelry, knit goods, pictures, plants and fresh fish and frozen meats. Lots to see, lots to buy; we found a bouquet of flowers just right for Mama, to replace the Mother’s Day bouquets which have bit the dust.

00EdmondsMarket

00BakedGoods

00FreshProduce

We visit for a while with Mama, then head out for a drive to Mukilteo, where we almost bought a house once. I still go visit that house from time to time, knowing it wasn’t right for me, I am glad someone bought it and is enjoying the view.

AdventureMan loves me, he suggests we eat at Ivar’s in Mukilteo. I LOVE eating at Ivar’s in Mukilteo, and by one of life’s amazing and wonderful coincidences, we are seated at my favorite table.

This is the view:

00ViewFromIvarsMukilteo

Choosing something from all the great options at Ivar’s is hard, and just this very day, Copper River Salmon has come in.

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 5.44.02 PM

I’ve been yearning for something else, however, something we can’t get in Pensacola. I would call it a Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse, and I think that is what they used to call it, but now they call it something else. AdventureMan ordered the same thing, and because it is messy (Alaska crab legs; you have to pull them apart and crack them to get the sweet crab meat out of legs and claws) they bring a large plastic bib, which I am not to proud to wear because cleaning crab is truly a messy job.

We got so into it, I didn’t take a photo, LOL, but here is the description:

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 5.45.43 PM

Actually, it was something a lot like that, something on the fresh menu last Saturday but not today. It was sort of like a ciopinno, something made specially for that day, I guess. It was so good, so good, we savored every morsel.

Outside the restaurant, fishermen are trying their luck at catching something as the ferry comes in and out, bringing waves of fish:

00FisherpeopleMukilteo

This is what the ferry boat riders see as they arrive, a view of Ivar’s from the water side:

00IvarsFromOverlook

And this isn’t even a holiday weekend; there are always lines for the ferries, but on weekends, especially during summer, those lines can take hours. Some people keep cars on both sides of the ferry, because you can always walk on; it is cheaper and you don’t have to wait in line.

00WeekendLinesForFerry

The sign telling you what matters at Ivar’s in Mukilteo:
00CopperRiverSalmonSign

As we are leaving Mukilteo, we have a stream of historic planes coming towards us; it is part of the historic flight air show out of the Mukilteo flilght museum:

00HistoricFlightAirshow

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Shopping | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Small Glimpses of North Seattle

“As Sallam wa alaikum!” I smiled at the Sudanese women coming in to their jobs in our hotel.

They stopped still in their tracks.

“You speak Arabic!” they said, astonishment clear on their faces.

“Only a little!” I smiled back.

I had a whole squad of new friends.

Now that financial times are easing, many hotels we have visited over the last few months are renovating and getting new mattresses. This was a real bonus for our Sudanese friends, and all of their friends.

00MattressTransport

00MoreMattressTransport

Have you ever tied a mattress on the top of your car and tried to drive? It is a wild and dangerous adventure; the wind lifts and pushes the mattress toward the back as you drive. Unless the mattress if firmly and thoroughly tied down, you are in for a wild ride.

And then again, if you are new in a country, and in need of a mattress, a wild ride is a small price to pay.

On our way back to the hotel, we see protestors in red shirts at every corner. This is not protestors Ferguson style, these are Seattle style protestors, making a big demonstration for fully funding public education, and all the signs are grammatical 🙂

00ProtestorsFundEducation

We are so full from lunch that we just want a small dinner. We find a good Ethiopian restaurant listed near our hotel, and head there, but when we arrive, there is plywood over two windows and a sign saying “Sorry, dear customers, but due to car accident our restaurant is closed until it is fixed.”

00IvarsFastFood

We end up at Ivar’s Seafood Bar, which is quick food, but not cheap food, and very very good food. We are greeted by an older man as we enter, he says “Welcome to Ivars! I hope you have a great meal.” We thought he might be an official greeter, but no, he was a customer like us. We ended up sitting in a booth next to his, so he stopped on his way out to see what we had ordered (halibut and chips, smoked salmon chowder, Dungeness crab cocktail) and just to chat. It’s an Edmonds kind of thing, neighborliness and civility.

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Hotels, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Renovations, Seattle, Social Issues, Values | , , , , | Leave a comment

Arnies Restaurant in Edmonds, Washington

Mama loves Arnies restaurant, and specifically, she loves the bar in Arnies. It’s not that my Mama is a big drinker, but that the bar in Arnie’s has the best 180 degree view of Puget Sound and the ferries coming and going. Arnies it is.

We had actually talked about going to a really good Chinese restaurant not too far away, but all the reviews stressed that you don’t get good service unless you are Chinese. I’ve been there many times – but always with my Chinese friend. She did all the ordering. We think today might be a more positive experience if we stick with Arnies.

And a positive experience it is. This is the view from Arnies:

00ViewFromArnies

The food was awesome. Everything was delicious. Even AdventureMan was raving, and he can be a hard sell. I had the Pacific Northwest Seafood Louis, with salmon as well as shrimp and crab, and a cup of Seafood Bisque, which is always reliably delicious. I love Louis salads; and I can’t get them in the South:

00ArniesSeafoodLouisAndBisque

Mama ordered the soup and sandwich combination, so she had Seafood Bisque and an open face Seafood Melt, which she said was also delicious:
00ArniesBisqueOpenFaceSeafoodMelt

AdventureMan had the Seafood Grill, and was almost out of his mind with happiness, it was SO good:
00ArniesSeafoodGrill

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment