Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Who Knew? Intlxpatr Turns 12 Years Old

Welcome! Grab a flute, come on in and mingle.

 

Who knew, when I held my breath and posted my first post in September of 2006, that I would still be blogging – with the same blog (!) – twelve years later.

I miss my life. It’s hard to remember that it wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t. When I started blogging in Kuwait, I was once again going up against the steep learning curve of starting over in a new place, discovering where to buy groceries (milk and dairy at the local Co-op, fresh vegetables at a huge vegetable market to the south of Fintas, western staples – a luxury – at the Sultan Center. I bought what I needed, most of the time, but occasionally, a price would be so shockingly out of line that I couldn’t bring myself to do it – like a package of chocolate chip cookies that you just cut and bake for something like $15 when I could make them from scratch by myself. But I digress.

Blogging was new and fresh, and I loved reading the thoughts of other bloggers. I learned so much, and I learned to think differently. Their thoughts were not my thoughts, and I got a very clear view of my own cultural blinders.

I also met some wonderful Kuwaitis. It was a world I loved, a world of ideas and discussions. It was fun. I quickly felt at home in Kuwait; I felt I was gaining perspective from many minds, and it helped me form a more complex picture. I laugh to think it will never be a complete picture; you know how even people you’ve known for a long time can surprise you?

AventureMan told me today I had surprised him. He was talking about how good we are at doing our homework for trips, and how we “roll with the punches.” In my very direct way, I said “No we don’t! We gripe with the punches.”

First I got a stunned silence, then the guffaw of laughter, and then we were both laughing. I love it that I can still catch him by surprise.

So welcome to the celebration of 12 years sharing lives, sharing ideas, sharing our common humanity. This year, in addition to the beautiful cakes I have so much fun enjoying in virtual world, I have added cupcakes, in honor of a five year old granddaughter who has a great eye.

 

 

 

Please stay as long as you’d like . . .

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September 5, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Kuwait, Pensacola, Shopping | 4 Comments

Suitcases and a New Adventure

We are off to Seattle, taking our eight year old grandson, no-longer-baby Q, and his almost-five sister, N, for a great adventure. We have been taking them on trips for several years now, but were waiting for N to reach the magic age of cooperation before we endeavored to make a trip of this length.

I’m excited. These are nice kids, and we have a lot of fun together.

“Will we have to be quiet in the hotel room?” asks N, who is very perceptive, and has a great memory. She remembers our hotel rooms in New Orleans, and we have to keep the volume of our wild rumpuses down, and we can’t be making lots of bumps on the floor or walls.

“Yep,” I respond and give her the eye. N is a lot of fun, and loves figures of speech, as we do. Her latest accomplishment is “shooting daggers.” We can pass a lot of time at lunch helping her to shoot daggers with her eyes, and she has come close to mastering that fine art.

We are concerned about baggage. We will each have a bag, and we want to carry them on. AdventureMan and I will have to be paying attention.

Like Goldilocks, I found myself in the position of having bags that were too small or too big, and nothing that was just right, especially now that TSA is so particular about the exact size of carry-on bags. I found one:

It is exactly the right dimensions, and I added the “M” in silver nail polish to distinguish it from all the other black carry-on bags, in case I am required, after all, to check it. Another friend told me to add ribbons, so I will.

It sent me back in memory, however, years and years. Early years, traveling from Alaska, where the plane had a ladies lounge which even had seating, and cosmetics provided. We carried cosmetic cases with us on the planes. Contrast that with the 15″ ports-potties we are forced to use now, even in business class.

As we began our treks back and forth overseas, there was a baggage “limit” of two bags, and I believe there was – technically – a limit of 77 pounds. My sister and I, en route back and forth across the Atlantic to university had HUGE bags, and the kind people at the check-in never batted an eye, just told us other people were under the limit and it would all average out.

Hauling supplies to our overseas posts – things like chocolate chips, shoes for growing children, levis, all the things we couldn’t get in countries like Tunisia and Jordan in the ’70’s and ’80’s, we used huge Land’s End or LL Bean duffels, packed to bursting and strapped with luggage straps. Some held books; books are really heavy.

It wasn’t until we had retired from the military and began government contracts overseas that things changed. Maybe it was 9-11. Partly, for sure, it was an issue with human rights, and bags that were causing disabilities among baggage workers. Partly, too, I believe it was a matter of greed for additional profits among the airlines. More people squeezed in, less room for baggage.

Thus, my modest little carry-on, and the new adventure of rationing space and clothing to last the whole trip.

Each time we travel, AdventureMan and I try to spot the Arabs. It used to be easy. So many people would come to visit the USA, and we could usually spot them based on facial features and body language as well as clothing. Now, we believe there are fewer visitors, and fewer students, and they have learned to fly way under the radar. They look like us. And then again, We Americans came from someplace else, unless we are First Nation, so why shouldn’t our visitors look a lot like us?

At the YMCA there is a new cleaning lady, who says she is from Hungary, but I think maybe Bulgaria or Albania. She doesn’t speak a lot of English, but told me “the Jews took all her money” so she came to the United States. I don’t even know what to say when someone says something like that to me. What if I were Jewish? I’m still pondering how to react. I was friendly to her at the start, but something inside me turned cold when she said that. I don’t want to be anywhere near her, now. I wanted to say “this is America, we don’t say things like that,” but America has changed, has taken a very divisive turn, and we have a leader who does say things like that.

I think it has to do with the political climate, where we are quick to turn on one another, to call names, to point fingers, to assign blame – whether it is true or not. I find it disheartening. I like the safety of building networks, introducing ourselves, knowing we can count on one another for help when needed. Individually, we are all so vulnerable, but when we unite and care for one another, we are strong.

 

August 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Seattle, Social Issues, Stranger in a Strange Land, Travel, Values | Leave a comment

Doha, Qatar, in Transition

I didn’t start shooting digital until 2005, so there are two years of Doha documentation I only have in prints; I was shooting film, taking it down to the shop on old Electricity Street, Karabah. I came across these tonight . . . just wish I had been able to find some shots of the old Bandar restaurants, taken down with the modernization of Doha.

What a breathtaking transition. Doha, when we arrived, was still sleepy. There were a few tall buildings in the little capitol, mostly public utilities. The airport parking was free, and the airport itself was tiny. Most people knew one another, and the expat community was small. We were in Doha from 2003 – 2006, and again from 2009 – 2010.

 

When camels still had real riders at the weekly races:

 

 

 

Souq al Waqaf

Parachute Roundabout Comes Down:

 

Making way for the new connector street from old Karaba to Souq al Waqaf:

 

Ramadan finery:

 

 

 

 

Dinner at The Majlis

 

Karabaa Mosque, now gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Qatar, Travel | Leave a comment

Pilgrimage to Powell’s World of Books

It’s the last day of the trip, and we are back in Portland. In a day when Amazon reigns supreme, Powell’s still stands tall, a bookstore that is a legend, taking up city blocks in Portland in its multi level building, all sectioned off with a mix of new and gently used books in every subject.

Powell’s World of Books is overwhelming. If you love books, if you love all things related to reading, you must at some point in your life make the pilgrimage to Powell’s.

 

 

 

When you’ve got your fill of books, they also have a wonderful coffee shop.

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Cultural, Road Trips, Shopping, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

“She shows us the same things,” you might complain, and again I say “I write this blog for myself and for the love of writing about the things I love. You are welcome, all are welcome, and if you are not happy, you are welcome to go elsewhere!”

I’ve lived an odd life, a life I would’t trade with anyone. I grew up in Alaska, on an island with a lot of native Americans as my fellow students in my little elementary school. I grew up with Alaskan art, Indian artifacts, masks, baskets, and the hand made costumes, red and black images, sparked with trimming of white shirt buttons. I went to high school in Germany, traveling far and wide with my family or with friends through that continent, visiting more than a few churches and museums, even making special trips to see an exhibit or two.

Then a big change, life in the Middle East and Africa, where I learned to see things through a very different set of eyes and experiences, but something strange started happening, as I noted the differences, I could also see amazing similarities.

I love women’s handwork. I love the nomadic textiles, often made on very narrow looms that could be mostly a couple sticks and yarn from sheep or goats you’ve raised and slaughtered, died with whatever you could get your hands on. And, oddly, the weavings and patterns from Native American baskets and weavings have a lot in common with weavings from the Middle East, West Asia (the ‘Stans) and Africa. There is a love of working with black, white and red, for example, and a similarity to the structure of the animals, even when the animals themselves differ.

If you are interested in the work women do with their hands, you never lack for conversation wherever you go. There are always groups where women are teaching one another new techniques. I’ve met wonderful, creative women in Germany and in Kuwait and in Tunisia, all finding new and innovative ways to create, and also exploring preservation of early and ancient techniques.

So this Museum, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum was richly rewarding for both AdventureMan and myself; it was rich in history, in interviews and movies showing early salmon runs, for example, and interviews with early Native Oregonians. It was also rich in exploring the techniques of early basket making and cooking techniques, preservation of salmon by drying and salting, etc. We spent hours in this museum, and we heartily recommend that you do, too πŸ™‚ It is also a very gorgeous museum, rich in sensory impact, unforgettable.

I will show you pictures, and every now and then I will put in a little explanation.

Below is a dugout canoe, created from one very large cedar tree trunk, carved out by hand

There were really Direwolfs? GOT didn’t make them up?

Look at the motifs on these baskets! African? Azerbaijani? Kazakh? Kuwaiti?

For grinding chestnuts into paste, then the paste is cooked into a kind of meal like oatmeal. The morter and pestle is the same in so many places.

The round cooking stones, heated in fires, dropped into the meal, fished out once they start losing their heat, washed, reheated and put in again until the meal reaches a boil, all in this tightly woven basket.


Activity in the Children’s exploration area

We love the creativity and persistence of humans who preserve our heritage and traditions for future generations. It is particularly delightful when the preservation is in a museum conceived and manifested with beautiful elements and natural materials.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Afghanistan, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Character, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Columbia River Gorge Hotel

This trip has been full of really happy surprises, and even the things that I had concerns about turned out well, much better than expected.

This is one of our shortest driving days of all, but the day is gorgeous, in spite of windy conditions as we are leaving Mount Hood. We had visited the historical exhibit in the hotel for the Roosevelt visit, and met a man about our age who, like my Mom, came for the skiing. He was disappointed; the conditions were so windy that skiing was dangerous. And, on our way out, we watched the ski patrol rescue two skiers who had ventured out but lost control in the gusting wind.

The skies are clear and crisp, and at the same time, it is spring and the valleys and mountain roads are full of wildflowers. On the way, on this very short drive, we take a detour; AdventureMan sees a sign saying Panorama Point. Who could resist?

Panorama indeed. You can’t even take a photo that would do justice. To the left is Mount Hood, and to the right is Mt. (something else) (Adams?) We take a short walk up to a higher viewpoint and meet a family doing devotions with two children, one a toddler playing and one a baby, sleeping. They are very kind, and very welcoming, and point out all that we are seeing, and it is glorious.

 

We are just minutes from the Columbia Gorge Hotel. We know we are way too early, but we stop in to ask for directions for a museum AdventureMan wants to see.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was a really really happy surprise, and it is AdventureMan’s great coup. We used to watch a show, Grimm. We loved it because it was Portland, and all the characters who were mostly good guys were really good friends to one another, except when maybe they drank a hexes-poison and turned wicked for a while. Yeh, it was kind of silly, but we really enjoyed it. In the final season, there was a kind of Shakespearean episode where a bad guy poisoned the drinks and made people fall in love with people other than the ones they were already in love with, so it was this huge romantic comedy with players declaring their love for totally inappropriate people and for all the wrong reasons. The group had all gone to this resort for the weekend, and as we watched, AdventureMan said “Whoa! Where is that? I want us to stay there!”

So he made it a point to investigate all the places it might be, and narrowed it down to this hotel.

When we went inside, they were very kind, and, long story short, because we are retired military, gave us a better room at a reduced rate, AND the guy who checked us in was an extra in the Grimm episode, and had a bunch of materials, like the script and photos, and even a couple short videos that showed him doing his thing as an extra in the episode. It was so much fun, and this was all before we even got to our room.

Bellman, and Grimm extra Ricky Vaughan:


It’s been a long trip, and as much fun as it has been, we hoped for a lovely serene last few days before we returned to Pensacola. The Columbia Gorge Hotel was perfect.

Our room

 

The hotel lobby

The Valentino Lounge:

 

The grounds – this hotel has its own waterfall!

From beginning to end, we had a wonderful time at this hotel. The people were so kind to us, full of helpful information, and always wanting to go the extra mile to make us happy. We will stay there again in a heartbeat.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Timberline Lodge, Government Camp, Oregon

Just as AdventureMan had a yearning to visit Crater Lake, I’ve had a longing, lo these many years, to stay at Timberline Lodge. I remember going there when I was little, maybe for lunch, maybe for a soda and for my Mom to meet up with friends, I don’t know, I was really little. All I remember is how much I loved this timbered lodge, and I told her I wanted to stay there. She said we were going back to Portland; we were just visiting the Lodge.

I’m not a believer in bucket lists. I’m a believer in doing it along the way, if you can. When AdventureMan and I married, we had a lot not-in-common, but we shared a common way of outlining and attaining our objectives in life.

  1. Β Live within your income.
  2. Save for goals (retirement, education, property, etc).
  3. Have a great life along the way.

We’ve done well. When we first married, AdventureMan wanted to go to Africa and see the animals. We saved for a year and spent a month in Kenya and Tanzania before starting a family, then once we were living back overseas, we went back to various African countries on safari ten times. We worked hard, and we have a ball along the way.

But I had never had an opportunity to stay at Timberline Lodge. It’s TIME!

 

It was another case of not wanting to mention to AdventureMan that it might be a bit tricky getting up there, but although there is still a lot of snow, we didn’t have any problems on the roads. And, even though the parking lot, we are told, is full, AdventureMan, with his famous great luck, waited while I checked us in, and while he was waiting a beautiful parking spot opened up right in front of the Lodge. Woo HOOOOO!

This is our room, up on the third floor. All the beds have thick comforters and Pendleton blankets.

 

 

The view from our room is out over one of the ski trails πŸ™‚

 

 

I am totally in heaven. A dream has come true, and we are having a lot of fun. AdventureMan asked if we should bring in our swim suits, and I looked at him like he was crazy. “It’s a SKI lodge,” I informed him, a little haughtily. Oh, Intlxpatr, woe! The registration clerk looked at me and said “We do! We have an outdoor pool down at the end of this hall” and pointed down the hall. I was humbled, and the pool was beautiful; a gorgeous contrast in hot and cold. Don’t you love the skiers skiing right by the pool?

 

We ate all our meals in the Lodge, the spaces were so beautiful. This is the downstairs lounge:

 

I am such a sucker for stone fireplaces, wood floors and leather furniture. I should live in Montana!

We ate in the Rams Head restaurant, looking out over the peak of Mount Hood:

 

I ordered the cassoulet, which, when it came, I said “I thought it had chicken in it!”

 

It did, it was hiding under the endive salad.

AdventureMan ordered the charcuterie platter, and loved every bite.

He couldn’t even finish his cheese platter, not could I finish my cassoulet, too much food and we can’t take it with us.

This is the Cascade Dining Room, where we had breakfast the next morning:

 

This trip has had so many highlights, and we both agree that staying at Timberline Lodge is a life-high experience. πŸ™‚

When talking with my Mom, she said back in the day, she and a bunch of friends from university would head over to Timberline Lodge for the weekends, and that they stayed in large bunk-room dorms, because it was all about the skiing. πŸ™‚

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Hotels, Money Management, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

The High Desert Museum in Bend, OR

Today is a piece of cake. It is a very short driving day, we get up late, only to discover that the normally generous breakfast at the Best Western has been set-upon by all the martial arts participants and the gun show enthusiasts, and the crew is working valiantly but is unable to keep up with the hoards of folk interested in breakfast. We find enough – some hard boiled eggs, some milk, enough. We are on the road by 9:30 only to stop just outside of Bend at one of the most beautiful museums we have ever visited, the High Desert Museum.

Look at that gorgeous elk statue, look at the definition. Look at his relaxed posture. Isn’t he gorgeous?

That is not a real salmon jumping up a river to spawn, but another gorgeous piece of art work at the entrance to this museum. I am loving this place already. They’ve put some big bucks into making this a high end product.


I suppose I should be embarrassed waxing so enthusiastic over the materials and craftsmanship that have gone into the structure, but I’m not. It’s my blog; I get to be as enthusiastic as I want. I loved this museum before I even got in the front door.

 

This is the entrance. Look at that natural light invited in! Look at the stone walls, the wooden ceiling and the textured panels on the walls! It seems most of the people we encounter working in the museum are volunteers, and they love their work and take great pride in serving their museum.

 

I know you’ve been wondering (as I did) exactly what the High Desert is:

 

The entire states of Idaho and Utah? Most of Nevada? Extensive parts of Washington, Oregon and Wyoming, as well as segments of California and Montana? I had no idea!

There is SO much to see. There is a lot of history along with the natural sciences, and it is all beautifully displayed, with a lot of human context.

 

I learned a lot about ritual root digging, which I had never heard of, but since seeing this exhibit, it has come up in two books I’ve read by Louise Erdrich, The Future Home of the Living God and LaRose, so I’ve been able to integrate what I learned with more information. If we ever have a monumental natural disaster, or zombie apocalypse, we will need these survival skills.

 

 

A tule mat tee pee. The women also wove baskets so fine and so tight you could cook in them. They used fire heated round stones to bring food temperatures up even to a boil.

 

This wild cat sculpture is next to the real wild cat, resident at the museum for many years due to an injury that made it impossible to return her to the wild.

Β 

 

Panoramas from the historical displays.

 

The museum also has a really nice gift shop, lots of original art work, good cards, great children’s gifts. They also had a very nice cafe, with an outdoor terrace where you can sit, drink some excellent coffee, and listen to the birds.

 

We spent two or three hours here, and it was worth every minute. The volunteer guides do tours of the outdoor animal displays, including some very cute and cuddly otter, and all kinds of other themed 30 minute or so walks. Well worth a visit.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Mt. Shasta and Crater Lake

We have a process, a road trip planning process. I come up with an idea, a route. I sketch it out and run it by AdventureMan. He gives me input like “Oh good, I’ve always wanted to see Crater Lake, can we fit that in?” and we build it into the trip.

The truth is, I love to plan trips. I spend hours looking for fun, unique, interesting little hotels to stay in, or if there is some destination, at least see if we can find a hotel with something interesting nearby, or the least uninteresting hotel in town.

We have discovered we do better as a couple if we don’t spend too much time on the road, driving, something it really took me a long time to figure out.

You know how you grow up in a culture, and it never occurs to you that there is another way of doing things? Like I grew up thinking that men always put the gas in cars, so it was a great shock to my husband when we got married and we would get close to running out of gas because it never occurred to me that I was supposed to fill the tank (I learned that one fairly quickly!) It has taken many years for me to figure out that not every family gets up before the crack of dawn to start a road trip, and drives hell-bent-for-leather for many hours to get somewhere, or to get as close as you can to somewhere. My poor husband! I thought a twelve hour day on the road was normal. His family never took road trips! We had some mutual adjusting and negotiating to go through. πŸ™‚

So we added Crater Lake to the trip. I didn’t much care; I had been there years ago, well, close to fifty years ago, LOL, but OK, let’s go. I had no idea how cool this day was going to be.

First, I am going to bore you with several photos of Mt. Shasta. Starting from McCloud, we almost totally circled Mt. Shasta, stopping in Weed, California, to buy a T-shirt for our son, which he assures us he will never wear, that says in big letters “I LOVE WEED” and under it in small letters, “California.” I just thought as a prosecutor, he might find it humorously ironic. Sigh.

 

 

 

 

And then, we hit the snow. I keep hoping the roads are open all the way up to the Crater, and the snow keeps creeping higher, and into the road 😦

 

But we make it, and I am wearing my Florida sandals. I love the cold, and it doesn’t bother me one bit, but people can be rude, all dressed in their snow suits and boots, looking at my bare feet.

 

We stop at the lodge to buy post cards; it really is open, there is a temporary tunnel that you can take to get inside. Below is our rental car; you can see how high the snow level is.

 

As concerned as I was about being able to reach the lake, I am so glad we did this. It was a thrill to see Mt. Shasta from all different angles, and to see the huge crowds of people from everywhere visiting Crater Lake, even this early in the season. When I visited last time, about the same time of year, so many years ago . . . we were the only ones there!

 

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Family Issues, Road Trips, Travel | | Leave a comment

The McCloud Hotel

If you know me from this blog, you will know that we love interesting hotels. The McCloud Hotel is a gem! We are really happy to be here in the Spring, lucky that the roads are open, no fresh snow, the sun is out, Mt. Shasta glistens from every angle.

When we get to the McCloud Hotel, we almost dance for joy. It is lovely! It is a very old hotel, beautifully renovated with a care to preserve many of the old features. The owners love the place, and it shows. We were lucky to reserve a place in the hotel restaurant for that evening, as it was a Friday and the dining room was packed. The food was exquisite, locally sourced, and we can tell that many of the people dining there are regulars.

See the old suitcases? There are pieces like that everywhere, original pieces. The hotel was at one time a hotel, then a boarding house with separate floors for women and men during the time when it was a major timber resource, with a railroad spur to transport the timber cut from the mountainside. They have renovated the first two floors, you will see our room later, but they say the third floor still has the original small rooms, now used for storage. She said three rooms are used for Christmas decor, and I just wish I could see this hotel at Christmas!

This is the lounge at the back entrance.

 

This is the dining room, although on a weekend night, the dining room actually stretches out into the lobby to accommodate all the people.


This is our bedroom, very spacious, high ceilings, wood trim, huge windows, I am in heaven.

 

 

This is the upstairs sitting room, again, a large assortment of very old, original pieces.

This is the downstairs lobby next to the registration desk, next to the dining room. It is beautiful and comfy.

 

This is the coffee, internet and tv lounge:

We would love to come back here again and again.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment