Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Piano Guys and Angels We Have Heard On High

I love this! These guys are having such a great time and are SO creative!

December 5, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, Friends & Friendship, Music | 2 Comments

Pentatonix A Capella: Little Drummer Boy

Wow. Just Wow.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, Music | 2 Comments

Pensacola Zoo Lights

Yesterday was a strange day in Pensacola. When we got up, it was already a humid seventy three degrees, and the sky had threatening clouds of an odd color. We hit the pool, and when we came out, it felt cooler. The skies broke forth several times with pounding rains, and then . . . the clouds disappeared, and by five, we had clear skies, no clouds, falling temperatures and a chilly breeze.

It was a great night to go see the Pensacola Zoo Lights. This is probably something AdventureMan and I wouldn’t do if it were just the two of us, but our son had asked if we could pick up our grandson and take care of him for a couple hours and the Zoo Lights seemed like just the thing. I call them Pensacola Zoo Lights, but the Zoo is actually in Gulf Breeze, it is the Gulf Breeze Zoo Lights. As we picked up Q, we were glad we all had jackets and long pants – it was COLD!

Zoo lights is a lot of fun. The place was packed with families and children, but not so packed you couldn’t visit some of the paths without interruption. The main population of children and families was around the train station, where there was also, conveniently, a little play ground for people waiting for the train.

Lots and lots of lights:

00PensacolaZooLights

00PensacolaZooClown

00PensacolaZooWalkwayLights

00PensacolaZooTrain

00PensacolaZooAnimalLights

Q’s favorite light, LOL!

00PensacolaZooTrainSnake

00PensacolaZooFavorite

PensacolaZooTreeLights

A tribute to the local Blue Angels Team :-)
00PensacolaZooBlueAngels

00PensacolaZooCamelWiseMan

00PensacolaZooTrainStation

00PensacolaZooSantaHelicopter

00PensacolaZooSanta

Near the angel was a place where something like soap was coming out of a tube, it looked a little like snow. Every now and then a great gust of wind would blow and the soap would flurry everywhere, and then it truly did look a little like snow and the children would scream with joy and chase after the snow-soap flakes.

00PensacolaZooAngelSnow

00PensacolaZooSnowWind

This is worth a trip at this time of the year, with children. Here are the directions from the Gulf Breeze Zoo website:

DRIVING DIRECTIONS
Enter the following address into your GPS navigation system:

Gulf Breeze Zoo
5701 Gulf Breeze Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL 32563

From TALLAHASEE and points EAST:
I-10 West to Exit 31. Take Rt. 87 South to Hwy. 98 West, towards Gulf Breeze.
Go 5 miles. Zoo is on the left.

From PANAMA CITY and points EAST:
Hwy. 98 West to Gulf Breeze. Zoo is on the left.

From MOBILE, AL and points WEST:
I-10 East to I-110 South through Pensacola, FL. Take Hwy. 98 East to Gulf Breeze. Zoo is on the right.

From MONTGOMERY, AL and points NORTH:
I-65 South to Exit 93. Take US 84 East to Rt. 41 South. Turn onto Rt. 87 South to Hwy. 98 West, towards Gulf Breeze. Go 5 miles. Zoo is on the left.

December 21, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Adventure, Christmas, Community, Entertainment, Family Issues, Holiday, Living Conditions | 1 Comment

Prince of Peace

Today, in our Lectionary readings, we have the powerful words of the prophet Isaiah, telling of the birth of the babe who will bring us endless peace, justice and righteousness . . .

isaiah

Isaiah 9:1-7

9*But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 *The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Christmas, Faith, Lectionary Readings | Leave a comment

Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea

00SugarCookieSleighRideTea

We were all working hard, in our little areas, each with our job to do. The youngest broke the silence:

“You guys want to try some tea? I just got it. It’s pretty good.”

We really needed the break more than we needed the tea, but we made ourselves cups of this new tea – and then, WOW.

“What is this?” I demanded in delight.

“It’s called Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride!” the young one called back.

“It tastes like the frosting on Sugar Cookies!” the third one of us called out. This tea is seriously good, it tasted like cookies, but it is tea, and NO CALORIES!

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Hot drinks, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

Christmas Cookie Prep – Done!

There was a time when I worked AND I was a mother, and I was a wife (still am) and I had other roles, all of which seemed to require at least a plate of cookies at every occasion, and often some kind of hors d’oeuvres as well. There was only one answer – be prepared! Like a good girl scout, I developed a strategy – do one or two cookies every day for about a week, then store them in storage containers and dig them out when you need them. The good thing is, you can buy these containers and pull them out once a year for a month for many, many years.

One of my earliest memories of Christmas cookies are of my mother and her best friend from university getting together once a year and making rosettes. I made my first rosettes when I graduated from college, sitting over pan on a stove burner, turning it up and then down, trying to get it to hold the perfect temperature, which it never did. Sometime around the 80′s there was a great fad for Fry Babies and Fry Daddies, and the Fry Daddy is just the perfect size for making rosettes, holding the perfect temperature.

This year, I did a hands-on seminar for a family group who wanted to learn how to make these. I am not sure it was a huge success. Everyone succeeded, but one said “I have learned how to appreciate YOU making them in the years to come.” A couple parodied my teaching technique (I am not such a great teacher) and I just figured it means they no longer have to be polite to me; I really am family, that’s what sisters do.

So I made them this week for my friend who hosts a big party every year for the ballet performers. I think of them as ballerina cookies, light as air, mostly made of air – wrapped in fat and sugar:

Rosettes – DONE.

Meringues, too, have that light-as-air feeling, and I am hoping the weather will stay crisp enough that they will not get chewy:

00WhiteMintChocolateMeringues

Still light, and melt-in-your-mouth, are the Russian Teacakes, snowy in powdered sugar:

00RussianTeaCakes

Last, but necessary for color, are the stalwart sugar cookies, time-consuming and fiddly, but so good and so colorful:

00SugarCookies

Cookie prep – DONE!

December 13, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, Cooking, Cultural, Food | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Christmas House Prep . . . Done!

No, no, not the CELEBRATION of Christmas . . . That’s just beginning. But the craziness of getting ready for Christmas, after which you can sit back and enjoy some time for reflection.

A lot of the pain is self-inflicted. Before I even went to Seattle, I got out the garland and threaded it up the stairs. Found some glittering stars, and worked it so they would twirl and send twinkles of light throughout the entry. I sighed and puffed up and down the stairs . . . putting on lights is hard work, especially if, like me, you like LOTS of lights, it is hard work . . . but so, so worth it in the end. We had a little Christmas lighting up the house!

Stairway: DONE!

00ChristmasStairway

Years and years ago, like thirty years ago, I took a lot of time embroidering this Christmas wreath, so up it goes, every year: DONE

00CHallway

Life was on the fast track when I got back from Seattle, so I did a little bit every day, like “on the first day of Christmas prep, I hung the reindeer . . . “

00CReindeerEntry

Then, it’s counter-intuitive, but I needed to get the outside lights up. Like how can it be Christmas if you don’t share? I’m annoyed that the icicle lights don’t match the tree lights; I’ll have to deal with that . . . next year :-)

00OutsideChristmas

Done!

Now, to drag out all the boxes for the Christmas tree inside, and oh, what an adventure, always, to find forgotten treasures and to remember where we got the ornaments. I find all the pieces of the tree and set it up. I hate using an artificial tree, but the real trees get SO dry, especially when Pensacola experiences an unseasonal warm spell. It’s like you end up with large branches empty of needles, and you find needles strewn on our carpets for months to come.

Tree: done!

00CTree2012

We saved a few ornaments for Q to “help” and three was just the right number, four was one too many, LOL!

00QDecoratesTree

The camel my friend in Doha made me – a Wise Man’s camel, following the great star, laden with gifts for the new baby:

00CDohaCamel

Brass Christmas ornaments from the Women’s Cooperative in Damascus, along with a manger scene from Germany, and a cross – another cross – from Kuwait. Yes, yes, if you knew where to look, there were Christmas ornaments all over Qatar and Kuwait:

00CDamascusWindow

An Italian Creche and a tiny French Santon Creche, jumbled with collected camels and wise men . . . who says there can be only three wise men? I like LOTS of wise men come to greet the new baby Jesus :-)

00CCreche2012

A Nurnberg angel from our first year of marriage and a Damascus tablecloth from our last trip to Damascus:

00CNurnbergAngelDamascusTable

Rosenthal angels; I think I might have had these even before I married AdventureMan:

00RosenthalAngels

Have to have a nutcracker – or two, or three . . .

00CFamilyRmMantel

Some antique German glass ornaments, too fragile to be hung on the tree:

00CFamilyRoom

A total mishmash of all the places we have been, so much fun. Hard work, yes, pulling it all out every year, but every year we grin when we see our old friends and think of all the good times we have had in so many different countries!

Welcome, Jesus! Welcome, all who celebrate the season of your birth!

00CEntry

Done!

December 13, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Home Improvements, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Pensacola | , , , | 1 Comment

Much Cooler

Screen shot 2012-12-11 at 6.32.38 AM

“Today is forecast to be much cooler than yesterday”

This morning I woke up to discover I had slept eight hours. This is something wonderful for me; a week ago I had to give up taking Benedryl. I am a light sleeper, and I have allergies, so taking one Benedryl every night helped me with both. My doctor said it was time to give it up, that components of Benedryl are thought to contribute to formation of those plaques that speed Alzheimer’s and dementia. Yikes!

For a week I have struggled. I could go to sleep normally, but would awake around three and spend a couple hours wishing I were asleep. Sometimes I could fall back asleep, sometimes not. Part of the problem is the unseasonal warmness of the temperatures, I toss and turn, looking for a cool place.

Then, if I had not managed to get back to sleep, I would find myself getting cross during the following day, a sure sign, just like a toddler, that I need a nap. My naps would be deep and restoring, but probably not that great if I wanted to sleep well the next night. It was a self-perpetuating and destructive cycle. I wondered if I would ever be able to sleep normally again.

Last night I slept normally, and deeply. I woke at six, rested, happy. It helped that the Qatari Cat found elsewhere to curl up last night; many a night I wake up and he is tangled up in my legs and bedding, snoring with contentment. Most important – last night it was cooler. When the temperatures hit in the seventies outside, it can be around 80°F inside when we go to bed, and it makes me restless. I like colder temperatures, and – last night was colder. I slept great! It gives me hope!

Temperatures are lower today, too, and it gives me energy. The heat saps my drive; the cooler temperatures help me be more productive, a good thing in a season where there is much to do! :-)

December 11, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Aging, Christmas, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions | Leave a comment

Pensacola Christmas Parade 2012

A perfect evening. Got there minutes before the one mile runners came by, parking at our church and walking to our favorite spot, meeting up with our son, his wife, and the adorable little boy who truly gets everything that is happening. This is his third parade; he always loved the lights and loud noises, but this year, he GETS it, gets the floats and the bands and the BEADS!

“I love this tradition,” my daughter-in-law says, leaning over to kiss me as we meet up to watch the parade and do a little-boy-transfer. He is coming to spend the night with us. He has his own room in our house.

ZOOOOOMMMMM! the motorcycle police accompany the runners, EEERRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW the fire engine, all lights and noise comes by at the beginning of the parade, and then a high school band from New Orleans with a killer beat leads the parade. Wooooo HOOOOOOOO, shouts Intlxpatr, totally into another cultural experience. :-)

One of the optical shops had running eyeballs, totally hilarious!

00ParadeRun

00ParadeFirstFloat

“Beads! Beads!”

00Parade2ndFloat

This float was giving out Chobani yoghurt

00ParadeYoghurtFloat

“Beads! Beads! More beads!” People taller than I were catching beads – and then passing them on to the little children. So kind, so generous.

00Parade4

00Parade5

My favorite, of course, a pirate ship:

00ParadePirateShip

This parade is great fun. Here is a thing I love about Pensacola. About 50,000 people attend. Many walk from nearby neighborhoods, others drive down and park – there is still plenty of parking in Pensacola. People gather peacefully. There is no fighting over great spots; there are a lot of great spots from which you can watch the parade. At the end of the parade, everyone disperses peacefully – no fighting. In fifteen – twenty minutes the crowd is GONE, 50,000 people gone home, peacefully. It is a great community, all walks of life, all having a great time watching this home town Christmas parade.

Early this morning, the morning after, we started a new tradition – we got a long stick with a hook, and went after some of the beads stuck up in the trees. AdventureMan and Q got started while I went to church, meeting up with some experts who gave them tips – and beads. Such is the kindness of strangers, and the brotherhood of bead chasers. :-)

00PensacolaNewTradition

December 9, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Adventure, Character, Christmas, Civility, Community, Cultural, Events, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Mardi Gras, Pensacola | Leave a comment

Great Weather for the Pensacola Christmas Parade

The weather in Pensacola is crazy right now, after a couple months of cooling temperatures, we are up in the 70′s during the days and down in the 60′s at night, maybe the 50′s – it is so warm that our aloe is blossoming, she thinks it is spring.

Screen shot 2012-12-07 at 7.12.36 AM

The good news is that the Pensacola Christmas Parade is tomorrow night, and it looks like it will be a balmy evening with NO RAIN! We are looking forward to taking our grandson – this will be his third Christmas Parade, but this is the first time he is really walking and talking, and we think the sound and lights (it always starts with the motorcycle police and the fire engines blasting and all their emergency lights spinning) are going to blow him away. This year he will be able to shout “beads! beads!” and scramble with the other kids for beads and candies; the parade is a wild mix of Christmas and Mardi Gras. It is a hilarious experience, and we are eager to see it through his eyes.

00ChristmasParade

December 7, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Entertainment, Events, Family Issues, Mardi Gras, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

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