Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Ramadan Kareem and Pope Francis

“God bless the work of your hands!” was one of the Moslem sayings I most loved as I lived my daily life in various countries in the Middle East. So, Pope Francis, God bless the work of your hands yesterday in your encyclical saying we are all responsible for the price we pay for progress. You are a brave man, and you don’t hesitate to name corruption when you see it, and to do your best to correct us, and straighten the path of the Lord.

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“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth,” he writes.

It is not entirely a happy message for me. One of the items he castigates is air conditioning, and as Pensacola hits the nineties every day, I hate to think of how I would live without air conditioning. I think I would turn into a slug, swinging in my hammock for hours every day reading a book. My house would be full of dirty dishes and dust. And I remember living in Tunis, and in Jordan, without air conditioning. We managed, by the grace of God.

Meanwhile, during the hottest months of the year, yesterday, our Moslem brothers and sisters began Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and personal purification. Imagine, going all day without water and without food, breaking the fast only as the sun goes down. I wonder if the Pope made his world-changing address on the eve of Ramadan on purpose, as he clearly made it to all mankind, not only to his Catholic followers.

Ramadan Kareem, my Moslem brothers and sisters, whom I cherish, and who taught me so much. May your fasting bring you great insights and purity of spirit.

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Environment, Events, ExPat Life, Faith, Interconnected, Leadership, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Ramadan, Social Issues | 4 Comments

Sedona Airport Vortex, Watching the Sun Go Down

I do not want to be insensitive, or to offend anyone who understands vortex energy and has experienced it in Sedona, and finds him/herself consequently “on the path.”

In fact, I do not consider myself an insensitive person, so although I am by nature a little skeptical, I was willing to give vortex energy a chance.

I never experienced it.

In fact, every time someone started talking about vortex energy, I had a hard time keeping my face straight.

I DO believe in positive energy, and in energy, and how we interact with one another.

It may be a language misunderstanding; I do believe in holy places, and I have experienced the feeling of knowing I stood on holy ground.

Sedona is reputed to have special energies, and special sites for this energy. I only know this much because I went to a blog called LovesSedona.com where they explain the energy sources and where to find them and how anyone who comes within a quarter of a mile and has any sensitivity at all will feel the energy of the vortex.

We were near every one of the four vortexes; right at one. I felt awe at the beauty of Sedona, unending awe at this beautiful place. We met some wonderful people. But a special energy? I guess I am just not sensitive enough, but I allow that YOU might be, so I refer you to LovesSedona.com, from which I share the following information about Sedona Vortexes and their energy:

What is a Vortex?

A vortex is the funnel shape created by a whirling fluid or by the motion of spiraling energy. Familiar examples of vortex shapes are whirlwinds, tornadoes, and water going down a drain. A vortex can be made up of anything that flows, such as wind, water, or electricity.

The vortexes in Sedona are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. The vortex energy is not exactly electricity or magnetism, although it does leave a slight measurable residual magnetism in the places where it is strongest.

There are four main energy vortexes in Sedona. The subtle energy that exists at these locations interacts with who a person is inside. The energy resonates with and strengthens the Inner Being of each person that comes within about a quarter to a half mile of it. This resonance happens because the vortex energy is very similar to the subtle energy operating in the energy centers inside each person. If you are at all a sensitive person, it is easy to feel the energy at these vortexes.

If you are planning a trip to Sedona, here is a map to help you easily locate the four main energy vortexes. On the map, a diamond indicates the location of a vortex. Although the Sedona area has many hiking trails that only a vigorous hiker can enjoy, the vortexes are all easy to get to, and no strenuous hiking is required to get to any of them.

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One of the Sedona traditions is to go up to the airport and watch the sun go down from the airport viewpoint. It is supposed to be a very special Sedona experience. This is what it looks like in low season. There are probably three hundred and fifty people here to watch the sun go down, take selfies with the sun going down, take photos of your friends with the sun going down, etc.

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When you go, there are many many many many people, in fact if you have ever been in Key West to catch the green flash of the Key West sunset, you will have a deja vu feeling. This is a very funky kind of gathering, everyone is there, locals, tourists, probably a pickpocket or two.

We got there just in time to park, walk over, and catch the sunset. Sedona is laid back and has a wonderful sense of humor about all this, and individual Sedona residents volunteer to be The Ambassador, who shows up and maintains some order and good will as the people stream to the viewing place and then stream back to the parking lot.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it is going to be chaos once the sun goes down. As everyone else is watching the last gleams of the sun (and it is getting pretty chilly, I might add) we head for our car to head back down the mountain before the teeming hoard. The Ambassador on this night is a very tall woman, dressed as a Sheriff, I think, but a Sheriff in a dress. She is very good at keeping order.

We have made reservations for massages while we are here, and are trying to find where it is. When we get our confirmations, it is at a different location than we thought, so we have to find it again. I am confused because the lady says it is nearer to where we are staying than the original site, and the place where we think we are going is almost next door to the hotel. After a while, I figure out that where we have reservations is NAMTI, and the spa near us is NAMASTE, not the same. NAMTI is only a block away, we find it and we know where we will be going tomorrow.

A totally great day in Sedona, Arizona.

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Environment, Events, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Party On Pensacola!

The Sunday before Lent started, we were eating our early breakfast at the Shiny Diner when two parties came in. The first was a morning-after-the-wedding party, they grabbed one of the high tops that seat eight and more and more dragged in, and then the bride and groom arrived, still glowing from their wedding the day before.

As they were seated, another party came in, this party all in their pajamas, even the Mom! It was a morning-after-the-pajama-party party, and their fun was still continuing.

Pensacola: Party City!

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February 24, 2015 Posted by | Cultural, Entertainment, Events, Lent, Living Conditions, Mardi Gras, Pensacola, Restaurant | 1 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

Happy National Day to Qatar

How perfect that Qatar’s National Day falls on a Thursday so there will be a nice three (at least!) day weekend to celebrate 🙂

 

Happy National Day, may you celebrate with joy and may all celebrants be safe.qatar-national-day

December 18, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Events, Qatar | | Leave a comment

Qatari Ambassador to US Speaks to Full House in Pensacola

Yesterday, the Qatari Ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Jaham Al Kawari, spoke to a packed house at the New World Landing as the Tiger Bay Club gathered to hear how little Qatar is exerting big influence in the world peace-making arena.

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The ambassador has an impressive biography, and in appearance very polished, very French. He isn’t afraid to tackle the tough questions, and presents Qatar’s position in a way that people can hear and understand.

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Community, Counter-terrorism, Events, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Leadership, Middle East, News, Pensacola, Political Issues, Transparency | , | Leave a comment

Called by Name

I’ve always loved this story. Imagine, being a hated tax collector, and probably taking your cut. Imagine, a famous person coming to town, and being short, you climb a tree so you can see him pass by. And imagine that as he is passing, he notices you, he really sees you, he calls you by name and asks to stay at your place (how did he even know my name, I might wonder)?

The Lord Jesus turns everything upside down. He says we do wrong, and if we follow him (which I understand means that we do as he says and does) that the price for our sins is paid by him. He says the rules on earth are not the rules in the heavenly kingdom, and he calls Zacchaeus, as he calls you and me.

Luke 19:1-10

19He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ 9Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’

November 26, 2014 Posted by | Events, Faith, Interconnected, Lectionary Readings, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Survival | | Leave a comment

Inequality: No Respect For Our First Nation Citizens (Blog Action Day)

I grew up in a small town, Juneau, Alaska, and not even in the main town, but on Douglas Island, across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau. My neighbors were fishermen, hunters, pilots, entrepreneurs and hard-working people struggling to make a living.

It was an upside down world. In most places, those who live there the longest are the leaders of society. In Southeast Alaska, those who lived there the longest were at the bottom of the heap, the Native Americans, the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. I went to school with them. Yes, the boys carried knives. No, they were not dirty, and none of my little friends in elementary school were drunks. We were kids, we played together, we were all in the same classes all through elementary school – it was a small school.

Many of them did have family problems. There were problems of alcoholism, unemployment, domestic violence and hunger. They weren’t the only ones. The big problem was no respect. Although there were a few pieces of Native Art in the city museum, Native culture and Native craft were given little value. The Native way of life, living off the land, hunting and fishing, had greatly diminished as lands were apportioned off and hunting and fishing activities regulated.

In 1971 a huge lawsuit was settled and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act provided some restoration for the damaged peoples. Alaska Natives now have regional corporations to administer and grow funds to support the culture, to provide education for the children, to provide health clinics and hospitals. SEALASKA began to organize a biennial Celebration, a gathering of all the Alaska natives to share their stories, to celebrate their culture, to dance and to transmit culture to their children. It’s a great opportunity for people you might see every day in their western life to remember where they come from and to be proud of who they are. This Celebration is held every two years and includes Alaska Natives from all over Alaska who want to participate. It is a very inclusive Celebration. The next Celebration will be June 8 – 11, in 2016. You can read a little more about Celebration 2014 here.

They learn the legends of their clans – the Eagles, The Ravens, the Beavers, the Bears and a number of other clans. They spend the time between celebrations stitching together elaborate costumes for their parade and dance exhibitions, hollowing out canoes from trees, making elaborate hats and masks.

We first learned of the Celebration gathering in 2012, when we already had tickets to go back to Zambia at the exact time the Celebration was taking place, but my sweet husband promised we could go back for the 2014 Celebration. As we researched, we discovered just how much of Alaska we wanted to see, and did a reconnaissance trip in 2013. We loved our time there, and we were delighted to be able to return this last year for Celebration 2014.

It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life, to see the gathering, to see the old women cry as canoes came into sight full of young Alaskan natives, and say “I never thought I would see this again in my life”, to watch the exhilaration of the dancers, to feel the energy of the parade and especially – to see the children. To see the pride in marching, in dancing, to see the joy in being able to express who they are and to share that with others. I was moved beyond my ability to express in words; it was a feeling that in one small way, a train of events that had gone very off track had moved incrementally back in the right direction.

Here are some photos from the joyous Celebration of 2014:

 

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October 16, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Events, ExPat Life, Generational, Living Conditions, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Headless Horseman at Pensacola Ballet

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Today is a day to make the heart joyful. Yesterday, we had thunder and lightning, so much that my water aerobics class was cancelled and I made that drive for nothing. Even when the sun came out, hours later, there was so much water soaked into the ground, the evaporation made it feel hotter than it really was.

The best part of the whole day was knowing we were headed to the opening of the Ballet Pensacola Season last night.

Who knew when we came to Pensacola that there would be so many fun things to do? And that we would have the time to try them all? Pensacola has an Opera, a Symphony, many many parades, some kind of fest, normally featuring seafood and/or art, and sometimes also the sugar white sands, wine and/or rock bands almost every month, AND the Ballet Pensacola.

Nothing about the Ballet Pensacola is ordinary. Ballet Pensacola has a husband wife team, artistic director Richard Steinart and his wife Christine Duhon, the ballet mistress, who also does the costumes. Her costumes are often spectacular. Lance Brannon does the sets which are are often minimalist and always wonderfully creative. You know public arts are almost totally public and community supported, you know they must have a tricky budget to work with but the sets and costumes are wondrous to behold.

We were debating whether The Headless Horseman would be a good ballet for our four year old grandson. AdventureMan thought it might be scary. There is a witch, a wonderfully convincing witch. There is a guy with no head. There is a skeleton horse. I countered that he sees worse on his cartoons with Spiderman and BatMan and whoever those heroes are that “Assemble!” The Headless Horseman is a lot of fun; it even looks like the dancers are having a lot of fun with it, and of course, there is this incredible skeleton. We leave our evenings at Pensacola Ballet delighted.

One of the things we love about the ballets this team creates is that it isn’t easy to get most men to love ballet, but many of the ballets they do have appeal to men – The Matrix, Dracula – they are not dainty ballets, but strong, dramatic ballets. In addition, they are, as I said, a lot of fun. When we offer up tickets we can’t use to our son and his wife, they jump at the chance. I want to make Nutcracker an annual event, but I recognize that if I want grandchildren who will love the dance, I will be likely to take them to some of this stronger stuff. We already have an extra ticket for Ali Baba, coming up in the Spring, so our grandson can come with us.

It was still warm when we left the theatre, but this morning it is like we are living in a different place.

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The air conditioner is OFF! The windows are open! Fresh clean air is flowing through the house, the sun is shining without wilting anything, and, thanks to yesterday’s rain, the entire world looks fresh and clean and welcoming! The fun times begin in Pensacola, the cooler weather has arrived!

October 4, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Events, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Weather | , | 4 Comments

Moonglow in Pensacola

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AdventureMan and I believe in creating our own small adventures, so off we went, Saturday morning, to the Angel’s Garden Arts Fest on 12th Avenue in Pensacola. So many talented people, with so many things to see.

Yes, I bought something. Not something to hang on the wall, LOL, we have become more choosy as our collection has grown. No, I bought something to make my grandchildren GLOW IN THE DARK! LLLLOOOOLLLLL! I laugh when I think of their parents faces seeing their shining, glowing little faces!

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I love it that this man has discovered a niche product that he can sell. No, we don’t need it, but oh, what fun!

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Entertainment, Events, Family Issues, Generational, Pensacola | Leave a comment