Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

When Does Ramadan Start in 2018?

Ramadan for Non-Muslims, through the years on Here There and Everywhere

Checking my stats, I can see a sudden upswing on Friday, the day off in almost all Moslem countries. I haven’t posted in the last couple days, but it seems to me, it is just about time to be thinking about Ramadan starting.

When I was still living in the Middle East, I would write an annual entry explaining Ramadan to my non-Muslim readers. Even better, my Moslem friends and readers would add comments, correcting anything I had gotten wrong and adding more.

Bottom line – while for non-Muslims, it is easy to perceive the month-long fast as impossible deprivation, to the Moslems, it is a month of loving celebration, visiting with family, fabulous meals at the end of a long day of fasting, and an opportunity to devote one’s thought to God/Allah/Yahweh and to serve him in the holy tradition of fasting. Many times, overseas, I had Moslems serve me food during Ramadan; I would beg them not to, but they would tell me there was joy in serving food to others and not partaking themselves; they did it as an act of worship, a sacrifice. I could see their joy in their eyes and their visible pleasure in serving.

The traditional words of greeting to a Moslem during Ramadan are “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem.” The first is a wish that Ramadan be a blessing to the worshipper, the second a wish that Ramadan be generous, supply all the needs, spiritual and otherwise.

Ramadan Mubarak, my friends, and Ramadan Kareem.

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May 5, 2018 Posted by | Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Ramadan | Leave a comment

Baked Alaska, A Highlight in Astoria, Oregon

“I see a place I want to eat!” I cried out as we were looking for a lunch place. “Baked Alaska!”

“You want to eat Baked Alaska for lunch?” AdventureMan asked me, thoroughly confused.

“No, the name of the restaurant is Baked Alaska. It’s underneath the Raymond James office and it’s right on the waterfront. I’ll bet it’s good,” I speculated.

One time when my niece, Professor Little Diamond was visiting, I told her how AdventureMan often accused me of speculating.

“Join the family!” she exclaimed. “It’s fun! We all just speculate our asses off!”

You can see why we loved it when she would come to stay for a while. She and I would go to the bookstores and tote out volumes and sets of Islamic books on scriptures, history, and the precedence of scholarly attributions, and all kinds of books about customs. Some I would mail to her, many she would manage to take back with her in her suitcases, leaving behind clothing rather than sacrificing room for a book.

We decided to go to Baked Alaska for dinner, and it was a lovely, memorable meal.

 

We had this amazing view of all the ships making their way up the Columbia river. We also saw seals playing in the wakes.

 

 

AdventureMan ordered a dry Chardonnay, and the waitress brought a glass of the house Chardonnay, bottled especially for Baked Alaska, which she described as “crisp.” We both heartily agreed, and think it was one of the best wines we tasted on our trip.

 

We both had the arugula salad with roasted cauliflower to start. You can’t see it, but it’s there, along with roasted garlic. This salad was fabulous.

 

 

 

 

It also came with tasty bread:

AdventureMan ordered clams, this time in a creamy sauce:

 

He said they were very delicious, and very rich. The next day, he said he thought maybe he’d give up on clams for a while, that he loves them, but sometimes a rich treatment is too rich, and keeps him awake at night. Aren’t they beautiful, these lovely fat clams in their cauldron?

I had the seafood small plate, with Pacific shrimp, sous vide smoked salmon, and Dungeness crab. I couldn’t decide which I loved the most, the salmon or the crab, but . . . Dungeness crab trumps almost everything anytime.

 

They had some tempting dessert offerings, including, ahem, Baked Alaska, but we are trying to both eat delicious foods, and keep our waistlines, so tonight we skipped dessert.

Even without dessert, this was one of the best meals we ate. Well, there were a lot of best meals . . .

We fell asleep to the sound of barking sea lions.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Astoria, Oregon

We are taking the backroads; we are more interested in the experience than the destination. We are on old highway 101, along old familiar beach fronts, and going into old rural Washington en route.

I couldn’t resist these fabulous mossy trees:

 

And this wonderful huge First Nation tribal painting on one of the old buildings, I am thinking in Raymond, WA:

 

We see a lot of timber; we see it growing, we see it clear cut, we see it replanted, we see it at mills and we see it transported along the great Columbia, going who knows where? China?

We find ourselves briefly along the old Lewis and Clark trail along the banks of the Columbia as we approach Astoria, our goal for today. We made it a point to come into Astoria over one of the old bridges, an elegant bridge.

AdventureMan wants to explore the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which he heartily recommends to all with an interest in history and commerce in America.

 

Before we go, however, we want to have lunch. We stop at Josephson’s Smoke House for some clam chowder and some of the best local made salmon burgers we have ever eaten. I apologize; they were so delicious we ate them before I remembered to take a photo. I do have some photos of Josephson’s, which is more a processor, smoker, canner and seller of salmon products than a real restaurant. Their menu is limited, but their salmon products are outstanding.

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel was a nondescript and not all that welcoming Hampton Inn. Having said that, in spite of the lackluster welcome, they had a great pool, we could open the doors to our balcony and hear sea lions barking, and we got a great night’s sleep. There is something to be said for all that. I also liked some of the hand crafted art work in the dining room.

 

The nearby sea lions:

 

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Kalaloch Lodge and Creekside Restaurant

OK, I am going to risk boring you. I have a think about lodges and historic hotels. I love the old architecture, the high ceilings, the spacious rooms. I love the restorations and renovations that include gracious private bathrooms (!) and I love the vision that created these lodges in the first place. So I am going to show you lots of photos, because I can’t help myself. Honestly, I have shown restraint, but you may not think so.

 

This is the exterior of Kalaloch Lodge

 

These are some of the cabins. Many of them have cabins with kitchens, and people bring their own food for the week.

This is the wedding pagoda; the signs posted say that the pagoda is reserved from like 1 – 4 for a private event 🙂

The registration area and gift shop

 

Upstairs area

 

Our room looking out over the beach

 

Our view – oh WOW. I just wish you could hear the waves.

Sunset at Kalaloch

 

We ate dinner that night in the Creekside restaurant at the lodge, thanks to being urged to make reservations when we arrived. There is no place anywhere near Kalaloch you can eat without 30 minute drive. Fortunately, the Creekside Restaurant had delicious food, and some great choices for wine and beer.

 

Restaurant is on lower floor; above it is one of the suites.

We don’t often end up ordering exactly the same thing, but this night we did. A great arugula salad and a big bowl full of clams, and some really good sourdough French bread. AdventureMan had a local beer, and I had a dry red wine. Life can’t get much sweeter 🙂 I am very proud that for once, I remembered to take a photo before we started eating.

 

He restoreth my soul.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Hotels, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

O’Yeah, Tasty; First Meal in Seattle

A month ago I was in Seattle when my 94 year old mother suddenly came down with influenza and was hospitalized for 13 days, drifting into pneumonia twice, and suffering several small strokes. It was a difficult time, and as I was running errands for her one day, I passed a new Chinese restaurant near the hospital, O’Yeah Tasty, Szechuan cooking.

Szechuan. Near Edmonds Community College. Hope springs eternal, maybe I can get some really good Chinese food in the midst of all this emotional chaos!

(When we were moving to Pensacola several years ago, our son sat us down, looked at us very seriously and told us he had something to tell us we weren’t going to like. With a long face he stated “You need to know that there is not a GOOD Chinese restaurant in Pensacola.” We searched. We tried them all. Most were sort of Americanized Chinese, none had the good strong flavors we had become used to overseas. Longing for GOOD Chinese food is something we have grown used to experiencing.)

I had something called Mongolian Delights, recommended from the Chef’s specials by the cashier/order taker. It was fabulous, and the Hot and Sour soup I had with it was really HOT. When I told my sister on the phone where I was, she said Mom wanted some Hot and Sour soup, so I took some to her, and she ate it, claiming it was delicious. It was just about the only thing she ate that day.  A day or two later, I ordered an old favorite, Chong Qing Spicy Chicken, and I almost cried when it arrived, it was so totally TASTY, so close to what I remembered from the Taiwan Tourismo in Amman, Jordan back in the day.

So when AdventureMan and I arrived in Seattle, at lunch time (our delicious breakfast from The Courtyard had finally worn off) we headed straight for O’Yeah Tasty.

We ordered fried egg rolls, and AdventureMan ordered the Seafood Three Delights, and I ordered my all time favorite Chong Qing Spicy Chicken.

 

 

And the dish that makes me cry, Chong Qing Spicy Chicken:

 

As we ate, the restaurant filled with Chinese students from the nearby college. We got to see what they were eating, even as we enjoyed our own food. There was so much food, we packed it up and took it with us to put in our hotel room refrigerator and have later for dinner.

This is how much I love this food: when we were talking with my mother who, by the grace of God is greatly improved, and improving more every day, she said she was able to go out for dinner this very night. A part of me ALMOST said “how about tomorrow night?” because I love that Chong Qing Spicy Chicken so much, but fortunately I love my mother more and the thought was just for an instant; we quickly made plans to take my mother to an Italian restaurant she loves this night and to have our treasured left-overs for dinner tomorrow.

If you are ever in Edmonds looking for spirited and authentic Szechuan cooking, hurry to O’Yeah, Tasty.

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Dinner and Breakfast in The Courtyard

Sometimes you just take the easy way. We had a great lunch at Gojo, and we had a long day. We knew there were so many great places in Portland, and we were tired. We decided to grab something quick at The Courtyard.

When we walked the short walk down the hall from our room to the restaurant, we discovered it was packed!

We were happily surprised to be quickly seated, and were doubly happy when we saw the menu and some non-pubby kinds of food. We ordered the Curry Butternut Soup and the entree Heirloom Tomato Salad. The soup was a little sweet to our taste, but some like sweet more than others. The Heirloom Salad was fabulous, full of a lovely variety of tomatoes, really good and tasty greens, prosciutto, and a very tasty variety of olives.

We were very pleased. It was tasty, it was healthy and it was original in creation and presentation. We were so delighted that we decided to have breakfast in The Courtyard again the next morning. As we got there, one of the servers was loading the wood burning stove.

 

The menu had more surprises for breakfast, we found. AdventureMan ordered Biscuits and Gravy, but not your Southern biscuits and gravy. The biscuits are home-made and baked fresh, and the gravy was a gorgeous mushroom and rosemary combination that satisfied without coating his blood vessels. I had the smoked salmon benedict, which was served on rye bread and had lots of avocado and herbed cream cheese in addition to the salmon and poached eggs.

The day was cloudy and rainy but the warmth of the meal and service kept us cozy and happy and content all the way on the rainy drive from Portland to Seattle.

Thank goodness for Google Maps, which gets us in and out of cities in the most efficient, least trafficked way, and which has a voice that will tell AdventureMan in advance what is coming, and which lane he needs to be in and which way he will need to turn. We occasionally get into trouble, but rarely, and can quickly orient ourselves to where we need to be.

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Gojo Ethiopian Food on Alberta Street in Portland

As if the easy access and the great hotel weren’t enough, within four minutes of our hotel is a delightful little Ethiopian restaurant, and we can’t get Ethiopian food in Pensacola. There were two or three groups already eating, and the smells drove us wild.

We ordered quickly, a vegetable combination plate and Doro Wat, a spicy chicken that always comes with a thick, hot sauce and a hard boiled egg. Actually, I don’t care that much about the chicken or the egg, it’s that thick hot spicy sauce I love. We also loved the smokey green beans and the vinegary greens, the pickled cabbage, the beet colored potatoes and the red and green lentils – it was all good, and not dumbed down.

Our meal:

 

Extra injera:

 

There are so many good possibilities for good food in Portland, but we are so stuffed we think we will never eat again!

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Local Lore, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel in Portland, OR

We don’t like cooky cutter hotels. When we start thinking about a trip, I put a lot of time into looking at hotels. I ask AdventureMan “do you want to stay downtown?” “What would you think about staying in a former poor-house?”

Not every choice turns out, but AdventureMan was kidding me because I still remember one really bad hotel in France in like 1987.

This time, I nailed it. I hit it out of the park. When I saw his face, I nearly danced for joy. He loves this place.

McMenamins is a trendy Oregon brewery that has done some really smart things – put good food into their breweries, and bought up old, decaying buildings, restored, renovated and turned them into hotels with charm and character. The one we are staying at is an old elementary school, and much of it is still in place – the wide hallways, the fabulous wooden floors, the signs for restrooms, gymnasium, etc. and classrooms which have been turned into guest suites.

The closet in our room is the former cloakroom, just like the very old school I went to school in, with hooks in place for students to hang their coats:

 

This is the major restaurant. There are also at least three bars, maybe four, and other spaces which are used for meetings and events.

 

 

 

 

One of the things we love is that the neighborhood and community gather here. There is a movie theater that plays current films; guests at the hotel get free admission, but other people are here, too. There is a soaking pool outside near the old gymnasium, and local mothers had their children in the pool, warm enough to be teaching them to swim on a cool rainy day in Portland.

 

 

It hits a lot of blocks for me – high ceilings, huge windows, wooden floors, all this and a sense of history and a gathering place for the community. Nearby is a growing arts and crafts street, gentrifying, with lots of really good restaurants. This is a really cool place for us. AdventureMan loves the history of the place, the glory of the vibrant plantings in the gardens, free parking and nearness to culture, food and convenience (drug store, very trendy grocery store, etc.) We like the Portland vibe.

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Character, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Our Spring Adventure Begins: We Land in Portland

AdventureMan always know when I need to roam . . . I get edgy. I get bored. I get this trapped, wild feeling and I have to go roaming. I have to hit the road. For forty five years, God bless him, he has hit the road with me. He loves Adventures 🙂 and he is my best travel partner.

So we are up at oh-dark-thirty to catch the early flight to Atlanta and the ongoing flight to Portland, and the longer flight, Atlanta to Portland, isn’t full! We each have aisle seats, and we each have an empty seat between us and the closest other passenger! In this era of cattle-car air transport, we revel in space and celebrate these rare occasions.

When we arrive in Portland, the car rental pick up is right in the airport, just a short trek from the baggage pick-up. We are with Enterprise this time, and it was an easy check in and then a concierge car service as he told us to pick a car from those available. They were large trucks, and vans, and very big and not what we wanted, and then a Nissan came in and we said that one would be just fine. Within minutes we were on the road, and mere minutes later, at our hotel.

Great start to a great adventure.

 

 

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Geography / Maps, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Life is Complicated: Maintaining Balance

It’s been an odd new year. It started with loss and grief, and quiet introspection. Once the season ended, we were caught in the whirl of daily life, amplified by our son’s need for an ACL fix, which has totally immobilized him for a couple weeks and which requires we all pitch in to help keep life going smoothly.

And, I had a major birthday.

The last major birthday I had like this one was when I turned 35 and realized that I hadn’t accomplished my major dreams. I cried all day. People kept stopping by, bringing gifts and cards, and I just kept crying That year, I started graduate school, and never looked back. I was a military wife at an overseas post, with duties to my husband, my community, my church and my job, and I piled on evening classes and all the attendant work of research and studying on top, and I had never been happier. Going back to school was like flying. I loved my studies, and on the days I felt overwhelmed, I would realize that grad school was the only thing I could resign from and I would choose to go forward. My studies were my reward for good behavior in all the other areas of my life.

“What? You didn’t love being a mother?” I hear you asking. We had an oddly shaped room in our quarters, long and narrow. My desk was at the far end, and next to it was my son’s desk. We would do homework together. I adored my son. I would take him to karate lessons, iron his acolyte robes, be there when he got home from school; he enriched my life. But what made my spirit fly was my studies.

Yesterday, things were relatively quiet and I started a project I usually start in January, cleaning out. We haven’t moved in nearly eight years. I tend to be pretty good at cleaning out and passing along or throwing out, but when you are settled, you don’t do so as conscientiously as when you live with a weight allowance. My weight allowance always heavily favored our items collected from foreign postings, and everything else was expendable. Now, the expendable is taking up space, and I want to clear out that which only burdens me and ties me down, and make way for whatever is coming.

En route, I came across a large packet of printed out letters from my earlier lives, one entry in particular, 5 pages describing our arrival in Kuwait. Oh! There are so many things I have already forgotten, so I read it through, and then passed it along to AdventureMan, and listened to him laugh as he hit the funny parts. I owe my Mother a great gratitude for having saved all those letters, for which, having gone through several computers since I wrote them, I have no records. Those were pre-FaceBook times, when we still sent out group e-mails, which then got forward on. Now, we have less time – or we take less time – to write at length about what is going on in our lives.

I made room for my growing collection of religious-oriented books. I have a shelf for them. I have my spiritual disciplines, like doing the Daily Lectionary, but for additional readings, books were scattered here and there. If I am going to get serious about reading them, I have to have them where I know where they are, and I can retrieve them easily. They don’t call it “discipline” for no reason.

When I was a nomad, life’s busier moments were balanced by the enormous quiet of being in a new location. There were the logistical challenges of deliveries, moving out / moving in, looking for the good grocery stores, the cleaners who could do your nicer clothes without ruining them, getting new visas, driver’s licenses, memberships, etc. but in general, life could be very quiet for up to six months. I always found those quiet times, before new friendships, meetings, commitments, etc. very nourishing to my spirit.

I’ve never been so settled. There are times when my spirit rebels against the sameness of it all. There are times when I miss being around people who don’t always use deodorant and who smell sweaty; it takes me back to riding the strassenbahn (street car) in high school in Heidelberg, or to Africa and our adventures there. There are times I catch a whiff of Desert Rose, and feel an urgent upwelling of nostalgia for walking down a Gulf Arab avenue, or through a mall, and how it was the men who smelled so good. There are times I would kill for real flatbread, fresh out of the oven, or for a Tunisian “brik,” done in pure olive oil, or for the simplest French dish, moules frites, mussels in a simple wine sauce with fries.

I do love Pensacola. I have friends here. I’ve always been lucky that way; people take me in and take me behind the scenes. I hear the old stories of how Pensacola used to be, and I hear the new stories, that corruption is never hidden enough to go undiscovered. People in Pensacola, like people everywhere, know things, and I am honored that they share these insights with me. I have found religious community here. I have found meaningful work.

I have a son of whom I am enormously proud. I love and admire his wife. And I have two of the smartest, funniest grand-children on earth, with whom I love spending time.

(Did you know that the use of “whom” is generational?)

It is a sodden, rainy day in Pensacola. AdventureMan is on the couch, here in my office, snoozing as I write. We are on our way to church, then I have a meeting before coming home to do my studies for my class this week. As it says in our Episcopalian Forward Day-byDay: Oh God, Give me strength to live another day. Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties: let me not lose faith in other people   . . .

On on.

February 11, 2018 Posted by | Aging, Blogging, Books, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Parenting, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Random Musings | Leave a comment