Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Celebration 2014: Friday Afternoon Dancing

For the first time ever, the announcer tells us, the groups are all ready on time and the dancers ready to go – they are astonishingly ahead of schedule.

We return as a group of mixed dancers, from many Alaskan tribes, and some dancers with roots in classic “lower 48″ tribes, so they all respect one another’s traditions, share, and do a little bit of everything. I kind of like this kind of flexibility. Some of the female costumes are a little ummm . . . skimpy . . . for the cold Alaskan climate, LOL, and some of the tattoos a little un-Alaskan and it doesn’t matter, they make it work.

The Celebration Hall is full and brimming over, dancers and their families in the waiting rooms, behind stage, in the halls, in the gift stores, children wailing for their Moms or Dads, it is totally a family affair. Grandma’s step in and help, and the dance goes on.00Afternoon

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June 25, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Events, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Interconnected, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Children’s Costume Contest at Celebration 2014

One of the sweetest events at Celebration 2014 is scheduled early early in the morning, so early, we missed a part of it. The families of the clans take great pride in creating their ceremonial robes with clan markings, and get the children started in the tradition early.

These children were SO adorable, and their costumes finely and lovingly wrought. They had an enthusiastic – if fairly sparse – audience at the early hour, but it was necessary with all the many different groups dancing throughout the day.

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I THINK this might have been the winner, but I am not sure. Not everything was in English, and sometimes I couldn’t understand what was said. Winner or not – adorable :-)

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June 24, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Travel | , | Leave a comment

From Juneau to Tracy Arms Fjord on AdventureBound

Taking a break from The Celebration, we get up early, drive to our Juneau friend’s house and park our car and she drives us over and drops us off to catch the AdventureBound trip out to Tracy Arms. For two weeks the weather forecasts have told us that this day will be sunny, bright and warm, and ha ha ha on us, it is cloudy and cold, but not much rain. In Juneau, not much rain is a pretty good day :-).

We meet some really fun people as we wait to board – one couple married four days, one couple of young adventurers who, like us, travel on their own as opposed to group travel or cruise ship travel. Our lively conversation made us late to board, only to discover that everyone else had booked for this “sunny” day and every seat in the cabin would be occupied. Once you sit down, that is YOUR spot, oh ugh, this is the worst kind of tour for us, but we discover we can go in and out at will and this works. We spend a lot of time outside, taking photos, watching for whale and porpoise and bear and eagles – all kinds of wildlife. It’s not so bad.

Before we leave, I shoot this photo. It’s not original; I had a similar poster once from the 1920’s or 1930’s advertising trans-Atlantic boat travel on some French line. I just love the lines:

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Juneau is landlocked, so everything that comes in or goes out goes by boat or plane. Container barges bring in larger items, and I was amazed how high they can stack a barge. I was also amazed that on top of the containers are vehicles strapped on tight; school buses, campers, snow plows – no wonder everything costs so much more in Alaska!

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These bear made me so sad. Look how skinny they are, down at the bottom of tall, steep cliffs, eating barnacles. Bear eating barnacles – they must be starving. Some of them look all molty and have fur coming off.

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I never saw these glaciers when I was little. The Mendenhall glacier is relatively large compared to the Sawyer glaciers (1) and (2) but the Sawyer glaciers are calving. The sound is unforgettable, the cracking, the thunder, and entire sections of the glacier falling into the bay. Other burgs crack off underwater, and they come up huge, whole and a sparkling, unforgettable icy deep blue:

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There is equipment going all the time at Tracy Arms to record the calving, the sights and sounds:

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Mama and baby seals catching a few rays at high noon near the glacier:

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Here is a piece breaking and falling into the water:

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You can see the tour boat is surrounded by ice and icebergs:

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The glaciers are currently neither advancing nor receding, but you can read the trail of the glacier’s recession over thousands of years in the steep, ice-scraped mountains on both sides:

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On our way home, we spot whale. You can shoot a lot of shots of a piece of whale, or where the whale was a split-second ago, LOL.

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As we reach the dock, I call our friend to tell her we are arriving and she laughs and tells me she is already on her way; she was watching the boat arrive from her place across the channel. Within minutes, she is picking us up for home made fish cakes and chop chop salad. Best of all, great conversation, lots of laughter and wonderful stories of past times in Alaska. Her family was a pioneer family in Nome before she married and came to Juneau, so she has some great tales to share. Our families have had a lot of joint adventures, in Alaska, in Germany and in Edmonds.

She also asks great questions like “how did you buy groceries in Kuwait?” and “what did you do about laundry?”, practical questions, and exactly the kinds of things that made our lives more challenging – and interesting – to us. It was a great evening.

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June 23, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Community, Environment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Interconnected, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Celebration 2014 Parade Continues

I hope you will forgive me; I am not able to do the same work on the iPad I can do on my computer, so these photos are uncropped, unenhanced, they are what they are. It isn’t about the photos, it is about the people they are celebrating. These are more photos from the opening parade, which was rich with colors and sounds:

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June 19, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Cultural, Events, ExPat Life, Generational, Heritage, Local Lore, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Celebration 2014 Begins

This is the reason we are here – Celebration 2014. I had never heard of it, it is not well publicized. It only began some time in the 1980’s and I came across it by accident, researching a Native Alaskan hunting mask my Mother gave me. I found a blog written by a young girl from Nome, showing early Celebrations, and explaining it was a gathering of the Alaskan clans.

Wow. This was so totally new to me. Growing up, there was little or no acknowledgement of the First Nation tribes. We were told not to play with the native children; they had knives, they were dangerous. LOL, tell a kid another kid has a knife and guess who they want to play with?

All us kids went to school together. Even as a young child, you recognize discrimination when you see it. Kids have a strong sense of “Fair”. We knew, at a gut level, that not playing with our Native classmates was not right, not fair, and . . . we went right ahead and did what kids do.

I do kind of cringe, thinking of playing cowboys and indians with real Indians, LOL . . . . but anyone could be whoever they wanted to be, so often as not, cowboys were Indian. It’s funny now that I think about it; kids see things differently.

I am not Native American, but this is my connection, my early classmates. You know how sometimes the pieces just come together? Now I know why I worked so hard to attend those nomadic festivals in Douz, in the Sahara south of Tunis, the falcon festivals, why I urge locals to gather the stories and dances and clothing traditions and to preserve them – it’s because I learned to treasure the arts and crafts of the earliest Alaskans.

So I came back not as participant, but as witness. I wanted to see the First Nation people Celebrate who they are, and their own cultures and traditions. I had no idea how very moving I would find it, but once the drums started beating and the chants started, I was weeping.

The best part was the multi-generational participation. The groups were led by elders, but at their feet were the grand children and great grandchildren, all dressed, all chanting, learning the steps, learning the songs, learning the traditions, learning more about who they are. Their faces were full of joy, and pride, and I get a little choked up just writing about it.

The opening parade was not until evening, so we were on our way to the hotel for a quick snooze and we saw the dugout canoes headed toward Juneau, full of chanting rowers.

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AdventureMan quickly turned the car around so we could watch them approach and land. It was haunting, beautiful, the drums, the chant, and a woman next to me, around my own age, turned to me, weeping and said “I never thought I would see this again in my own time.” It was a moment of pure joy.

(This was the end of a one week canoe trip by several canoes: read about it here)

The opening parade was a small problem; we looked and looked for where the parade was due to start and finish. Many in town knew there was supposed to be a parade sometime, but were hazy on the details. Finally, we found the right places, the right street and were scouting parking when a parking police person told us that all the government workers go home at five and the parking enforcement people go off duty at 5:30 so show up after 5:30 and you can park where you want. Wooo HOOOO! Thank you, City of Juneau!

The parade started promptly at 6, led by elders carrying the American flag. Tsimshia’an, Tlingket or Haida – all American. One of the lead dancers was a Marine who took leave to come back and dance with his tribe, leading the younger men in the movements to the hunting dances.

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More images to come :-)

June 19, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Events, Generational, Local Lore | , | 2 Comments

Pregnant Pakistani Woman Stoned by Family for Marrying for Love

From AOL Breaking News:

Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) – A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this “heinous crime.”

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Stonings in public settings, however, are extremely rare. Tuesday’s attack took place in front of a crowd of onlookers in broad daylight. The courthouse is located on a main downtown thoroughfare.

A police officer, Naseem Butt, identified the slain woman as Farzana Parveen, 25, and said she had married Mohammad Iqbal, 45, against her family’s wishes after being engaged to him for years.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, had filed an abduction case against Iqbal, which the couple was contesting, said her lawyer, Mustafa Kharal. He said she was three months pregnant.

Nearly 20 members of Parveen’s extended family, including her father and brothers, had waited outside the building that houses the high court of Lahore. As the couple walked up to the main gate, the relatives fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, her lawyer said.

When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, according to Mujahid and Iqbal, the slain woman’s husband.

Iqbal said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.

“We were in love,” he told The Associated Press. He alleged that the woman’s family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.

“I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,” infuriating the family, he said.

Parveen’s father surrendered after the attack and called his daughter’s murder an “honor killing,” Butt said.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” Mujahid, the police investigator, quoted the father as saying.

Mujahid said the woman’s body was handed over to her husband for burial.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.

But even Pakistanis who have tracked violence against women expressed shock at the brutal and public nature of Tuesday’s slaying.

“I have not heard of any such case in which a woman was stoned to death, and the most shameful and worrying thing is that this woman was killed outside a courthouse,” said Zia Awan, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.

He said Pakistanis who commit violence against women are often acquitted or handed light sentences because of poor police work and faulty prosecutions.

“Either the family does not pursue such cases or police don’t properly investigate. As a result, the courts either award light sentences to the attackers, or they are acquitted,” he said.

 

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pakistan | , | 2 Comments

On A Day Like This . . .

I can move mountains! Today it dawned cool! I walked in the garden with my coffee, I turned off the A/C and opened all the doors and windows to get all the stuffiness out AND I re-organized our pantry.

Sounds easy? LOL. It is easy when you move every couple years, or every six months. You get rid of a lot of stuff. Once you settle, you really have to watch out, STUFF begins to accumulate. Like for some reason, I ran out of mustard once, and then every time I was grocery shopping for a while I would buy another mustard so I would be sure not to run out, and now I have like 11 mustards, no two the same, German mustards, Chinese mustards, French mustards, no, no, I won’t be running out any time soon.

AdventureMan had made a list for me at the commissary yesterday, including Penne for a Pasta Putanesca he was making to celebrate my return, he’s not so hot on anchovies, but he did a bang-up job on one of my all-time favorite pastas ever. As I cleaned out today, I found two more boxes of penne.

We changed over to a tankless water system last week, it just seems like a good idea. When we bought the house, one thing made me nervous, the hot water tank was in the pantry, right in the middle of the house. Hot water heaters fail, they all do, eventually, and when it goes, it can leak all over everywhere. The first time it happened to me, we were out of town and it took a week to get all the carpeting and walls dried out. So I traded worrying about a leaking hot water tank for worrying about a gas explosion, aarrgh. Actually, it’s pretty safe. We used tankless systems all the years we lived in Germany, and I really liked them. It feels right, just heating the water when you use it, not holding it – and heating it – when you are not.

So now the big water tank is gone, and I brought in new shelving, and put that together, it was almost idiot-proof, almost . . .

That took most of the day, putting the new shelving in, clearing the shelves, sorting out the items, labeling the shelves so AdventureMan can find what he needs, although to me, it all SEEMS very logical, signs saying “Condiments” “Oriental Condiments” “Back-up Baking Supplies” “Tomato things” “Soups” and “Canned Sea Food”, etc. I did not label the pasta and rice; they just seemed so obvious.

All this with doors and windows open and the most heavenly breeze blowing through; give me the right climate and I can move a mountain! I got the laundry all done as I was re-organizing the pantry, I even cleaned out one of the spice drawers (getting rid of spices kept from Kuwait and Qatar because I couldn’t bear to part with them, but four years . . .) it’s time, and they aren’t really good any more.

AdventureMan brought our adorable four year old grandson over to play, and we got to chat a little. There is nothing like a four year old snuggle, and conversations with him are always so interesting and so direct, it’s so refreshing :-)

And at the end of the day, there is even time to sit outside in the bright, cool, breezy sunlight sipping a glass of tea and watching all the birds come in for one last bite before bed time.

A heavenly day.

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Home Improvements, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Umm Al Tawaman

My sweet niece, Little Diamond (Professor Little Diamond :-) ) has given birth to two of the most perfectly beautiful little babies, ever. These are the quilts I made for them, and lastly is one of the sweet babies on his quilt. Congratulations, Umm Al Tawaman, God is good and full of mercy and compassion.

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00Annie This one is called Desert Rose.

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Isn’t that a beautiful little baby? :-)

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Circle of Life and Death, Family Issues, Generational, Interconnected, Mating Behavior, Parenting | 2 Comments

One Kings Lane: Excellent Customer Service

They didn’t even answer the phone. When I called Customer Service to tell them that of the 12 drinking glasses they had sent me, 11 arrived perfectly, one arrived in smithereens, smashed, crushed. I can’t imagine how 11 could be flawless and one could be so badly damaged.

They told me to leave a message, so I did. As I was holding the paperwork in my hand, I was able to give them my order number and what had happened. I told them I didn’t want to return the glasses I received – I totally love them – but would they send me a replacement for the one that arrived in smithereens?

They didn’t call me back. I barely noticed, I was having a busy day, only around six did I think of it and had second thoughts about dealing with them again.

Then early yesterday morning I found their e-mail, sent shortly after I had called, telling me they had no replacements, but they would credit my account for the entire amount and I could give them to charity or use them as I wished.

I was blown away. Who does that?

It’s not like I need more e-mail, but every e-mail they send me has something lovely. These are the glasses I bought:

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No, no, they are not glamorous, but they are perfect for everyday use. They are made of recycled glass, they have wide bottoms and they have little raised fleur-de-lis on them.

Why is this important? I have a cousin; when he was a boy he would talk enthusiastically and knock over his drinking glass. It got to be a family joke. But you can prevent these things. If you have children and want them to learn how to dine with adults, you choose items that will help them succeed – wide bottom glasses, for example, that are not easily tipped over, with details on the outside that will help little hands grasp the slippery outsides without slipping. It’s not that hard, you just have to give it a little thought.

It isn’t that hard to give children tools they need to grow strong and capable, and confident. You give them concepts, you give them knowledge, you give them practice. You also give them a sport, something that will teach them how their body moves and how to bring it under their own control, so that when they reach their teen-aged years, they will move with grace and have learned self-restraint. :-)

One King’s Lane is also where I found the fabulous bathtub I showed you. I still yearn for this tub!

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And today, oh my sweet heaven, I found a pair of bookshelves I can barely restrain myself from ordering. They are beautiful, and unlike anything I would find in Pensacola, and oh! They hold books!

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March 15, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Family Issues, Generational, Home Improvements, Marketing, Shopping | Leave a comment

A Stalwart Falls

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“Are you catching colds?” our friend asked as the funeral ended.

“No, no, I said, funerals just find us very vulnerable, and we have to deal with losses, past, present . . . and future. We have an ongoing fight over who is going to bury whom.”

We did not know the man well who had died, but we knew him as a stalwart. He was a greeter and usher at our service, and he was only rarely ever not there. He served the church. He was always there. I had asked his wife to help me with tickets, and she had laughed and said “of course, I’ll be there because my husband will be there, and if you need me just holler.”

They weren’t there. It made me uneasy, it nagged at me. I didn’t need her, but I missed her, and as I said – they are ALWAYS there. Sometimes it’s what is missing that catches your attention. It caught mine.

When I learned her husband had died, suddenly and unexpectedly, just as the Antique Fair was starting, it came almost as a physical blow. It’s not that I knew him that well. It’s that his presence at the church was something we took for granted, he was stalwart. You could count on him. We attended out of respect, respect for him, support for his wife.

And I know that the two of them spend (spent) as much time together as AdventureMan and I do. I don’t like to think that it could happen to me, that I could be suddenly left. AdventureMan was a military man, he would often leave, all these years, and he might tell me where he was going but I never knew for sure where he was going. We had a code to use if he was lying, but although he never used the code, I know there are times he lied, all for that bitch, national security. Yes, yes, I know, strong language from Intlxpatr, but strong times call for strong language. We both knew that there were times when there was a risk he wouldn’t come back.

We didn’t have to deal with death a lot in our life abroad. Of course, in the military, everyone is young. In all the countries where we worked in the Gulf, there were upper age limits – people retired and people left; you can’t live out your years in Qatar or Kuwait, there are laws against it. You can’t even be buried there without special permission. We learned to deal with the losses of people coming into our lives and leaving, but we didn’t have to deal with the great finality of death. We’re learning.

AdventureMan insists he is going to go first. I am tough in a lot of ways, but I don’t know that I am tough enough to go through his funeral. The very thought of it makes me sick to my stomach.

He tells me not to worry. He wants a Viking funeral; he wants to be sent out in a kerosene soaked ship and for archers to set it on fire as it sails off, disintegrating in flames. Isn’t going to happen, AdventureMan, but if it did, I might give some thought to pitching myself on the ship as it departs . . . otherwise, I’m afraid I might live the rest of my life as the one of the walking wounded.

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Biography, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Community, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Kuwait, Lies, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Women's Issues | , , | Leave a comment

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