Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sunsets at the Sunset Inn, Panama City Beach, Florida

“I love this place,” I sighed, as AdventureMan and I sat out on our balcony at the Sunset Inn, a little Mom and Pop motel hidden between the towering condos of Panama City Beach. We were watching the sun go down. Little does it matter that as I sat out on the balcony watching the sun go down, or watching the pelicans in the morning, I was probably increasing my quota of mosquito bites, mais tant pis.

“I know you do,” AdventureMan replied, sipping on a cup of hot Christmas punch and sharing the moment with me. We’ve always loved sunsets. Or sunrises. We think of them as one of those great gifts, so wonderful that it is hard to believe they are free.

For some reason, some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen have been from this motel. Here is the first sunset, the day we got there, Tuesday:

I am not kidding, I haven’t done a thing to that photo. I haven’t cropped it or enhanced it in any way. Who can improve on a sunset like that? I liked it so much I will show you another, again, untouched. This is using the telephoto, but no enhancements:

The next morning, we were greeted by pelicans. I adore pelicans, those throwbacks to prehistoric times, so primitive, and so dramatic, plunging beak first down into the waters and then flying back up with a fish in their beak. These ones aren’t plunging, just floating around letting breakfast come to them:

We missed one sunset, and here is what we caught on Thanksgiving after the feast:

Here in sunset on Friday night, our last night at the beach:

Drama drama drama!

All quiet at the Sunset Inn . . . .

November 25, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Florida, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Photos, Sunsets, Travel | | Leave a comment

Trial Run: Lessons Learned

We have most everything put away now, a real pain in the neck, but we keep in mind that it is not as much a pain in the neck as losing everything, or having to hack a hole in your own roof to escape a flood which completely ruins a house so you have to rebuild and live somewhere else while you are rebuilding. It’s even a lot easier than having a window or roof or garage breached, and the resulting damage from wind-driven rain, or just sheets of rain.

Today has had higher gusts of wind and frequent showers, and an occasional breakthrough of Pensacola sunshine.

We know how long it takes to put on our window protection – and take it off. We know how long it takes to clear all the potential flying objects out of our backyard. We know a couple vulnerable points, and that it’s going to be expensive to get a fix big enough to give us complete protection. It’s a gamble.

Here is something else I know, very valuable.

I know that I can keep hot coffee and hot water HOT for five days.

This great thermal jug from Qatar had coffee still warm after five days – not hot, but warm.

This little thermos from Starbucks kept coffee very warm, but not hot:

And this is a large thermos/ server I found in Kuwait and used for three years for large groups of ladies. Six years later, it is still working great. I poured boiling water into it on Sunday night, and on Thursday afternoon, it was still almost boiling hot. It was hot enough you can use it to make soup, which is just what you need to be able to do when you have no electricity and need to fix something that can warm you up.

The WINNER!

August 31, 2012 Posted by | ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Hot drinks, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar | 2 Comments

Iran Raids Coffee Shops as Un-Islamic


(Starbucks in Dubai Mail)

I always thought coffee shops started in that part of the world – oh wait, right, those were just for men.

LOL, found this on AOL, from Huffpost, from a Reuters report:

DUBAI, July 15 (Reuters) – Iranian police shut down dozens of restaurants and coffee shops over the weekend, Iranian media reported, in a renewed crackdown on what the state sees as immoral and un-Islamic behaviour.

Regular officers and members of the “morality police” raided 87 cafes and restaurants in a single district of the capital Tehran on Saturday and arrested women for flouting the Islamic dress code, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“These places were shut for not following Islamic values, providing hookah to women, and lacking proper licenses,” said Tehran police official Alireza Mehrabi, according to ISNA. Women are not allowed to smoke hookah, water pipes, in public.

Mehrabi said the raid came as part of a plan to provide “neighbourhood-oriented” security, and would continue in other parts of Tehran.

Coffee shop culture has flourished in Iran in recent years, offering wireless Internet, snacks, hot drinks, and a place to hang out for Iranian youth in a country where there are no bars or Western chain restaurants or cafes.

But that trend has been criticised by conservative Iranians who consider it a cultural imposition from the West and incompatible with Islamic values. The government periodically cracks down on behaviour it considers un-Islamic, including mingling between the sexes outside of marriage.

In 2007, Tehran police closed down 24 Internet cafes and other coffee shops in as many hours, detaining 23 people. (Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

July 17, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Civility, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Hot drinks, Iran, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Another Broken Egg in Pensacola

AdventureMan and I often discuss why one restaurant succeeds and another fails. One restaurant with a high quality food was very successful, moved to a larger location, and soon after a popular Chinese buffet moved in close by and now, he complains the competition is killing him.

These are killing times, highly competitive times, when people have less money to spend on eating out. While we prefer non-chain, local owned places which prepare their own food, many of the success stories are parts of chains where they can maximize standardization and gain benefits from ordering supplies in large quantities.

Another Broken Egg is somewhere in between. It is part of a chain, but a very small, very high quality and successful local chain. The Pensacola owners visited a Broken Egg in Destin multiple times, loved its product, and decided to bring the chain to Pensacola.

We’re glad they did. First, they serve a really, noticeably GOOD cup of coffee.

Then, they have a menu with a lot of variety. My first time there, I ordered the Popeye, which had lots of spinach, and it was yummy. This time, I tried the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benny, another hit.

Umm . . . err . .. yes, it is half eaten. Sorry. One funny thing, I thought “oooh, that is too much whipped cream cheese” and scraped it off, only to realize that the fluffy white thing was the egg, beautifully and artistically poached. What is not to love, a beautiful poached egg, smoked salmon, an English muffin (hardly any fat)?

AdventureMan had the Greek Wrap; he loved it.

The wait-staff is well trained; they make easy conversation, pay attention to what you need, and the owners/managers come around to make sure you enjoyed your meal.

Another Broken Egg
721 East Gregory Street
Pensacola
(850) 912-8347

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant | Leave a comment

Blood Sugar Solution

When I read the hype for these two books, I bought them – again. I bought them the first time when we were still in Kuwait, but gave them away in one of the moves. This time I actually read them. I stopped, however, when I came to the part where you give up caffein. Nope.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Health Issues, Hot drinks | Leave a comment

Short Day to Spokane

After breakfast, we hit the road early, stopping after a couple hours for a leg stretch and coffee. The weather is in the 50’s as we hit the road, and we are both ready for a warm-up. I was all set to order my normal ‘short non-fat Mocha, no whip cream,’ when I saw that they already have the fall specials on the menu, and oh, I love Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte . . .

While the roads are nearly empty, just us and an occasional truck, or pickup, the weather has turned ugly, rain coming down in drizzle, or torrents, or sheets, changing by the minute. By the time we stopped for lunch, I was ready to give up the driver’s seat.

Lunch was at the Fat Belly Deli, in Alberton, Montana, where we had Turkey Pastrami and Swiss sandwiches, oh, and ummm. . . . fries. They were having a little trouble getting the fryer hot enough to fry the fries, so I had time to take a couple photos:

On our way in, AdventureMan spotted a huge used book store – like catnip for cats, we could not resist. I found a copy of Elizabeth Warnock Fernea’s book “A View of the Nile.” If you have never read Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (Guests of the Sheikh, A Street in Marrakesh) read her biography in the link above. She was an amazing woman, who shared her insights in a very readable way. A View of the Nile is hard to find. I want it for my lending library. AdventureMan and I both found books. . . Too many books. We had to drag ourselves away.

(Update: AdventureMan reminds me that HE found the Fernea book and asked me if I wanted it. I promised to correct this entry and give him proper credit.🙂 )

Soon we left soggy Montana to enter an equally soggy Idaho, although the weather cleared by the time we got to Coeur d’Alene:

By the time we hit Spokane, the sun is out and we are starting to feel warm once again. We could go on; we have gained an hour, but we see another Mariott Residence Inn along the road and decide to hit the pool and kick back for the rest of the day, with another short day on the road tomorrow to get us to Seattle, where the hard work will begin. We have accounts to close, a storage locker to clear, rugs to gather and plastic carrier boxes to pack. We are hoping we can get everything into AdventureMan’s Barcelona Red (the name of his Rav4) for the long haul back to Pensacola.

Our reward for good behavior will be a few meals with friends and family before we depart. We are looking forward to that part.🙂

September 1, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Books, ExPat Life, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Seattle, Shopping, Travel | 5 Comments

How To Be a Southern Lady

You’d think moving back to your own country would be a piece of cake, wouldn’t you? We nomads know better. Young people who travel to other countries to go to school know better. Military people know better. Missionaries know better. Diplomats know better. Anyone who has spent time living abroad know that it works both ways – you have an impact where you are living, and where you are living has an equal impact on you. You may go back, but you are never the same.

With this move, AdventureMan and I have been too busy trying to get settled and to take care of the incredible amount of bureaucratic detail it takes to relocate. Even with AdventureMan ‘retired’, the days are flying by, and we don’t know why we are so busy.

For one thing, I am doing my own housework, and I am finding I am not very good at it. Like I am good at getting laundry done, and even folded, but I haven’t ironed in a long time, and the things that need ironing are stacking up. I have bought a beautiful new ironing board, and a beautiful iron . . . and some starch, the liquid kind I like, not the spray kind. . . but I haven’t set it up, and I haven’t ironed, not a thing. I have discovered that all my packed things looked a lot better after hanging in the closets for a week, most of the wrinkles fell out, lucky me. But . . . the day of reckoning is coming.

The worst part, for me, is cleaning my floors. My floors are supposed to be beautiful; wood and tile floors. They actually ARE beautiful, maybe two days a week, the day I clean them and the next day, but five days a week, they need work. I wish I had asked my cleaning lady in Doha how she got my floors so beautifully clean. I wish I had paid more attention. I keep looking in the store for some miracle, a machine that will clean them in a heartbeat and make them all shiny. . .

The wonderful thing about moving into this culture – and it truly is a different culture from the one in which I was raised – is that we have our wonderful son and his wonderful wife to give us hints on what to do and not to do, and we have his wife’s wonderful family.

Mostly, I try to keep my eyes open. Southern women admire things extravagantly, and after living for so many years in the Middle East and Gulf, learning to admire extravagantly goes against all my instincts.

In the MIddle East, when you admire extravagantly, you can make people nervous. Some people worry about attracting “the evil eye” of jealousy, evil intentions, people who envy you and wish you harm. Some people, if you admire something, will give it to you! It’s true, those stories, it has happened to me. So now I have to un-learn my lessons in retraint and learn to appreciate, if not extravagantly, at least enough to be polite.

One of my wife’s relatives gave us a house-warming gift, an iced-tea maker, with a darling card that states Rule #1 is that every Southern Hostess knows that a pitcher of iced tea is a MUST for all occasions. I like iced tea, but I have never kept it on hand to serve, and I guess I need to start!

Her second rule was one that made me burst out laughing – “A Southern Lady, the most interesting ones anyway, know that rules are made to be broken.”

“Just be prepared for people to leave your home saying “Bless her heart, she must be getting forgetful. There was no iced tea!”

And then rule #3 – “The only correct and acceptable way to criticize anyone is to add ‘bless his/her heart!’ and then, anything goes!”

At a party at her house this weekend, I learned a couple more – the first rule being that when you are invited to a great big family dinner, bring dessert! Thank God, I did take a little guest gift, but now I know – bring dessert! And it had better be sweet!

The next rule is would make any Kuwaiti or Qattari feel right at home – spare nothing in making our guests comfortable. This Southern Hostess had seating areas inside the beautiful air conditioned home, and also seating outside for those who don’t mind a little heat. She had a big basket loaded with all kinds of insect repellents to keep her guests from being bitten. She took time with each guest, and although she was running her little bottom off getting everything organized, she made it all look easy, and as if she was having a good time. I have a sneaking suspicion the truly was enjoying having all the people around and that her great big heart loves taking care of the crowd. She was the essence of gracious hospitality. Did I mention she has also lived in Kuwait?

Dinner was “Perlow” an old Southern tradition, made in a huge old kettle from her husband’s mother, and hung from a tripod over a roaring fire to cook. The actual cooking was the men’s work as they sat outside drinking iced tea:

Home grown peas and beans mix – delicious!

Serving up the perlow:

My Middle East / Gulf friends would be comfortable eating this meal – Perlow is a variation of Pilaf, and very similar to Biryani. No alcohol served. No pork. Lots and lots of fabulous sweet desserts.

It’s funny, I used to tell people in Kuwait and Qatar that it was a lot like Alaska; when the weather got too bad, you just stay inside most of the time. When the weather gets good, you go outside as much as you can. When it’s too hot/cold, you run from your air conditioned/heated car to your air conditioned / heated store or movie theater, or restaurant, and then back to your air conditioned / heated car and back to your air conditioned/ heated house.

In the same way, I am beginning to wonder if the South and the Middle East know how much they have in common? In Pensacola, on Saturdays, we have the religious people on the corners shouting at passing cars, not a whole lot different from the volunteer morality police in Saudi Arabia. In the South, as in the Middle East, ‘family’ isn’t just blood, it’s also who you’re married into, and there is a lot of emphasis on family getting together and spending time together. In the South, as in the Middle East, men tend to gather in one area, women in another.

In the South, they drink iced tea; in the Middle East, it’s hot tea. Both have passionate patriots, fundamental believers and a tradition of gracious hospitality. Both have a passion for hunting and fishing. Nobody much likes obeying the rules in either culture. Maybe I’m still in the MIddle East?

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Character, Civility, Cold Drinks, Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Food, Hot drinks, Humor, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Locard Exchange Principal, Marriage, Middle East, Moving, Qatar, Random Musings, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Values | 8 Comments

Brisk Morning at the Souq Al Waqif

“My husband hates shopping and hates the souks” said one of my friends, and my friend Grammy and I just grinned – any excuse for a trip to the souks, especially to introduce someone to our own particular joys. Early breakfast at the Beirut, walking here and there, finding small treasures and great pleasures, and ending up with coffee at the Cafe Tasse, which has divine Cafe Mocha with real whipped cream. It’s OK, I don’t have real whipped cream every day, just . . . have a problem resisting on those wonderful sunny winter mornings in the souks.

Some sights to share with you:

Dashing souk policemen on horseback, an early morning treat


The hardware souk, in the ‘guy’s souk area’, i.e. camping, hunting, fishing, falcons, hardware . . .


Falcon Hood Maker


Tiny little falcon hoods

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Doha, Eating Out, Entertainment, Friends & Friendship, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Qatar | 6 Comments

Stocking Up At Starbucks

I save space in my suitcases for special coffee blends I can’t get in Doha – like Gazebo blend. This Starbucks had TWO bags! As I was paying for all the coffee – after I had taken the photos – I still had my camera in my hand and the barista said “Oh! Starbucks has a strict no photo policy!”

I said “I did not know that!” and I did not take any more photos. No one has ever stopped me from taking photos in the Starbucks. Never! And no one has ever said anything!

Here is a blend from back when we used to go to the Starbucks – the only Starbucks – at the Pike Place Market. This was around the time the Seattle Champber of Commerce wanted to tear the market down to make way for downtown development.😦 Thank God, that was roundly defeated – it is such a draw to downtown Seattle, now.

00PikePlaceRoast

When you buy this coffee, a dollar of your purchase for each bag goes directly to African charities:
00AfricaCoffeeProject

Some specialty coffee displays:
00Starbucks1

New Seattle travel cups:
00StarbucksSeattleTravelCup

And – coming soon – one of my very favorite Starbucks drinks, Pumpkin Spice coffee.🙂
00StarbucksPumpkinSpice

Whether you love Starbucks or hate Starbucks, you’ve got to admire their marketing genius.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Marketing, Seattle, Shopping | 2 Comments

Coffee ‘may reverse Alzheimer’s’ (In Mice!)

From BBC Health News, July 5, 2009

Coffee ‘may reverse Alzheimer’s’

A possible treatment for dementia?

Drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease, US scientists say.
The Florida research, carried out on mice, also suggested caffeine hampered the production of the protein plaques which are the hallmark of the disease.

Previous research has also suggested a protective effect from caffeine.

But British experts said the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease study did not mean that dementia patients should start using caffeine supplements.

The 55 mice used in the University of South Florida study had been bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

First the researchers used behavioural tests to confirm the mice were exhibiting signs of memory impairment when they were aged 18 to 19 months, the equivalent to humans being about 70.

Then they gave half the mice caffeine in their drinking water. The rest were given plain water.

The mice were given the equivalent of five 8 oz (227 grams) cups of coffee a day – about 500 milligrams of caffeine.

The researchers say this is the same as is found in two cups of “specialty” coffees such as lattes or cappuccinos from coffee shops, 14 cups of tea, or 20 soft drinks.

When the mice were tested again after two months, those who were given the caffeine performed much better on tests measuring their memory and thinking skills and performed as well as mice of the same age without dementia.

Those drinking plain water continued to do poorly on the tests.

In addition, the brains of the mice given caffeine showed nearly a 50% reduction in levels of the beta amyloid protein, which forms destructive clumps in the brains of dementia patients.

Further tests suggested caffeine affects the production of both the enzymes needed to produce beta amyloid.
The researchers also suggest that caffeine suppresses inflammatory changes in the brain that lead to an overabundance of the protein.

Earlier research by the same team had shown younger mice, who had also been bred to develop Alzheimer’s but who were given caffeine in their early adulthood, were protected against the onset of memory problems.

You can read the entire article at BBC Health News

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Aging, Health Issues, Hot drinks, News | 6 Comments