Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Forty Years Wedding Anniversary

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“You’re going to celebrate your anniversary for three days?” my friend asked incredulously.

“No, no, actually, it’s in two parts, we are celebrating the entire weekend, three days, but it’s because it is too hot to walk around New Orleans; so this is just part one, and in December we will celebrate part two with a trip to New Orleans when we can walk around and enjoy all the Christmas decorations and stay somewhere nice.”

It’s what we do.

There have been some years, particularly years with moves, or new positions, or new contracts in them, when anniversaries have sort of fallen by the wayside. We are enjoying making up for all the missed anniversaries, now that we have the great luxury of time.

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We have all kinds of fun plans, a hotel stay, a dinner in a fine restaurant, star gazing out at Ft. Pickens, maybe a dolphin cruise, and a trip up in the very large beach ferris wheel, while it is still at Pensacola Beach. We plan a day in several pools with our son and his wife and our little grandson. All. or part, or some of this may really happen, depending on what the weekend weather looks like. Ft. Pickens has already evacuated all the campers with concerns over this Tropical Storm Andrea coming in, and a dolphin cruise or a trip up on the great wheel may not be such a hot idea at 40 – 50 mph winds, LOL.

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AdventureMan and I knew when we married that we were in it for the long haul. We also knew it wouldn’t be easy. We come from different cultures, different life styles. We both had independent lives and responsibilities. We moved a lot. It wasn’t always easy, but then whose life is, when you know that life from the inside? We’ve had some great adventures, and some fabulous, astounding experiences. We’ve met extraordinary people and made very special life-long friends.

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When I told AdventureMan our weekend might not be as exciting as planned, he laughed and said “we can bring our books.” He always knows how to make me laugh, and taking books is exactly what we did when we first got married, and would take weekend trips to a lakeside resort called Chiemsee; it would be snowing and cold and we would go into this large old lodge with it’s double doors and double shuttered windows, with it’s eiderdown comforters and huge fireplace, and we would pack books. We would sleep and read, and sometimes go eat. If that’s how this anniversary turns out, it’s a very comfortable and familiar way to celebrate.:-)

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AdventureMan loves this blog. He always looks for his name. 🙂 Happy Anniversary, dear husband.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Blogging, Books, Circle of Life and Death, Events, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Hurricanes, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pensacola, Travel, Values, Weather | , , , | 7 Comments

Addicted to Change?

Today I attended a meeting at which there was a program on surviving change and thriving through it. The speaker described change as that which happens outside your control, and transition as that which you do to adapt to the change that is happening. A change can be positive if you have chosen it, or negative, if someone else has made a choice, or something has happened, over which you have no control or input, but it impacts on you.

Interesting, huh?

I’m not all that good at listening for very long, so my mind drifted to all the moves I’ve made (31) and all the adapting I’ve done. I didn’t mind the moving so much; I was good at it. Toward the end, the packing up became oppressive as I took more and more of it into my own hands. I had my reasons, as I learned that no matter how ‘caring’ the movers are promoted as being, they don’t care about my things the way I do.

First bad surprise: my son’s engraved silver baby cup disappearing. Those packing ladies showed up with great big handbags. I should have known. Thirty years later I am still fuming over the loss of that cup.

Second major bad surprise: We watched everything carefully packed up and crated, but when we got to the next post we discovered someone had changed the orders and UNCRATED our goods so they could go by air, without re-packing all the fragile goods, so everything came loose. What a mess. Furniture cracked and broken, irreplaceable friable Tunisian pottery in pieces, broken, broken broken, good and bad alike. Oh aarrgh.

Third bad surprise – my riding boots thrown in on top of my formal gowns. Shock and horror.

Slowly, slowly I began packing up my precious things inside other things, so no-one would ever see them. I began packing up my own clothes, which made it a whole lot easier to unpack; like was together with like. Movers would sometimes take clothes to cushion things, so you’d find sweaters wrapped around dishware or decorative items.

Last really bad surprise: Everything was carefully packed, but one box didn’t make it. I had packed the box myself – it was full of quilting books, books I used to teach quilting in Qatar and Kuwait, books which had new ideas and techniques. I knew no one wanted those books, but someone had dumped the box because, I imagine, they didn’t want to carry it, or it didn’t fit in the crate, or . . . I will never know. Those books were worth thousands of dollars, and some were private issue or out of print and irreplaceable.

There is nothing you can do about human malice, or random bad luck.

It just made me more and more compulsive, as I tried to control more and more so as not to have damage or loss, or just to help the move be more organized. It was a choice. I knew I didn’t have to work that hard, but I chose it, to have more control over what got lost or damaged. There is always a point, though, where you realize you don’t ever, not ever, have perfect control, and if you try, you can just make yourself crazy. You have to let it go.

Then, there is the moving in.

I was good at it. When it came to putting things away, it was always get the beds set up first, and made up. Everything was carefully labeled. Put the flatware in the flatware drawer, have a couple pots and pans and a few time-tested utensils. All the boxes are marked for the right room, and then – it’s just one box at a time, one room at a time, and you just stick at it until it’s finished.

Except for the move to Qatar, when I got sick and my angel friend came and unpacked my quilt room and put everything away. If you are a quilter, you will know what kind of effort that was, LOL! I also had a maid who was more like a friend. She was always doing more than I told her to do, God just made her heart that way, and she took care of tearing down all the boxes and saving all the paper, a task that makes me crazy, and as she did it she showed so much grace.

But now, it’s been two years since my last move. The possibility of Hurricane Isaac helped me deal with some of the time-to-move heebie-jeebies. AdventureMan asked if he needed to buy me a new house. (Our joke was always that I was low maintenance; I didn’t want big jewels or high end clothing, just buy me a house now and then, LOL!) No, I don’t need a new house. I need to handle this cold turkey; I’ve become so addicted to change that I’m not very good at settling down. The only way you can get good at something is to practice it. I need to more practice at this being settled, but oh, it is so uncomfortable for me.

Here are some rolling stone kind of songs, no not Rolling Stones, but rolling stone, as in Mama was a Rolling Stone, LOL.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Qatar | 2 Comments

Wind Map

My sister Sparkle posted this site – and she is right, it is amazing. Just look at how the hugeness of Isaac is still drawing wind and power from the Gulf states, well into the heartland of the US:

When you go to the website, Wind Map, it is actually animated, and you can watch the winds flow over the nation. Wow. Thanks, Sparkle.

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Geography / Maps, Hurricanes, Weather | 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

Wind Advisory, High Surf Advisory for Pensacola

Woke up this morning to more wind and grey skies, occasional rain, more of the same. We are still in an outer band – as is South Carolina, LOL. This storm is going to effect a lot of states before it finally clears out.

These warnings are from Weather Underground, my favorite weather site.

High Wind Advisory

High Surf Advisory

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Hurricanes, Weather | Leave a comment

Hurricane Isaac Hanging Around

Hurricane Isaac – for Pensacola – has turned out to be not so much. Yes, there has been high water, due to the ceaseless winds pushing water onshore. Yes, there are some bursts of high winds. Yes there are some heavy showers.

We’ve seen worse, we’ve had worse storms. The think about Hurricane Isaac is that while there is nothing you can put your finger on, he is like that annoying guest who stays too long. He is hanging around, and we would like to get on with our lives.

Example: Our grandson’s school is still closed, and our son and his wife need to go to work today. Fortunately, AdventureMan and the Happy Toddler have a great relationship, and AdventureMan has made a plan to introduce him today to the public library, it’s treasure trove of childrens’ books, and that you can take them home – but you have to take them back. We hope the library is open today! We don’t know! It’s just annoying and inconvenient, these are minor things, not the great huge overwhelming problems that Plaquemines Parish is facing with their huge guest who insists on hanging around. Huge and slow, just the size and duration is causing expensive and life-threatening problems.

My plan for today is to put the heavy things back on the walls, mirrors I didn’t want to replace, framed art-work and hangings I didn’t want damaged if we were hit by the hurricane or tornado. Yes, there are still tornado warnings. No, I am not so worried.

At 6:30 this morning it was hot and humid. At 0900, it is still hot and humid, with occasional showers of warm rain. Aargh. Thanks be to God, no flooding in our house, no breeches in our defenses. We’re ready to move on. We’re ready for this to be over.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | 3 Comments

Noon 28 August 2012, and Isaac Becomes a Hurricane

We’ve had some squalls, wind and rain, but at noon the skies are blue with some clouds, the wind has dropped, and we decide to see how things look. Many are closed and boarded up, few are open. Our favorite lunch spot is open:

The sun is shining, but it is weird:

As we are eating, we learn that Isaac has now been declared a hurricane. We decide not to drive over the two bridges to the beach, but we take a look downtown and take the Bayshore Route home. The downtown marina is almost entirely empty:

The pelicans are enjoying a little surf:

Over on Bayou Texar, you can see that the water level is very high. The piers in the park have totally disappeared, and our favorite restaurant, the Oyster Barn, is underwater – oh NO!

This heron is happy to have the pier all to himself, until a local fisherman comes along and scares him away:

These people have temporarily lost their dock on the Bayou:

Now back home, the sun is hidden by the thickening clouds, rain falls in flurries and we can hear the wind whistling down our chimney. We are glued to our TV’s, keeping up with what is going on in New Orleans and Louisiana. It looks like the eye may be heading west of New Orleans, more toward New Iberia.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

Hurricane Preparations: Isaac

As we were out last night, we saw this gathering of trucks. They are not Gulf Power trucks, or at least they don’t say Gulf Power, but they sure look like trucks pre-positioned to take care of wind-driven electrical outaages. It’s very reassuring.

The weather is very warm – lows in the high 70’s, highs in the low 80’s – and the air is drenched with humidity. An electrical outage is hard on an Alaska girl like me, who hates stale warm air. It’s also hard because this weather is ideal for mosquito breeding, and mosquitos head my way when given any access. Let’s keep the electricity flowing and the air conditioning running!

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Hurricanes, Pensacola, Safety | 4 Comments

0800, 27 August Isaac Stalls

In Pensacola this morning, there is some wind, there are some half-hearted showers. So far, so good.

We continued our preparations yesterday, bringing in the plants, bird feeders, and assorted watering cans and my potting bench. I boiled water for our large Qatar coffee thermos, and filled the freezer with more water containers. I took some of the heavier things off the walls and cleared my desk of anything which could fly around, then, in a flurry of compulsive activity, polished the desktop, since it’s been a while since I have seen it empty.

Now . . . we wait.

Last week, I was telling a friend that we’ve been in Pensacola two years now, and I am starting to get edgy. We’ve moved so often, that at the two year point, I feel the need to start packing up. I find myself looking at houses online. At the very least, I think about moving the furniture around. (AdventureMan hates it when I move the furniture. He takes it personally. He thinks I am mad at him, LOL! No! I am just restless.)

We have been asking God’s mercy on the Gulf communities, and now New Orleans. If you have the eyes to see, the Weather Channel has been talking about the dry winds that have been disrupting Isaac’s efforts to organize into a full fledged hurricane. The storm in huge, but the center is disperse. They are saying that it will mean a lot of wind, a lot of rain and a surge in the water level. None of this is new to Pensacola, nor to most communities on the Gulf. God is merciful. We can weather this slow storm, God willing.

Here are some photos from last night, as clouds and rain move in. So far, no where near as threatening as the normal Pensacola heavy rains and thunderstorms.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Satire, Weather | 2 Comments

Isaac Headed Away From Pensacola

Just another little shift, but the cone of probability now excludes Pensacola!

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Geography / Maps, Hurricanes, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment