Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Monday is Homework Day

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This is not the life we expected – it is so much better. Before we retired, my husband asked me what we would do, and I said I knew what I would do, but I didn’t know what he would do; he would have to figure out what he wanted to do. But I was wrong. I didn’t know what I would be doing.

Life evolves. One decision leads to another, down paths you can’t foresee.

I had no idea I would love my grandchildren so much. I had no idea how much joy being close to our adult son and his wife would be, watching them mature, seeing them parent so lovingly and patiently. The other day, he spotted a photo of a time we were on our way to a German Military Ball; he said “How old were you in this photo?” and as we figured it out, we were almost exactly the age he is now. That was a moment of wonder to all of us. It helps us to remind ourselves that he no longer needs parenting, no more than we did at his age. He needs respect, and the support of a loving family that can mind their own business unless asked for input.

Doing kindergarten homework is mind-numbing. Q, who is a smart little boy, looked at me and said “when you do the same thing over and over, it is really boring.” He loves new words, so I said “when you do the same thing over and over again, that is called ‘repetitious’,” and he said “Yes, so it is repetitious and BORING.” We both laughed.

While it IS boring, what he is doing now is also crucial, mastering his numbers and how they work together, and his letters, and distinguishing “b”s from “d”s, and “g”s from “q”s and a lot of learning just requires that repetition to engrave it in your mind. He is learning to write, and he is adept at reading books above his level – but it all takes work.

We have some break activities. He can run laps around my first floor, running a circle which I make him change direction every now and then. He can jump on my running trampoline. He can play hide and seek with his Baba. We are working on jig-saw puzzles, and for fun, he gets to play one of Baba’s computer games requiring strategic thinking skills.

We still do our volunteering, our church activities, our house things. We have lunch out almost every day; we are free until after school.

While the homework is for the whole week, we have discovered that dragging it out is just that – a drag. Get it done! Just do it! We are learning to focus, and the work is not that hard. When we finish the homework, we have the rest of the week to play!

Today I was exploring online, looking for an old African recipe I have for African Gingerbread. This is a really old recipe; what I liked about it is that when you add the baking soda and molasses, it fizzes and bubbles. I looked in all my books, but in my never-ending quest to get rid of, get rid of, get rid of, not to burden myself with too many THINGS, I must have given away that particular book. But as I was looking for the recipe online, the only place I found it . . . was here. On my own blog! Old Fashioned Gingerbread. It makes me grin, thinking of how thrilled this five year old will be when we make old fashioned African gingerbread and it all starts fizzing. Woo HOOOO!

When the homework is done, the fun begins!

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February 1, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Cooking, Cultural, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Language, Living Conditions, Parenting, Quality of Life Issues, Random Musings, Recipes, Relationships, Work Related Issues | 5 Comments

“You Can’t Talk to Me Like that, Stupid Bitch”

Woman-yelling-down-the-phone

. . . she said, and hung up on me.

I really hate telemarketers, and I hate them most of all when they call around six, when I start making dinner. They intrude. Most of the time, I just ignore the calls, let the machine screen them. This one had a location where one of our banks is, and I answered.

“I would like to speak with (Intlxpatr)” the caller said.

“To whom am I speaking?” I responded.

“Jennifer.” She told me, and went on to tell me that my warrantee on my car was running out and I could renew it now, through her.

“Jennifer, we sold that car two years ago!” I said, at which point she said “You can’t talk to me like that, you stupid bitch!” and hung up on me.

I laughed, which I often do when caught by surprise.

My houseguest, who had heard the whole thing because I was busy with meal prep and had it on speaker-phone, was aghast.

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

I had the number. I know who she is with. I knew I could report her.

I didn’t.

Who aspires to be a telemarketer? Who, as a small child, says “I want to grow up to make phone calls to people who don’t want to talk to me and who will treat me rudely?”

I figure Jennifer has talked to a rude person or two or ten. I imagine Jennifer doesn’t have a lot of options, and telemarketing is what she has to do to earn a living. My guess is that Jennifer has some difficulties with judgement and self-discipline. I don’t think I need to add any more to her plate; she sounds like she has had enough.

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Character, Civility, Communication, Customer Service, Friends & Friendship, Language, Pensacola, Random Musings | 5 Comments

Freedom of Speech: Je Suis Charlie

In our country, in the West, open discussion is a part of life. Your point of view may be ignorant, or repugnant to me, but I will defend to the death your right to express your opinion. One of the great weapons of freedom of speech is humor. It’s hard to maintain a dignified moral high-ground when one of the cartoonists piques with a cartoon showing the emperor has no clothes. Or at least the emperor has flaws, as do we all.

 

Pensacola is blessed with such an editorial cartoonist, Andy Marlette. Andy Marlette is controversial, and in a state with lax gun laws and pistol-packin-mamas, he risks his life daily, skewering the pomposity of us all. Occasionally, he is outrageous. Occasionally, he is offensive. That’s OK. If an editorial cartoonist isn’t skewering someone, or all of us at once, he isn’t doing his job. His job is to elicit discussion.

 

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I have lived for so long in Moslem world that I take a risk now, offending my Moslem friends, by printing the cartoon of Mohammed weeping. It’s the cartoon that touched me to the bone. I have listened and learned in the Moslem world, and I have never met with hatred. The Mohammed I have read about in the Qu’ran and in hadith, and heard about in legend and stories from my Moslem friends portrayed a prophet who, like Jesus, was all about loving and serving the one true God. He would weep at what has been done in his name, as Jesus weeps for us, when we kill others in his service.

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January 8, 2015 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Communication, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Faith, Free Speech, Humor, Interconnected, Kuwait, Language, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual, Values | , , , | 2 Comments

From Yen to Compulsion

If you were to overhear conversations between AdventureMan and I, you would think we are whacko. It’s a funny thing about love; sometimes odd ducks can find one another and live happily ever after, or at least, have some really good times.

The other day we were on our way to lunch, and had no great preferences for going anywhere. We made a decision (and now I can’t even remember what it was, it was such a negligible decision) and AdventureMan said he kind of wanted to eat this, and I said his want was greater than my yen . . . . and off we went.

All the way to the restaurant, we were inserting words on a spectrum and debating now and then on their proper placement on the continuum. Like is a “yen” milder than a “want?” On the far end, does “obsession” precede “compulsion?” Is a compulsion truly related to a want at all, or does being driven to something take out the want-factor altogether? Yes, like I said, we are totally whacko, and thanks be to God, often whacko in the same direction, or we would drive one another totally crazy.

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(No. This is not us. This is just a photo I found online)

Here is our “want” line, from “yen” which we consider a very mild want, to compulsion, which drives out all other wants. We have probably left out some words you can think of, if you are a person who is still reading this far, please feel free to suggest amendments, or specific additions to make the line more flowing. You must defend your suggestion rigorously 🙂

yen – hankering -like – want – desire – crave – obsessing for – compulsion for

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Communication, Language, Marriage, Random Musings, Relationships, Words | Leave a comment

Stellenbosch on A-Word-A-Day

A-Word-A-Day was the very first website I ever bookmarked. I was getting my certification to teach English as a Foreign Language and my students loved words. I’m pretty good with words, even so A-Word-a-Day teaches me a new one, or a new meaning for an old one, more often than not. You can subscribe and receive a new word five days a week and a discussion at the end of the week.

This is a great word, and one I had never heard used before:

stellenbosch

PRONUNCIATION:
(STE-len-bosh)

MEANING:
verb tr.: To relegate someone incompetent to a position of minimal responsibility.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Stellenbosch, a town in South Africa. Earliest documented use: 1900.

NOTES:
Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, was a British military base during the Second Boer War. Officers who had not proven themselves were sent to Stellenbosch, to take care of something relatively insignificant, such as to look after horses. Even if they kept their rank, this assignment was considered a demotion. Eventually the term came to be applied when someone was reassigned to a position where he could do little harm.

A similar term is coventry.

January 20, 2014 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, Language, Words | | 2 Comments

Kuwait Drivers Without Drivers’ Licenses

This disturbing piece of writing is from the Arab Times. Disturbing not just because Kuwaiti citizens are driving without licenses – that’s nothing new – but also because some editor let this piece run without some badly needed editing. Ayb!

 

Some Citizens Said Driving For Many Years ‘Without’ License

 

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 23: Intensive traffic campaign the Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs embarks upon since the past few months uncovered that some Kuwaitis have been driving for many years without license, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily. A source disclosed that a Kuwaiti in his 40s’ recently applied for driver’s license at a driving test section. The added the act is strange in Kuwait since almost every Kuwaiti goes for driving test at the age of 18. Other driving test sections have received similar applications from many Kuwaitis in their late 20s and 30s. Some of the concerned citizens changed their minds to apply for driver’s license after they were caught by traffic officers. He also said many others were caught driving

 

“The added the act is strange . . . ”   Gibberish. And what about that lead sentence?

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Communication, Cultural, Just Bad English, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, Safety, Social Issues | 3 Comments

“if You Can’t Prevent Rape, You Enjoy It”: Ranjit Sinha

The Chief of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation said this! Was he snorting cocaine in a drunken stupor? Of course he is apologizing, but his careless remark demonstrates the sentiments buried deep in his culture’s heart – it’s only women. Not worth much, not like us men.  Outrageous.

 

Ranjit Sinha

 

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top police official apologized Wednesday for saying, “If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it,” a remark that has outraged women across the country.

Central Bureau of Investigation chief Ranjit Sinha made the remark Tuesday during a conference about illegal sports betting and the need to legalize gambling. The CBI, the country’s premier investigative agency, is India’s equivalent of the FBI.

Sinha said at the conference that if the state could not stop gambling, it could at least make some revenue by legalizing it.

“If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying, ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it,'” he said.

The remarks have caused outrage across India, which in the past year has been roiled by widespread protests following the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi.

On Wednesday, Sinha said that his comments had been taken out of context and misinterpreted, and that he was sorry if he had caused hurt.

Angry activists, however, called for his resignation.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said Sinha’s comments were offensive to women everywhere.

“It is sickening that a man who is in charge of several rape investigations should use such an analogy,” Karat told reporters. “He should be prosecuted for degrading and insulting women.”

The New Delhi attack on the young woman last December caused nationwide outrage and forced the government to change rape laws and create fast-track courts for rape cases. New laws introduced after the attack make stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime. They also provide for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim’s death.

November 13, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, India, Interconnected, Language, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | 3 Comments

A Woman Scorned

I subscribe to a website called GoodReads.com, where I keep track of the books I read and get great recommendations from seeing what my GoodReads friends are reading. They also send me a newsletter a couple times a month, one a general newsletter, and one customized based on authors it sees me reading regularly. This morning, I got the general newsletter (which I actually do skim) and when I reached the end, I read this chilling poem.

Chilling?

When we lived in Kuwait, the first two lines of the poem were a reality. A first wife whose husband was taking a second wife set fire to the celebration tent where the women were celebrating. While the bride escaped, several lives were lost in a horrifying fire, fed by an accelerant.

Joan Colby captures the power and rage of the woman, scorned, in every culture.

A Woman Scorned

by Joan Colby (Goodreads Author)

A woman scorned sets fire to the tent
Where the new wife is celebrating.
Carves her name and yours into a tree
Then chops that tree down with her nail file.
Cages a bird and teaches it to speak
In a language where every verb is an obscenity.
Combs her hair with broken glass until
It glitters like a million diamonds
That you stroke until your hands bleed rubies.
Watches how you sit quietly near the water
While she poisons the tea she is about to serve.
Drives a team of black horses down the avenue
Of your lovers whipping them white as judges.
Climbs through the window that you forgot to secure
Wearing a burglar suit sewn of her eyelashes.
Picks a bouquet of jimson weed, hydrangea,
Lily of the valley, poison ivy, rhododendron
To prove the base and beautiful can both be lethal.
Paints graffiti on the wall of your Facebook
And for good measure stamps a letter with your heartsblood.
Enters your dream unbidden
Wearing the scarlet dress you once admired.
Paces up and down, up and down
Before your place of business.
Removes all the signposts pointing to
The street you used to live on when you were happy.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Character, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Language, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

PGM: Proud Grandmama Moment

I took a wonderful photo at Easter, wonderful because I have the same exact photo at the same exact age of my son, holding up his Easter Egg exactly (or, oh pardon me, I can’t resist, eggsactly) the same way. There are just some little things that make a Grandmama’s (and Mama’s) heart sing 🙂

00QEgg

Because AdventureMan has worked so hard with him, little Q has been moved up to a more advanced class, and we are all excited about that. I know there are some who prefer to be the BEST in their group, but we always learn and achieve more when surrounded by people a little more accomplished and skilled than we are. We are happy he will be pushing himself to be a really GOOD swimmer!

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When we pick Q up at school, all his little school friends say “Q – your BaBa is here!” LOL @ all these little kids speaking Arabic!

00QSchool

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Easter, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Heritage, Humor, Language | Leave a comment

START with Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh

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I recently wrote a book review on River of Smoke, by Amitav Ghosh, which held me spellbound, so riveting that I had to order Sea of Poppies, which is actually the first volume of the trilogy. I had heard a review of River of Smoke on NPR and although it was written as the second volume in a trilogy, it can be read as a stand-alond.

Yes. Yes, it can be read as a stand-alone, but it is so much easier, I can state with authority, if you read them in order. Once I started Sea of Poppies, I also discovered an extensive glossary in the back, several pages, a list of the words, annotated with suggested origins, and it adds so much color to an already brilliantly colored novel. Much of both novels uses words from many cultures, and words that have been formed by another culture’s understanding of the words (some hilarious). If you like Captain Jack Sparrow, you’re going to love the polyglot language spoken by ship’s crews from many nations trying to communicate with one another. It can be intimidating, but if you sort of say the words out loud the way they are written at the beginning, you begin to find the rhythm and the gist of the communication, just as if you were a new recruit to the sea-going vessels of the early 1800’s. I loved it because it captured the difficulties encountered trying to say the simplest things, and the clever ways people in all cultures manage to get around it, and make themselves understood.

Sea of Poppies starts in a small Indian village, with one of the very small poppy gardens, planted on an advance from an opium factory representative, thrust upon the small farmer, with the result that most small Indian farmers converted their entire allotment from subsistence foods to poppies. Ghosh walks us through an opium processing factory, which is a little like walking through the circles of hell. We meet many of the characters we will follow in River of Smoke, and learn how this diverse group bonded into one sort of super-family through their adventures – and misadventures – together.

It is an entirely engrossing work. Sea of Poppies was short listed for the Man Booker award, and was listed as a “Best Book of the Year” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and The Economist. The theme is the opium trade, leading to the Opium Wars, with China, and is a chilling indictment of how business interests manipulate a population’s perceptions of national interests to justify . . . well, just about anything, in the name of profit.

The theme is woven through human stories so interesting, so textured, so compelling, that you hardly realize you are reading history and learning about the trade, cultures, travel, clothing, traditions, religions, food, and motivations as you avidly turn the pages.

I can hardly wait for the third volume. Get started now, so you’ll be ready for it when it comes out!

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Friends & Friendship, Gardens, Health Issues, India, Language, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Social Issues, Travel, Women's Issues | , , , , | 2 Comments