Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Maria’s Mermaid

We like Maria’s; we like the variety of seafoods they carry, and we like that the fish is fresh. We often see the fishermen parked with their boats next to Maria’s, hauling out this morning’s catch.

AdventureMan runs into Maria for tonight’s dinner and I notice their mermaid. I think the artist must have had a lot of fun painting this Mermaid, who is not your Starbucks Mermaid:

And doesn’t strike you as sad that this perky little mermaid would be offering up her half-brothers and half-sisters for eating?

Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market
621 East Cervantes Street Pensacola, FL 32501
(850) 432-4999

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June 26, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Humor, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Public Art, Shopping | | Leave a comment

Atlanta, and the New F Terminal

Our travel companions and we agreed, it is always better to have a little extra time for connections going, to insure that we give luggage enough time to be transferred, and for us to make transfers, etc. We make room for things that could go wrong, and we thank God if they don’t. Truth be told, we always kind of expect something to go a little wrong, and schedule in a little extra time to handle it.

I was glad we had a little extra time departing on this trip because coming through Atlanta just a couple weeks before, I had heard rumblings of a new international departures terminal. I’ve come in through Atlanta so many times, I know the routine, but now . . . it might be different! When we arrive in Atlanta, we end up in terminal E, and it is just a short walk (or train ride, but we all enjoy the walk knowing there is a very long flight in front of us) to terminal F. It is not a long walk, but a very empty walk, reminds me of coming into Dubai when they had just opened new parts of the arrivals terminal, and it had some long and ghostly walks.

As you arrive in the new terminal F, you see a grand crystal chandelier sparkling in the sunshine:

The terminal is large, and clean, the kind of clean when a place hasn’t been open very long and doesn’t have those grungy cracks and corners, clean clean clean 🙂

On our way to our gate, gate 6, we pass gate 4 where passengers are loading for Amsterdam, and one of our companions runs into an aunt and uncle on their way to Europe for a few weeks. Isn’t life grand? What are the chances? They had hoped to connect, but Atlanta is a big airport and they knew their chances were slim, and then – there they were, face to face! Their gate right next to ours!

We sat at the charging terminal so as to get all charged up for the long flight ahead. Due to tailwinds, the flight that is 17 hours coming from Johannesburg to Atlanta is only around 15 hours going Atlanta – Johannesburg. Still – 15 hours is longer than the grueling 14 hours from Dubai to Atlanta, and a long time to be in one aircraft, let alone one seat.

We take turns going to pick up something to eat. There is a small food court upstairs, including a Starbucks, and we choose PeiWei, where there are a lot of customers. They don’t have the wrap I want, but they have a good stir fry, so we order and get one of those lighting-up-things that buzzes when your order is ready. We always watch for where the flight crews are ordering; they go through these places often and know where to good value for the money is. The flight crews were at PeiWei.

We take our to-go boxes back to the charging station and our companions go, ending up also at Pei Wei. We were all relatively happy (it’s still airport food) and none of us got sick.

The flight was long. We had prayed for travel mercies, and I spotted three empty seats on the flight, one between AdventureMan and me, one between our companions, and one in front of us. Thanks be to God, I am thankful for a little extra space and the ability to get out and walk from time to time.

When we arrive in Johannesburg, our luggage all arrives with us, we don’t need a visa because we are US citizens, we are met by the concierge service from our hotel, the Westcliff, and put into a large car for transfer. I cannot imagine an easier way to transit Johannesburg.

June 16, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, ExPat Life, Public Art, Travel | Leave a comment

World Press Best Photo of the Year

I love this photo. It has the essence of true art; it is immediate and compelling, and pulls you in. Or at least it pulls me in. It reminds me of the Pieta (see end of article)

From the Huffington Post on AOL News:

New York Times photographer Samuel Aranda was announced the winner of the iconic World Press Photo competition on Friday.

The 55th annual jury of the World Press Photo contest selected Aranda’s photograph of a woman consoling an injured male relative in Yemen as 2011’s photo of the year. The woman is covered almost entirely by her burqa, by exception of small parts of her face and arms that seem to sneak out from beneath her robes. Aranda took the photograph in a Sanaa mosque that was being used as a hospital by demonstrators protesting against Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Times’ Lens blog described the winning photograph as having the “feel of a Renaissance painting.” Mr. Aranda told the Times that it was one of the first shots he took during his two months on assignment in Yemen. “The woman is not just crying. It was something more. You can feel that the woman is really strong,” Aranda said of the female subject in his photograph.

The World Press Photo competition is one of the most famous competitions for photojournalists in the world. The award-winning photographs are made into a traveling exhibition, which visits more than 45 countries over the course of the year. Click over to the World Press Photo website to view all the winners and exhibit schedule.

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Photos, Public Art | 5 Comments

First Flash Mob in Doha, Qatar

Thank you, my friend Hayfa, for sending this flash mob from City Center Mall; very nice;

But this one dates from May 2011, and I love the energy!

And one more, this time at Villagio! Wooo HOOOO, Qatar!

I’m eager to see one done at the Souk al Waqif!

I think Qatar’s National Day is December 18th, and the Qataris know how to party. It would be lovely to see a Qatari flash mob.

December 13, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Public Art, Qatar | Leave a comment

Monday Night Blues at Five Sisters Blues Cafe in Pensacola

We kept wanting to go to Five Sisters Blues Cafe – everyone tells us it is a really fun place with great food – but it takes us a while to find it. I’m printing the Google map for you; it is at the corner of Belmont and DeVilliers. Not that hard to find if you know Pensacola, but we are still learning Pensacola.

Five Sisters exterior:

“Where’ve you been?” our waitress, Lisa, asked as we were seated. We must have looked goofy, we’ve never been there before, so we said, “this is our first time” and she laughed and said “I know that! I haven’t seen you before! We’ve been open a year! Where’ve you been?”

We just laughed, she had really caught us off guard. The place was packed, on a Wednesday afternoon, people all around us eating giant salads, plates heaped with fried chicken, everything we saw coming out to the tables looked delicious. Lisa brought us iced-tea, and I lost my heart, look, REAL mint in the tea, just like home . . .

We were overwhelmed. There is a lot going on in the restaurant, people laughing, art works on the walls, a new menu to peruse and we don’t know what we want. We finally decide to share the sampler platter with two fried green tomatoes, 4 crab cakes and 4 shrimp, which came with three very tasty sauces – WOW. Wowed right off the top:

AdventureMan even said, in wonder “This crab cake really tastes like crab with a C!” and it was. You know, the other kind, that calls itself crab, but is really flavored Alaskan pollock, and not crab at all? This was real crab, and it tasted crabby. Yummm.

AdventureMan had a vegetable platter. Now this is Southern cooking at it’s best, so don’t expect ‘vegetable’ to be Vegan. Even Mac and Cheese qualifies as a vegetable, and beans usually have some pork to flavor them, etc. He said the entire plate was delicious.

I tried something I had never had before, catish over grits. I never thought I liked grits until our daughter-in-laws stepmother (I know, I know, it sounds complicated, and it is another thing we have in common with people all over the world; we all have complicated relationships) made Smoked Gouda Grits one night with her Barbecued Shrimp and a whole new world opened up to me. Wooo HOOO. Anyway, I didn’t eat all the grits; the catfish was filling, but this dish knocked my socks off and I don’t think I could duplicate it, so I’m just going to have to go back to Five Sisters every time I get a craving for it:

If we are what we eat, we are becoming very Southern. 🙂

Lisa, the waitress, was a lot of fun, helpful in making recommendations, quick when we asked for anything, and she told us about an upcoming special jazz night that we really needed to attend. OK. That sounded like fun.

Lisa was right. It was really fun. We walked in, early, and every table was taken. There was a Jazz Society of Pensacola membership table at the entrance, and the lady just laughed and said “Look! There are lots of chairs empty, just go to a table and ask if you can join them.”

Hmm. We’re actually used to that, living in Germany all those years, but I didn’t know you could do that here. 🙂 We ended up at a table with another couple, and as we chatted, we had a really good time with them. They were so gracious and welcoming to people they had never met and who aren’t even members (yet) of the Jazz Society. We laughed a lot. He told us that they didn’t have a lot of rules, but that when things got lively, no oxygen machines were allowed on the dance floor because they might explode, LLOOLLL!

This place was ROCKIN’. People were dancing between the tables, people from young to old, just having a great time listening to some very very good music. Within an hour, there were no empty seats at all, some people were standing, and others were eating out on the covered patio. It was raining (rain in Pensacola during a drought is a good thing) and the evening was called Monday Night Blues. How cool is that? The atmosphere was perfect.

Of course we had dinner. AdventureMan had BBQ on Red Beans and Rice and I had the Shrimp Basket. No Mom, I did not eat the French Fries.

I did eat ONE of the hushpuppies. I could not resist. 😉

Five Sisters Blues Cafe is just a really fun place, immaculately clean, great food and great service. We can’t wait to go back again.

July 16, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Germany, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Public Art, Weather | 7 Comments

Concert Series at St. Paul’s Catholic Church

We had a delightful evening last night at St. Paul’s Catholic Church as several young people presented an evening of Baroque music. It started at seven, while the sky was still full of light, and you could see all the beauty of the renovation. Even though the renovation has been finished for months, it still smells new, and they must have use cedar extensively; it smells wonderful. The stained glass windows are beautiful with the end-of-day light streaming through. St. Paul’s windows are very Catholic; I especially liked the Mary-Queen-of-Heaven window, and the angels flanking the central altar.

As the light outside dwindled and darkened, the church’s interior lighting came more to notice, subtle and enhancing. The performing group also used candles, which contributed to a more intimate feeling in a very large church.

The music was lively, and played with passion and accuracy. Bach, Vivaldi, Rameau – it sparkled with life. They finished up with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number 3 in G Major, and left us all on a music high.

What I really liked, at this concert in a church not my own, is that the players are unashamedly evangelizing, but they keep it light and subtle. There was a really good crowd, as the announcer mentioned, not something that can be counted on in Pensacola on a hot summer evening. The performers participate regularly in the weekly Catholic masses, and gave a plug, but it wasn’t hard core, it was more presentation of an opportunity, a drawing in. I admire their technique, and their devotion. We enjoyed the venue, and the atmosphere, and the sincerity.

We will be going back for further concerts; they are planning one for July and one for August. They advertise frequently and well, in the Pensacola News Journal, which was how we heard about it. There was no charge for the concert, but a donation basket was available at the entry to the concert. 🙂

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Beauty, Community, Cultural, Living Conditions, Music, Pensacola, Public Art, Spiritual | 3 Comments

Kuwait Dream Come True

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So much has happened, and I’ve been so blessed. I’ve been able to meet up with friends, one on one and in groups, and when we sit and talk, it’s as if I had never left. We pick up right where we left off. With my friends, there is no need to make polite conversation; we talk about what is important in our hearts. I have been able to see every single friend, and I will see them again before I leave. That is one dream come true.

The second dream came true last night. I have told you AdventureMan is very, very busy. He is so busy that many times he doesn’t come home until very late at night; there are meetings all day, and into the night, when the offices in the US are open and functioning. Last night, however, he took a break. It was mere hours, but it was enough.’

He took me to Mubarakiyya, for dinner, and to see the lights. Happy Valentines Day to me! He knows exactly the way into my heart. 🙂

We took friends, people who had never been there before. We have to be careful; there are people who don’t ‘get’ Mubarakiyya, who prefer new and modern and sanitary. Not me. Give me that strong, hot tea with heaters on the table, and charcoal burners, and the din of children running around, and that grilled chicken and lamb and the shrimp (rubiyan) that Desert Girl told us about a long time ago in her blog. Our friends totally got it, and we all sat there, just soaking in the magic of Mubarakiyya.

We shopped a little, and took lots of photos of the lights. I have always felt so much joy at the joint Independence / Liberation holiday, at the celebration part, not the obnoxious-kids-with-foam-part, but I am convinced that most Kuwaitis celebrate with family and picnics and going to the beach or chalets, not the madness-on-the-Corniche.

AdventureMan is SO smart. He found a perfect parking place, across from the Sief Palace, where I could try to photograph the lights on the clock tower. My photos are not perfect; I didn’t have a tripod, but oh, I had so much fun, and I love the concept and execution.

My Kuwait friends – take your children downtown to see the lights. You can park in the parking lot and watch the lights change. The lights this year, all over downtown Kuwait, and en route there, are fabulous.

These patterns change like a kaleidoscope. It is most amazing. Go. Take your sweetheart, your valentine. Take your kids. This is fun, and free, and the weather is perfect.

Here is the parking lot where you can watch the show:

Update: Thank you, Danderma! I feel so foolish; I never saw that slideshow option, and think how many times I have been on the gallery page with all my photos, LLOOOLLL! You taught this old dog a new trick. 🙂

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Public Art | 4 Comments

Qatar National Day 2010

Qatar’s National Day Celebration is December 18th. Qatar has developed a website especially to publicize National Day activities. You can find it here: Qatar National Day – English)

There is an interactive map on which you can click to find ongoing celebrations, and an event schedule:

I suspect this is going to be one fabulous celebratory year, with the win of the 2022 World Soccer Cup event. Wooo HOOO Qatar!

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Doha, Entertainment, Events, ExPat Life, Holiday, Interconnected, Public Art, Qatar | 2 Comments

Flannel Sheet Time

You’d think in a city that has the long hot summers Pensacola has, that winters would be mild. They are – as mild as Kuwait. Having said that, ‘mild’ in Pensacola and Kuwait means the temperatures can still get down to freezing, and freezing is cold.

Last night, as AdventureMan was counting down to the last episode of Boardwalk Empire I dug out the flannel sheets my Mom gave us for Christmas the year we though we were retiring to Edmonds, WA. (We didn’t retire that year at all, and the following year we made a sudden decision to retire to Pensacola – a coming grandchild helped that decision along. 🙂 )

Good thing we still have those flannel sheets. There is nothing as nice as flannel sheets on a cold winter’s night. We have piled on extra quilts, the Qattari Cat snuggles in, and we are snug and warm.

The problem, of course, is getting out of bed in the morning, LOL.

(These are not my sheets; you can find these at Garnet Hill bedding)

I spent the day yesterday engineering outside lights and decos, which are simple this year. I got the lights up, new LED lights, green, even though they are white :-), only to discover that they are not the same white as the lights on the greenery around the door. It might not bother a lot of people, but . . . it bothers me. Does it bother me enough to take it down? No. It’s up, I’m just happy to have it done for this year and it gives me time to shop the sales for next year. The decorations I have are for a different house; I need time to think through what I want to do with this house.

Because the weather in Florida is so mild at this time of the year, people really have some lovely lights and displays. I will try to photograph some – from the sublime to the umm. . . err . . . not so sublime . . . for you.

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, color, Cultural, ExPat Life, Florida, Pensacola, Public Art, Weather | 4 Comments

Wyoming to Colorado Springs

We are eager to get going, but oh, we are shivering, and happy we brought a little fleece with us:

It is a glorious morning, bright sunshine, clear air, a day when we are glad to be alive and on the road.


Across South Dakota and Montana, we saw the huge round rolls of hay that we saw in France and Germany, but across Wyoming, most of the bales are the old fashioned square ones. We are thinking square is easier to store, but there must be some advantage, also, to the round ones, as they seem to be the latest invention. Anyone know why?

We find a rest stop so we can change drivers, and there is a set of sculptures there called The Greeting and the Gift, just as you are exiting Wyoming and entering Colorado:

I love this one. It looks noble. The First Nation (Native American) is offering a pipe of water. When I was a kid, I would have thought it was a peace pipe, but the explanation says otherwise. The Greeting statue I don’t like as much for two reasons – his hands seem out-of-scale large to me, and the hair does not look like a mountain man or explorer (to me) but looks sort of Hellenic. What do you think?

At the end of a very short drive is a city I love, Colorado Springs. I love it because (most of the time) the air seems clear and clean to me. I love it in the winter, when it is cold, and in the summer, when it is hot, it is dry heat, like Kuwait, but not so hot, so it doesn’t bother me. There are a million quilt shops here, all of which I intend to hit today while AdventureMan does some consulting and I drive the gypsy-mobile. There are also Macy’s department stores, which Pensacola doesn’t have, and Sephora, which Pensacola may be getting soon but did not have when I left.

We went to see George Clooney’s new film, The American, which gave us hours of conversation, and on our way to our Marriott home picked up a feast from Whole Foods – all vegetable! Balsamic grilled brussel sprouts, marinated grilled beets, a vegetarian meatloaf that really tasted like meat (!), guacomole, a pico de gallo with some bite, pita bread, sauteed garlic spinach, and some wonderfully tasty olives. AdventureMan picked up a really good bottle of Colorado merlot (yes, it exists, and is called Two Rivers: Chateau Deux Fleuves Vineyards.

Crowning our day was a sunset over Pike’s Peak. I don’t like a lot of drama in my life, but I love a lot of drama in a sunset. I loved this one so much that I am going to show you three different shots, because I can’t choose the one I like the best.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Public Art, Shopping, Sunsets, Travel | 6 Comments