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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Here it is, our reward for zooming across the US, we gave ourself a break – one day to play, and we are right where we want to be, in Wall, South Dakota, from where we will go straight into some of the most dramatic scenery the world has to offer, the South Dakota Badlands.
The Badlands Loop was amazing. Few other tourists, but all blown away by the scenery and the displays. It probably took us longer than it needed to, but we were having such a good time. Many people were camping, and pulling long campers- there are many many spots for any kind of camper.
Then on to Hot Springs, with a few stops on the way, starting with Reptile Gardens, for AdventureMan. They have amazing displays, some very expert shows, and some of the fattest snakes I have ever seen. Here are some of the fat prairie dogs:
Then on to Mt. Rushmore, which is very impressive:
Then we took winding scenic highway 16 south, through the forests, and meadows full of amazing game; pronghorns, buffalo, and deer.
We took our time, stopping to watch the buffalo roam, enjoying the wonderful scenery. When we got to Hot Springs, we checked into the Red River Rock Resort and Spa, found our beautiful room, but still had time for one more special thing before our early evening massages – so we hurried to the Mammoth Museum, Wooo HOOOOO!
We had a great guide, Kelly, who kept the group informed and entertained, and my friends, this museum is totally awesome. Several years ago a developer began bulldozing this site for a housing development, but stopped immediately when he started unearthing these huge bones. With amazing vision, the city constructed a building to protect the site, which continues to be excavated, a little more every year. The museum is huge, and all the bones are still in their original locations, just partially excavated so we can see how they lay.
Kelly explained how mammoths used to come for the sweet grass growing around the edge of this sinkhole, then they would fall in and couldn’t get out. They have found many many skeletons of mammoths – and other animals – going down as far as they have been able to measure.
This museum is worth a trip – to South Dakota, and to Hot Springs. Our hotel and our massages were just a bonus, but this museum – this museum was the prize.
“That’s not tinsel, Mom,” my son said, “They’re beads. People throw them during the Mardi Gras parade, and they stick in the trees. And it’s not Shrove Tuesday, it’s Fat Tuesday, here in Pensacola.”
Today I needed to do a couple trips downtown and so I looked closely at all the colorful objects sparkling in the trees after the Mardi Gras parades. Yep. He was right. Beads.
It is still cold in Pensacola. The temperature as I was driving around this morning was just above freezing. But it is cold – and clear – and sunny, and those beads sparkle in the sunlight.
Tonight we are having Jambalaya for Fat Tuesday, the night before Lent starts. I have little Q sleeping next to me. Life is sweet in Pensacola.
When I lived in Kuwait, every day I was thrilled by the sun coming up over the horizon. I never got tired of it.
Today, thanks be to God, I was out when the sun started getting low in the sky, and the colors have added dimensions – what a treat.
Some views of Doha at sunset: