Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Name that Country: A Most Difficult Challenge

This morning, as I was praying for Panama – there is always a diocese listed in the daily lectionary to be prayed for somewhere in the world – I was thinking how I know where Panama is. When we are praying for Nigeria, there are names I haven’t heard of. I now Lagos, and Port Harcourt, but where is Abuja? Owerri? I go to GoogleEarth and look them up.

 

I struggle with how little the average American knows about geographical location. It’s just embarrassing. Through all the years I lived abroad, most of the time, unless it was Germany, people couldn’t quite place where I was living. Many had heard of Tunisia; we had troops there in World War II, and Saudi Arabia, because they had seen it often enough on the news, but the rest of the Arab Gulf, Jordan, Syria, North Africa – beyond them.

 

Then, on the first night of one of my grad classes, the professor handed us this map and gave us ten minutes to put in the appropriate country names. He did not, thanks be to God, ask us to put in capitals. Not a single one of us got them all, and this was a class full of nation-oriented people.

samerica

 

 

It was also on the final exam, three months later, and most of us got them all right – thanks to some fervent cramming and study groups.

 

Here are a couple more maps, in case you are feeling cocky. See if you can accurately fill in the name of each country:

african_color

 

 

 

Unknown

Bonne chance!

 

 

 

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July 16, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Experiment, Geography / Maps, Germany, GoogleEarth, Interconnected, Jordan, Lectionary Readings, Middle East, Pet Peeves, Random Musings, Travel, Tunisia | | Leave a comment

“It’s Just Like Living in Alaska, Mom . . . or Kuwait . . . “

fireworks

My Mom was concerned; the temperatures are approaching 90°F in Seattle, and most of Seattle does not bother with air conditioning. At night, the temperatures go down into the fifties, cooling everything off, but the day time highs can be more than a little uncomfortable.

“How do you manage?” she asks. “I see the temperatures in (nearby) Mobile are in the 90’s almost every day.”

“It’s not that hard; it’s like living in Alaska – or Kuwait,” I tell her. “When it gets cold in Alaska, you dress warmly, you turn on the heat, you stay inside, and when you need to go out, you get into your car in the heated garage, go in your heated car to a heated store, and you come back home. You don’t spend a lot of time outside.”

I do pretty much the same thing I did in Qatar and Kuwait. I get up and do my devotional readings, and on some days I go to my aqua-aerobics class. on other mornings I volunteer. If I need something, I stop at a store on the way home. Sometimes, I clean house, or do laundry. We often go out for lunch, from the air conditioned car to the air conditioned restaurant and back 🙂 In the afternoons, I quilt or I read, or I quilt and I read.

AdventureMan grew up in the South, he is comfortable with the heat and the humidity. He works out in his gardens; once the temperatures go over 80° I rarely even visit the gardens, maybe when October comes and the temperatures drop. Yesterday morning I looked out as the sun was rising over the gardens and all I could see was swarms of insects rising. I don’t think they were mosquitoes, they looked like little no-see-up kind of things, all speeding around in the rising sun. I don’t do insects, the same way I really don’t do heat and humidity.

The Qatari Cat loves the heat. Part of his daily routine is to eat, then to go into the garage and sleep on one of the cars. It’s like an oven in the garage; it must remind him of living on the streets of Qatar when he was just a tiny thing. He is no longer a tiny thing. When we have international guests over for dinner, they always ask to take photos of him; he has grown to be a very long, tall cat, kingly but gracious.

Yesterday morning, as I headed out, there was a hint of – well, it was not coolness, but it was just not blasting me with heat. It was a respite from the relentless heat. I don’t begin to think it was a hint of winter to come; the summer torment has really just begun and is unlikely to end before late October, but I treasure even a hint of “not a blast of heat.”

AdventureMan asks me if I miss Seattle. Not so much, really, traffic has gotten so bad there, but I miss the climate. I feel energized by the cool mornings, even rain doesn’t bother me. I love the sound of the wind whistling around, I love taking a walk along the waterfront after lunch or dinner. I don’t find it at all surprising that diabetes is associated highly with countries with hot climates; heat makes you lethargic, inactive, all the things that encourage sloth.

Torrential rains are forecasted for this 4th of July weekend; in Pensacola there is a possibility they will diminish just in time for the fireworks. Hmmm. Heat. Humidity. Mosquitoes . . . I love fireworks . . . weighing my options 🙂

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Alaska, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Exercise, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar, Qatteri Cat, Random Musings, Weather | Leave a comment

Three Little Kittens

17499575-funny-child-boy-feeding-cats-kittens

This morning, driving to the commissary, about ten feet apart on the highway, I saw the smooshed bodies of three little kittens. They must have been about five or six weeks old. I felt sick; I still do. What kind of animal would throw little kittens out the window of a car to let them die in terror on a busy highway? Who raises these people who could act with such cruelty?

I am a believer; I believe God put each one of us here for a purpose. I think we often misunderstand some of God’s intentions; I think sometimes we get it very wrong. I fantasize that maybe these little cats and dogs we adopt are really our guardian angels, who will speak up for us on the last days and tell the Lord Jesus how we treated his little ones. Imagine the punishment for hurting a helpless animal! Imagine the penalty for hurting an innocent, defenseless child!

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Crime, Family Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Pets, Random Musings, Rants, Relationships, Spiritual, Survival, Values | Leave a comment

Endless Rain in Pensacola

00RainyDay

“I am so thankful we had such good weather when our house guests were here,” I said to AdventureMan. Not only was it raining steadily as we headed home from the commissary, but we had thunder and lightning early in the morning, and it meant no water-aerobics class – pools are not a safe place to be when there is a thunderstorm outside.

“And I am thankful to have a garage.” he added, and I totally agree. When you have a big load of groceries is not a great time for a rain storm if you are toting them inside, pelted by a pouring rain.

We thought of all the places we have lived. I thought of all the groceries we have toted. Probably, for me, the worst was in Kuwait, where we had underground parking (very nice protection from the heat and merciless sun) and you had to take groceries and other shopping up in an elevator. We’ve lived in many countries, however, with no garage at all, and carried groceries inside through all kinds of weather.

And the rain keeps coming down . . . .

February 23, 2013 Posted by | Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Random Musings, Shopping, Weather | 2 Comments

Stitching Together A Move?

I had a troubling dream which woke me early this morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I dreamed I was working on a very large quilt, and I had promised to hand quilt it. I remember seeing it was not made as a usual quilt is made, with a top and a bottom, and a layer of batting (wadding) in between, but of 12 – 13 layers of cotton cloth, a very difficult quilting challenge, and it seems to me that the quilt was like 15 feet by 15 feet, a huge quilt, a size I have never even seen done. I remember having accepted to quilt a very complicated pattern, and as I awoke, I was stitching and stitching and stitching, hand stitch after hand stitch, but feeling utterly defeated and overwhelmed at the task I was facing.

I am confounded. In terms of quilting, I will never be caught up, but it doesn’t bother me, I just keep on. I finish most quilts; I do just fine. I don’t have any project deadlines, I don’t have any feeling of urgency on completing any of my quilts. I very rarely do any hand quilting; machine quilting gets the job done and hand quilting is hard on my hands and fingers.

My life, too, in this so-called retirement, is orderly. I take on what I can take on and complete the task. I don’t feel like I am behind in anything. I keep up with things. I feel no urgency.

So where did this dream come from?

I believe God calls to us in many ways (“Let he who has ears listen!”), through his word, through the voices and actions of Godly people, through a book one might be reading, through a friend, or a homeless person, or even through a dream. Being who I am, I prefer a clear message; interpretation is so fraught with personal prejudices, so filtered by what we know, by our particular dogma or belief system. I am praying now for clarity, and for the meaning of this dream to be made understandable so that I might know what I am needed to do . . . If I am meant to keep chipping away at something, please, let me do it with a joyful attitude, not this feeling of being faced with an overwhelming task.

moving-2

And as I go through the categories,getting ready to post this entry, choosing those words that best apply, I see “Moving” and I have to laugh; moving is that huge quilt, that elephant that one can only eat one bite at a time, that many layered monstrosity, and it has been three years since I have moved. Three years living in one country, one city, in one house. It may be that the dream is one of those anxiety dreams like your college exam dreams, a dream that is no longer relevant but a hangover from another time, another life. My subconscious is getting ready for a move, feeling overdue, LOL.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Aging, ExPat Life, Faith, Lent, Movie, Random Musings, Spiritual | Leave a comment

Luxurious Blessing

I was making a salad to go with today’s lunch and remembered AdventureMan warning me we were just about out of roasted pecans, and needed more. It is a cool – almost cold – rainy rainy day in Pensacola, a perfect day for cranking up the oven to roast some pecans. We still have a wealth of pecans from a generous donation made by my dear daughter-in-law’s Texas aunt, who has a heart as big as Texas.

As I roast the pecans (425°F for about 10 minutes) the house becomes fragrant with that luxurious smell. I am transported back to Kuwait, where I remember paying a fortune for a small packet of pecans I needed to bake a pecan pie. Normally, we didn’t even bother looking at the prices, but the price on those pecans was so high I really had to think about buying them, it’s like paying an extortionist. But I needed pecans. I paid.

Now, we have this luxurious blessing of pecans, and not just pecans, but these fresh, fragrant, tasty Texas pecans, and as they roast, they are blessing my entire house with a rich roasty fragrance. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. This wonderful aunt gave us this wealth of pecans, and the gift just keeps on giving and giving, through the Christmas season, well into January – and we still have pecans left. I’ve paid a lot more and gotten a lot less joy from a purchase. I think of this wonderful woman and her gift every time we use them.

00Pecans

Yes, I roasted a lot of pecans, because we sprinkle them on all kinds of things, and that roasted flavor just enriches everything they touch. Yes, they keep in an air-tight container, for as long as it takes for us to eat them, which can be two or three weeks.

And here is the salad, post-pecans but pre-salad dressing:

00SaladWithPecans

It’s another luxurious blessing. About twelve years ago, when we had a posting in Germany, we packed everything into storage and just bought what we needed to live with. As days go by, however, you – or I, anyway – just need a few little things to make life nice. You pick up a few gorgeous dessert plates here, a few Christmas ornaments there . . . some cookie sheets, just a little extra, and before you know it, life is no longer so simple. To help keep it simple, I mostly bought things I could just leave behind when we left the country to head to the next country, or I transported things home in those big bags we used to be able to take on the transoceanic flights. I ended up having to rent a storage locker in Seattle for all the treasures I accumulated in our second round of overseas living, LOL.

The first year we were living once again in Germany, as we were buying some wardrobe units, I spotted two salad / serving bowls at IKEA. They aren’t costly porcelain, they are just ceramic bowls, but I love the shape, and inside each one are two beautiful purply-blue irises. I looked at them and loved their conception, their design. I pointed them out to AdventureMan, and then promptly forgot them. Because he is a very smart man, I found them under the Christmas tree a few months later, and was thrilled to recognize them. We have both treasured them ever since.

With each subsequent move, I carefully wrapped those bowls and used them again and again at each posting. We pull them out all the time, these bowls are a perfect size for a salad-to-share or a side dish, and to this day, they look like new. It makes me laugh; I’ve had much more expensive dishes which were not so long for this world; these are go-to serving bowls, and still look brand new.

So today I am feeling extraordinarily thankful for the great luxury of pecans, the wonderful aroma of their roasting, and the great blessing of serving them in a bowl which gives us joy every time we use them.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Cultural, ExPat Life, Germany, Home Improvements, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Moving, Random Musings, Recipes, Thanksgiving, Travel | 4 Comments

The Problem with Interpretation of Holy Scriptures

Who foresakes the fear of the Lord?

Job 6:14

‘Those who withhold* kindness from a friend
forsake the fear of the Almighty.*

I like that thought. We are all interconnected. One of our major purposes for our creation is to connect with one another, to show kindness to one another. But others translate this verse differently:

New International Version (©1984)
“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
New Living Translation (©2007)
“One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.

English Standard Version (©2001)
“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
“A friend should treat a troubled person kindly, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
To him that is afflicted pity should be shown from his friend; even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

American King James Version
To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend; but he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

American Standard Version
To him that is ready to faint kindness’should be showed from his friend; Even to him that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

Douay-Rheims Bible
He that taketh away mercy from his friend, forsaketh the fear of the Lord.

Darby Bible Translation
For him that is fainting kindness is meet from his friend; or he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

English Revised Version
To him that is ready to faint kindness should be shewed from his friend; even to him that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

Webster’s Bible Translation
To him that is afflicted pity should be shown from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

World English Bible
“To him who is ready to faint, kindness should be shown from his friend; even to him who forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

Young’s Literal Translation
To a despiser of his friends is shame, And the fear of the Mighty he forsaketh.

(These translations are compiled on the website Biblos)

To me, this is why we need the Holy Spirit, to help us discern what the words are intended to mean. The bad part is that we often choose the meaning which supports what we want to believe, we re-inforce our own distortions and misunderstandings with scriptures.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Faith, Lectionary Readings, Random Musings, Spiritual | 4 Comments

Dead Fox in the MIddle of the Road

This morning as I made my early rounds, I saw a dead cat on the road outside our house.

“How sad,” I thought, “someone’s sweet kitty didn’t make it across the road.” It is odd, though, you don’t see a lot of cats here outside. Most people keep their cats inside, or within a limited area outdoors.

When AdventureMan got up, he said the same thing. We hoped someone hadn’t just dumped a cat out there; we know there are cases where people just can’t care for their animals anymore, but there are places that will take domestic pets in and try to re-home them. Just to dump them is so unfair to an animal who is used to being fed and (hopefully) loved.

AdventureMan got a couple heavy duty garbage bags and we double bagged them. He put on some non-latex rubber gloves and we headed to the road. When he picked up the dead cat, we got a real surprise. It wasn’t a cat at all, but a skinny little fox! Also very dead, and not very healthy looking.

We both scrubbed down, and hope that we didn’t get any kind of rabies virus or anything else on us, but meanwhile, I am wondering – where on earth would a fox make a burrow in our suburban neighborhood? I am sure he was heading down to the bayou for a drink; it hasn’t rained for a couple days now and he must have known there was water in the bayou (although not great water to drink with all the contaminants flowing into it from lawns and gardens and car washing, etc. ) but where does a fox family live??

August 24, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Florida, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Random Musings | 4 Comments

The Trials of Job

Today’s Lectionary readings feature the first chapter of Job, which is to me a very odd story, worth pondering. It is also interesting to me that this is a story that all three ‘people of the book’ share, and while I have met Moslems named Ayoub (Job) I have never met a Christian named Job.

I went to the Middle East with so many misconceptions. I believed the Moslems to be anti-Christian, and was astonished when I discovered that it was OK with my Moslem friends that I was a Christian. Like all the rest of us, they would prefer I share their beliefs, but they were happy that I was a believer, and that I practiced my religion. No, it didn’t stop them from trying to discuss religious matters with me – all in the goal of bringing me over from the dark side (LOL, i.e. clearing up my errors in thinking and believing), but in these discussions, I had a lot of surprises.

I have more Moslem friends with children named Jesus than I have Christian friends. One friend has a Jesus, a Mary and a Joseph. (She also has two Mohammeds 🙂 ) Noah is in the Quran, and Job, and of course Gabriel, who brought the good news to Mary, is also the angel who recited to Quran to the prophet Mohammed. How did I not know this? The longer I live, the more careful I become about what I take on as beliefs. I give thanks to God who sent me into the wilderness that I might have a better understanding of how things work in the world.

Today’s reading has some puzzles. The Lectionary defines the ‘heavenly beings’ who gathered as ‘sons of God.’ Satan is The Accuser, is in attendance, challenging God on Job’s faith – so is this before or after he has fallen from Grace? Does Satan still appear before God? I thought he was banished . . .

And what awful awful calamities befell Job because of this cosmic wager – imagine, not so much the loss of wealth, although his wealth was vast, but imagine the loss of all your sons and daughters, the loss of everything you cared the most about. And Job, righteous as he is, says the Lord gave it to him and he can take it away. Wow.

Job 1:1-22

1There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4His sons used to go and hold feasts in one another’s houses in turn; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.

5And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ This is what Job always did.

6 One day the heavenly beings* came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan* also came among them. 7The Lord said to Satan,* ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan* answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ 8The Lord said to Satan,* ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.’

9Then Satan* answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ 12The Lord said to Satan,* ‘Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!’ So Satan* went out from the presence of the Lord.

13 One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house, 14a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, 15and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.’

16While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.’

17While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.’

18While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, 19and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.’

20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped. 21He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Biography, Character, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Middle East, Random Musings, Relationships, Values | 1 Comment

Shar’a Kaharabaa Today

One of our favorite places in Doha was Shar’a Kaharabaa, Electricity Street. Bombay Silk was there. the old Beirut restaurant was there and several very good and reasonable tailors worked there. All good quilters knew the Mumtaz Tailor, who had every notion in the world, and good prices, and knew where everything could be found in the chaos of his shop. You could always find parking.

I dared to take a look at Sharia Kharabaa this morning, and I shouldn’t have. It’s that bare spot middle left. Al Rayyan, at the top of the photo, leads to the Souk al Waqif. One day, the old picturesque Sharia Kharabaa is supposed to be a grand walk way to the Souq.

August 20, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Random Musings | 2 Comments