Sunday, August 31, 2008
We're exhausted but happy. Now it's time for a nap zzzzzz
Saturday, August 30, 2008
So it's kinda like when we were first married and I wasn't working and so we had to ration our spending. Today I went to a place where we could get more variety of food products rather than our local Coop (which we love but we wanted more than cornflakes for breakfast).
I purchased the following items: 1 box of Mini Wheats, 1 box of Granola bars, one dozen wheat bagels, 30 plastic hangers, 15 hooks for pounding in cement walls, 1 picture frame for Anna's beautiful picture of our Angel, 3 Lean Cuisine lunches (Ramadan is coming), 1 small bottle of orange juice, 6 postcards, 2 birthday cards and the bill was 19.45 KD which is the equivalent of ...$73.18. I only had 20KD with me and I was getting a little nervous as the items were being scanned at the checkout. Poor Anna wanted to buy a school bag and three soups-and we couldn't.
If you are reading this and thinking Oh the Poor Browns, don't feel sorry for us. We know how to budget and if we're not livin' the high life, we'll be okay. I have seen people here that get by on a lot less.
But if you are energetic and feel like sending a care package, you can send mini wheats for David. He won't be getting anymore until October.
The moderness of the world makes this stint not too bad. We've been able to talk to people on skype-computer communication tool--for free for those who have it loaded on their computers and for $.02 per minute for those who do not. Last night, we were trying to call anyone (it was noon in MN) because we had some time. It was frustrating when no one would answer,but who am I to think people should just be waiting by the telephone?! Life does and will and should go on.
I am thinking and praying for this couple in Pelican Rapids, Bob and Kathy Hanson. Two years ago today they lost their son not too far from where I am, in Iraq. This weekend in Pelican Rapids, a shelter is being dedicated in Josh's honor at Maplewood State Park, where Bob works as Park Ranger. Two years ago I stood, with my children,along the streets of Pelican Rapids at 11 pm, surrounded by a 1000 of my colleagues, neighbors, friends and fellow PR people, silently watching, praying and crying when they brought his body home. I played at the funeral (and sang with the Catholic singers) when his service filled our school auditorium. The Governor attended. The Patriot Guards lined the streets. Thankfully, no protestors were there. I sat with my son, dressed and proud in his Dress Blues (Air Force) Uniform at the Memorial Day service where Kathy became a Gold Star Mother (designation for women whose children were killed in wars)--a club no one wishes to belong to.
Ben is only miles away, I can communicate with him. I should be happy and thankful. I can't hug him but I will soon. I've got to remember that and keep it all in perspective.
We never, ever, ever should take anything or anyone for granted, but we do (guess that's why we're human). Although I don't know Bob and Kathy very well, and didn't really know Josh, I still cry for them. And the other parents who have lost children. Be appreciative and even when they bug us (as Anna just did with her phone call demanding to know why I hadn't done something for her)...just love them.
I was talking with another teacher asking about PhyEd (as in sweatin' and showering) and he thought I meant Fayed, a student. We weren't going anywhere until I realized the miscommunication. It was the belly laugh of the day for sure.
Lots to learn for this lil farm girl. The fun has just begun.
School starts tomorrow. Stay tuned for details.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
It makes me wonder how much money these people really have? And what kind of time would you have to have to select chandeleers for each room? Maybe I'll start another blog and entitle it "The house that Nadine would build if David (And money) would let her".
Nah, I'm just fine with what we've got. But I will save it for future thoughts...Be thankful when you click off your little light fixture tonight. Some places don't even have electicity.
The earliest candle chandeliers were used in medieval places of assembly. They generally took the form of a wooden cross with a number of spikes on which candles could be secured, the whole assembly being hoisted to a suitable height on a rope or chain suspended from a hook.
1) Another newbie commented the other day that the national bird of Kuwait is the Construction Crane. We see them everywhere.
2) Mosques are also everywhere. It's a little like living in Pelican Rapids where there are 7+ Lutheran churches (maybe more) for 2500 people. There's a mosque every 2 blocks or so here. It's a very interesting sound when they all give calls to prayer over the top of another.
3) I have actually seen this place while driving along the highway. It's amazing. I think it's someone's (as in one family) house but then a blog said it can also be rented out for private parties.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Driving (always) and navigating (at first) can be quite dispiriting and the kamikaze nature of Kuwaiti driving standards should never be underestimated. The good, wide roads look deceptively easy to the novice until he has his first near miss (within five minutes of taking the wheel) and his first crunch (probably within his first month).
Most British expats find that driving on the "wrong" side of the road is the least of their problems (it’s a strange day when you don’t see the aftermath of at least one accident). Road signs are in Arabic but most have English subtitles, however most of these do tend to be located at turn offs, rather than just before them, making last minute maneuver an everyday occurrence.
The "slow" lane on a three-lane road is the middle one, also making for interesting negotiations as traffic merging from the right immediately crosses two lanes of faster moving traffic. Unlike Saudi, women are granted the privilege of mobility but they still value lives very lowly and regular sightings of children on the dashboard are the norm (we call them "interactive airbags").
Seat belts are compulsory, though few locals wear them as can be seen by the huge number of wrecks along the major roads with holes in the windscreen. All cars here are air conditioned, most with automatic transmission, rental cars tending to be Japanese compacts or American tanks, the only exception apparently being Avis who offer Opel Vectras.
There is no restriction on purchasing your own vehicle, new or second hand, and prices are extremely cheap but remember to get fully comprehensive insurance. Cars over three years old require an MOT which an absolute farce.
As in most middle eastern countries there is a pecking order when it comes to apportioning the blame of an accident, i.e., A Kuwaiti is never to blame, even if he/she rear ends you! However if a westerner runs into the rear of say, an Indian, then the Indian is at fault - totally unfair, but true.
Petrol stations are open 24 hours to provide the local boy racers all night entertainment. The price of petrol without UK duty etc. is a laughable 60/65 fils per litre (12p ish). NOTE: this is about 60 cents per gallon!
The road system is fairly Americanized, being based around blocks and it is difficult to get lost with the exception of Ahmedi - an oil town that looks like American suburbia. The motorways are numbered in intervals of 5s, radiating South from the city centre, which is on a Northerly point on the coast, and are intersected by ring roads, of which there are seven (the fourth should be avoided in rush hour). Areas bounded by these main roads are subdivided numerically with major streets being named and smaller ones numbered, thus a residential address might be "Salwa, Block 4, Street 3, Building 987, Floor 3, Apartment 6".
Speed camera housings are in abundance, however the cameras and film are not, so you will often see cameras moved around each week, sometimes turned on without film, so they flash, but do not take a picture - beware of "Traffic Week" though - this is usually announced the week the film arrives! A new idea has just arrived in Kuwait - mobile speed cameras. These are mounted in the back of small Suzuki Jeeps, pointing out of the rear window. The advantage of these over fixed cameras, is that the driver stays with the camera to ensure it is not shot at (I kid you not - the locals don't like them one bit).
A feature of the Hejira calendar is the holy month of Ramadan which according to the lunar cycle should run for 28 days. During this period Muslims are required to fast by day, however they make up for this by partying all night, and Ramadan can be thought of as a month of Christmases.
The fasting is taken very seriously and in public places, which includes offices, even non-Muslims must abide by Islam which means no eating drinking or smoking (although due to a Sept. 1995 law all public smoking is now illegal) during daylight hours, although for the expat a room is normally set aside for meals, hidden from normal view. Yes we will have a seperate room at our school. I've been instructed to "duck down under my desk and grab a drink of water in the three minutes between classes".
So this would be enough to make a person want to drink right--but NO, read on:
When attending meetings, or any social gathering, it is considered discourteous to refuse tea (chai) when offered.As Kuwait is an Islamic state, the importation, production and sale of alcohol is prohibited. (But it still happens) and it is considered discourteous to show the soles of one’s feet.
The lack of provision for social life arises from a basic cultural difference in Arab life in that they are extended- family-orientated and have fewer social contacts outside the family circle, whereas the reverse is true for Westerners. The Arabs spend most of their time visiting family members’ homes and have less need for external provisions for social life of the kind we would take for granted.
A further, direct consequence is that social contact between Arabs and Westerners is largely nonexistent, no matter how friendly they are in work. Another constraint on social life is that a bachelor is considered a dangerous man to an Arab and as such is a threat to his wife and daughters. He is therefore to be avoided socially. Such social gatherings that do exist are segregated into "families" and "bachelors", often by simply restricting bachelors to the most unpopular times of day or week.
Some of the more enlightened clubs and hotels are free from this practice. Segregation of the sexes is a fact of life and Arabs will defend their opinions on the subject with all the fervour of someone who knows that not everyone agrees with it. Even in relatively liberal and cosmopolitan Kuwait, some are required to wear the veil and many wear the obayah. In court, the testimony of one man is as good as that of two women.
The effect of this on Western women is less than in some other Middle Eastern countries since possibly the average Kuwaiti is more tolerant and in any case, he is outnumbered by more liberal expats. It is not so vital for women to cover up legs and arms, although some discretion is needed and one would not venture into the more traditional shopping areas like the souks or into a Co-op clad in shorts (then again neither should men).
Conversely, in the hotels and more fashionable suburbs, the range of clothes worn is almost of Western standards. Western women never, however, feel entirely comfortable in the presence of a majority of Arab men as the latter’s upbringing probably gives them some strange notions about women, particularly non-Moslem ones. It is suspected that inside the Arab home, women play a much more dominant role than outside; this gives them a curious advantage in that they are treated to a Westerner’s eyes, with an exaggerated old-world courtesy.
Hospitality and generosity are usually deeply ingrained and genuine, and considered high virtues. A person who regularly practices these virtues gains the respect and reputation of not having been negligent in assuming his or her responsibility.
Perhaps because of their extensive contact with other cultures while trading and schooling abroad and because of the potentially potent mix of diverse ethnic and religious groups, Kuwaitis have a long tradition of tolerance. Kuwaiti culture and domestic politics are able to accommodate citizens and groups whose ethnic homelands may be rivals. The tolerance extended to these and others, however, must function within the bounds of Arab traditions, Muslim ideals, the security of the entire group, and respect for public honour and face.
Monday, August 25, 2008
NOTE: Here is the group of people we're in this Adventure with. Notice that I am in the front row (second from right) LAUGHING. Remember this as you read this post. It's not all Sobs and Sniffles here.
Then we came to work and ran into another newbie couple who have two children ages 1 and 3. They just arrived here 4 days ago because (get this story)... their child fell coming out of the airplane and required emergency stiches then they couldn't leave Canada until he was partially healed. Needless to say, they are on overload. I was priveledged to be trusted enough for the Momma to have a complete sobbing breakdown in front of me (sincerity intended). I realized that we have so many things going for us that I have no right to w-h-i-n-e (maybe not even that is allowed here!) about my life.
So tonight, we're in the school (like we've got a social life?!) looking through items and trying to figure out what the @#$% is going on. About the same thing we would be doing if we were teaching in the states.
And the momma, who lives above us, came down with her 3 year old and said things were going better. She came to thank me for "being there". NBD-We're all in this together!
One day, one hour, one moment at a time. I've got the "balls" to handle this job (hugs to Peter and Rita who get the inner meaning of this comment) AND I will succeed. Just think of me in front of that lil' engine...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.
PS I've determined if you swear when it's really hot, it doesn't count because it evaporates just like sweat. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday morning I attended a church service with the Roddicks, our new BFF in Kuwait. David slept in (the heathen soul) and Anna was, being Anna. The service was a "rock and roll" version, for this in PR, it would be like going to the 830 Trinity service. For those who aren't in PR, it was a service that had lots of modern Christian "rock" songs, lots of hands held high (no this doesn't happen in Trinity..I think) and a inspirational message. For me, who has only basically attended church services where I was the organist/pianist, it was a nice change to just sit and sing for a change.
Friday late afternoon, we were treated to the Heritage Souk-think flea market with 100s and 100s of booths. It was amazing...gold, clothes, food (fresh fish and meat), shoes, etc etc etc. It was quite entertaining. For those family members reading this, if there is a heaven for Howard and Esther-this would be it!!
We didn't purchase anything--although God (and Allah) knows the shop owners sure tried to sell us something. "Miss, I have this for you," "Hello my friend, come this way" etc. Mostly we were there to check things out because I know we will return (can you say frequent shopper?)
We spent time eating a delicious meal and people watching. I have some pictures that I will post as soon as I get access to my computer.
Saturday I made a solo trip to the largest mall-the Avenues. The Mall of America in Mpls has nothin' on this place. It was H-U-G-E! Again I'll have photos later. It was beautifully clean and offered a wonderful selection of everything from fine tobaccos, food, clothes, perfumes and even a store for my Macintosh computer, should anything go wrong.
In the afternoon, we walked around with another newbie Cindy, who was getting tired of not hearing human voices in her apartment. We checked out the neighborhood "bakalas" --small corner stores to get immediate needs. David and Anna found a coop. It's good to know the neighborhood. You could tell we were definately the "Fer-in-neers" because we were walking around in the heat (oh I think it was about 117F). All the smart natives and accliminated ex-pats were inside.
We've been here one week. And we like it.
Let's see what next week brings.
Thanks for all your prayers, comments back on the blog and good thoughts. We KNOW THAT WE ARE LOVED!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Here's a brief synopsis from the Ministry's Censorship Department:
1. It is not permitted to expose students to topics, rferences, or textbooks that embody criticism or misconceptions about the Islamic Religion.
2. Referebnce books abuot religion in general, Islam in particular, should not be used unless they are approved by the administration.
3. Avoid discussions of sectarian nature and comparisons of the various religious beliefs.
Books and references that express any appreciation or sympathy toward Israel should not be used. The world "isreal" shoudl be struck out from all resouces and replaced by the word "Palestine". I'm not sure why but once I figure out who to ask, I'll get back to you.
Written or verbal criticism of the policies, values and traiditions of the State of Kuwait and its sovereignty is not allowed. (But it is okay to attack George Bush...I think)
Pornography, pictures of women in swim suits, discussion of sexual relations is prohibited. David and I can hold hands in public, but that's it. And that might be questionable...
ALL MATERIALS that are used in the classroom must be sent for approval to the Ministry. No kidding, no fooling, no way out of it. So much for the two suitcases of textbooks, etc that David and I hauled across the world.
In case you're wondering, standards for a K-12 private school in Kuwait are much stricter than they are for public books sotres and private homes. Books mya be available in Kuwait but not allowed in a school. Parents may allow their children to read books that may not be allowed for use in school.
This Is what David and I signed up for, we knew this before we agreed to the jobs. But, as with much in life, it's still different living it than reading about it.
Stay tuned for further developments.
It was probably as low as I've been since deciding to make this move.
Now--before you all grab kleenexs and weep a tear of empathy/sympathy for me...know that it was just temporary. (the feeling, not the heat-that's here to stay!)
To make life more interesting, this morning we experienced humidity (in the desert-go figure!). Those who live here assure me it's only temporary.
We're actually doing quite well. Got the apartment all spiffed up, pictures, momentos surround us. Yes I know we are loved and I've got YOUR pictures and cards up to get me through this time.
I haven't been around the area enough to give intelligent comments on the life or people. However, yesterday I had a VERY interesting experience. (NOTE: if you're bothered at all by talk of body functions, this next comment is not for you. Skip over if you wish)
First of all, there is a basic problem with sewage and the basic capabilities of the Kuwait sewer systems. So in the school, we are requested to not flush the toilet paper we use (yes folks we are asked to put it in the wastebasket). Then there is a little nozzle next to the toilet for those who want to "spray" instead of using paper. It's..an interesting experience.
Yesterday, while waiting to have more bloodwork done, we were in the Ministry hospital (think holocaust with men and women seperated. The women in our group (teachers) were too LOUD so we had to move to another building (imagine teachers talking too loud). The bathroom was a..squatter (Canadians told me this term I'm not sure if it's termed that in Q8). So, I practiced my very best "I grew up on a farm and learned to pee anywhere" skills and attitude. I survived, I didn't fall in, I didn't get my underwear wet and I'm still smiling! Who knows, I may develop even stronger thigh muscles.
Okay enough potty talk...on to higher learning. I promised my new principal I wouldnt' fall asleep in the video today (talk about making a bad first impression...)
THANKS for your comments and emails. Here's to you--and wherever you are, don't you DARE complain about the heat!
Monday, August 18, 2008
The same applies for traffic only you have to look right to left, then left to right, then again and then...run for your life. We were told that "they seem to make a sport of driving to scare drivers".
The call to prayer (5 times a day) is an interesting experience if you've never been in a muslim country. The caller (cantor? singer?) who is directly outside our apartment has a beautiful voice. It's a wonderful sound to hear. The same cannot be said about the guy who works (?) near the school. He's flat and it sounds like he's holding the microphone too close. (always a critic right?)
We are in Day 2 of workshop, and so far so good. Here's a quick update on the adventure so far:
**Flights were great, we arrived on time and so did all our luggage!
**Our apartment is wonderful, large, clean, marble floors, huge beds and it's about a 3 minute walk from school.
**We are being treated very well by the administration and staff. The new teachers are fun, open minded and glad to be here
**Oh yeah, it's hot...damn hot
Russ McLean, the superintendent, told us at our interview that we should bring little momentos from home in order to make the transition better. He was right--I am so glad I packed all those refridgerator magnets and photographs.
Pictures to come--it's definately a whole new world!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
My first post on this blog was on February 13, 2008. The title was "Mama wouldn't let me do this". In that blog, I questioned my sanity and remarked how much we had to do before we moved. I also lamented finding homes for our dogs.
You've heard me go on and on ad nauseum about how important my friends are to me. Well, here's a picture of the people who have "had our backs" in Pelican Rapids for the past 14 years. They gathered one last time (for this year) at the cabin last night for burgers, beers, laughs (and yes, limacello and grand marnier).
Yesterday we "hit the wall" at 630 am when I was yelling at David for packing these "five important angels that I had been saving to take to Kuwait". He patiently reminded me that he he told me he was packing up the bathroom and I should have saved them before. And, he added, if I wanted him to, that he could tell me where exactly he put them (Note that he didn't tell me exactly where I could put them!)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Over the past few days, we've been getting some very encouraging emails. Here's some examples: (the names were changed to protect their innocence-or something like that)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Pictured are the Three Musketeers--son Ben (right), "Brother" Peter Sasso-Lundin and second son Phil/Meister (son of Peter and my Pelican Rapids best friend Louise). Peter and Phil have been the significant "other males" in my Pelican Rapids life-especially for the past two years as we all grieved and tried to figure out a new path after Louise was tragically killed in a car accident.
I used to sing this song to Ben when he was a baby. The words continued to "stick" as he grew up. As we leave him here in MN to keep us safe (with the Air National Guard), I will definately be leaving a part of my heart.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Today I got a beautiful picture from my "Favorite Neice" Di (okay for all my neices reading this, you know I would also call you my favorite).
It's a picture she took of a barn and a silo (all you farm kids would understand the significance of this) and the saying...
Something Good Will Come Out Of This...and it Will Be Me!!
I tried to download it so you all could see but the bloggerGods were not allowing this ( I'm still in the technoweinie stages). SO use your imagination --or insert your favorite scene for the saying.
Thanks Di, as always, for coming to the rescue. Your quiet, efficient manners are appreciated.
There is no alcohol in Kuwait. This summer, in preparation for living in a "dry" country, I have imbibed in more alcohol than I have in the previous 15 years! I wonder if I am trying to be like a camel, storing up liquid in my hump. For those of you who are worrying, I never drink alone and I always stop before I get stupid. (okay so skinny dipping at 2 am in Lake Minnewaska may not sound like an intelligent thing to do, but it seemed like a good idea at the time the other night!)
Pelican Rapids used to be a dry town. The Brown Girls, David's great aunts (may they rest in peace), were very fanatic Women's Christian Temperance Union leaders in this community. I purposely placed myself in a local restaurant the first day they served liquor..not to spite the Aunts, who I loved deeply, but rather to celebrate ah... progress.
In communicating with my new Best Kuwait teacher friend, Vonda (you will hear more about her in future blogs) she assures me that there is homemade "hooch" made from a variety of things. And that Dubai is only a short plane ride away for weekend junkets. Recently, I spoke with a US Army serviceman who tried to tell me that the Hard Rock Cafe serves liquor. I smiled politely but doubted him deeply.
SO, here's the deal...if you are reading this, and are one to enjoy a "bump or two" now and then, have a drink for me. I will report on the variety of homemade brew I come across in the next two years. Officially in Kuwait, "Fermantation is recognized as a scientific process".
It will be a tremendous burden to have to research this subject, but I'm up to the task. "Scoop Brown" is on the story...
NOTE: Pictured are the FINE PRHS Students cheering their boys on to victory this winter. It seemed appropriate for this post.
The following in an excerpt from an email written to us by David's high school (Lakenheath England) Theatre Teacher:
Guess you folks are all set to begin your "Grand Adventure" in a few days. We have every confidence that you will have a wonderful time both personally and professionally. Feel certain that for the most part you will really enjoy yourselves, Anna as well. It is not ALL going to be perfect all the time and you will probably get depressed, home-sick and frustrated at times and wonder, "What the hell have we done?" But just keep on keeping on and all will be well. Know you have some concerns and maybe even fears (we did way back when we went to Germany the first time), but lean on each other for support and love and all will be well. You will come to LOVE the whole experience. We both just get excited when we talk about it. Keep your blog going and we will enjoy your time there vicariously from here. Have fun!!
Gordy and Sharon Albert have been our role models for years. We truly appreciate their letters and now especially this encouragement.
When I was younger, I couldn't figure out why teachers bothered to keep in touch with former students. Now as a teacher I "get it". There's tremendous satisfaction in following the lives of students (especially the ones you really like) and in feeling that maybe, just maybe, you've contributed to their continued growth.
SO-here's to the Alberts and all other former teachers of ours. May you be proud of us as we carry on the tradition, values, ideals, love of the profession, that you've instilled in us.
And here's to our former students reading this blog. Whether you are in Mexico City, Germany, Africa, Pelican Rapids, Minneapolis, Duluth, Moorhead, Marshall or wherever...know that we are living vicariously through you too! Keep in touch and know that we are PROUD of you.
Although there are those who would frown on this, I think it's appropriate to say (now that we've all graduated)
We Love you!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
On Sunday I took a trip to my hometown, Herman, MN, for a baby shower for my new great-great neices. My great neice Tara gave birth to twins Kamryn and Kailyn 8 weeks early. THANK GOD (Amen!) the girls are doing great and have been out of the hospital for 2 weeks already. They weren't even supposed to be born for another 2 weeks!
Also pictured are their twin cousins, Halli and Rylie (born to great neice Sonya-sister of Tara) 8 years ago. These girls were also born at 32 weeks. Amazing. Big sister McKenna is also in the picture. She was one year when her sisters joined the family (yes you can say uffda!)
My neice Brenda was a mother at 18 and a grandmother at 39. Her momma, my favorite sister in law Linda, was married at 15, a mother of 3 by the time she was 19 and will celebrate 50 years of marriage to my brother next week. (again with an uffda!)
Aunti LuEtta (representing the 5th generation) was widowed at age 60 after 40 plus years of marriage. Luetta, my mom's sister, has carried on alone with the help of friends, family and many activities for the past 20 years. Uncle Sid was a great guy and we still miss hearing him sing and play the guitar.
I'm a VERY PROUD AUNTI and will truly miss gathering with the Wagner-Aanerud-Larson clans when I am gone. Hopefully they will keep in touch with me via email (HINT HINT for those of you reading this!)
Oh--and Halli (sitting on Brenda's lap holding Kamryn-I think) said I should say
"this picture is of my wonderful neice and her cousins"
Another generation of strong women is well on the way!
In this picture are 6 members of the HHS class of '77. We gathered for one last hurrah Friday evening at the lovely home of "Dinger" and her doc spouse Scott (THANKS!! especially for the late night med rescue!).
This group of women may be from a small town (our graduating class was 36) BUT they are a mighty bunch. These women have endured and survived (Among other things) divorce, death of parents and siblings, near bankruptcy, depression, loss of vision, alcoholism (personal and spousal) miscarriage, vandalism, and a variety of other tragedies. We haven't gathered all together for at least 10 years. Listening to each of them tell their story (as the spotlight was equally shared) I was in awe and humbled by their strength, sense of humor (in tact!) and humility.
These women are also FUN! They are the group I used to party with in high school. We had some wild times back in the day (No, I am not sharing those stories--it's none of your business what we did!) They can still make me burst out laughing with just a mention of a few key words and they still make me smile as we share chapstick, beers and stories. These are the people I grew up with and as I travel the world, their down to earth advice and support will keep me going. (thanks also for the great cake and t-shirt!). It's good to have a group that can ground you.
Getting together with these chicks was a PERFECT way to end my Long MN Goodbye tours. Thanks ladies for all the memories in the past--and for new memories as we gather again next year. Next time maybe we can get Seib out of bed to join us and we can all go skinny-dipping!
I did it! I saw EVERYONE that I needed to see before departing for Kuwait and said what I needed to say. I feel GREAT! along with loved, awed by friends/family and their support, and a little tired for all the travel.
The last part of the tour was what I perceived to be the hardest (saying goodbye to 94 year old Aunti Ethel) but it turned out to be the most upbeat. Aunti is lookin' MAHVELOUS, feelin' spunky and taking matters into her own hands by purposely checking out assisted living so she can get on the list("You know sometimes it takes up to 2 years to get in!) The only meds she takes are 1 asprin a day and she just purchased a new Postupedia bed (a significant investment!)
Her famous quote to me when I finally got up the nerve to tell her I was leaving was
"Well you gotta do these things while you're young, because when you get to be my age, all you do is spend time looking for a bathroom!"
Along with these wise words of wisdom, I found a new saying that will be my new "Motto"
Though we travel the world over to find beauty
We must carry it with us
or we find it not
Here's a few pics of the trip
Picture 1: Aunti Ethel, her children, me, my sister, her daughter, my other sister's son and family
Pictures 2 and 3: Dr Bob and LMA-my first non-blood Brother and Sister. Also my friends, mentors, beer drinking pal (DB), fashion and spiritual advisor (LMA) for the past 33 years
Grain of Salt Warning: My friend the Dutch lady, says it wasn't her cup of tea. My Spouse has seen it twice. Take it or leave it.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
While You See a Chance by Steve Winwood
Stand up in a clear blue morning
until you see
what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning,
are you still free?
Can you be?
When some cold tomorrow finds you,
when some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you ?
While you see a chance take it,
find romance fake it
Because it's all on you
Don't you know by now no one gives you anything
Don't you wonder how you keep on moving
one more day your way
When there's no one left to leave you,
even you don't quite believe you
That's when nothing can deceive you
Stand up in a clear blue morning
until you see
what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning,
are you still free?
Can you be?
And that old gray wind is blowing
and there's nothing left worth knowing
And it's time you should be going
I fancy myself as a pretty good photographer. The Sanders, Dilly and Rath families all consider me as their official paparizzi for their family functions. I enjoy taking pictures of people, happenings and lately have tried to become a "nature" photographer. Spending the morning with our local Ansel Adams, ROLAND JORDAHL, gave me a greater appreciation of what it exactly takes to be a Pro--patience, timing, a good eye-and a really big lens.
This morning, I took Dogs Angel and Zowie on what will be our last walk together (sniff--get a kleenex now folks) I found there is a wonderful nature trail at the edge of our town (where the hec have I been for the past 14 years?!) We went on it yesterday and I walked along saying "click" "Click" when I saw things that I wanted to remember.
SO today I grabbed the girls, the camera and set out for a final ramble at 610 am. A mysterious fog had settled over the town. PR is located on a river so that may have contributed to it. Or maybe the Kodak Gods (sorry to bestow trademark rights) wanted to provide me with a glorious photo backdrop.
We had a great time taking pictures. I think I got some good ones, I believe a couple of them would garner an Oooh! and Awe! and Wow! if you could see them. (see bottom of post for details).
Yet, as life would have it, I couldn't capture the exact shots I really wanted to have as a final momento of my life with Angel and Zowie--I couldn't get them LEAPING up in the tall grass looking for each other, I couldn't capture the look them give me when they run off down a trail and then stop and make sure I'm following, I couldn't snap the way the water looks as it flies off their backs when they shake after swimming.
I did get one that made me cry (okay so I'm hormonal and I'm leaving in 9 days--give me a break). They stopped in mid-run and both looked at me as if to say "We're on our way mom but we wanted to make sure it's okay with you." It's the picture I will enlarge and hang on my wall in Kuwait to remind me of what they gave me. I had another perfect shot and of course the battery went dead on the camera. As I was walking, I was composing a whole blog post in my head about how, in life, our batteries go dead and we are forced to just carry on. It was deep. I'll save it for another time.
Loving dogs is stupid. Okay, that was written by the German side of me who doesn't want to admit that I am totally, stupidly, completely in love with these girls and leaving them is about the hardest thing I will do. (Other than saying goodbye to my boys Ben, Peter and Phil, but that's another blog)
These girls have given us love, laughter, unconditional affection and joy. They have also caused us to lose sleep and extra cleaning time and money. Zowie has chewed her way through underwear, shoes, a cellphone (don't ask) and damaged my work computer with her toenail.
But they have been worth every ounce of energy. I feel bad that I can't take them but it's really for the best. I know they are both going to wonderful homes and that is a great gift. THANK YOU THANK YOU to both Olson families for coming to our rescue.
As Uncle Doug once told me, May We Become the People our Dogs Think We Are.
PS as soon as I figure out how to add a link to photos (my blog assignment) I will download some shots from the nature trail walk. And as soon as my battery is charged, I will add a couple at the top.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
#1 Photos should be placed in albums on a regular basis, not left in a box until a move or emergency situation. I just finished 15 years of photo organizing. Uffda
#2 We have too many clothes. In trying to cram the next two years of my basic needs and wants into 4 suitcases each (our goal for the trip), I have decided I really don't need four different red short sleeved shirts.
#3 I've had to separate my possessions into piles: 1) Take along 2) Store for at least 2 years 3) Give to friends to "babysit" )(will they think my precious possession is just junk? 4) Too precious to risk losing in flight or being ripped off by a wayward airport employee 5) Throw. Going through this process has reinforced what David has said all along: we have too much STUFF.
#4 Does bringing a lot of stuff from your former life leave any room for new stuff from the future?
#5 (...and this is the most important) While all these possessions, clothing items, pictures, etc are carefully packed into 12 suitcases weighing under 50 pounds each, they still aren't what's important. I am bringing tangible items to remind me of the intangible. Except for the dogs and Ben, I will have everything I really need sitting next to me in the airplane and in my heart and soul.