Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

This year
I am thankful for...
***My Wagner families throughout the world. I know Howard and Esther would be my proud of all of us.

*** For the most part, My loved ones and colleagues are healthy. This is truly amazing and I give thanks for this tremendous blessing.

***True and loving friends both Near and Far. You know who you are and that you are loved.

***Unconditional love of my pets...both in Kuwait and in Minnesota.
And I am thankful to their caregivers: KKO who watches Angel during the school year and Mali, our maid who watches Germo in the summer.

***Life in the desert. While my heart remains mostly in Mn, I have been blessed with so many opportunities for growth in Kuwait. I have a great job, people who support me and plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. In this economy, I am truly thankful.
***My David who has put up with me for 34 years. "You're still the one who can scratch my itch" Babe.
***Life on lake lida including the gift of being a part of the Brown family. Thank you Charlie and Doug for also putting up with me for 34 years.
*** Completing most of my "Bucket List " of travel. Checking off Niagra Falls this summer was very cool. Having the opportunity to travel often during the school year (as is evidenced by my growing Starbucks mug collection) is also a great gift.

*** My children. Even though they are "grown up", Ben and Anna continue to delight. Lucky me!

Happy thanksgiving to you all. May you be truly thankful for what you have.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Horsin ' Around

One of my favorite students, S, took me on a riding lesson last night. It was a fascinating experience to watch her work with these beautiful animals. It certainly showed me a whole new part of Kuwait! S is an intense student who is a joy in the classroom and out.

Unfortunately I couldn't use the setting in the camera with a flash as horses are easily distracted. In fact S told me that even though I was several feet away, her horse heard every time I clicked the shutter as his ear would twitch.

S makes me laugh for several reasons but one of them is that she is always the first one to wear a heavy coat, gloves, boots, etc when it gets "cold". So whe. She told me to bring warm clothes because I would get cold sitting watching her, I almost didn't listen. But I did at the last minute heed her warning and I am very glad that I did as it was actually cold. I never thought I would be saying that I was cold here. It was like watching a football game on a Friday night in late October cold..minus the snowmobile suit.

S has been riding since she was 4 years old. Her goal is to make it into a jumping competition. I believe she will make it as she has the drive and determination to do anything she wants.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't Let wait...LET the Sun go down on me!

No I have not moved to the East coast of Florida, there are flamingoes in Kuwait! Yesterday we ventured off with the Wild Texans, on an adventure to see if we could view the large pink birds. I did see them a couple years ago so I know it was not a Hoax (as in Snipe hunting). After a circular route (it is so fun to watch people learn to drive in Kuwait!), we finally made it to the area. Unfortunately they were quite far out in the bay. In fact, these pictures are from a friend of a friend who saw them a couple weeks ago. But the important part of the story is that We DID SEE THEM!
 It was however, the first time I've watched a sunset on the water in Kuwait. Now I know that sounds strange since I live on eight blocks from the Gulf and I should have been able see several sunsets. Well, here in the Middle East (quite near the equator line..or at least closer than Minnesota), the sun sets quite fast (in about 10 minutes). No lovely lingering sunsets as we enjoy in the summer over Lake Lida. By the time I realize that it's sunset, I don't have time to get to the water because we don't have a car here and to try and communicate to a taxi driver "Hey get me to the beach I want to watch the sun set", the sun would already be down.
Looks almost like a postcard!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Up close and personal

While out on a couple photo adventures, I was playing with my telephoto lens. Here is a couple of my favorite pics. Enjoy!

Many prayers just waiting to be said.

A friendly kid at the farm.

This is actually a shot of the couch in the living room of the Kuwait farm. The room was huge by my standards anyway and it featured this large seating area. This feature is standard in diwenias, which is the room where traditionally men gather in homes to discuss important matters. But in this house, everyone was allowed into this room.

My fascination with the big old doors continues.

Old door of the museum of modern art. Yeah, the dichotomy of this statement says a lot about Kuwait in general.

Despite this being a desert, there is a wondrous beauty. You just have to look harder to find it.

I think the farm owner was trying to replicate the feeling of the old west in the desert. Seriously, I wouldn't want to mess with him!

Location:Various places around Kuwait

Scenes from a prison

Recently I went on a sponsored tour of "old Kuwait " through the AWARE center. This tour was billed as the start of the Kuwait Photography Club although I am not quite sure what they meant. I found out that thet are hoping to publish a book of photographs that people have taken of the trips during the year. Not a bad idea, I guess. I have mentioned that David and I are both published authors in a book on Expatriate Experiences published by the same organization. So I guess it would be okay to be a published photographer as well ( she says modestly thinking that, of course her photos would get published)

Anyway, probably the most interesting place we visited was Naif palace which was the palace for the Amir about 100 Years ago. It is used today for special visits and, if I choose to believe this story told to me by a fairly reputable person, also the site of current day executions by hanging.

We got to see the former jail which I think was used until recently. It made for some haunting photos as you can see below.

The guide told us they left the graffiti as they found it and are planning to make a museum of this part. Sorta creepy...sorta cool.

The old and the new.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Naif palace, Kuwait

Friday, November 4, 2011

And we get to Teach with this guy!

This gentleman is truly one of the most interesting people I've ever met! He's one of our new teachers. Last night he was the first speaker at a Series I've started called "in My Other Life" where we hear from members of our staff who have fascinating lives outside of school. He is a fascinating fella! This book is a beautiful book filled with interesting information about what the Muslim culture has contributed to the world. Two thumbs up!

The Genius of Islam
Published in English by Knopf, 2011
Published in Arabic by Dar El Ilm Limalayin, 2012

Islam is one of the world’s great religions, one of history’s most important civilizations, and one of the foundational cultures of the West. During Islam’s first five hundred years, from the seventh through the twelfth centuries, this new religion created the most innovative and influential civilization on earth, an essential bridge between antiquity and modernity.

The Genius of Islam:How Muslims Made the Modern World surveys the remarkable contributions Islamic civilization has made to the world - in art, design, calligraphy, architecture, music, engineering, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, agronomy, optics, cartography, paper, and mathematics -  how those contributions sparked the European Renaissance and how, until recently, they were mostly forgotten. The Genius of Islam is  essential reading for anyone interested in history and the march of contemporary events in the Muslim world

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Comin' down-resting-and then climbing back up again

These are the greetings that were in my school email this morning as we begin to celebrate Eid Al Adha. I've talked about this before, it's an opportunity for Muslims to travel to Mecca (which is one of the five pillars of Islam) and to be with family and friends. We received an extended vacation and now have the entire week off!
Personally, it couldn't come at a better time as I am physically and mentally exhausted after being immersed in the details of helping to host a volleyball tournament over the past three weeks. It's what I do, and I do Love it, BUT....I welcome a little peace and quiet for a while. We are not travelling, other than out to breakfasts with friends, and to various places we always say "gee it would be fun to visit that".

So Here's to CHARLIE (my father in law) I am sorry I haven't written, yes you are right, I've been really busy. Hopefully life will slow down a bit (until the next tournament which is in two weeks!)
No rest for the wicked....