22 April 2014

"Goodbye, Farewell & Amen"

Well kids, time to close this chapter.  It's been a ride & I am exhausted!  I don't think it's hit the mega media (yet,) but this Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) mess has given us a run for our Riyal.  Some of you may not be surprised to see me finally in paper (psych) scrubs...so here you go!  At least it's a change from the white :)  Hopefully I won't be bringing home any unwanted souvenirs!

I'm off to Sri Lanka tonight...one last undoubtedly entertaining flight on Saudia - it cracks me up every time!  Remind me to share some stories :)

Thanks for reading & for you support this year - I can't wait to see all of you!

18 April 2014

Count Down!

Only TWO More Shifts - Al Humdulillah!!

I was thinking about this (pathetic) blog the other day. . . although I am glad I stopped complaining so much about work, I've realized it looks like all I've done is go on vacation & see cool stuff!  True enough, but jeez these past many weeks have been tough to get through.  No matter, the light is quickly getting brighter!  TWO MORE!

For this episode (is that right? A blog episode??)  I will not regress to complaining - it wears me out & makes me feel like a terrible person.  Besides, we do enough of it around here daily - it's like a hobby for people in the Kingdom.  Basically, I'm over it & looking forward to GREENER pastures :)

Weekend trips?  There have been a few...we had a nice time in Taif last month (oops, February!)  Taif is less than 200 km away - including the "heathen route."  (Non-Muslims have to take a different, detoured road to avoid going through Mecca.)  No kidding.  Anyway, it was a great change of environment - mountainous & Seriously Cold - 45F/8C!  We rode the cable car, saw where they distill rose flower petals to make perfume, & attempted to taste camel milk...except we forgot about it in the car - doh! We explored a neat private museum & went to the zoo...I was reluctant to go to the zoo, but was mildly entertained by some of the exhibits:  "Cow"..."Ducks"..."Dog"..."Horse"...of course there were camels & an elephant too.

Five of us also went to Riyadh for a weekend to check out Janadriyah. It's an annual Cultural & Heritage Festival that was actually quite well done.  There were Mutawa (Religious Police) everywhere, "Cover your hair!" but it was refreshing to see an effort to educate & preserve important cultural aspects of Arabian life.  If you go, try not to cause a scandal like this guy did last year :)


The trip south to Abha a few wks ago was nice - also cooler with a few surrounding hills. Unfortunately it was still off-season so we couldn't get to the Hanging Village, but the 3 of us didn't really care.  We were happy to get out of the compound & break up the stretch towards home (My friend Ria is leaving in May too.)

What else can I share...oh, I think folks must have been tired of me complaining about my hair - I hadn't cut it in 10 months & it was driving me crazy.  I never got around to making an apt, so my friend Dorothy offered to trim the nasty dead bits off - Excellent!  She did a wonderful job - a perfect inch or so, out by the pool so we didn't even have a mess to clean up.  Later that afternoon, with 20 min to kill before tennis, I was putting my hair back when I noticed a small piece that was shoya (a little) longer than the rest...

You've all seen it, the scene in the movie where someone is being chased & they need to change their identity.  Picture that chick in the Bourne movie, or Harrison Ford in "The Fugitive."  They are in an obscure, filthy bathroom grabbing their hair & haphazardly chopping chunks of of it off into the sink.  Well, I don't have as much facial hair as Harrison Ford & my sink is a little cleaner, but there I was....forcing my big blue plastic Ikea scissors through handful after handful of hair.  Ha!  Fun & frightening at the same time!  I soon had visions of the 6th grader who knows she can get her bangs just a bit straighter...a little more here, a little more there...Nelson!  Step away from the scissors!!  So much for that perfect inch.  Thank Allah I can still pull it up in a pony :)

What comes next many are beginning to ask?  Well, I am looking for a deep breath & a wee break from dysfunction...which I hope to find in Sri Lanka.  The ever-allusive epiphany would be a nice bonus...maybe the Buddhists can help?  If not, I'm more than satisfied with my Plan B.  I'm headed home to enjoy summer in the Northwest - Yeah Rain! :)  I'd love to work at Emanuel again - at least per diem...& then reassess life in the Fall.  One mustn't speculate too far into the future :)

I better get packing!  I will TRY to throw up one last blog post before I bid the Kingdom farewell...nsha'allah.  I hope everyone is doing well & I look forward to all your hugs...& beer! :)

PS: I don't think it matters what type of wheels the trolley has...but be careful!! :)

13 February 2014


...it appears that I am failing at this "Blog Attempt."  Predictable if you ask me, but I do apologize to those who had grander expectations.  Instead of trying to compensate with a large chunk of boring blabber, I will provide a few snipits in the spirit of, "better than nothing!"  :)

Morocco was Fantabulous 

              & Lanzarote was a Sweet Bonus!

I could go on & on about the neat mosques, delicious tagines, colorful souks and incredible sunsets (& a sunrise!)  I could tell you about the stinky tanneries in Fez, our crazy driver Hassan & his magic spray can, Julie's cantankerous camel or all the cool Riads we stayed in.  I could tell you about Annett's blush-inducing boy at the wine tasting, but she would kill me...so instead we could discuss her snail encounter - much better in than out huh Net? :)  (Anyone else want to give me flak about not blogging?? Hee, hee!)  I could describe the cracked volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, the prickly cacti & their unique way of growing bazillion year old grape vines.  We could debate why camel lips are more interesting than their toes & why henna doesn't stick to everyone's skin the same...but really, all I want to do is share how much my friends love me:

That's right, packed with care & hand carried across the ocean! :)  In all honesty, the biggest treat & the best part of this vacation was seeing & spending time with two dear friends.  And yes, the rumors are true, I cried like a baby reading the card everyone signed for my birthday - what a softy!  I do miss you all!  Thank you Annett & Julie for sharing not only your beer (& chips & cereal & g-bars) but for saving your $$ and vacation days to fly 1/2 way around the world to hang out with me!  I had a wonderfully memorable time & can't wait for our next adventure!

Now it's back to the grind...and increasing temperature - someone needs to tell the weatherman it's still February, ie: WIN-TER!!  Considering the snow & arctic blasts at home, I will (again) refrain from complaining.  Besides, 85F/30C is still quite tolerable :)

Thoughts also turn towards the rapid passage of time.  It's hard to believe 9 months have come & gone.  Well and good except my boss now wants to know if I'll be extending my contract for another year.  Oh, life's dilemmas!  Unfortunately my Moroccan epiphany was elusive and I've continued to avoid the topic for many weeks now..."The Meeting" is scheduled for Sunday.  I appreciate, in advance, your vibes of strength.  One, to scoff at any monetary bonuses that are offered (next to the reminders of the fantastic travel opportunities) and Two, to resist the urge to fully divulge the reasons why  it's not worth my cells & sanity to stay  :)

That's right, the tentative plan, barring a lottery-sized raise & a little chip I can insert to allow immediate Arabic fluency, will put me back in the PNW some time in May!  Of course, the #1 reason for coming home will be so I can stop writing this silly blog!!  For now, stay tuned if you'd like...I will try to squeeze out a few more entries :)