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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yank on a Hot Tin Roof

Summer is here in blazing force on the island. The pre-Ramadan buzz is stirring. Sales starting for the feasting...I mean fasting...a-hem. Everything from dates to pillows to rice cookers on sale to pull in the masses for the evening "Ramadan timings". This referring to the altered schedules of the businesses during Ramadan. I am learning the ins and outs of produce shopping from my new housemaid and babysitter, Chitra. "This place sells bad melons, don't buy from them. This rice is too expensive, buy Tilda in the bag. " Apparently she can knock and tell if it is mushy.I came in prancing with my bargain melon. She unloads it from the bag and takes pause. I got screwed, I could tell by her face. Sure enough we cut it open and I managed to carve out a 1/2 kilo of decent melon out of the 5 kilos I bought. Those outside vendors sold me a cooked watermelon!!! Next lesson is Biryani Chicken and some sort of chicken wing dish. She knows I like to cook and she is gonna get jiggy in the kitchen with me Sri Lankan style.

Have I mentioned it is hot? It is a wave of unnatural heat that hits you, like someone turned a forced air furnace on right outside your door. You're vehicle is a torture device for about 15 minutes unless you were smart enough to run it a while before mounting. It is nice to be home though, and have the family together. A lot of the fun stuff we enjoy is hindered by the heat and Brigid's cast. So, August 3rd is the big day. She is getting tired of the plastic wrapped arm and the kiddie pool.

This is a weird time for the military families. New families pile in, recent friends move away, and most who are mid-tour bail like rats from a sinking ship for the summer. Those who stay try to welcome the newcomers. That is what we do best. "Welcome to the suck, do you need friends?!" This is a unique group of spouses. Joint military branches of every rank, NCIS,Embassy,Contractor,and Govt. employees from various agencies. We are purely social and support. We don't have dues, don't do fundraisers, don't do scholarships, and we even have a few men. Just like with the OSC they rarely show their faces. That many women tends to scare the average lad.

I have kept the book club afloat now that we are all back on the island. It is always a fun evening with some smart, funny ladies w/ a dash of nerdiness that only another bookworm can cherish. My intent is to stay til the end of the tour. That 23 hour flight is tough with three kids. I can't just put the headphones on and go to sleep or read. I have to be on alert all the time. I think the only real interest I have in traveling in this part of the world is to Jordan and Jerusalem. The Dead Sea, the lost city of Petra,the Holy Lands. I hope I get to see them, because once I leave here, I won't be back. So, time to bide and save some money and get the kids back on track academically. It was a rough year in that regard and I am ready to make up for lost time. So, wish me luck as we creep through the summer seeking shade and water. I seriously do not know how this place was inhabited prior to air conditioning.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hells Bells it is HOT HOT HOT!

You will be happy to hear that we are safely home in Bahrain with my beloved. Keeping in the spirit of "never a dull moment" my little Brigid broke her arm to smithereens 2 days before our departure. She was too swollen to cast, but cleared to fly. The assailant? Monkey bars of course. Isn't it always monkey bars or perhaps a rogue tree now and again? She arrived with her soft cast, checked in at the clinic, saw the ortho out in town, and had surgery. Sounds simple. It wasn't of course. Anyone who knows insurance companies knows that is never the case. So, after showing a small glimpse of my momma grizzly, I greased the red tape. If I haven't learned anything else from my sweet husband, it is that you walk in and leave no doubt that you are calling the shots (sprinkled with a little Yankee girl charm of course). It was more like Yoda,"there is no try, only do". So, they did and I retracted my claws and all was well.

I came home to our big house, so blissfully happy. Bob even went to the store! The next day reality hits. There hadn't been a maid there in about 3 weeks. With a near empty house, that doesn't really seem a problem,right? That is until you factor in a sandstorm that not only made the outside look like Hogan's goat, but made you able to write your name in the floor of several bathrooms and George's room. The sand is so fine, not like the North Carolinian variety. Think confectioners sugar, not the type you dip your spoon in for tea time. In two of the bathrooms I ended up removing all perishable paper products and hosing the whole bloody room down with the butt sprayer. Quite effective, actually. We have also entered the season of hot water and hotter water. The tanks for the water supply are on the roof. so....As you can imagine, the water heats up in 112 degree weather.

Things have changed here. There are check points to come home over the bridge. There are tanks and barbed wire around the Central Market area and areas we are told not to go (areas I used to frequent). There is a huge open air produce market right in front of my housing area, probably due to the Central Market being in the center of the trouble. There are also more Bahraini flags around, patriots showing support for the King. Bahrain is still Bahrain, however. Turkish grills and fabric souqs and lots of overripe fruit.

I am back with my baby, my kids are back in school, and I just hired a new lass to clean the house twice a week. Now we are off to France for an 8 day blissful retreat to the Luberon Valley. No work, no Arab driver's trying to kill me and mine, no tanks and check points, and PORK on probably every menu! Then back to the heat of the Bahraini summer and Ramadan closely approaching. Now, don't think I am complaining. I have been giddy ever since I stepped through that big tacky glass and iron gate! I love my bed, my floor, my cookware, my crappy cable that never works! We are actually having a pretty good time. The only real complaint is that my Yankee blood must again adjust to 110-120 degree temperatures. Maybe this is God's way of melting off that 15 lbs. I gained in Colorado.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Yank,the Virginian, the Tarheel, and the Jap are displaced

It has been a busy and confusing 2 months. I went home in February to Cleveland with my children for a three week visit. The purpose was to get a uterine biopsy. Thanks be to God it was negative. I home-schooled the kids, which went about as well as you can expect. We managed. Mid-March I attempted to fly back to Virginia to hop the MAC flight and return home. Bob called me at the gate of Cleveland Hopkins, 10 minutes before boarding, and told me I couldn't come home.The civil unrest in Bahrain had escalated overnight, and the Saudi and UAE troops were headed over the causeway in defense of the Bahraini Monarchy. Families that were in Bahrain could voluntarily evacuate, but those who were already stateside had no choice in the matter. We had to stay put until the voluntary departure and the state of emergency status was rescinded.

Since then, the govt has flown me to Colorado (near the other half of our family) to get settled and to wait this out. Getting a clean, safe, furnished home and a good school was the priority. This being more touristy, we managed to find a monthly furnished house in the historic district. I can see the school from my front porch, the girls have their own beds, I have full service kitchen, and I am able to inspect and work on our rental properties that are right down the street. The school has been a GodsendMy kids had missed what amounted to 3 1/2 weeks, since the Bahrain School was shut down during the protests. The teachers and staff and students treated my girls like a shiny new toy, and welcomed them with open arms.We have an opportunity to bond with some extended family as well. So, for now, we are content.

Being separated from Bob has been tough. Especially on him, I believe. It is different when he is the one who is gone. He can focus on work without coming home to a big empty house. No toys, no empty high chair, no empty beds. This time we are the ones who had to leave, and it has been rough on all of us. Daddy's birthday was a hard day. These little trials that come along with military life do have a positive side. You learn to roll with the punches. You also learn to appreciate the precious family ties that get strained at the time. It is these separations that make the time together so very sweet. We try not to waste them.

People find it crazy that I used to be a cop. It seems like a lifetime ago. It sounds exciting doesn't it? I can tell you that between spending 9-11 jetlagged in Japan, 4 deployments, 2 countries, 3 states, and 5 kids, the adventure didn't start til I quit my job and married my Marine. For every heartache, there has been love and laughs and adventure. My girls will look back on our Durango detour and have a story to tell their kids. The fact that the three were born in three different places just goes to show that life is never boring if you take the King's coin.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The New Year, phew...

Well, the holiday season is over and the kids are back in school. I was ashamed about how happy I was to see that bus pull up! Honestly, I find that I need a vacation after their vacation. Having Bob home was awesome, and Robs flying in made everything perfect. However, that many people home ALL DAY, eating ALL day, dirtying dishes and floors, and laundry!!! ah! Get out of my house!!!! haha...I mean our house! I know what you are thinking. "shut up you lazy slattern, you have a maid twice a week!" I know I know I know. Between sand storms and the revolving refrigerator door and piles of laundry, 9 hours a week sounds like a lot of help, but it isn't getting me out of working my arse off. So...phew. We had a quiet family Christmas and New Years. We took the lad around to the different tourist sites and shops. It was nice. I missed my family back home a lot and can't wait for the reunion this summer.

So now we concentrate on France. I am so excited about that. Clara is learning French in school from an awesome parent volunteer, and we are starting to narrow down our itinerary for day trips. I am just looking forward to GREEN and colored landscapes dotted with flowers and grapes and orchards. I miss creatures, too. Other than birds and stray domestic animals, all we have are bugs and rats. No rats around here, but the more urban areas attract them for obvious reasons. Restaurant dumpsters are the best spoils. So exploring the color splashed Luberon Valley and the fields of flowers and villages that inspired Vincent Van Gogh sounds like heaven right about now. I want to shop for fabrics and antiques and lavender toiletries and eat lovely non-curried food. I want to go where the wine and produce are local, not shipped in from Saudi Arabia. I also want to dress smartly and not fret over how much skin I am showing.I want to be FABULOUS in France with my little girls frolicking through the sunflowers, and by God I am going to do it!!! So welcome 2011, hold on to your beret.