Saturday, August 12, 2006

Home: Heat, Humidity, Flooding, Rat Turds

Oh, yeah… It’s soooo good to be home!

Savannah was nice. Savannah is actually very nice. It is a beautiful old city with plenty to do and I thoroughly enjoyed myself every day of the seven I was there. My husband was there for some company business three weeks prior to my joining him, and continued working the entire time I was there. So I amused myself and found plenty to do. Even the one afternoon it rained I sat in the hotel bar met lots of nice people, including an employee named Elena from Russia who I have decided would make a wonderful wife for my son if it should happen to not work out with the young lady he is currently involved with [who he loved dearly until I told him that I actually liked her!]. I shopped; I explored the old tree and moss lined streets with the beautiful stately homes [mansions!]. I ate – way too much – but all the good things I’ve missed while here in The Sandbox – the very first night – baby back ribs! They were absolutely fabulous. And I drank. There are probably a few bottles of Sterling Cabernet left in Savannah in some of the more remote stores and restaurants, but when we left there was none left in the immediate “downtown” vicinity. Savannah’s weather was absolutely perfect [but for the one rainy afternoon – and it didn’t even start to rain until I put my bathing suit on to head to the pool – but of course…], in the upper-80’s, low-90’s every day, some humidity, but not unbearable.

After my husband was done with company business we headed to Buffalo where my parents are. They are actually outside of Buffalo, in the very western part of the state in a teeny, tiny little town which is only on the map during the summer, right on Lake Chautauqua. It is a summer “resort” area and come Labor Day, the sidewalks are all rolled up and put away until the following Memorial Day. How my parents have lived there year-round for so many years amazes me. Upstate New York in the winter – which lasts for a full seven months – is utterly dreadful. Cold, gray, dreary. Depressing. It snows every single day. It is called “lake effect” snow. Call it whatever you want; it still needs shoveled – plowed – and it’s still cold. Very cold! So, we had a perfect five days there and took advantage of the beautiful summer weather. I laid on the dock and worked on my tan and my husband worked on the golf course chasing a little white ball around [no, I don’t play – I tried – it takes “hand-eye” coordination and I have zero]. We visited with other family members; played catch-up with an aunt and a cousin I’ve not seen in almost twenty years. We spent a glorious day at Niagra Falls on the Canadian side, and really, this should be included in one of the Seven Wonders of the World and it isn’t.

From Buffalo we headed to Maryland where one of my sister’s and her family live. It was here that for the first time in sixteen years – yes, sixteen years – that my ENTIRE family – all nineteen of us – got together for a family picture. There have been many, many family gatherings in the past sixteen years, but someone has always been missing for some reason or another. I hope my parents aren’t too disappointed with us all – there are four of us – children – and along with our respective spouses we only produced nine grandchildren for them – and if my brother’s wife wouldn’t have had twins then there would be only eight. My Dad’s sister has twice that many, and his brother has twice that many plus some more. We aren’t a very big family…

After a few days in Maryland we finally headed to what we call “home,” even though we don’t have a home there anymore – Wake Forest, North Carolina. The almost two weeks we spent there flew by. Zoom. Whoosh. Vacation was over and it was time to pack up and head back to The Sandbox. However, while “home,” did attend to some of the straggling “loose ends” that never seem to end – dealing with the bank – we’ve been in Saudi for almost four years now, and even though we have filled out the appropriate documentation, sent letters and e-mails and made repeated, lengthy and costly telephone calls some of our “bank” mail goes to Sudan! – and it was during our last week in Savannah when we found out that one of our credit cards was cancelled because apparently some “bank data” was jeopardized so the bank sent new credit cards to everyone involved and our credit card was sent to Sudan and then returned – but we were actually paying for dinner one evening when we discovered the original card that we had in our possession had been cancelled – that makes for an interesting situation – and thankfully we have more than one credit card. We had to take care of our mail forwarding [mail goes to a “agent” who then forwards everything to us on a monthly basis], get the boat registered, and of course, as always while we are in the States get a shipment ready to send here. Hopefully sometime next week this shipment will be here – and this particular shipment consists of 484 pounds and will cost almost a Thousand Dollars. Four hundred pounds of this shipment is dry dog food. It’s just part of the cost of living in the Middle East. You pay what you have to pay.

It is a long trip home. A very long trip. On the day we left Raleigh, North Carolina, we checked into the airport at about one o’clock for a three o’clock flight to Detroit. We sat in Detroit for almost two hours. From Detroit we went to Amsterdam where we only had about an hour and a half before getting on the plane to Bahrain – but not before going to Abu Dhabi – which added some two and a half hours to our flying time – not because Abu Dhabi is so far – it’s only a fifty minute flight from Bahrain – but once in Abu Dhabi they had to service the plane and pick-up additional passengers. It was almost eleven o’clock when we finally, finally dragged our sorry selves through the front door – after a total travel time of twenty-seven hours.

We arrived to a very, very quite house. The “Kids” were at the kennel. This was the first time we’ve ever come home to such quiet, as in the past The Boy has been here with the House Assistant – the addition of The Baby only happened this past spring while I was in the States for most of February and all of March – so she has never stayed with him. I have no more House Assistant. I fired him on July 1st, six days before I left. He just wasn’t doing his job. Oh, sure, I could have “talked” to him again; we’ve had many conversations in the past where I’ve said “these are your responsibilities and this is what I expect.” And, for several weeks, things will go along just fine, and then we have to have “the talk” again. I’m done. No more talking. It’s detailed… On Wednesday, June 28th, I said “today is floor day,” and he actually gave ME a hard time about it. Wait a minute, here… This is my house. This is what I want done. You are my employee. And, you’re going to argue with me about washing the kitchen den hallway bathroom floor? Umm, no. It was an on-going issue – what needed to be done and what actually got done. My House Assistant’s schedule was that he worked for us seventeen hours a week – in the mornings – and this house should have been immaculate – and it just isn’t – wasn’t. I spent that Thursday and Friday just seething about the whole situation and decided that I just wasn’t going to have “it.” I started making a list of all the times we’ve “talked” and all things we “talked” about. It is three pages long. When the “cons” outweigh the “pros” by two and a half pages, it’s time to make a change. Well, firing the House Assistant, right before I left, probably wasn’t the most optimal way to handle this, and I had to put the Kids in Canine Camp for almost an entire month, but I knew that with the in the kennel – here on our compound – that I wouldn’t have to worry about how much time the House Assistant was spending with them, whether they were getting fed on time, and whether or not they were safe.

Maybe I’ll go into detail on the House Assistant issue at a later time. I am still very, very angry over this whole issue. The bottom line is, however, that I hired someone – he’s been with us almost three years – treated him much better than a lot of household help here gets treated, paid him more than I should have, and I was taken advantage of, over and over and over. I will not have household help again for a while. I just don’t want to go through this again.

So, after just a few hours of sleep, I woke up before the sun, anxious to get to the kennel – which doesn’t open until seven o’clock – to collect my Kids. As I am about to leave the house – it’s 6:45 in the morning – I see this puddle of what looks like “yellow” water on the den floor, along the wall. I am questioning what it is I spilled – it’s not coffee and it’s not from one of the Kids [they aren’t here!] – and was it there last night? Hmmph. Okay, wipe it up with a couple of paper towels, run upstairs to grab my wallet and “put my lips on,” and when I get back downstairs, there is more yellow water. What is going on? Oh, my, the neighbors must be having some plumbing problems. I head out the door and ring the neighbor’s doorbell. No answer. Ring again. Oh well, no answer. Whatever. I jump in the truck [it’s a Land Rover – I call it a truck] to go to the kennel to get the Kids. They are THRILLED to see me – and I am THRILLED to see them! It was a very touching reunion. We get in the truck and come home. We walk in the door and the den and kitchen floors are soaked! Water is just running into my house from next door. I start throwing some old towels down to cover the floor. Uh-oh. The carpet in the dining room is wet, too! It is “squishing” when you walk over it. Great. Just great. I don’t have that many old towels and I really don’t want to use nice towels to clean up something I’m not even quite sure what it is. As I head out the door to go back to the neighbor’s – the Kids are racing through the house – racing through the water – and someone is going to get hurt! – the House Assistant from next door is running toward me – his arms waving wildly and telling me a pipe broke and he doesn’t know who to call. [There is no less than four inches of water on the floor of the townhouse next to ours – the Oriental carpets have got to be ruined – as well as some of the furniture! They have two little “yip-yip” dogs next door and the poor little things are swimming in the water. I make the call to “202” and tell them it is an emergency and they have to come right away. They do. They send plumbers, a truck that sucks water out of your house, a team of men to “squeegee” the house next door and rip up the little carpet they have there – it is mostly tile. Several hours later the same team heads to our house to do the same thing. It is just one big mess.

In the meantime, as I am trying to unpack and get semi-situated back at home, with the Kids, I notice some black pellet looking “droppings.” I think I must have a rat. Great. I’ve seen one rat here – thankfully it was not alive at the time – and it was not pretty. And, now I’ve got one? Oh no, this is NOT good. I call “202” again and they send “pest control.” They little man gets here and says, “Oh, Madam, you have a rat.” Yeah, like I said on the phone when I called. And, gee, thanks for confirming this for me. “We must send someone with a trap.” Yeah, like I said on the phone when I called. So, a little while later another man gets here and he takes one look at the little black pellet looking things and says, “it is a gecko.” Are you sure? Because the man that was just here said I have a rat. “Oh, no, Madam, it is a gecko.” And, to prove this he starts squishing the little black pellet looking things with his finger – on the floor! Eeeuww! “See, Madam, they are soft and contain bugs. It is a gecko. Rat droppings are very hard and you cannot squish them.” Yeah, well, okay then. Now what? “He will leave, Madam, he will not like the cold air [huh?] and wants to be outside.” Sure he does… Not to worry, The Boy will find him if he’s here, because he is after all, the World’s Best Lizard Chaser! The Boy won’t catch the lizard, but I’ll know when he finds the lizard because of the ruckus it will cause. The little black pellet looking things have been cleaned up and there have been no more, so if there was a gecko in this house he’s either hiding somewhere and making a mess elsewhere or he has decided he doesn’t like it here and he has left or I guess, he could be under the stove or one of the refrigerators and dead at this point. There’s no awful smell coming from under any of my appliances so I’m hoping that he has left, gone back outside to the almost unbearable heat and humidity we’re experiencing.

It’s soooo good to be home!


  1. Welcome back:)

  2. Welcome back sabra. Yours is one of my regular blogs and I was checking it everyday for some update. My sister also lives in the gulf (though not KSA. Thank God) and your postings give me some very good insights into her experiences as well. Looking forward to reading more of the life from the sandbox.

  3. Welcome home.

    I hope that all that dog food makes it through the postal inspection intact.

  4. Welcome back! I know you missed it! :)

    You know, you're very lucky in that you can call 202 and get someone out immediately to handle your probs. You should consider yourself very fortunate. If only it was that easy over here!

    Btw, they opened a Bennigans here in Bahrain - just like in the States - they serve drinks and all the works. It's in Juffair. :)

  5. toons I saw where there is a applebees too


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