Monday, June 30, 2008

Best Laid Plans....

My "While You Were Out" project isn't going quite as planned... Do they ever? But, not for lack of effort on my part, however. When it is all done, I will post photos. Before and after.

DH had a trip he was supposed to go on. Origi
nally he was going to leave on the 23rd of June. He asked me if I wanted to go. Umm. No, not really. I dutifully packed his bag for him - I always pack him - and the trip was canceled. I unpacked the bag and had no sooner hung everything up when he got the call telling him he was going, after all, and would leave the afternoon of the 25th. Fine. I repacked the bag. He was going to be out of the country for five days. [And that is when I decided to redo the bedroom...] And, of course, the trip didn't happen, so I unpacked the damn bag again. This past weekend he was told he was going after all, again, for seven days. I repacked the bag - for the THIRD time!!! - and added to it, because instead of five days, he'd be gone for seven. No problem. He left late yesterday morning...

DH bought a new golf cart a month ago. It was delivered to the house at the end of May. The company that he bought the cart from didn't require a down payment - nothing at all - not even a signature - except for when it was delivered - and said that they would contact us for the money. Okay. [Try that in the States - buy something - and have it delivered to you with no down payment. Ha! Doesn't happen.] The golf cart company called on Thursday morning and said that they would come on Saturday to get the money. Saturday was a company holiday. No clue what the holiday was for. None of the company employees worked but we assumed everything else would be open for business. Nope. The banks on our compound - both of them - were closed. Which meant that we couldn't cash checks to have the money to give to the golf cart company. DH called the golf cart guy and said, "Sorry. Banks are closed here. Come tomorrow. I won't be here, but my wife will be and she will pay you."

Yesterday morning I got up bright and early, ironed three additional shirts to add to the bag that had been packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked and packed again. DH was all ready for his trip. I drank my coffee, had a cigarette and "surfed the internet" for twenty minutes, did a bunch of morning stuff - unloaded the dishwas
her, threw a load of laundry in, picked up the Kids' toys... Then jumped in the shower and got ready to go to the banks. Had to go to two banks - both on our compound - because you are only allowed to cash U.S. checks for a limited amount once a week at both banks. Don't know who came up with this asinine rule, but whatever... And, of course, I have to "get dressed," really "get dressed." Can't walk into the banks here in my daily "uniform" of bike shorts and a tank top. Nope. Have to "cover myself" just a little bit more than that, so I put on a pair of capri's and a tee-shirt. Best I was willing to do. The banks are, after all, on the compound, where I am not supposed to have to wear an abeya, and even though ALL of the "local" women on the compound insist on being covered head-to-toe in black, I refuse. As I've repeatedly said, "if the sight of my bare shins/calves and forearms bothers you just don''t look."

At 8:45 I left for the first bank. My checks are already written, just simply have to run in and cash them. Right... NO SUCH LUCK!!! When
I got to the first bank it was packed - standing room only crowd. I got my little teller number - the kind you get at a deli in the States. I was number 135 and customer number 89 was being served. There are THREE tellers working the seven available windows. Three! I figured that if I waited my turn I'd be there for at least an hour... I pocketed my little number and went to the second bank. I'm so smart... Get to the second bank and get my little number, 204. There are five tellers working and they are serving customer number 196. This should be quick - in and out - piece of cake. What the hell was I thinking?!? Forty-five minutes later, my number flashes, "Now serving No. 204 at window 3," and I go to the window and cash my check. Race to the car [it's only 110° out!] and drive back to the first bank. Surely they can't be up to number 135, yet, right?!?

Wrong!!! The first bank is now serving Customer No. 138 and I've lost my place - by three customers. Unbelievable. I get another teller nu
mber, 179. Nope. Not waiting. DH is going to be leaving any minute, and I thought when I left the house at 8:45 that I would have been home long before he was scheduled to leave. Get to the house. Tell DH to call the golf cart guy and tell him that I only have "most" of the money, and that golf cart guy can either come back after lunch - I'll go back to the bank, again, and wait - the banks all close from one o'clock to three o'clock, every day, but I figure that I can have all the money by then - or golf cart guy can come "tomorrow." Golf cart guy wants to come in the afternoon. Fine. DH leaves. I go back to the bank - the first bank - for the third time - and get my number, 204, and wait for half an hour to cash my check. I now have ALL the money now. I go back to the house to sew and wait for golf cart guy.

I'm at my little twenty-year-old Singer sewing machine, happily sewing - I like to sew - it relaxes me - and I need some "relaxation." My b
obbin runs out and I unthread the sewing machine to fill a couple of bobbins... I fill three bobbins and re-thread the sewing machine. The tension - and only if you are a sewer, will you know what this means - is ALL FUCKED UP! The bottom tension is so loose I can put the thread out with a gentle tug. What's going on?!? I didn't touch anything, I just simply unthreaded the machine to fill a few bobbins. I've been sewing for two days now and everything has been just fine. So what the heck is going on now?!? This is not right. I go through all the usual motions - unthread the machine, re-thread the machine; remove the bobbin, check it to make sure it is in properly, etc., etc., etc. Still NOT working. I'm getting more frustrated by the minute. How can something that has worked perfectly for two solid days all of the sudden NOT be working?!? Great. Just great. This is ALL I want to do. Get this project done. It is major. And I'm more than half done with the most major part of it and now my sewing machine isn't working? Great. Just great.

I remove the bobbin and the bobbin casing. Decide that the "fluff" that has built up over two days of constant use is probably my problem and that by doing a little "fluff" removal, everything is going to be just fine. I remove t
he "fluff." There is actually a lot of "fluff." I go to put the bobbin casing back in - and nope - can't get it to sit properly. Nothing I am doing is right. It just doesn't want to go back together. It should be so simple a child should be able to do it. Like I need this frustration. Where is DH when I really need him? Gone for a week. Why oh why oh why can't I get this stupid thing back together. Who am I going to call to fix this for me - DH is GREAT with stuff like this. I work at it for an hour. At this point the problem is not just the sewing machine - I am part of the problem - I am beyond frustrated. Where is the sewing machine manual? Frantically searching for it - and of course IT IS NOT where it is supposed to be - and I am the last one who used it - so I can't be blaming anyone - and why the heck isn't it in the drawer where it goes with the rest of the sewing machine stuff like it usually is?!? What the hell have I done with it?!? I decide that I can probably find the manual on-line. Spend half hour or so on-line searching for "Singer Sewing Machine Repair guide on-line," "how to reinsert bobbin case in Singer sewing machine," "sewing machine maintenance," and a hundred similar other searches and can't come up with a damn thing that is useful! If I could just find the damn manual then I could fix this problem.

I go back to the sewing machine. I am trying SO HARD to maintain my composure and be patient. I've done this exact same repair/maintenance before and NEVER had this problem. Why is it so fucked up now? I try. I try. I try agai
n. Can't get the stupid bobbin case in properly no matter what I do. HAVE GOT TO HAVE THE MANUAL. It has got to be around here somewhere. I am seconds away from going into "crazy woman stage," when I realize that my sewing machine manual has been on the table in front of me the whole time - it is stuck in my book from which I'm getting the sewing pattern / instruction for this whole "make over the bedroom" project. But of course...

I check the manual and open it to page 31 which is going to tell me how to fix my problem...

Is this the MOST LAME set of instructions to reinserting a bobbin casing that you have ever seen?!? Yes. It. Is!!! I walk away from the whole thing. I head outside to the back yard with the Kids and a tennis balls. I just don't have the patience for sewing - at this point - or for trying to fix my stupid sewing machine - and I own the MOST basic sewing machine in the entire world!!! It is just a little before four in the afternoon. I make the decision that I'll go downtown to get the paint I wanted to get on Saturday morning - before I realized it was a company holiday - which meant that everyone would be out and about - and I decided NOT to go. One of the good things about it being so hot outside is that the Kids are ready to go inside where it is cool after only ten or fifteen minutes of chasing and retrieving tennis balls so I didn't feel guilty about cutting into their play time by deciding to go downtown... I grabbed the paper to check to see when prayer time is so that I can determine if I have enough time to go downtown or not. Plenty of time. Prayer isn't until 6:37. Two hours. And all I need is forty-five minutes to run downtown to the paint store and back. I called and got a cab. I'm getting my "leave the house" paraphernalia together - my abeya is a must, keys, two bottles of water - one for me and one for the driver, and cell phone - do NOT leave the house without it - when I realize my cell phone is not off, it is dead. Damn it! Now what? I really, really am not comfortable leaving the house without it - and I know better than to even think about leaving the compound without it. I debate canceling my cab. I don't have time to charge the phone. What to do what to do what to do... I call a friend and tell her that my phone is dead, that I'm going downtown to the paint store, that I'll be home within forty-five minutes and that I'll call her again as soon as I get home just so that someone knows where I am just in case... Fine. I grab my "fabric" so I can try to find the right color - jumped in the cab - and directed my driver to the paint store, Jotun's.

Traffic is a nightmare. I should have known better. Work is out for the day - so are all the crazy drivers. And they are NOT women!!! I swear this country would have double their money - they have billions with oil - they could have billions in traffic fines if they actually stopped people for speeding, or cutting you off through three lanes [a maneuver called "the Saudi swing"], or for running red lights. They don't stop "locals" for any of those things - so Saudi Arabia misses out on a LOT of revenue. My little driver from India gets us close to the paint store safely, and that's a good thing, but there is no getting down the street that the paint store is on. Why? Because ass-holes who can't find a place to park don't even bother and just park on the fucking street with absolutely NO regard or care that NO ONE else can drive on that street. Another revenue maker, Saudi Arabia... Parking enforcement. Are you listening?!? No. Of course not. And the blocks surrounding the paint store are all blocked in similar fashion - with cars just parked there. Unbelievable. And this is why we do NOT go downtown except for first thing in the morning. I just have never seen it this bad. My little driver informs me that school is out and that everyone from Riyadh is now in Dhahran. Why the hell someone would want to come from one part of this country to another that is just the same, is beyond me, but whatever...

I finally get to the paint store and I tell the driver I'm going to be ten minutes, tops, because all I need to do is select my color - or colors - and have a quart mixed - or two - or three - depending on the colors - and then be on my merry way. Easy. The driver tells me he will circle the block. And, this is only ONE reason why a cell phone is useful - you can call your driver and tell him you are done - come and get you... But no cell phone. Just my fabric and pocket book. Into the paint store. There is one "local" working. I grab a couple of swatches and then go outside and hold them next to my fabric - in the daylight - and decide I only need one - got the perfect color. I need a quart so that I can try the color on the wall, first, before I have the entire bedroom painted. There are two other men - younger, "locals" - in the paint store - but they are just talking to the man behind the counter. I go to the counter and tell the man I need a quart of "this color." The two men there - next to me - are all laughing and yakking - in Arabic - and the man working is much more interested in being part of their life than he is in getting me a quart of paint. Much, much more interested in doing ANYTHING than mixing me a quart of paint and tells me "The workers are gone to eat. Come and buy the paint tonight." I, very nicely, say that I only need a quart, and I want it now, to take it with me. Nope. Not happening. "The workers will 'fix' it. Come back tonight." The fucking asshole refused to mix a quart of paint for me. Unbelievable. Just unfuckingbelievable. Well, no, actually it isn't. And that was it. He was NOT going to mix a quart of paint for me. What a wasted trip. What a waste of time. I grab a bunch of other paint sample strips - because now I want to do the "While you were out" on our study, too, but I'm furious. I storm out of the shop, I'm waiving my arm frantically - as I see my car - going DOWN the street away from me - have no idea if the driver saw me or not - but now I have to wait for him to come back around the block - which you'd think would only take a minute or two - but took closer to ten - and I'm am muttering to myself that I'm NEVER getting paint here again - I know there are other paint stores - but this is the one who has workers that actually know what they are doing - EXCEPT FOR ONE ASSHOLE - and who can I call and complain to about his attitude and lack of service - and why did I ever think that any of this - the whole "While you were out" thing was a good idea and would be a great break for me in the first place?!?!

My little driver picks me up and I tell him I'm all done and we can return to the compound. He was very sweet. We talked about how bad the drivers are here and he told me that the driving is much, much worse in Riyadh, but much, much better in Jeddah. I got home safely, empty handed...

I throw my stupid abeya over one of the stools in the kitchen and grab the phone to call my friend to tell her I'm home that no one needs to worry and realize I've got three messages. Make my call and then listen to the messages. The first call is my DH, "Hey, Hon, you home? Pick up the phone." The second call is my DH, "Hey, Hon, just me. Where are you?" And, the third call is my DH, "Hey Hon. Our trip is canceled. I'm on my way home. Just wanted to know if you wanted me to grab something for dinner." Oh shit. He's coming home?!? He is supposed to be gone for a week! I've got plans and don't want him to know what I'm doing. Not because I don't want him to know - not like anything I'm doing is a big secret - well the construction work - again - on my closet isn't going to make him happy - but it isn't that big of deal - I just really thought I'd surprise him with my "While you were out" idea and now - the house is torn apart and in complete disarray - I've emptied half the stuff out of my closet to do measurements to give to the guy that's coming later this week to redo it for me, I've tried to rearrange some of the furniture myself to see if I am going to like the new direction I'm moving the bedroom - all has to do with TV placement - DH has seen the sewing stuff out, but I just kind of shrugged it off when he asked me about it - told him I was finishing a project I'd started eons ago - for all he knows, I'm making more bedding for the Kids - and he is headed home. I immediately call his cell phone and say, "Hey Honey, you're coming home. Oh, good! Did you grab something for dinner because I wasn't planning on you." Never mention that I'd been downtown - and the whole time I'm on the phone with him I am racing around grabbing all the stuff that is out and throwing it back into my closet - and moving the Kids' crates in the bedroom and nightstands - and trying to make it look like nothing happened here. And, so far, pretty much nothing has... Just par for the course.

I got my sewing machine working perfectly again this morning and the biggest piece is only a couple of seams away from being completely done. I am thrilled with it! I will finish it tomorrow morning. And then, a bunch of much smaller, easier little sewing pieces to do... Paint - where I'm going to get it - I have no idea - but it will not be at Jotun's... The carpenter is coming on Wednesday morning to work in my closet and the painters are lined up for Thursday. Can't wait until it is all finished!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Break Time

This blog needs a three or four day break. I've got nothing positive to say, lately. It's all negative. And who needs constant negativity in their life? I need a three or four day break. Not necessarily from blogging, but definitely from here. That isn't going to happen. With the exception of a trip across the causeway to Bahrain [where life is a LOT closer to normal] occasionally, we're here in the Sandbox until the very end of the summer. I do know that I certainly need a good attitude adjustment and I've got the perfect project to work on that will demand my full attention and a great deal of time and effort.

I'm not even going to read other blogs for a couple of days - or at least I'm going to try to tear myself away from 'em - maybe allow myself a quick peak at a couple of my most favorites... From the most sane voice out there - who sees that our world is becoming one big FUBAR'd* world Weasel Zippers, and from a woman who makes me laugh Rachel Lucas. Other than those two... I'm going to set the timer in the morning - while I have my first and second cup of coffee and cigarette - for twenty-five minutes. That's it. Twenty-five minutes once a day on the computer - not much time to scan a lot of blogs - just enough to keep me abreast of what's happening in the world out there - which is so different from the world here.

That way I can get the bedroom completely redone. I am allowing myself three - at most - four days. I've got my work cut out for me, that's for sure, but I know if I put my mind to it, it will happen. I shamed myself into cleaning my garage by posting that I needed to do it. I'm going to do the same for our bedroom... And just force myself to do it. Bad knee and all! I'll just get the houseboy, gardener and pool guy to move the furniture for me.

DH has no idea that I've got someone lined up to do some "construction" work on my closet - which has already been done, once, but needs some tweaking... I've got all my sewing stuff out, right now, fabric has been cut... I need to get downtown tomorrow morning to get some paint. Today is Friday - and the day is almost over. It will be done by July 1st or at the very, very latest July 2nd! One way or another, damn it, it is going to be done!

We've got 1350 days left on the contract for us living in this house. But who is counting?!? I may as well give it my best effort and make it as livable as possible. I have got to quit dwelling on, or at least try to ignore, some of my frustrations. It certainly won't be a cure-all, but it might just help...

What I really, really need is a professional designer and the team from "While You Were Out." I have neither, so I'm just going to wing it and do it myself!

*Fucked up beyond all recognition

Another Abused / Raped Maid

Ho-humm. Just nonchalant... Same old, same old. Another hot and sunny day in the Sandbox and another maid abused and raped. And, what will happen? Absolutely nothing. The maid can identify two of her attackers - one of them, her employer. Will they be arrested? Will the employer be allowed to recruit another maid from a different country? Whatever. Who cares. Just the same old, same old, day in and day out, here.

But I will tell you this... The boys here - like the four who live down the street from me - they are the ones that will be committing these exact same crimes later on in life. Their parents offer absolutely NO discipline [and I'm not talking corporal punishment - how 'bout just grounding these little twerps - which is the nicest term I've used for them in a few days!], no guidance insofar as to being responsible adolescents, and from what I can see no rules.

It is all part and parcel of a double standard that exists. The second part of the article tells of a maid who will be spending three months in jail for allegedly stealing money, clothing and a watch from her employer. Although, personally, there is something wrong with the story, in my opinion, and I don't believe for a single solitary second the events happened quite the way they are described. Fishy. It's just fishy...

"The 32-year-old maid evaded arrest for months, but her employer got suspicious when he drove her to the airport. "We searched her bags and found clothes that we thought had been lost at the dry cleaners, a gold watch and a substantial amount of money," said a friend of the employer." She evaded arrest for months but yet the employer was some how able to drive her to the airport?!? No. Something just isn't right. And why would a "friend" of the employer be able to search her bags?!?

My point is that the maid - because she is an ex-pat - will be treated much, much differently and jailed for three months for a crime that probably wasn't even committed. And the "employer" who raped the maid in the first part of the article? Will he even be questioned? Will he be charged? Will he be found guilty and punished???

Who knows. If there is a follow-up in the paper, then I'll be able to read about it and find out. But it's not like I can turn on the nightly news, here, and listen to the stories that are being reported - any local news would be in Arabic and since my Arabic is nothing more than basic - very, very basic - I wouldn't understand a word that was being said.

Note to self: Sign up for additional Arabic classes this fall. [I have actually enjoyed the three I've already taken... I really, really liked learning how to write Arabic. But my real motive to learn the language is to find out what is being said by those speaking Arabic all around me...]

Thought Validation

From the Saudi Gazette, a week a ago... "Expats everywhere yet nowhere." "There are about eight million expatriates from all over the world living in Saudi Arabia." You would think - honestly - that with this many of us that Saudis would be willing to acknowledge first and foremost that we were ALL asked to come here, perhaps not all in the same manner, i.e., groups of laborers from other countries come here in droves because there are jobs available for them, whereas professionals are actually hunted and sought after and "begged" to come. That said, one would think that it would behoove Saudis to treat us more as guests instead of as outcasts. That Saudis would be willing to bend some to let us live and let live without forcing us to assimilate to their mores and culture so strictly. Nope. It does NOT happen that way.

I don't agree with the entire article, but there certainly are some well-made points. The writer, Abdullah Bin Bakeet, invites people to go to his blog to discuss "How did such estrangement come about?" I have my own thoughts on how, but for the time being, will be keeping them to myself. Mr. Bakeet really doesn't want to know "how" from my viewpoint, right now, and I'm still just to angry with the kids in my neighborhood to keep my view narrow and concise and offer any solution - right now, I am just part of the problem... Oh well...

This article from Arab News offers more to validating some of my more recent opinions and thoughts... And Najeeb Yamani tells it just like it is:

"We travel east and west outside Saudi Arabia. While at foreign airports, we stand for hours waiting in queues. We abstain from smoking in public places such as airports. We respect signs and regulations, and encourage our families to do the same. We also smile while abroad, and when we stand in queues, we sing songs instead of cursing and shouting ensuring that we behave well and do not cause trouble."

"While eating at restaurants abroad [ed. note: where there are NOT segregated areas for men and families!] we eat and behave respectfully - something that is markedly different to how we eat in public places in the Kingdom. We also put things back in their proper places before leaving. We always have in mind that one can be imprisoned or fined for violating regulations while abroad. We avoid throwing rubbish on the streets and ensure not to run red lights, something we are never bothered about while being in our own country."

"... Outside Saudi Arabia we become totally different."


There it is!!! Exactly! Yes, it is a very, very different culture here. Didn't I tell ya?!?

"We become polite enough to greet strangers. We get rid of our anger and rigid feelings. ... We start respecting women and do not harass them."

"But, once we head toward the Kingdom, we are a changed people. We replace the smiles on our faces with a stern look. We start to look for trouble with others. On planes we create problems with flight attendants and make a big deal about our women sitting next to unrelated men."

"Men start creating problems, because they want all their family members to sit next to them. Families let their kids play inside airports and disrupt peace. [Understatement, that is!] Women start creating problems with their husbands, accusing them of looking at other women."

"This is a glimpse of the contradiction that we have. There are surely more."

Oh. Yes. There surely are!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I am sick and tired of the TITS that surround me!!!

You have absolutely NO IDEA how tired I am with this kind of shit. Why the hell does the company who owns this compound put up with this kinda crap?!? Oh. We All Know Why. People are just too chicken shit to face it. I can kiss this Blog goodbye. You want to raise little terrorists in training - TITS - that's your deal. But I'm done trying to deal with 'em. And I deal with 'em on a daily basis. "Oh. What. Someone barked at you dog?!? Gee. Sorry." No. Someone threatened my dog. Asshole. Big. Fuckin ' Difference. Good Fucking Grief. I really should be publishing this post somewhere else. I'll probably get censored and deleted by doing it here. And IP 212.76.72, I don't give a rats ass what you think and no one else does either, do not come here if you don't want to read about me bitching. Today I choose to bitch and complain about the Saudi boys that live here. Quite frankly - if you have more than four kids - you shouldn't be allowed to live here. There are only a few houses that have more than four bedrooms. You choose to breed like rabbits - that's your business - but you should NOT be allowed to live here! I am going to end up being the meanest, most prejudiced person in the world by the time I am done here. When I get back to the States I will end up getting arrested for hate crimes because if you are a Saudi boy I will just hate you. Truly, I will harbor feelings I didn't even know were possible to have until I ended up having a gazillion Saudi boys as neighbors. The house down the street - is the worst offender. There have got to be eight kids in that house. Four of them are boys. I have called Security again and again and complained about them. Nothing is done about it. They are allowed to be little hellions and that is just fine as far as this community is concerned. Whatever they do - legal or not [firecrackers are illegal here - but it is okay for them to set them off at 5:30 in the morning! no one else could get away with it - but this household of hellions can!] - they continue to be allowed to do it. The boys that live there are beyond disrespectful. They are deviants! Someone needs to be keeping a close eye on them. Honestly. I should have done my homework before leaving the townhouse to move to his house. All because I wanted a yard for the Kids and a pool. Had I of known that I was going to be surrounded by hoards of Saudi boys - we NEVER would have moved here. I would have stayed at the townhouse with NO yard and no pool. This culture IS different. I realize that more and more every day. I came here with an open mind. I will be leaving with an incredibly closed one - provided I still have it - my mind, that is - if I don't go absolutely bonkers before that. Are they all bad? No. Of course they aren't. That'd be like saying all the kids in Los Angeles are bad - they aren't - just the "gangs" are. But there are a LOT of bad kids here. Correction. There are a lot of bad BOYS here. The girls aren't allowed out of their houses. It is amazing how little boys are treated here - like they truly are kings or something - they are treated much, much differently than the way little girls are treated. And you can't tell me that it is NOT going to be a problem for them later on down the road... They are going to be trouble for this society. Yes. They are. This society - this culture - needs to reign them in now. And that's not going to happen. I'm not angry at Security. Security really does try to do their job - and yes, I believe their hands are tied. I can report the boys and report the boys and nothing - NOTHING - is going to change or happen. They will be allowed to live down the street and continue to terrorize me and my Kids. We were invited to move here. We were asked. We did not beg to come here. In fact, my DH after having been here as a contractor for some seven months decided that he didn't want to be here. The company begged him. We came. We were told that this was an American compound. It used to be. It isn't any more. It is a compound - but there are more Saudis that live on the compound than Americans. Perhaps it was an experiment of sorts. Bring two cultures together. It isn't working. Every day more and more women are out and about totally covered, head-to-toe, in black. What the hell are you doing here, then? Just move to Khobar. The separation issues have been forced on the rest of us - different areas for men and women - from "public" and recreational spaces right down to the clinic where there are separate waiting rooms for men and women. And I can't even get an appointment at the clinic because all of the company's employees dependents can be treated there - no matter if you have four wives and dozen kids - they're still dependents - so I have to wait for a month to get an appointment to get my bad knee looked at. Yes. I am frustrated. But the icing on the cake was when The Baby was threatened. Stay away from me. And do NOT come near my Kids. I will not leave the house again without my phone. If you even so much as walk on the same side of the street with me I am taking your picture and going straight to Security with it. I'm just venting. My thoughts aren't even clear because I'm so angry. I need a vacation from this place. It is time. You can only take so much. I don't know if I'll be able to wait until September. I would be thrilled to pack my suitcase and get on the plane tonight, but that would mean the Kids would be here without Mommy for far too long and the Saudi boys cannot be trusted...


Authorities in Makkah arrested a nine year old! There were some stabbings - a couple of them. "He stabbed me and he stabbed me" kind of thing. The father of the little boy has stepped up to the plate and admitted his responsibility but the story is somewhat convoluted... Someone tell me what a nine year old boy is doing with a knife?!?

This is just sad. There has got to be some agency or department or Ministry or facility that can help this family! I can understand that the family feels the need to confine their daughter/sister for protection - so that she doesn't wander off - if she is that severely afflicted with "psychological damage." But locking her in a cage is just wrong...

More Unpaid Workers

What is going to be done to remedy the situation of workers going unpaid for months at a time and how is it that the Labor departments and Courts, which have had to deal with these problems for years now, are still at a loss to be able to rectify these situations? Both of today's local newspapers have reports of imported workers not getting paid their wages and/or other benefits they are due.

In one report, Nukhba House of Medical Services has not paid 55 of its workers for seven months! The workers allege that "the company required them to work for an extra year after their contracts expired, failed to pay for their tickets home, retained up to seven months' wages and did not approve exit visas." Ten of the workers have been sent home [did they get their $$$?] but 45 of them remain "stranded," and they are "suffering from hunger and depression."

The matter is being bounced from one department to another as the workers try to get some resolution. I am not familiar with how "the system" works here, but it does seem to me that somehow "the system" could be streamlined to get workers their due. And, why, when this company "has been blacklisted for their failure to honor terms of employment contracts in another case" is the company not being hauled - no, not 'politely' asked - hauled - the company's CEO - in handcuffs - before the court system or police or Labor Ministry to explain to authorities why these men have not been paid, given their other benefits and received their exit visas so that they can go home??? Seize this company's bank account or whatever other assets it may have, throw the company's principals in jail, get these workers paid and sent home, and let it serve as an example to all the rest of the company's out there who don't want to pay their workers! There. Solution found. [You're most welcome.]

In the other report "10 ambulance drivers and a number of maintenance workers and security guards at Sabt Al-Alaya Hospital went on strike... Workers allege that they have not been paid for 4 to 10 months." I just do not understand. Perhaps I never will....

Serving Burgers

Why wasn't this in either of our local newspapers? It certainly should have been. It is much more newsworthy and would have taken up less space than an article in the Saudi Gazette that said "expect hot weather during the months of July and August." [No shit! Really? Hot weather in the summer in Saudi Arabia. Pretty much common knowledge; not news.]

There is a new burger-joint in Jeddah, where Saudi Labor Minister, Dr. Gazi Al Gosaibi, "acted as a waiter after opening Federex, the first hospitality restaurant managed and employed by Saudi youths." I couldn't find anything about Federex - but for the article from Gulfnews. If anyone in Jeddah reads this check it out and let me know what you thought of the place - how it is run, how the food is, and whether you can get a decent milkshake there.

Saudi Jeans has a picture! And the restaurant is Fuddruckers.

H/T: R [Thanks!]

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It IS Hot Outside!

It was too hot to work outside this afternoon, so I didn't. I'll try to make-up the time tomorrow. I just couldn't take it out there! The pool temperature is 92° which is not cool enough to be refreshing - it is more like warm bathwater - and the temperature, in the sun, this afternoon was beyond measuring:

There's a touch of humidity in the air - just enough to make it absolutely miserable outside.

Honestly, I don't know how the guys - the gardeners, the street cleaners, the construction workers - all of 'em - do it. Supposedly they are not supposed to have to work if the temperature is 5
0° [Celsius] or above - which is 122° [Fahrenheit]. That may well be true, but I bet they don't get paid if they don't work so they work and bear it. I couldn't do it. Heck. I couldn't even sunbathe today because it was too hot out - and I have a pool to cool off in.

It's My Fault. Damnit! It's ALWAYS My Fault!!!

My Mom, my Dad, and me at Niagra falls in August of 2006:

This year, instead of sending flowers to my Mom for Mother's Day, I sent her a pair of shoes and an outfit...

I found a gorgeous outfit for her at Coldwater Creek, which is one of her favorite stores - I looked for the outfit to post a picture of it, here, but it's already gone... It was a three-piece outfit - white pants, white
tank top, and a long-sleeved sheer white shirt with embroidered swirls in hot pink and teal. I could just picture my Mom in it and knew it would look perfect on her. She really, really liked it! And, I found the perfect matching shoes to go with the outfit. I know Mom doesn't wear stilettos, but she will wear a moderate heel so I got her these:
to go with the outfit. Summery... Bright! Fun! Nothing she would ever buy for herself - the shoes - the outfit, yes, but not the shoes. Mom was surprised when she got a box from Zappos delivered to her - they arrived before the Coldwater Creek box did - and she opened it and these shoes were in it... I was surprised she liked them! I like them. Everything fit her perfectly - the outfit and the shoes! Job well done - a perfect Mother's Day present.

But not really.

Mom called yesterday afternoon and the first thing she said was, "I just want you to know I am alright." Huh? What does that mean?!? And she told me that she had worn the outfit I bought her with the shoes to church on Sunday. She fell. She fractured her right arm in three places and will be in a full-arm cast for the next six weeks. I bought the shoes for her and it is my fault... I am sooooo sorry, Mom. Really. I am.

Next year for Mother's Day you are getting flowers. I promise.

Okay. I'll Play. But the game will be over... And I lose.

L_Oman has tagged me... In her blog, today, she asks, "What the heck is a 'meme' anyways?" I had to look it up. The "Urban Dictionary" is way cool and says that a meme is:

1: an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)

2: a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable

3: the fundamental unit of information, analogous to the
gene in emerging evolutionary theory of culture
- meme pool (n.) : all memes of a culture or individual
- memetic (adj.) : relating to memes
- memetics (n.) : the study of memes

4: in
blogspeak, an idea that is spread from blog to blog

5: an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information

I'll go with meaning number 5...

Here are the rules for this meme:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now, shaping your spring/summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

My mind is blank. Seven songs? Nope. Can't do it. Can come up with five, though:

First, Trace Adkins "I Got My Game On." Hot damn, if this man doesn't absolutely have one of the sexiest voices in the entire world!!! The kind of voice that makes you want do things that I can't even type here because my Mother reads this blog.

Second, Duffy's "Mercy."

Third - an oldie. Not a "golden oldie," but oldie nonetheless. ["Golden oldies" give me anxiety attacks. Can't stand that genre!] I heard it yesterday for the first time in a while in the truck on the way home from getting my MRI done... My Kid introduced me to TLC many years ago. He was absolutely in love with one of the women but I can't recall which one - Lefty or Left Eye, maybe? The song is "Waterfalls." I think it is the only song they ever sang that I liked.

And finally, the fourth and fifth song, both done by the same train wreck. Truly I feel bad for this woman. If she doesn't get some help, serious help, soon, we will be reading her obituary in the near future. I play Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" CD a lot and like "You Know I'm No Good," and "Rehab". We have our own version of Rehab that we sing: They tried to make me go to Riyadh, I said no, no, no...

It was pretty funny when, at a party some months ago, "Rehab" was playing a couple of flight attendants belted out "They tried to make us go to Riyadh, we said no, no, no..." and it kinda stuck... Yeah. Guess it was one of those things where you really had to be there.

And that's all I can come up with. Cannot come up with a sixth or seventh... And I can't tag seven people either. L_Oman assumes that I have seven friends in the blogosphere. I don't. So sad.

Game over.

I lose.


There are two articles in today's Saudi Gazette worth mentioning, but their website won't let you click on the links to get to them - instead, it returns to the front page. Both are in the "Nation" section... That page is here.

One of the articles: "No wages for eight months, say 300 workers." This country has tons of money. Tons of it. The men who come here, imported from other countries, to do manual labor are paid ridiculously low wages. There is NO excuse for a company not paying their workers for eight months. No excuse. You can bet your life savings that no "local" employee would ever work for eight months without pay. Nor would any Westerner. But the "little guys," the ones at the very bottom of the proverbial "corporate ladder" [these "little guys" aren't even on the damn ladder!] are just expected to continue working... for EIGHT months without being paid. Yeah. Whatever. No one ever said life was going to be fair...

The workers have been on strike for a month, and have filed a lawsuit against their sponsor with the Labor Office. It will be years before these "little guys" ever get their back wages, if they get them at all.

And, the other article: "Child swap in Dammam." A Saudi woman had a baby boy, but was given a baby girl when she left the hospital. The woman left the hospital with a baby girl! The hospital realized there was a "mix-up," and a Filipina nurse has been "punished for causing this grave mistake." The article doesn't say what the punishment was... This is what makes this article "newsworthy," though:

Yusuf Al-Asmari, the child's maternal uncle, said "there were doubts from the very beginning as the baby's skin was darker whereas the family members are fair complexioned." That was YOUR only clue that you took the wrong baby home from the hospital?!? Did ANYONE think to maybe investigate just a little bit further? I strongly suspect that if someone would have changed this baby's diaper they would have figured out right away that they had the wrong baby...

I Got My MRI!

Geez. Who gets happy and excited about getting an MRI done? And exactly what does that say about me... Hmm... But it was scheduled for yesterday afternoon and now it is done. Happy, happy, happy... I tried very hard to get the technician to tell me if she saw anything but she wouldn't. I understand she can't. I did say something to the effect that if I had a new knee my problem would be resolved and she said, "Oh, I don't think you need a knee replacement." Then what? What did YOU see on the MRI? She wouldn't tell me. And now, my appointment with the orthopedist has been scheduled but he can't see me for a month! Great. Another long wait... Oh well. At least I got the MRI taken care of.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My New Gardener is Doing a Great Job!

I should have tracked Appuk down a long time ago and hired him. My yard looks better than it ever has. This man knows his stuff! My bushes have all been neatly trimmed - not butchered. I don't have scraggly grass growing between the bricks that outline the flower beds any more. Whatever plants were dying or dead Appuk has removed. And yesterday he brought me twenty-two flowers to plant around a tree where I had planted basil and carnations that all were killed due to excessive salt-watering by Gardener Number 6. Right now, my arrangement with Appuk is that I will pay him a monthly sum which works out to be about $3.50 an hour. He is worth every penny of that! He comes six days a week - Friday is his only day off. He is old and he is slow. But he is methodical and thorough. Appuk has only been working for me for three weeks, so it is too soon to give him a raise, but if he continues to do the fantastic job he's doing, I will happily pay him more in the future.

It is just so nice to finally - finally - have someone working for me that knows what they are doing and anticipates what needs done before I even have to ask!

Now, if I could just find a house-boy that could do as good of job inside my house as Appuk does outside caring for my yard and gardening...

Calling B.S. on This!

Guess every once in a while there has to be a "feel good makes you all warm and fuzzy" report story written about the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. But I'm calling bull-shit on this. It is my opinion that this is just a disgruntled woman who took it upon herself to get authorities involved to get some poor guy in trouble. And I can't muster up any sympathy for her, at all. If you are foolish enough to have allowed yourself to be black-mailed for FOURTEEN years and scammed out of 800,000 Riyals you need to be wearing a big scarlet "S" on your "hijab," for "STUPID!"

Think about it - FOURTEEN YEARS! 800,000 Riyals is $214,477.21! She allowed herself to be "black-mailed" to the tune of $15,319.80 a year for a decade and a half. Stupid. No doubt about it.

The story says that the woman gave some man she had never met a picture of herself - and then he used that picture to black-mail her by threatening to tell her family of that the two were carrying on an "illicit" relationship. We need to see that picture... What, did she pose full-out spread-legged naked or something? Then, she was foolish enough to send a man she supposedly had never met a video of herself, too? Make that two big scarlet "S's" on her hijab - for Super Stupid! And just how do you give someone your ATM card without ever meeting that person? The article says, "the man made the woman hand him her ATM card." Doesn't that imply that the two had to come face-to-face with each other? Who hands over their ATM card to someone they've never met [???] unless they are facing imminent danger and in fear of life-threatening physical harm?!?

Nah. The man involved here, whose intentions may have been noble some FOURTEEN years ago, has decided that the woman involved is not worthy of his attentions any longer because she is "Super Stupid," and now the woman is upset over being "dumped" so she is accusing him of black-mail. That's what this is all about...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shopping in Oman

Apparently, shopping in Oman is exactly the same as shopping here! Good to know. I have never been to Oman - but it is a Country that we would like to visit. Guess I probably won't want to be going shopping, there, but I will definitely want to have lunch with L_Oman... Velveeta cheese and Cap'n Crunch, outside, in the sun...

Unfortunately, L_Oman didn't get the memo about mall rules before she embarked on her recent shopping excursion, and she had to learn first-hand that going to the mall means you:

1. Have no good reason to go to the mall.

2. Go to the said mall and park illegally. If you wanna park in handicap, ok. If you wanna park in the cart return, ok.

3. Now here's the kicker. Walk in packs slowly around the mall. Make sure your 'internal radar' that says: 'Oooh, I think this lady is in a hurry and needs to get around us!' is turned off.

4. If you have a cart (trolley), let your wreckless 8 year old push it into said woman''s achilles tendon repeatedly. And don't apologise. It doesn't hurt that bad. Besides - kids will be kids, eh?

5. To spice things up, stop dead center in the flow of traffic to greet your your cousin's best-friend's sister in-law. Give the 'bous' (kiss) to each cheek and prolongue the greeting. Ask about every cousin twice-removed and then about the other side of the family.

6. When you do finally decide to leave, make sure you leave your cart right on the above mentioned lady's car bumper. She won't mind. She loves the dents, really!

L_Oman nails it! And she describes shopping in Oman as shopping here, to the exact detail!!!

You Learn Something New Every Day!

This site is great! If you are "technically challenged," which I very, very much am, and need to learn how to do something to put in a blog post, such as the "degree" symbol - which I have never been able to use until today, or a "lower case e acute," which I have also not been able to use until today, then go here to learn how to use a variable plethora of posting "stuff." I honestly don't know how I stumbled upon this site, but it is where I ended a week or so ago when I was trying to do "inserted / deleted" text to write: slave maid.

What a great site! So much way cool information!!! My goodness, it will allow me to be a real "professional" blogger in no time... But not this week. It is an absolutely gorgeous day outside - the sun is shining, the sky is blue, it is only 109°, and it is prime sun-time! I'm off to go work on my tan and finish reading Coal River...

Alleged Gays in Raid, Arrested

This story was not in either of our local newspapers. I saw it at Weasel Zippers site, who is renown for "Scouring the Bowels of the Internet so you Don' t Have To."

Camel Meat

We have it, here, camel meat. I do not eat meat - except for some occasional pork - and I very much doubt there will ever come the day when I try camel meat. It may be very tasty. Seems to me that somewhere I read that the first time you eat camel meat you get sick. That may just be one of those "wives tales" that gets passed around. Is there anyone, locally, who can attest to that, one way or the other? I have been told that camel milk is quite good and that camel milk makes terrific ice cream - which you can get in Bahrain - but I have not seen it in the freezer section of the grocery stores, here.

In the Saudi Gazette, today: "Meat of dead camels seized."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dinner With Friends and Steak for The Kids

Last week, during one of my daily "bitch and gripe" sessions when I was distressed over not being able to find any Velveeta cheese to make broccoli and cheese sauce with, I got a comment from "Anonymous" who said I should try Roquefort cheese with broccoli - and pasta - it IS absolutely yummy!!! I made my own version - as a broccoli casserole, sans pasta - for dinner last night - and served it to guests...

I par-boiled the frozen broccoli - forget getting fresh here - if it is imported you have to purchase it by little fist sized-florets - not the entire head - and each "floret" costs between 12 and 16 Riyals - so it would cost about 80 Riyals for an entire head of broccoli - yes 80 Riyals - which is about $24.00! If you purchase the local broccoli - there is almost always some sort of fungus on it - mold? - I don't know what it is - but it is a complete turn off. I stick to frozen. Anyway, I par-boiled the frozen broccoli. Then I very liberally sprinkled crumbled Roquefort cheese on top of it and gave it a quick toss - each bite of broccoli is ooohhh SOOOOO good with a taste of the cheese... and put it in a 9" X 9" baking dish. I melted a couple tablespoons of butter and mixed that with a cup or so of seasoned bread-crumbs, put the butter bread-crumb mixture on top of the broccoli and Roquefort cheese and stuck it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350°. It was fabulous!!!

I made a tomato salad - tomatoes, black olives, red onion and some feta cheese - which sat in the refrigerator all day marinating itself in the Italian salad dressing I cover it with. So easy. So quick. Little fuss or mess and very, very good. One of my DH's favorites.

Also served were sautéed mu
shrooms, rolls from the bakery - the hard "crusty," chewy ones... And, steak on the grill... I bought several packages of U.S. tenderloins - not cheap - about $15.00 per steak - per small steak! U.S. beef is expensive, here. I have eaten almost no meat for the last six or eight months - just because I don't enjoy the taste of it any more - or the "consistency" of it - and if I'm not going to enjoy eating it, then there is no point... But there is a big difference in the taste of U.S. beef and beef from Australia or Brazil - which are our choices. Beef from Australia and Brazil even smells different than U.S. beef. People say you get used to the taste, but I couldn't get used to it when I was eating meat, so I don't buy it - and stick to U.S. beef. I do, however, always buy a small steak for The Kids - and, no, they don't get the more expensive U.S. beef - usually...

DH cooked all the steaks to order and we ate outside on the patio - it was a lovely evening - warm, yes, but not unbearable. After we ate, I cleared the food off of the table and took it all inside - there were three steaks on the platter left over - one of which was The Kids' steak - and two small tenderloins. I wasn't outside very long, before I went back inside to the kitchen to refill a couple of beverages - and that's when I realized that my Kids had quite impatiently helped themselves!

The Baby was caught in the act - red-handed - chewing her steak on the floor - and was very, very reluctant to give up her "prize," one of the tenderloins, which I had to take away from her because what they - the Kids - had done was naughty. Very naughty. The Boy raced for his crate before I could even raise my voice - his steak or steaks - having been already consumed. Oh, they knew. They knew... There was steak "juice" all over the floor and the platter on the counter was empty - no steaks. The Kids could not and did not resist the temptation - and really - it was my fault - for setting a plate of such delicacies on the counter like that. I should have immediately wrapped the two tenderloins up and put them away, and then cut up the Kids' steak and put it in their bowls. [But for a couple of incidents where butter was left on the counter within reach - one time, each - The Kids have never helped themselves to anything on the kitchen counters!] I never heard any commotion from inside taking place during the "great steak caper" - but then, when you have a Great Dane - it is not like he has to jump up or put his paws on the counter to help himself to anything he wants... And I'm sure it was only because there was so much steak that I heard no snarling or growling between the two of them which would have alerted me to something going on. Nope. So they both had steak - almost all of it!

Rent a Tent, Then!

I was really ready to be sympathetic to this. Rents, unless you qualify for Section 8, are high everywhere. Is there such a thing as "Section 8," here? The article says that "Sky rocketing rents of apartments and houses are making a big hole in the pockets of citizens and the expatriates alike... are bothering the young Saudis of marriageable age who cannot tie the nuptial knot now because of the sharp increase in rents." Not a situation much different than in areas in the States insofar as the rent of an apartment being just barely affordable, especially for young couples.

Then I read Hamed Al-Lehiani's statement - he is an engineer and he is going to be married this summer:

"We as Saudis cannot rent a small apartment because of our traditions, and this makes it all the more difficult for us to find a perfect and low-cost apartment."

Sympathy for arrogance??? I've got none!

Exactly what "traditions" are you referring to, Hamed? Traditionally, not all that long ago, Saudis were not living in big apartments or houses. The discovery of oil, here, some seventy years back, is what changed everything.

I grew up in a big Colonial house in New England - a ten room house - so by Hamed's theory, when I married my husband, we never should have rented that teeny, tiny little 700 square foot apartment [and it was probably much smaller than 700 square feet: kitchen/living room combination with ONE bay window, two bedrooms and a single bathroom]. So much for tradition...

Hamed is full of crap. Traditionally lived Saudis in "canvas" homes. Perhaps he should be looking for a tent to rent!

More Women Driving

Women living in the "empty quarter" of Saudi are driving; they do so out of necessity. Apparently women in the rest of this country do not have the same "needs" because we / they are not driving.

Saudi Arabia is the ONLY country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. The issue has been discussed and discussed and discussed by all of the powers that be, for as long as we have been here. Yet, the dilemma of whether women should be able to drive goes nowhere. It is like driving in circles. Ha!

Friday, June 20, 2008

No More Wind - Half the Dust

Glorious day, here, in the Sandbox. Finally!!! There was no wind, the sand and dust were not whipping at you and blowing all around - although there still is some in the air [the pool, again, needs a good cleaning!], and it was in the low-hundred's, temperature-wise. I have much, much make-up work to do on my tan and will need to spend a good four to six hours a day out by or in the pool to get my color back to what it was before the nasty dust storm arrived two weeks ago.

Being a professional tanner is not easy. It is hard work. Much, much more difficult than one might think. To be covered in sunblock - and some non-sunblock - which, when you are in the water, necessitates being constantly reapplied. You must move with the sun - changing positions every twenty minutes or so to prevent uneven tanning. It is a challenge to stay thoroughly hydrated - I drank three liters of Evian this afternoon!

If the Kids are out with me - and they so want to be out there - then I have to deal with continually either letting them out or putting them in - one wants in - the other wants out - if one is out the other must be out, too - and if one goes in - then the other decides that's the place to go. What is that saying, something about "a dog only wants to be on the other side of a closed door?" The Boy can handle it outside, and he, too, works on his tan - but The Baby is covered in black curly hair, is as dark as she can possibly be, and has no desire whatsoever to "work on her tan." The Baby really can't take it outside, in the back yard on the patio or next to the pool in the direct sun for longer than about two and a half minutes. So it is never-ending to either have to get out of the pool or up off my chaise to let one of the Kid's in, or let one of them out - or both.

I started reading Redhunter this week while I was at the clinic on Wednesday and finished it this afternoon. My Dad read everything that William F. Buckley, Jr., ever wrote - all of his books and all of his articles - but this was the first book of Mr. Buckley's that I have read. It was very good, well written and incredibly chock-full of historical knowledge - it is only the third "novel" [although it was "fiction," it was so much more non-fiction!] that I have read in about ten years; I read non-fiction, exclusively. Now I am going to have to check out one or two more of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s books from our library - for all the bitching I do about this place, it isn't all bad - we do have a fantastic library! Redhunter has set the bar pretty high. I'll see what else is there - after all, I'm going to be spending a lot of time outside this week, "working," making up for lost time...

All in all - a beautiful day in The Sandbox! Refreshing...

This Page Makes Me Crazy!

Is it just me? Is it my computer? What?!? If I am using Mozilla FIrefox, nine times out of ten, if I am trying to write a post unless it is at like five in the morning, when I click on to get to my Blog, I get this:

Can't even get to my own comments, because I get the same thing...

On the other hand, if I use MSN Explorer - or whatever it is - then I CAN get to my blog and to comments, but the posts are all laid out funny and whatever I'm trying to type I have change the text half a dozen times to keep it from going to what is the standard Courier font when I want Trebuchet.

It is a no-win situation for me!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two Saudi Women's Views on Society

Here is an article from today's Saudi Gazette, "Saudi women have different views on society." It doesn't, in my opinion, cover any of the real issues facing women here, and it is not particularly well written. [The Saudi Gazette could benefit from having someone proof-read their articles before sending them to print... I'd be willing to do it from the comfort of my own home... Negotiable salary and driver required...]

The first question, asked of two Saudi women, was whether Saudi Arabia is a perfect place. One answered that there is nothing to do here but eat and sleep. The other said, "There is no question of liking or not... Is there any country on this earth that is perfect?" She's got a point, there.

The article covers, albeit barely and superficially, education and marriage.

One of the women shares the same opinion about shopping, here, that I have, and said:

"She hated going shopping in Saudi Arabia... and said all her shopping for the whole year is done in Dubai." She also goes "to Bahrain every other weekend."

When asked about vacationing in Saudi Arabia, one woman just laughed... And the other said, "Tourism inside Saudi Arabia will probably take forever to get off the ground because of all the restrictions on movements and lack of proper groundwork in tourism." I can think of a lot of places I would like to vacation or visit. Even before moving here, Saudi Arabia was not on my list, and now that I live here, would I ever recommend vacationing here? Visiting maybe. But NEVER vacationing!

Slow News Day

It's the weekend. Thursday and Friday, here, are the equivalent to Saturday and Sunday in the States. Not much going on in local news.

The dust has NOT subsided. We were told the dust storm would last "until" the weekend. Doesn't that suggest that the dust storm should have been over by now? It isn't, and it is just nasty, nasty, nasty outside. All the workers outside have their faces covered with their head scarv
es and lately it is more common than not to see people wearing the white masks that doctors and nurses wear in operating rooms to protect themselves from the dust filled air, here. All of the Security men that are working at the gates to our compound have them on as well. Breathing this crap is NOT healthy. Enough is enough. I just want it to be over. Soon. The good news is that we didn't get the hurricane that was "predicted."

I am much more upset about the treatment of
the lizard in this story than the girls being frightened by it. The lizard, no doubt, was petrified! The young men were caught and will get their hands slapped and will be told not to do this again.

I "borrowed" the pictured from this site where there are a lot more pictures and information about these lizards.

Because a classmate doesn't help you cheat on an exam you stab him? Just a tad overboard, if you ask me... The "alleged culprit was arrested and is being interrogated." Confession expected momentarily...

Yep. Slow news day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My own personal troll!

Anyone remember those troll dolls - we're going way back - way, way back... Gosh, to the late 60's or early 70's! [Oops. Early 60's! What?!?] They were little plastic dolls with "buggy" eyes and neon colored hair; short, squat and ridiculously dressed. Apparently, somewhere along the way, I have acquired one...

He/she has decided to come here for a "moan fest" but doesn't dare reveal his/her identity and hides behind his/her comments using the oh-so-creative "Anonymous" to give his/her viewpoint:

"I have never seen a blog as miserable as this. It seems you have nothing better to do than complaining and who gives a shhh about your Evian. I think you should have more understanding for people who maybe unqualif
ied who work in these crappy jobs to make some money.
As a matter of fact why don't you look for a job cuz you ain't any better than the lady working on the register."

Which was posted as a comment to this.


"Here we go again....
Another bitching spree!
Who is forcing you to stay in the eastern province. Seems like nothing is good enough for you. Whats keeping you in the eastern province? You don't wanna go back to the trailer trash life? Attitudes like this make me sick to the stomach."

Which was a comment to this.

Couldn't have made him/her that "sick to the stomach." He/she hung around for 44 1/2 minutes:

Whatever. It had to happen sooner or later. And now, he/she gets his/her minute and a half of "fame." If you want to call it that. And he/she is welcome to give his/her opinion if he/she can't find anything better to do such as starting their own blog to post his/her opinions on life and the way things are here or anywhere else, or playing in traffic, which was my recommendation to "my neighbor," the "anonymous," disgruntled, troll...

Want some cheese with that whine?!?

Wah, wah, wah. Bunch of whinny crybabies here, I tell 'ya.

Read this. Absurd. Just can't even be "sensitive" to this sort of crap, anymore. Annoyed? Yes.

Not that I will shop in the lingerie stores here, anyway, so it won't much matter to me if they close them down or put big black curtains over their store front windows. I will go to the lingerie stores in Bahrain or Dubai or in just about any other country but this one. Even if you wanted to spend your money at La Perla or LaSenza it would be pointless, here. [The lingerie in these stores is expensive!] You can't try anything on - there are no fitting rooms - that would be "haram." [Not allowed. Very bad.] I'm sure I've blogged about needing a nude colored strapless bra. I went to LaSenza in one of our local malls, told the guy working there - there are NO women working in the stores - what I needed and he told me that he didn't have it, but instead offered another size and told me that it was the same. No. It's not. Then told me that I could buy the bra and take it to the mall ladies room to try it on and if it didn't fit I could return it. Too much of a pain in the ass for me. And, by the way, it was far too expensive for a one-time wearing. I wore a white strapless bra, instead, one that I already owned and bought a nude colored one in the States.

Anyone want to bet that the lingerie stores here either get closed down or are soon forced to black-out their windows? After all, we can't have families trotting through the malls seeing "provocative underwear displayed on mannequins ... erotic pieces of clothing." Oh my! Not that! "The vulgar display is embarrassing." Give it a break!

The stores that are being complained about are La Perla and LaSenza. They are as prominent in the malls, here, as Victoria's Secret is in the States. There may be a couple of others. I tried to get to their web-sites to post links, but can't. They are all blocked so as not to offend my very sensitive eyes!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shopping Here vs. Shopping There

There are a few things I will miss when we finally leave here. On of them is "shopping." [NOT!] And not the "going shopping," part, because I absolutely abhor that aspect of shopping, here. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I have to don myself in a full-length black hefty bag to leave our compound when the temperature outside is close to that of where water boils. If you've got a list of things you need to get accomplished, you better have a driver that knows his way around and speaks English well enough so that you can explain to him that you are putting the route in his capable hands so that you can get all that you need to get done in one fell swoop. Because you will only have from nine or so in the morning - some stores don't open until ten - until eleven-thirty; at most you have two and a half hours to procure whatever items are on your list - at most - it's more like an hour and a half or two. This time frame leaves little room for "haggling." That is the ONLY thing I will miss. You can bargain at the stores - with some exceptions - the mall stores for clothing and make-up items are not where you go to "haggle." But if you are looking for gold - the gold shops will all bargain with you; as will the higher-end furniture stores and even our "Sears," here, will bargain with you. We got our cook top for SR1900 when the marked price SR3200. Try that with Sears in the States. Ditto for Pier 1 or Home Goods. You will be the laughing stock of the store for sometime. "This blonde came in this morning and saw two lamps that she wanted. They are marked $49.99 each and she only wanted to pay $35.00. Ha ha ha ha ha!!!" It doesn't happen that way in the States.

I listed
some "stuff" that we don't need anymore on our company-wide internet "classifieds," here and am just amazed that whatever price you ask for something you get offered half - or less - than what you are looking for. I have some lamps I'm selling - they just don't go with our bedroom and we don't have a "guest room" in this house where I could put them. I got them at Home Goods and I paid $49.99 for each of them. [Geez. I felt like it was a deal at the time. They are interesting. They looked good in the bedroom we had in the States. They offered terrible light for reading and I am an avid reader. I'm over them.] They are in excellent condition. Not a mark on the shades or scratch on the base, of either of them. I put them in our classifieds for SR200 for the pair - I'm not going to even consider selling them separately - too much of a pain in the ass. SR200 comes out to $26.80 for each lamp.

Should I be asking more for the items I want to sell, knowing that everyone here pretty much wants something for nothing? Should I have put the price on the lamps at SR300 and then let whoever decides they want to buy them talk me down to SR200, which is the price I want, anyway? I did not have a problem with the mirror - the woman that wants it called and said she'd pay the price, sight unseen since I hadn't posted a picture - but she wanted me to hold it for her. She came to give me a deposit. I wouldn't hold anything without one. You want something one day and the next you're not interested. I am the one that said I'd give her a discount if she got my MRI scheduled for me. She called, today, by the way, and said, "I thought you told me you needed an MRI on your knee." "I do." "Well, they have it on the system as an MRI for your ankle, so you need to have that fixed, and we can get you in her next week." [I'll be at the clinic terrorizing every department I get sent to until I can get that little fuck-up fixed; let me assure you that by the time I return I will NOT be in a pleasant mood!] The point, however, is that not everyone assumes that you are going to be willing to give your "stuff" away, but the majority of people do. And, yes, I will be keeping this in mind for future reference and posting the prices of everything up so that when people insist on talking me down they'll think they are getting what they want, when it will be what I wanted all along.

In the me
antime, this guy calls me the other day about the lamps. He says he wants them and says he won't be able to come until this weekend to get them, but he wants to know if I will hold them for him in the meantime. Nope. First come - first cash - first served. Sorry. So he asks me how much I want for them. "The price is SR200." "Will you take less." "No." He calls me the next day and says he will probably be able to come sooner than Thursday. Again, he asks, "how much do you want for them?" "Yesterday I told you SR200. The price is the same, today." He called me AGAIN yesterday and said, "I will be there at five o'clock tomorrow. How much do you want for the lamps?" "200 Riyals. Just like I told you." "Are you sure that you will not take less?" "I'll give it some thought and perhaps we can discuss it, but I really want 200 Riyals for them - I don't have to sell them. I am not going to give them away." "Yes, yes." I started making dinner at five o'clock. Figured he'd be here between five and five-thirty and knew we weren't going to eat until after six. Dinner took a little longer to make - a lot longer to make - than I thought it would and I was still cooking at six-thirty and it wasn't quite done - and the phone rings, the guy is on his way. Figures. I'd already written him off as a no-show - but no, now he's showing up just in time for dinner. I'm not particularly pleased about this, but whatever.

DH and I are eating when the Kids announced that we have company [no need to ring the doorbell - you are within twenty-five feet of our house - we KNOW you are here!]. I lock the Kids in the kitchen with DH and open the door and the man and his wife [mother? sister? daughter?] are standing there and I invite them in. The lamps are right there on the table. And he says, "Oh I thought they would be bigger from the picture." They are bed-side table lamps not floor lamps and the picture I posted was pretty clear... "They are not enough for 200 Riyals. I will give you 150 Riyals." "I am asking 200 Riyals and I won't take 150 Riyals." He and his female-accomplice mutter something to one another in Arabic while she shakes her head up and down and then back and forth and then up and down. The man says, "We were just downtown and I saw lamps..." I cut him off. "Fine, buy your lamps downtown." "I do not want to pay 200 Riyals. But we would like the lamps." "I am not giving the lamps away and I am keeping them until I get 200 Riyals." He, glumly, says, "Well, okay then." And I show them to the door. Thanks for wasting so my time, pal, and for making my dinner go cold! He really thought that as he was getting ready to leave - the "bluff" of the sale - that I would say, "Oh. Okay. 150 Riyals." Nope. Didn't happen for them. They actually hesitated at the door, waiting for me to do that, thinking I would be that desperate. Well, I'm not. K'G'Bye. Slam!

Yes. As I said earlier, there are a number of places you can bargain and haggle over the price of goods to buy. Home Center - a low-end furniture, bedding, household goods store - is NOT one of them. Neither is Kika. I don't know where else I'd send someone here, for "inexpensive" lamps. There are some gorgeous lighting stores here - gorgeous - and I know when we first got here and I was looking to replace the hideous chandelier that was in our dining room at the townhouse I found one at one of the lighting stores - it was SR5700! [I have a great knack for being able to walk into a store - any store - and immediately fix my eyes on the most expensive item there - honestly - without ever seeing price tags I can do this - I just write it off to having impecible taste...] $1,528.00 for a light. Honestly, though, it WAS more than a light. It was art. But still. I couldn't justify that price. The man there wanted to make a sale - he offered it to us for SR5500, SR5300, SR500 and down to SR4800 - this process took close to an hour - that's the way it works here and that is why I said your two hours of alloted shopping time in the mornings do not leave room for this kind of shopping. SR4800 is still $1,286. Yes. That was a bargain. And if I was building my dream house in the States I WOULD own this light; I would have to have it. My dream house isn't this one, the one we're living in, or the townhouse before this house, and I don't have the light. And I bet the man and woman that came to my house tonight weren't shopping at one of the beautiful lighting stores. They want something much more affordable. But I'm NOT going to give them my lamps. Such is life.

And, I have learned a valuable lesson. If I want to sell something on the company's classified website, then I am going to "reasonably" mark the item up so that when the time for "haggling" and "bargaining" comes it wont' be a total waste of my time.

Striking Ex-Pat Workers

Apparently, Indonesian maids are not the only workers going unpaid. 200 Bangladeshi cleaning and maintenance workers have gone on strike at Jadeedat Ar'ar border post alleging delay in payment of their salaries. I'd be willing to wager a bet that this is not an uncommon practice. We just don't hear about it as often because the workers do not dare speak out or go on strike fearing retaliation from the companies they work for - which would send them home - unpaid - with no possibility of ever being able to return to work here for anyone! It is a lose-lose situation for the workers.

More Maid Misery...

The continuing saga of maids being abused and mistreated is not going to come to an end anytime soon.

This poor woman has been a "guest" in the Sandbox, courtesy of her sponsor / employer, for only three weeks, and now has two broken legs. Oh, sure, the broken legs are her fault. After all, if she wouldn't have jumped out the window... trying to escape abuse...

Goodness gracious! "About 83 percent of Indonesian housemaids complain of unpaid salaries, nine percent are subjected to sex abuse and physical maltreatment, and eight percent have other problems with their employers." Do the math. One hundred percent of the Indonesian housemaids - ALL OF THEM - are in some way, shape or form, being mistreated by their employers? [Yes, the majority of them complain only of being unpaid, but isn't this a form of mistreatment? The ONLY reason the maids come here to begin with, is for the income!]

Sukamto Javaladi, labor attache a
t the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh, says "There are over 625,000 Indonesian housemaids currently working in Saudi Arabia, of which 518,750 have unpaid salary claims from their employers."

Why - WHY - isn't the Ministry of Labor doing something about this??? And, why aren't other officials here doing something that will bring to an end once and for all the abuses - whatever they may be - inflicted upon workers that come here from other countries?!?
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