Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I am covered with chigger bites. Covered! DH and I have been out scouting property and trying to find the perfect spot on which to build our next dream house and it was a very, very grave mistake walking a property last Friday with NO bug spray. DH has a few bites on his feet and ankles. [We both had jeans and ankle socks on with sneakers.] I got absolutely attacked. I have bites on my ankles, my legs [53 bites on my right leg alone that I counted in the car yesterday!], my butt, my back, my neck, my chest... There is NOT a portion of me that the chiggers didn't get. I look like I have some sort of disease. It is not pretty.

Today I must finish getting our shipment ready to go to the airport for tomorrow. We will go to the beach for the upcoming long weekend and then we head home. Visiting is always fun. Spending time with family and friends is great. But it will be nice to be home in our own place and not living out of a suitcase, too!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Shot the Deer...

...with my camera, of course! I got shots of the entire family - all five of them - yesterday morning. I swear the babies have grown just in the ten days I've been here. They still have their spots, though, and you can tell they are still babies. I got quite a few pictures of the young male - even his little antlers have grown an inch since I've been here - there were little nubs - and now they are much more pronounced. The Momma deer is mean! She wants all of the food that is put down for herself, and she does not hesitate to clock one of the others - even one of the babies - in the head with her front hoof - if someone else dares to get too close to the food - so now I spread the food out in three different places. I heard her "clock" the young male a few days ago - watched it, as well - but it was the sound that made the impact - BONK! You just know that was a headache. Poor little guy... I am not so sure that feeding the deer is a good thing. Walmart sells big 40 pound bags of "deer corn" for $7.67 - so I bought 120 pounds of it. My Mom's neighbor was feeding them - and she has gone to visit a friend for a week - so I took over.

The deer are NOT tame - but when I walk down the little hill to the feeding spot shaking the corn - they don't go far, either. I want them to be very timid and scared of people. Be very, very afraid of people, little deer - especially men - men that are carrying what look like big long sticks. Those are not sticks! They are guns. And the deer are going to end up in someone's freezer as meat, I just know it. And when I think about that, all I can think of is the scene from "My Cousin Vinny," where Vinny asks Lisa about the pants he is wearing to go hunting and she says, "
Imagine you're a deer. You're prancing along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water - BAM. A fuckin' bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces. Now I ask ya, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?" [What a great movie!]

There is a small gray fox roaming the woods in the back of my Mom's house as well. Mom told us about it - and then I saw it a few days later. Yesterday, I raced inside to get my camera to get pictures when it was out back and by the time I got outside again, it had raced off into the woods. The camera is out in the screen porch, now, at the ready, so I can have it right at my fingertips to "shoot the fox" when it next appears - and I'll post all my "wild life" pictures when I get home in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shopping, Shopping and More Shopping

This is how shopping is supposed to be! All of it!!! Go to any store you want - at almost any time you want - wearing anything you want. And I am shopping until I am dropping. I came with a list of things that we had to have that we will ship back. The list is not as lengthy as it has been some years, but there are numerous items and it will make my return to the Sandbox just that much more pleasant for me to have these items. Crab meat. I have two cases ready to ship back. A new crock pot. I can't get my cigarettes in Saudi so I ship those back. The Honest Kitchen's dog food for my Kids. Bike shorts. Reese's peanut butter. Stacks of books - some of which if I do not put them in my suitcase and hand-carry them, very likely will not make it through customs, "Confessions of an Innocent Man - Torture and Survival in a Saudi Prison," by William Sampson is an example of one of the books I will hand-carry back [provided I am able to make it through Bahrain onto Saudi as there is that little glitch with my passport that says my Visa is no good - minor problem today - major problem when I am ready to return]. I've haunted all of my favorite clothing stores J. Crew, Banana Republic and Gap - the bathing suit stores - and department stores Nordstrom, Dillards... I am not done. There are still several malls that have are begging me to visit. My favorite "toy" stores for my Kids have all been happy to see me - okay, happy to see my credit card. The Kids will be happy to see Mommy when they realize they have a suitcase full of new toys! And, treats, too!

I am enjoying spending time with my Mom - who has her cast off at this point, although her arm is still in pretty bad shape and she is doing physical therapy several times a week to strengthen it and get it back to being usable. I feel terribly guilty about this. My bother and two sisters really are blaming me for the accident... I will never buy my Mom another pair of shoes again in her entire life - I promise, Mom! We are spending time with friends, here. The weather has been - up until yesterday - beyond perfect. Crisp blue sky, dry - no humidity [not at all normal for North Carolina in August!], and warm. Evenings require a sweater - I am acclimated to much, much warmer temperatures. It did rain all day yesterday, but even that - because it so rarely happens in the Sandbox - was a welcome change. My Mom has a family of deer that live behind her and every evening they come for dinner. One of the neighbor's puts out deer corn and I've started putting out cut up carrots and apples. There are five deer - two little babies still with spots. I will try to take pictures. It is peaceful and tranquil watching them from a not too far distance.

There is still quite a bit on my agenda. I will be meeting with a realtor to look at lake-front property and will spend a couple of days traveling around with her to find land. We know that we will return to North Carolina and we would like to think that we could start building - perhaps next year - at least the garage to the home we want so that we can store the boat and have our own place to stay - we will put an apartment over the garage. My grown-up Son is on the other side of the state and I will visit him early next week. A visit would not be complete without me harping on him that it is time to get married to the woman he has lived with for a few years and that it is time to make me a grandmother. I am the only one of my peers who is grandchild-less and I must dish out the guilt in this regard. That is what mother's do.

There is more. It is a very busy time. But for sitting in the evening either on the patio or in the sun-porch sipping Sterling I've had no down time. We will spend time at the beach and that will be down time. In the meantime, I am going to continue at the pace I'm going and make the best of my time in the States and return to the Sandbox with a new attitude and ready to live in a country where I can't do hardly any of what I am doing now...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Home. Sweet Home!

I am leaving The Sandbox. At three o'clock in the morning a driver is picking me up and taking me to Bahrain to the airport. I will then board a flight to Doha, Qatar. There, I will sit in the "lounge" and wait for four hours - sans black garbage bag - for a flight to Washington, D.C. I am NOT going to apologize for being "fussy" and "older" and refusing to fly in economy. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Nope. Won't do it. Won't apologize, and won't fly in "economy." Did that for several years. Business Class is the ONLY way to travel. Probably First Class is better - but I am not quite there, yet. When we finally leave The Sandbox and return to the States, for good, I will book First Class Tickets. You think economy is expensive? Business Class is double - if not more - than economy - and First Class is out of our price range. A ticket from Bahrain to the States in economy is about $1,300.00; a ticket from Bahrain to the States in Business Class is $2,400.00; First Class is $7,000 or $9,000. It is NOT a "simple" flight. It is several flights from here to Home. Home. Sweet. Home.

I almost didn't make it! My passport has my visa in it that allows me to be in Saudi Arabia. Every year the visa has to be renewed. On June 8th of this year, my visa was renewed and the full-page "sticker" was put into my passport. It very, very, very clearly shows that I have a multiple entry and multiple exit visa - which means that I can come and go from Saudi Arabia at will. The other type of visa is a single entry - single exit. Which means that you can enter the country - Saudi - and you can exit the country. Once. My driver and I were in the car at Saudi customs on the Causeway and the Saudi customs official asked me for my iqama - my work papers - apparently I must look like a maid. However, I do not have an iqama - as I do not work [unless you count my job as a professional sunbather]. I told the customs guy that I didn't have an iqama and he told me that my visa was expired and that I could not leave. WTF?!? No. It is not. It is a brand new visa - it says "multiple" right on it - and customs refused to stamp my passport. The customs guy told me that I had to go in the office. Nope. Not doing it. It is 3:15 in the morning. And I do not have my black garbage bag with me - as I am going to Bahrain where it is not necessary or required - and I've got a short-sleeve t-shirt on with jeans. My arms are bare... Not getting out of the car in Saudi.

My driver - a man that I have had drive for me for several years now - pulled the car over and went into the office with my passport to show some other official that I clearly had a multiple entry and exit visa and that he was taking me to catch a plane. After some half and hour or forty minutes the driver came to the car to get my tickets. The Captain at Customs was NOT going to let me leave. It was not a comfortable situation. If I could scan my visa into this computer... No one in Saudi can admit to making a mistake. The visa clearly says one thing, but the computer says another. Human error? Hell no. I did get to leave. I am not sure at this point whether I will be able to return to Saudi. My DH is working with his boss to get the "glitch" worked out so that when I return to Saudi I can sail through customs on the Causeway and back into the country after they search my bags. I just barely made my flight.

The flight is a long one. Very, very, very long. From Bahrain to Doha, Qatar, the flight is about a half an hour. From Qatar to Washington, D.C., the flight is fourteen hours. Fourteen hours on the same plane. Cannot speak highly enough about Qatar Airlines. Will say, though, that the male flight attendants are much more on the ball than the female flight attendants. Why is this, I wonder? I arrived in Washington at 4:30P on Thursday. I tried to get an earlier flight from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh, N.C., and couldn't. Domestic flying is beyond pathetic. I look forward to the day where I never have to fly, again. As long as we continue to live in Saudi Arabia, not flying isn't an option. I need to come home a couple of times a year to see my Mom and my Son.

I have not read one Saudi paper since I arrived and may or may not... There was no computer at my Mom's when I got here - well there was a computer - but apparently one of my nephew's had been on it a week or so ago and opened some sight that infected it with some virus. It was a two day process to get it fixed. I didn't do it - fix it - and my Mom is even more "technically" challenged than I am. Both of us - Mom and me - are being very careful. We were told by the man who got the computer back up and running that until we had a professional do some work on it that he would recommend that neither of us try to access any bank information or order anything on-line with a credit card. WHAT?!? That's how I shop!!! But we are heeding the advice we've been given.

I have a list of things that I must accomplish here - and a shipment to get ready to have sent back to Saudi of all the things that I cannot buy there. The Honest Kitchen dog food, Tide liquid detergent, Secret deodorant, blah, blah, blah...

My appointment with the orthopedist, here, for my knee, was on Friday afternoon. It was a disaster - the entire appointment and three hours spent at the North Raleigh Orthopedic Clinic was a TACWOT [total and complete waste of time]! I have a much, much higher opinion and newfound respect for the medical facilities available to me in Saudi, right now, and even though I absolutely detest playing "the Clinic Game," there, Dr. M. - the Saudi orthopedist - has a whole lot more on the ball than the Physician's Assistant I saw, here. I had an appointment with a doctor - but for some reason he took Friday afternoon off - and no one bothered to share with me that I wasn't going to be seeing a doctor. I have much, much more to say about this, but I am still on a "funny" time zone - not sleeping normally - and just want to get this post up that I started right before I left and am finishing at 7:15 on Sunday morning in North Carolina as I sip on coffee and Bailey's! Yes. Bailey's for breakfast!!! Life is good.

Light Blogging

I'm taking a two-day break... Back with details on Friday.

Humidity is Dreadful

Oh my gosh. It is so humid outside it is about unbearable. The ground is wet - not damp - wet! Thank goodness we only get a short period of it. If it was this hot and humid outside for the entire summer it would be beyond miserable, here. I really wanted to spend the afternoon outside, "working" but that may not happen because it is just so nasty outside. The pool heats up with the humidity - someone explained the "scientific" reason for this to me, but it just made no sense. And when the pool is as warm as it is, it is not either comfortable or pleasant. They make "chillers" that cool pools. I think next year we need to look into getting one.

Roads Just Keep Getting Worse, Here

Perhaps the fact that accidents are being reported in the newspapers on a regular basis will be a wake up call. I had lunch with a friend, here, yesterday, and we talked about this a bit. How driving, in some ways, is so different from driving anywhere else. It is not at all uncommon to see children sitting in the front completely unrestrained - children - plural. And how, if you stop to offer assistance at an accident, here, you can and will be blamed if anything happens to the people involved in the wreck. Mind boggling.

While authorities are busy talking about road conditions and attending the National Human Rights Society's seminars the bodies continue to "pile up." Talk all you want. Action is what is needed. And, it is not going to happen.

Accidents reported today are here and here. Total dead [reported], four. Total injured? Numerous.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I am not even quite sure what a "rest house" is. A temporary kind of hotel, or something? "Three private rest houses raided in Jeddah." The report says that "The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice... confiscated large quantities of liquor, and arrested several men and six African women."

Road carnage. Lots. Here. Here. Here. Here. And, here. The National Human Rights Society [NHRS] is going to "discuss solutions for traffic accidents," though, so the matter will be resolved... Umm. Yeah. Sure it will. Is the NHRS getting paid for their "discussion?" If so, then I want in on it. I've already "discussed" the matter with myself and I have the solution. Fines, arrests, license suspensions, impound vehicles. Six words. And I didn't even have to talk until I was blue in the face and passed out. "Experts have said traffic accidents cost Saudi Arabia SR18 billion [$4,825,737,265.41 in U.S. dollars] every year, which includes damage to public property, compensation to families, and medical treatment. Talal Qasty, member of NHRS will present a study detailing the reasons, suggestions and possible solutions to improve the morality rate on the roads. The Traffic Administration issued statistics stating that one out of three hospital beds is occupied by traffic accident victims. In the last 25 years, 65,000 people were killed in traffic related accidents and 500,000 were injured. Police issued one million traffic violation tickets for speeding as well as crossing red lights."

When? When did police issue one million traffic violation tickets? Over the course of the last 25 years? Exactly what purpose does a "traffic violation ticket" serve? Is it a summons to go to court? Is it a fine? Or, is it nothing more than a useless piece of paper which is issued to a driver who either wads it up and throws it out his car window as the police officer watches or later uses it for toilet paper?

Women Abused

Wow! This is rather incredulous. "Most women in Riyadh abused - study." Short article, though, for such serious subject matter. "According to a survey of women in Riyadh, 95 percent have been subjected for a form of physical or emotional abuse from within their family." How were the 80 women who were interviewed about their family life chosen? Seems like a relatively small handful of women, considering the population... Were the 80 women that were interviewed at a women's shelter or something? 95% of 80 women. Something is not right about this study. Not saying that the women were not abused - they probably were - but wouldn't a much larger number of women be needed to truly give an accurate picture of abuse in this - or any - society?

Keel Big Brown Bugs

For the umpteenth time, pest control has come to spray my jacquemontia, which, for some reason, is being infested with mealy bugs - lots and lots of mealy bugs. I believe the mealy bugs came with the tomatoes I had planted - which I placed, in pots, directly in front of the jacquemontia because tomatoes needs bees to "pollinate" or whatever it is tomatoes do, and the flowers on the jacquemontia attracted bees. Made all the sense in the world to me at the time... The tomatoes ended up dying - but not before we could harvest a small handful to eat - the mealy bugs destroyed the plants. Last week I noticed that the mealy bugs had, yet again, infested the jacquemontia and I called and made an appointment for pest control to come. I was telling Appuk - our fabulous gardener - that the jacquemontia had to be cut back before pest control came because otherwise there was no way they were going to be able to spray it, effectively.

Appuk said, "Oh, yes, Madam, also have blue pellets for big brown bugs in front. Come. I may show you." I went out front with Appuk and he told me that "blue pellets need to keel big brown bugs, here and here and here. Flowers are keeled." Okay, then. When pest control comes to spray the mealy bugs, I will have them put out "blue pellets" to "keel big brown bugs." Pest control came. They sprayed - and by spray, I mean saturated! - the jacquemontia. Pest control will have to come back in ten days to spray again because the eggs will hatch and the nasty little mealy bugs will be back... Pest control knew exactly what I needed when I told them to put "blue pellets" in all of the flower beds out front - and they sprinkled the "blue pellets" for me.

Yesterday, Appuk told me "no water two days, Madam, to keel bugs." Fine. You are the gardener, Appuk. You know better than me what needs to be done. Makes sense. If you are laying down "blue pellets" you don't want them washed away by watering - ditto for the jacquemontia that had been sprayed. "Come. I may show you." So I went out front and Appuk pointed out this huge nasty mutant looking brown thing - good grief - it was big enough for a small child to ride! And it was ugleeeey! But it was not a "big brown bug," it is a "big brown slug!" The blue pellets are doing what they are supposed to do, though, which is to "keel big brown bugs." I learn something new every day, and apparently, in this part of the world slugs are bugs...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Saudi Judge Busted

This will be all over the web in no time. I saw it at JammieWearingFool.

"A Saudi judge who served as head of an Islamic court has reportedly been arrested in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on charges of possessing and using drugs."

He "was arrested along with his Moroccan wife after police raided their room in a Dubai hotel on Friday and found four grams of hashish in his possession..."

"The judge confessed that he and his wife take drugs and said he brought the confiscated hashish from Saudi Arabia for their personal use."

"Sharia courts in Saudi Arabia impose tough penalties for drug-related charges, and drug trafficking is punishable by death..."

So what will happen to him and his wife? Will this just get quietly swept under the rug? If he has already confessed - that he uses drugs - and that he transported the drugs to Dubai from Saudi - seems to me he should be found guilty - isn't transporting drugs from one country to another what trafficking is?

A Couple of Letters...

From today's Arab News, worth commenting on...

I must have missed this... Or, perhaps I did see it, and just thought it was so poorly written that it wasn't worth taking the time to blog. In response, Um Faisal Ibrahim of Dammam, writes:

"There is no problem with Saudization. The problem is the Saudi youth who are not qualified to take up the jobs that are available. I have interacted with a lot of Saudis, both young men and women. Most of them don’t even reach the college level, due to low marks in school. How do you expect these young Saudis to be employed in government and private sectors if they are not even qualified to take, let’s say, an engineering or a medical course? Most of these jobs are taken by expats because there are not enough Saudis to fill these positions.

It is time for the government to look into the present educational system. The syllabus must be changed where necessary. Considering the increasing importance of the English language in the globalized world, it must be made a compulsory subject from primary classes. Ways must be developed to make every student educated in every sense. Inculcate in them the habit of reading. It is in these ways that the youth are honed to become what they can become."

I did blog on the Indian worker who was beaten by his supervisor - and later died - to which, Salah Al-Qahtani writes:

"The report “Indian beaten up by supervisor dies after 11 days in hospital” (July 28) does not say anything new about the condition of foreign labor in the country. Mistreating expatriate workers is not an unusual occurrence. First, our media and society allowed employers and others to discriminate against, humiliate and in many cases assault workers from Bangladesh. Maids have been raped and assaulted on a daily basis for decades.

Now the rage is being directed at Indians. Who gave this Egyptian the right to beat anyone? If an employee is not working, he should be fired. A supervisor has no right to assault anybody physically. How will the Ministry of Labour react if a Saudi cashier at a supermarket is beaten up for being lazy which, most of the time, would be true?

By the way, has any Saudi yet been punished for assaulting foreign maids? Arab News should make a report — detailing facts and figures about the cases in which, in the past 12 months, foreign workers were assaulted, the number of culprits punished, and also what the punishments were."

If any Saudi has been punished - wasn't there a man and his wife who were going to be punished in the matter of Nour Miyati - but then in the end they ended up not being punished? No matter... Saudis have not been punished for assaulting foreign maids or workers that I have read about - and there have been no detailing facts of figures with regard to the number of culprits punished or what the punishments were. If I am wrong on this, someone correct me.

This Won't Work - Just a Waste of Time

Go ahead and hold all of the workshops you want. Talk until you are blue in the face and pass out. All this is is a waste of time and resources.

You want to stop traffic accidents? Start stopping the drivers who are breaking the laws by speeding, illegally overtaking - passing - other cars, running red lights and stop signs... Issue fines. Throw drivers in jail. Impound their vehicles. Double their insurance premiums. That is how you are going to stop traffic accidents from happening, here!


Surely there has got to be a way to determine who was driving this car. Are there no records kept on what cars are assigned to municipality workers? Are the cars just kept in a lot with keys in them making them available to any Tom, Dick or Harry Mohammed, Abdullah or Salah who walks by the municipality's lot?

This just sounds nasty. Sewage water used to distill liquor? Nice.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. There has got to be a reason that the 324 job vacancies were not announced - and there has got to be a reason that Saudization has not been implemented with regard to special education positions.

Seems just a bit extreme - selling all your livestock just to watch a Turkish soap opera... I have "clicked" by the television show Noor and actually tried to watch it on occasion. Unfortunately my Arabic is much too basic and I couldn't understand any of what was being said. When I did the "Before" post while redoing the bedroom Noor was on the television in one of my pictures.

Calling BS on this. An innocent child is being used as a pawn in a custody battle and it is just wrong!

And, speaking of BS that is not local... I happened to catch a blurb on Fox News late yesterday afternoon where the grandfather of Caylee Marie Anthony was being interviewed outside the jail where his daughter Casey is being held. The grandfather says that Casey is convinced that Caylee will be home before her birthday in a few days. The more of this saga that I see, the more I am convinced that the whole damn family should be locked up - not just the mother of the little girl - but the grandparents of the little girl. Something terrible has happened to this little girl and I just do not have a good feeling about how it is going to end. The grandparents know - the whole "do a benefit to find Caylee" is nothing but a complete farce. The only victim, here, is the little two - almost three - year-old girl that was missing for an entire month before it was reported!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Houseboy No. 15 Is Done

When I contacted an agency several months ago for a new houseboy and gardener, they assured me that their "employees" were trained. BS! Trained? Not in the very least. Clueless. Totally.

Gardener No. 6 didn't last and has been replaced by Appuk - who does a fabulous job! He is old, he is slow, but he works very hard and anticipates what needs done and just does it - and if he thinks the bushes need trimmed and is not sure whether or not he should trim them - he asks. I am hopeful that he will be here as long as we are here so that I do not have to worry about finding a "real" gardener to replace him. [Although, interestingly enough, twice yesterday during my morning walk with The Kids two workers approached me and asked if I needed a gardener. Do they know something I don't? Is Appuk planning on retiring or leaving?]

I have tolerated HB15 even though he doesn't do a very good job, but he gets along with my Kids and that is extremely important. However, I realized a couple of days ago that no matter what it is that HB15 does or cleans for me it is nothing more than a half-ass job. I am not going to tolerate it any longer. I spend as much time cleaning up after him and re-cleaning that it makes absolutely no sense to have him coming here to work. I contracted him to come and work for me three days a week from eight o'clock in the morning until one o'clock in the afternoon. Last month he started telling me on Monday that he can only work three hours. Three hours doesn't get everything done. So after three weeks, I eliminated Monday from his schedule. There problem solved. You no longer work three days a week - now just two. This coming Wednesday will be his last day. Does he know this yet? No. But I won't have any problem whatsoever telling him when I pay him on Wednesday that his services are no longer needed.

The bathrooms are only being cleaned marginally. I went in to DH's bathroom this morning to put new towels up and realized that the spots on the floor that I noticed last week are still there. HB15 spends about an hour in each of our two bathrooms cleaning them - what exactly he is doing in there is a mystery because he obviously isn't doing the cleaning that I've instructed him to do. We had issues with him being on his "mobile" while he was here working for me - and I had to flat out tell him that he needed to put it away - he is working for me and that work does not include talking on your damn phone! He goes into the bathrooms and I hear water running - and the toilet being flushed - and all of the "sounds" that one would hear and make cleaning a bathroom - but he isn't cleaning - or the spots wouldn't be on the floor, would they? HB15 shuts the bathroom door - I should have known better than to allow him to - I'm guessing he is running water and spending the entire hour texting on his mobile - while at the same time doing the bare minimum as it to make it seem like he is cleaning the bathroom. Obviously, he isn't.

I have stacks and stacks of rags - which I clean and neatly fold. We have had the same conversation now about two dozen times - HB15 and I: Use a new, clean rag, for each job. Am I the only one who understands that if you use the same rag for every single job that all you are doing is pushing dirt around?!? I do not want you dusting furniture with one rag and then using it to clean my counter tops. What do YOU not understand about this? Each time that he is here I have to "correct" him on this. And yet, even after we discuss the issue, he continues to use the same rag. I have literally taken it out of his hand and put it in the cleaning bag next to the washer. I ask him if he understands and he says that he does. Obviously, he doesn't.

It is very, very hot outside. And lately it has been humid, too. About a week ago, I saw what looked like a big bug shoot across the floor in front of me and into our broom closet. I moved the vacuum to "stomp" on it and discovered it wasn't a bug, but a baby gecko. I like the little gecko's and had no intention of ending its little life after I realized that that was all it was. However, I don't really want little baby gecko living in my house with me, either. And The Boy will go absolutely berserk trying to get it if he realizes that there is one. Two days ago little baby gecko was crawling up the wall and hid behind a picture - I told DH and had him catch it and take it outside. Yesterday morning I opened the back door and little baby gecko shot back inside. Apparently it is too hot and humid outside for him or her and he or she wants to live inside. DH tried to catch little baby gecko, again, and couldn't. Baby gecko is now residing underneath the refrigerator, in what DH said is a pile of dirt. My fault. I haven't specifically asked HB15 to pull the refrigerators out and clean underneath them - or vacuum the backs of them. Is is really asking too much to find a houseboy that will take a little bit of incentive and actually do something extra - like pull the refrigerators out and clean under and behind them? Yes. Apparently, it is.

On several occasions I have had to tell HB15 that he needs to move the furniture when vacuuming - no, not all the furniture - I don't expect him to move our bed or the bureaus, but I do expect him to move chairs or at least make an effort to reach underneath furniture with the vacuum. I have seen "dust bunnies" living underneath our furniture that are larger than real rabbits! Why do I have to repeatedly tell HB15 to vacuum underneath the buffet or to move the chairs? I shouldn't have to - he's been told on numerous occasions - and yet he still insists on not doing what he's been told. He refuse to vacuum the air conditioning vents unless I specifically tell him to. No, they don't need vacuumed every time you bring the vacuum out - but once a week would be good. Oh, right, you're working a shorter week now - and don't have time. You - or your agency employer - have decided, contrary to what I requested - that you don't need to work for five hours on Monday - only three hours - and I eliminated Monday's since it doesn't work for "your" schedule. Newsflash: You are going to accommodate me - I am not going to accommodate you.

We are leaving for the States soon. I can do all of the housework until then. We will have a man come stay here and take care of The Kids - he is going to have to clean up after them and himself - as HB15 won't be coming... I don't have the desire or the time to try to train someone new before we leave. It will just have to wait until we return. But I am done paying HB15 to come to my house and do a half-ass job that I have to turn around and either reclean or clean up after him. After HB15 has finished cleaning the kitchen floor this coming Wednesday he will be finished cleaning for me. The only reason he has lasted as long as he has is because it is so frustrating to have to try to train someone new. I may decide that I don't even want a houseboy any more. I do much of my own housework - I do all of the dishes, the laundry, and vacuum regularly anyway. I really only want someone that will do the big stuff - clean the tile floors, the windows, the bathrooms... I can do a better job and it is just NOT worth the frustration!


What news value is there in publishing the nationality and picture of a "pimp," here? The man has been arrested and will be incarcerated, so he poses no further danger or threat to others, at this point. Why are pictures of "locals" not published when they are arrested? And, if, on the rare occasion a picture of a "local" is published, his face will be blurred out. But an ex-pat? Nope. Full, untouched photo. Interesting...

Three young men and four girls have been charged with "illicit companionship." [Note the difference in this article versus the article about the "pimp," above. Absolutely no mention of any nationality in this and no photographs, either.] "Security officials said they found the suspects sitting in indecent positions." Care to elaborate on that? What, were the girls straddling the boys, or something? What is an "indecent" sitting position?!? "The owner and the employees of the coffee shop were charged with spreading corruptions and violating the law of the land." Why stop there? Shouldn't everyone in the shop have been rounded up and arrested for condoning the behavior of the three young men and four girls? [This is one of the reasons why Saudis cross the Causeway to go to Bahrain - they do not have be concerned with "sitting in indecent positions" or worry about being charged with "illicit companionship."]

Another vehicle accident caused by high speed with three young men reported to be in serious condition. And, here, two vans collide. Since no one in any position of authority is taking this seriously... Yawn...

Bahrain Causeway "Madness"

We will not go to Bahrain on the weekend. Bahrain is a teeny, tiny little country right next door to us about a half an hour's drive away on a good day. On a bad day, it will take you hours and hours to get there. You can find some "normalcy" there. There are nice restaurants where you can sit down and order a bottle of wine with dinner - or beer - or whatever your beverage choice may be. There are no separate entrances and separate areas for men and women - unrelated men and women can be in the same place - without worry of being arrested. You can shop at clothing stores and try apparel you may wish to purchase on before buying. Most shops do not close for the entire afternoon and no one locks you in or out at prayer time.

The weekends here are Thursday and Friday - although Saudi Arabia is one of the only countries that has not changed this to Friday and Saturday - the weekend in Bahrain is Friday and Saturday. A Wednesday night trip to Bahrain will mean that you will spend several hours sitting in your car at the Causeway waiting to cross through both Customs check-points - with scores of unruly drivers who do not believe they should have to wait in any semblance of a line all muscling in to cut each other off. The roads for the ENTIRE entire trip to Bahrain and returning desperately need those big huge cement barriers to designate lanes and to keep others from making their own lanes as everyone pushes and shoves using their cars to get to the front of the line. I know I've said before the Saudis do not "que," they believe they are above that.

Sitting at the Causeway - waiting to cross - you would be amazed at the number of carloads of young Saudi men that are headed that direction. Yes, there are many families, and couples, but by far there are more men. Probably there would be as many carloads of young women, as well, if women were allowed to drive here. Women are allowed to drive in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. Why are so many Saudis going to Bahrain? Freedom. And alcohol. That is the only reason we go there.

I do not have to wear my abeya in Bahrain. No one has to wear one. There, it is worn by choice. Many women do wear their abeyas. But they do not have to - they choose to. Here - it is not a choice - we - women - have to wear an abeya or risk being confronted by the religious police. You can go to Bahrain and sit in a nice restaurant in a dress or in jeans. Ditto for shopping there - you can wear what you want. Bahrain is a Muslim country but one that is much, much less restrictive than Saudi Arabia.

Today's Arab News has an article on the nightmare of crossing the Causeway "going to Bahrain." Good to know that we should avoid going until after August 9th. Does school start then? What happens on August 9th that the Causeway traffic will slow down? Typically weekends are the worst time to go that direction - because everyone goes - and we just won't and don't. But if you go over on a Saturday evening or a Tuesday evening - you can pretty much avoid the entire clusterfuck of sitting and waiting at the Causeway. When Ramadan starts, the causeway will be empty. Very, very few restaurants serve alcohol during Ramadan - no point going over for dinner - in my view, anyway, since I'm not going to go out to dinner unless I can have a glass of wine. What is the point of going out to dinner and drinking milk or water? I can do that at home. [We don't go out to dinner at all, here. I refuse to go wearing an abeya.]

It is very curious. Why are so many Saudis crossing the Causeway to go to Bahrain? If you are a "family" you can go to amusement parks, here. You can shop, here, and go out to dinner, here. Many Saudi women will remain covered in their head-to-toe black - there - in Bahrain - so what is the point of leaving Saudi? No, the prices are not better for shopping. The prices are better, here. The only thing that Bahrain offers families that Saudi Arabia doesn't would be movie theaters. So all of the Saudi families are crossing to go to the movies? Doubtful. I honestly do not know why so many Saudi families go to Bahrain. Young men, though... I can answer for many of them. They are going over to drink. Simple as that. They are found in all of the restaurants and bars sitting on the stools drinking beer in their white thobes and gutras. Oh, sure, drinking alcohol if you are Muslim is "haram" [not allowed, forbidden], but that certainly doesn't seem to stop them.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Walking the Kids

We went for our walk later this morning than we usually do. I had some things I had to take care of this morning so we didn't get out of the house until almost eight o'clock. We are usually home by 7 or 7:15. It is just too damn HOT outside for the Kids at eight - but we went anyway - because I knew I wanted to give The Baby [also known as The Pretty Princess] a haircut today - and I needed her good and tired out before I plugged the clippers in. It worked. Both Kids came home panting and exhausted and both plopped down to cool off on the tile floor.

As we were walking I was thinking about how insane the new rule is that cats and dogs are not allowed to be walked in public - or sold in Riyadh. An inane group of men that has determined that cats and dogs are being walked to disturb families or worse - flirt with women! We certainly can't have any of THAT here! What would the rest of the world think of a country that is so devoutly religious if young men walking their dogs were to flirt with women. Good grief. Anyway, it occurred to me that there will be more "issues" in the future that many may not have considered because of this ridiculous pronouncement.

We have our own veterinarian's office with two really good doctors on our compound. The veterinarian's office also does boarding and grooming and they import massive amounts of Canin food for cats and dogs. Yes, I make my Kids food, when I can't ship The Honest Kitchen's products in, but I supplement the food I make with the Canin that I get at our vet's office. A few months ago, I went to get a bag of food and there wasn't any. It was ordered - it was here - but for whatever reason it was being held up by customs, here. [Big surprise. It is Customs job to inspect whatever is imported. That requires "work."] The vet's office didn't get the food until a couple of weeks later - it had, by that time, been sitting at Customs for a couple of months.

So what is going to happen now that there are to be no more cats and dogs for sale? Or cats and dogs allowed in public? Getting dog or cat food is going to be even more difficult, because you just know that "they" [the powers that be, here] are going to wrongly reason that if, in their eyes, there are no cats and dogs, no need to have pet food imported. Just wait and see. Much like an ostrich's head in the sand... I live in a country that is totally, totally a LFZ!

Anyway, I just got done clipping The Pretty Princess. Not an easy task. And it takes several hours to do it. I've only been grooming The Baby myself for a year or so. This is the fifth time I've clipped her. I'm getting better and better at it, if I do say so myself! And even though it took me several hours, it gets a little quicker each time, now that I've finally figured out what I'm doing. Let me say that it would go a whole lot faster if I could get the little black fur-ball of energy to sit or lay still! Impossible. Yes, she was tired from her walk this morning, but it doesn't take her long to recharge into full of energy mode, so she laid still for me for about twenty minutes and then she'd had enough - she wiggles, she squirms. It is very much a wrestling match for the two of us when I cut her hair. [Poodles do not have fur, they have hair - it grows - and it grows fast!]

Later this afternoon - once the sun starts to go down - I'm going to give both Kids baths in the back yard. Just so much easier to do it out there than in the tub. The Boy is so easy - he just climbs into the tub and stands still for as long as I need him too - he won't even shake until I tell him he can. The Baby, on the other hand, uses all her might and will power to escape the entire time I am trying to bathe her - it is a struggle for both of us - me to contain her - and her to get out of the tub. I get soaked, the bathroom gets soaked. May as well just plan on getting wet and do it outside with the hose. The water coming out of the hose is warm - there is NO cold water, here, in the summer.

I spend a great deal of time with my Kids. They are great company. We walk. We play. That this country has declared a ban on the sale of cats and dogs and is now forbidding them to be out in public is a mistake on so many levels. Don't the authorities and powers that be, here, realize the health benefits of pets? I know there are studies are out there that show that pets have a positive and calming effect on people; that people heal faster if they are sick in the company of a pet; and that young children learn to read more quickly if they read to a pet, and so on and so forth... People that have pets exercise more. If you exercise you are less likely to be overweight and unhealthy. [So, what's my excuse then? Hmmm...] I just really, really think that the men running this country are doing a big disservice to its residents and am hopeful that someone sees the light and realizes that not allowing people to walk their pets in public and that banning the sale of cats and dogs is just not right. Thankfully I live on a compound where, for the time being, we are allowed to be out walking our dogs - or Kids...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Two Wives To Many

No you cannot have six wives; that exceeds the maximum limit of four. Oh, the irony!

"A 56-year-old employee of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Jizan is on trial at a Shariah court in Al-Masarha for allegedly having six wives. Members of the commission and police caught him with his "sixth" wife..." "It is forbidden for a man to be married to more than four women."

Controversry Over 10-Year-Old Bride

This has generated much controversy, the marriage of a 10 year old girl to a 60 year old man. I blogged it. As I was reading the comments that this article generated, I saw one that said, "There is no universal 'appropriate age' for marriage. IN Maliki Muslim Libya its 20 for a girl and in the United States its 13. It varies from one society to another and in the case of the US one state to another." Well, I was ready to pounce on that and defend the US to say WHERE IS IT LEGAL TO MARRY AT 13?!? Damn. It is legal to marry in New Hampshire if you are 13 with parental consent and the approval of a judge. New Hampshire - of all places!!! One of the most conservative states in the U.S. I lived there for seventeen years and never heard of anyone getting married at 13 years old. The requirements do vary from state to state; they can be found here.


Truly I just do NOT understand why reports - DAILY - of traffic accidents on the roads here, resulting in deaths and serious injuries, are not being regarded as "wake up calls" to the authorities who have not only the ability but an obligation to enforce traffic laws to put an end to this. Perhaps that is a bit reaching on my part, that by simply enforcing laws this would cease, but surely there would be fewer accidents and deaths.

There are accidents and there is stupidity. Accidents you can prevent. The same cannot be said for stupidity.

Sounds to me that some discrimination is being instituted with this policy and that ex-pats are being targeted. Do not for a nanosecond even try to tell me that there would be screaming and lawsuits filed instantly if the shoe was on the "other foot" and this were to be happening in the U.S. where anyone with dark hair or a head-scarf was being targeted. But then, I am not out and about, here, at night so I will not need to be concerned...

Three thieves and no mention of their nationality or names. Nor any mention of what it is they were stealing.

Nothing to say to this. Child abuse happens world-wide. And should not be tolerated no matter where it happens or whatever the circumstances. I hope these parents are caught, quickly, and severely punished. Child abuse is a crime that justifies forced sterilization - no matter who or where you are. Who beats a helpless, defenseless infant?!? [Someone that should NEVER, EVER be allowed to have children again, that's who!]
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