Tuesday, April 27, 2010


THAT is an UNDERSTATEMENT! You cannot possibly imagine all that has to be done in order to leave The Sandbox. It is more difficult to get out than it is to get in, and getting in wasn't all that easy, either. Posting here will not resume until I am back in the States. Shortly.

To everyone that has visited and wished me well... Thank you ALL so much!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh My Gosh. Big Crimp in Plans. BIG! Updated.

KLM has will NOT fly The Boy home. They will take The Baby, but not The Boy. I am working on it right now. This will change absolutely everything. I am in a panic!

Update: Crisis is no longer a crisis. Panic is no longer a panic. You cannot imagine, though, the PANIC that set in for a few minutes...

KLM said they couldn't fly The Boy due to the "embargo." The "embargo" doesn't start until May 15th and my return ticket is for June 7th. Ahh, The Kids are not returning with me. I am returning alone. So, clearly a misunderstanding, there. KLM also thought they were flying The Baby in the Business Class cabin, with me [which, in The Baby's mind, no doubt, is where she, too, ought to be]. I made it clear when I got the ticket that I have a STANDARD Poodle, not a "little" Poodle. The person that did my ticket must have misunderstood because he had The Poodle flying under the seat in front of me. Works for me! Can I get the seat next to me for The Boy, please?

There is going to be a little stress, here. Gee. 'Ya think? Getting The Kids out and home safely will be my number one priority, though, and whatever else happens, happens. No sense in stressing over things I have no control over. Quite frankly, if NONE of our personal effects make it to the States and The Kids DO make it to the States? I can live with that. I really can. I can buy a new couch, or replace shoes. The Kids CANNOT be replaced and The Kids are really a very big part of what has kept me sane on this side of the world.

I will contact Delta / KLM again tomorrow to confirm that The Kids WILL be going home on the same flight that I go home on.


There is probably a lot to blog about. Like this "child" bride who was ten when her father sold her to an 80-year-old pedophile and who was divorced six months after she was married but apparently didn't know it until now - ten years later.

And like this, how there are 275,000 injuries, the result of accidents on the road each year due to reckless driving and speeding. What will be done about it? A nationwide campaign to "raise public awareness of the need to abide by traffic and road safety regulations." Nothing. PCRC. Is that such a bad thing?

I just have way too much to do to blog. And, quite honestly, I just don't have it in me right now to do it justice. Blogging will be light, perhaps even non-existent, until I have it together here. I'm not quite done with this blog. There are still some things I want to say. Check back in two weeks...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stilettos in the States...

Stilettos in the Sand will soon be Stilettos in the States. It is all over. Done. My sentence, here, is up. I have served my time. Almost a full seven years. I know many others have done it for much longer. I cannot. The Kids and I get on a plane in two weeks and we are headed home!

No more limbo. Everything is now resolved.

Errands to do

DH and I have errands to do this morning. Really only one of us needs to do them. That would be me, but since I cannot get in the truck and drive myself... DH will have to take me.

One of the errands is something that could be done over the phone. I tried, yesterday, and was completely unsuccessful. Why? Because a certain office, here, which has a half dozen employees, has only ONE employee doing all the work. How do I know this? It is an office I've been to several times. I've have seen how it functions up close and personal. I was on the phone with the lone worker yesterday and listened to him juggle multi-task as he answered other "in person" inquiries as well as answering several phones. The man promised me a call back. I never got it. I am not blaming him, though. I understand that he was incredibly busy. Today I will go to that office in person. We are leaving here in forty-five minutes. I want to be the first one there when the office opens.

Then we will race home so that I can take The Boy to the vet. He got a cut IN HIS EYE while I was gone. I'm blaming his Little Sister for it. DH took him to the vet, originally, and I'll take him for the follow-up appointment. The cut still is not healed.

There are a half dozen other things that I have to do today. None of them are going to be fun. And all of them are going to be mostly frustrating. Such is life, here in The Sandbox.

The "limbo" situation? STILL NOT RESOLVED! Getting much, much closer though. Stay tuned for some interesting news...

Monday, April 19, 2010


His name will be Coen Robert. He is due to arrive on or about September 10th. Now, if you'll excuse me, there is MUCH shopping to be attended to. Oh My Gosh. Is this going to be FUN, or what!?! Oh, yeah, it is.

Situation: Limbo. Still not resolved.

I cannot really discuss the situation, known as "Limbo," happening with us here in The Sandbox. I just am not at liberty, yet, to do so. Suffice it to say that it is not anything bad. It could actually be a good thing. The not knowing is the hardest part, though, and I don't know whether to get started on a major project and then find out that all of my effort will be for nothing, or if I should just forget about it, for the time being, altogether. The decision does not rest in my hands. I know what I would do. It is a decision that DH has to make. He makes the big decisions and I make the small ones. He takes care of everything financial, etc., and I decide what color towels to buy for the bathrooms. It is a system that has served us well for many years - we've been married for 18 years - and have been together for 20! Yes. Today was supposed to be the day of reckoning. But as is typical with the way many things go here such is not the case and today is not the day. Oh well. You know what? There is a plan for all of us. Whatever it is, that plan has already been decided. [We just don't know what the decision is one way or another.] And, it is out of our hands... Such is life.

I anticipate a phone call in just a few short hours about another "reckoning" that is supposed to happen today. DS and Baby-Mama find out if there is going to be a Kaylee or a Coen in our lives at 9:30 this morning their time - let's see, it is going on 3:15P, here, so that's 5:15A in North Carolina! Cannot wait. Absolutely, positively cannot wait to find out if I will have a Granddaughter or a Grandson. I am just thrilled to be having a Grandbaby so I do not care if it is a little Girl or a little Boy.

There is an post on the web that I found about women driving. It needs a thorough dissection. I'll plan on doing it for tomorrow. Today it would just require too much time and attention.

Time to dissect "Bachelors are time bombs,"
today, though. It is always the single man to blame for every single societal woe, isn't it? [/Snark.] Apparently it is quite bothersome to have "singles," or bachelors residing in "family neighborhoods." Well of course it is! One of those single men might have a pair of binoculars that can see through cement walls. Or something. The article says, "For many families, bachelor men living in their areas are simply time bombs waiting to go kaboom. These families allege such men are social, environmental, moral and security threats." Okay social, moral and security threats, maybe, if push came to shove, but environmental threats? How?!! They don't take their trash out regularly? They have too much trash in the form of bottles or cans?

Who knew there was a "municipality law" that dictates that "singles are required to live in building on main streets and away from residential neighborhoods." Not that that should come as a surprise to anyone, but I, for one, honestly did not know that there was a law that said where "singles are required to live." Hmmph. Learn something new everyday. Of course, it really is not the fault of the bachelors who end up in certain residential neighborhoods because "many real estate offices are cheating the system by renting out residential units to bachelors in the middle of neighborhoods." No. You don't say... Find that hard to believe. Like it is only in The Sandbox where money talks. Chicago slums and Tony Rezko - the jugearedjackass's pal - ring a bell, anyone?

Of course, in Chicago there probably are not three types of bachelors [or three or four or five types of marriage for that matter - I digress]. Chicago would have just two types. Bachelor men who have no familial responsibilies whatsoever and baby-daddy bachelor men who have no familial responsibilities whatsoever. The three types of bachelors in The Sandbox? "The first are professionals who work in high paid jobs as doctors and engineers. They rarely pose problems and have a clean reputation. This group is disciplined, and prefers living in family buildings to avoid living among singles." But, but, but... Isn't there a law against this? "The second group consists of singles in middle-income jobs. These type of people usually live in old apartment buildings, which are generally tatty and lack security." Ahh. So it is the middle-income bachelors who live in all of those buildings. [Personal responsibility insofar as the apartment owner to keep the building in good repair and from becoming "generally tatty" does not enter into the equation, I guess.] The third, and final group of bachelors "is the undesired group of singles in low-paid jobs. Most of these people are expatriates and live in crowded apartments, which are filthy and lack basic services. These types of workers generally tend to share their accommodation with other single men." Gee. Anyone care to guess why? Because they are paid such ridiculously LOW WAGES they cannot afford to live any other way. But, according to the article, we are lead to believe it is all the worker's / bachelor's faults that they are forced to live this way. I cannot believe that I am even reading the article as it is written. I am appalled at the lack of compasion and understanding from the author [who shall remain anonymous - if his - her? - name is published on the article I can't find it - and it is no wonder why, after reading...].

Abdullah Al-Hussein, whoever he is, says that "bachelor men bring trouble." Well of course they do, right?! Mr. Al-Hussein must never have been a bachelor. Did he go straight from Umm Abdullah's house [his mother] to being married and living in family housing? Must be he did. He goes on, "Singles do not care about the environment and cleaning their homes. They always create noise, especially when there is a football match. They are filthy most of the time and bring along parking problems, rats and all types of insects." Whoa! You hear that all you filthy dirty varmin infested bug ridden bachelors? That is all you are. Not my words. Mr. Al-Hussein's. A final family man, Ahmad Al-Jabri, who along with Mr. Al-Hussein was never a bachelor agrees and says, "Some real estate offices do not care about regulations when it comes to renting housing units to singles. They only care about money and rent apartments to singles when they're not supposed to. I wish the government would establish neighborhoods for singles and bring this problem to a close." Oh my gosh. If that wouldn't be the answer to MOST of the problems on this side of the world, then I don't know what would be.

Bachelors. All three types. They are just waiting to explode, here.
Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. Nah. This is a LFZ. Contemplating just a second or two longer, it is believable. And that is just the way it is on this side of the world.

Not really "funny" funny.

Have to share something with you. Has almost nothing but everything to do with this cookbook "faux pas" that calls for "freshly ground black people," which is OF COURSE a typo and is supposed to say, "freshly ground black pepper." Duh!

The other night while I was at Qatar Airways office in the Bahrain International Airport office groaning about getting reimbursed for a taxi cab because Qatar didn't put MY luggage on the plane with me, the ONE man who was even willing to be helpful, Khalid, said to me, "Did you speak with a white man downstairs [in baggage services] earlier?" I said, "No. I spoke to an Arab man downstairs ten minutes ago when I was there..." Khalid says to me, in all seriousness, "How do I say this?" Communication between us is starting to be an issue. Me because I speak English and Khalid because he is trying so hard to speak English [and he did very well, by the way!]. So, Khalid, again, says, "Was he a white man?" And I honestly responded, "No. He wasn't." Khalid, not to miss a beat says, "I am a white man. Was he the same color I am?"

Don't I feel confused!?! Ahh, Khalid. Pssst. Let me fill you in on a teeny tiny little secret. "I am white. This is what a white person looks like." At the same time I am saying that, I am pulling up the sleeves of my shirt to show him my "white" skin. Khalid responded, "Ahh, yes, Madam. Here, we are white." "Umm, no, Khalid. You are brown. Perhaps dark tan. But you are not white." I had to reply. "I spoke to Ahmed. He is an Arab man. He was not white." Ahh. Now we're on the same track, though. Arabs consider themselves to be white? Who knew?! [If you are an Arab living in the United States, how did you fill out the census question for your nationality? White? Seriously?!!]

Why do I think it is funny that a recipe calls for salt and fresh ground black pepper people? Oh, I dunno no. It really isn't "funny" funny, but come on. I, mean, after all, not only am I not going to find that particular ingredient here in The Sandbox, but where the hell am I going to find prosciutto?

Yeah. 'Ya have to admit. It is a little funny at someone else's expense. Hey, if you can't laugh at a typo that is CLEARLY a mistake... I mean, come on. It was, after all, a mistake made in Australia, not South Africa!

Never mind. I am jet lagged. I am in limbo. I can think something that isn't really funny is funny if I want to.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Random stuff. Here, and elsewhere.

Still overwhelmed. Also in limbo. Cannot say anything more about my "limbo" until it isn't "limbo" anymore. Rest assured, though, that if the "limbo" goes one way, I'll have a bucket-load to say about the situation. If it goes the other way, I will have to "bite my tongue." Tomorrow will probably be the tipping point.

A man jumped from a 10th story window. He is dead. The irony of the story will be lost to most. Calling B.S. on it. There is a more to this story than what is being reported. [Oh my. What a surprise!] Come on. A man could not defend himself against a 45-year-old woman who just happened to be in a hotel room with a meat cleaver? Sure. Okay. According to the short report, "Eyewitnesses testified that he had been at the bottom of the building when the Egyptian woman appeared on the balcony screaming that there was a thief in her apartment, at which point the Saudi national went yp to her flat to save her. Once he was in, however, the woman locked the door behind him and took out a large knife and demanded money." Something is very wrong with that portion of the story which completely contradicts that Egyptian press report which claims "that the Saudi had been engaged in 'immoral activities' at the time." Umm hmmm. There you go. That report is just a little more than slightly believable, if you ask me. Oh, and as to the irony aspect? How many "maids" have jumped from several stories high escaping something sinister, here? Search my archives. The answer to that question is a lot!

And, speaking of a lot. A lot of PCRC, here. "A total of 50 people died, 385 injured and 4,596 accidents took place because of the heavy rains that lashed the Kingdom over the past four days..." Not a chance of anyone taking any personal responsibility, is there? Nope. Not a chance. "Abiding by traffic instructions and the directives of traffic policement limits the number of traffic accidents and guarantees public safety," says Gen. Sulaiman Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ajlan, Director of the Traffic General Administration. Gee. 'Ya think? "He added that there were thousands of traffic violations over the past four days." What he didn't add was what the consequences of those violations would be. Oh, that's right. There aren't any consequences. Never mind.

Oh. And speaking of "something's wrong with this story," how about this one? Let's see an "expatriate" man has been arrested for raping an eight-year-old girl. An expatriate of unidentified nationality. [Anyone care to guess?] The man is a 48-year-old driver who has "been accused of xes abuse three times." Huh?!! Three times!?! Why the heck is the man even out on the streets? Shouldn't he be in jail? How many "expatriate" men in The Sandbox get the opportunity to get off Scott-free after being accused of some sort of xesual abuse THREE times?!! Hmmph. "The man's arrest also led to several other victims coming forward and the discovery of a stash of dirty pictures and movies at his home." For right now the man is in police custody while investigations continue. In the meantime, "The General Prosecution and Investigation Board is currently investigating the charges against the man which includes xesually-abusing minors, taking photographs of young girls and xesually-harassing them." Interesting, isn't it, that when the man was arreted he "admitted to engaging in xesual intercours with the eight-year-old girl" yet an investigation continues? Why? Who is this man and who is he related to, or who does he know?

A kind of sort of feel good story, here. About a dog. A soldier's dog. If you do not get choked up reading about Tank then you have ice water running through your veins. Posted "just because."

It is a small study involving only 13,000 women. Who knew?! "Blondes have last laught with more money." A University of Queensland "study found that not only did blonde women earn an average seven per cent more than their brunette and red-headed sisters, they married men who earnt six percent more too." It is good to be blonde. Saw it first at [where else!] blonde sagacity.

Have not listened to Rush one time since I've been home back. See? I really am in a funk of some sort. Of course, all listening to Rush is going to do is make my blood boil. Not because of Rush, of course, but because of the jugearedjackass. Is that man imbecile a complete and total embarassment to the United States of America, or what!!

Inom is still not back from his vacation. He left at the end of January. His brother is here, though, and today, for the first time since I returned he will come and help me. Thank goodness. I thought for sure I was going to have to push the vacuum around, myself. Maybe even wash my own kitchen floor. Called Hadar last night and he is coming in fifteen minutes. Phew! Crisis averted.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Freak Weather

Blame it on global warming or some such crap. Really it has been bizarre, though. The storms we've been having. Thunder, lightening and heavy rain! Weird. Certainly not what we are used to, that is for sure. And the rain, although quite necessary, makes the patio and the patio furniture a muddy mess. Are they still seeding the clouds here? Or something? It rained for three nights in a row. Always at night... Isn't that a little odd? I don't think it rained again last night, but I could be wrong. Haven't looked outside to see if the patio is a mess. [Nope. I just checked. It didn't rain last night.] Yep. It rained last night. DH was up before I was and he cleaned the patio and patio furniture before I even had my first cup of coffee. [Still jet lagged. Yeah. That's my excuse. And, I'm sticking to it.]

The lightening killed one young man and put another in the hospital. In fairness to Mother Nature the weather isn't so much to blame as much as stupidity. The rain is being blamed for all sorts of injuries and even some PCRC, too. Personal responsibility? Not so much.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


It is all catching up with me. The jet lag. The pain in the butt getting the luggage saga. Just taking a shower in salt water. Again. Yuck. You cannot possibly imagine the effect of the water unless you've experienced it... And, the possibility that there may be a big change in store for me. Nope. I did not see "that" coming. Ought to be interesting. Understatement, there. Today I just feel mightily overwhelmed and want to sit on the couch and knit instead of trying to think straight and be productive. [Knitting is productive!] Blogging? Eh. Not on my list of priorities today. Might not even be on the list tomorrow. We'll see. I had such good intentions for a few posts about "stuff" I've missed that happened here in The Sandbox while I was in the States. Newsy things. And, I really wanted to complain - yet again - about the lack of selection for food at The Commissary. What happened? Why isn't there any meat?!! That's alright. We can just eat bacon!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Exercise in Futility

What a nightmare. Losing your luggage. I think I have a right to be furious about it. Although I am much less aggravated about the whole situation than I was yesterday, that's for sure. And, my luggage did make it home safe and sound with everything intact. It's a miracle. Wearing my lucky socks was a very good thing. Yes. I have lucky socks. Doesn't everyone? It is quite likely I could have gotten a whole lot more done yesterday, including that mountain of laundry, if I could have found just ONE person to help me at Qatar Airways with the list of numbers that I accumulated between yesterday morning and yesterday afternoon. Honestly, if it wasn't for the service that I've received in the past with the exception of that one instance where Farrah was in charge of my side of the cabin, I'd be saying "That's it. All done flying Qatar."

Actually I don't know why I'm even bothering to be surprised. It is typical for this side of the world. No one wants to be responsible for anything and no one has the foresight to go over and above and actually try to think outside of the box. You think that government workers are bad in the States? Ha! They have nothing on the Middle East!! You have no idea what ineptness is until...

It is not worth going through one by one each of the telephone calls I made yesterday - which actually started the night before when I arrived home sans luggage and called my travel agent in the States and said, "You need to help me find my luggage. Two huge blue bags, with Priority tags on them [business class luggage is supposed to be handled with priority - it is one of the reasons you pay twice or thrice the amount of an economy class ticket!] were left at JFK in New York and no one seems to want to tell me why. Qatar, being a Middle Eastern company, automatically wants to blame the "other" airlines who checked my bags when I originated my trip in RDU. No. Not acceptable. When I checked in at Qatar in New York, they asked for my baggage claim numbers, which I dutifully gave them, which they dutifully [or not, obviously] entered into the system. That is what those bar codes are for, though, so that airlines can match up what bags are supposed to be on board matching them with each passenger. No matter. It was nothing short of impossible trying to explain that that is what happened and that is how it happened and that it is Qatar's fault, not American Airlines.

Dozens of phone calls yesterday all to numbers that either had a mere voice at the end coming out of a brainless, empty talking head, or worse, phone numbers that went unanswered or went to voice mail boxes. Unbelievable. And each number that I called that had a brainless, empty talking head answer at the other end said, "Yes, Madam. Call this number." No. I already called that number. I've been calling it for two hours and no one answers. "Oh, yes, Madam. Call this number." I have to say that I got more assistance from the man in Baggage Services at Bahrain International Airport than I got from anyone else. Thank you, Ahmed. It was yesterday afternoon when I called Ahmed for the umpteenth time and he said, "Yes, Madam. I received a message that your bags will be on tonight's plane if there is room." What? If there is room? Throw a half dozen other bags off that plane and get my bags on there! The ones that were supposed to be on the plane I was on from two nights ago!!

DH had to work this morning at 0-dark-thirty. Early. Very, very early. He wouldn't have gotten but a couple of hours sleep if he would have taken me to Bahrain last night to collect my luggage - and it was a trip that had to be made without actually being able to confirm one way or another that my luggage was going to be there. No problem. I'll get a cab and go over. I mean, it's not like I can get in my truck and drive myself there since women do not drive in The Sandbox [they will never be able to drive - it is a control issue and men here, apparently, cannot bear the thought of losing that control]. So, I left Saudi last night in a cab to Bahrain at 8:30. Off to the airport. Not knowing that my luggage would be there, or not, but wearing my purple socks with the lime green frogs on them. My lucky socks. My driver spoke very little English. I used the "new" company that is here as the "old" company had no car available. You have to give these men a great deal of credit to come here from whatever third world country they are from and learn to drive in the worst driving conditions anywhere on earth! For the most part all of them do an excellent job. I have no complaints in that regard. I tried to ask the driver if he had been to Bahrain earlier and what the bridge traffic was like. He did not understand me and said, "Bridge busy on Wednesday night and Thursday night." But, of course. Wednesday night is the equivalent of Friday night in the States. Thursday is the same as Saturday night. The bridge was busy. What are all of the cars with Saudi license plates, filled with young Saudi men, doing going over to Bahrain on a Tuesday night? Oh, sure. They are going grocery shopping or to the mall. Wink wink.

It is a constant source of both amusement and aggravation that it is ALWAYS the Saudi side of customs that is backed up. We sat at the bridge for a good half hour or forty-five minutes last night just waiting to get through the Saudi side of Customs into Bahrain. Was it backed up in Bahrain? The same number of cars passed through the Saudi side to the Bahrain side. No. It was NOT backed up on the Bahrain side. Just the Saudi side. Always the Saudi side both directions - going and coming back. Why is that? I have a partial answer to that question. The Saudi workers are all too dayum busy playing with their mobiles - talking and texting - and those mobiles take priority over the job they are supposed to be doing - you know, the job they are being paid to do. You take those mobile phones away from the workers and see how efficient they become! I realize that there isn't a chance of that happening, but that is part of the reason / problem. Again that is just part of the reason / problem. Another part is that women - covered head-to-toe in their black bags - do not want to show their passports to the customs agents at the booths, so they get out of their vehicles to go into Female Inspection while their male drivers - husbands or fathers - wait for them. Another part is that the males in the vehicles do not think they should have to wait in line to pass through the booths so they jump out of their cars and race up to the booth windows on foot to cut in front of those of us still waiting in line to get our passports stamped. The men working at the booths allow this to take place so there is no preventing it or stopping it. They could simply just say, "Get back in your car and wait," but that does not and will not happen. It makes no sense because your car is still in the line - you just don't have to wait as long when your car actually pulls up to the booth and you can race through. I just don't get it. Likely, I never will, either.

Got to the airport in Bahrain just as the plane arrived. Timing. Perfect. Bags were just starting to be unloaded. Ten bags were unloaded and then I saw one of mine. Goody! See? Wearing lucky socks does help! A couple of minutes later my second bag came through. I should be all relieved and happy. I have my stuff. Maybe. Who knows what got removed from my bags in New York? Yes. Of course I have locks on the suitcases, but that only prevents honest people from stealing stuff out of my bags. TSA has removed more than just a few items from our bags in the past. Has to be TSA workers because they are the only ones with the special key that opens TSA approved locks, right? Honest TSA workers? Oh, sure. There are some. But they are government employees, and being a government employee means you are allowed to steal from anyone you want. After all, you're stealing money from taxpayers just by virtue of being employed by the government who has far too many employees already but again, being a government employee also means that being efficient and actually working is out of the question. I digress.

There are my bags. I should be all happy, happy, happy. And I am happy. But not happy, happy, happy. I am unhappy about the frustration and time and effort expended to get bags that never should have been left off of the plane in the first place, and I want an explanation as to why they were NOT put on the plane. I can handle someone saying, "It was our mistake and we are sorry." But as of right now, that has not happened. Oh, and I need to be reimbursed the $125.00 I spent last night taking a cab to and from Bahrain. Don't think I didn't get that in motion last night while I was at the airport. After I collected my bags I went straight to the Qatar office with my receipt for the taxi - including a generous tip - and said, "I need to be reimbursed for this." Khalid at the Qatar office in the airport last night was more helpful than all of the men and women I spoke with yesterday, combined. Except of course for Ahmed who works at Baggage Services. Khalid had me fill out the paperwork and provide my ticket information, copy of my passport and the receipt so that I can be reimbursed for the extra expense and told me that I could not make a claim for any missing items unless the bags were inspected there, at the airport. Fine, then. Get me a porter and we'll go get the bags out of the trunk and we'll inspect them right here, on the floor of your office. And that is exactly what we did.

It was a cursory inspection, there in his office on the floor, but it would appear, so far, that everything made it. Treats and new toys for The Kids! [Always a first priority. They actually know at this point that there are treats and toys in the bags and The Baby helps me unpack with her little nose in my bag as if to say, "Is this mine? How about this?"] I could feel the cold packs without actually taking them out of my bag. They were still cool to the touch. Of course, when I originally put the cold packs in my bags they were three frozen solid blocks. Twenty pounds of bacon and Canadian bacon and sausage. Can you even imagine how rank the bags would have become if they weren't sent over to me as quickly as they were? A new special egg poacher [I have never made a poached egg in my entire life!] for DH so that I can make him Eggs Benedict [I'm giving it a try for the first time when he gets home from work in an hour]. A dozen packages of Knorr Hollandaise sauce. And a dozen packages of English muffins. Oh, sure. Most people probably pack their clothes in their suitcases. Me? No. Other stuff. All the stuff I can't get here. Guess that isn't a hundred percent true. The dozen or so new bras I bought in the States to wear after having had my surgery done were in my suitcases, too. I cannot wear my old ones because they all have underwire in them and underwire is not allowed for at least six months. But, then, I'll never need underwire again which is the reason for getting the lift and "pluff" in the first place! I've been wearing the same sports bra since I left the States on Sunday afternoon... Knew that I was going to need that extra support for such a long trip home, and I did, but that was all I had with me - just the one I had on. Today I have a new, clean lavendar bra on [in honor of wearing my lucky socks last night!]. Okay, okay. Too much information. Way too much information. Other stuff in the bags? Books. Never ever leave the States without buying books. Vanilla. Two huge bottles of it - real vanilla [the kind that actually has alcohol in it instead of the fake stuff that we can get here].

Anyway, after a couple of hours at the airport going between Baggage Services, Customs and the Qatar office my non-English speaking driver and I were on our way home. Still have to go through Saudi Customs though and admittedly I was just a bit nervous with twenty pounds of pork and real Vanilla in my bags. After having the car so thoroughly searched the night before I could only imagine what they were going to do with my suitcases. In some ways, I have to be thankful that Customs - on the Saudi side - was as backed up as it was. They were asking all of the men in their vehicles to get out of their cars and were again doing thorough searches - even the dogs were out - literally - the dogs that are sniffing for contraband - the kind that is pharmacutical or the kind that goes boomboom - no clue. We pull into our spot and Mr. Custom's guy has the driver open the trunk - then he looks in the back seat where I am sitting - and he nods his head - he stamps the driver's "paper," and lets us leave. Yes! See? Once again, it pays to wear your lucky socks!! Did not even have me open a single bag. But then, I do not believe I am very mennacing looking, either. White, blonde American woman. Middle-aged, at that.

So now, all that remains to happen is for me to be reimbursed by Qatar for the cost of taking a taxi cab to and from Bahrain and for them to apologize. It would be nice if they would add - oh, I don't know - a gazillion miles to my account, too. Not holding my breath for that. In the meantime, I'll get back to that mountain of laundry and finish unpacking. There is a great deal more I could add to the frustration that I have to deal with in my day-to-day life - we had gardening and irrigation show up to fix the faucet in the back yard for the thirtieth time - it still isn't fixed and someone else is coming to attempt to fix it at 12:30 today. And, then there is Appuk, the gardener, who, although he does a good job is getting on my last nerve for a variety of reasons. It is just the way it goes. My world... Maybe more on all of that, tomorrow.

Oh, and that special egg poacher I got? It doesn't have a single instruction on it how to actually cook the eggs! What is that all about?! Am I the ONLY one that doesn't have a clue how to make a poached egg? The cooker was made in China. It just figures. Think I'll go practice with it and try to figure out what I'm doing.
Yeah. Wish me some luck on that one... But, I do have my luggage, now. And I made it across the border through Customs without having bacon and other products taken away from me. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SOS Different Day

Like I expected anything to change? No. I guess I didn't. Another maid is dead. How many have to die? Never mind. Rhetorical question, really. Maids are a dime a dozen - whoever sponsored her will just import another one from some third world country. Interesting, though, isn't it, how many maids die fleeing their sponsors? Why on earth would a maid want to do that!

Something's going on, or something happened while I was gone. Last night coming from Bahrain to Saudi the Customs inspection was backed up [shocker!]. Saudi officials were checking everything and everyone. It is the first time I've experienced having them open the spare tire well in the trunk of my cab. Not that I had to worry about them inspecting my luggage since it never got on the plane with me in New York. [Business Class ticket on Qatar! $3,500.00 for a ticket and this is what happens. Yes. I am pissed. Beyond pissed. I am furious. My luggage NEVER even got on the plane? Wonder how many items will mysteriously go missing since it sat in JFK Airport all night/day. And, I wonder how Qatar is going to rectify this situation for me.] So, Customs officials thoroughly checked the cab I was in, including the side panels of the car. What, exactly, are they looking for? Do they think I am stupid? Blonde, yes. But not stupid. There is not a chance I would risk smuggling booze in, or any other contraband for that matter. I can only imagine that that is what they were looking for since they did such a thorough search. I mean, come on, it isn't like I'm going to try to smuggle a firearm in or something like that. I wouldn't even know where to get one on this side of the world. Whatever. But clearly someone has been caught bringing something in or they wouldn't be searching like they are searching.

Let's just call a spade a spade, shall we? Misyar marriage is nothing other than legalized prostitution. Social necessity? No. I don't think so. Pluheeze. Because there are so many spinsters? Gimme a break. How many spinsters can there possibly be when every man is entitled to four wives?

Yep. Same old same old same old. You'd think I would have a better attitude after just spending almost a month in the States getting it adjusted. I don't. Have to say that I was very, very, very happy to see my Kids and DH, though. And to sleep in my own bed again. Will be busy today doing laundy and cleaning up around here. DH did one load of darks while I was gone and there is a mountain of laundry to be done. I do mean a mountain! Off I go to get started on that. Pain in the butt is what it is because I have to fill the washer by hand with a big pitcher. 18 pitchers, per load. Twice. So it is really 36 pitchers, per load. First to wash, then to rinse. Just one of those little things that I didn't miss at all while I was home because I didn't have to worry about the salt water destroying my clothes. Here in The Sandbox we have salt water. There is one tap in the kitchen that has what is called "sweet" water [desalinated] and it is what we use for drinking water and it is the same tap that goes into the dishwasher, supposedly, so we have dishes that aren't washed in undrinkable water which is a good thing. It is also the same tap that I have to use to wash my hair and to brush my teeth. Just another one of those things that I didn't even think about once while I was gone and just another one of those little annoyances which are a part of my daily life here. Ahh. Welcome home!

I'm Home. More later.

Depending on whether or not Qatar finds my luggage... Not a "happy camper" right now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Champps. Last lunch out. Don't even bother ordering the Reuben sandwich.

One of my favorite lunch spots when we go to Triangle Town Center or Streets of Southpoint mall is Champps. I order the same thing. Always. Have to tell you, though, that two - not so great - experiences at Champps [the one in Raleigh, not the one in Durham] has left a bad taste in my mouth. Yesterday we went to Triangle Town Center. We. Me, my Mom and a friend of my Mom's, Daisy. It is the last lunch I will eat out while I am here. I leave for the Sandbox in a few short hours and will not be home again until fall when Baby is born.

How it is that Mom's friend, Daisy, accompanies us is that my Mom - bless her heart - does a good deal of transporting many of her elderly neighbors back and forth to doctor's visits and grocery stores and other miscellaneous errand running. She is such a dear sweet woman, my Mother! There are a couple of neighbors that do not drive and Mom does what she can [over and above, if you ask me, but it is none of my business] to make their lives easier. If there are taxi cabs near where Mom lives, and there probably are, I've not seen them. Forget the fact that even if there were taxi cabs that it would cost some of these elderly neighbors on fixed incomes an arm and a leg to take a cab back and forth to doctor's offices and do errand running. The neighbors are blessed with the presence of such a wonderful woman, my Mom, who generously does this for them.

Before getting to lunch yesterday, let me back up a bit...

Last August when we were home we - me, Mom and Daisy - went to the Raleigh Champps for lunch after Mom took Daisy to a doctor appointment. Doctor's office first, then lunch, then some shopping... What a lovely girls' day out, right? Daisy does not get out much. She is an elderly woman whose husband died a year after Dad. [It is three years today, that my Dad passed away.] I do believe Daisy was quite sheltered when she was married - it is pretty obvious that she didn't get out much. That is a whole other story, though. Going out to lunch at a sit down restaurant instead of a drive-thru or a buffet was going to be a special treat for Daisy. We walked into Champps and Daisy was in awe. "Oh, this is so nice." That was before she even looked at the menu.

Daisy is a smoker. I was a smoker. We sat in the bar area, which, until January 1st of this year when a blanket no smoking in North Carolina anywhere policy went into effect, is where smokers were allowed to smoke. The three of us gals, out for a nice lunch before an afternoon of shopping. Why Champps? I like the food. I knew I could have a cigarette and a drink there - and I knew I'd be ordering a frozen Mudslide to be served with my meatless Patty Melt. While I am in the States, I don't go anywhere for lunch where I cannot order a drink. I can drink all the Diet Coke and water that I want when I'm home in the Sandbox.

We sit down. Daisy is looking at the menu. She doesn't have a clue what she should order. I know what I want and Mom knows what she wants. We order. I order a meatless patty melt [which is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with onions on dark Russian rye bread]. Mom orders a Reuben. Daisy decides she will have what Mom is having and she orders a Reuben. Service is fine. No complaints at all about the service. Mom orders her usual - hot tea. I order a vodka and club soda with no fruit - and ask for the frozen Mudslide WITH my sandwich. Daisy ordered coffee. Champps is a sports bar and here are two women ordering a cup of tea and a cup of coffee. No matter. They are prepared. Again, no problem with the service. It is when the food is served that the problem starts.

A patty melt without the meat. What was served to me was two lukewarm pieces of dark Russian rye bread with a slice of unmelted American cheese and a slice of unmelted Swiss cheese and some raw onion. What?!! Is that how you would serve a patty melt with the meat? I don't think so. The server - who also happened to be the bartender that day - comes to check our table. I have to send my sandwich back. I want a GRILLED CHEESE with sauteed onions - just like a patty melt - but with no burger. I have no idea why someone in the kitchen thought a cold cheese sandwich with raw versus sauteed onions was going to be acceptable. No problem though, I'll get a new sandwich - or at least a sandwich that is prepared like I anticipated it would be.

Mere seconds later, Mom opens her sandwich - the Reuben - and says, "They forgot the Thousand Island dressing and this is cold." She is right. The Swiss cheese on her sandwich isn't melted, the sauerkraut is cold, the meat is cold.
I tell her I'll send it back. Mom does not like that kind of "fuss," she wants to eat it anyway. Daisy looks at her sandwich and says, "Yeah, me too." Nope. Not going to happen. I'm not going to let Mom and Daisy eat cold sandwiches that are only partially prepared - when you forget a MAIN ingredient, the Thousand Island dressing, the sandwich is only partially prepared. I call the server back over and explain the problem about the Reuben sandwiches. They are sent back to the kitchen to be redone. In the meantime, my sandwich is done and served to me. Now, I have to either eat in front of my Mom and Daisy or I have to wait for their food to be redone and served and let my sandwich go cold. No biggie. Mom and Daisy both say, "Go ahead. You eat that while it is still hot." A couple of minutes later Mom and Daisy get their plates.

It was just after that that the manager comes over to us to find out what the problems have been with our food. He is very nice and I politely explain what has gone wrong with everything we have ordered. I offer to go to the kitchen to show the cook how a Reuben is made. The manager kindly announces that lunch is on him. He takes our food items off of our bill. That is NOT what we asked for. After all, everything was taken care of even though it all had to be sent back. Daisy is still ooohing and awwing over the restaurant and says, "I'm going to have my daughter bring me here for my birthday dinner." The manager only hears part of her statement and believes we are there for her birthday and moments after our plates from our lunch have been cleared away there is this big huge strawberry shortcake kind of dessert served with ice cream and a candle and three spoons. Dessert is "on the house." How nice! Cannot complain about how we were all treated and how our situation was resolved with cold food being served. You know, had the restaurant been busy, I might have understood. But it was just after "lunch rush hour" and the restaurant was not busy. Cold food? Unacceptable.

So, yesterday. Again, the three of us - me, Mom and Daisy - went to Champps for lunch after one of Daisy's doctor appointments. We order almost the identical order we placed in August of last year. I order a vodka and club soda to start, with my frozen Mudslide to be served with my sandwich. Mom orders tea and Daisy orders coffee. A minute later our server, Nikki, comes back and says, I am sorry but we do not have any tea bags. No biggie. Mom carries her own tea bags in her purse for just such emergencies. Now Mom only needs some boiling water. Daisy who is fussy needs more cream for her coffee. I'm guessing at that point Nikki is thinking, "Why did this table of three women have to be my table?" Mom has to send her tea water back to be microwaved so it is hot - tepid is not the right temperature for tea. Daisy gets her additional cream... I'm already feeling sorry that Nikki has our table, and mention it to Mom under my breath [Nikki doesn't know that I make sure to treat servers well at the end of any meal].

My sandwich comes. It is perfect. Grilled cheese with sauteed onions on dark Russian rye bread. Mom's sandwich comes. It is cold. Cold sauerkraut. Cold meat. Barely even grilled - the bread - unmelted cheese. Ditto for Daisy. I tell Mom to send her sandwich back. She, being the one to not fuss, said, "No. I'll just eat it." Daisy does fuss. She sent hers back. Nikki apologizes profusely. It is not her fault. It is the fault of the staff in the kitchen. Who comes to the table only seconds after we sent Daisy's sandwich back and complained that Mom's was cold? The manager. Same manager from last year. I relay the sandwich dilemma to him and explain how a Reuben is supposed to be prepared. I tell him that I come to Champps once or twice a year and how last year we had the very same problem. He remembers us! John, his name is, said, "I remember you. You sat over there [and he points to the direction where we had, in fact, sat during our prior visit]. It was less than a year ago you were here." He is correct. It has been eight months. Great memory!

John apologizes for the sandwiches which were improperly prepared and offers to redo them or to let Mom and Daisy order something else. Daisy is fine with hers being microwaved so it is hot. Mom says, "No. It will be okay. I've already started eating it." Fine, Mom. Eat that cold Ruben sandwich. It is no big deal, really. I explain to John that with two visits in a row where the same problem was experienced that we might think twice before returning to Champps next time we go to Triangle Town Center [which won't be until this fall]. John is understanding and says, "You will not be charged for those sandwiches." I hope he does not think this is some ploy we use to get free food. Like I said, my sandwich was prepared perfectly and served on grilled bread with melted cheese and sauteed onions. I have no complaints. The Rubens are, obviously, the problem. Seconds from finishing our sandwiches, Nikki comes back to our table and says, "We have a new dessert. An apple caramel tart which we would like to give you, on the house." Neither Mom nor I are interested in dessert, and certainly we are not looking for "on the house." Daisy? She says, "That sounds really good. I'll have it." Amazingly enough, she ate the whole thing! It was huge.

We pay our checks. My bill is $27.00 for my sandwich, two vodkas and one Mudslide. I leave a 40% tip. Mom's check is $5.00. She leaves an equal amount for the tip. Daisy's bill is $7.00 and she leaves a 40% tip. Our server, Nikki, who probably figured when she started having issues - our issues - at our table that she was only going to end up with a bare minimum for her part in getting us our lunch, I hope, was pleasantly surprised. Again, it isn't about the money. Nor was it about the service. Service at Champps has never been an issue. It is about the sandwiches. You have a Reuben on the menu, it says it comes with Thousand Island dressing and it gets omitted? Wrong. You say it is a traditional Reuben on dark Russian rye bread but no where does it say it is served cold! And, by the way, a traditional Reuben is supposed to be a hot sandwich.

My complaint is not with Champps in general. Very good service. Excellent managerial assistance when something is not right. My complaint is that Champps does not know how to make a Reuben sandwich so either take it off the menu or have your cooks actually learn how to make one. Until they can do so, I would suggest ordering something else. Someone please tell me that we are NOT the only ones to have this happen with Reuben sandwiches at Champps...

The last lunch out before I get on a plane and fly home. Oh, and by the way, thanks alot you phukktard from Qatar who thought his diplomatic status allowed him to smoke on an airplane and then joke about trying to light his shoes on fire. It won't be long until we are all strip searched and NOT allowed to have any luggage at all. Interesting that one particular group has decided to make an already awful situation - getting on an airplane - all but intolerable. Is that group being held responsible? Of course not. Typical, though. Just typical.

See everyone in a day or so where I will be back to blogging from the sunny, warm Sandbox!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Almost Up...

Yet again, my time at home has flown by. It always does. I see the doctor one more time this week, then I get on a plane and head back to the Sandbox. I'm ready, though. I miss my DH and my Kids. I've shopped and stimulated the economy in N.C. I have enjoyed all the things I can't have... Bailey's in my morning coffee. Bloody Mary's in the afternoon with cottage cheese and Pringles. A bottle of Sterling Cabernet every night. Ham for dinner. King crab legs. Scallops. BLT's. Yum! In less than a week I'll be home and will not be able to have any of those things until we return in the summer. I will, of course, come back for the birth of Caylee [Cohen?] [the names keep changing]. Not a chance I will miss that. There is a possibility that I will find out the sex of Baby this week. Then I can really do some stimulating of the economy!

Back to regular blogging soon. Sigh. Heavy sigh... Not about the blogging, but about leaving...
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