Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sane Voices in The Sandbox

Nice to see a couple of sane voices by two lone individuals, on a couple of issues...

First, we have Ms. Mishkhas who asks "How About Punishing the Guilty?" What a novel idea! And why is it that the guilty aren't being punished? A search at Arab News for "Miyati" gives thirty-two results on the plight of this unfortunate housemaid, horrifically abused at the hands of her employers. Their punishment? That of the employers? None. Whatsoever. Abeer Mishkhas writes:

"Having been tortured by her employer and denied her wages, Noor, the Indonesian maid, not only has to suffer the loss of her fingers and toes due to a lack of medical attention but also the blame at first for allegedly changing her statement - although her employer initially confessed and then retracted the confession. No one criticized the employer for changing the statement; after all, the employer is Saudi and Noor isn't."

Well said, Ms. Mishkhas. Well said. Doesn't that give some indication insofar as answering the question "How About Punishing the Guilty?" Hmmm. Yes. I think it does...

The article continues to examine the facts [quite similarly, I might add, to the way I detailed them], but asks more questions than I did:

"... we must ask the reasons for the changed verdict. Why did the court clear the employer of all charges? And if the employer is innocent, why is there any compensation, let along such a pittance as SR2,500?"

"SR2,500 is a slap in the woman's face and an insult. Dare I ask why we have not heard what the employer is saying? Why don't we have more details ofhis and his wife's explanations, and why is this case taking so much time?"

Ms. Mishkhas states:

"Arab News published the news of the latest verdict in Miyati's case and there was an interesting section that once again raises many questions. "Reviewing a previous ruling, the judge also dropped charges against the wife of Miyati's sponsor, who had admitted abusing the maid, and overturned the 35 lashes she was sentenced to. Meanwhile, the sponsor was found innocent due to lack of evidence."

"Now the sponsor's wife was cleared although she had confessed earlier and had been sentenced to 35 lashes. If she had confessed, how could she then be cleared later?"

"The story goes on to say that the sponsor was found innocent due to a lack of evidence. What sort of evidence is the court looking for? Surely missing fingers and toes are more than evidence of something being wrong! To say nothing of gangrene and facial injuries!"

[Emphasis, all mine.]

My thoughts, exactly. We will just have to wait and see if the case is appealed and what the verdict of that court is before we find out if justice will mete out punishment to the guilty and compensate Nour Miyiati for the abuse and injuries she received while being a "guest" worker here in The Sandbox.

And on the subject of "guest" workers, we have the second sane voice. That of Tariq Al-Maeena who says, "After reading enough in the local press about the threat to and the ill-effects on our society from the presence of a large number of migrant and semi-skilled workers in this country..." and then asks this question: "Can we really get by without their presence?"

I've stated that the ratio of "guest" [migrant] workers to "locals" is an astounding 31:1! Of those 31 workers, which Mr. Al-Maeena calls "migrant" workers - I'm calling them "guest" workers - there are laborers, semi-skilled and professional workers. By far, however, the majority of them, these "guest" workers, are laborers. And this article puts into perspective exactly what these laborers are doing for this Country:

"... municipal workers ... industriously engaged in keeping ... roads and cities clean, and ... trash carted away. ..the amount of litter and garbage that has to be catered to ... is being judiciously done by migrant workers."

Yes. It is. Six days a week. By men who have come to The Sandbox to make a living from other countries where they are not able to, for incredibly low wages and in conditions that are unfathomable [it was 120 degrees in my back yard two days ago!].

"... construction has placed a high demand on the number of workers required - some to carry cement sacks, others to shovel and dig, and still some more to prepare the ground for the foundations [of] the structures..."

And, again, no matter what the weather - hot or cold - rain or sunshine - these workers, all from other countries do it to the sole benefit of this Country.

"... perched precariously high on the scaffolds of ... tall buildings, these workers daily put their lives at risk. ... there is no safety net of a comprehensive medical insurance..."

Hell, these workers would likely be thrilled with some basic safety requirements in lieu of medical insurance! There is no OSHA, here, in The Sandbox.

"...streets and roads ... being dug ... for laying out a sewage network ... and setting of the massive pipes."

Manual, physical labor. Extremely difficult tasks, in my opinion, when you factor in the weather, lack of safety regulations, the long work days; it goes without saying that this is all done for a minimal wages.

"Trees get pruned and grass in public parks mowed and watered... The waste from ... septic tanks is flushed out and carted off by tankers and operators... ...owing to the highly inefficient water distribution network, potable water ... is delivered..."

Jobs, according to Mr. Al-Maeena, done primarily by those from African countries and Asians.

"... taxis or limousines ... are ... expatriate drivers. ... when ... personal vehicles need to be serviced or repaired, they are generally accomplished by expatriates."

The list goes on to include those who bag groceries and purchases and deliver them to waiting cars; plumbing and electrical work; installing window treatments and upholstering furniture... All of them expatriates, to "do the work quickly and effectively." And, factory workers, along with other industries who employ "a large number of migrant workers, often resigned to pitiful living and working conditions and very low wages, but yet the job gets done without complaint." What good would it do these workers to complain? They know when the "deck is stacked against them," it is always "stacked against them," so they persevere AND accomplish their duties, whatever they may be.

Finally someone dares to call a spade a spade; Mr. Al-Meena says, "Most of these tasks are being undertaken by migrant workers because Saudis will not do them." [Again, emphasis, all mine.] This is the first time I've actually seen this in writing; oh sure, a lot of us think it, but no one ever actually says it! According to the article, there is a

"[G]rowing legion of Saudi writers and commentators who are quick to point our ills at the direction of this group of workers... Let us not delude ourselves into believing that Saudis today would readily fill in these posts and professions. One would not stumble upon a sizeable number of Saudis queuing for such professions..."

"Instead of criticizing their presence, let us appreciate their contributions. Many leave homes and families behind to eke out a meager existence and save a little every month to send home. Many are subjected to deplorable living conditions, their rights violated in every form and yet they remain faithful to the task and perform it uninterrupted and without protest."

"They stick to themselves, rarely intrusive and more often abused..."

So true. So true.

"The real threat lies in the lazy and sluggish attitude exhibited by some of our Saudi work force whose expectations of salary and benefits far exceed their abilities."

[Yep. All mine, the emphasis.]

Oh. My. Gosh. I can't believe he actually said that - put it in writing! And then he writes:

"Let me put a rest to all who call for action against the migrant workers. They are not pariahs or rejects, but the silent and rarely acknowledged stalwarts that oil the machinery that helps run the rest of us. Let us show some gratitude for a change."

I have a profound new respect for Mr. Al-Maeena. And, as much as I [obviously] agree with SO much of what he has to say, conversely, if Saudis start doing the jobs for which so many of us have been imported to do, whether they be labor, semi-skilled, or professional positions, all of us here as "migrant" or "guest" workers will be out of our jobs! I'm not quite ready to see that happen, either, but I'm pretty confident that that is WON'T happen anytime in the immediate future. Nah. Like everything, here, in The Sandbox, baby steps are taken to accomplish anything. Baby steps. [And only a few of those!] My guess is that NONE of the jobs above [and many jobs that are not mentioned] will be filled with Saudis in the short term. Perhaps at some point Saudis will decide that in order to truly be a part of this Country's growth that they will need to actually get their hands dirty and get to work. When? Probably about the time women are allowed to drive here [as if!?!]... It is going to be quite interesting to see what type of responses are elicited on the opinion pages of the Arab News in the coming days. I'll try to remember to keep you posted.

UPDATE: Sometimes I just hate using Blogger! Formatting is about impossible. I tried to "block / indent" the quotes, above, but every try just made everything look awful and it got worse and worse. So, I put them in italics instead of blocking them to try to save myself just a little frustration - I have enough of that, living here, thank you.

Anyone else hate trying to format with Blogger? How easy is it to switch to something else???

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cold Water Wash Season IS Over!

A friend of mine and I were having coffee one morning outside, sitting in her amazingly cool bougainvillea covered terrace and she said, "Well, I guess cold water wash season is over." Yep. It is. There is no more cold water, here, in The Sandbox. Actually, there hasn't been cold water for a couple of months, but it was at least cool or tepid until a few weeks ago. Water coming directly from the "cold" tap is probably around 90 or 91 degrees [which happens to be the temperature of our pool, right now, and that is how I am "scientifically" measuring the temperature of the tap water]. If you have "darks" or "delicates" which need to be washed in cold water, you are tough out of luck, unless you are going to use refrigerated water and who has time to bottle salt-water and refrigerate it until it is cooled? Yeah. Not happening in this household. We just won't be wearing anything "dark" or "delicate" until October.

We had a lazy morning at this household yesterday and the Kids and I didn't get out for our walk first thing like we usually do. When I took the trash out late mid-morning, I just decided "Gee, it isn't that bad out here, and if we just meander along the side streets and try to stay in the grassy cool areas, we could go for our w
alk, now." So I put my walking shoes on and leashed up the Kids and we headed out. Big mistake. It really, really was hot out there and even in the cool grass under the trees, it was almost unbearable for them. I got caught, too, by the "dog guru" here on our Compound; she drove by and yelled at me out of her car window that we should not be out at this time of day. Needless to say, our late-morning jaunt was a short one. The Boy was hot - and he can usually take the heat - he lays out in the sun with me for hours; The Baby probably thought I was trying to kill her, being outside in the heat and humidity when she has a curly black coat!

We all headed back to the comfort of the air-conditioning. Ahh. Phew. [Air conditioning is a necessity here. If your air conditioner breaks be
tween the months of April and October it is considered an emergency and a crew will immediately be dispatched to get it back up and running no matter what time of day it is when you call.] I don't know why I felt as though I couldn't take a day off from work - being a professional tanner, there are NO days off - so I headed out to the pool. The water is NOT even refreshing. Sure, the water is cooler than the air but because the water is so warm right now, and with the heat and humidity, I was only able to "work" for a couple of hours before I too, had to head back inside to the comfort of the air-conditioning. Usually I don't complain about the heat. Honestly, the heat, when dry, does not feel the same as humid heat [another very "scientific" observation on my part]. We do get some humidity here, but not usually until late August and early September, so it is very strange for us to be experiencing such humid weather, right now.. How hot was it, yesterday? Here's how hot it was:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"I just want to get back to my family alive."

Doesn't seem like getting back to your family alive would be asking too much. Ya think? Why is it that so many "employers" of domestic help, here, seem to think that they have the right and are permitted to abuse the people that work for them?

I have three people working for me - HB15 [Houseboy No. 15], G6 [Gardener No. 6] and Poolman [the same one for eight months! a record!]. And, although I've fired a slew of houseboys and replaced my gardeners due to circumstances that have absolutely nothing to do with whether their work was satisfactory - not once in the five years we've been here have I ever abused the help.

Not once have I thrown a shoe at a houseboy or beat him senseless with a mop. Not to say that I've not spoken sternly to a few of them - or walked away muttering under my breath that HB13 was "dumb as a box of rocks" or that HB14 "just doesn't understand that this is my house and he doesn't know who he's dealing with..." I probably swear at them under my breath as I walk away muttering. No, not probably. I do swear. "Fucking idiots. I'm surrounded by fucking idiots." But, in all fairness, these guys really can't be blamed for being "fucking idiots." They probably aren't; they just don't understand English, for the most part, and I speak none of whatever language it is that they speak so communication is a big problem. Along with the fact that in Bangladesh or India or Sri Lanka they probably don't use the variety of different cleaning products that I require them to use and therefore they have no idea that Clorox Clean-Up isn't furniture polish, or that Lysol Bathroom Cleaner isn't supposed to be used to spot clean carpet. They have never seen a Hoover FloorMate before coming to work for me, and they probably think that my liberal use of Bounty papertowels is disgraceful. [Yes, Mom, it is. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it so just don't even start with me about the papertowels.]

In their countries a bucket of water, soap [?], and a rag is probably used to clean everything - and it is likely that their wives or mothers or sisters take care of the cleaning, so cleaning in my home for me is something they've had to come here to do because they need a job and what I require of them is akin to sending them to walk on the moon. But still, it has never once occurred to me to beat them for some minor infraction such as putting a waste basket on my buffet.

This poor woman came to The Sandbox "hoping to make enough money to build a house" for her "aging mother and only daughter." Jamila was hired for a monthly salary of 600 Riyals; that's $160.85 in U.S. dollars. Even if she would have worked a forty-eight hour week - that's six, eight-hour days - her wages would be about seventy-seven cents an hour! Seventy-seven cents!!! I have no doubt that she probably worked twelve and fourteen hour days - seven days a week - thus her hourly wage would have been between thirty-seven to forty-four cents an hour. Thirty-seven cents an hour!!!

What are the benefits she got, on top of her thirty-seven cents and hour? Leftovers - if she got food at all, no medical care, put outside when her "employers" left the house, not allowed any contact with her family, and beaten unconscious. WTF?!? Slavery may have been abolished in the rest of the world, but it is alive and thriving in The Sandbox. Honestly, no matter how hungry or desperate you are in whatever third-world country you live in, coming here to work is NOT the answer. Do not do it. Just. Don't!

Although this article says, "Though majority of these housemaids are treated well, cases of abuse and torture by abusive employers have increased recently, reason why housemaids run away." [Sic.] [The Saudi Gazette can never be accused of doing a thorough editing job... Perhaps it should have said, "Though the majority of these housemaids are treated well... increased recently, and is the reason why housemaids run away."] Regardless. It is the very, very rare article that demonstrates a housemaid has been treated well - I've seen only ONE in the entire time I've been reading two papers a day, for FIVE years. ONE. That's it. The rest of the articles published in the papers detail the abuse and torture the housemaids are subjected to at the hands of their merciless employers here in The Sandbox and my archives are laden with posts detailing just some of the horrors subjected upon the housemaids who come to work in The Sandbox. I don't believe for one skinny minute or split nanosecond that the "majority of these housemaids are treated well." Nope. Not buying it. Just. Not.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Plenty of Jobs Available.

How is it that unemployment here is such an issue when there are so many "help wanted" ads in the paper every day. A lot of big, quarter-page sized ads, that say "Immediately Required," or "Urgently Required."

In the Arab News yesterday I counted SIXTY jobs available. There are perhaps more, depending on how you interpret "Project Engineers" - the "s" on the end of "Engineers," makes it "plural." So are you looking for two? Or are you looking for a dozen? Even if the company that placed the ad is only looking for two "Project Engineers," that ups my count to sixty-one jobs out there available for someone who is unemployed; but if that company is looking for eight "Project Engineers," then the count goes up to sixty-seven.

Some companies are quite specific when advertising for employees by preferring job applicants of certain nationalities.

I'm sure there is a good reason that a Filipino or Indian national is preferred; probably something to do with being an "equal opportunity employer," no doubt. Hmmph.

Funny, though, in just the small sampling of help-wanted ads that I scanned from the paper and in all of the ads that I read, not a single one mentioned as a benefit that whoever was hired for any of the available positions would be able to spend the entire working day talking on their mobile phone. Perhaps that's because the companies looking to fill their vacant positions might require actual work!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The "Real" Reason Women Wear Head Scarves!

If there was ever any doubt as to the real reason women in The Sandbox are wearing their head scarves, I have discovered exactly why they do so. And it has absolutely nothing to do with modesty or religion.

We are having guests for dinner tonight. A golfing and work buddy of my DH is coming over with his parents, who are here visiting from the States. Honestly, I don't have time to be blogging - I've got a gazillion things to do. One of the gazillion things I have to do I can now cross of my list. I needed to go to the Commissary to get groceries. We're having shrimp and avocado salad, pork chops [which were brought in from Bahrain - can't get those here!] on the grill, garlic mashed potatoes with gravy, fresh green beans with mushrooms and onions and either blueberry cheesecake or lemon pound cake. Yummy!

What should have taken a half an hour - max - from when I got in my car - got to the store - through the food aisles - through the checkout - returned to the car - and back to my house - took longer because of the young woman with a pierced nose in a head scarf working the scanner at the checkout line. Why? Because instead of trying to get my groceries scanned and bagged she was too fucking busy talking on her cell phone which she was concealing UNDER HER DAMN HEAD SCARF! So, I had to take time out of MY busy day to tell the manager about it because honestly, if she would have been paying more attention to my food than what was likely an inane conversation, probably with one of the other check-out girls two registers over who was also busy with her mobile, I could have been home in the half-hour time I had allotted myself.

The manager told me that he hears the same complaints every single day; that all of these checkout girls have given first, second, thirteenth, and eightieth warnings and that there is nothing that can be done about the problem due to the mandatory Saudization which has been implemented. I've blogged about it before - the current cashiers have no clue what "work" is all about. It's a social function as far as they are concerned, for which they are paid. Sometime ago it was decided that ALL cashier jobs were to be given only to "locals" and these girls were hired to take the place of the imported help which had previously manned the checkout lines. What was once a smooth and efficient process of getting groceries and getting through the checkout line and paying for your products is now a fiasco for which there is no turning back. Saudization is going to fail - there is just no way it can succeed with this kind of work ethic - or complete and utter lack thereof.

The girl with the pierced nose who was hiding her phone under her headscarf isn't going to be talking on her mobile again if I am in her check out line. I will immediately hold up the entire process and see that the manager is called to deal with her right then and there - no she won't be fired - that is out of the realm of possibility - but I can make sure she is doing the job she was hired to do while I am there trying to get groceries. I have no qualms whatsoever with telling her to get off her fucking phone and do her job.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Boy...

The Boy and I spend many hours outside working on our tans. [Yes, of course we both use sunscreen!] All I have to say is, "Come on, Handsome. Let's go outside and work on our tan!" And he trots behind me and heads for his "chaise" which I move around the yard for him so that he can get full-sun and an "even tan." [Look! No tan lines!]

I'm sure its not easy being The Boy, enduring this:

And when he's tired out from a full day after long walks, playing with ropes, balls, squeaky toys and working on his tan, he's got this:

[I make all the cushion covers for his crate, as well as for the "bumper pads." I didn't make the pillow, though.]

And yes, The Baby has a crate as well, but she uses it only when she absolutely has to - like when people come to work in the house for some reason - she is of the mindset that her crate is punishment of some sort, whereas The Boy absolutely luvs his and believes it is his safe place - I can't get to him to give him eye-drops or allergy pills [ha! yes, I can, and the crate actually makes it easier] or wash his face or do something terrible to him to torture him [which I suspect he thinks I do far too often!].

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Newsweek...

Interesting article in Newsweek about our little community.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pathetic. Just. Pathetic!!!

Nour Miyati, a maid from Indonesia, has been in the news here in The Sandbox since March of 2005 [click to see the photo of her lying in a hospital bed!]. The case made the headlines for several months - then it would quietly go away - and be back in the headlines again some time later. Ms. Miyati's past several years - at least since approximately October of 2003 - have been nothing short of a living hell.

The "short" version of the poor maid's saga is that her sponsor took her to the hospital for some injuries she'd sustained; the preliminary medical report said "there were strong marks, almost burns, on her ankles and wrists and severe contusion and bleeding in one eye, broken teeth, and evidence of being severely beaten on various parts of her body." Some injuries? I'd say!

Ms. Miyati was rushed to surgery where "doctors found gangrene in her limbs" and amputated "fingers on both hands, part of her right food and toes on her left foot in order to save her life." Ms. Miyati said "that her sponsor punished her because she had not finished her housecleaning completely. ...and that her hands and feet had been tied up and that she had been imprisoned in a bathroom for a month. ...her sponsor warned her not to talk to police or embassy officials." Gee. Is it any wonder why the sponsor wouldn't want her talking to police or embassy officials?

There was quite a backlash; and the general public was enraged. Roger Harris wrote a great article for Arab News and said:

In the interests of equity and the integrity of its position on human rights, it is time for the Saudi authorities to address with the utmost vigor the continued abuse of domestic workers in the Kingdom...

Quick and quite correct to comment volubly on "human rights abuses" against prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, that section of the Arab public which voices loud concerns about "human rights" and the "preservation of the dignity of humanity" must now manifest itself and shout about this injustice from the rooftops of the Arab world. No more finger pointing at wickedness abroad; it is alive and well right here in Saudi Arabia...

For years, maids have been burned with irons, beaten and abused in the Kingdom - all a matter of public record. Foreign workers go unpaid for months, even years - again as a matter of public record. We here in the Kingdom know it and the rest of the world hears about it as well. It still occurs. Why?

The National Society for Human Rights intervened and contacted the investigating police. The sponsor, of course, "denied any connection with what had happened to Miyati, claiming the maid was bitten by an insect." [Good fucking grief?!? What kind of insect leaves such heinous injuries from a bite? I have to know so that I can avoid whatever it was at all possible costs!] a few days after the sponsor took Nour to the hospital, the Riyadh police arrested him and questioned him. And, but for an insect bite - for which the young maid should be thankful her sponsor, Fahd Naji Al-Dossary, was so concer
ned about that he took her to seek medical attention - he and his wife did absolutely nothing to harm a maid who had worked for them UNPAID for eighteen months!!! The maid's version differs somewhat slightly and speaking on her behalf, Labor Attache at the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh, M. Sugiarto, said that:

"The first time she asked for her salary, that's when it started... It wasn't only the man, the wife beat her too. She developed gangrene in her hands and feet after being tied up for a month in the bathroom. When the gangrene began to smell unpleasant, the family made her sleep outside the main house... They locked her up whenever they went out."

As the poor maid languished in the hospital, receiving the best of care the Kingdom has to offer at the behest of Crown Prince Abdullah, during which time another maid was sadistically tortured and raped, Nour Miyati's case again made headlines when, in a shocking twist of events, SHE was charged with making false allegations!!! Apparently, at some point in the investigation Nour "retracted" her earlier charges that she was tied up and tortured by her employer so SHE was charged with making false allegations against her employer.

The case was "reinvestigated" and "re-reinvestigated". It was determined that further "clarification" was needed from the "report cited" from the "medical committee" as to as to some of the findings:

"The maid suffered wounds and bruises to her body, suggesting she had been the victim of violence and that the gangrene could not have been caused as a direct result of beating and that it was probably caused by a disease suffered by the patient." [Oh, yeah, that AND the insect bite!]

"Furthermore, the report suggested that the bruises on the maid's body came as a result of a wardrobe having fallen on her. And that the fingers must have been affected by using chemical detergents. The report, which is foggy and full of hazy possibilities and even medically suspect statements, goes on to say that some of the bruises were inflicted by the sponsor's wife."

Case almost closed then. Nothing "suspect" anywhere. The maid got bitten by some sort of mutant alien insect; a clothing wardrobe ["armoire"] fell on her and she forgot to wear gloves on the days she stuck her hands in to buckets of chemicals. Umm. Yeah. And off Nour Miyati goes, to JAIL!!! AND, unbelievably, is sentenced to receive 79 lashes! Yes. Whereas, the sponsor's wife, who admitted at some point to throwing a shoe at Ms. Miyati was only sentenced to receive 35 lashes. What 80 lashes for poor Nour Miyati was too many, and 75 lashes weren't enough? The Judge, later, did reverse his ruling as to the maid. Justice prevails...

During the course of the time Nour Myati's ruling to her 79 lashes was reversed, there were other maids in the news due to abuse at the hands of their sponsors. I've blogged on some of them...

But poor Nour Miyati, who has been put through the utterly unspeakable for the last four and a half years - who came here to make a living from a country where she couldn't - in the end, gets ONLY 2,500 Riyals for enduring pain and suffering - AFTER having worked for EIGHTEEN MONTHS DURING WHICH SHE WAS NOT PAID. 2,500 Riyals. That's $670.24 in U.S. dollars. Oh, sure. Plenty, right?

Ms. Miyati, you will probably never read this blog - and likely will never know it exists - only a very select few do. Please know that I for one am so sorry that you have had to live through this entire experience. I know your time here has left you with nothing but repulsive memories you will have to live with forever. NO ONE CAN BLAME YOU FOR THAT!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In local news today...

Big stuff happening in our little community! The King is coming for a visit. Preparations have been underway for some time, now, with our gazillion imported laborers working 24/7 to get everything in tip-top shape. Big kudos to them all - they really, really have been working very hard under conditions most of us - and certainly none of the "locals" - would not even dream of working under. Thankfully, it isn't the middle of summer yet, and with temperatures only in the low 100's [today the high is expected to be 103 degrees (Fahrenheit ) with clouds - although MSN Weather says it is already 104 degrees outside] the heat is not unbearable. [It is a dry heat; it truly does feel different than a humid heat. That would be absolutely miserable!]

Buildings have been painted, flowers planted, tents erected, giant megatron television screens are being constructed... It should be quite an event. I may try to walk up for the parade which is being held only a half dozen blocks from our house. I've not made up my mind about whether I will go or not. I do have some mixed feelings about attending such a spectacle. A friend of mine who is involved in some of the planning that has gone told me yesterday that they are asking spectators to dress in their "national" costumes. Okay. So we can expect to see hordes of people dressed in their white thobes and red-checkered gutras or fully covered head-to-toe in black. What would the American "national" costume be? Jeans and a tee-shirt with sneakers and a baseball cap? Yeah. That wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb. Can you say "target?"

In other much, much less important news... The Saudi Gazette has a report of cleaning worker being killed by a dump truck. There is no such thing as OSHA here, in The Sandbox, and the unfortunate deaths of laborers are not an infrequent occurrence.

Today's Saudi Gazette also has a report detailing the ingenious method three Indian workers devised to knead dough. [Because you just can't make this stuff up...]

While I continue to contemplate whether or not I will try to attend the parade, I think I'll go work on my tan for an hour or so, and think about what is in hanging in my closet that would be representative of an American's national costume. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 19, 2008

What a "schmall" looks like...

We had another "schmall" this morning, which was kind of strange because it wasn't really very windy out, but the sand in the air was thick. You COULD taste it. Here's a photo at about 10:30 this morning from my driveway:

You can just barely make out the radio tower in the middle of the picture rising up over the palm tree - only if you know what you are looking for. This is how we gauge how dusty it is outside - by looking at the tower - if we can't see the tower - we stay inside.

Here is a picture from approximately the same spot in the driveway at 1:05 this afternoon:

I can assure you the photos aren't "fixed" or "shopped" or whatever. I don't even have Photoshop, and I am NOT nearly technically savvy enough to be able to do anything but unload the pictures from the camera [most of the time, anyway] and then get them posted to the very simplest form of blog.

The pool is going to be a mess. Again!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


We had a completely uneventful weekend in The Sandbox, insofar as rocks and toilet paper being thrown into our pool. We did have quite a bit of wind though - yesterday morning was extremely pleasant sitting outside - in the warm breeze. Although the wind wasn't strong enough to kick up "schmalls" [dust storms], it did throw quite a bit of "dust" or sand into the pool. The pool is an absolute mess today. No, we do not have brown grout in our tiled pool. That is dirt. Thank goodness the pool guy comes today!

This is what an almost clean garage looks like. There is still some work to be done, and DH really, really needs to do his part - and yes, he IS busy working this week [not on the golf course], but his reprieve isn't going to last through next weekend when he's done working. I did not take pictures of his tool area or his work area - no way they are ready to be photographed. But here are photos of MY incredible efforts to get the garage cleaned up once and for all. All the "stuff" that's sitting in the middle of the garage? Well, that's going to get posted on the community website and hopefully will get sold. [Aren't those purple lamp shades just absolutely gorgeous? Yeah. What was I thinking when I bought them?!?]

I posted last week about the "canine nutrition" which I ordered from The Honest Kitchen at the recommendation of Rachel Lucas, that someone in Customs thought was drugs - or something - when the packages were slashed open and thrown back into the box. The Kids weren't overly impressed with the food the first time it was served to them - they did eventually eat it [there are a million starving dogs in India... eat your dinner...]. The Boy seems to really be liking it now, and licks his bowl almost completely clean!!! The Baby? She's still not quite sure about it; oh, she'll eat it because her choice is to eat it and not be hungry or let her Big Brother eat it and starve.

The Honest Kitchen is going to save me hours and hours and hours of time that I can be outside working on my tan [oncologists need jobs, too!] instead of in the kitchen slaving over a stove making the Kids' food. I
had a really nice conversation with Christin at The Honest Kitchen's a few days ago and she was incredibly helpful. She calculated exactly how much food I was going to need so that I could order an entire years worth of food and have it shipped over when we do our big yearly shipment to ourselves AND she gave me the information for a 30% off coupon which I can use through the end of this month! I won't be shipping the years worth of food over here until later this summer when we make our trip to the States, but I'm going to ship it to my Mom's and have her store it for us until we get there. I used the 15% off coupon from Rachel's site to order 20 pounds of food which I sent to the hotel a friend in the States is currently at and he will hand-carry it back to us this week so we can by-pass the assholes in customs this time.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Local News...

A couple of quickies from our local newspapers. Because you just can't make this stuff up...

A "Court of Cassation" has annulled a general court's ruling in a case where a man was sentenced to "50 lashes in a public place." He was found "guilty of physically and verbally abusing his wife." The overriding ruling said that the man was legally entitled to "discipline" his wife.

The "youngest witch to be caught ever" by the commission is in jail. The 16 year-old "witch" was arrested with a 37 year-old accomplice; they have confessed to claiming to "have the power to break up relationships and make people impotent."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm Doing It!

Oh my gosh. I must have shamed myself. I've been busy cleaning the garage. Did I take "before pictures?" Nope. Would of, should of, and could of. But, didn't. Will take "after" pictures though. Now, if anyone one wants to come in and take or steal "stuff," they'll be able to do so, neatly, precisely, and without getting hurt. When I did a post about being "Safe and Secure" earlier this week, I lied. The reason no one tried to come into our garage to steal anything - beside the fact that Security would have been all over 'em - is because they didn't want to take the chance of being seriously injured just trying to GET into the garage. Not any more.

Come on in. Take what you want. Ha! Go ahead and try to steal something from my garage. You'll just have to know my system. And, damn! DH has to clean up HIS stuff, too!!! Seems to me that his "other job," his golfing, gets in the way of doing things that are so much more constructive. As I have stated previously, I was always able to come up with a plethora of excuses as to why I hadn't been out there working to clean the mess up, either. "DW" [Dear Wife"] is going to put her foot down, now, though. And I'll be doing what I do best. Which is bitching about anything and everything. But, damn it! I want that garage cleaned!!!

If we can just sell or get rid of all of the stuff we're ready to eliminate - then we will finally, and for the FIRST time EVER, be able to park the truck in the garage. Anyone want to buy a wheelbarrow? A purple bike with flat tires? An old futon? A croquet set? TV tables? [They're the nice ones, you know, the solid wood, butcher block kind that fold flat to store under the couch. Used twice.] How 'bout two brushed nickel lamps with purple faux alligator, ostrich, leather and feather beaded lampshades? Yeah. Nice. Very nice. And, sexy too. Nothing says "sex in the bedroom" better than tacky lampshades... 100 Riyals [$26.80] each for the lamps. I paid a LOT more for them than that when I originally purchased them. Hey. What can I say. I was buying "romance and ambiance" for the bedroom. Photos to follow - tomorrow? ...of a clean, neat and perfectly organized garage. Umm, except for the part DH has to take care of. Expect photos showing that mess all cleaned and organized in about four and a half years - when we are getting ready to leave The Sandbox to head home, to the States.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Growing Green Thumb

Only during this past year, since we moved from the townhouse to a house, have I taken any interest whatsoever in trying to achieve a beautifully manicured and landscaped yard. It is so much different when something is yours - then you really, really care - but when you're renting and you know it isn't yours, its not that you don't care, you just don't care as much. I'm really into the whole "my yard has to look fabulous" thing, lately, though, regardless of the fact that we are "renting," and do not own this house, and the yard is finally coming around. Right now - as summer has arrived - it will be difficult to plant anything new without it dying. It is just too damn hot for plants. Some of what was planted in the winter and early spring months seems to be doing great though, and, I think, by next year it will be perfect!

The pampas grass is full and fluffy and bushy - just like it is supposed to be.

My lonely little lime tree could use some help... I thought I planted a lemon tree. Nope. It is a lime tree. Oh well. Limes are good, too.

I've FINALLY got my first carnations! They're little baby carnations right now, but at least there are a few flowers. The birds are murdering my carnations, though. They eat all the buds before they can even become flowers. I need to get a high-powered squirt gun and then I'm just going to hang around the front yard and wait for those vultures to prey on my carnation buds and I'm gonna blast 'em. Nothing against birds, but they need to go find another front yard to belly up to for a bud-buffet.

The purple plants are a variety of spiderwort. They are doing just okay; they've been in the ground for two months now and don't look a whole lot different than when they were planted. I was told it was a "ground cover" and would grow up and out. Not seeing much "up" and not seeing any "out." But I liked the color, so I'm giving them a try.

My asparagus fern, or sprengeri must really, really like where I planted it. I had a few little sprigs there and already they've tripled in size in just a few short weeks.

This picture does NOT do the lantana justice, at all. It is simply and absolutely gorgeous!

Sansevieria doesn't flower, or turn some incredible color - it just kind of "is." This is all it will do. I'm getting some "baby shoots" on it though, so it must like where it got planted, and I needed something in front of the window - but didn't want a bush or anything huge that was going to block the sunlight.

This is my pride and joy in my back yard, the jacquemontia. In October these were three spindly little vines and look at them now! The garden-guru here on our compound told me that they did not like full sun and that they probably were not going to do well where I chose to put them. Ha! Proved her all wrong! They are absolutely thriving in full sun in the back yard and growing like weeds!

And last, but not least, the ruellia, which is doing okay, but not great. Perhaps I'm just expecting too much, too soon. I would really like to see this take off like my vines did and I suspect if they were not so frequently "watered" by the Kids - or more specifically - The Boy, then it just might grow "big and strong.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Assholes in Customs

I really, really hope that US Customs officials treat all mail coming from Saudi Arabia the same way it gets treated here. I hope all the packages are opened, that packages get pawed through and that US Officials take whatever it is they decide they want before you get it, and that your stuff gets damaged and destroyed. You know, the exact same way you fucking assholes do it here, for mail coming to us from the United States.

On a recommendation from a blogger that I really like Rachel Lucas I ordered some dehydrated dog food from The Honest Kitchen. I had the food shipped to the service that forwards our mail to us - we got the box today. Yeah! Pack
ages are always a good thing, if you live in a normal world; living here is NOT living in a normal world. Getting mail has been an issue since we got here. It's a gamble as to whether or not you're going to get your mail - you often don't, and it's a gamble as to whether or not everything you are expecting is going to be in that mail - it often isn't. I know this - but still - there is just so much you can't get here in The Sandbox that you have to have it sent to you or you have to go without.

Finding great shoes is unrealistic and an impossibility, here. What
passes for fashion in the shoe stores here leaves a great deal to be desired. A few years ago I ordered several pairs of shoes from Zappos and had them shipped to my parents, and then had my parents send them to me here. I knew I was taking a risk having fabulous shoes sent to me - that someone could decide that they needed them for one of their wives or daughters and that I'd never get them - so I tried to get tricky. If I ordered three pairs of shoes, and then I would have my Dad send all three left shoes in one box to me one week, and then a week or so later have him send all three right shoes in another box. That way, when the assholes in Customs opened the box there'd be three mismatched left or right shoes - but no "pair" or "pairs" together that could easily be swiped. Very, very smart on my part, right? Well, no, not really. Someone caught on to my system and thought they'd be smarter - they took ONE pink shoe out of a shipment to me thinking that they'd get the match to the pink shoe in the next shipment. Well, since I'd received the first pink shoe already - there was no second pink shoe coming - but guess what? I never got the second pink shoe, either. Lesson learned - expensively, and the hard way.

If you order from Victoria's Secret - if and when you can access the site - it's blocked, again, now you can pretty much bet that you are never
going to see one of the catalogs that gets put in your shipment. I have had them all confiscated except for one! Victoria's Secret catalogs are considered pornographic material, here. So, what exactly are YOU - Mr. Customs Official - doing with MY Victoria's Secret catalogs, anyway? I'm sure I don't want to know. Pervert.

We open the box we got today - a
nd there's food spilled out all over inside it! I ordered two sample packages of each kind of food The Honest Kitchen sells for my Kids. They couldn't possibly have opened the packages and taped them back up. Hell no. They slashed the packages open with a knife and then just threw the packages back in the boxes. You fucking assholes! I paid $66.43 to have the package shipped to me - the food cost less than half of what I had to pay to have the box shipped to me, and this is what I got [actually, there were more packages that had been ripped open, but I tried to salvage what I could, before I decided that I needed to take pictures]:

For even a half a nanosecond, did you seriously think I was sending something other than what the packages say they contain - like drugs - to The Sandbox? Do you honestly think that just because I'm blonde I'd be foolish enough to be sending marijuana or something to myself? Do you really think I want to be beheaded or executed for drug smuggling? Ahh, no. I don't think so. I like my head just fine like it is, thank you very much, attached to my shoulders.

Oh, and the bags of food weren't the only items opened in the box we received today. My DH got something from American Express. That was also ripped open. What? Do you jokers seriously think we'd be foolish enough to let American Express send our credit cards to us, here? Gimme me a break. When we packed up our household and personal effects some five years ago to move to this part of the world, we didn't neglect to pack our brains! And, we have since learned from the first-hand experiences of others that have been foolish enough to have their credit cards sent to them from the States what happens. YOU confiscate the cards and start "shopping." We have our credit cards sent to us via Federal Express so that they can be traced from the time they leave to the time WE have to sign for them, and if by some fluke a credit card ends up going to our mail forwarding service, we immediately get on the phone and call the issuing credit card company and have the card canceled and then call our mail-forwarding company and tell them not to send us ANY mail from American Express or XYZ Credit Card Company - we'll just wait to get that mail on one of our three or four yearly trips back to the States.

You know... Really, I want to see good in things. I'm here in The Sandbox as a guest - although treated more like a criminal - and I really, really would like to go back to the States someday and say just how wonderful things were, how fabulously we were treated, how much this Country has to offer and what an incredible experience it has been to be able to live here. But it's things like this - the assholes in Customs - stealing stuff that is sent to ME - destroying stuff that is sent to ME - confiscating stuff that is sent to ME - that is going to leave a very, very bad and bitter taste in my mouth about my experiences, here. And that's THEIR fault, not MINE!

Safe and Secure with the Door Wide Open

Our compound Security DID do what they promised to do - I don't know if they camped out in my driveway or not - but there were no further incidents with rocks or toilet paper being thrown in our pool. I'm going to make brownies or cupcakes or something to take to Security for next weekend. I am really quite appreciative of their services - for all intents and purposes, I think they try very, very hard to do a good job under incredibly trying circumstances - even though I may not always see things quite "their" way [i.e., stopping the little worker on his scooter when he'd done absolutely NOTHING wrong], but... Today I will go talk to whoever I need to to find out if I can get a security system put in around the back yard to "guard" the pool.

Last night, I was sitting outside talking on the phone, and once again, I had "visitors." There's a three foot cement block wall that is attached to our privacy wall which is actually the wall surrounding our driveway. And one of the neighbor's maids will stand on the wall and then lift the kids up so they can see over the privacy wall. Hello?!? There's a reason it is called a "privacy" wall! Honestly, WTF is wrong with some people? What, just because we are "Westerner's" and living in a house which is completely surrounded by a wall which isn't quite the "norm" from where we come from we're not entitled to privacy? No. You are going to have your picture taken for Security the next time you stand on that wall to see over my wall. I don't care how much fun it sounds like my Kids are having - it is NONE of YOUR business! Unbelievable. Before we had the security wall "heightened," we had an entire family standing in their windows looking in to our yard if we were out there. Now, because the wall is too high for you to see over, you're standing on the back wall to see over and in? Geez!

Although I do bitch and complain a lot about living here, there is also much that I can't and won't complain about. Yesterday DH went to play golf and forgot to shut the garage door. The garage faces the street - and from the back, inside our fenced in yard - you can't see that the garage door is wide open. The garage is full of crap. We have never parked our truck in the garage - it won't fit until the garage gets cleaned out - and that's a project that just isn't quite getting accomplished. I've started cleaning it a half dozen times and basically what happens is that a box gets moved from one shelf to the floor and then something else gets moved from somewhere else to take the spot the box had on a shelf. But in actuality, nothing really gets cleaned or taken care of. Truly the project - cleaning the garage - is one that overwhelms me and I can come up with two-hundred and thirty-eight things I would rather do instead, and another six hundred and eleven excuses for not attacking the garage - it's too hot, my knee hurts, I need help lifting something...

All day yesterday the garage door was wide open - an invitation for anyone to go in and help themselves to whatever they might want - coolers, tools, cans of paint, bicycles - one of which has flat tires, that I've not used ONCE since we got here, and that has to be at least thirty years old and worth nothing - and one that cost $1,500.00 when it was new ten years ago - both are still sitting there. There's an old rocker that has NEVER been used [why didn't someone help themselves to it? please!]. There is a double-size futon that is rolled up and wrapped in black plastic - and hasn't been used in over fifteen years - I have no idea why we thought we even had to move it over here. We've got a couple butcher-block TV trays out there that I trip over regularly - you know - the little folding tables that you pull up in front of you on the couch to eat off of - I think when we lived in North Carolina we used them twice [whoever wants to take those - feel free to help yourself!]. We've got a half dozen different size coolers out there, duffel bags and old suitcases, tires, boxes of "stuff" which I have no idea what they contain, but obviously whatever is in them - we don't need it. Yes, the garage is full of junk that needs to either be put on the curb or sold at a yard sale. There are also lots of expensive tools and other various "garagy" things out there that we do need or want.

The point is, though, that the garage door was open ALL DAY and NO ONE touched anything! I can't think of ANY place that we've ever lived where you could be so trusting. Would things have disappeared from our garage if this had happened in Durham, North Carolina? In a skinny second! [The garage would have been cleaned out. Problem solved.] I know people here who leave their doors unlocked all the time and again, where in the States can you do that anymore? Security here, really does take things like theft quite seriously. A couple of months ago there was a rash of burglaries - kids were breaking into houses looking for booze - and would help themselves to laptop computers, jewelry, televisions and stereos, etc. Security caught the culprits - I don't know all the details and the entire story - but the eight teenagers who were involved, who, by the way were NOT "locals," were given twenty-four hours to leave The Kingdom. Gone. Exit-only visas. They will not be returning. No second chances, no molly-coddling, no excuses. Bye-bye. Instances such as that do serve as prime examples of what can and will happen, and likely deter the same from happening again. Does such swift justice happen like that in the States? Hell no.

This truly is a community where if your three year old happens to be outside playing you don't have to worry if you're not right there watching him or her that some pervert is going to come along and snatch your kid. Not that I'd so trusting as to let my three year old go out and play unsupervised, but you could if you wanted to... And, even though I had to endure two nights of "neighborly vandalism," for the most part the Security on our compound is definitely worthy of some praise because there were no rocks OR toilet paper in my pool this morning! I'm still going to see about having the wall raised even higher, and I still want surveillance cameras installed, but at least I don't have to worry about junk being stolen out of a garage that's been left open all day long!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

TITS II and Spitting Rocks!!!

Rocks! I am ready to spit rocks!!! Or ready to spit something, but I'm not quite sure what. Last night the Kids and I were outside so they could "do business" around nine o'clock. It wasn't very late. And, last night was Wednesday night, here, in The Sandbox, or what is the equivalent of Friday night in the States. Our weekend is Thursday and Friday, so this morning - Thursday morning - is what would be considered a Saturday morning in the states... I woke up early - and let The Boy out to do business - but didn't go outside with him. He does what he needs to do and comes right back in. It is still pretty early and too early for our morning "leash aerobics" and besides, I hadn't even had coffee or a cigarette yet. The Boy comes in. I make coffee. I turn the TV on, unload the dishwasher, etc.

The Boy has an infection in one of his "digits" - he's got a very nasty infection in one of his front toes and it is severe enough so that the vet is actually considering removing the entire toe - if we can't get the infection cleared up with what is now our third round of antibiotics. Poor little guy... So, we haven't been walking as much as we
would all like to - what I often refer to as "leash aerobics," and on top of The Boy's toe infection - I've got a bad knee - but that's another saga. So, instead of walking, after we're all awake and up and fed, and I'm sufficiently caffeined and nicotined up, we head outside into our totally enclosed back yard so that the Kids can "do business." I've got the newspaper with me and I'm going to just sit outside on my chaise with the Kids and enjoy the bright blue beautiful sky and the sunny 100 degree morning.

I go to sit on my chaise and I notice a rock on it - not a boulder or anything - but a rock - bigger than a "pebble." Hmmph. Where'd this come from. And then I REALLY noticed... Someone or several someones [guessing teenagers but can't say for certain] has tossed rocks over our "privacy wall" all OVER our back yard, covering the pa
tio, and INTO the pool! I am FURIOUS! No. Furious doesn't quite describe my state of agitation. That's putting it mildly. I immediately call our compound Security and they come and ask "do you have suspects?" Ahh, yeah, I do, but since it obviously happened sometime last night after nine o'clock and before I came out here this morning and I didn't actually see them, then I can't identify them, and so even if I tell you who I think might be responsible that's not NEARLY enough for me to be saying "so and so did it."

Security is very nice and very professional. I am given all sorts of promises that the area will be patrolled more heavily at night from now on and that they will keep an eye out for teenagers who are wandering. The security guys were actually pretty nice - and then their supervisor called me after they left to see if there was any damage to the house. No, no damage to the house; just a yard and a pool full of rocks - from the gravel pit next behind our house. [A gravel pit which serves what purpose?!? I have no earthly idea. It's just there.] Lovely. Just freakin' lovely. I spend an hour cleaning rocks up out of the yard, the patio, my flower beds AND an hour cleaning the rocks out of the pool. Whatever.

I called the boys that live directly behind us "little terrorists" to their faces and in front of their Dad this past January when they were laying outside under a tree late at night making howling sounds just to get The Boy going - he'd bark - and then the two boys would laugh and howl some more. A confrontation DID occur, Security got c
alled, and I was the one who almost ended up getting hauled off and in trouble - just because I called the teenage boys "TITS." [See, TITS: Terrorists in Training.] So, that certainly didn't score me any points insofar as being a nice neighbor - but I've not had any problems with those two boys, since. I've also called Security on some of the other neighborhood boys as well with situations we've had which involve their taunting and tormenting my Kids and over firecrackers going off at the crack of dawn. Okay, more points against me and for sure I am NOT known as the "nice lady with the two four-legged Kids who lives in the house on the corner."

Anyway, so tonight, sometime before nine o'clock, the Kids and I go out so that they can "do business," and we come back in - my DH is over at a friend's house - and just as I'm getting ready to put my "TV watching uniform on," I hear
boys. [It's never girls - I guess the girls must not ever be allowed out - I NEVER see girls - just groups of young adolescent / teenage boys.] I go into the study and peek out the blinds and there's a group of ten or twelve teenage boys - yes, all locals - milling about across the street directly in front of our house. [Sure, you're keeping an eye out on our house with extra patrol cars! Doing a fine job, I might add.] So I call Security and am told they are sending a car right away. Great.

At this point I've grabbed my cell phone - so I can take photos! - and I'm walking outside to keep an eye on the boys - as they start heading up the stree
t next to our house - and I call Security back to tell them to send the Security patrol up Raspberry Street and not to come to our house on Main Street - we're on the corner - the group of boys continues walking up the street as Security shows up - or what I thought was Security for MY call and what does the Security officer do? HE PULLS OVER A LITTLE JEBLEY WORKER ON HIS SCOOTER! I have been outside - I saw the little worker leave the house he's employed at and get on his scooter to go home. The poor guy has, no doubt, been working for fourteen or fifteen hours today - tomorrow - Friday - is probably his ONLY day off every week - he's looking forward to finally being done working for the week and enjoying his ONLY "weekend" night off - and he's getting pulled over by Security - for DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER . The group of teenagers has continued on their merry way and is now out of sight!

I see the Security officer asking for the worker's ID and license
or whatever - and then the Security worker goes back to his truck - and after a minute or two of waiting, a second Security officer shows up - and then the little worker's employer or sponsor comes out of a house across the street to talk to the first Security officer. The little worker IS NOT THE PROBLEM! But that's Security's main concern right now. I go to talk to the second Security officer that has shown up for this non-existent problem and explain that I'd called Security five minutes ago - that I'd had a major incident with rocks - that I was told that Security would be more diligent in patrolling and on the lookout for teenagers - and THIS LITTLE GUY THAT'S DONE NOTHING is getting a load of crap just for being an imported worker! Mr. Second Security officer says, "Yes Security is coming. There have been two accidents tonight. We are very busy." Busy, my ass you're busy. Busy harassing little workers - but stopping a bunch of teenagers which would be SO MUCH MORE PRUDENT is off the radar for you, I guess. The little worker is allowed to drive off and both Security guys leave, leaving me standing there with steam coming out of every orifice in my head!

A few minutes later the Security officers - two of t
hem - responding to MY call show up. I bring them into the back yard and show them the bag of rocks that I'd had to pick up earlier and explain what the problem is and how NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE THAT THERE ARE DOZENS - YES, DOZENS!!! of teenagers all wandering around the streets - doing absolutely NOTHING constructive - and how I was promised that there'd be more patrols on the look out, blah, blah, blah... Again, to pacify me, I am told by this Security crew that there will be additional patrols in the area. Okay. Good. Go nab all the teenagers in the entire compound and lock them up. Yeah - I know - unrealistic of me to even consider this as a solution, but...

Not an hour - forty-five minutes at most - after Security leaves, I'm sitting in the study, I have the back screen door open - The Boy is in his room [hi
s crate in our bedroom] and The Baby is laying at my feet - and I hear "WHAP!" What the hell was that? The Baby starts barking - The Boy isn't at all concerned and doesn't even bother to get up - and The Baby and I head outside to the back yard. WHATTHEFUCK!!! I've got ROCKS AND TOILET PAPER in my pool!!!!! I am outraged and for a brief second considering my own vigilante justice - but since I didn't see anyone throw the crap into my pool and by the time I get my shoes on, grab both the house phone and my cell phone and get out the front door to go around the back - nothing - there is no one there. I heard the "WHAP" at exactly 9:47P. I call Security. Again, two Security officers show up. I bring them into the back yard and show them that I've got rocks and toilet paper in my pool and explain that two other Security officers had just barely left, after promising that the area would be patrolled and now, thanks to the diligence on their part, I've got more rocks AND toilet paper in my pool. Mr. Security says to me, "Oh, we are very sorry, Madam. We are very busy tonight." Yeah, busy harassing little workers - but NOT the fucking teenagers who are harassing me!!! More personal assurances from the two Security officers who are going to be on the shift all night promising me that I will have no further problems with teenage boys. Okay. Security leaves; I'm getting ready for bed... Thursday night is "crime night" on Discovery Channel. Can't miss that. Perhaps I'll learn something that will help me solve the crime in my own back yard - but doubtful, since tonight's first show is on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians.

Before I can even turn the TV on, and before I've got the lights all out, and the house locked up, etc., I hear another "WHAP." The time is 22:49, or 10
:49P. Yes. Those little motherfuckers are at it again! I race out the front door with no shoes on and cell phone in camera mode to get to the back of the house and there's no one there. [Here's a clue, though: It took me all of about four and a half seconds to get out of the house and around back - if whoever it is just threw something into my pool then they have to be close because otherwise I would have been able to see someone leaving, right? Yes, I am getting quite the crime-solving education from the true-crime shows on Discovery Channel!] I am on the phone, dialing Security, AGAIN, and telling them that they have to send someone immediately to our house. Within three or four minutes, Security shows up, only one Security officer this time - guess I don't get two anymore - because Security is probably just writing me off as some "crazed lady who lives with two four-legged Kids whose husband isn't home calling Security for the umpteenth time over teenagers just out having fun by throwing crap in her pool." There is more toilet paper in the pool - no more rocks - just what looks like an ENTIRE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER which is now dissolving into a fibrous mess in my pool. I am beyond furious!!!

This time I am not calmly and quietly talking t
o the "nice" Security officer. Oh no. I'm on off on a tirade about how we as American's were invited to come live here, that this is supposed to be an American compound and that because it isn't anymore we all have to suffer the consequences and that the boys who are out and about causing problems - no matter what the problems are - nothing happens to them because their Daddy's are bigwigs with the company whose compound we live on - and that we are supposed to be able to feel safe here and there is NO feeling safe when I can't even enjoy my own back yard and that now I've got crap to clean out of my pool again tomorrow and why, why, why isn't ANYONE DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS!!! And that I'm calling the head of Security on Saturday morning to complain that Security DOESN'T care about things that are actually happening - that Security NEVER stops the young men racing their cars through the compound at all hours and doing whatever else but up to no good - but will send TWO Security cars to stop a little worker that has done nothing wrong - and that something has to be done with these little twerps [I refrained from calling them TITS, and that was a good thing] who believe they are above the law and that it's time someone puts a stop to this!!!

Mr. Security was kind enough to let m
e vent my outrage on him and really, really tried to convince me that he was going to be patrolling all night and that he would be in our area as much as possible, that he was going to go off right then to round up teenagers and keep them away as best as he possibly could and that I should feel free to call if I had any more problems. [Oh, don't you worry. Security's telephone number is on speed dial on our home phone and on my cell phone and if I have to, then I'm going to sit up - outside in my back yard - all night to make sure that whoever is throwing crap into my pool is caught!] In the meantime, I really am tired, I'm missing my crime shows on Discovery Channel, and I just dread getting up to see my pool filled with more rocks and toilet paper and whatever else the little TITS decide might be fun to throw in it. All I can say is that they don't want me to catch them. Because, because, because - I'll, I'll, I'll - ahh hell. Even if I catch them, there's nothing that I can do, and probably nothing will be done to them either. We'll just have to wait and see what Security says on Saturday because I AM going to request that additional cement blocks be added to our privacy wall AND for security cameras to be installed!

[The two photos at the top do not show the rocks - or the toilet paper rolls - I didn't take pictures - I should have. But, didn't. The very top photo shows where we put an extension up on the privacy wall - the wooden section above the cement blocks - because when we first got to this house the neighbors used to stand in their windows - yes - they really did - and watch us while we were outside using the pool! So much for "privacy." The photo below that is where we had the back yard enlarged - which is where the Kids "do their business;" in between the cement block wall and the house behind the wall is where the gravel pit that has no purpose is. And the bottom photo of this post? Well, that's just a picture of two very, very adorable Kids keeping close eyes on a triple-chinned whale floating in a pool that has NO rocks OR toilet paper in it...]
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